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Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim

1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra, Parshas Zachor

Ta'anis Esther, 5749

Purim, 5749

Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah

Machne Israel Special Development Fund

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol

   10th Day Of Nissan, 5749

Motzoei Shabbos, Parshas Metzora

Maamar Matzah Zu

Tzivos Hashem/Pesach

6th Day Of Pesach, 5749

Shevi'i Shel Pesach, 5749

Acharon Shel Pesach, 5749

Maamar Vehechrim

Shabbos Parshas Acharei

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim

2nd Day Of Iyar, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar,

Eve Of Lag Baomer, 5749

Evening Following Lag Baomer, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai

Address To The Women's Convention

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 4th Day Of Sivan, 5749

1st Day Of Shavuos, 5749

2nd Day Of Shavuos, 5749

Yechidus Following Shavuos

12th Day Of Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 13th Of Sivan, 5749

Sichos In English
Volume 41

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol
10th Day Of Nissan, 5749
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  3rd Day Of Nissan, 5749Eve Of 11th Of Nissan, 5749  

1

This year, the correlation between the days of the week and the days of the month is exactly the same as in the year in which the Jews left Egypt. The fifteenth of Nissan falls on Thursday and the tenth of Nissan, the day the Jews took the Paschal sacrifice, falls on Shabbos. Thus, even though in general, the month of Nissan and the Pesach holiday are appropriate times for the coming of the Mashiach as our Sages declared, "In Nissan, they were redeemed and in Nissan, they will ultimately be redeemed," in particular, there is a greater potential that this year we will witness the fulfillment of the prophecy, "as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders," with the coming of Mashiach.

In this context, Shabbos HaGadol, "the great Shabbos," contributes an aspect of greatness to these miracles because on the Shabbos before the exodus from Egypt, a great miracle occurred. Added emphasis to this comes when Shabbos HaGadol is celebrated on the tenth of Nissan. The number ten is associated with unique significance as the Torah states, "the tenth shall be holy," referring to an aspect of holiness that is unique and set apart. Also, this Shabbos elevates the days of the previous week and brings blessing to the days of the following week.

In his Shulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe describes the miracle associated with the tenth of Nissan as follows:

When the Jews selected the animals for the Paschal sacrifice on that Shabbos, the firstborn of the Egyptians gathered around the Israelites and asked them what they were doing. They replied that this was a Paschal sacrifice unto G-d for He would slay the firstborn of the Egyptians. Their firstborn went to their parents and to Pharaoh and requested that they send away the Jews, but they refused. [Therefore,] the firstborn waged war against them and slew many of them. This is implied by the verse: "To smite Egypt with their firstborn." They instituted the commemoration of this miracle for the coming generations on Shabbos, calling it Shabbos HaGadol.

The Tur describes the significance of the day differently, explaining that since the Egyptians worshiped the lamb, when the Jews took it as a sacrifice, the Egyptians' wrath was aroused. Nevertheless, G-d made a miracle and they were unable to protest at all. On the surface, the Alter Rebbe should have mentioned this miracle since it concerns the Jews and not the battle that occurred among the Egyptians which had no effect on the Jews (for it did not motivate Pharaoh to release them from Egypt). Furthermore, the Jews' bringing of the Paschal sacrifice was associated with a radical spiritual transformation, from the worship of idols, they came to offering a sacrifice to G-d. Nevertheless, the Alter Rebbe omits all mention of the miracle involving the Jews, not even bringing it as a secondary matter, and mentions only the miracle that occurred among the Egyptians.[9]

The difficulty can be resolved as follows: The "smiting of Egypt by their firstborn" represents an aspect of the transformation of darkness to light. The firstborn -- i.e., the essential power -- of the Egyptians was turned against their own nation. Thus, it was not -- as was G-d's preventing the Egyptians from protesting against bringing the Paschal sacrifice -- only a revelation of forces above nature, but rather, an example of how nature itself can be transformed.

