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Shabbos Parshas Behar-Bechukosai

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

Shavuos & Shabbos Parshas Naso, 5750

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  2nd Day of Sivan, 575011th Day of Sivan, 5750  

1

In[44] regard to the new dimension of service brought about by the giving of the Torah, the Talmud quotes Rav Yosef's statement:

If it were not for that day which caused [a radical change]... how many Yosefs would there be in the marketplace?

Rashi explains:

If it were not for the day on which I studied Torah and became uplifted... Behold, there are many people in the street named Yosef. What difference would there be between me and them?

Chassidus interprets Rachel's prayer upon naming Yosef, "May G-d add on to me another son" to refer to the service of transforming "another," a person estranged from his Jewish roots, into a son. This service is carried out in "the marketplace,"[45] where the secular aspects of the world are dominant and involves transforming them into holiness. This, in turn, contributes additional light[46] in the sphere of holiness.

This service existed before the giving of the Torah. On the contrary, the statement, "How many Yosefs would there be in the marketplace?", implies that even if, ", the Torah had not been given, there would be many people capable of carrying out this service. Indeed, the Biblical Yosef lived before the giving of the Torah,[47] and, nevertheless, he brought down holiness into the most coarse place in this world, the land of Egypt. He ruled that country with the king's power and surely, was able to bring about an increase in holiness[48] in that land.[49]

Similarly, the Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchok, and Ya'akov, all "carried out the entire Torah before it was given" and through their activities, revealed additional holiness within the world. For example, Avraham built several altars. Yitzchok occupied himself in agriculture[50] for the purpose of giving tzedakah and Ya'akov, through his labor with the sheep of Lavan, drew down holiness in the world. Similarly, Ya'akov's sons carried out the heritage of Avraham, "keeping the path of G-d, doing righteousness and justice," and thus, revealed holiness in the world.

G-d created the world to allow for such an increase of holiness as implied by our Sages in their commentary on the verse, "And He rested from all the work which G-d had created to function." The Sages interpret the latter phrase as, "to correct," teaching that man can become a partner in creation by revealing an additional degree of holiness in the world.

Furthermore, making this addition brings into being a new world, as it were. The element of holiness man contributes to the world changes its nature entirely. Thus, our Sages commented, "Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, creates worlds, [Ya'akov,] your ancestor, creates worlds." This potential was bequeathed to each and every Jew since every Jew's soul was included in the soul of the Patriarch, Ya'akov.

This service of revealing holiness does not relate to the new dimension brought about by the giving of the Torah. On the contrary, as explained above, this service was carried out prior to the giving of the Torah. Rather the giving of the Torah made possible an entirely different type of activity. Our Sages declared: Before the giving of the Torah, there was a decree[51] separating the spiritual realms from the physical. Before the giving of the Torah, holiness could not be internalized within the world. Then, a worldly article could not become transformed into a holy entity. After the Torah was given, this decree was nullified and the potential was granted to transform the material dimensions of our existence into holiness.

This process of elevation is connected with the concept of unity. The world is characterized by division and multiplicity. Before the giving of the Torah, the holiness that individuals were able to draw down reinforced -- rather than obliterated -- the divisions of the world. Thus, we find the Patriarchs each expressing a different spiritual quality -- Avraham, kindness; Yitzchok, power; Ya'akov, beauty -- but not making a fundamental change in the world. On the contrary, even after their service, the world remained fundamentally material and divergent in nature.

[This is alluded to in the expression: "How many Yosefs would their be in the marketplace?" "How many Yosefs" clearly alludes to the idea of multiplicity. Similarly, the very expression "marketplace" with its various different business customs and practices reflects multiplicity.]

In contrast, the giving of the Torah introduced the concept of unity within the world ("the marketplace"). The Torah revealed a unity which transcends the divisions of the world and, hence, has the potential to lift the world above those divisions and unify it, making it a private domain for G-d.

