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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

   Chof Av, 5750

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 Eikev
Chof Av, 5750
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  13th Day of Menachem Av, 575022nd Day of Menachem Av, 5750  

1

Each year, a yahrzeit involves an ascent to a higher spiritual level. This year, the 46th anniversary of Rav Levi Yitzchok's yahrzeit, is unique for 46 is numerically equivalent to , Rav Levi Yitzchok's first and primary name. Significantly, this week's Torah portion also mentions the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi.

The service of Levi is alluded to in the verse which the Matriarch Leah used to explain the rationale for the name Levi, "This time, my man will become attached to me." This refers to the ultimate marriage bond, with "my man" referring to G-d and "me" to the Jewish people. This attachment to G-d is reflected in the Levites' service: "to stand before G-d, to serve Him... G-d is their portion." Nevertheless, these qualities are not exclusive to the tribe of Levi alone as the Rambam writes:

Not only the tribe of Levi... but each and every person... whose generous spirit and intellectual understanding motivate him to separate himself and stand before G-d and serve Him... becomes sanctified as holy of holies.

This implies that every individual has the potential to reach the level of the Levites. Furthermore, the expression, "holy of holies," is an allusion to the High Priest, the most distinguished individual of the tribe of Levi. Even his spiritual level can be reached by others.

In particular, the service of the Levites is characterized by two qualities: On one hand, the Levites are separated from the people at large, as our Torah portion relates, "At this time, G-d separated the tribe of Levi."[204] Conversely, the Levites were charged with:

Instructing the masses in His just ways and righteous judgments as it is written, "They shall instruct Ya'akov in Your judgments and Yisrael in Your Torah."

Thus, it was their task to reach out to the entire Jewish people and lift them up to a higher level. This applies even when the Jews are on a low spiritual rung as implied by the fact that the selection of the Levites came -- as our parshah relates -- after the sin of the Golden Calf. Although the Jews had sunken to such a level, the Levites were able to lift them higher and motivate them to teshuvah.

These two extremes are also seen in the Beis HaMikdash, the place of the Levites' service. On one hand, the Beis HaMikdash -- and in particular, the Holy of Holies -- is the holiest place in the world. Conversely, the Beis HaMikdash's windows were structured so that "light would go out from there to the entire world." Similarly, the concept of a dwelling for G-d's Presence, the function of the Holy of Holies, is intended to be extended throughout the entire world until the world at large becomes, "a dwelling for G-d," a place where His essence is revealed.

These two extremes are also reflected in the primary service of the Beis Hamikdash, the offering of the sacrifices. The Sefer HaBahir states: "The secret of the sacrifices ascends to the secret of the Ayn Sof." From that level, influence is drawn down into this world, elevating all the animal, vegetable, and, mineral elements of existence.[205]

This fusion of opposites was revealed within Rav Levi Yitzchok's life. On one hand, he was an elevated individual, uplifted by his immense Torah knowledge which included both the revealed realm of Torah law and the hidden secrets of P'nimiyus HaTorah. Nevertheless, he also served as a Rav of a large city and was responsible for spreading Torah and strengthening Jewish practice throughout the region.

These activities were particularly significant because, at that time, the persecution of the Soviet Government had forced many Rabbis to reduce their public activities and remain content with observing Torah and mitzvos together with a small core of followers, and, at times, only by themselves. Some Rabbis were even coerced into signing statements for the Government which ran contrary to their own convictions or to the teachings of the Torah.

In this environment, Rav Levi Yitzchok continued to carry on his Rabbinic functions openly and proudly. Indeed, due to the vacuum of Rabbinic leadership, he spread his activities throughout Russia. Not only did he refuse to concede to the Russians' demands, he traveled to Moscow and interceded on behalf of the Jews and Torah and mitzvos with high government officials, including the President of the Country. Furthermore, he was successful in securing the observance of certain mitzvos,[206] for example, shemurah matzah.[207]

His activities were carried out at a risk to his life. As a result of this activity, he was exiled, a punishment which, from a certain perspective, is more severe than death and ultimately, he passed away in exile.

Even while in exile, he continued his activities to spread Yiddishkeit in whatever degree possible. Furthermore, it was there in which he composed his Torah writings, despite the difficulty in obtaining ink and paper, with the intention that eventually, these be published.[208]

Rav Levi Yitzchok's activities extended to the lowest aspects of existence. Thus, as Rabbi and afterwards, while in exile, he also worked to spread justice and righteousness among gentiles. In this manner, he reflected the service of Levi, extending the highest levels of spirituality throughout the world at large.

