Insist On Something People Can’t Accept?
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
my recent stay in Crown Heights for the month of Tishrei, I was approached by an
elder Chasid, a respected member of Anash, who asked to speak with me
about a serious topic.
seems to me," he began, "that your motives are pure. But there’s one
thing I don’t understand. Why do you insist that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam
in the literal sense, in a physical body? What possible benefit can it have? Why
do you have to be so stubborn? Why does the Rebbe need to have physical arms and
legs? Can’t the Rebbe do whatever he has to do without the limitations of a
body? It doesn’t make sense. Do you really think that having a physical body
somehow makes the Rebbe greater?"
man continued. "Even when it comes to hiskashrus, don’t you think
we can be mekushar to the Rebbe without the necessity of a physical body?
Why do you insist on something that most people not only can’t accept, but
find to be completely superfluous?"
previously discussed many times in this column, I will focus on this topic once
more. Of utmost importance is the absolute necessity for each and every person
to study the Rebbe’s Dvar Malchus (Sichos Kodesh) of 5751-52 –
"the straightest, easiest and quickest of all the Torah’s ways to bring
about the actual revelation and coming of Moshiach" (Shabbos Parshas
reiterate: In the last sicha we merited to hear at the International
Kinus HaShluchim, Parshas Chayei Sara 5752, the Rebbe defined the nature
of our present shlichus: "The only thing left to do in the service
of shlichus is to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu." In last week’s
column, we touched upon some of the major ideas in this sicha. This week,
however, we turn to some of the lesser-known points, which perhaps because they
involve Kabbalistic terminology, are often overlooked.
on an explanation in Likkutei Torah on Parshas Bracha, the Rebbe shlita
makes reference to "making a good resolution to learn the entirety of Torah
Ohr and Likkutei Torah, with all their parts, until the end,"
which obviously includes the chapters of Likkutei Torah on Shir
HaShirim. This resolution, the Rebbe explains, serves to hasten the full and
complete Redemption, when the marriage alluded to in Shir HaShirim –
between the Holy One, Blessed Be He and the Jewish people – will reach a state
of ultimate perfection.
quote (free translation): "The marriage of Yitzchak and Rivka is a
fundamental concept in the Torah, and indeed pertains to the entire order of hishtalshelus,
which reflects the general objective of man’s avoda: the yichud
[unification] of mah [Mem-Hei] – Yitzchak – and ban
[Beis-Nun] – Rivka, which is also the yichud of the neshama
(mah) and the physical body (ban) of every Jew. The culmination of
this unification and marriage between Israel (as souls invested in physical
bodies) and Kudsha Brich Hu will be attained with the true and complete
Redemption, the process having begun with their betrothal at the Giving of the
those who are unfamiliar with these concepts, I will now explain:
and ban are combinations of the letters of Hashem’s Name as it is
completely written out in Hebrew. Writing Hashem’s name out completely can be
accomplished in several different ways: 1) by adding alefs, in which case
Hashem’s Name is written yud-vav-dalet, hei-alef,
vav-alef-vav and hei-alef, the gematria of
which is 45 – mah; 2) by adding heis, i.e., yud-vav-dalet,
hei-hei, vav-vav and hei-hei, the
total of which equals 52 – ban. (Parenthetically, there are two other
methods of calculation involving extra yuds, but we won’t get into that
now. Suffice it to say that these result in totals of 63 and 72.)
numerical equivalent of mah is the same as adam (man). Associated
with chochma ("ko’ach mah"), and illuminating
primarily in the world of Atzilus, the term mah refers to
spirituality and G-dliness. By contrast, the gematria of ban is
the same as beheima (animal). It pertains primarily to the s’fira
of Malchus as it descends into the created worlds, and refers to gashmiyus
objective of Torah and mitzvos is to unite G-dliness and spirituality
with the physical plane. In the language of Kabbala and Chassidus, this is
referred to as the "yichud of mah and ban."
primary emphasis of Moshe Rabbeinu, the "first redeemer," is on mah
– spirituality and G-dliness. He is the epitome of spiritual perfection, on
the highest level, without any spiritual defects or limitations. We are told
that when Moshe Rabbeinu was born the house filled with light, for even before
he began his avoda in the world his physical body did not conceal or
obstruct his lofty soul. Of course, once he embarked on his Divine service, he
attained even higher spiritual levels, i.e., bringing the Torah to the Jewish
people, and erecting the Mishkan in which the Divine presence dwelt. Had
Moshe Rabbeinu brought the Jews into Eretz Yisroel, the potential for subsequent
exiles would have no longer existed.
HaMoshiach, by contrast, is primarily
associated with being a descendent of King Dovid – Dovid Malka
Meshicha. Rather than being described as the epitome of spiritual
perfection, throughout his life, Dovid HaMelech was involved in many problematic
episodes. When Dovid was born, his father, Yishai, suspected that he was not his
child; when the Prophet Shmuel was instructed to anoint one of Yishai’s sons
as the new king, no one thought to summon Dovid because he was so despised. In
fact, he was chastised for abandoning his flock of sheep. In later years, Dovid
was constantly pursued and persecuted by Shaul, who accused him of all kinds of
lowly deeds. And the episode with Batsheva – even after all the commentators’
explanations – remains surprising. How could Dovid HaMelech have had even a
remote connection to such things? Even in his prayers, Dovid is always
represented as poor and unfortunate: "I am a worm and not a man, scorned by
men and despised by the people, etc."
explains (see HaChodesh 5666; Zos Chukas Ateres, etc.) that Dovid
HaMelech represents ban – the s’fira of Malchus, which
descends to the lowest levels to ensure that the tikkun is accomplished
"from below" (elevation and refinement) rather than "from
above" (through the revelation of light and goodness). These neshamos
of ban must, therefore, work precisely through the physical body,
transforming even the lowest levels of existence to render them as proper
vessels for G-dliness.
the Rebbe explained in the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara 5752,
this, in effect, was Moshe Rabbeinu’s request when he said to G-d,
"Please send by the hand of he whom You will send." Moshe Rabbeinu was
asking G-d to redeem the Jewish people through Melech HaMoshiach, who is
more suitable for the task of elevating gashmiyus and the physical plane.
