Every Jew Can Reach The Level Of Tzaddik"
Sichos in English
Parshas Emor; 20th Day of Iyar, 5751
1. We have already spoken at length last Shabbos regarding the fact that the
Hebrew word for "redemption" (Geula) is composed of the word
"exile" (gola) with the addition of the letter Alef. At
that time we explained two implications of this relationship between the word
"gola" and "Geula."
of all, the transformation from Galus to Geula is made by
inserting the letter Alef, which represents G-d. This shows that the
Redemption does not mean the dismantling and dissolution of exile, but rather
the insertion and revelation of G-d within the exile. Geula comes about
through bringing out G-d’s presence within the exile, and showing that He is
the true Master of the universe.
second implication is that the Redemption is composed, so to speak, of our
service of G-d during the time of Galus. Just as the word "Geula"
is not made from a separate set of letters, but from the very letters of the
word "Galus," so too the Redemption comes through our service
in exile, not through some different sort of service.
we will speak of a number of related points which will further explain the
special mission of the Jewish people in this particular time immediately before
the Redemption. We will do this by first explaining more deeply the first Geula,
the exodus from Egypt, which contained both aspects of Geula mentioned
the Jewish people left Egypt, they took with them the gold and silver, etc., of
the Egyptians, to the extent that Egypt was emptied of its wealth. By doing
this, they carried out G-d’s intention in giving this wealth to the Egyptians
in the first place – that the Jewish people should purify it by using it for
holy purposes. The Jewish people did not merely flee Egypt; they took Egypt
itself (i.e., its possessions) and inserted G-d’s presence by revealing its
holy potential. The revelation was so complete that the Egyptians even gave them
things they didn’t ask for! (Rashi, Ex. 12: 36). Even more surprisingly, when
the Jewish people refused to take some of the wealth, the Egyptians actually
forced it upon them! (Brachos 9b)
however, is difficult to understand: it is the opposite of human nature for one
to willingly give away one’s own belongings. In addition, the Egyptians were
never commanded to give their things away; the Jewish people were commanded to
matter is understood in light of the abovementioned. The Alef – i.e.
the presence of G-d – must be revealed in the gola itself. This was
accomplished through eventually bringing the Egyptians to the recognition that
this was the ultimate purpose for them to have the wealth. Once this was
accomplished, they gave over everything willingly.
second aspect of Geula – that the word "Geula" is
composed of the letters "gola" – is also evident in the first
redemption. How was this elevation and redemption of the wealth of Egypt
achieved? It came about only through their descent to Egypt, to gola,
showing that the Geula was clearly composed of the gola. This
serves as a prototype for all other redemptions, in particular the ultimate
Redemption through Moshiach.
Granted, the Geula from Egypt accomplished the elevation of exile, of gola.
But there were much higher revelations associated with this Geula. The Geula
came through the revelation of G-d Himself in His glory and essence.
Furthermore, the purpose of the Geula was in order that the Torah be
given. The Torah is higher than the world, and preceded it, and was given with a
G-dly revelation that transcends the world. The revelation at Mt. Sinai was,
therefore, much higher than that represented by an Alef, which is G-d as
Creator and Master of the world.
question is even more striking when we speak of the ultimate Redemption through
Moshiach, which will introduce a revelation that totally transcends the world,
together with the revelation of a totally new and superior dimension of Torah,
as G-d said, new Torah will come out from Me" (Yeshayahu 11:9). How then
can we say that Geula is composed solely of gola with the
insertion of an Alef, which just represents the level of G-dliness which
can be revealed within the mundane world?
explanation of this is that there are several levels of meaning to the letter Alef:
Alufo Shel Olam, which, as discussed previously, refers to
G-dliness revealed within the world.
Aalefcha chochma, which refers to Torah (which is higher than the world
but still close enough to be related to it).
The three letters comprising the word "Alef" are Alef, Lamed,
and Fei. These same letters can be rearranged to form the word "peleh"
(wonder). This represents a level of G-dliness that is completely beyond
comparison with the world.
the letter Alef contains three levels or stages in the G-dly revelation
necessary to completely transform Galus.
first stage is to reveal within the world that G-d is its Master. Since the
world conceals the G-dliness within it (the word "olam," world,
related to "helem," concealment), a Jew must serve G-d in a way
that reveals that everything within the world is permeated with G-dliness. The
second stage is through revealing the dimension of G-d that transcends the
world. This is done primarily through learning Torah, which, as mentioned above,
preceded the world not only in time but in the intensity of G-dly revelation
within it. We then come to the third dimension: that of peleh – the niflaos
(wonders) – of Redemption, which totally transcend Creation.
Chassidic terminology, these levels correspond to the supernal s’firos.