There is an added dimension to this concept. Pesach is associated with the birth of the Jewish people, when G-d "took a nation out of the insides of another nation." Similarly, Pesach is associated with the giving of the Torah, the time when G-d chose Israel as His people, as G-d promised Moshe, "When you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d on this mountain." Thus, before the exodus from Egypt, there was no halachic distinction between the Jews and the Egyptians. On the contrary, they and the Egyptians were considered as one nation. Accordingly, the Jews' ability to motivate the Egyptians to such actions, breaking and transforming the power of the Egyptians while they themselves were not essentially different from them, is considered as more significant.

The commemoration of the exodus from Egypt must be in a manner in which the birth of the Jewish people and G-d's choice of them is renewed each year. Thus, on the tenth of Nissan, the Jews must see themselves as standing before the experience of the birth of the Jewish nation and their connection to the gentiles is emphasized. In such a situation, a Jew has the potential to influence the gentiles behavior, not only that they should not disturb the Jews, but also that their very nature should change and they should be ready to wage war against their own people for the sake of the Jews.[10]

This describes the magnitude of the "great miracle" which occurred on "Shabbos HaGadol." It represents an ideal example of the service of "And the gentiles shall follow after your light," expressing the Jews' service of refining the world, to the point where its very nature is changed, a level similar to that of the Messianic age when, "I will transform the nations into a clear speech so that they will all call in the Name of G-d."

2

In addition to the above, Shabbos HaGadol has an effect on the days which follow including the eleventh of Nissan and the holiday of Pesach. Shabbos and Pesach represent two different spiritual states. Shabbos refers to the ultimate state of completion within the context of the natural order. Thus, our Sages explain, before the first Shabbos, the world was lacking and with the advent of the Shabbos, came the rest which "completed" the creation of the world.

In contrast, Pesach represents a "jump," a transcendence of the natural order, an exodus from Egypt. Egypt, Mitzrayim, in Hebrew, is associated with meitzarim, boundaries and limitations. The exodus from Egypt implies the transcendence of all such boundaries, even the highest and most refined boundaries that exist within the world.

This is also the difference between the numbers, ten and eleven. Ten also represents a state of completion within the context of nature which has its ultimate source in the ten Divine Sefiros.

Eleven represents a step beyond the limitations established by these ten Sefiros, a state which relates to the level of G-dliness by the Tikkunei Zohar as "You are One, but not in a numerical sense." This refers to G-d's essence, a level that, by nature, defies all description. Any descriptive term, even the description that "He is above all description," is a definition that limits and confines and, therefore, is inappropriate, when referring to G-d's essence. (Such terms are used only because we limited human beings have no other means of expressing ourselves.)

To explain the above in terms of our service of G-d, Shabbos HaGadol, the tenth of Nissan, refers to a Jew's activity within the world, transforming the nature of the world and drawing down the holiness of Shabbos and the holiness associated with the number ten.

The eleventh of Nissan refers to the service of a Jew that is associated with his essential being and thus, transcends the limits of the world. It reflects the essential bond between a Jew and G-d's essence. In this context, it can be explained that the birthday of the Jewish people associated with the festival of Pesach begins on the eleventh of Nissan. Thus, the eleventh of Nissan is associated with the exodus from Egypt, i.e., leaving all boundaries and limitations and connecting oneself to G-d's essence.

This service which relates to G-d's essence transcends entirely the service of Shabbos HaGadol which is associated with the refinement of the world. Nevertheless, the service of the eleventh of Nissan also must be related to the world -- i.e., the essential G-dliness which transcends the world must be enclothed within the context of the world. This concept is reflected in the soul of every Jew which is "truly a part of G-d." On the other hand, this part of G-d has enclothed itself within a Jew's physical body,[11] permeating every aspect of his existence and effecting even the material things in which he comes in contact. In this way, the essential connection a Jew shares with G-d is revealed within the context of the world. This reflects the connection between the tenth of Nissan and the eleventh of Nissan,[12] i.e., that the essential connection with G-d above nature be drawn down into the context of nature itself.