The above concepts can be further explained within the context of the clarification of a problematic statement of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The Talmud quotes Rabbi Shimon as saying:

I have seen "men of ascendancy" and they are few. If there are a thousand.... If there are a hundred.... If there are two, they are myself and my son, and if there are one, it is I.

There are several difficulties with this statement: a) Why does Rabbi Shimon say, "I have seen... and they are few." Why isn't the statement made in an objective manner: "There are few 'men of ascendancy.' " b) Why are there several numbers mentioned, implying that Rabbi Shimon was in doubt over the number of "men of ascendancy." Since this teaching remains for posterity, it is questionable why the Torah -- the Torah of light which provides direction for the Jews -- does not provide clarity on the issue. c) If the amount of "men of ascendancy" is so few, of what value is the teaching? What is its relevance to each member of the Jewish people?

These questions can be resolved as follows: Everything in the physical world has its source in the higher spiritual realms and thus, can be expressed in the service of G-d. For example, the fire of the animal soul has to be offered on the altar, i.e., it must be dedicated to the love of G-d. A house of two stories has to be conceived of as a Beis HaMikdash in microcosm. Just as the Beis HaMikdash had two levels, each person has to conceive of his service as having several levels.

This is accomplished by the Jewish people who are all "men of ascendency," i.e., they elevate the world and transform it into a dwelling for G-d. This service is connected with being "few." Homiletically, this means diminishing one's self-pride, adopting an approach of selflessness, and erasing the differences that separate one person from another. Although various individuals may be characterized by different thrusts of service, one must appreciate the essential oneness that permeates them all.

In the application of this principle in our everyday life, there are several levels (as implied by Rabbi Shimon's statements, "If there are a thousand," "If there are a hundred,"...). It is impossible to begin the service on the level of "There is one." First, one must begin on the levels of "there are one thousand," "there are one hundred," until one has internalized the approach of selflessness.

Rabbi Shimon prefaces his teaching with the declaration, "I have seen men of ascendency." Sight has a powerful effect on our consciousness. An idea which one hears, even testimony which is given by two kosher witnesses, may later be questioned. In contrast, something which one sees leaves a permanent impression. Similarly, the influence which "men of ascendancy" have on those with whom they come in contact parallels the lasting effect synonymous with sight.

The potential for the service of "men of ascendancy" and their influence in transforming the world into a dwelling for G-d was made possible by the giving of the Torah. Before the giving of the Torah, there was a decree separating the spiritual from the physical. With the giving of the Torah, that decree was nullified and it was possible for the spiritual to descend to the physical and the physical to ascend to the spiritual. The intent is not only that the influence of the spiritual be felt within the physical world, but that the physical be lifted up and -- through the activities of "men of ascendancy" -- its fundamental nature be changed.

With this explanation, we can understand the passage quoted originally. Rav Yosef wanted to emphasize that the giving of the Torah negates division in the world. Therefore, he spoke about "the marketplace," a metaphor for separation and "many Yosefs." In contrast, the giving of the Torah granted the potential for "me to study Torah and become uplifted," to rise above the world of division.

This elevation is accomplished more through the study of Torah than the performance of mitzvos. Mitzvos also leave room for multiplicity. Thus, there are 248 positive mitzvos (corresponding to the body's 248 limbs) and 365 negative mitzvos (corresponding to the body's 365 sinews). In contrast, there is one Torah (as there is one life-force which flows through the blood, vitalizing the limbs).

The reason for this difference is that mitzvos were given to enclothe themselves within the limitations of the world, recognizing the contexts of time and space.[52] In contrast, Torah, even as it descends within this world remains "G-d's wisdom," above the frame of reference of both man and the world. Therefore, in his commentary to the above passage, Rashi emphasizes that it was through the study of Torah which Rav Yosef was lifted up above the realm of multiplicity.

This concept is also reflected in the parshiyos which are read before and after the holiday of Shavuos, Bamidbar and Naso.[53] Both emphasize how the Torah lifts a person above the world at large.

