But A Moment
Sichos in English
Parshas Ki Savo;
Chai Elul, 5750
are two significant sayings with which the Rebbe Rayatz described Chai
Elul: "Chai Elul introduces chayus (life-energy) into the
service of the month of Elul," and in particular, "Chai Elul
introduces chayus into the service of ‘I am my Beloved’s and
my Beloved is mine.’"
of the last twelve days of the year correspond to one of the twelve
months. In these days, we are granted the potential to compensate for
any deficiencies and elevate our conduct of these months. In this
context, Chai Elul parallels the month of Tishrei.
these statements, we see that Chai Elul is of general significance,
adding chayus to Elul and affecting the entire year. Since Elul
is the month of stocktaking and teshuva for the year, what is the
nature of the addition of Chai Elul?
the Rebbe Rayatz’s statement, it appears that the addition is one of chayus.
Chai Elul infuses the service of Elul with energy and vitality. However,
since we can assume that each Jew conducts himself in a proper manner,
surely the entire Jewish people have carried out the service of Elul
with energy, vitality, and joy, for these are fundamental principles in
the service of G-d.
would appear then that the Rebbe Rayatz’s statement indicates that
from Chai Elul, a new phase of service begins. Although Elul is a month
of stocktaking, from Chai Elul onward begins the "Elul of Elul."
This relates to the new life-energy that Chai Elul introduces. This new
energy not only adds vitality to the previous service, it initiates a
new phase of service.
is a month of general significance that includes the entire year and
grants the potential to compensate for any deficiencies in our conduct
of the previous year and elevate it to a higher rung. It is the month of
preparation for the new year. Accordingly, the service carried out in
Elul is of a general nature.
is emphasized by the fact that the name Elul is an acronym for the
Hebrew words meaning "I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is
mine," which emphasize the bond of love between G-d and the Jewish
people. This bond characterizes the relationship and is relevant in all
times and places. The name of Elul is an acronym for verses reflecting
the three pillars on which the world stands: Torah, service (prayer),
and deeds of kindness, and similarly, services of a general nature, teshuva
and Redemption, which further emphasize the all-encompassing nature of
Torah, there is an interrelation between general principles and their
particular application. Every particular element is a reflection of the
most general concepts. Since the world was created for the Torah, this
concept is reflected in the world. Each point of time or space includes
within itself time and space in its totality.
concept is reinforced by the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that at each
moment Creation is renewed. When G-d brought existence into being from
total and absolute nothingness, the first moment of existence that He
created included every moment that would follow. As G-d brings into
being existence anew, every moment includes all previous and all
subsequent moments of existence, just as the first moment of Creation
included all time.
concept clarifies a fundamental concept regarding teshuva. It is
explained that in one moment a person can compensate for inadequacies in
his behavior over many years. How is that possible? Each moment contains
within it the totality of time and can thus alter the nature of the
events that occurred previously. This concept, although true at all
times, receives greater emphasis during the month of Elul, which is, as
explained above, a month of general consequence.
Elul contributes the dimension of chayus, life-energy. Chayus
is not a particular element of one’s existence one can point to like
one of the limbs of the body; it is by nature entirely above the body.
Nevertheless, it clothes itself within the body, changing the nature of
the body to the extent that the body itself becomes alive.
relationship between the body and its life-energy is different from that
of a particular element and the general category in which it is
included. In the latter instance, there is an interrelation between the
two. Indeed, as explained above, the entire general category can be
reflected in a particular element. This is, however, no more than a
reflection. There remains a difference between the particular entity and
the general category.
the relationship between the body and its life-energy is very different.
The life-energy of the soul is of a totally different nature than the
body. Nevertheless, the soul descends and clothes itself within the body
to the extent that the body’s nature changes and not only the soul,
but also the body, lives. The reason for this change is because the soul’s
life-energy emanates from the essence. An essential quality permeates
through everything and exists equally in all places. Therefore, all of a
person’s being is affected by his life-energy.
this basis we can understand the uniqueness of Chai Elul. It includes
all the service of the Jewish people. Chai Elul emphasizes the chayus
– life-energy – of that service, the bond between the Jewish people
and G-d. For this reason, the twelve final days of the year beginning on
Chai Elul represent a new phase of service. The stocktaking that began
on Rosh Chodesh Elul focused on the particulars of one’s service in
the three general services of Torah, prayer, and deeds of kindness,
reviewing one’s thought, speech, and action. In contrast, the
stocktaking that begins on Chai Elul focuses on the essence of a Jew’s
connection to G-dliness and its expression in his behavior. We are not
as concerned with the particular elements of service, but rather with
the connection, the life-energy of our service.
explains how one moment of teshuva can effect one’s entire
past. We are focusing on the essence of the connection, its life-energy,
and as explained above, an essential quality exists equally in every
place. Each moment is connected with the essence and has an effect on
enhances the significance of Chai Elul, for it corresponds to the month
of Tishrei. The Hebrew letters for Tishrei can be rearranged to form the
word reishis, which means "the head of." Chassidic
thought explains that Rosh HaShana is called the "head of the
year," to emphasize how, just as the head includes the life-energy
for the entire body, Rosh HaShana includes the life-energy for the
entire year. Similarly, Tishrei includes the life-energy for the entire
year. Chai Elul, which compensates for and elevates the service of
Tishrei, is thus intrinsically connected with the life-energy of the
chayus of Elul — the love relationship with G-d, as expressed
by the verse, "I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine" —
is expressed in the service of prayer, a process of connection with G-d.
