Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part I

Published in Honor of

Purim Katan, 5752

(Sefer HaMaamarim Meluket VI, p. 129ff)

By the Grace of G‑d

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh, 5741

“And you shall command the children of Israel and they shall bring you pure olive oil, crushed for the light, to keep a constant lamp burning.”1

The explanation of the various details of this verse are well known.2 [Among the points discussed:] The Torah generally [introduces] the commandments [it conveys] with the expression, “Command the children of Israel,” or with a similar phrase. The verse in question, by contrast, states, “And you shall com­mand the children of Israel.”

This question revolves upon more than a choice of wording, but rather on the intent [of the message conveyed]. The phrase “And you shall command” implies that Moshe is the one issuing the command. This requires explanation, for Moshe was merely an agent to transmit G‑d’s commandments to the Jewish people. Why then does the verse say, “And you shall command”?

There are other points that require explanation: [The verse states,] “And they shall bring to you,” seemingly implying that the oil should be brought to Moshe.3 Since the lamps were in fact lit by Aharon, [it would appear appropriate that the oil be brought to him]. Why was it necessary to bring it to Moshe?

Similarly, the phrase “...oil, crushed for the light (lama'or),” requires explanation: On the surface, “crushed to illumine” (l'hair), would be more appropriate.

Also, requiring explanation is [the apparent contradiction between the phrase] “to keep a constant lamp burning” [in the verse in question] and the following verse4 [which states that the lamps must burn,] “from the evening until the morning.”

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part II

(In his renowned maamar, VeKibeil HaYehudim,5 Purim Katan, 5687,6) the Previous Rebbe explains that tzivui, the Hebrew for command relates to the word tzavsa, which means “connection” or “bond.”7 Thus the verse “And you shall command the children of Israel” [carries with it the implication that] Moshe binds and connects the Jewish people with the Or Ein Sof, G‑d’s infinite light.8

Moshe’s [efforts to] influence the Jewish people (connecting them with the Or Ein Sof,) increases and enhances Moshe’s [own spiritual power]. {For [the relationship between] Moshe and the Jewish people [can be described using] the analogy of the head and the feet [of a human body] as it is written,9 “Here I am in the midst of 600,000 people on foot.” [Implied is that] the Jewish people are the feet of Moshe as it were and that he is their head.

In human terms, [we find that] the feet conduct the head to places which it could never reach on its own. Similarly in regard to the relationship between Moshe and the Jewish people — through the Jewish people (Moshe’s feet), Moshe is advanced to a higher level.

[The above concepts allow for an extended interpretation of] the above verse. [The word the verse uses for “I” is Anochi, the level of G‑dliness so transcendent that it cannot be given a name.] The verse can be interpreted to mean, “Because of the 600,000 people on foot, the revelation of [the level of] Anochi is drawn down in Moshe’s midst.}10

Based on the above, we can understand the verse, “And you shall command the children of Israel and they shall bring you pure olive oil.” Moshe’s efforts to connect and bind the Jews with the Or Ein Sof cause the Jews to bring olive oil to Moshe (“and they shall bring you”), bringing about an increase of light for Moshe.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part III

To explain the above: In the maamar [VeKibeil HaYehudim],11 the [Previous Rebbe] prefaces [the above concept with an expla­nation of our Sages’] description12 of Moshe Rabbeinu as Raya Meheimna

There are two interpretations of this term: a) “a faithful shepherd,” and b) [“a shepherd of faith,” i.e.,] that he sustains and nurtures the faith of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people have inherent resources of faith, for the Jews are “believers and the descendants of believers.”13 It is, [however,] possible for this belief [merely to serve as] an encompassing [force, without being internalized within a person’s conscious thought processes]. Moshe Rabbeinu nurtures the faith of the Jewish people, enabling them to internalize [this potential]. Similar concepts are echoed by the Zohar which states14 “This supernal faith will be sustained and nurtured by you (Moshe).” This nurturing process involves internalizing the potential of faith.

The maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim] continues, emphasizing that the designation of Moshe as “a shepherd of faith,” [applies not only to Moshe Rabbeinu who led the Jews out of Egypt, but to] “the extension of Moshe in all generations,”15 the heads of the thousands of the Jewish people in every generation who reinforce the faith of the Jews (of their generation), enabling them to internalize their faith.

