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Preface

Shabbos Parshas Re'eh, Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5737

Kuntres Motzei Simchas Torah, 5738

Kuntres Motzei Simchas Torah — 5738

Kuntres Motzei Shabbos Breishis — 5738

Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Noach — 5738

Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Lech L’Cho 5738

Excerpts From Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sarah

Yud-Tes Kislev, 5738

The Second Day Of Chanuka, 5738

Asora B’Teves (10th Of Teves), 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Shvat, Parshas Va’Era, 5738

Yud Shvat, 5738

15th OF SHVAT 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Tzav

Motzoai Shabbos Parshas Shmini And Parah, Shabbos Mevorchim Nissan, 5738

Yud-Alef Nissan, 5738

Last Day Of Pesach, 5738

Parshas Acherei Shabbos Mevorchim Iyar

Parshas Emor, 5738

Lag B’Omer, 5738

Motzoei Shavuos, 5738

Graduating Class Of Beis Rivka And To
The Staff Members Of The Girls’ Summer Camps
On The 13th Of Sivan, 5738

Parsha Shelach — Shabbos Mivorcim Tammuz

3rd OF TAMMUZ, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 10th Of Tammuz, 5738

Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Balak, 17 Tammuz 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Pinchas,
Mevorchim Hachodesh Menachem Av, 5738

15th OF AV, 5738

20th OF AV, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, 5738

Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5738

Supplement

Notes

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 1 — 5738


Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5738

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  Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 10th Of Tammuz, 5738Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Balak, 17 Tammuz 5738  

1. The liberation of the Previous Rebbe is celebrated on Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. Each of these dates is connected with certain unique facets of that liberation. The night between the two (the time of this Farbrengen) is related to both days and serves as a bridge of connection combining the separate elements into one unified entity.

(The relationship of the night to both the preceding and ensuing days is explained in the Torah. Generally, the Hebrew day begins in the evening, tying the night to the following day. However, regarding the offerings in the Temple, the night is considered the end and completion of the preceding day. Therefore it is understandable that this night is related both to Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.)’.

On Yud-Beis Tammuz the Previous Rebbe came to register as a prisoner at the Russian government offices in Kostrama, his city of exile. At that time, he was notified that the order had been received from the higher authorities to grant him total freedom. However, since there was a considerable amount of paperwork and bureaucracy involved in obtaining an official statement of his release (also, a number of the government offices were closed that day), it was not until the next day, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, that a public document proclaiming his freedom could be granted.

The difference between Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz was that Yud-Beis Tammuz marked the Rebbe’s liberation as an individual. Although a small group of closely-knit associates shared in a celebration of the Rebbe’s release, the celebration was basically of an individual nature.) On the other hand, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz signified the world’s (even the non-Jewish world’s) recognition and acknowledgement in a public manner of that freedom.

These two events are connected. Given the principle (stated by Rashi in the very beginning of his commentary on the Torah) that “the world is created for the sake of the Jewish people” and the Talmud’s statement “The world is contained within the heart of each individual”, it follows logically that an event concerning the life of a Jew is also reflected in the world at large. However, generally there is a time lapse between the action of the microcosm (the Jew) and the reaction in the macrocosm (the world).

This principle is revealed openly in the events of Yud-Beis Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. (Since those events concerned a Tzaddik and a Nasi, the Hashgachah Protis is much more evident.) The Previous Rebbe was freed in a manner in which at first only he and a small number of his immediate associates were inf”med. Then, a day later the world at large including-the non-Jars received notice of his liberation.352

The above-mentioned events communicate a three-fold lesson. One lesson emanates from the events of Yud-Beis Tammuz, a second from those of Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, and a third from the night in between, which connects and unifies the two days. Furthermore, these lessons are not limited in application to a small group of individuals, but rather are relevant to the totality of the Jewish people, as the Previous Rebbe himself wrote in the well-known letter explaining the significance of Yud-Beis Tammuz and its connections to “all those who love the Torah, those who follow its commandments, and even those who are Jews by name alone.”353