This connection relates to G-d’s essence, as our Sages commented,
"Pray to Him and not to His attributes." In contrast, deeds of
kindness relates to G-d’s attribute of kindness and Torah study
relates to G-d’s intellectual attributes. Through an increase in
prayer, we are connected to G-d’s essence. To quote the second version
of the Rebbe Rayatz’s adage, Chai Elul adds life to the service of
"I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine." For this reason,
it is customary even for Torah scholars to place greater emphasis on the
service of prayer in this month…
The above concepts are also connected to this week’s Torah portion,
which begins by mentioning the mitzva of bikkurim, the
first fruits. Our Sages explain that the first fruits refer to the
Jewish people, G-d’s first fruits, as it were. G-d’s conception of
the Jewish people existed before the world, preceding even the Torah
itself. Offering bikkurim represents developing a connection with
that level, the source of the souls of the Jewish people, and brings
about a connection with G-d. In this way bikkurim are related to
the service of prayer. This explains the connection to the concepts of
mitzva of bikkurim is to be fulfilled "When you come
into the land... take it as an inheritance, and settle within,"
alluding to the service of the Jewish people in refining the world. The
epitome of this service is the transformation of the land of the seven
Canaanite nations into Eretz Yisroel. This service will be completed in
the Messianic age when, in addition to the lands of these seven nations,
we will be granted the lands of the Keini, K’nizi, and Kadmoni.
chayus introduced by Chai Elul is reflected in the parshiyos
read in the weeks that follow. Parshas Nitzavim describes how the entire
Jewish people, from the most elevated to the most simple, are standing
all together, unified and as one, because they are one with G-d,
establishing a covenant with Him.
leads to VaYeilech, which grants the Jewish people the potential to
proceed from strength to strength. Since G-d is totally unlimited, there
is no limit to the bonds a Jew can establish with Him. We can — and
should — continue to ascend level after level.
leads to Parshas Haazinu, which according to our Sages describes a state
in which one is close to Heaven and removed from the earth. Each Jew who
realizes the essential connection he shares with G-d, can be close to
this we proceed to Parshas V’Zos HaBracha, "This is the blessing
which Moshe...blessed the children of Israel," extending (for the
word "bracha" can mean both blessing and extension) the
influence of Moshe to all the Jewish people.
generates the potential for Bereishis. A Jew becomes a partner with G-d
in the work of creation, drawing down G-dliness into the world,
revealing how the entire world depends on His creative potential. This
refines the world and transforms it into a dwelling for G-d.
This Shabbos, we study the third and fourth chapters of Pirkei Avos.
Not only are the chapters numbered three and four, they begin with
teachings that emphasize these two numbers. Chapter three begins:
"Reflect upon three things...," and chapter four begins by
mentioning four categories that reflect the epitome of developed
numbers three and four are of general significance for the Jewish
people. We have three Patriarchs and four Matriarchs. Three and four
equal seven, the number of branches in the menora, representative
of the seven paths of service of G-d. The numbers three and four are
connected with the service of the intellect. We possess three
intellectual potentials (chochma, bina, and daas)
and, at times, we speak of four potentials. Daas is counted as
two since it is the source of the two general emotional categories, chesed
a preface to both these chapters, we study the teaching, "All
Israel have a portion in the World to Come, as it is written, ‘Your
nation are all righteous...’" This teaching emphasizes the
essential connection G-d shares with every Jew. It is because of this
essential bond that "All Israel have a portion in the World to
Come." This essential connection gives rise to the seven services
alluded to in chapters three and four.
above concepts must influence our behavior on the level of deed. From
Chai Elul onward, the new life-energy drawn down in Elul must bring
about an increase in all aspects of the service of Elul, allowing for a
deeper dimension of correction and completion to be contributed to the
service of the previous year.
calls for an increase in prayer, for it is through this service that
this essential connection is expressed. There should also be an increase
in Torah study. Focus should be placed on the laws pertaining to Rosh
HaShana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos, and on the inner dimensions of the
service of these holidays.
in preparation for the coming festive season, efforts must be undertaken
to ensure that every Jew is given his holiday needs so that the holidays
can be celebrated in a manner of "eat succulent foods and drink
sweet beverages." …
the good resolutions made regarding the above lead to the fulfillment of
the promise made at the beginning of the Torah reading, "When you
will enter the land..." with the coming of Moshiach, who will lead
the entire Jewish people back to Eretz Yisroel. This is particularly
relevant at present, at the conclusion of "a year of
miracles," as we prepare for a year when "I will show you