For example, Mordechai16 served as “the extension of Moshe” in his generation, as reflected in our Sages’ statement,17 “Mordechai in his generation, as Moshe in his generation.” Even in the time of Haman, when the study of the Torah and the observance of its mitzvos involved mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice, [Mordechai] called together clusters of people [who studied Torah] communally to strengthen the Jews’ faith in G‑d and [motivate them] to stand strong in the study of the Torah and the observance of its mitzvos.

After [the maamar] explains at length that Moshe — and the extension of Moshe in every generation — strengthens the faith of the Jewish people, it proceeds to explain18 the verse’s choice of wording, “crushed for the light” (“for the light” and not “to illumine”). It explains that in the era of exile, when everyone is “broken and crushed,” we are able to approach (the essence of) the source of light from which light emanates. It is, however, necessary to understand the connection between (the maamar’s) interpretation of the phrase “crushed for the light” and (the maamar’s) explanation of the function of Moshe {and the exten­sion of Moshe in every generation} in sustaining and nurturing [our people’s] faith, enabling it to be internalized.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part IV

The interpretation of the verse “And you shall command...” in the maamar comes in continuation to the concepts explained at the beginning of the maamar, which interprets the verse,19 “The Jews accepted what they had already begun,” [to mean that at the time of the Purim miracle,] the Jews accepted what they began at the time of the giving of the Torah.20 The giving of the Torah represented merely a beginning and, the time of Achashverosh (and [more particularly,] at the time of Haman’s decree), repre­sented the acceptance.

{We find a parallel concept in our Sages’ explanation21 of the verse,22 “The Jews established and accepted.” [Our Sages understand this to mean,] “they now established what they previously accepted.” [The Jews’ statement “We will do and we will listen,”23 and, in particular,] the fact that they recited “We will do” before “We will listen,”24 represented merely the acceptance [of the Torah]. And in the days of Achashverosh,25 they established what they had accepted.26}

As the maamar explains, on the surface, this is an inconceiv­able statement.27 At the giving of the Torah, the Jews were on the loftiest [spiritual] peaks and received revelations of G‑dliness of the most sublime levels. {In addition to the extremely great revelations the Jews were granted before the giving of the Torah, the revelations associated with the Exodus and particularly, those of the splitting of the Red Sea, the revelations that accom­panied the giving of the Torah reflected a very sublime level.}

In the times of Achashverosh, by contrast, the Jews experienced the ultimate of descents. Every exile is associated with a veiling and concealment of G‑dliness. {For all exiles follow the paradigm of the Egyptian exile,28 of which it is written,29 “They did not listen to Moshe because of their dwindled spirits and hard toil.” Similarly, [all subsequent] exiles present several challenges with regard to [the observance of] the Torah and its mitzvos.} In particular, then (in the time of Haman), there was an even greater veiling and concealment [and the very lives of the Jewish people were endangered].

Nevertheless, the time of the giving of the Torah when the Jews were on the sublime peaks was merely a beginning (“they had begun”). And it was in the time of Haman’s decree, when, [apparently, the Jews] were at their lowest depths, that they “accepted” what they had begun at the giving of the Torah.

[The maamar continues,] explaining that at the time of [Haman’s] decree, the Jew’s [observance of] the Torah and its mitzvos was inspired by mesirus nefesh, “self-sacrifice.” {They exhibited self-sacrifice in not denying [G‑d and the Torah]. (For as explained in Torah Or,30 had they forsaken their faith, nothing would have been done to them. For the decree was issued merely against the Jews, [i.e., those who held firm to their faith]. Never­theless, the thought of anything outside [the context of our faith], heaven forbid, did not occur to them.)

Moreover, they exhibited self-sacrifice in the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos31 to the extent that they congregated to study Torah communally with self-sacrifice.32}

It was Mordechai, the Moshe of the generation, who inspired this self-sacrifice. [On this basis, we can understand the verse] “The Jews accepted what they had already begun,” that the giving of the Torah was merely a beginning and their acceptance came at the time of Haman’s decree. For their actual expression of self-sacrifice in the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos elevated them (in this regard) to a level above that experienced at the giving of the Torah. Therefore, this was when the acceptance of the Torah took place, “the Jews accepted.”

