1. This farbrengen comes as a continuation of the farbrengens of Yud-Bais, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. This is the third farbrengen celebrating this occasion, thus bringing about a “Chazaka,” i.e. firmly establishing its importance.
The Torah considers the power of a Chazaka very great. Even the most severe punishments are meted out because of a Chazaka. Therefore, since “a good measure is greater than a measure of punishment,” it’s obvious that a Chazaka brings about great importance and powers to all matters of holiness and goodness.
In the previous farbrengens it was mentioned that Yud-Bais and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz teach us not to be satisfied with a limited measure in the study of Torah and the fulfillment of Mitzvos, but rather, to proceed with greater strength and greater power until we go beyond all boundaries and limitations. Our power of Mesiras Nefesh (self-sacrifice) which has an infinite and unlimited potential, must permeate every aspect of our service of Torah and Mitzvos.
This unlimited service has a closer connection to Yud-Bais Tammuz than to any of the other festivals. All of the other holidays, are limited by a specific quality: Pesach — freedom, Shavuos — Torah, Sukkos — happiness. In contrast to these, the arrest and liberation of the Previous Rebbe brings out an aspect of unbounded service. The Previous Rebbe’s service was carried out with Mesiras Nefesh, beyond even the limits of holiness. According to the Shulchan Aruch, there may be room to question whether the Previous Rebbe should have shown Mesiras Nefesh in spreading Yiddishkeit and Jewish education. Inspite of this question the Previous Rebbe dedicated himself to those goals.
What brought out the quality of Mesiras Nefesh? The Previous Rebbe’s position was connected with Pnimius HaTorah (Torah’s innermost aspects). Pnimius HaTorah openly reveals the concept of infinity and therefore demands unlimited service. In the realm of Nigla (the dimension of Torah which deals with law and practice), it is possible for one to “learn the entire Torah.” Since the dimension of Torah is connected with practical behavior it is by nature limited. Even though Torah itself is above all limitation, as the Book of Job proclaims “its measure is longer than the Earth and wider than the sea,” still, it was given in a manner that “the greatness of study is that it leads to deed.” Therefore, Torah had to descend into boundaries and limitations and enclothe itself in material things.
However, in the realm of Pnimius HaTorah (which in our time is revealed through Chassidus Chabad), even when concepts are within our intellectual grasp, Torah’s unlimited aspects are openly revealed. Therefore, since the service of the Previous Rebbe was connected with Pnimius HaTorah, it was, also, unlimited in nature.
From the above it is understandable that although the Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment reflects the greatest descent into the physical world, the result of this descent was that the darkness of the physical world was transformed to light, and bitterness was transformed to sweetness; to the point where a new holiday was given to the Jewish people. That holiday, in turn, is connected with studying Torah and fulfilling commandments in an unlimited manner.
The above has a special significance this year, because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s birthday. One hundred signifies a level of complete fulfillment. May we be able to carry out all the good resolutions we took upon ourselves in connection with Yud-Bais Tammuz and the 100th anniversary. And may that in turn speed the coming of Moshiach and the ultimate and complete redemption. Then, the entire world will go beyond its boundaries and limitations, for then, the world will become a dwelling place for, and a place that reveals G-d’s essence. As Isaiah declared “your teacher will not conceal himself any more.”
2. On the third day of creation, the first Tuesday, the phrase, “and G-d saw that it was good,” is repeated twice. Commenting on the Talmud (Kiddushin 40a) the Tzemack Tzedek explained that this expression is connected with a two-fold good: “Good to heaven, and, good to the creations.” This concept strengthens the connection between today, a Tuesday, and Yud-Bais Tammuz, since the arrest and liberation that date commemorates is related to both the “Good to heaven, and (the) good to the creations.”
The Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment did not come because of his “good to heaven”; (i.e. because of his own observance of Torah and Mitzvos) rather, because of his “good to the creations” (i.e. because of his spreading Torah and Judaism to other Jews in a manner of self-sacrifice). Likewise, in regards to the redemption, the Previous Rebbe wrote “G-d did not redeem me alone, rather all those who love our Holy Torah, follow the commandments, and even those who are Jews in name alone.” His redemption brought about a redemption for all Jews even those who are ‘creations,’ i.e., their only redeeming characteristic is that they are G-d’s creations.
