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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


Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol

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


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

2nd Day Of Shavuos, 5749

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  After Minchah9th Day Of Sivan, 5749  


In regard to the significance of the giving of the Torah, the Talmud relates:

On the day of Atzeres (Shavuos), Rav Yosef said: "Were it not for that day which caused [an elevation], how many Yosefs would there be in the market place?"

Rashi explains that Rav Yosef was saying: "Were it not for that day," i.e., the day associated with my studying Torah and thus being elevated, what difference would there be between me and all the other people in the market place who are called Yosef?"

Nevertheless, the precise expressions used by the Talmud raise questions: a) Why did Rav Yosef say, "How many Yosefs would there be in the market place?" What significance is the name Yosef? b) Why did Rav Yosef mention "the market place"? Why is he comparing himself to people located there? c) [The tractate Sotah relates that Rav Yosef was an extremely humble person.] Why then does he describe the contribution of the giving of the Torah in terms of himself? Why doesn't he speak of Torah objectively, as it is for itself? Though the Talmudic passage continues and states, "At the outset, a person does (studies) with himself in mind," Rav Yosef had surely proceeded beyond these preliminary stages of service.

The resolution of these questions is associated with the significance of the name Yosef which means "increase." Rav Yosef is saying that the giving of the Torah granted him a potential to increase, to make a contribution to the world that transcends the contribution made by others. Their contribution is made "in the market place," while the contribution Rav Yosef makes is on a much higher level.

The "market place" refers to the world that was created in a manner in which G-dliness is not revealed and hence, the world is characterized by separation. Though the world was created in this manner, G-d did not intend for the world to remain in that state. Rather, He desired that the Jews contribute to the world and through their service of performing "all their deeds for the sake of Heaven," and through the fulfillment of mitzvos, reveal G-dly light within the world and transform the world into a dwelling place for G-d.[120]

Rav Yosef implied that despite the high level of this service, the contribution ("increase") made through the study of Torah is more significant. Furthermore, as will be explained, the study of Torah allows one to bring about a higher level of refinement of the world.

The difference is as follows: When a person "Performs all your deeds for the sake of Heaven," and "Knows G-d in all Your ways," he adds a dimension of G-dliness to the world which did not exist previously. Nevertheless, the fundamental nature of the material environment in which he lives remains worldly, without any fundamental change. Though he is a Yosef, he is contributing to the world, he remains "in the market place," within the realm of worldly experience and not inside a holy place, e.g., a house of study.

Even the fulfillment of mitzvos which refine and elevate the material articles with which they are performed have only a limited effect. The physical article becomes a vessel for the revelation of G-d's will. However, the extent of the connection to G-dliness is not complete. Mitzvos are called "the limbs of the king." This implies that just as a person's limbs are totally given over to his soul to the extent that they have no independent existence, similarly, the mitzvos are extensions of G-d's will. However, just as our limbs are not our souls, the connection between mitzvos and G-d's will is not complete.

Similarly, though the very word mitzvah is related to the word tzavta meaning "connection," that connection is limited. The Tanya states that a person who performs a mitzvah becomes "a chariot" for G-d's will. However, just as a chariot remains separate from the person driving it, there is a difference between the person performing the mitzvah and G-d who commanded its performance.

In contrast, the unity with G-d established through Torah study is complete. "The Torah and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are one." They are united, not as two separate objects that are joined together, but rather as a single entity. Therefore, the study of Torah also allows for the establishment of a complete bond between a Jew and the Torah and a Jew and G-d.

When a Jew studies and understands a Torah concept (which is "G-d's will and G-d's wisdom," "comprehending it, grasping it, and encompassing it in his mind"), he (within the context of his own individual existence) becomes one with the Torah "in a wondrous unity" to which there is no comparison in physical terms, becoming "totally unified and at one from all sides and corners." Through this unity with the Torah, the person who studies becomes one with G-d, for "He and His wisdom are one. He is the Knower and He is the Knowledge."

The potential for such unity was granted with the giving of the Torah. Indeed, from the time the Torah was given onwards, the clarification of Torah law is dependent on the decisions of a Jew in this physical world. "Heavenly voices are of no significance" in rendering a decision. On the contrary, G-d and the heavenly court come and hear the decision rendered by a court of men in this world.

The person thus becomes a master of the Torah he has studied as evidenced by the law: Should a sage desire, he can forego the honor due him.[121] Also, his decisions in Torah study become dependent on his own powers of understanding. Thus, the complete unity that a person can establish with the Torah can and must permeate his own intellectual abilities and thus, the totality of his personality.

The paradigm for this process is our teacher, Moshe. We find that the entire Torah is considered his as the prophet declared, "Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant."[122] Afterwards, this potential was given over to the Sages as it is said, "Who are our kings? Our rabbis." Since "the Torah and G-d are one" and a sage unites completely with the Torah he studies, when he renders a decision he is like a king who commands a statute.