[The above] appears [to provide us with an explanation of the phrase] “crushed for the light,” i.e., that through being “crushed,” one approaches the light. This explains why in the time of [Haman’s] decree, the Jews were able to attain these peaks of self-sacrifice.33 These [high levels of] self-sacrifice stem from the essence of the soul, [a level which] transcends revelation, “the [source of] light” (from which light emanates). Thus because the Jews were crushed, the essence of their souls, “the light,” was revealed.

[This explanation is frequently found in Chassidic texts.] Nevertheless, from the context and structure of the [Previous Rebbe’s] maamar which explains the phrase “crushed for the light” following the explanation of [Moshe’s contribution as] a “shepherd of faith,” it would appear that [the two concepts are interrelated]: The concept of “crushed for the light” shares a connection with the concept that Moshe sustains and nurtures the faith [of the Jewish people, enabling] it to be internalized.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part V

The [interrelation of these concepts can be resolved] based on two different explanations [of the uniqueness] of the Jews’ belief in G‑d, i.e., that they believe with simple faith and do not require [any] proof:34

a) To borrow an expression,35 “His mazal36 perceives,” i.e., the soul as it exists in the spiritual realms sees [G‑dliness] (indeed, [the soul’s] perception transcends the power of thought). This, [in turn,] affects the soul as it is enclothed within the body, [imbuing] it with faith.

b) Faith is rooted in the essence of the soul (a level above that of “his mazal perceives”). The essence of the soul is connected with G‑dliness through an essential bond (a connection that does not depend on any external factors whatsoever, above even the quality of perception that transcends thought). [Since this is true of the essence of the soul, even the soul as it exists within the body is connected with G‑dliness by bonds of faith.]

It is possible to explain the difference between these two [causes of faith] as follows: The faith experienced by the soul as it is enclothed in the body which stems from the perception of the soul in the spiritual realms serves as [merely] an encompassing [light]. Since the soul as it exists in the spiritual realm is too elevated to be enclothed within the body, its effect on the soul as it is enclothed within the body [cannot be internalized, and can serve only] as an encompassing light.

[In contrast,] the potential for faith to be internalized (within the soul as it is enclothed in the body) stems from a revelation of the essential connection [with G‑d shared by] the essence of the soul. For the essence of the soul is the essence of the soul as it is enclothed within the body. [Since an entity will ultimately reflect the truth of its existence,] the faith that stems from the essence of the soul can be internalized within the soul as it is enclothed within the body.

Based on the above, we can explain the connection between the concepts expounded in the [Previous Rebbe’s] maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim]: that the concept of “(crushed) for the light (may'ir)” comes as a continuation of the concept of “a shepherd of faith.” For Moshe’s [endeavor to] nurture and sustain the faith [of the people, enabling] it to be internalized, is possible because he reveals the essence of the soul. [This level] (is above the mazal which perceives), i.e., it is the source of light (Ma'or) which is above the light [which emanates from it].

The expression “crushed for the light” indicates that the feelings of being “crushed” experienced in exile are necessary to reach “the light.” For the fundamental revelation of the essence of the soul (“the light”) is through mesirus nefesh, (which is expressed primarily in the time of exile,) as will be explained.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part VI

To explain the above: The willingness of a Jew to sacrifice his life for his faith stems (primarily) from the faith rooted in the essence of the soul. For the faith that stems from sight (“its mazal perceives”) [does not motivate such a commitment].

[The faith inspired by this perception] is very forceful, {for the impression created by sight is extremely powerful37}. Nevertheless, since this faith comes from [an external] factor, ([the soul’s] perception,) and is not connected with the essence of its being, it does not necessitate mesirus nefesh.

Why will a Jew give up his life for his faith? Because faith in G‑d is the very essence of his being. And therefore, it is impossible that he will, heaven forbid, deny [G‑d].