This should emphasize that the resolutions we make in connection with Yud-Bais Tammuz should stress the factor of “good to the creations.” Even though the emphasis should be on “good to heaven” the spreading of (Yiddishkeit) Judaism, the study of Torah, and the fulfillment of Mitzvos, that “good” should also be brought to the creations, as the Torah teaches “love your neighbor as yourself,” to the point where all Jews are considered as different limbs of the same body.
3. In the concept of Ahavas Yisroel, there is a point that requires explanation: In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe quotes the Talmud that speaks about those about whom “King David... said “I hate them with a consuming hatred ... the heretics and atheists who have no portion in the G-d of Israel.” The Mitzva of Ahavas Yisroel encompasses them as well. We can relate to an object in two ways: 1) through union, or, 2) through negation. The latter is also a means of relation. There, too, a connection is established. Therefore, even the negative feelings that are expressed towards these people are part of the Mitzva of Ahavas Yisroel.
Though these feelings seem to run contrary to the entire concept of Ahavas Yisroel, there is a point of connection. A similar idea helps explain this point. Torah is called “the Torah of Kindness.” However, in the Torah there are also punishments. These punishments are also an expression of kindness.
The Torah is also called the “Torah of truth.” Therefore, its kindness is true kindness, that true kindness motivates G-d “to wash the filth from the daughters of Zion,” (Isaiah 4:4) with punishments. The aim of these punishments is to bring the sinner back to the Jewish fold and to lift him up to the level of a Baal Teshuva, a level higher than that of a perfect Tzaddik. Similarly in our case, the hatred shown to these people removes their negative qualities and allows us to relate to them, in a positive sense, through Ahavas Yisroel, as well.
This principle is connected with today’s date, the 15th of Tammuz. The 15th of Tammuz is the Yahrzeit of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh. Commenting on the verse, “The name of the man of Israel that was slain with the Midianite woman” which is in this week’s Parsha, the Or HaChaim declares: “Even though a Jew may act wickedly ... he will eventually return to his source. Therefore, the Torah calls him ‘a man of Israel.’ Even after his sin he still is called by the name ‘Israel.’” That is despite the severity of Zimri’s sin, a sin which was connected with the death of 24,000 Jews, he is still recognized as a Jew.
The Or HaChaim also answers why does the Torah repeat “who was killed with the Midianite woman?” To teach us that the bad clung to his soul from the Midianite woman was killed ... by Pinchas,and that afterwards, “no mark was left of his sin ... his death purified his soul.”
There are those who think that this explanation is just a homiletic one. However, in truth, it expresses a profound concept that is also taught in the realm of Nigla. The ten days of Teshuva are days of judgment. The Levush comments that, “the execution of a judgment on this plane, annuls a judgment on the spiritual plane.” Therefore, to apply this to the above concept, the hatred and negative feelings shown to the above mentioned individuals on this plane annuls a severe judgment on the spiritual plane and allows those individuals to be seen as meritorious. That judgment, on the spiritual plane, in turn, forces us to change our feelings and treat those individuals with complete love.
This principle helps us understand the statement of the Previous Rebbe quoted above: “G-d did not redeem me alone, but, rather, all those who love our holy Torah, follow the commandments, and even those who are Jews by name alone.” The statement ‘G-d did not redeem me alone,’ shows that without that statement, one might suppose that ‘he alone’ was redeemed, i.e. that the redemption was relevant only to him, the leader of the Jewish people, alone. However, by making this statement, he showed that even those aspects of his redemption that were related to him most closely were shared by the entire Jewish people.
This concept relates to a statement of the Zohar. Commenting on the verse, “and the soul (Nefesh) of my master will be bound up in the bond of life,” the Zohar asks: ‘Why is the word Nefesh (a low level of the soul) used? The proper word to be used is Neshama (a higher level of the soul). However, since the levels of a Tzaddik’s soul connect one with another, the Nefesh with the Ruach (an intermediate rung), and the Ruach with the Neshama, and the Neshama with G-d, through this process even the Nefesh is connected with G-d.’
