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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

   27th Day of Menachem Av, 5750

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 Re'eh
27th Day of Menachem Av, 5750
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  22nd Day of Menachem Av, 57504th Day of Elul, 5750  

1

This is the Shabbos on which we bless the month of Elul, the month of stocktaking and teshuvah for the previous year. In this month, we review our behavior in the previous year with the intention of correcting and improving it. Thus, Elul also serves as the month of preparation for the new year to come. For these reasons, the ultimate intention of our service of G-d is reflected in this month.

This is alluded to in the name, Elul, which is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." This implies that we are intended to unite with G-d in a deep bond of love and closeness.

This bond has two dimensions, the arousal of the Jew's desire for union with G-d through the service of Torah and mitzvos, "I am my Beloved's," and the expression of G-d's love for the Jews, "my Beloved is mine." In particular, there are two patterns through which this inner bond is expressed as reflected in two similar verses in Shir HaShirim that describe this marriage relationship.[231] One verse, "My Beloved is mine and I am His," implies that the relationship begins with Divine revelation and this is what stimulates the response of the Jews. Conversely, "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," implies that it is the Jews who initiate the relationship with G-d and He responds to them.[232]

This reflects the ultimate goal of a Jew's service, service on one's own initiative. Instead of responding to an arousal from above -- in which case one's service is tinged with "bread of shame" -- the relationship is begun by the Jews. This causes the bond to be internalized to a greater degree than if the Jews' service was aroused from above. Although the revelation from above comes from a higher source than it is possible for a created being to reach, it is often not internalized. In contrast, when the revelation from above is preceded by an arousal on the part of the Jews, it relates to the Jews' inner dimensions. Furthermore, it brings about a higher arousal from above than would otherwise be revealed.

We see this pattern reflected in a wedding on the earthly plane. Before the groom consecrates the bride, the bride walks around the groom seven times. This reflects "an arousal from below" on the part of the recipient in order to arouse inner communication, "my Beloved is mine" on behalf of the mashpia.

Although the emphasis in the month of Elul is on service on our own initiative, "I am my Beloved's," the name of the month also includes the second half of the verse, "my Beloved is mine," implying that Elul is also associated with the revelation from above. This revelation comes in the month of Tishrei which follows. Nevertheless, since it is through the service of Elul that the connection with G-d's essence which brings about this revelation is revealed, the revelation itself shares a connection with Elul. Thus, Elul represents a month of complete connection, including both the service of the Jewish people and the revelation from above by G-d.

2

Parshas Re'eh contributes an important dimension to the above concept teaching that the service of "I am my Beloved's," -- and similarly, all other aspects of our service of G-d -- must be openly revealed, "seen."

Sight possesses a major advantage over hearing or the other senses. Seeing something makes a powerful and indelible impression upon a person's thinking processes.[233] (For this reason, Torah law forbids a witness to an event from serving as a judge regarding it. Because he saw the event take place, he will never be able to have the removed objectivity necessary to protect the defendant.)

In contrast, when a person hears a concept, it "can enter one end and go out the other." Even when he pays attention to what is said and hears from a reliable source, the impression hearing makes is not as powerful and, over the course of time, as he reflects about the matter, or if he hears a different report, he may change his mind.

This is the message communicated by the opening verse of our Torah portion: "See I am giving before you today." G-dliness, Torah, and mitzvos must be openly revealed, "seen." They should not be considered merely as things which are "heard about" and believed in and thus, an added element to one's consciousness which can be effected by changes over time. Rather, an inner bond and powerful connection must be established resembling the connection established through sight.[234]

This concept has a deeper dimension. Not only does sight create an essential and true connection with the person who sees, it should also reflect the essence of the object which is seen. One should be able to see beyond an object's external dimensions and appreciate its inner truth.

This is implied by the expression, "See I..." What should a Jew see? The essence of G-dliness and nothing else. A Jew should use the potential of sight to relate to G-dliness, Torah, and mitzvos and not to worldly matters. The world was created by G-d in a manner which allows nature to cover its true G-dly life-force.[235] When a person looks at the world (without thinking deeply), he sees its material dimensions. The intent is, however, that a person should know -- to the point that he actually sees -- that the truth is G-dliness, that G-d gives life to and maintains the existence of every creation. To quote the Rambam:

"The L-rd, your G-d, is true." He alone is true and there is no other truth which resembles His. This is what is meant by the Torah's statement: "There is nothing else except Him;" i.e., there is no other true existence like Him.