Based on the above, we can explain the statement in the maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim,] that Moshe’s function as a “shepherd of faith” (that he sustains and nurtures the faith [of the Jews]) applies also to the “shepherds of Israel” (“the extensions of Moshe”) in every generation. For they strengthen the faith of the Jewish people, inspiring them to self-sacrifice for the sake of the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

On the surface, [the above statement is problematic]. (In several sources38 and in the maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim] itself,39) it is explained that Moshe’s efforts to sustain and nurture the faith of the Jewish people is accomplished by infusing them with the knowledge of G‑d. This enables the faith [of the Jewish people] to be internalized.

[In contrast,] (in the maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim,]40) it is explained that the shepherds of Israel in every generation strengthen the faith of the Jewish people, motivating them to self-sacrifice. [And as explained above, this comes about not through imparting knowledge, but rather by bringing to the fore the connection to G‑d shared by the essence of the soul, a bond that transcends knowledge].

[This difficulty can be resolved] as follows: The primary activity of a “shepherd of faith” is to sustain and nurture faith itself, i.e., to lift our faith above the influence of our revealed powers ([the peak of the latter being] the soul’s perception of G‑dliness), and to have [our faith] reflect the essence of the soul.

[In this context,] Moshe’s achievements in internalizing faith, (bringing it within the realm of knowledge and compre­hension,) is an outgrowth of his efforts to sustain and nurture faith itself, (to draw down and reveal the dimension of faith that stems from the essence of the soul) as explained above (in sec. 5). For the [possibility for] faith to be internalized ([and drawn into the realm of] knowledge) comes from the revelation of the essential bond [between G‑d and] the essence of the soul.

Based on the above, it can be explained that in the generations in which actual mesirus nefesh was required [and people indeed risked and gave up their lives], the shepherds of Israel (“the extensions of Moshe”) who strengthened the faith of the Jewish people, inspiring them to self-sacrifice, expressed the qualities of a shepherd of faith (in this context41) to a greater extent than did Moshe himself. For the essence of the expression and the revelation of the [dimension of] faith which stems from the essence of the soul (which is [inspired] by Moshe and “the extension of Moshe in every generation”) is in actual self-sacrifice.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part VII

[The paradigm of] actual self-sacrifice for the sake of [the observance of] the Torah and its mitzvos on the part of the entire Jewish people took place during the Purim [saga] (at the time of Haman’s decree). In contrast to the saga of Chanukah, when mesirus nefesh ([in the face of] the decrees of the Greeks) was displayed (primarily) by Mattisyahu and his sons, at the time of Haman’s decree, the entire Jewish people displayed mesirus nefesh. [And this was the product of Mordechai’s efforts.]

Based on the above, it is possible to explain the citation in the maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim,]42 of the statement of the Midrash:43 “Mordechai, in his generation, was equivalent to Moshe in his generation.” Although there is an extension of Moshe in every generation, the Midrash states in regard to Mordechai (only) that “in his generation, he was equivalent to Moshe in his generation.”

It is possible to explain [this distinction as follows]: The unique quality of Mordechai was that he served as a shepherd of faith (in an [open and] revealed manner) for all the Jews of his generation, just as Moshe served as a shepherd of faith, drawing down knowledge to all the Jews of his generation.

[Moshe’s contribution to] his generation as a whole [is reflected in the fact that] (all the members of the generation) are referred as “a generation of knowledge.”44 {Moshe served in this capacity, (i.e., as the shepherd of faith of the entire Jewish people,) by infusing every member of his generation with knowledge. Mordechai served in this capacity [i.e., as a source of influ­ence for every member of the Jewish people] by revealing the quality of mesirus nefesh in every member of his generation.}

It is possible to say that by citing the quote “Mordechai, in his generation, was equivalent to Moshe in his generation,” in the maamar, [the Previous Rebbe] described his own function,45 i.e., that (in an [open and] revealed manner,) he served as the shepherd of faith for all the members of [his] generation.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part VIII

Based on the above, it is possible to explain the connection (and the sequence) of the subjects ([discussed] in the maamar,) [VeKibeil HaYehudim]. In the beginning, [the Previous Rebbe] explains the interpretation of the verse, “And you shall command the children of Israel,” that Moshe connects and binds the Jewish people (to the Or Ein Sof, G‑d’s infinite light) through sustaining and nurturing their faith.