Bamidbar means "in the desert." Our Sages explain that the Torah was given in the desert to demonstrate that during the time he studies Torah, a person must be cut off entirely from the outside world. No other people, not even animals or plants, should disturb him from developing a perfect union with G-d through studying Torah.

Parshas Naso begins "lift up the heads of the children of Israel." Its being read after Shavuos indicates how the way one can truly "lift up" one's head (i.e., one's intellect, the most elevated aspect of one's personality) is through Torah study. Furthermore, after a person is himself lifted up in this manner, he has the potential to elevate the world around him.

On the verse, "these days are recalled and carried out," the Arizal explains that when a holiday is recalled in the proper manner, it is "carried out," i.e., the spiritual influences which distinguished it are revealed once more. Indeed, based on the principle, "Always proceed higher in holy matters," we can assume that the revelation is on a higher level than previously. Thus, each year, the celebration of the giving of the Torah can lift a person to a higher level, taking him above the realm of multiplicity as explained above. This should inspire each person to make a new and deeper commitment to Torah study. These days -- the week between the holiday of Shavuos and the 12th of Sivan, the conclusion of the days of Tashlumin for Shavuos, are particularly suited for making resolutions of this nature.

The above is particularly true this year, ", "a year of miracles," when the entire Jewish people are lifted above the limits of nature.

[In this context, the Rebbe Shlita initiated a new campaign, which he described as "a matter of immediate necessity," stressing the importance of public sessions of Torah study and asking each individual, man, woman, or child, to head such a session. The sichos which mention this campaign were combined and adopted into the essay, "Each Jew: A Teacher and Student of Torah" which was printed under a separate cover.]


2

In Lubavitch, it was customary to refer to Shavuos as Chag HaMutzos,[54] "the Rabbis' festival." Mutz (") is an acronym for the Hebrew words, Moreh Tzedek, the title used to refer to a community's Rabbi. On Shavuos, many Rabbis would come to Lubavitch.[55]

Surely, the Rabbis would have liked to spend all the festivals together with the Rebbeim, but on Pesach and Sukkos, they were unable to leave their congregations.

On Pesach, they were occupied with the many halachic rulings associated with the observance of that holiday. Similarly, on Sukkos, there were many questions concerning the Lulav and Esrog and the Sukkah which required their attention. [Furthermore, it was customary to purchase a Lulav and Esrog from the Rabbi, paying slightly more than necessary as a gesture of respect to the Rabbi.] In contrast, on Shavuos there are relatively few halachic questions[56] and thus, the Rabbis were able to spend time with the Rebbeim.

Shavuos is an appropriate time for such visits because, as "the season of the giving of our Torah," it is intrinsically related to a Rabbi's function. The word Torah has its source in the word which means "directive." Similarly, a Rabbi is the source for halachic directives within his community, showing his congregants how to live according to Torah law.[57] This is implied by the term, Moreh Tzedek, which literally means "one who gives directives for justice."[58]

Today, the Rabbis' visits to Lubavitch are reflected in the many Rabbis who have come to celebrate Shavuos in today's Lubavitch, the Previous Rebbe's synagogue and house of study. It is proper that the Rabbis take advantage of this opportunity and use these meetings to clarify contemporary halachic questions, particularly those that have been aroused because of the advance of science. Among them: a) the use of many modern machines on Shabbos, b) the place of certain new medical techniques[59] within halachah, c) questions involving psychology and other issues concerning the "health of the soul."

In this context all the Rabbis here (and also, all those who have received Semichah or who are fit to receive Semichah) should say Le'Chayim. May this be the last Le'Chayim recited in exile for in the immediate future, G-d will carry out the decision implied by our Sages' statement, "All the appointed times for Moshiach's coming have past" and we will proceed to the complete and ultimate redemption. May it be in the immediate future. {Moshiach's coming is also related to the gathering of these Rabbis for the term " can also be considered an acronym for the words Moshiach Tzidkainu, "our righteous Moshiach."}

Each Jew -

A Student and Teacher

of Torah

A new campaign which the Lubavitcher Rebbe calls, "A matter of immediate necessity." An opportunity for each individual to contribute as well as receive Torah knowledge.