At this point a question arises: Since on the surface, the connection is not direct, i.e. the Nefesh’s bond with G-d passes through a number of intermediary levels, how can it be considered a true connection?
The answer is based on a fundamental Chassidic concept. Chassidus teaches that there are two types of intermediaries: 1) an intermediary that separates; it represents an individual level of its own. It receives from the level above it, assimilates what it received within itself, and then transmits it to the level below.
2) An intermediary that connects. Here there is no self-existence, and no particular level to the intermediary; it exists only to connect the level below it to the level above it. Since this intermediary does not exist for itself, it does not prevent a complete connection.
Therefore, in the Zohar stated above the Neshama is not an “intermediary that separates,” rather, it connects the “Nefesh,” to the “bond of life.” The same concept applies to the Previous Rebbe. Those aspects of his redemption that were relevant to, ,me alone,, were also connected to every Jew, even one who is a Jew by the name alone.
This principle of the intermediary that connects, is applicable to the entire realm of holiness. The nature of holiness is self-negation. When something is done in a holy manner, the thing itself is not considered as an entity for itself; rather, it is totally given over to its motivating intention: “To establish a dwelling place for G-d in the lower world.” That is the goal of our study of Torah and our fulfillment of the commandments. These efforts bring about the revelation of the Shechina (G-d’s presence) in the world.
on the surface, it would seem that the essence of G-d’s presence is revealed in Torah alone, not in the world per se. However, this perspective obscures the fundamental principle expressed in the concept: “a dwelling place for G-d in the lower worlds.” The establishment of a dwelling for G-d in the lower worlds does not come through intermediaries that divide. Rather, all the intermediate stages have no importance; their existence has one purpose: To carry out G-d’s desire to have a dwelling place in the lower worlds. That is, that the lower worlds themselves should be transformed into a dwelling for G-d’s essence. G-d’s wisdom, his knowledge, and also (the level of Chochma of Atzilus) exist for one sole purpose: So that a Jew can use his wisdom to understand the wisdom of the Torah.
In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe writes that the purpose of creation is not in the spiritual worlds, for,”Behold, they have descended from the light of his countenance;” they were created only to allow this world to be elevated and become one with G-d.
From the above, it is clear that Torah and Mitzvos are not entities in their own right. They are only the intermediaries; secondary factors that allow the connection to be made between G-d’s essence and material existence. As the Rebbe Rashab writes in Toras Shalom, “all the Mitzvos are related to G-d’s essence, i.e., their intention is that the only existence is G-d’s essence which should be united with the Jewish people to the point where the two become one entity.
This principle has a direct connection to our service. When a Jew studies Torah and fulfills Mitzvos and involves himself in that service — (i.e. proper study and performance of Mitzvos demand that the Jew involve himself in them) he does not fulfill G-d’s ultimate intention. G-d’s ultimate intention is for him to rise above himself so that he does not remain a separate entity from the Giver of Torah and the Commander of Mitzvos. The ultimate goal of Torah and Mitzvos is that “the soul should return unto G-d who gave it,” and not that Torah should exist, or that Mitzvos should exist. Rather, that there exists only G-d’s essence and the Jewish people. This is the goal demanded by Chassidus. That Torah and Mitzvos serve as a medium to lift us up beyond all limitations.
This concept was exemplified by Rav Hershel TcherNikover. He would learn a deep Torah concept, concentrating on its depth and understanding it thoroughly. Afterwards, he would clap his hands together and shout. “Gevalt, Gevalt.” While.he was studying, he had to focus his mind on understanding the concept, and could not appreciate the ‘Gevalt.’ But afterwards, he was able to appreciate the infinite aspect of the concept he studied. This is the intention of Torah and Mitzvos: To bring a Jew into contact with the source of his soul — in G-d’s essence — a level that transcends the source of Torah and Mitzvos.
This concept is connected with the resolution that should be accepted in connection with Yud-Bais Tammuz. That is that we must make a decision to be active in the realm of “good to the creations,” involving ourselves with those Jews whose only redeeming factor is that they are G-d’s creations. Why so? Because as the Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya, “who can know their greatness and height, in their root and source, in the living G-d.” A Jewish soul stands above everything, even above Torah and Mitzvos. And on that level, there is no difference between one Jew and another. Therefore, when we speak about a Jew who, for the moment, has no connection with Torah and Mitzvos, we must realize that his soul was able to motivate G-d to create the entire world (including the aspect of Torah and Mitzvos).
