Boundaries, Beyond Limits
8th Day of Nissan, 5751
Nissan is called the month of redemption, because the entire month
revolves around Pesach, the season of our freedom. Nissan is also
connected with the concept of nissim, miracles. The two concepts
are interrelated, for it was with great miracles and wonders that G-d
took the Jews out of Egypt.
connection with miracles receives greater emphasis this Shabbos, which
is called Shabbos HaGadol, the Great Shabbos, because of the great
miracle that occurred then. What was this miracle? As the Alter Rebbe
relates in his Shulchan Aruch, the firstborn of Egypt
learned that G-d would slay them and tried to convince Pharaoh to
release the Jewish people. When Pharaoh refused, the firstborns revolted
against him, as implied by the verse, “To strike Egypt with their
firstborn...” This represented the beginning of the miracles of the
must understand: Why did our Sages attach so much importance to the
miracle of striking Egypt with their first born? Why is it considered
such a great miracle and the beginning of the redemption? Also, it is
necessary to understand the association between this miracle and
Shabbos, since it occurred on Shabbos and is commemorated on Shabbos.
redemption from Egypt is associated with Moshe, the one chosen by G-d to
redeem the Jewish people from Egypt. When he requested that G-d send
another person instead, G-d refused, for it was none other than Moshe
who had the power to redeem the Jewish people.
purpose of the exodus from Egypt was for the Jewish people to appreciate
G-d’s providence, as it is written, “And I will take you unto Me as
a people...so that you will know that I, G-d, your L-rd, am He who took
you out of the bondage of Egypt.” As the Jewish people exist within
our material world, they should come to an awareness of G-d and accept
His commandments (i.e., the acceptance of the Torah) and through their
service, reveal G-dliness in the world at large (through the
construction of the Sanctuary).
Sanctuary was, however, temporary in nature. The goal of the revelation
of G-dliness in the world was realized in a more permanent manner in the
Beis HaMikdash. The first and the second Batei Mikdashos
were destroyed. Thus, the ultimate vehicle for the revelation of G-dliness
in the world will be the third Beis HaMikdash, which will
be an eternal structure. Then, in the Era of Redemption, “the glory of
G-d will be revealed and all flesh will together see that the mouth of
G-d has spoken”; i.e., there will be an open revelation of G-dliness
that will be appreciated by all mankind.
the goal of the exodus was the revelation of G-dliness, it was
associated with miracles that broke the boundaries of nature. The Hebrew
for nature is teva, which also has the meaning of
“submerged.” The G-dly power invested in the world is submerged
within the natural order, which obscures our appreciation of Him.
Miracles, in contrast, break through nature and allow us to openly
appreciate G-d’s infinite power.
these miracles endowed the Jewish people with the strength to leave
Egypt, to go beyond the boundaries and limitations of worldly existence
and experience freedom. In the same manner, the future redemption will
be characterized by miracles, as it is written, “As in the days of
your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders,” wonders that will
transcend the natural order entirely, and which will be greater than
those that accompanied the exodus from Egypt. Furthermore, G-d Himself
will show us these wonders, revealing them openly.
mentioned, the potential for the redemption is associated with Moshe.
The nature of Moshe’s influence and contribution to the Jewish people
and to the world at large is expressed in the Psalm, Chapter 90 of
Tehillim, “A prayer of Moshe.” (There is a unique connection between
this Psalm and the present days, as reflected in the custom initiated by
the Baal Shem Tov to daily recite the Psalm that corresponds to the
years of one’s life.)
Psalm concludes, “May the pleasantness of G-d, our L-rd, be upon us;
establish for us the work of our hands; establish the work of our
hands.” Our Sages interpret this as a prayer in connection with the
construction of the Sanctuary in the desert, saying “May the Divine
Presence rest in the work of your hands.” With this prayer, Moshe —
and this was his unique contribution — established, in a fixed manner,
the dwelling of the Divine Presence among the Jewish people. The
ultimate expression of this process of indwelling will be in the Era of
Redemption, with the construction of the third Beis HaMikdash,
the eternal structure.
focus on the Psalm in greater depth: The literary structure of
repetition is employed both at the beginning, “A prayer of Moshe, the
man of G-d” and at its conclusion, “establish for us the work of our
hands; establish the work of our hands.”
repetition is intrinsically related to the concept of establishing G-d’s
dwelling within the Jewish people in a permanent manner. For this, two
qualities are necessary: a) One must have a power that is greater than
the natural order, a power that can infuse a revelation of G-dliness
into this world, which is characterized by concealment. This involves
changing the nature of the world, as it were, making it into a vessel
fit to receive G-dliness, and indeed, to receive G-dliness in a
permanent manner. b) This power must descend to the extent that it can
invest itself within the world (for that which refines something else
must be on its level). Only in this way, will it be able to transform
the world into a vessel that can receive G-dliness in a permanent
two qualities are alluded to in the repetition of the beginning and
conclusion of the above Psalm, because both these qualities were present
within Moshe. Moshe served as a connecting intermediary, binding the
Jewish people to G-d.
two qualities that an intermediary must possess are reflected in the
phrase “the man of G-d.” Our Sages commented, “His upper half
resembled G-d; his lower half was like a man.” More particularly,
however, it is the phrase “Moshe, the man of G-d,” which brings out
these two dimensions. The name for G-d used in the above phrase is Elokim,
which is numerically equivalent to the word ha’teva, meaning
“nature.” Elokim refers to G-dliness insofar as it brings the
natural order into being. “The man of Elokim” refers to a
person who has been able to establish a oneness with this G-dliness. It
does, however, represent a limitation, for one unites only with the G-dliness
that invests itself within nature and not with the essential G-dliness
that transcends the natural order, represented by the name Havaya.