Afterwards, he explains that, in every generation, the shepherds of Israel (the “extensions of Moshe”) strengthen the faith of the Jewish people. For example, Mordechai (the Moshe of his generation) reinforced the faith of the Jews to stand firm in the study of the Torah and the observance of the mitzvos.

Then, he explains the phrase “crushed for the light” (in the verse “And you shall command,” [and as explained above, “you”] apparently refers to Moshe himself). For Moshe’s potential to reveal “the light” [within every] Jew (i.e., the essence of the soul) is expressed primarily by the extension [of Moshe] in the times of exile ([when the Jews are] “crushed”). [For these leaders] arouse the power of mesirus nefesh within the Jewish people. This is the fundamental revelation of the essence of the soul, [the level described as] “the light.”

There is, [however,] a need for clarification: According to the above explanation, the concept “crushed for the light” is related to the concept, “And you shall command the children of Israel,” i.e., that Moshe — and the extension of Moshe in every generation — connect and bind the Jewish people with the Or Ein Sof. Nevertheless, in the verse itself, the phrase “crushed for the light” comes after the phrase “and they shall bring you pure olive oil.” This phrase (which relates how the Jews bring oil to Moshe) [alludes to the potential] the Jews have to [augment] Moshe’s [power,] bringing him additional light (as explained in sec. 2). [What connection does it share with the concept “crushed for the light”?]

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part IX

[This difficulty can be resolved through the preface of another concept:] According to its (simple) meaning, the verse “And the Jews accepted what they had already begun” refers to the time after the Purim miracle [and not to the time of Haman’s decree as explained above].46 It is possible, however, to apply the interpretation of the maamar that “And the Jews accepted what they had already begun” refers to the acceptance of [the process] that began at the giving of the Torah even according to the sim­ple meaning of the verse, that this acceptance came after the miracle.

According to this interpretation, there are two dimensions to the acceptance at the time of Achashverosh of the process which was begun at the giving of the Torah:

a) the acceptance at the time of [Haman’s] decree as expressed by their self-sacrifice (as stated explicitly in the maamar [VeKibeil HaYehudim]); and

b) the acceptance which came after the miracle of Purim which is on a higher plane than the acceptance during the time of the decree (as will be explained).

A similar explanation can be offered in regard to the phrase, “crushed for the light,” pointing to two different patterns that reflect how through being “crushed” in the era of exile, one reaches “the light”:

[As explained in the Previous Rebbe's maamar,] when the Jews are “crushed,” because [of the oppression of other nations who pass] decrees against the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos (as was the case at the time the maamar [VeKibeil HaYehudim] was delivered), through their mesirus nefesh, they reached “the light.”

There is, however, another dimension to the phrase “crushed for the light”: Even when the Jews are living in a state of prosperity, both in a material and spiritual sense, [they feel “crushed,”] because of the very fact that they are living in exile.47

{[To apply this concept within the context of the Purim nar­rative:] After the Purim miracle, “the Jews enjoyed light and joy, gladness and honor,”48 in the literal as well as in the spiritual sense.49 (Moreover, “Haman’s house was given to Esther,”50 and thus, they also possessed the advantages associated with [the task of] transformation.) [Nevertheless, they were still in exile, to borrow a phrase from our Sages:51] “We are now servants of Achashverosh.”}

And this very fact, that the Jews are in exile, [is sufficient to bring them to a state where] they feel “crushed.” And through this crushed state, they reach “the light.”

To explain: The very fact that a Jew is in exile, (even when he is blessed with material and spiritual prosperity) makes him feel broken [and crushed]. For the true desire of every Jew is that there be a revelation of G‑dliness. Indeed, this [desire for] the revelation of G‑dliness affects the very essence of his being.

Therefore, the fact that in the time of exile, G‑dliness is not revealed to the same extent as in the time of the Beis HaMikdash jolts every fiber of his being, er iz ingantzen tzutreiselt; he is crushed. {This is particularly true when one considers our Sages’ statement,52 “Whoever did not [merit to have] the Beis HaMikdash built in his time should consider it as if it was destroyed in his time.”}

Even when an individual is on such a lofty spiritual plane that G‑dliness is revealed for him in a manner which resembles the revelation during the times of the Beis HaMikdash,53 the fact this revelation is not expressed throughout the world at large is a clear indication that even the revelation granted him is limited in nature. For when the infinite dimension of the Or Ein Sof is revealed, that revelation [will permeate] every place. As long as there is one place (even a far-removed corner) where G‑dliness is not revealed, the revelation is limited ([and that limitation affects] even the place where the light shines).