The Jewish holidays are more than mere commemorations of past history. They are times for us to relive and personally experience the events which occurred in our nation's past.

Shavuos is "the season of the giving of our Torah," recalling G-d's endowment of the Torah to the Jewish people. The Previous Rebbe's traditional Shavuos blessing, that "we receive the Torah with happiness and inner feeling," however, reflects a slightly different dimension, implying that the holiday also marks the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish people.

Our personal experience of the Shavuos festival should thus, reflect both these qualities: giving and receiving the Torah. These two dimensions can also be seen in the opening Mishnah of Pirkei Avos whose second cycle of study begins directly after the holiday of Shavuos. That Mishnah begins: "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai" -- the acceptance of the Torah; "and transmitted it" -- teaching it to others. The final clause of this Mishnah explains the manner in which one should teach, "Raise up many students," i.e., one should not confine one's teachings to a select few, but should seek to expand them to the widest scope possible.

Thus, the celebration of Shavuos should inspire each individual to intensify his commitment to Torah study and to add to the fixed times of study which he has established both in the revealed teachings of Torah law and in P'nimiyus HaTorah, Torah's mystic dimension.

In particular, attention should be paid to the daily study of Chitas [Chumash, Tehillim (Psalms), and Tanya] and the study of the Rambam's Mishneh Torah according to the three-pronged daily study program. Indeed, we must go beyond the limits we have already established and "steal" time from our other activities to devote to Torah study.

Becoming a Teacher

Beyond this, each individual should also endeavor to share his Torah knowledge by establishing a new Torah shiur ("study session") in which he will teach others, preferably at least ten individuals.

This applies to every single Jew -- man, woman, or child. Each one -- according to his knowledge and ability -- should organize a shiur in which he teaches others. This is a matter of immediate necessity and should be publicized throughout the entire world.

Woman to woman

Our Sages emphasized that when G-d told Moshe to prepare the Jews to receive the Torah, He told him to approach the women first. Similarly, in the above context, besides attending shiurim in regard to the mitzvos they are obligated to fulfill (which should include the study of P'nimiyus HaTorah, for its study enables one to fulfill the mitzvos of the love and fear of G-d), each woman should endeavor to deliver a shiur herself. This public Torah study will inspire not only these women themselves, but their entire household as well.

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, You established strength" (Psalms 8:3)

Children should also participate in this campaign. In addition to their study in chadarim, yeshivos, and Torah schools, each child should establish a shiur in which he or she teaches other children, for example, teaching them alef-beis or Chumash. Indeed, children have a natural desire to influence others. By encouraging them to teach Torah, this tendency can be utilized in a positive manner.

Responding to our Generation's Urgent Need

The need to reach out and involve others in study groups is particularly pressing in the present age. There are hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children who lack knowledge of the elemental aspects of Torah and mitzvos. These are the last moments before the coming of Moshiach and to prepare for his coming, it is necessary to "spread the wellsprings outward," to extend the knowledge of Torah, both Torah law and P'nimiyus HaTorah, to as many individuals as possible.

Implicit in this directive is also an effort to educate non-Jews regarding the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his descendants. The Rambam writes, "Moshe was commanded by the Almighty to influence all the inhabitants of the world to accept the seven mitzvos commanded to Noach's descendants."(Laws of Kings 8:10) This also has a Messianic dimension, for it will herald the coming of the age when "the occupation of the entire world (Jews and non-Jews) will be only to know G-d." (Ibid., 12:5)

Realizing Our Good Resolutions

It's human nature to feel greater motivation when one's efforts are acknowledged by a person of authority. Accordingly, it is appropriate that each individual notify his Rav about his efforts in the above areas. Those who desire should also send a record of their activities to be read at the gravesite of the Previous Rebbe. This will add blessing wherever it is required.

