Yud-Beis Tammuz1 5707 (1947) [New York]

One of those present said to the Rebbe: “LeChaim! You have begun the redemption; may G‑d grant that you complete the True Redemption2 together with Mashiach!”

The Rebbe’s reply follows.

1. Avram and Avraham

The Redemption began with our grandfather Avraham,3 when he was still an Avram4 and was living with his father Terach in Haran.

The following teaching on this subject has been explained several times. It is based on a concept that I was privileged to learn from my father, which he in turn heard from my grandfather the Rebbe Maharash, and which had been passed down from Rebbe to Rebbe over the generations.

Divine Providence chose Avram when he was still in Haran and transformed him into an Avraham. Avram signifies5 אָב־רָם,6 [a soul rooted in Divine] Intellect that is hidden from any conceptualization;7 Avraham signifies אֵבֶר מַ״ה,8 a vessel (lit., “organ”) of self-effacement.9 And if [a soul rooted in Divine] Intellect that transcends any conceptualization is to be transformed into an אֵבֶר מַ״ה, a vessel of self-effacement, into a בָּרָא מַ״ה, a revelation (lit., “creature”10) of self-effacement, there has to be real avodah to the point of self-sacrifice.

Reworking a mahus atzmi, someone whose essence bespeaks self-sufficient spiritual integrity, and who transcends all conceptualization, so that through his avodah he becomes a מַהוּת מַ״ה, someone whose essence is nothing but self-effacement, deriving spiritual delight from disseminating a knowledge of G‑d and toiling with self-sacrifice to transform the gross logs around him into believers in Divine Unity, — that is quite a fine job of work.

All Jews believe in a potential Redemption, that is, that G‑d is able to bring about the Redemption. What we want is that it should not be mere potential, but actual.

Those brought up on Chassidus understand what is intended when one person gives another the following meaningful blessing — that his actuality match his potential, and that his potential animate his actuality. When this blessing is realized, one’s actuality becomes a pure instrument for revealing the quintessential Being of the Infinite One,11 an instrument that will bring Him real gratification from the creation of This World and from the soul’s descent into the body.

2. You are never alone

As often discussed and often repeated, chassidim over the generations — beginning with the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch and the Alter Rebbe — have been accustomed to repeating concepts in avodah in brief, each word being a directive as to how one ought to approach it.

Here is one of those old chassidic aphorisms: “A Jew is never alone; wherever he goes, wherever he stands, G‑d is with him.”12

Each of the Rebbeim heard this vort from the mouth of the Rebbe who preceded him, all the way back to the Baal Shem Tov. The Alter Rebbe explained why this teaching appeared specifically in the period of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid,13 when the main livelihood of Jews involved trudging from village to village. It was they who were told that “a Jew is never lonesome: wherever he goes, wherever he stands, G‑d is with him,” the last phrase alluding to the revelation of the Divine Name Havayah.

The latter insight is one of the teachings that my great-grandfather the Tzemach Tzedek heard from the elder chassidim of the Alter Rebbe, from whose mouth they had heard it when he returned from a visit to his teacher, the Maggid of Mezritch.

When my father handed on this seminal teaching to me, he explained at length that what is crucial is the revelation of the Name Havayah by means of the Name Elokim.

On another occasion, while discussing the Divine intent underlying the partnership of the Divine Names Havayah and Elokim, my father emphasized that a vessel makes light14 efficient. That is to say, the vessel elicits the inner essence of that which it contains [viz., light], causing it to illuminate in an orderly manner — and then the innermost essence of the Luminary [i.e., Havayah] finds expression in the light diffused.

One of my notes records my father’s explanation of how the soul descends into the body in order to throw a true light on the ultimate Divine intention underlying the Giving of the Torah in the world here below and underlying the fulfillment of the practical commandments. Drawing on the profound perspectives of both avodah and haskalah, my father went on to clarify how created existence15 offers the greatest understanding of the True Existence.16

3. Where is Atzmus Ein-Sof to be found?

It is a mitzvah to make this known to all — that the exalted standing of an unsophisticated person is inestimable.

The Baal Shem Tov revealed this truth in a few brief words: “The quintessential simplicity of Atzmus Ein-Sof17 becomes manifest in the simplicity of a simple man.”