{This is implied by the statement in the Alter Rebbe’s maamar 54 that the Tikkunei [Zohar]55 relates that if even one tzaddik in a generation would turn [to G‑d] in perfect teshuvah, Mashiach would come. For perfect teshuvah draws down the revelation of the infinite dimensions of the Or Ein Sof, and [when this light is revealed], the revelation will permeate the totality of existence.}

And when [a Jew — and these feelings are inherent to all Jews —] does not perceive the revelation of the essence of the Or Ein Sof, he is broken and crushed. {This relates to the concept that choleh [the Hebrew word for “sick,”] is numerically equivalent to 49. [There are 50 “gates of understanding.”56 Even] when a person attains 49 of these gates and is lacking merely the fifti­eth, [he is not content with his achievements. Rather,] he is “sick” [with yearning for the revelation of G‑dliness].57}

[In a similar vein, it is worthy to mention] the renowned statement of the Tzemach Tzedek:58

We would hear from our teacher and master o.b.m. (i.e., the Alter Rebbe): “I do not want anything. I do not want Your Gan Eden. I do not want Your World to Come. I want nothing else but You Yourself.”

The fact that the Alter Rebbe made such a statement
{— [moreover,] from the expression “We would hear,” we can infer that he did not make this statement only on unique occasions, but rather would say this frequently —} and particularly, the fact that the Tzemach Tzedek publicized it, endows each and every Jew with the potential to have a similar desire, i.e., for his fun­damental desire to be that there be a revelation of G‑d’s essence.

[Moreover, this desire is so powerful] that when such a revelation does not shine forth — and how much more so in the time of exile when we are lacking [even] the revelation (of light) that existed in the time of the Beis HaMikdash, the person is “crushed.” And he requests three times (or more) every day, “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy,” i.e., that there be a revelation of G‑dliness, and [indeed,] a revelation of G‑d’s essence.

This is meaning of the phrase “crushed for the light,” that the feelings of being “crushed” that stem from our being in exile bring us to “the light.” For the desire of every Jew for the revelation of G‑dliness — and the fact that this desire affects the very essence of his being {to the extent that he is broken and “crushed” in the time of exile when there is no revelation of G‑dliness} — is an expression of the essence of the soul, the soul’s “light.” The connection shared with G‑d at this level is essential in nature, [i.e., it is not a bond between two different entities, but a single essential union].

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part X

It is possible to explain that the dimension of “the light” of the soul which is revealed when a Jew feels “crushed” from the very fact that he is in exile reflects a higher level than the dimension of “the light” of the soul which is revealed through mesirus nefesh.

To clarify this point: Among the explanations given for the fact that the giving of the Torah is considered merely the beginning of the process (“what they had already begun”), while the acceptance [of the Torah] was consummated in the time of Achashverosh (“And the Jews accepted”) [is the following]: The Jews [accepted the Torah,] declaring “We will do” before “We will listen,” because the spiritual revelations59 they received [were so powerful that they had no other choice. It was as if, to borrow an expression of our Sages,60] G‑d “hung the mountain over their heads like a tub.” In the time of Achashverosh, by con­trast, the Jews accepted [the Torah] on their own volition.

[A similar contrast can be explained in regard to the faith of the Jewish people.] The faith that comes about because, in the spiritual realms, the soul perceives G‑dliness (i.e., faith that stems from an external cause) can be compared to [the willing­ness to accept the Torah] because of a revelation from above.61 In contrast, the [Jews’] acceptance in the time of Achashverosh came on their own volition, for at that time, the connection with G‑dliness that stems from the essence of their souls was revealed, i.e., an essential bond that reflects the essence of their being.