This direct experience of G-d should be so powerful that one should question the nature of the material world: Does it truly exist or is it just an allusion? Only the Torah's statement, "In the beginning, G-d created the world," and not the evidence of one's eyes, should cause one to regard the world's existence as having actual substance.

The world, in and of itself, is false,[236] temporary in nature for the natural state of existence is to return to non-being and indeed, ultimately, the world will return to that level.[237] Existence depends on G-d, "the living G-d," and is channeled through Torah and mitzvos, "our life and the length of our days."

Thus, when a Jew looks at the world, he should see (and thus, establish a powerful internal bond with) the G-dly life-force which maintains the existence of the world. He should appreciate that "G-d is the place of the world and the world is not His place," not only does G-dliness pervade all existence, but rather, He is the truth of all existence.

Furthermore, we are given the potential to see "I,"[238] Anochi, which refers to the essence of G-d. It is G-d's essence, and G-d's essence alone which "has the power to bring into being something from absolute nothingness." As an example of the potential of our power of sight, our Sages relate that, at Mount Sinai, the Jews saw G-d and His Merchavah, the hidden dimensions of G-dliness.

Our "seeing G-dliness" should not negate our individual existence or that of the world at large. On the contrary, "seeing G-dliness" means seeing the true existence of every entity in the world, seeing how each element in the world is a reflection of G-d's ultimate existence. A person should feel that G-d created him, (his "I) to be an entity (a "something," not nothing), and yet, should also realize that he is totally at one with G-d's essence.

Similarly, within the world at large, one should see the physical existence of the world, but appreciate that existence as an expression of G-d's handicraft and thus, perceive how each creation exists, "for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of the Jewish people." For example, when one sees the stars, one should appreciate how they are a metaphor for the numerousness of the Jews and when one sees the moon, one should appreciate how it is a metaphor for the potential of renewal that exists within the Jews.

In particular, each word in the verse, "See I am giving before you today," provides us with a significant lesson. "See" emphasizes that one must approach existence in a manner of sight and "I" (Anochi) points to the essence of G-d as explained above.

"Giving" makes us aware that G-d has granted us potential and "whoever gives, gives generously."

"Before you" () is associated with the quality of p'nimiyus (inner dimension). The P'nimiyus of G-d is drawn down to the p'nimiyus of a Jew.[239]

"Today" teaches that the above is not merely a narrative of previous history (or even of previous history as relived from time to time), but rather, a present day event, relevant at all times. "Each day, it should be new for you."

A similar concept applies in the personal world of our souls. The ultimate level of service is that a Jew sees openly the true nature of his G-dly soul. This means that he should become conscious of his soul, not only his body, and furthermore, appreciate the essence of his soul, the dimension of Anochi enclothed within him, the level of yechidah. The essential G-dliness of the soul should express itself in all the powers of the soul. Furthermore, the body itself should be seen as an expression of G-dliness with its physical shape a reflection of the name, Y-H-V-H.[240]

The service of Re'eh, revealing G-dliness, within a person's individual soul, prepares him for the service of Re'eh in the world at large, revealing how, "Everything which the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His glory."

This, in turn, leads to Parshas Shoftim which describes the practical application of Torah law through the appointment of judges and enforcement agents[241] who establish a system of justice[242] and morality which expresses the above concepts in actual deed.[243]

3

The above should also influence our service in the month of Elul which is associated with an increase[244] in Torah study.[245] The unity with G-d alluded to in the verse, "I am my Beloved's" and in particular, its open revelation, Re'eh, is accomplished through Torah study. Torah is "one with the Holy One, blessed be He" and reveals how "Israel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one."

To explain: A Jew must use his own intellectual potential to study Torah. Nevertheless, before he does so, he must approach the Torah with self-nullification (which is accomplished through reciting the blessings before Torah study). He must strive to ascend from his frame of reference to the Torah (and not, ", bring the Torah down to his level).

In this manner, he establishes "a perfect union" with the Torah, and thus, with G-d. By comprehending the Torah which is G-d's will and wisdom, one unites with Him, for "He and His wisdom are one."

Elul is also associated with an increase in deeds of kindness and tzedakah[246] in the spirit of "Love your fellowman as yourself."