The Alter Rebbe, who received the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov from the hands of the Maggid of Mezritch, explained that people [who serve G‑d by means] of Torah and avodah are in fact limited thereby, for these are revelations, not Atzmus. It is true that Torah and mitzvos are Atzmus, but they are not the quintessential simplicity of Atzmus. And the distinctive trait of Atzmus is simplicity.

The quintessential simplicity of Atzmus, a level of unique standing, is the ultimate intent underlying the soul’s descent into the body and underlying the creation of the Worlds of Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, including even this material world — that the soul be enabled to ascend to the quintessential simplicity of Atzmus, which far transcends the World of Atzilus.

The World of Atzilus takes only a certain commission;18 the quintessential simplicity of Atzmus Ein-Sof is to be found in the simplicity of a simple man.

4. A niggun that expresses courage

The melody which was composed in honor of Yud-Beis Tammuz,19 the Festival of [the author’s] Liberation,20 expresses the undaunted courage of self-sacrifice. It was now sung with feeling by the assembled chassidim, after which the Rebbe commented:

People used to say that a niggun should be sung not only with feeling, but with [spiritual] filling.

The Rebbe then asked those present to sing the niggun once more.

5. To be animated by a vort

There is a phrase here in America that confers family status — “in the Old Country.”21 It indicates that the speaker, or his father or grandfather, was born in the Old Country. At any rate, chassidisher adults and youths in the Old Country were baalei kabbalah (lit., “men of received tradition”). I don’t mean to say that they studied Kabbalah, but only that they received guidance from elder chassidim.

Chassidim sitting together at a farbrengen used to express the wish that they would savor the same intense enjoyment from studying a maamar of Chassidus as they derived from a well-loved theme in a chassidic melody that penetrates and permeates one deep down.

My father once said that my teacher the Rashbatz was a pnimi, a man of absolute inward spiritual integrity, in that “he lived with a vort.” However profound a concept might be, it provided him with a vort that contained the innermost elemental light of that concept. That vort animated him in his avodah of prayer, with that vort he retired at night, with that vort he fell asleep, and with that vort he rose in the morning. He used to say of such a concept, “It penetrates and descends to the abyss; it has an intrinsic vitality22 that transcends diffused vitality.”23

6. Chassidim of stature

My teacher, Rashbatz,24 received his chassidic training from a renowned chassid called R. Michele of Opotchk.

My memoirs of the years 5654-5656 (1894-1896) record his accounts of his family background and education. In his childhood he lost his father, a scholarly misnaged and prominent rosh yeshivah who expounded novel interpretations of the Torah. His mother’s father came from one of the high-born families of Vilna misnagdim, and her second husband came from similar circles. Fortunately, the young boy caught the attention of one of the chassidim of Sventzian, a town in the province of Vilna, and soon found his nook in the local chassidic community.

The chassidim there took his education very seriously, and provided him with all his needs so that he would have the peace of mind to apply himself industriously to the study of Gemara, poskim and Chassidus. In due course the elder Chabad chassidim, headed by R. Yitzchak Chayat,25 decided that Rashbatz should be sent to study under the aged R. Michel of Opotchk, a chassid known for his rare assiduity and profound scholarship. When he arrived in Opotchk, the hoary chassid showed his affection for him by the devotion with which he guided him in the pathways of Chassidus.

One day, in a spirit of bitter self-scrutiny, R. Michel turned to him: “Listen, Shmuel Betzalel. You don’t know — you are too young to know, and certainly too young to feel — what a pity it is that you are making the great mistake of thinking that we old folk are chassidim. We have seen chassidim, so we know the bitter truth. We are nothing, mere dry sticks. The chassidim of bygone years, — they had spiritual sensitivity.”

When Rashbatz once repeated this incident at a farbrengen, R. Chanoch Hendel,26 R. Abba of Tchashnik and R. Shmuel Baruch rejoined: “So what can we say after him?27 For us there is no name at all!”

To this Rashbatz responded in his tranquil, restful voice: “You too no doubt know what the people around us today ought to be called, but you don’t want to say. I will say. (I mean myself too, but more specifically I mean them.) They are lazy; they’re looking for easily-baked bread. They have no notion of what intellectual exertion means.”

7. Caressing the Yetzer HaRa

Rashbatz used to say: “During [the confession of] Ashamnu one should not strike the left side of his chest with his hand, but with a stick – because when one does it with his hand, the Evil Inclination thinks that he’s being caressed….”