The lesson of Yud-Beis Tammuz centers around an individual’s need for freedom. The lesson derived from Yud-Gimmel Tammuz is that even after an individual has been liberated from all disturbing influences (as happened on Yud-Beis Tammuz), rather than isolate himself from the world, he must realize that his personal liberation was only a beginning. He is not truly liberated until the secular world and the non-Jewish powers that control it, also become , aware that they cannot limit or restrain a Jew’s freedom. The events of Yud-Gimmel Tammuz teach the necessity of communicating freedom to the World. The case of the Previous Rebbe serves as an example. He was able to influence the Russian authorities to the point where they also aided and assisted his cause of spreading Yiddishkeit.

The night between Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz which joins the two together reveals the following concept: It is possible for an individual to be active in his personal service to G-d (the point of Yud-Beis Tammuz) and likewise devote his energies to influencing others (the lesson of Yud-Gimmel Tammuz). However, though he performs both services, one service might command his interest and attention, and the other be performed without genuine feeling, and only out of the necessity of fulfilling his obligation.

(The extra enthusiasm can be in either of the two directions. Some individuals are basically self-concerned and their involvement with others is of secondary priority. Other individuals are outgoing by nature. They enjoy contact with others and give a lesser degree of attention to introspection and self-development.354

These two approaches are reflected in Torah and Mitzvos: there are those whose main occupation is in the spreading of Torah and mitzvos. They also study Torah and perform mitzvos themselves; _however, their most intense involvement focuses on communicating the value of Yiddishkeit to others. Likewise, there are those whose energies focus more on their personal growth and self-fulfillment. The awareness of the importance of Ahavas Yisrael motivates them to teach others as well. Nevertheless, their attention and their drive is basically self-oriented.

In general, these two categories of service can be compared to those of Zebulon and Issachar. Though they each represented a different type of service, nevertheless, both were righteous, and their different paths of service considered equally valid. The terminology of the Zohar refers to them as “Masters of Torah” and “Master of Good Deeds”.

The Talmud records the question “B’mai hava avoch zahir tefai” literally translated as “In the performance of which Mitzvah was your father most careful?” However, playing on the double meaning of the word Zahir (which can be translated as “shining” as well as “careful”) the Baal Shem Tov interprets the quote “Through which mitzvah did the light of your father’s soul shine forth”. Though a person fulfills all the mitzvos, there is one mitzvah which is more personally tied to him, which reveals more openly the light of his soul.

This concept can be applied to the two categories mentioned before. Though Issachar fulfilled the mitzvos of Tzedakah and Gemilus Chassadim, the light of his soul shone forth in the study of Torah. Torah study was the channel through which all his acts of Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos were directed.

Likewise, Zebulun had fixed times for Torah study. However, his main service centered on his activity in the business world. His success in business was used as a tool for the advancement of Torah and Mitzvos. Through it, he was able to support Torah scholars and perform other functions of Tzedakah and Gemilus Chassadim.

In many cases, people of this category are willing to journey across the ocean (even at a danger to their person) in order to increase their profits and thereby help fulfill their mission of Tzedakah in the world. Their activities in the world of Torah and Tzedakah remove their merchandise from the category of business and material concerns and transform them into objects of mitzvos, necessities for the mitzvos of Tzedakah and Gemilus Chassadim.

After such service they receive a share in the Torah learned by Issachar. In fact, if such a condition is stipulated before Issachar begins his study, it is considered as if Zebulun has, himself, learned those passages.355

Though both of these categories of service are valuable, the sign of a Jew’s total fulfillment356 is his accomplishment of both with equal effectiveness and equal enthusiasm. He is fulfilled when not only does he have the qualities of Issachar (Torah study, self-perfection) but he is equally accomplished in the sphere of Zebulun (relating G-dliness to the world around him by working towards refinement and elevation of his environment).