The fulfillment of the latter command is also dependent on the service of Re'eh. The only way a person can truly love another person as himself is when he sees openly his own G-dly nature and appreciates that same G-dliness in other Jews, realizing that "we share one father and... all Jews are called brothers because of the source of their soul in the One G-d."[247]

Unless a person openly perceives these qualities, it is impossible for him to have true ahavas Yisrael. We are motivated primarily by our own self-interest. Even the Torah teaches us, "Your own life takes precedence." Only when one appreciates that one's true self and that of another Jew are the same, is there a possibility for complete love. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the activities that reflect this love including an increase in tzedakah.[248]

The lesson from Parshas Re'eh also teaches us an important concept relevant within the context of the stocktaking and personal evaluation which characterizes the service of the month of Elul. A Jew should appreciate Torah and mitzvos, not as an obligation which he must fulfill, but as an expression of a love relationship with G-d. Furthermore, he should not wait for an arousal from above to begin this service, but must begin on his own initiative. He has the potential to carry out the service of "I am my Beloved's," which, in turn, leads to the revelation of "My Beloved is mine" in the month of Tishrei.

Furthermore, this service can be carried out in a manner of Re'eh, which implies that G-dliness can be seen openly to the extent that it is one's first and primary appreciation of reality and all worldly matters are secondary or on a deeper level, to see the G-dly truth of each creation.

In addition to each person carrying out this service himself, he should endeavor to explain it to his family,[249] the people to whom he is in contact, and other Jews whom he meets.[250] This should lead to an increase in Torah study, particularly, public sessions of Torah study, and increase in ahavas Yisrael and its expression in deeds of kindness and tzedakah.

May this lead to the time when we see the Third Beis HaMikdash[251] openly revealed on this earthly plane. This is particularly relevant at present when we see the omens portending the Messianic redemption mentioned by our Sages. In particular, it is significant to cite a passage from the Yalkut Shimoni which has been publicized in recent weeks:

Rabbi Yitzchok declared: In the year when the Messianic king will come, all the gentile nations will challenge one another. The King of Persia will challenge an Arab king and the Arab king will go to Aram for advice. The King of Persia will then destroy the entire world. All the nations of the world will panic and become frightened, falling on their faces, suffering contractions like labor pains. The Jews will also panic and become frightened, asking, "Where will we go? Where will we go?" [G-d will then reveal Himself, and] tell them: "My children, you need not fear. Everything which I did, I did for your sake. Why are you frightened?... The time for your redemption has come." "This ultimate redemption will not resemble the first redemption which was followed by aggravation and subjugation to other powers. After the ultimate redemption, there will be no aggravation and subjugation to other powers." Our Sages taught: When the Messianic king will come, he will stand on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and call out to the Jews, "Humble ones, the time for your redemption has come."

(Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshayahu 499)

Everyone should realize that there is no reason to become frightened and we have the promise: "The time for your redemption has come." May we see Moshiach standing on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and may he announce: "Moshiach is here."

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) As our Sages emphasize, this marriage relationship revolves around the Torah. Thus, they interpret, "the day of his wedding," to refer to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

  2. (Back to text) The service of Elul is also prompted by a revelation from above, the presence of "the King in the field," the revelation of G-d's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. Nevertheless, this revelation is only a stimulus and the actual service is carried out on the part of the Jewish people within the context of their daily activities, "the field."

    The importance of the initiative taken by the Jews is emphasized by the fact that the first letters of the Hebrew, "I am my Beloved's," spell out -, the first of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy which includes them all.

    In this context, we can understand why the Alter Rebbe uses the metaphor, "a king in the field," in contrast to other metaphors used by the Sages. (For example, the Zohar, Parshas Bechukosai speaks of a king in a marketplace.) A field is where grain grows, i.e., it is the source for our life-energy. Although this energy is granted by G-d and His blessing is necessary for grain to grow, the revelation of this blessing comes about through the efforts of man in tilling the land. Similarly, the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy is dependent on the service of the Jews.

  3. (Back to text) To speak in theoretical terms, the bond established through sight is one of unity. The event which is seen becomes one with the seer's thought.

  4. (Back to text) This is particularly relevant in regard to the service of the month of Elul which involves the creation of a bond of unity between man and G-d. Since sight establishes an essential connection with a person, it is important that the bond between the Jews and G-d be characterized by this approach.

  5. (Back to text) This is implied by the Hebrew word for "nature," , which also means "sunk." The world's G-dly life-force is sunken and concealed.

  6. (Back to text) The association of the concepts of "false" and "temporary" is based on our Sages' description of "lying rivers," streams that dry up from time to time. Since their existence is not lasting, it is not considered as "true."