Based on the above, we can appreciate the advantage of the service of Yosef in Torah (i.e., the Jews' potential to increase and contribute) over that of Yosef "in the marketplace" (the contribution made through the refinement of the world at large). Through the study of Torah, a Jew establishes unity with G-d on a level that cannot be paralleled in physical terms (nor in the service of refining the physical). Thus, Torah study surpasses the service of refinement for in the latter service, on a revealed level, unity is not established with G-d.

Within the study of Torah itself, there are also two levels: The study of Torah as a Zevulun, i.e., Torah study is only one dimension of one's service throughout the day. He has another occupation and fixes a specific period in the morning and a specific period in the evening for Torah study. During the time he studies, he becomes one with the Torah (and thus, with G-d) in complete unity, he, nevertheless, spends the majority of his day "in the market place," involved with material affairs.

The most complete evidence of the effect of the giving of the Torah can be seen in those for whom "Torah is their occupation;" i.e., their unity with Torah continues the entire day, permeating their entire existence. There remains no aspect of their lives which is not connected with Torah.

Based on the above, we can also understand why in the passage quoted above, Rav Yosef mentions the effect the giving of the Torah had on him personally and why the Talmud states that, "At the outset, a person does (study) with himself in mind." On the surface, this is contrary to the desired intent of a Jew's service. Seemingly, it would be proper for a Jew to nullify himself entirely, appreciating that he has only one purpose for existence, "I was created only to serve my Creator." Nevertheless, the Torah teaches him to begin his service "with himself in mind."

However, since the intent of creation is "to make a dwelling place for Him in the lower worlds," the existence of "the lower worlds" should not be negated. Rather, the very existence of our world within its own context should become "a dwelling place for Him." Therefore, an approach of self-negation alone is not sufficient. One must be complete as a person with his own existence and that individual existence should become one with G-d. This is established through the perfect unity established through Torah study.

Therefore, the above passage emphasizes the need to study "with one's self in mind," since in this fashion, a person establishes unity between his own individual personality and Torah. To point this out, the first of the Ten Commandments states, "I am the L-rd, your G-d," using the singular form of the word "your."

E-lokim -- "G-d" -- also has the meaning "strength and life-energy." The Ten Commandments emphasize how a person's strength and life-energy emanates from "I am the L-rd," to teach each person that he must establish unity with the Torah according to his own character and thinking processes and in this way, establish "a dwelling place for G-d in the lower worlds."

First, the "dwelling" is established within the mind of the person studying Torah and, afterwards, it is extended to his surrounding environment. Thus, the existence of the world is not negated, but is transformed. The "market place" does not remain as it was, it becomes G-d's dwelling.[123] Each and every element of creation perceives how "all the entities in the heaven and the earth... came into being only from the truth of His being." Within the existence of the world, it becomes apparent that "there is nothing aside from Him."[124]

It is for this reason that Rav Yosef compares himself to those in the "market place." Rav Yosef also has an effect on the world at large, contributing the unique dimension of oneness and unity made possible by the giving of the Torah to the world.

The potential to establish unity between the spiritual and physical realms, which the Torah endows to those who study it, stems from the fact that the Torah is essentially above the limits of both the physical and the spiritual realms and, therefore, can establish unity between them. Therefore, the mitzvos were given together with Torah to show that the "dwelling for G-d" established through mitzvos is an outgrowth of the inner connection between man and G-d established by the Torah.

"These days are remembered and celebrated." Each year, all the spiritual influences associated with "the day that caused [an elevation]," the giving of the Torah are revealed anew, thus granting us the potential to bring unity into the "market place."[125] Thus, it can be understood that on Shavuos, each Jew is given new power to increase his Torah study, beginning a new epoch, transforming the coming year into a year of Torah. Although one already has "fixed times for Torah study," the new potential granted by the holiday of Shavuos should motivate one to increase his study. The decision to make such an increase will itself bring about abundant blessings from G-d in regard to children, health, and prosperity.


The increase in Torah study[126] mentioned above must involve the totality of the Jewish people, men women, and children. Every Jew must invest renewed energy in his sessions of Torah study, with all the enthusiasm associated with having received the Torah anew.

In particular, the holiday of Shavuos is associated with three leaders of the Jewish people: Moshe, who received the Torah on Mount Sinai, King David and the Baal Shem Tov, whose yahrzeits are on Shavuos. Accordingly, the increase in Torah study mentioned above should also include an increase in the study of Chitas[127] which includes texts connected with each of these leaders. The study of Chumash is associated with Moshe, Psalms, with King David who authored it, and Tanya with the Baal Shem Tov.

[The latter point is evident from the approbations printed in the text which state that "Now Israel [i.e., the Baal Shem Tov] will rejoice." Similarly, today's portion of Tanya, the first chapter of Sha'ar HaYichud VeHaEmunah, attributes the interpretation of the verse "Forever, L-rd, Your word stands in the heavens" to the Baal Shem Tov although the same interpretation is also found in the Midrash, in order to emphasize the contribution of the Baal Shem in explaining and spreading this teaching.]