These qualities receive greater emphasis today, his yahrzeit. Although a yahrzeit commemorates the departure of a soul from the body and an ascent from this world, the Zohar teaches that the presence of a Tzaddik in all the worlds (even this physical world) is felt more powerfully after his death than in his lifetime.[209]

It is possible to receive influence from a Tzaddik by studying his teachings as implied by the Rebbe Rashab (Rav Levi Yitzchok's Rebbe) who told Chassidim at the time of his passing, "I am going to heaven, but I am leaving my writings for you." This implies that through studying his writings, it is possible to establish a connection with him as he is "in heaven."

This concept can be explained as follows: The word Anochi (the first word of the Ten Commandments) is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "I wrote down and gave over Myself," i.e., by giving the Torah, G-d gave Himself over to the Jews. Since, "the righteous resemble their Creator," they also invest themselves in the texts they compose.

Similarly, in the world at large, after his passing a tzaddik effects even the lowest levels of existence:

All [a tzaddik's] deeds, teachings, and service which he carried out throughout his lifetime are revealed and shine... from above downward at the time of his passing,... bringing about salvation in the world, atoning for the sins of the generation.

On the day of a tzaddik's yahrzeit, he ascends to an even higher level.[210] Nevertheless, these high peaks are also drawn down into this world -- to those who follows the tzaddik's teaching and to the world at large -- as obvious from the text of the Kaddish: "May His great name be exalted and hallowed... May His great name be blessed forever and ever." The Hebrew word for "blessed" also has the connotation, "be extended" and the Hebrew for "forever," can also mean, "to the world." Thus, the above verse can mean: "May G-d's great Name be extended into the world."

To explain this concept from a deeper perspective: Before the soul descends into this world, it is described "as standing," i.e., confined to a particular level beyond which it cannot advance. Through the descent into a physical body and the service of Torah and mitzvos within the context of our material world, the soul is given the potential to proceed. Thus, all the ascents of the soul in the spiritual worlds are dependent on the soul's service in this realm.

Because the soul's service on this plane is the source for its potential to ascend, all the peaks to which it ascends have an effect in this world, influencing the students who are connected to that soul. This, in turn, gives the soul the potential for further and higher ascents. Also, it hastens the coming of the ultimate fulfillment for the soul when it will again encloth itself in this world in the Era of Resurrection.[211]

2

The date of Rav Levi Yitzchok's yahrzeit, the 20th of Av, also provides us with a lesson. The Hebrew word for 20 () is numerically equivalent to the Hebrew word Kesser, meaning "crown." There are ten Sefiros, each of which has a dimension which rises upward and a dimension which descends below, thus equaling 20. Kesser which is above all these levels, permeates and pervades them.

This concept is also reflected in our service: Kesser is connected with royalty for a crown is the symbol of kingship. When describing the effect of the Jews' declaration of Na'aseh V'Nishmah, the Midrash relates the following parable which sheds light on the relationship between a king and the crown: The subjects made three crowns for the king. One, he put on his own head, and two, he placed on the head of his subjects.

This implies that the three crowns are on the same level and thus, the crowns given to the subjects are connected to the crown worn by the king. Furthermore, even the crown worn by the king was given to him by the subjects -- metaphorically, is dependent on the service of the Jews in this world. This concept is reflected in the verse, "A king is subjugated to the field." Although the people in the field are on a lower level than those living in the king's capitol, their service in the field crowns the king -- metaphorically, fulfills G-d's intent and desire for a dwelling in the lower worlds.

The service of refining the lower levels shares an intrinsic connection to the 20th of Av: The month of Av is connected with the transformation of the lowest levels to holiness as the Midrash states:

A lion (Nebuchadnezzar) arose in the month whose sign is a lion (Av) and destroyed the "lion of G-d" (the Beis HaMikdash) in order that a lion (G-d) should come in the month whose sign is a lion and build the "lion of G-d."

Thus, the revelation of the lion of holiness (which is a reference to the level of Kesser) comes about through the transformation of the forces which destroyed the Beis HaMikdash. This begins on Shabbos Nachamu and receives more intensity from Shabbos to Shabbos with G-d promising[212] the Jews, "I, yes I, will console you."