[To develop the latter concept further:] In a more particular sense, there is a (parallel) to these two dimensions in regard to the revelation of the essence of the soul. [In chassidic thought, it is explained that our day-to-day functioning is controlled by our revealed powers, i.e., the ten powers of the soul which comprise our intellectual and emotional makeup. These ten powers, and their compounds and derivatives which produce the variety of the more specific powers that we express in our conduct, are all limited in nature. For example, Chochmah (“wisdom”), the high­est of these powers, has a specific definition and scope, as does Binah (“understanding”), and chesed (“kindness”), and similarly all these other powers.]

[The essence of the soul, by contrast, refers to a simple transcendent quality, stemming from and unified with G‑d’s essence, and thus unlimited and undefined as His essence is. Mesirus nefesh is an appropriate channel for the expression of this dimension, for it represents a step beyond one’s individual personality and a revelation of the unbounded nature of the soul. When considered in this context,] the revelation of the essence of the soul through mesirus nefesh can be considered as an external influence in relation to a person’s revealed powers, [i.e., it is a different source of influence than that which usually controls his conscious functioning].

We see this concept exemplified in the personal examples of several individuals who displayed mesirus nefesh continuously for many years when they were living in a country where [oppressive] decrees [conflicted with the observance of] the Torah and its mitzvos. When, however, these same individuals came to a country where they could observe the Torah and its mitzvos amidst bounty, the mesirus nefesh which they previously displayed does not stand out (that) obviously [in their present conduct].

[Why is this possible?] Because the mesirus nefesh they expressed throughout the years stemmed from their being granted a revelation of the essence of the soul which transcends their revealed powers. [Thus, although this revelation spurred these individuals to deeds which were truly lofty, it did not ele­vate the people themselves.] There was no change within their revealed powers themselves.62 [As individuals, they remained on the same spiritual level as before.]

{(As explained in sec. 5), the essence of the soul is (also) the essence of [the soul’s] revealed powers, [and thus, one might think that expressing the essence of the soul would also have an effect on these revealed powers]. Nevertheless, the essence of the soul [transcends the scope of these powers entirely. Although] it is the essence of these powers, it has no [direct] effect on their functioning, i.e., how they operate within their own framework.} [In contrast,] the revelation of the essence of the soul that is expressed in the feelings of being crushed and broken from being in exile makes the revealed powers (as they [function] within their own framework) one with the essence.63

[To treat these concepts on the abstract plane:] The fact that the essence of the soul and the framework of the revealed powers (appear) as two separate matters is because [no two entities which have different qualities and definitions can be joined in total unity. And when looking at] the essence of the soul [from the perspective of the revealed powers, it also appears] to have a specific definition, i.e., that it is on a transcendent plane above the framework of the revealed powers.

When, however, one considers the essence of the soul as it is rooted in G‑d’s essence, [it does not have any definition whatsoever]. [On the contrary, G‑d’s essence cannot be defined in terms of finiteness or infinity, nor can G‑d’s essence be said to be void of either of these dimensions. Similarly, the essence of] the soul [possesses both] a simple, transcendent dimension and a frame­work of [limited] powers. [Moreover, it combines both these dimensions] in a single, absolute unity.64

Based on this distinction, it is possible to say that “the light” of the soul revealed through mesirus nefesh refers to that aspect of the essence of the soul that is defined as a transcendent entity, above the framework of our revealed powers. The dimension of “the light” of the soul which is revealed through the feelings of being “crushed” because of the exile is a revelation of the essence of the soul as it is rooted in [G‑d’s] essence.

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part XI

The above concepts can be related to [the concepts explained] in the maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim]65 in the interpretation of the verse, “And you shall command the children of Israel and they shall bring you pure olive oil.” After Moshe Rabbeinu con­nects the Jewish people [with the Or Ein Sof], the Jews will bring Moshe olive oil, i.e., they will add to the revelation of light on Moshe’s level.

To explain this concept in terms of our [individual] divine service: Moshe’s [endeavor to] connect the Jewish people [with the Or Ein Sof] involves sustaining and nurturing faith, [i.e., bringing out a higher dimension of faith], that our faith should not only come from the revealed powers of the soul ([the ulti­mate of this being,] the perception of G‑dliness by the soul in the spiritual realms), but that our faith be an expression of the essence of the soul.