8. You are an emissary of Atzmus

One of those present pointed out a certain other chassid to the Rebbe and said that he was “about to depart.” To this the Rebbe responded:

Both personally, and through his disciples and their disciples, our Rebbeim, the Baal Shem Tov engraved it into the sons and daughters of Israel that a Jew never departs. He travels — and every Jew is an emissary of Atzmus, of the quintessential simplicity of the Infinite One.

Those who study Chassidus with inward feeling28 have the sensitivity to apprehend this.

In the course of one of his walks with me, my father explained inward feeling in two senses: (a) the understanding that Chassidus has of Atzmus — that it is an elemental light that allows itself to be garbed in comprehension; (b) the quintessential simplicity of the Infinite One that transcends the grasp of intellect, as in the statement of Eliyahu, “No thought can grasp You at all.”29

During one of these walks my father explained in various ways how every Jew, no matter in what place he finds himself, ought to know the Divine intent behind his arriving there, whether for a short time or a long time or even as a mere bypasser. For in that spot he had to pronounce a blessing or say a prayer, and since the Six Days of Creation that spot has been waiting for his davenen or his berachah. That mission he has to fulfill, for he is an emissary of the innate simplicity of Atzmus. Let him not sleep through his opportunity or be thoughtlessly diverted by one of the tricks of the Evil Inclination.

One has to always keep in mind the wild and treacherous pranks and stratagems of the Evil Inclination, who makes it his goal at all times and in all places to apply his false tricks. Indeed, he even had the audacity to want to mislead Avraham and Yitzchak with those tricks.30

9. Sharing intellectual vitality with the unlearned

One of the chassidim present said “LeChaim!” On this the Rebbe commented:

In my childhood I heard how two elder chassidim, R. Abba and R. Chanoch Hendel, used to wish each other, “LeChaim with all its commentaries!”

Hearing this, my father commented: “This is the wording that chassidim use. But my father (my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash), used to say that ‘LeChaim’ signifies the essence of life itself31 — and this transcends all commentaries. The distinction between these two versions is comprehensible to those who toil in the labor of prayer, after due preparation in the phase that precedes prayer.”

At any rate, may all of our people with their families be healthy and glad of heart.

As to what true joy is, this chassidim know. Moreover, they have the true avodah-sense to utilize their joy in order to draw down the inner vitality of intellectual understanding upon unschooled Tehillim-readers in the market place and upon village peddlers too.

10. Childhood memories can energize

I fondly treasure every word that I was privileged to hear from my father. There are a number of teachings that he bestowed upon me in order that I should hand them on to the brotherhood of chassidim and to the students of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah — as guideposts along the paths of avodah and chassidic conduct.

The memories of a person brought up on Chassidus are not only filled to overflowing with its inner richness; they also infuse the rich past into a luminous and pleasurable present.

It once happened that when I was still a pupil of R. Nissan,32 my father spoke at length in the course of a Thursday night’s study session in Chassidus in the study hall of the little minyan, and wept profusely.

What he said I did not understand, but the few words that I heard (“How sorry is the plight of the soul!”) and his inward weeping pervaded me so deeply that sitting on a bench near the door of the anteroom I broke into tears.

During Friday morning’s prayers I felt spiritually aroused — relative to my situation at that time, that is — and read some Tehillim. And that day, somehow, my games seemed to lack their accustomed fun and excitement.

At the Friday evening meal my father again spoke with R. Hendel and with R. Abba of Tchashnik, but I understood nothing.

R. Chanoch Hendel turned to me: “Do you hear what your father is saying?”

When I answered that I was listening but did not understand, he replied: “One should listen, and remember what one has heard. When you’ll be bigger you’ll understand what you’re hearing now.”

And R. Chanoch Hendel went on to tell of elder chassidim who testified that in their old age they had experienced for the first time a full and deep understanding of things that they had heard in their childhood.

11. The richness of homespun villagers

“I am a villager,” R. Chanoch Hendel recounted, “who grew up and for many years lived among villagers and innkeepers. Very few of them were scholars. They were mostly simple folk, but they pulsated with the sap of Chassidus.

“In our region, all the country folk were brought up by chassidic fathers, mothers and teachers. They understood and felt the beauty of chassidic education in terms of their own feelings and understanding, which they illustrated by models drawn from their everyday working life.

“Thus, for example, the villagers used to say: ‘There are two kinds of hay — sown hay and wildgrass hay. Both grow in the ground; both serve as fodder for cows. But the difference between them shows in the quantity of the yield and in the richness of the milk.’”