The above represents the lesson of the night between Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. That night teaches that both service must be coupled together and carried out with equal intensity.

However, that requirement is, at least superficially, difficult if not impossible to be carried out. How can we demand from an individual an activity which is beyond his nature? If he is self-concerned (Issachar) how can he be required to be equally motivated towards working with others: If he is an extrovert (Zebulun), how can he be asked to focus so seriously on himself? Furthermore, how can he be asked to perform these two seemingly contradictory services simultaneously?

This question can be answered using the explanation of a passage in the Sifri. The Sifri explains that even though generally the emotions of love and fear are contradictory, the fear and the love of G-d, since they are both mitzvos, do not negate, but rather complement each other.

Furthermore, the intent of the Sifri is not to explain that at different times a Jew may experience both love and fear of G-d, but rather to explain that during every moment of his existence, he is obligated to love and to fear, and that he has the potential to fulfill that obligation.357

That potential exists because the Jew has made a commitment to the service of G-d which transcends his personal self. As long as his frame of reference is his personal self, then love and fear are contradictory and cannot exist simultaneously. However, once he transcends the entire realm of self-concern, when he acts out of feelings of total commitment to G-dliness, then love and fear _have importance only because they are G-d’s mitzvos and since they are G-d’s mitzvos,358 he fulfills them both simultaneously. Similarly, the service of personal development and likewise the service of spreading Torah and mitzvos are both G-d’s commandments. When an individual is ready to commit himself to G-d’s service beyond the limits of his self concern, he realizes within himself the potential for both types of service.359

Both of these categories of services are required by the Torah. Therefore, it follows that they apply to every Jew. Every Jew (even “those who are Jews by name alone”) has the obligation (and possesses the potential to fulfill that obligation) to serve G-d with an equal drive and motivation in the area of personal refinement and likewise in the realm of reaching out to communicate Yiddishkeit to another Jew.

These two categories of service are not only required of a Jew now in Golus. Even after the Messianic redemption, both categories of service will be relevant. Mashiach will accomplish the ultimate perfection of both types of service. Regarding the service of self-perfection, Mashiach will reveal the aspect of soul called Yechidah , the soul’s very essence. Yechidah, literally translated as the ‘one’, is the level of the soul which is totally unified with the Ultimate Oneness — G-d. This spiritual capacity totally transcends the natural order. It is beyond the potential of a gentile. Only a Jew, because his essence is “veritably a part of G-d”, has the possibility of relating to G-d on such a frequency.

However, Mashiach will not deal only with the service of self-perfection. Likewise, in the area of refinement of the world at large, he will effect radical changes to the point where “a wolf will live peacefully with a lamb”. The Rambam interprets that prophecy figuratively: that Mashiach will cause all the nations (even those who can be.-compared to wolves) to adopt standards of righteousness and morality and to cease oppressing the Jews.

Others commentaries (including the Alter Rebbe)360 say Mashiach will have even a greater effect on the world. They interpret the prophecy literally, implying that Mashiach will elevate the world to the level where no possibility for cruelty (even among animals) will exist.

Likewise, the very physicality of the world will be affected. There will be open miracles361 to the point where even a barren tree will produce fruit.

The prophecies of how Mashiach will fulfill both these categories of services (self-perfection and refinement of the world at large)should serve as a stimulus to every Jew. Every Jew, not only Chassidim, Kabbalists, Torah scholars, etc., but even those who are “Jews by name alone” have the potential and the obligation to devote themselves to both categories of service.

And when their service is with joy, then joy breaks down barriers, including the barriers of Golus and we will witness the revelation of Mashiach speedily in our days.

2. The major difficulties which the Previous Rebbe encountered with the Russian government centered on his insistence on developing facilities for the Jewish education of younger children.