{Based on the above, it is possible to explain that the expres­sion “And you shall command [tetzaveh — which as explained above means “connect”] the children of Israel” means that Moshe will establish bonds of connection among the Jewish people themselves. For from the standpoint of the essence of the soul, the entire Jewish people are a single entity.66}

Through the divine service of the Jewish people (after the revelation of the essence of the soul has been drawn down to them through Moshe’s [efforts]) and [their striving] that even their revealed powers (i.e., the framework of their functional powers) should reflect the essence of the soul, this causes an in­crease an advantage in [the influence from] the essence of the soul drawn down to them and revealed within through Moshe. ([This increase in Moshe’s influence is allude to by the phrase] “And they shall bring to you.”) For in this manner, the true source [of the essence of the soul] as it is rooted in G‑d’s essence is revealed.

{[Divine service of this nature] will also increase the unity of the Jewish people. The unity within the Jewish people that stems from the revelation of the essence of the soul is like an additional matter, something apart from their [ordinary] selves. Therefore, this unity comes about through considering one’s soul of primary importance and one’s body as subordinate.67 [In contrast,] the revelation of the essence of the soul as it is rooted in [G‑d’s] essence affects the revealed powers as they exist within their own framework and is one with G‑d’s essence. This brings about one­ness among the Jewish people in all matters, even those matters involving material concerns.}

Based on the above, it is possible to understand the statement of the maamar [VeKibeil HaYehudim],68 that through the Jews’ (divine service), they increase Moshe’s level, causing it to serve as “a constant light.” On the surface, the lamp of the soul (“the lamp of G‑d is the soul of man”69)70 shines constantly (in a consistent, unchanging manner) because of the revelation of the essence of the soul that is drawn down by Moshe (“And you shall connect”). For in regard to the essence of the soul, there is no concept of change.

The maamar, [VeKibeil HaYehudim,] however, states that [the potential for] “a constant light” comes about because of the [divine service of] the Jewish people who enhance the level of Moshe, “And they shall bring to you.” [On this basis,] it is possible to explain that with regard to the revelation of the essence of the soul from above that [comes through Moshe’s influence,] “And you shall command,” there is a difference between day and night. For the fundamental revelation of this quality comes when there is concealment and veils (“evening”), for this arouses and reveals the power of mesirus nefesh.

[In such an instance, it is possible that,] as explained above (sec. 10), when those who displayed mesirus nefesh in the face of [oppressive] decrees (“evening”) come to lands where it is possible for them to observe the Torah and its mitzvos amidst prosperity, the [uplifting] effects of their previous service of mesirus nefesh will not seen. In contrast, the true concept of a “constant light” (i.e., that there is no possibility for change) comes about through the divine service of the Jewish people that reflects how their revealed powers have become one with the essence of the soul, “And they shall bring to you.”

Based on the above, it can be explained why the phrase “crushed for the light” comes after the phrase “And they shall bring to you.” For in the phrase “crushed for the light” is also included the concept that the Jews are broken and “crushed” from the very fact they are in exile. This in turn evokes an approach to divine service in which the Jews’ revealed powers reflect the essence of the soul. [In this manner,] “the light” of the soul which is revealed is the essence of the soul as it is rooted in G‑d’s essence. Therefore “crushed for the light” comes after “And they shall bring to you.”

Ve'atah Tetzaveh, Part XII

The (simple) meaning of the verse “And you shall command the children of Israel and they shall bring to you” is that Moshe will command the Jewish people and thus evoke their [service], “And they shall bring to you.” For it is Moshe who connects the Jewish people [to the Or Ein Sof] and thus generates the potential for them to carry out the service of “And they shall bring to you.”

This concept can be applied in regard to the Moshe of our generation, the Previous Rebbe. His service involved arousing and revealing the faith that stems from the essence of the soul possessed by each and every Jew in a manner that afterwards, they will be able to continue to carry out their divine service on their own initiative until they shine as “a constant light,” without any change [or variation] even from the perspective of the revealed powers.

And through efforts of these nature we will merit the true and ultimate Redemption in the very near future. Then the revelation of G‑dliness will permeate even [this] lowly realm. And at that time we will bring the oil and kindle the menorah (“And they shall bring oil to you... to keep burning a constant light”) in an actual physical sense in the Third Beis HaMikdash, with the coming of the true and ultimate Redemption led by Mashiach. May this take place in the near future.