Even when a Jew has a connection with a Midianite woman, we must realize that, that connection is only temporary and will be removed. Such a perspective will surely motivate us to become involved with these Jews as well. These efforts will in turn lift us to a higher level ourselves, for we will have established a connection with an entity that was the purpose of the entire creation.
4. The above is also connected with the 100th anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s birth. The number 100 reflects a level of ultimate completion.
On the surface, the above statement is difficult to understand. On the other hand, the number 1,000 seems to represent a higher level of completion. Ibn Ezra comments that the Hebrew word for a thousand, ‘Elef,’ is composed of the same letters as the world ‘Alef,’ which can mean one. At 1,000 the cycle of numbers ends and begins again. On the other hand, the number ten also represents a state of completion, as can be seen from Grace after meals. There is a special addition if ten people eat together. After that even if many thousands join together in eating no additions are made. Therefore, from either perspective, (i.e. a comparison between the numbers 1,000 and 100 or a comparison between the numbers 10 and 100) the importance of the number 100 is outweighed. In truth, the highest level of completion is 10. However, since each of the individual components of the group of 10 possess 10 different aspects, therefore, 100 represents an even greater, level of completion, for then all 10 components are fulfilled. (1,000, in turn, signifies an even higher level.)
This significance of 100 is also brought out by the Mishna from Pirkei Avos (5:22) The Mishna lists ten levels in our lives, beginning with, “at 10 years old one begins to study the Mishna.” This number, 10, represents the beginning of the development of our power of understanding. Before then, in the study of the Torah, understanding is not necessary. Even if we do not grasp the meaning of what we read, our study is still considered a Mitzva. Therefore, at 10, when we begin to use our conscious power, then we begin to build our world, (through “looking into Torah, and creating the world). At 20, we are prepared “to pursue a livelihood,” to go out and achieve in the world. At that age one was taken into the army. From 20 onward, one continuously proceeds to higher levels until one reaches 100, the ultimate level of completion.
The above relates to the lesson we must derive from Yud-Bais Tammuz. As mentioned above, we have to be involved with “good to the creations,” that is, going out and effecting the world, and yet not being effected by it. This is possible when we realize that the world’s ultimate goal is to reach the level of 100 — to be ‘as if one is dead and passed away.” This comes through removing the veils and coverings from the G-dly forces in the world, and through revealing how the world is G-d’s dwelling place.
5. Yud-Gimmel Tammuz took place at the beginning of the week of Parshas Pinchas. The portion of the weekly Parsha which is connected to today is in the third Aliyah, which speaks about the division of the Land of Israel into tribal sections. This division of land was made by lots. The concept of lots has a parallel in our service to G-d. It refers to that service which is totally beyond the grasp of the intellect, i.e. beyond all boundaries and limitations. Just as in the physical example, a person relies on how the lot will fall without any use of his conceptional powers, similarly, in the spiritual sense, the reference is to a service which is in no way bounded by the limits of human understanding.
This level of service is totally beyond our revealed powers. It is possible for a very simple person to possess a soul whose essence has a very high root (and because of that essence, he can, in one moment, transform his entire being reaching the highest realms). Likewise, it is possible for a Tzaddik to have a soul whose essence is very low — and possibly even connected to evil. For that reason, Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai remarked before his death, “I don’t know in which direction they will lead me.” Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai was totally given over to Torah. The Talmud relates that he never walked 4 cubits without Tefillin and Torah. He learned for 40 years, taught for 40 years, and lead the Jewish people for 40 years. Still, regardless of all these achievements, he worried in which direction he would be led. Why? Because he was not aware of the nature of the essence of his soul and was troubled lest it be connected with the source of evil.
From this concept we can understand the importance of “good to the creations,” of working with those Jews who, from all outward appearances, have no other positive quality than that they are ‘G-d’s creations,’ Just as Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai was worried he possessed a soul with a very low essence, likewise, it is possible that these Jews possess a soul with a very high essence.