There is also a connection between the above and the coming new year.

-, Hebrew for lion, can be interpreted as an acronym for the Hebrew words: Elul, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Hoshanah Rabbah. From the 15th of Av, when it is customary to wish a colleague to be inscribed for a good and sweet year, and more particularly, from the 20th of Av[213] onward, we begin the preparations for the month of Elul, the month of teshuvah and mercy, when the King goes out into the field and the people in the field greet Him. He receives them all pleasantly, showing a shining countenance to all and fulfilling their requests. {This reflects the advantage of the service of the people in the field as explained above.}

The above concepts can be connected with the end of this week's Torah portion (11:24) which declares:

Every place on which your feet will tread will become yours. Your boundaries will extend from the desert [to] Lebanon, from the river, the Euphrates river, until the Final Sea.

By referring to the Mediterranean as "the Final Sea" (instead of "the Great Sea" as in Parshas Ma'asei 34:6), the Torah alludes to the concept that, ultimately, in the Messianic age, Eretz Yisrael will expand throughout the entire world, reaching, "the Final Sea."[214]

The Euphrates river mentioned is also significant, as we see that the Torah (Devarim 1:7) refers to the Euphrates as "the Great River." In his commentary on that verse, Rashi notes that the Euphrates is actually not a large river and is referred to as "great," because it is next to Eretz Yisrael.[215] Rashi concludes, quoting a parable offered by our Sages, "If you come close to a person anointed with oil (Eretz Yisrael, the chosen land), oil will become attached to you (importance is also attached to the Euphrates)."

The significance of the latter statement can be understood in terms of our Sages statement:

All the mitzvos the Patriarchs performed before You were vaporous in nature (i.e., they did not effect the material substance of the world), but in regard to us, "Your name is like oiled poured forth." ["Like one who pours from one vessel to another;" i.e., the mitzvos we perform have actual substance.]

Oil is connected with the essence and, yet, is drawn down into the lowest levels. Similarly, after the giving of the Torah, holiness can be drawn down into the material substance with which the mitzvos are fulfilled.

This concept is also related to the Euphrates River which Bereishis describes as the fourth of the rivers emanating from Eden. This implies an association with the lowest levels. Thus, our Sages associate this river with the fourth exile which we are presently enduring. Through oil, the revelation of the essence which permeates through all things, even this low level can be elevated.


3

The first Mishnah of the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avos states, "The world was created with ten utterances." Our Sages note that the expression, "And G-d said, 'Let there be...' " is repeated only nine times in the Torah. However, "Bereishis (the verse, "In the beginning,...") is also considered one of the utterances."

In Chassidus, it is explained that the utterance Bereishis is general in nature,[216] including all the other nine statements which brought about the creation of all the particular elements of the world. Nevertheless, it is also "an utterance," i.e., its spiritual level shares a commonalty with the other utterances and reflects only the aspect of G-dliness which is associated with the creation of the worlds.

There is, however, a positive interpretation of the word maamar, "utterance." In Parshas Ki Savo, it has the meaning of "importance" or "praise." This implies that it is possible to draw down into the world a level of G-dliness that transcends the limits of the world. Torah, which is one with G-d, can be drawn into the world making it more "praiseworthy" and enhancing its "importance."


4

This Shabbos follows the fifteenth of Av[217] which as mentioned previously,[218] is connected with an increase in Torah study. Preferably, this increase should be expressed in communal study, in groups of three, and if possible in groups of ten or more. G-d promises to bless those who increase their study with extended life. Every Jew, men, women, and children, should make such an increase.

In this context, it is worthy to mention the importance of the education of young children[219] and the presence at this farbrengen of the children from Camp Gan Yisrael,[220] a camp "in the field."

May this increase in Torah study lead to the time when, "A new Torah will emerge from Me." Then, we will merit true extended life, the era of the resurrection when, "Those who lie in the dust will arise and sing," with Rav Levi Yitzchok at their head (for today, the spiritual source of his soul shines powerfully).[221] May this take place immediately, in ", "a year of miracles," which will lead to ", a year when, "I will show you wonders."

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Because of this separation, the Levites were given the task of carrying the Ark, an elevated and holy service.

  2. (Back to text) The influence of the sacrifices in the world at large is intimated at by the word used by the Sefer HaBahir for "secret," . Although this refers to a "secret," a level which transcends revelation, nevertheless, is numerically equivalent to , meaning "light." Ultimately, this level will be revealed within the world at large.