The government claimed that children should be left alone, not influenced towards Torah and mitzvos and that when they reached a mature age, they would be given the chance to decide which road to choose.362

The Previous Rebbe opposed this approach and concentrated his work on establishing chadarim and Talmud Torahs for younger children. Though he was, needless to say, active in spreading Yiddishkeit among adults (and likewise establishing the necessary religious facilities: Mikvaos, Kosher meat, etc.), the essential thrust of his work was to allow. for “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you established the strength to destroy the enemies and the avengers”. (Prior to his arrest, the Previous Rebbe had mentioned this v1~ often in his calls for an added stress on the education of Jewish children.)

Therefore, it is understandable that each year on Yud-Beis Tammuz — when the events of that time are recalled and celebrated, that every individual should focus on those events. He should not consider them as events of the past, rather as powerfully present experiences, each year increasing (according to the principle that “when dealing with holy matters, constantly ascend”) in intensity and effect.

Yud-Beis and Yud-.Gimmel Tammuz are holidays for Jewish children. The fact that the Previous Rebbe was willing to endanger the work of spreading Judaism among the adults (which was not severely pressured by the Russian authorities) in order to add more energy and intensity to the education of Jewish children should serve as an inspiration to Jewish children today.

Regardless of the success of their involvement in Torah and mitzvos until now, Yud-Beis Tammuz should serve as an incentive to increase their appreciation of the value of their Torah and mitzvos. The Previous Rebbe’s example of dedication to their education, despite the dangers and sacrifices it implied, should evoke new enthusiasm, energy, and devotion towards the service of G-d.

The first and most important mitzvah to begin with is Ahavas Yisrael, the command to love another Jew. Children particularly find this commandment difficult to fulfill. Human nature in general breeds a potential for selfishness. Adults can be taught and explained the necessity to overcome this tendency and to share. Children often do not comprehend (or do not want to comprehend) these explanations. Nevertheless, since a Jew by nature is kind and generous, proper training can bring these qualities to the surface. Through providing every child with a Jewish education, we will hasten the coming of Mashiach. Then, in a manner similar to the exodus from Egypt, the Jews will experience a redemption and a revelation of G-dliness, and then, just as in the times of Moshe, the children will recognize G-d first (even before Moshe and Aaron) with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.

3. In the previous farbrengens, it was mentioned that this Yud-Beis Tammuz begins the second Yovel (50-year period) after the previous Rebbe’s liberation. Even though the Previous Rebbe’s liberation was in 5687 (and therefore it would seem that the second Yovel began last year), nevertheless, there are certain factors which indicate that it would be more appropriate to consider this year the beginning of the second Yovel.

Among them are:

a) At that time, the Previous Rebbe’s liberation was welcomed as a temporary reprieve. However, no one was sure what would occur in the future. No one could have stated with surety that the liberation would lead to a spreading of Torah and mitzvos, both in Russia and in other lands. Even after the events of Yud-Beis Tammuz, many individuals harbored severe suspicions and doubts concerning the government’s intent. ft consideration of these suspicions, the Previous Rebbe did not recite Birkas HaGomel (the berachah of thanks) until a few days after his return to his home.363 In fact, until his departure from Russia almost a year later, the Russian government caused him certain difficulties and inconveniences.

b) The holidays of Purim and Chanukah reveal a pattern. Festivals instituted by the Jewish sages were not considered as holidays until one year after the initial event.

The Talmud explicitly states concerning Chanukah “The following year, these days were celebrated as a holiday.” The reason Chanukah could not be celebrated as a holiday during its first year is obvious. At that time, the extent of the miracle wad not yet revealed. No one knew that the oil would burn for eight days. (And if some sages knew through prophetic vision, they could not institute a holiday on the strength of their visions alone; the miracle had to be actually revealed, and become evident to the senses of the mass public.)

One year later, after the full extent of the miracle had unfolded and the sages had considered precisely what types of celebration would be proper to institute and how the public would react, they declared Chanukah a holiday.