The first level corresponds to Malchus, as G-d is king of the world
(i.e., connected to the world), and to midos (emotional attributes) in
general, since it is through them that G-d conducts the world. The second level
corresponds to mochin (intellect), but the level of mochin as it
is still connected to midos. The third level of peleh is that of mochin
as it is separate from midos and the world – connected instead with
the s’fira of Kesser. This corresponds to the well known
explanation of the difference between our service of G-d now as compared to when
we will be in the days of Moshiach. During Galus, our service is in the
purification and elevation of the seven midos (corresponding to the
conquering of the seven nations of K’naan), including the level of mochin as
it is connected with midos. The service of Geula, on the other
hand, is that of mochin itself, corresponding to the additional three
lands that will become part of Eretz Yisroel in the days of Moshiach: Keini, K’nizi
represents the progression of G-dly revelation leading to the days of Moshiach:
1) G-dliness within the world, 2) G-dliness higher than, but still connected
with the world, and 3) the revelation of G-d’s essence. Our service of G-d in Galus
(which consists of bringing the Alef into gola to bring the Geula)
must correspond to these three levels. Through this we bring about these kinds
of G-dly revelation alluded to by the letter Alef.
must, therefore, reveal the presence of G-dliness within the world by using all
physical objects for a holy purpose, for the sake of Heaven (to correspond to
the level of G-dliness within the world). Furthermore, we must bring down and
reveal the second level through learning Torah, and reveal the third level of peleh
by learning p’nimiyus HaTorah, Chassidus, which corresponds to the
level of peleh in Torah.
can extend this idea further: in addition to the revelation of the level of peleh
through the study of Chassidus, it is revealed through the very exile itself.
The prophet Yeshayahu said (12:1), "In that day [of Redemption] you will
say, ‘I thank you, G-d, for having been angry with me.’" This verse is
puzzling: We will be thankful for G-d’s nullification of exile, but this
expression of appreciation would not really be wholehearted, as one would praise
G-d even more completely if there had been no exile to begin with!
light of the above this can be easily understood. Redemption comes about from
and is composed of the very exile itself. We are, therefore, thanking Him deeply
for the exile, since we realize that it has brought the highest revelations,
including that corresponding to the level of peleh.
Since the ultimate Redemption will come about through Moshiach, it is
self-understood that Moshiach will also embody these three levels. This can be
seen from the statement of the Rambam (Commentary of the Mishna, Yesod
12) that Moshiach stems from the house of Dovid and is a descendant of Shlomo.
The connection with Dovid HaMelech is clear since he is the primary source for
the Jewish royal dynasty, but why is Shlomo HaMelech relevant here?
inner reason is that the era of Shlomo HaMelech closely resembled the Messianic
Age. In the days of Dovid HaMelech there were wars, which made it impossible for
him to build the Beis HaMikdash, as G-d told him, "You have spilled
much blood." The days of Shlomo HaMelech, however, were characterized by
world peace reminiscent of the Messianic Age, which is alluded to in his name,
which means peace (shalom).
HaMelech was able to attain peace because of his unsurpassed wisdom (chochma).
This wisdom nullified the impurity of the non-Jewish nations without the
necessity for war, and was so complete that they came by their own accord to
bring him gifts, including the sparks of holiness within them, similar to the
state of affairs that will exist in the days of Moshiach. This shows his
greatness not only in chochma, but in malchus (kingship), as we
see that even after Dovid HaMelech ruled, he faced many challenges. Shlomo
HaMelech, however, rested on the throne of G-d, and generally experienced
tranquility and peace.
is the connection with Moshiach, who will fully embody the qualities of monarchy
(similar to Dovid) and wisdom (like Shlomo). The Rambam actually says that the
wisdom of Moshiach will in fact surpass that of Shlomo HaMelech. This will
enable him to go beyond the level of chochma, which is connected with midos,
and reveal the level of peleh. We can see this same point from the fact
that Moshiach is both a king and a rav, and will teach the entire Jewish
people Torah, including the level of peleh, Chassidus.
order for each individual to absorb and internalize these revelations, he must
find these three levels within himself and accentuate them. Every Jew actually
has a spark of Moshiach within, as can be seen from the prayer said when taking
the seifer Torah out of the Holy Ark on the holidays: "May there be
realized in us the verse that says, ‘And there shall rest on him the spirit of
the L-rd....,’" a verse referring to Moshiach. Each individual must
actualize and reveal within himself 1) malchus and midos, 2) mochin
connected with midos, and 3) the higher level of mochin.
is alluded to in the beginning of this week’s chapter in Pirkei Avos,
chapter four. The Mishna lists four qualities: "Who is wise?...Who is
strong?...Who is wealthy?...Who is honored?..." These correspond to the
four general levels of which all ten soul-powers are composed. "Wise"
corresponds to Chochma; "strong" corresponds to Bina;
"wealthy" corresponds to Tiferes (which includes all the midos);
and "honored" corresponds to Malchus.
these four levels correspond to the four letters of G-d’s Name, which in turn
are contained within the Jewish soul. The Jewish soul is a portion of G-d Above,
a cheilek Eloka mi’maal, the word "Eloka" being
connected with the name Elokim, representing the level of G-dliness revealed
within nature. The soul is also called cheilek Havayeh, corresponding to
the level of G-dliness that transcends the world. A Jew must also draw down the
third level of G-dliness – that which transcends the world completely, that of
peleh – by being even more scrupulous than halacha requires. By
revealing these four levels, we bring about the ultimate monarchy of Moshiach,
whose rule is compared to a throne with four legs. Although a chair will remain
upright even with only three legs, the throne is stronger and more solid with
four legs, representing perfection in Malchus.
idea is further emphasized on Shabbos, which corresponds to the s’fira of
Malchus. This is even more striking during S’firas HaOmer,
especially in a year when we begin counting on Sunday, causing the Malchus
of each week to fall on Shabbos. This week has unique significance as Malchus
she’b’Hod, since Hod is connected with the idea of hodaa,
the level of peleh.