Rabbeinu, however, succeeded in unifying himself with this aspect of Melech
HaMoshiach, as "the first redeemer is also the last redeemer." At
the same time, Melech HaMoshiach incorporates all the aspects of Moshe
Rabbeinu, as reflected in the fact that he is not only a melech but a rav.
Rebbe explains that Moshiach also possesses the quality of a shliach –
"Please send by the hand of he whom You will send" – as the function
of a shliach is to fuse these two aspects of mah and ban:
On the one hand, a shliach is an independent entity from the meshaleiach,
with his own intellectual capacity (ban). At the same time, he is also
completely nullified to the meshaleiach, to the extent that "a
person’s shliach stands in his stead" (mah). As the Rambam
writes, Moshiach thus incorporates two opposites – "…an entity unto
himself, a neshama within a physical body of flesh and blood" –
while simultaneously standing in G-d’s stead as His shliach. On the
larger scale, this unity of body and soul is accomplished through, "and he
will compel all of Israel to go [in the Torah’s ways] and strengthen the Torah’s
the final redeemer, Moshiach, by Divine plan, arrives after the completion of
the Jewish people’s avoda (Malchus – the final s’fira)
at the end of the exile. Because of his bittul, he has the advantage of
being the mekabeil of all the G-dly influences from Above, which means,
as Chassidus explains, that the light he receives comes from a higher source
than a mashpia. This will be fully revealed in the Messianic era, when
"the feminine aspect will be superior to the masculine," and the
physical body will have an advantage over the soul and will even provide its
sustenance (as opposed to now, when the opposite is true).
Rebbe concludes: "The concept of rain is also connected to the upward
directional thrust of the shlichus of Moshiach (which is similar to the
moon’s function), as it states, ‘And a mist went up from the earth.’ It is
precisely ‘from the earth’ (ban), a neshama in a physical
body, that physicality is transformed into ‘mist’ – the element of air,
the finest and most abstract of the elements – which then proceeds upwards
even higher, ‘and the spirit of G-d hovered upon the face of the waters,’
which refers to the spirit of Melech HaMoshiach. This occurs after the
resurrection of the neshama of the Rebbe Rayatz, a neshama in a
physical body, and not just as a ‘spirit hovering above the face of the
idea of "and a mist went up from the earth" has been repeated and
emphasized by the Rebbe many times, in many different contexts. It is a clear
allusion to Zach Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, emphasizing not only that there is
always "a neshama in a physical body" but that this contains
the advantage of ban – i.e., transforming gashmiyus into
spirituality in an upward direction.
is thus no need to ask why we are so stubborn about insisting that the Rebbe is chai
v’kayam in a physical body, for that, in essence, is the whole point of
similar question can be asked about the necessity for a Rebbe. Why does a person
have to be a Chassid of a Rebbe? Why can’t he just be a "Chassid" of
Hashem? Because the Divine intention is that we connect ourselves to Hashem
precisely through a human being, a neshama in a physical body, in the
same way that the mind and heart are the physical means by which the neshama
is invested in the body.
precisely because Moshiach’s "direction" is upward, it isn’t
enough to believe in him in the same way the Jewish people believed in Moshe
Rabbeinu. Rather, the entire nation – men, women, and children – must
willingly accept his sovereignty "from below," which is accomplished
by making the declaration of "Yechi."
are living in a unique time in history, when we can clearly see, in the words of
the Rebbe Rayatz, how "G-d has set the walls of the Galus
aflame." It is absolutely unacceptable that Jewish lives are endangered in
many parts of Eretz Yisroel and that their security has eroded to unprecedented
levels, all due to the foolish and irrational behavior of those whose job it is
to keep them safe.
the same time, there are open miracles happening all around us, which only serve
to verify, as the Rebbe emphasized many times, that the words of the "Torah
of truth" are immutable and eternal: "For G-d will never forsake His
people"; "The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps,"
and that Eretz Yisroel is the safest place in the world, for G-d Himself
protects every Jew.
entire world is waiting to hear the Rebbe’s message of Geula, the only
solution to the world’s problems. We must, therefore, do everything we can to
ensure adherence to the Rebbe’s directives, particularly those relating to the
security and integrity of the Holy Land. (Yasher ko’ach to the "Mateh
Shleimut Ha’Aretz," headed by Rabbi Shabtai Bloch of Tzfas, for their
billboards and brochures!)
the Rebbe has said, "The world is not a jungle." The Creator is in
charge, guiding us along the inexorable road to Geula and revealing His
sovereignty through Melech HaMoshiach, "who is fighting the battles
of G-d and, in many areas, is already victorious."
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!