The Megillah records similar events concerning the institution of the holiday of Purim. In the first year that the Jewish people rested on the 14th (or in Shushan on the 15th) of Adar, that day was not considered a festival. One year later, after the Sanhedrin had acquiesced to Esther’s request that the events of Purim be commemorated and the second Iggeres Purim was sent out, Purim because a holiday. Similarly. Yud-Beis Tammuz was not established as a holiday until one year after the Rebbe’s release. At that time, he sent the aforementioned letter describing the nature and object of the day’s celebration.

Though even in the first year, on Yud-Beis Tammuz only hours after the Rebbe had been notified about his forthcoming release, Chassidim joined together in a farbrengen, nevertheless, that farbrengen was not public. (On the contrary, it was conducted amid much secrecy.) Only a year later364 was Yud-Beis Tammuz established as a holiday for the entire Jewish people, even those who are Jews by name alone.

4. According to the principle “When dealing with holy matters — constantly ascend”, it follows that regardless of how successful we have been until now in carrying out the activities called for by the Previous Rebbe in the above-mentioned letter, the entry into a new time period calls for added concentration, effort and intensity in accomplishing the desired results.

This call for further activity applies even to those who have achieved significant results in the past. Torah is totally unified with G-d’s essence. Therefore, just as G-d is infinite, Torah is also infinite. Whatever an individual’s achievements have been, they can be quantitatively measured; this many hours studied, this many concepts learned this many people brought closer to Yiddishkeit. The finiteness of these activities when compared to Torah’s supreme infinity necessitates increased efforts. Particularly, now, when a new time period is beginning the importance of their increase in activity is more apparent. The above is especially true considering that the new period is a Yovel, which is called an eternity365 by the Torah.

The significance of the number 50 is dealt with a t great length by the Torah commentaries. The number seven is identified with the natural order (7 days in the week, 7 years in the Sabbatical, etc.). Forty-nine, seven times seven, refers to the ultimate fulfillment of the nature order. 50 (49+1) refers to the transcendence of nature, the entry into a totally different dimension. Therefore, it is necessary this year (the beginning of the second Yovel) to apply new intensity and greater energies to the service demanded by the Rebbe on Yud-Beis Tammuz.

Since the second Yovel ushers in a new time period, it follows that the service required in the second Yovel is different from that required in the first. It is necessary that every Jew, each individual to whom Yud-Beis Tammuz applies, even those who are Jews by name alone, should understand the nature of the new service required.

In general, the study of Torah can be viewed from two perspectives:

a) As one of Torah’s 248 positive commandments. This level of Torah study is considered “a mitzvah which equals all the other mitzvos” and is described by our sages with the highest terms of praise. From this perspective, the object of Torah study is to emulate the behavior required and prohibited by the Torah.

b) The study of Torah Lishma, study of Torah without the intention to derive any benefit (even the knowledge of how to perform mitzvos) from that study. Rather, the intent is for the sake of the Torah itself. Such a level of study transcends totally the realm of mitzvos to the degree that an individual who is occupied in Torah study at this level, is freed from the obligations of mitzvos.

Often, the metaphor of the human body is used to describe Torah concepts. A parallel exists between the 248 limbs of the body and the 248 positive commandments. The first level of Torah study mentioned refers to Torah as it is one of the 248 limbs of the body. The second level is as it can be compared to the blood, the very life force and energy source for the entire body.366

Generally, an individual will begin on the first level of study and work until he proceeds to the second stage. First, he occupies himself with the study of the Torah for the sake of knowing how to perform the mitzvos (itself an activity described by the Talmud as greater than all the mitzvos). Then, he advances further to the point where his learning becomes Lishma. He reaches the ultimate level of service, Toraso Umanaso, Torah comprises the totality of who and what he is.

The same pattern applies to the service which the Previous Rebbe calls for in the above-mentioned letter. That letter focuses on the need to spread Torah and particularly to establish public classes. With that letter he also released the Maamar “Asarah SheYoshvim” which stresses the importance of Torah study. During the first Yovel, the service paralleled the first level of Torah study. There was a stress on spreading Torah because Torah was the backbone upon which the fulfillment of the mitzvos depended. However, in the second Yovel there is a need to stress and to spread the study of Torah Lishma.

