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Shabbos Parshas Behar-Bechukosai

   24th Day of Iyar, 5750

The Address to the International Convention of N'shei uBnos Chabad

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Shavuos & Shabbos Parshas Naso, 5750

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Behaalos'cha

To the Graduating Class of Bais Rivkah and the Girls who will be Serving as Counselors in Summer Camps

Shabbos Parshas Shelach

Shabbos Parshas Korach

Shabbos Parshas Chukas

Shabbos Parshas Balak

Yechidus

17th Day of Tammuz, 5750

Shabbos Parshas Pinchas

25th of Tammuz, 5750

Shabbos Parshas Matos-Masei

Shabbos Parshas Devarim, Shabbos Chazon

Shabbos Parshas Va'eschanan, Shabbos Nachamu

Shabbos Parshas Eikev

Tzivos Hashem, Day Camps

Shabbos Parshas Re'eh

Shabbos Parshas Shoftim

To the Campers of Emunah

Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei

Shabbos Parshas Ki Savo

N'shei uBnos Chabad

Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech

The Blessing Delivered by the Rebbe Shlita upon Receiving the Pan Klali

Sichos In English
Volume 45

Shabbos Parshas Behar-Bechukosai
24th Day of Iyar, 5750
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 25th of Iyar, 5750  

1

On this Shabbos, we bless the month of Sivan, the third month of the year, the month which contains "the season of the giving of our Torah." Our Sages connect the giving of the Torah with the number three, "G-d gave a threefold light to a threefold people through the third [of Amram's children]... in the third month."

The connection with three is further emphasized by the fact that generally, the Shabbos on which the month of Sivan is blessed falls on the Shabbos when the reading of the Book of Vayikra, the third book of the Torah, is completed. Furthermore, when that reading is concluded, we declare: chazak, chazak, vinischazeik ("Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened"), a threefold statement, reinforcing our commitment to Torah.

The concept can be explained as follows: The Torah was given on Mount Sinai to show a person how to serve G-d within the context of this physical world and how to conduct himself in accordance with G-d's will. In this manner, the person's entire being, body and soul, will be permeated with holiness and through these activities, he will be able to refine the world around him.

To make this possible, G-d gave the Torah in a manner which is appropriate for a human being and this material world, so that it can permeate through and encompass man and the world in a complete manner. Accordingly, since there are three divisions within man and within the world at large, the Torah is also associated with this number.

To explain: A healthy person's behavior is balanced between thought, speech, and action. Generally, a person first thinks through a desired activity. Afterwards, he takes counsel with knowledgeable friends (speech), and then acts accordingly. There are two aspects to this concept: a) All three phases are necessary. It is not sufficient for a concept to remain on the level of thought or speech. Rather, it must be brought down to the level of deed. On the contrary, particularly, in the context of our world, "deed is most essential." The expression of a concept in deed adds a dimension of completeness to the levels of thought and speech. b) For deed to be complete, it must be preceded by thought and speech. Otherwise, it will be rash and haphazard. When a deed is thought out and talked over with friends, it is performed with the confidence that this is the proper way to deal with the question and thus, it is performed in a more successful manner.

Indeed, there always has to be a hesitation between thought and speech and deed. There is an allusion to this concept in the Hebrew letter, Hay (). The Hay has three lines which reflect the three potentials of thought, speech, and action. Two lines (thought and speech) are joined together. The third line (deed) is, however, separated from the previous two to indicate that one must pause and think over one's deeds.[1] Even though one is sure (on the level of thought and speech) that one is doing the proper thing, before one actually performs a deed, one must hesitate and reconsider the matter.[2]

Thus, it is through the exercise of these three potentials that a person reaches a level of perfection. Similarly, based on the principle that each person is "a world in microcosm," a similar order exists in the world at large.[3] Thus, there are three spiritual worlds, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, which correspond to the three potentials, thought, speech, and action. Furthermore, each of these three realms is itself broken up into three levels: Chabad (the intellectual powers), Chagas (the primary emotions), Nehim (the emotions connected with applying a concept in deed).[4]

A parallel to the concepts explained above applies in this context as well: a) This world -- and not the higher spiritual worlds -- is the ultimate purpose of the entire creation. G-d desired "a dwelling in the lower worlds," in our material realm. b) Simultaneously, in this world, we must realize that this is merely the third world, that it is the lowest level, and it receives its life-energy from the realms above it. This will allow G-dliness to be drawn down from the higher worlds into this world.