We see a similar concept in regard to the holiday of Pesach. Pesach represents "a leap" beyond the limits of the world, stepping beyond all boundaries and limitations. Nevertheless, this service is also related to context of the world and thus, is expressed in the different stages of the Pesach Seder, the three matzos, and the four cups of wine.

An even higher level is represented by the fifth cup, the cup of Eliyahu, which relates to the expression of G-d's essence. Therefore, we merely look at it without drinking it. However, at the conclusion of the Seder, we pour Eliyahu's cup back into the bottle, representing the enclothement of this essential level within the contexts of the "vessels" of our world.

3

The above is also related to the daily portion of the Mishneh Torah associated with the coming night. At that time, we are to conclude the Book of Hafla'ah, (which also has the meaning "wonder") and begin the Book of Zeraim ("plants"). Both these concepts are relevant to the idea of a birthday, which involves the enclothement of a soul within a body. The Jewish soul is "wondrous," as implied by the statement, "the soul You gave me is pure." Nevertheless, this soul descends and is "implanted" in a physical body, causing the unlimited potential of the soul to be revealed within the limited context of the body. This is only possible because of G-d's "wondrous" powers.

The conclusion of Sefer Hafla'ah teaches a lesson which is relevant to the above. The final halachah of that text states:

A person should never consecrate or dedicate all of his possessions...This is foolishness and not piety. [By doing so,] he loses all his fortune and requires [the help] of others. No mercy should be shown to him.... Rather, one who desires to distribute his money [for the sake of] mitzvos should not distribute more than a fifth as our prophets commanded: "Manage your affairs with judgment." This applies both in regard to matters of Torah and worldly affairs.

On the surface, this advice does not seem appropriate as the conclusion of a book whose name means "wonder" and thus, alludes to an approach that transcends limitations. The unbounded commitment expressed by a person who gives away all his possessions is looked down upon and we are advised to adopt an approach, "managing one's affairs with judgment," that implies dealing with limitations. Furthermore, this advice is given, not only in regard to worldly affairs, but to matters of Torah.

The concept can be understood in terms of the Alter Rebbe's statements in Iggeres HaTeshuvah encouraging people to give generously to charity. There, the Alter Rebbe suggests an unlimited commitment, writing:

One need not worry about the concept, "One who desires to distribute [his money], should not distribute more than a fifth..." since "a person will give everything he has for the sake of his soul."

The difficulty can be explained as follows: A Jew lives within the world, but also possesses an essential G-dly soul which is one with Him, "Israel and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are one." His service of G-d reflects these two facets of his being. Therefore, there is one aspect of a Jew's service which is limited, reflecting his association with the limits of the world, and one is unbounded, reflecting his bond with G-d's infinity.

For example, our Sages stated that a person should spend "his entire life in teshuvah." There are certain times, the Ten Days of Repentance and, in particular, Yom Kippur, when the service of teshuvah must be carried out in an unbounded and unrestrained manner. During the remainder of the year, however, the service of teshuvah is expressed in an ordered pattern of devotion appropriate to the specific time of the year.

Similarly, in regard to the study of Torah. There is an all encompassing obligation to learn the entire Torah. This standpoint, which has its source in the infinite dimension possessed by the Torah, allows for the study of all aspects of Torah law at any time, without any consideration of the time of year when one is studying. On the other hand, the Torah also recognizes a specific obligation to study certain laws at certain times, for example, before the holidays, we are required to study the relevant laws.

Similarly, in regard to charity, generally, one's gifts should be made consistent with the limitations of tithing or giving a fifth. At certain times, however, it is appropriate to step beyond these restrictions.

As explained above, the tenth of Nissan is associated with service within the limits of the world while the eleventh of Nissan and the holiday of Pesach is associated with a boundless service that transcends those limits. However, since a Jew's being involves the fusion of the infinite and the finite (the soul in the body), his service must also reflect such a fusion and the infinite commitment that stems from the essence of the soul must be reflected within the context of one's limited service. This, perhaps, is the Rambam's intention in concluding the Sefer Hafla'ah ("wonder") with the advice, "Manage your affairs with judgment," for by doing so, he relates infinity (Hafla'ah) to the limitations of our world (judgment).