Homespun folk such as these who were brought up on Chassidus — innkeepers, villagers, tradesmen and market peddlers — add spice to the spiritual flavor of the people of Israel.

12. A chassidic perspective on the prayers

Twice my father taught me the meaning of the text of the prayers of weekdays, Shabbos and Yom-Tov, the Haggadah of Pesach, and selected prayers of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The first time was in my early childhood, and the second time began with my bar-mitzvah on Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5653 (1893).

When he began the first time through, my father said: “There is not much point in davenen and not knowing what one is saying, is there.”

And with that he began a fundamental translation of the prayers.

On the second round, my father taught me the chassidic explanation of the words. I am not referring to the formal interpretation of the words as recorded in the printed and manuscript discourses of Chabad; I simply mean a chassidic explanation of the words, every sentence from Modeh Ani onward being translated in the spirit of Chassidus with its own corollary in practical avodah. At every point my father gave a narrative illustration, much of which was made up of teachings that the Alter Rebbe received from the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, and some of which included teachings originating with the Alter Rebbe and his successors.

After Shavuos in 5655 (1895), when my parents set out for the health resort in Bolivka, we had already reached the LeShem Yichud33 that one says before Baruch SheAmar.

A teacher of this kind and teaching of this kind become engraved in your head; they light up your heart with a recollection that throughout your life remains alive.

13. The ladder of prayer

I want to give myself and yourselves inner spiritual pleasure by handing on to you what my father explained at that time concerning the Psalm beginning LaMenatzeiach BiNeginos34 that is said before Baruch SheAmar.

However, passing on this thought requires a certain preparation concerning the ladder of prayer35 in general. For a start we need at least a brief clarification of the meaning of the ladder that was shown from Above36 to Yaakov Avinu in his dream.

Chabad Chassidus requires a profound intellectual involvement in the comprehension of Divinity, and — as in every such enterprise — one first has to believe what one is studying. That done, one can understand this subject with a degree of inner chassidic certainty.

14. Of lights and vessels

Yaakov Avinu beheld this ladder while fleeing the fury of his brother Eisav, after having — at his mother Rivkah’s behest — taken the blessings37 which his and our father Yitzchak had intended to bestow upon Eisav.

Expounding the spiritual significance of this episode, Chassidus explains38 that Avraham Avinu represents the level of the Sefirah of Chessed in the World of Atzilus, Yitzchak Avinu represents the level of Gevurah in the World of Atzilus, and Yaakov Avinu represents the level of Tiferes in the World of Atzilus.

The levels [of light] in the World of Tohu are higher than the levels of light in the World of Tikkun. In general terms,39 the feature that distinguishes between the two worlds is the following: the World of Tohu has abundant lights and sparse vessels, while the World of Tikkun has abundant vessels and sparse lights.

There is a deeper distinction. The lights of the World of Tohu are “branches that separate,”40 each of its ten Sefiros being a vigorous light that does not relate to any other Sefirah. The Sefiros of Tikkun, by contrast, comprise sparse lights and capacious vessels. Hence each Sefirah can tolerate the existence of another, even its opposite. Thus Chessed of Atzilus can coexist with Gevurah of Atzilus, and Tiferes of Atzilus unites Chessed and Gevurah.

15. The Tzemach Tzedek and the artless villager

R. Dovber from near Cholopenitz, the father of R. Mendel the Meshares, was an unpretentious member of Your People Israel from the good old days.41 An artless villager, he was quite far from expert in the obscure small print42 that scholars relish. He was a Tikkun-Chatzos-and-Tehillim Jew. Every night he would observe Tikkun Chatzos and read the whole Book of Tehillim; all day he would continue to recite verses of Tehillim as he took his dairy products to sell to the townsmen of Cholopenitz, where he meanwhile stocked up with provisions for sale at his inn.

His father, a Chabad chassid who in earlier times used to visit the Mitteler Rebbe, had taken him in preparation for his bar-mitzvah to receive the blessing of the Tzemach Tzedek. In later years he enjoyed recalling in detail how his father used to set out for Lubavitch with a whole band of fellow chassidim, how he himself had been taken there as a child, and the few words that the Rebbe had told him at the time.

“A Jew has to be a kabbalas-ol-nik,” the Rebbe had said, meaning that one should willingly subordinate oneself to the yoke of Heaven’s demands. “You should recite the entire Book of Tehillim every day, and repeat verses of Tehillim too on your way to and from town.”