The ultimate purpose of the creation of this world, the establishment of a dwelling for G-d, is accomplished through man's service on the level of deed. In the spiritual worlds, the soul exists on a higher plane and expresses the qualities of thought (in Beriah) and speech (in Yetzirah). In this world, a person expresses all three potentials and, in particular, the potential of deed.

In this context, we can understand the expression that Torah, service, and deeds of kindness are the three pillars on which the world stands. The service of Torah is connected primarily with speech, service with thought, and deeds of kindness with action. Similarly, each mitzvah has three dimensions: its intent (thought), the blessing recited before its performance (speech), and the actual performance of the mitzvah (deed).

Of these three dimensions, "deed is most essential." For example, in regard to the recitation of the Shema, a person who meditated on the Shema with full concentration, but did not actually recite the words, did not fulfill his obligation. The actual recitation of the words is what is most important. Conversely, however, the fulfillment of a mitzvah is complete only when it is associated with the intent for the mitzvah. Otherwise, it is considered as a body without a soul.

Based on the above, we can understand the connection between the giving of the Torah and the number three. As explained above, the giving of the Torah was intended to elevate the world and refine it according to G-d's will. Since man and the world at large possess three dimensions, it is a threefold service, encompassing thought, speech, and action, that refines and elevates a person and the entire world at large. Accordingly, the Torah has itself descended to allow for such service and has expressions on all the levels of thought, speech, and action. To emphasize this, the Torah is structured as a threefold light, the recipients of Torah were a threefold people, and the time during which the Torah was given was also associated with three, the third month.

This is associated with the conclusion of the third Book of the Torah which is usually read in connection with the Shabbos on which the month of Sivan is blessed. The Book of Vayikra contains many Torah laws (in contrast to the other four Books which also contain many sections of narrative). Most of these laws involve the sacrifices in the Beis HaMikdash. That service involves three dimensions, the intent of the sacrifice, the song recited by the Levites, and the actual sacrificial service. Alternatively, these three divisions can be seen as our prayers that take the place of the sacrifices (thought), the study of the laws of the sacrifices (speech), and the actual sacrifice (deed).

The parshiyos, Behar and Bechukosai, also share a connection to the above concepts. Both of these parshiyos, begin by mentioning -- or alluding to -- the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Parshas Behar begins: "And G-d spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai..." The commentaries explain:

Just as both the general concept and the particular applications of Shemittah (the subject of this revelation) were granted at Sinai, the entire Torah was given -- both its general concepts and its particular applications -- at Sinai.

Similarly, parshas Bechukosai begins with statements about the entire Torah, "If you will walk in My statutes, keep My mitzvos, and observe them"[5] and concludes, "These are the mitzvos which the L-rd commended Moshe for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai."[6]

2

Parshas Behar begins: "When you enter the land... the land will rest as a Shabbos unto G-d. You shall sow your fields for six years... and in the seventh year, you shall rest." Even though the resting of the land, the Shemittah year, is not observed until six years have past, the Torah mentions it first, indicating that this should be the goal and purpose of settling the land. The object of our efforts should not be our material activities, but rather, drawing G-dliness into the world. The six years of agricultural work should be carried out with this intent in mind.

The phrase, "When you enter the land," can also be interpreted metaphorically to refer to the soul's descent into this material world and the "six years of sowing the land," the six millennia of service to make this world a dwelling for G-d. This service must be permeated with the intent that ultimately, "the land will rest as a Shabbos unto G-d."

On this basis, we can see a connection to the concepts described above. The service of deed, "sowing the land," must be preceded by the intention of bringing about "a Shabbos unto G-d." When this intention permeates a person's thought processes thoroughly, he can proceed to carry out this intent through the various activities required in preparing the world to be a dwelling for G-d.