Also, this increase should involve a strengthening of the study of the Rambam's Mishneh Torah (if possible, according to the schedule of three chapters a day, and at the very minimum, one chapter a day or Sefer HaMitzvos.)[128] An effort should be made to arrange study sessions in public. In particular, after the holiday of Shavuos, Kinusei Torah (gatherings dedicated to Torah study) should be organized in every community.

There is another point relevant to this concept. According to Torah law, every moment of one's day should be devoted to Torah study. However, because one also has an obligation to support one's wife and family and, therefore, must devote a large portion of one's day to mundane activities, one is allowed to fulfill one's obligation of Torah study by setting aside a portion of time for Torah study each morning and evening. Thus, should G-d grant a person additional wealth and prosperity, he must devote more time to Torah study.

The holiday of Shavuos shares a particular connection to material blessings as implied by our Sages' statement: "Everyone agrees that on Shavuos, 'lechem' (material satisfaction) is required." When a person is granted these material blessings, he will be able to devote more time and energy to Torah study.

If a person will argue, "I am not involved in business for myself. The reason I am so deeply involved is so that I will be able to give more to charity." The way to determine if this is so or not is to see how he conducts his business. Does the person do only what is necessary in order to make a vessel for G-d's blessings and use his free time for Torah study or does he follow a worldly perspective, accepting whatever leniencies in Torah he can find?[129]

May the above motivate an increase of Torah study in the coming days and in the entire year that follows and may this increase in Torah study hasten the time when the unity between G-d, Israel, and Torah will be revealed in the world at large with the coming of the Mashiach. May it be now, immediately.



  1. (Back to text) This is implied by the narrative of creation which concludes describing "all His work which G-d created to do." Our Sages explained that "to do" means "to correct," that G-d left the task of "correcting" and completing to the creation to man.

  2. (Back to text) Translator's Note: The honor with which he should be treated is due the Torah and not due him individually. Hence, one might think that he has no power to forego it. Nevertheless, since the Torah he studies is considered "his," he is given the choice whether to forego this honor or not.

  3. (Back to text) The unity Moshe established with the Torah is dependent on the fact that he was "My servant," i.e. completely given over to G-d with no independent existence of His own. This is evident from his very name which means "he was drawn out from the water." The creations of the water are united with their source to the extent that, according to one Talmudic opinion, they are not considered to have any independent identity at all. Similarly in regard to Moshe, "the Divine Presence spoke from his throat," [he would say "I" even though with that pronoun he referred to G-d and not to himself.]

    {Interestingly, this name was given to him by gentiles. Even gentiles were able to recognize how he was totally at one with G-d.}

  4. (Back to text) A person reveals himself most in his private dwelling. Also, a pleasant dwelling encourages such revelation. The same applies in regard to our world, G-d's "dwelling." It is here in our world where He is revealed to a greater degree and through our service in making the "dwelling" pleasant, we can enhance this revelation.

  5. (Back to text) This expression implies that "with Him" there can be existence, each element of the world can reflect His essential oneness. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 25, p. 202.

  6. (Back to text) The renewed influence of the holiday of Shavuos is enhanced by making full use of the days of preparation for the holiday, the counting of the Omer, Rosh Chodesh Sivan which is associated with the unity of Jews (See the Sichos of Rosh Chodesh Sivan) and the complete bittul associated with the declaration of Na'aseh V'Nishmah on the fifth of Sivan. There is also the contribution of the seventh of Sivan, the first full day following the unity between the spiritual and the physical brought about by the giving of the Torah (See the Sichos of the sixth of Sivan).

    This three stage sequence: a) complete bittul in preparation to receive the Torah (the fifth of Sivan), b) the giving of the Torah and the receiving of the Torah (the sixth of Sivan), c) the unity between the spiritual and the physical (the seventh of Sivan), is reflected in our everyday lives.

    As soon as we awake in the morning, we declare "Modeh Ani," expressing our bittul to G-d. The recitation of the Shema establishes a connection to G-d which parallels that of the giving of the Torah, and the Shemoneh Esreh prayers when a Jew stands before G-d as a slave before his master reflects the unity with G-d associated with the seventh of Sivan. This unity is continued in one's service in the world at large that follows prayer in which one extends this unity -- and as explained above, the deeper unity brought about by Torah study -- to one's surrounding environment.

  7. (Back to text) The concept of increasing Torah study can also be related to the weekly portion, Parshas Naso, which begins "Lift up the heads," implying that even the heads, the most elevated parts of our being must be lifted to an even higher level.

  8. (Back to text) This implies a reinforcement of the daily study sessions and also studying with increased depth.

  9. (Back to text) At least one halachah in the daily study session should be studied in depth.

  10. (Back to text) An example of such an error are those who remove their beards, explaining that this is necessary for their businesses. They do not realize that the thirteen points of the beard reflect G-d's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy and are thirteen paths for Divine blessing.

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