The above mentioned story offers an another lesson. We see that a Jew need not be worried about the nature of his soul. He must only worry about accomplishing his mission. It is possible to find out the nature of one’s soul. Because our service Q(f Torah and Mitzvos connects us with G-d’s essence, which is present everywhere, we also come into contact with the essence of our own souls. If this is true, why didn’t Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai come into contact with the essence of his soul? The reason is that he was too busy carrying out his mission in the world, learning, teaching, and leading the Jewish people. He had no time to worry about the essence of his soul. Only when he was about to pass away, and he had to make a proper account of his life did he begin to worry.
The same principle applies to us: We have to be totally involved in the mission with which we are charged. That mission consists of “spreading the Wellsprings of Chassidus outwards.” That we should teach Chassidus to those Jews who are in the outside in such a manner that they will feel they are receiving from the Wellsprings, from the essence of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe. These efforts should be motivated by Ahavas Yisroel and should be expressed through the other Mivtzoyim: Mivtza Chinuch, Mivtza Torah, Mivtza Tefillin, Mivtza Tzedaka, Bayis Maley Seforim, Mivtza Nairos Shabbos Kodesh, Mivtza Kashrus, Mivtza Taharas HaMishpocha. These activities, in turn, will lead to the ultimate Mivtza, the Mivtza of preparing for the ultimate redemption led by moshiach, speedily in our days.
- (Back to text) This is particularly true since today is the 15th of the month, the day when the moon is full. Since “the calendar of the Jewish people follows the, moon,” it follows that a full moon reflects a state of fullness in the service of the Jewish people.
- (Back to text) Even though the power of Mesiras Nefesh is not truly unlimited (it is unlimited only in relation to our particular nature), it is still a vessel able to receive G-d’s true infinity.
- (Back to text) Even though the statement “happiness breaks down barriers” would seem to imply that the service of simcha is unlimited, still, there was a quality of restraint. In fact, special measures were taken to make sure that the joy was contained within those bounds (except on Purim).
- (Back to text) Because of this unlimited nature, the Talmud states: “The secrets of Torah should only be taught to someone whose heart worries within him. “Worry” shows one is going beyond one’s.limits. If someone is not stretching past his limits he won’t be worried. (He either is able to receive what is given to him or to protect himself from it.) Therefore, joy and worry are appropriate. They both represent feelings that are unlimited in nature (yet opposite in character). It is truly unlimited feelings that make one able to receive “the secrets of Torah.”
- (Back to text) It also has a connection to a level beyond limitations, as apparent from the Tzemach Tzed.ek’s commentary on the Mishna’s statement, “At one hundred it is as if one has died and passed away from the world.” He interprets that statement in a positive light, explaining that it describes a person who has transcended the limitation of this world.
- (Back to text) If something is so unrelated that no connection is possible there is no need to negate that connection. For example, no one would ever say that a concept is so high and elevated that it can not be grasped in our hands. Because intellect and touch are completely removed from each other, no connection is possible between them. Similarly, in regard to Ahavas Yisroel, that alone which we negate certain individuals from the category of “love your neighbor as yourself” shows that they go into the category of Ahavas Yisroel.
- (Back to text) These negative qualities do not represent their true selves. They are merely superficial aspects that were added to their fundamental nature.
- (Back to text) Whenever the Rebbeim would refer to the Or HaChaim they would add the description Hakodesh (the holy one). Likewise ‘ Chassidim explained that the Or HaChaim shared a particular connection to the Baal Shem Tov. According to their statements, the Baal Shem Tov and the Or HaChaim were “the spirit,” and “the soul,” of Moshiach.
- (Back to text) This principle also explains the statement that, “They have no portion in the world to.come.” Before they receive their punishment, they have no portion. But after they receive their punishment, they do receive a portion.
- (Back to text) The Medrash states “Before creation the thought of the Jewish people preceded (in G-d.’s mind) everything else.” The Maggid explained this idea with the parable of a father who pictures in his mind the form of his son before he his born. That picture motivates the entire creation that follows.
- (Back to text) For that reason, the Talmud states that for a location to be able to fall into the category of a condemned city, it must have at least 100, men, otherwise it is not called a City.