This pattern is reflected in our behavior each morning. The Shulchan Aruch requires that we "meditate on before whom one is lying" (thought), recite Modeh Ani (speech), nullifying ourselves totally before G-d. This generates the potential to carry out our service throughout the day (deed).[7]

3

The potential for a Jew to serve G-d on the three planes of thought, speech, and action is derived from the fact that G-d created the world in this fashion. This concept can be explained within the context of the opening Mishnah of the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avos:

The world was created by means of Ten [Divine] Utterances. What does this come to teach us, for indeed, it could have been created by one utterance? [It was done so] in order to bring retribution upon the wicked who destroy the world which was created by ten utterances, and to bestow ample reward upon the righteous who sustain the world which was created by ten utterances.

The commentaries question: If the world could have been created with a single utterance, what difference does it make that, in fact, G-d created the world with ten utterances? If a person bought an article that was worth one dollar for ten dollars and then it was stolen, surely, the thief is not obligated to pay more than one dollar.

This difficulty can be resolved as follows: Though G-d could have created the world with a single utterance, it would have been a different world. The world would have been on the level of thought, totally nullified to G-dliness without the same concepts of limitation and differentiation that exist at present.[8]

G-d's intention, however, was not to create a spiritual world of that nature, but rather, a material world as we have before us, a world in which the creations feel their individual identities and thus, have the power of choice. In this manner, their service and self-nullification to G-d comes about, not as an innate natural tendency, but rather as a product of their own effort.

The revelation of G-dliness through service of this nature, the creation of a dwelling for G-d in the lower worlds, could not be brought about through a single utterance of creation. To allow for the existence of the world in its present state, ten utterances of creation are necessary. Therefore, the wicked and the righteous deserve the full reward or punishment as befits behavior in a world brought into being through ten statements of creation.

This explanation is problematic. Since the world as it exists now could not be created through a single utterance of creation, what is the purpose of the Mishnah's statement that, potentially, the world could have been created with a single utterance?

This question can be explained within the context of the previous concepts. As mentioned above, the thought which precedes a deed has an effect on the deed. Thus, the fact that there was a potential -- and in spiritual realms, a potential is an actuality -- to create the world with a single utterance,[9] i.e., to bring into a being a world on a higher spiritual plane, has an effect on the world as it exists at present. Though the world was created with ten utterances to create a material environment which brings about the possibility of choice, the fact that it could have been brought into existence with a single utterance endows the world with the potential to become a dwelling for G-d.[10]

To express the concept slightly differently: The potential for a dwelling for G-d to be established within the world comes from the level of a single utterance. The expression of that potential "in the lower worlds," that G-d's dwelling be established through the willful choice of creations who feel separate from Him, is made possible by the fact that, in actuality, the world was created by ten utterances.[11]

These concepts are reflected in the service of each individual. In the spiritual realms, the soul is united with G-d on the level of thought. This unity generates the potential that afterwards, as the soul descends into this world, it can carry out the intent for its existence, the service of deed, transforming the world into a dwelling place for G-d.

4

The coming days must be used in preparation for "the season of the giving of our Torah." Each individual should resolve to increase his study of Torah -- both the revealed realm of Torah law and P'nimiyus HaTorah, Torah's mystic dimension -- and fulfillment of mitzvos, stressing the interrelation of thought, speech, and deed.

In particular, based on the concept that our children are the "guarantors of the Torah," efforts should be made to bring all Jewish children, even those of a very young age, to shul on Shavuos to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. Even though the children may not appreciate what they hear, their presence has an influence on the source of their souls.

May these activities lead to the acceptance of the Torah with happiness and inner feeling and may we -- even before the holiday of Shavuos -- proceed together with Moshiach to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Temple Mount.


5

This Shabbos, the International Convention of Lubavitch Women is being held. Surely, this convention will inspire good resolutions in the service of G-d, in particular, in regard to the Convention's theme, "All your children will be students of G-d." This emphasizes the importance of the efforts of Jewish women and girls to study Torah themselves and to inspire their husbands and families to Torah study as explained in the farbrengen last Shabbos. For example, when her husband or son comes home from a study session, a woman shows interest in the subject matter and discusses it.