  7. (Back to text) Although the existence of the world appears to continue in a constant manner, "the existence of every one of the hosts of heaven and every species of the hosts of the earth is maintained," this is not due to the world itself, but rather to the G-dly life-force which is enclothed within it. On the contrary, the essential nature of the world's existence tends toward nothingness and ultimately, G-d will cause that this quality be revealed.

  8. (Back to text) This concept is also alluded to in the word Re'eh as will be explained. One of the principles of gematria (Torah numerology) is that in addition to counting the numerical equivalent of each of the letters of a word, one may also add the number 1 for the binding force of the word as a whole. When calculated in this manner, the numerical equivalent of Re'eh () is equal to that of , the Hebrew word for "mystery." This implies that one should be able to "see" even those elements of G-dliness which are "mysteries," i.e., above revelation within the context of ordinary experience. Even these dimensions of G-dliness should be openly revealed. This is also implicit in the fact the , Hebrew for "light," shares the same numerical equivalent.

  9. (Back to text) This is related to the giving of the Torah when "Face to face (Ponim l'ponim), the L-rd spoke to you." When the Jews accept the Torah, the quality of Y-H-V-H was drawn down to each individual in an internal manner.

    This was accomplished through the commandment, "I am the L-rd, your G-d." The Hebrew word for G-d, E-lohim, can also mean "power." Thus, "your power," the power of every Jew became, "I, the L-rd."

  10. (Back to text) The head reflects the letter yud; the trunk, the letter vav; and the five fingers of each hand and foot, the two letters hei.

  11. (Back to text) In addition to the application of this concept in the world at large, it also has ramifications regarding an individual's personal service. Each individual must endeavor to judge and control his behavior.

  12. (Back to text) The service of Re'eh also effects the judges and enforcement agents and causes their activity to be tempered with kindness and mercy.

  13. (Back to text) We see a similar pattern in the Torah's description of the activities of the Patriarch Avraham. After Avraham "called on [and according to our Sages, 'called out'] the name of the L-rd, -," he "commanded his sons and household after him to follow the way of G-d and perform tzedakah and justice."

    Chassidic thought explains that had the Torah stated -, "G-d of the world," it would have taught us that Avraham informed people that there is a G-d. - (literally "G-d world") produces a deeper insight; that there is no separation between G-d and the world, rather total unity.

    After Avraham reached -- and helped others reach -- this understanding, he "commanded his sons to keep... tzedakah and justice."

  14. (Back to text) This should come in addition to the increase in Torah study that begins on the Fifteenth of Av. See the sichos of Shabbos Parshas Eikev.

  15. (Back to text) There are several different allusions to the association of Elul with Torah study. Among them: The name Elul serves as an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "...caused it to happen. I will provide for you..." which describe the Cities of Refuge. The Arizal relates this to the study of Torah because, "The words of Torah are a Refuge."

    Similarly, the verse "I am my Beloved and my Beloved is mine," which is related to Elul as explained above, continues, "the shepherd among the roses." Our Sages associate the latter phrase with, "those who study halachos." Also, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moshe ascended to receive the Second Tablets.

  16. (Back to text) Thus, the name Elul is also an acronym for the verse, "...a person to his friend and gifts to the poor," which emphasizes these qualities.

  17. (Back to text) Similarly, the Jerusalem Talmud describes the Jewish people as "one single body" and the Menorah was used as a metaphor for the Jewish people in the vision shown to the prophet Zechariah. Although the Menorah has seven branches which reflect the potential for different paths of service among the Jews, it was one single entity, fashioned from a single piece of metal.

  18. (Back to text) The relationship of the above concepts with the verse, "See I am giving," implies that one's gifts should not be confined to a tithe or a fifth, but rather, as the Alter Rebbe states in Tanya, "A person will give everything he possesses for the sake of his soul."

  19. (Back to text) It will be easier to explain this concept to others after one experiences it himself. Conversely, explaining it to others will make this service easier to carry out oneself.

  20. (Back to text) Trans. Note: On this Shabbos, a campaign to visit and speak in shuls throughout the New York area was organized. The Rebbe Shlita directed his words to those participating in this effort.

  21. (Back to text) On Shabbos Chazon, each person experiences a vision of the Beis HaMikdash. This, however, is a vision from afar. We are speaking of actually seeing the Beis HaMikdash before us.


  22nd Day of Menachem Av, 57504th Day of Elul, 5750  
  
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