Therefore, while anyone who did not fulfill his potential in accomplishing the level of service required by the first Yovel is still under the obligation to complete that service, there is an immediate necessity to apply oneself and devote one’s energies to the service of the second level the spreading of the concept of Torah Lishma.

Then, as the Talmud comments “the light of Torah will return them to the good”. The study of Torah Lishma will lift a Jew out of his present situation and “return him to the good”.

Torah Lishma should constitute the bulk of the individual’s service. Nevertheless, just as the priority of a mitzvah which cannot be performed by someone else and must be performed now supercedes that of Torah study, similarly, one’s involvement in Torah Lishma should not prevent an individual from being involved in the mitzvah most necessary at this time — the spreading of Torah and mitzvos to every Jew. This service of spiritual tzedakah is of utmost importance and will hasten the coming of Mashiach. Our efforts in reaching out and leading our fellow Jews back to Torah will speed the fulfillment of the prophecy “Mashiach will take each Jew by the hand and lead him back to Israel”.

5. The Baal Shem Tov has stressed that everything is controlled by Hashgachah Protis. Since Hashgachah Protis is more evident in matters concerning Torah and mitzvos, it follows that a connection can be found between Yud-Beis Tammuz and the Torah portion of the week, Parshas Balak.367

That connection centers on the prophecy of Bilaam in which he describes the Messianic redemption. The redemption of each individual, how much more so that of a Nasi, parallels the redemption368 of the entire Jewish people. Even in the deepest Golus, the redemption of one Jew must be considered a further step and a preparation towards the coming of Mashiach.

The reference to Mashiach in Bilaam’s prophecy is developed at great length by the Rambam. He writes, “The coming of Mashiach is one of the prophecies explicitly mentioned in the Torah. Therefore, anyone who does not believe in Mashiach’s coming is challenging not only the validity of the prophets and the Oral Law (where there are frequent references to Mashiach) but denies the validity of the Chumash itself.” He continues to demonstrate how the prophecy refers to Mashiach, explaining how the section in Parshas Balak, Bamidbar, perek 24, verses 17-19, refers to the Messianic redemption. Those verses are written in parallel structure, the first half of the verse referring to King David, and the second half to Mashiach. (King David is mentioned in the prophecy because his activity in many ways paralleled that of Mashiach. In fact, in many texts he is referred to as “the first Mashiach”. The word Mashiach literally means the “anointed one”. David was the first King of Israel anointed369 with a Ram’s horn (the manner in which Mashiach will be anointed). Likewise, Mashiach must be a blood descendant of the House of David.) The text of the Rambam continues as follows: “That reference is in the portion of Bilaam who so prophesied,-,, ‘I see him but not now’— this refers to David; and, ‘I behold him, but not nigh ‘— this refers to Mashiach. ‘A star shall step forth from Jacob’ — this refers to David; ‘a scepter shall rise out of Israel’ — this refers to Mashiach. ‘He shall smite the corners of Moab’ — this refers to David; ‘and destroy the children of Seth’ this refers to Mashiach. ‘Edom will become his possession’ — this refers to David; ‘and Seir his enemy will also be his possession’ — this refers to Mashiach.”

Consideration of the above-mentioned passage from the Rambam evokes a number of questions: 1) Why does the Rambam mention the source for the reference? Generally, when the Rambam quotes a verse in the Torah as proof of his arguments he does not mentioned where that verse is found. Why does he cite the source of the passage, the portion of Bilaam, in this case? 2) Why does he use the expression “he so prophesied”? 3) Why is it necessary for the Rambam to describe the prophecy in detail, quoting all four phrases?