In this context, the lesson from the verse: "When you enter the land... the land will rest as a Shabbos unto G-d," explained above is relevant. In setting up a Jewish home, first, the purpose of the home, that it is "a house for G-d," must be established. This is relevant, on a larger scale, to young couples who are first setting up their homes and, in the context of our day to day existence, to families who are already established. When the woman of the house, described as akeres habayis (which can be interpreted as "the essence of the home"), makes a decision to make Shabbos the essential element of the house, all the mundane activities of the home will be infused by that spirit.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) There is a similar concept in the spiritual realms. The prophet refers to the three spiritual worlds, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, with the verse: "All that is called by My name... I have created it, I have formed it, yea, I have made it." The addition of the word "yea" alludes to a separation in the spiritual realms which parallels the hesitation that is required between speech and deed.

  2. (Back to text) This relates to the Previous Rebbe's statement that, before a Jew does anything, he must hesitate and look into Shulchan Aruch to see if what he intends to do is accordance with Torah law or not. This instruction applies to every Jew, even one who has studied the laws and knows them well.

  3. (Back to text) This parallel exists because the world was created for the sake of man and man was given the potential to elevate the world to its complete level of fulfillment.

  4. (Back to text) We find other parallel divisions as well. For example, our bodies are divided into three divisions (head, trunk, and feet). There are three governing organs of the body (the brain, the heart, and the liver). Each limb is made up of bones, sinews, and flesh. Similarly, there are three fundamental elements of existence: fire, air, and water. (The fourth element, earth, is included in the previous three and hence, is not considered as an independent entity. See the sichos of parshas Emor, 5750.)

    There is a further application of this concept. In Tanya, it is explained that an entity's Hebrew name reflects its life-force. The grammarians have established that there are no roots with less than three letters, i.e., since man and the world are divided into three groupings, the life-energy for each entity is also threefold in nature.

  5. (Back to text) The three verbs, "walk," "keep," and "fulfill," reflect the three means of expression, thought, speech, and action.

  6. (Back to text) There is also a connection to the concepts explained above in the verses directly preceding the concluding verse of the parshah. There, the Torah mentions the mitzvah of tithing our herds. The number ten represents three groups of three and the place in which these groupings are found. The Jews' service involves making the "the tenth holy," i.e., lifting the world, which is comprised of these ten entities, to a level of holiness.

  7. (Back to text) There is a parallel to this concept on a larger scale: A Shir HaMa'alos is hung over the bed of a new born baby to create a Torah environment which will continue to influence him throughout his life.

    This principle also sheds light on a question that has been debated: Should Modeh Ani be recited by a person who remained awake all night? The fact that Modeh Ani sets the tone for one's service throughout the day which follows would appear to indicate that such a recitation is necessary. There is a parallel to this concept in Torah law. A priest who remains awake the entire night must sanctify his hands and feet before beginning his service on the following day. Indeed, we find this concept mentioned in the laws of the Yom Kippur service which were recently studied in the daily schedule of the study of the Mishneh Torah. On Yom Kippur, the High Priest was prevented from sleeping at night. Nevertheless, in the morning, before he began his service, he had to sanctify his hands and feet.

  8. (Back to text) We see a parallel to this in the functioning of the power of thought. A single thought can include many different concepts.

  9. (Back to text) In fact, on the first day of creation, the world was brought into being by one utterance, the statement Bereishis. The existence of all the separate creations, however, did not come into full expression until the subsequent days.

  10. (Back to text) Thus, this concept continues the theme mentioned above, that an ordered process of intermediate phases is necessary to express one's ultimate purpose in actual deed. This concept is alluded to by the heading of this chapter, "Chapter 5." The Hebrew letter equivalent to five, hay (), has three lines which reflect the three potentials of thought, speech, and action. Two lines (thought and speech) are joined together. The third line (deed) is, however, separated from the previous two to indicate that one must pause and think over one's deeds, checking to see whether they are in accordance with Shulchan Aruch, rather than acting impetuously.

    The importance of preparing for one's deeds can be seen in regard to the Lag BaOmer parades where it was stressed that efforts should be made that this year's parades surpass those of the past. We see that in many places, this call stimulated extensive preparations and, accordingly, the parades were in fact more successful.

    In this context, it is worthy to stress the importance of bringing all Jewish children, even those of a very young age, to Shul on Shavuos to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. This will give expression to the concept that our children are the "guarantors of the Torah."

  11. (Back to text) The number ten is related to three groups of three (see note 5) and thus, to the concept of the interrelation of thought, speech, and action, described above.


 25th of Iyar, 5750  
  
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