Indeed, our Sages (Ta'anis 31a) have assured that an increase in Torah study will bring about increased blessings in all matters, particularly, as Rashi mentions, extended life. May this also lead to the ultimate blessing, the advent of the age when, "They shall teach no longer a man his colleague... because they will all know Me," (Yermiyahu 31:33) with the coming of Moshiach and the ultimate and complete redemption. May it be in the immediate future.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Trans. Note: The sichos of these two days were combined, prepared for printing, and edited by the Rebbe Shlita as a single entity. Hence, they are being translated in a like manner.

  2. (Back to text) The word "marketplace" is used because this implies, not only an area of public domain, but a place where transactions are carried out. This refers to the service of transferring property from the domain of worldliness to the domain of holiness.

  3. (Back to text) This also is a reflection of the quality of Yosef whose name is associated with making additions.

  4. (Back to text) He also lived before the exile in Egypt which was a necessary preparation for the giving of the Torah. (The servitude the Jews suffered refined them and made them fit to receive the Torah. A parallel to this exists in our age. Through servitude in Torah study, we prepare ourselves for the Torah that will be revealed in the Messianic age.)

  5. (Back to text) In Hebrew, a name is the medium which brings an entity into existence, gives it life, and, hence, expresses its basic nature. Since Yosef's name is associated with the concept of making an addition, we can assume that his service reflected this quality.

  6. (Back to text) This can be seen in Yosef's forcing of the Egyptians to circumcise themselves.

  7. (Back to text) Yitzchok carried out this agricultural activity in the land of the Philistines which, although part of Eretz Yisrael, is considered on a lower level. Thus, although he was considered as "a perfect sacrifice" and therefore, never left Eretz Yisrael, he also was involved in drawing holiness down to the lower levels.

  8. (Back to text) The Hebrew for decree, , also has the meaning "cut off." The spiritual and the physical were cut off from each other.

  9. (Back to text) Indeed, there are mitzvos which are referred to as meaning "mitzvos caused by time," i.e., it is the time which evokes the performance of the mitzvah.

  10. (Back to text) Parshas Bamidbar is always read before Shavuos, while Parshas Naso is sometimes read before the holiday and sometimes, after it.

  11. (Back to text) The relationship with Chag HaMatzos, "the festival of matzos," is not merely phonetic. The essential quality necessary for a Rabbi to reach an appreciation of Torah law is bittul ("selflessness") for which matzah is a symbol.

  12. (Back to text) On the first day of Shavuos, the Tzemach Tzedek would hold a nigleh tish, at which all the Rabbis would ask halachic questions.

  13. (Back to text) The above is born out by a casual perusal of the amount of chapters in the Shulchan Aruch dedicated to these subjects. The laws of Pesach and similarly, the laws pertaining to a Sukkah and the Lulav and Esrog, take up many chapters of this text. In contrast, there is only one chapter devoted to the laws of Shavuos.

  14. (Back to text) The potential to give halachic directives was granted on Mount Sinai when G-d gave the Torah to the Jews. From that time onward, the power to author halachic decisions was in this world and not in the higher spiritual realms.

  15. (Back to text) The use of the word tzedek for "justice," rather than din implies that the justice has to be tempered with kindness, for tzedek is related to the word tzedakah. Although a Rabbi's decision must be one of justice, that path of justice must be motivated by a desire for kindness. Similarly, in his role within the community, the Rabbi must show others how to go beyond the measure of the law. {This is reflected in several instances of halachic rulings which consider a behavior that was once considered as "beyond the measure of the law" as obligatory in the present context.}

  16. (Back to text) In this context, it is worthy to mention the importance of preventive medicine, medical advice which prevents the onset of illness. From his statements in Hilchos De'os, we can conclude that this was surely the Rambam's approach.


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