  3. (Back to text) Note the sichos of the 6th of Tishrei, 5750, in which Rav Levi Yitzchok's activities are described at length.

  4. (Back to text) The observance of the mitzvah of matzah is related to that of all other mitzvos. Thus, our Sages interpret the verse, "And you shall watch the matzos," as "And you shall observe the mitzvos."

  5. (Back to text) After his death, through many efforts that involved genuine self-sacrifice, this desire was fulfilled. His writings were brought out of Russia and published and are studied by many Jews today.

    Significantly, the writings by Rav Levi Yitzchok which have been published are primarily those composed in exile. He also wrote thousands of pages while serving as Rav in his city. The whereabouts of these writings, however, is -- at present -- unknown.

  6. (Back to text) Tanya (Iggeres HaKodesh 27) explains that while a tzaddik was alive, his body limited the extent of his influence. In contrast, after his passing, those constraints no longer exist.

  7. (Back to text) The tzaddikim ascend to higher levels in the spiritual world each day as our Sages declared, "The righteous have no rest, not in this world, nor in the World to Come as it is written, 'And they shall go from strength to strength.' " Nevertheless, these ascents are all relative. On a yahrzeit, a tzaddik rises to a higher level that is immeasurably above his previous rung.

  8. (Back to text) This follows the Ramban's opinion -- which is supported by Chassidus -- that the ultimate era of fulfillment for mankind is the Era of Resurrection when the souls will be enclothed in this world again.

  9. (Back to text) This promise is stimulated by a complaint issued by the Jews. Although the Haftorah of Shabbos Nachamu contains powerful words of consolation, the message was transmitted to the Jews by the prophets. This provokes the Jews to protest, as this week's Haftorah begins, "And Zion said: 'The L-rd has forsaken me.' " Thus, the Jews remain, as related at the beginning of the Haftorah of Shabbos Re'eh, "O poor and storm-tost one, who is not comforted." This motivates G-d to promise, as the Haftorah of Shabbos Shoftim begins, "I, yes I, will console you."

  10. (Back to text) The 20th of Av is 40 days before Rosh Hashanah. The number 40 is significant. Our Sages speak about prophecies that are made forty days before a child is conceived.

  11. (Back to text) Similarly, this expression can also be taken as an allusion to the end of time as Rashi comments on Devarim 34:2: "Do not read, 'the Final Sea ( ),' read 'the Final Day ( ).' "

  12. (Back to text) The commentaries question this statement, wondering whether the Jews were commanded to conquer the area that reaches until the Euphrates or whether this area was promised to the Jews over and above the territory of Eretz Yisrael.

  13. (Back to text) The Rabbis explain that the utterance Bereishis brought into being the huli, the primal matter, that is above the level of the particular creations.

  14. (Back to text) This year, the 15th of Av was celebrated on Monday. Monday, the second day of creation, is associated with the creation of controversy. Shabbos, which elevates the days of the previous week, reflects how this can be transformed into "a controversy for the sake of heaven," like the controversy of Hillel and Shammai.

    This week's chapter of Pirkei Avos explains that such a controversy "will continue," i.e., both opinions are of eternal relevance. This will be expressed in the Messianic age when the halachah will follow the School of Shammai. Nevertheless, the opinion of the School of Hillel will also be relevant for there are several levels of the performance of mitzvos. For example, in giving tzedakah, there are those who give a tenth of their income, those who give a fifth, and those who follow the Alter Rebbe's advice in Tanya and give without any limits at all.

  15. (Back to text) See the Sichos of Parshas Va'eschanan, 5750.

  16. (Back to text) There is a connection between these children and the concept of oil mentioned previously. Our Sages interpret the verse, "Do not touch My anointed ones," as a reference to Jewish children who study Torah.

  17. (Back to text) They have come wearing special clothes so that "everyone who sees them will realize that they are children blessed by G-d." They should all say Le'Chayim and sing a happy niggun, the Simchas Torah niggun composed by Rav Levi Yitzchok. Surely, they will make good resolutions to increase their study of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvos. May their parents and teachers merit to raise them to Torah, chupah, and good deeds and may they merit much Chassidishe nachas from them.

  18. (Back to text) The Jerusalem Talmud makes this statement about a birthday. Surely, it applies regarding a yahrzeit which is day of even greater significance.


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