Why Insist On Something People Can’t Accept?
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

During 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.

"It 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?"

The 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?"

Although 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 Tazria-Metzora 5751).

To 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.

Based 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.

To 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 Torah."

To those who are unfamiliar with these concepts, I will now explain:

Mah 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.)

The 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 and corporeality.

The 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."

The 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.

Melech 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."

Chassidus 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.

As 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.

Moshe 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.

The 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 observance."

As 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).

The 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 waters.’"

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.

There 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 Moshiach!

A 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.

Furthermore, 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."

We 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.

At 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.

The 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!)

As 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."

"Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!


"It seems to me," he began, "that your motives are pure. But why do you insist that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam in the literal sense, in a physical body?"





Making a resolution to learn the entirety of Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah serves to hasten the full and complete Redemption.


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