4

The above is also related to the Psalms connected with the eleventh of Nissan this year (according to the custom of reciting the Psalm associated with the numbers of years of one's life). We conclude the recitation of Psalm 87 and begin the recitation of Psalm 88.

Psalm 87 concludes: "Of Zion, it shall be said: 'This and this man was born within her...'" Zion refers to the essence of the soul, a quality that transcends limitation. Nevertheless, this transcendent quality is revealed within those who are "born" in our world, a world of limitation.

This theme is continued in Psalm 88 which begins: "A song (), a melody (), for the sons of Korach, for the conductor." Our Sages explain that "shir" refers to a song which is sung by a person and that "mizmor" refers to a melody played by a musical instrument. Likkutei Torah explains that "mizmor" refers to the songs sung by the angels which relates to the G-dly-energy enclothed in the world and "shir," the song of the souls in Gan Eden which is above enclothement in any vessel.

To explain the above in terms of our service: "Song" refers to service that transcends limitations, while "melody" refers to the service within the limits of our world. This Psalm which is both "a song" and "a melody" thus fuses the two services and demonstrates how the service which is above all limitation can be drawn down within the context of our limited deeds.

The Psalm continues: "for the sons of Korach," which refers to the service of teshuvah, including the higher rung of teshuvah which involves unbounded joy, "for the conductor," in Hebrew, Lam'natzeach, which also has the meaning "for the victorious one." This implies that a Jew will be victorious over all the undesirable influences of the exile and transform them into positive matters.

Verse 3 of the Psalm states: "May my prayer come before You, incline Your ear to my song." The Hebrew for prayer, tefillah, implies a process of connection, and the Hebrew for "before" -- lifanechoh -- is related to the word panim -- which means "to Your face" or "to Your inner aspects." A Jew's prayer connects him to the innermost aspects of G-d. This evokes a response, "incline Your ear to my song," which, in turn, causes one's prayer to become a "song," infused with the quality of joy.

Thus, as we proceed from Shabbos HaGadol, the tenth of Nissan, to the eleventh of Nissan, we must display a boundless commitment within the context of our service in the limits of the world. This must be reflected in our preparations for Pesach which involve making sure that all Jews have all they need to celebrate the holiday and on Pesach itself when we invite "all the hungry to come and eat, all the needy to come and celebrate the Pesach." The oneness of the Jews and G-d as expressed in their boundless commitment to His service is connected with the oneness of the Jewish people. This oneness and the joy which accompanies it will break down the barriers of the exile and "as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders," in the Messianic redemption.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) It is even more difficult to comprehend why the miracle involving the gentiles was associated with "the Great Shabbos." The gentiles have no connection with Shabbos whatsoever. Indeed, a gentile who keeps the Shabbos is liable to punishment by death.

  2. (Back to text) Though this miracle took place before the Torah was given since it has been included in the Torah (as a chapter in the Shulchan Aruch), it does not place emphasis on the Torah as an entity in its own right, nor that the world does not oppose the Torah, but rather how the world's nature can be transformed and the aspects of Torah which transcend the world can be revealed within the context of the world itself.

  3. (Back to text) This is related to the explanation of the Alter Rebbe's addition of the word mamash to the Biblical phrase "a part of G-d from above" in the second chapter of Tanya. On one hand, the phrase is translated as "truly," meaning that the soul is truly a part of G-d's essence. However, the word also allows for the interpretation, "tangible," i.e., G-d's essence has been revealed in a tangible manner.

  4. (Back to text) This concept is reflected by the number eleven itself. G-d's essence is also often associated with the number one. Eleven refers to that "oneness" as it is expressed with the context of the ten Sefiros.


  3rd Day Of Nissan, 5749Eve Of 11th Of Nissan, 5749  
  
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