name Moshe refers to a higher level. The Torah states that he was given
this name because “I drew him from the water.” “Water” refers to
the name Havaya, the level of Mah, G-dliness that
transcends creation. Moshe’s soul had its source in these high levels
of G-dliness, and from them it was drawn into this world. Furthermore,
even as Moshe existed within this world, his soul was united with its
source in the spiritual realms, like fish who live in constant contact
with their source of life.
the phrase “Moshe, the man of G-d,” represents the two qualities
mentioned above: Moshe represents the connection with the levels of G-dliness
that transcend nature. Since this connection continued even as Moshe
existed within this material world, he had the potential to reveal G-dliness
within the world and transform its nature in a permanent manner, as
explained above. “The man of G-d,” on the other hand, emphasizes the
other dimension, the connection that allows G-dliness to be drawn down
within the world in an internalized manner, and thus allow for permanent
change. The revelation of G-dliness that is above nature can be drawn
into the creation itself.
similar concept is reflected in the conclusion of the Psalm,
“establish for us the work of our hands; establish the work of our
hands.” The expression “for us” in the first phrase indicates that
the revelation has its source in a level above our own. The second
phrase, however, indicates that this level has become internalized
within us to the extent that it is the work of our hands that is being
Sages relate the concept of repetition to the redemption, and to the
aspect of eternity within the redemption. Similarly, repetition is
related to Shabbos. Each Shabbos is twofold in nature, reflecting a rest
from the difficulties of the world (which parallels the G-dliness
that is invested within nature) and the essential dimension of rest (the
G-dliness that transcends nature).
The two are interconnected, as our Sages comment on the Psalm, “A
Psalm, a song for the Shabbos day,” “a song for the era that is all
Shabbos and rest forever,” referring to the Era of Redemption, when
the concept of permanence and eternity (the contribution of Moshe) will
be given full expression.
that era, “the pleasantness of G-d, our L-rd, will be upon us,”
i.e., the essential pleasure will be revealed, and it will be
“established for us the work of our hands.” …
Based on the above, we can understand the uniqueness of Moshe and why he
was chosen as the redeemer of the Jewish people. Since Moshe was, as
explained above, “the man of G-d,” he had the potential to draw the
revelation of the unlimited dimensions of G-dliness into the world. This
granted him the potential to take the Jewish people out of the
limitations of exile, even the lowest limitations, the k’lipa
it is this potential that ultimately will lead to the era when, “As in
the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” Miracles
will be revealed; not only miracles invested in nature, but miracles
transcending the limits of nature entirely. This will be a redemption
that will not be followed by exile. The entire world will be permanently
established as a dwelling for G-d.
above also enables us to understand the greatness of the miracle of
“smiting Egypt with their firstborn.” The transformation of the
firstborn of Egypt into a force that acted on behalf of the Jewish
people represents an elevation of the lowest elements of existence.
This, to a greater extent than the miracles that happened to the Jewish
people themselves, revealed the infinite dimension of G-dliness within
the limits of our material world.
this reason, this miracle is associated with Shabbos, for Shabbos is
associated with the redemption, “the day which is all Shabbos and rest
for eternity.” Indeed, the commemoration of this miracle enhances the
nature of Shabbos, making it Shabbos HaGadol, the Great Shabbos.
is also a connection between the above and this week’s parsha,
Parshas Tzav. Our Sages explain that Tzav refers to “an encouragement
effective immediately and for all time.” Here we see the eternal
dimension mentioned above. Significantly, the verse relates how G-d
tells Moshe to command Aharon, who serves as the medium, to communicate
to the entire Jewish people. Aharon is characterized by the qualities of
“loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creations and bringing
them close to the Torah.” The command given in the above verse
encourages this service in a manner that is effective immediately and
for all time.
above is enhanced by the unique nature of the present year, a year when
“I will show you wonders.” As we have seen in a clear and manifest
wonder, it has been a wondrous year and we can be sure that these
wonders will continue and include the greatest wonder, the coming of
Moshiach, as mentioned in the Yalkut Shimoni.
miraculous nature of the present year should be reflected in the conduct
of every Jew. Each one of us should increase his study of the Torah and
fulfillment of mitzvos b’hiddur, in a manner that
appears truly miraculous when compared to his previous efforts. There is
a unique potential for this service, granted by Moshe’s prayer, “May
it be G-d’s will that the Divine Presence rest in the work of your
grants each Jew the power to reveal the service of tzaddik in his
service — for “Your nation are all tzaddikim.” This begins
with the service of…giving oneself over to the Torah to the point that
there is no possibility for the existence of another side. Similarly,
this approach must be communicated to others, spreading the study of the
Torah and the performance of its mitzvos among Jews and spreading
the observance of the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his
descendants to all mankind.
above activities should also involve an emphasis on providing each
individual with his Pesach needs. One should not wait until the poor
come asking. Instead, efforts should be made to discover who is needy
beforehand and supply them with all that they require.
leads to a second point. In this country, it is customary to arrange
communal sedarim. Generally, however, only one communal seider
is arranged and not two. It is important that all those who hold
communal sedarim should hold communal sedarim for both
the reason only one seider is held is that there are not enough
funds for two. If necessary, the first seider should be held in a
simpler manner to allow for a second seider to be held.
Furthermore, there is enough time that, if the proper efforts are made,
enough funds can be raised to allow both sedarim to be celebrated
in the proper manner.
we merit the ultimate fulfillment of the prayer of Moshe, “that the
Divine Presence rest in the work of our hands” in the third Beis
HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands.”