The answers to the above questions can be understood by focusing on the intent of the Rambam. He did not seek merely to inform the Jewish people that Mashiach would redeem the Jews from Golus, but also to describe certain particulars about the redemption. To quote from the text, “A king will arise from the House of David, who will study Torah and perform mitzvos ....then he will bring the entire Jewish people to a more complete performance of Torah and mitzvos ....then fight the wars of G-d and be victorious ....rebuild the Temple, gather in the exiles, and influence the entire world to serve G-d.” In quoting Bilaam’s prophecy in its entirety, the Rambam sought to show how the particular stages of Mashiach’s revelation mentioned above are explicitly revealed in the Torah.

The phrase “I behold him but not nigh” refers to the very existence of Mashiach — “A King will arise from the House of David”. The second phrase “a scepter shall arise out of Israel” refers to Mashiach as he affects Israel, or the second state — “he will bring the entire Jewish people to a more complete performance of Torah and mitzvos”.

The phrase “and destroy the children of Seth” refers to a further stage of the messianic redemption when he will “fight the wars of G-d and be victorious.” The final stage — “and Seir, his enemies, shall also be his possession” refers to the final stages of the Redemption, when Mashiach will bring the entire world to the service of G-d.370

These four stages have their parallel in the personal behavior of every Jew. In fact, by carrying out these parallels, we are able to hasten the coming of Mashiach. (In general, the Torah states “Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land”, implying that as soon as our sins, the source of the exile, are wiped out, the exile itself will cease.)371 Any increase in Torah activity will hasten the redemption. However, the activities which parallel those of Mashiach, serve as particularly powerful influences to speed the redemption.

The parallel to Mashiach’s first stage of revelation — “a King will arise-who will study Torah and perform mitzvos” is obvious. Each individual must intensify his own performance of Torah and mitzvos. Likewise, the parallel to the second stage – “bring the Jewish people to a more complete fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos” can also be realized in the service of spreading Torah and mitzvos to every Jew (particularly now in connection with Yud-Beis Tammuz).

The third stage — “fight the wars of G-d and be victorious” refers to the Jew’s effect on the world around him, including his influence on his gentile neighbors (as the Rambam writes, “each Jew is obligated to teach his gentile neighbors the seven mitzvos applicable to them”). The fourth stage of the Messianic redemption — “influence the entire world to serve G-d”372 applies to the Jew’s service of refining and elevating his material possessions. Each piece of property a Jew owns contains G-dly sparks which that individual is destined to elevate. (Therefore, “the Torah has mercy on the property of a Jew” because of the divine sparks contained within them.373

These four stages of service are relevant to every Jew. Every Jew contains a spark of Mashiach. The same phrase “a star will step forth from Jacob” which the Babylonian Talmud interprets as a reference to Mashiach, is applied by the Talmud Yerushalmi to every Jew. The Maor Aynayim explains there is no contradiction; each Jew possesses Messianic energies.

The revelation of the prophecy by Bilaam was in itself a stage in the preparation of the world for Mashiach’s coming. Since the ultimate achievement of Mashiach will be “to influence the entire world to serve G-d”, therefore, the initial thrust towards that goal had to come from the world itself — from Bilaam, a non-Jew. (In a parallel manner, the prophecy concerning the fall of Rome was uttered by Ovadiah — a convert of Edom.)

Likewise, the Rambam uses the expression “and Bilaam so prophesied” because the prophecy of an event itself serves as a spur to bring about the event’s occurrence. Bilaam was a great prophet, referred to by the Talmud as equal to Moshe (and in certain ways superior, possessing qualities of: a) the knowledge of when G-d would reveal Himself to him, and b) the ability to see G-d while asleep, which Moshe did not possess). By mentioning that the Biblical reference to Mashiach was Bilaam’s prophecy, the Rambam gives added impetus to Mashiach’s eventual revelation — may it be speedily in our days.


  Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 10th Of Tammuz, 5738Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Balak, 17 Tammuz 5738  
  
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