The abovementioned receives further stress in the Shabbos immediately following
Lag B’Omer, the yahrtzeit and festive day of Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai.
The Rashbi revealed the inner dimension of Torah in written form (the Zohar)
in such a way that it could be clearly understood by those who learn it. He also
connected p’nimiyus ha’Torah with the revealed part of Torah, similar
to unifying the level of peleh (the highest of the three levels) with the
second level – that of Torah in general. Through the unification of these two
levels he was able to reveal these higher levels of G-dliness even within the
can be seen from the Talmudic saying (Megilla 29a), "Rabbi Shimon
bar Yochai said, ‘Everywhere the Jewish people were exiled, the Divine
presence was with them. They were exiled to Bavel and the Divine presence was
with them...’" This shows that even within the lowest level of existence
– that of exile – the Divine presence is nevertheless manifest. This is also
connected with the fact that Lag B’Omer corresponds to the s’fira of Hod
she’b’Hod. As mentioned above, hodaa corresponds to the level of peleh,
because it is an acknowledgement of G-d completely transcending natural
limitations, even those of the intellect. However, even this level is drawn down
into the level of intellect.
process has continued through the subsequent generations, notably that of the
Arizal, when it became a mitzva to reveal this wisdom (i.e., p’nimiyus
HaTorah). It was carried further by subsequent Chassidic leaders, beginning
with the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid, and with even greater intensity through
the Alter Rebbe. This process continued through the subsequent Rebbeim down to
my sainted father-in-law, and increases from year to year – up to these very
days with the first-time printing of certain Chassidic discourses from
mentioned above, this draws down the level of peleh (which is essentially
beyond understanding) to the sphere of understanding. This same idea is
expressed in the Alter Rebbe’s explanation of the beginning of chapter 89 in
Psalms, "Maskil L’Eisan HaEzrachi." Eisan refers to
the essence of the soul, which is on the transcendent level of peleh. Maskil
refers to the sublime intellectual level that is higher than understanding, but
nevertheless the source of intellect (corresponding to the second level). Ezrachi
is related to the word "to illuminate," i.e., that through the level
of maskil, it is possible for the level of eisan to be revealed in
all levels of the soul. Although the complete attainment of this will be in the
days of Moshiach, it is accomplished to a certain extent even now. Furthermore,
it gives one the ability to reveal G-dliness even within the world, as indicated
by the last verse of the Psalm, "Blessed is the L-rd forever [l’olam,
literally to the world], amen and amen."
this psalm we proceed to Psalm 90, "A prayer by Moshe, the man of
G-d," which also alludes to this same concept. We request, "May the
pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d (no’am Hashem Elokeinu) be upon
us," referring to the revelation of a sublime level (no’am Hashem)
coming down to our level (upon us). This theme continues with the rest of our
request, "Establish for us the work of our hands," which refers to the
building of the third Beis HaMikdash.
will be hastened through the study of Torah and of Chassidus in particular. This
also includes looking into the face of one’s Rebbe, which helps the person’s
understanding, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi as
saying, "My sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues as I saw R. Meir from
the back; had I seen him from the front, however, I would have been even
this will help further purify the world and reveal G-dliness within it. It must
be accompanied by the additional G-dly service of each Jew, by keeping away from
evil and by doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before
birth: "You shall be a tzaddik." One might point out that in Tanya
it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a tzaddik,
and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since
the Jew has the essence of G-d within him, ultimately even this is within his
reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc., of the Jewish people over
the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of tzaddik
– similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.
this contains straightforward guidance in what all Jews should be doing to
further hasten the Redemption – in all three levels alluded to by the letter Alef.
This means revealing G-d’s presence in the world through using all worldly
objects for a holy purpose. In addition, there must be a special increase in
Torah study, and particularly the study of Chassidus – in a way that it is
clearly understood in Chochma, Bina, and Daas. Included in this is
influencing others to follow suit.
all this hasten the Redemption so that it come immediately, even before we have
a chance to remove our "unclean garments"; and only afterwards will we
be told to remove them (see Zechariah, 3:3 ff). Then the entire Jewish people
will come out of exile together will all the houses of study, shuls, and
the Torah scrolls within them. This includes the seifer Torah that was
completed this week through the efforts of Jewish women (Bais Rivka School), and
brought to its place in shul with great joy, singing, etc. May it be G-d’s
will that we all come together to the holy city of Yerushalayim and the Holy
Temple Mount with the construction of the third Beis HaMikdash.