“When I visited Lubavitch before my wedding,” R. Dovber later recounted, “the Tzemach Tzedek was in failing health; I was admitted to his study only by virtue of my ancestry. He said: ‘Remember to say Tehillim at all times!’ ”

When I told this to my father he said: “The truth is that by virtue of such unsophisticated Tehillim-reciters, by virtue of such folk who don’t even know the meaning of the words they are saying,43 the world stands. Their reading of Tehillim brings intense joy to the Infinite Being of G‑d. So much so, indeed, that at Minchah time on Shabbos, the most sublime hour of Divine gratification,44 we say, ‘And who is like Your People,45 like Israel, one nation on earth?’ That is to say: G‑d’s People, Israel, draw His true Unity (echad) into this world.”

16. Four rungs: four Worlds

During some of our strolls during that period, in summer of the year 5655 (1895), my father explained at length how the ladder of prayer46 connects the World Above with the world below, how it is the pillar that joins Heaven and earth.

“Earth” connotes physicality (gashmiyus), not materiality (chomriyus). The latter term refers to the gross matter of the World of Asiyah, which can be rectified only through being shattered47 and discarded.

“Heaven” refers to the World of Atzilus. The word for Heaven (שָׁמַיִם) is a combination of the two words, שָׂא מַיִם48 — lit., “bearing water,” water signifying absolute and utter purity.

As we see on the physical plane, a ladder joins that which is low with that which is high; as it is written, “A ladder standing on the earth, its top reaching up to Heaven.”49

With regard to the ladder of prayer, which stands on the earth and which reaches the heavens, “to join” means to uplift earthy things to the heavens, and to draw heavenly things down to the earth.

The ladder of prayer, which stands on the earth and which reaches the heavens, spans four stages,50 which correspond to the Four Worlds, Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah. The Four Worlds connect the physical world with Atzmus Ein-Sof, with the Infinite Being of G‑d, from Whom light and spiritual bounty are drawn down, through these progressive stages, to all the Worlds.

17. Four rungs in the morning prayers

Let us now examine these four stages in terms of the [morning] prayers.

The first stage, corresponding to the World of Asiyah, begins with the verse, Hodu LaShem… — “Offer praise to G‑d, proclaim His Name,”51 and ends with the Psalm, Lamenatzeiach bineginos… — “For the choirmaster: a song with instrumental music.”52

The rung that intervenes between the World of Asiyah and the World of Yetzirah is the statement that begins with the words, Leshem yichud… — “For the sake of the union.”

The second stage, corresponding to the World of Yetzirah, begins with the words, Baruch she’amar… — “Blessed be He Who spoke, and the world came into being,” and ends with the blessing, Yishtabach…, Chei haolamim— “May [Your Name] be praised..., the Life of all the worlds.” In the World of Yetzirah there is a perception of the Divine light that animates all worlds and creatures, a perception of how all creatures recognize — each according to its own nature — the Divine vitality that gives them life.

The rung that intervenes between the World of Yetzirah and the World of Beriah begins with the words, Yisgadal veyiskadash Shmei rabbah — “Exalted and hallowed be His great Name,” and ends with Barchu… and Baruch… va’ed — “Bless…” and “Blessed... eternity.”

The World of Beriah begins with Baruch… yotzer or… until Baruch… yotzer or… es hakol — “Blessed are You...Who forms light... all things,” and ends with the blessing, gaal Yisrael — “Who delivered Israel.”

The rung intervening between the World of Beriah and the World of Atzilus is the verse that begins, HaShem, sfasai… — “G‑d, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your praise,”53 even though this verse limits and defines the greatness of [both] these two Worlds. Though the rung that intervenes between these Worlds [thus] differs from the statements that distinguish between Asiyah and Yetzirah, or between Yetzirah and Beriah, it is nevertheless a statement that indicates the break between the two respective stages.

As is explained in the literature of Chassidus,54 any statement or spiritual level that separates two aspects or levels [of a spiritual continuum] is itself made up of two layers, one of which is akin to its lower neighbor and one of which is akin to its upper neighbor. In the last-quoted verse of demarcation, its opening phrase (HaShem, sfasai tiftach — “G‑d, open my lips”) is the layer that refers to the World of Beriah, while its closing phrase (ufi yagid tehilasecha – “and my mouth shall declare Your praise”) is the layer that refers to the World of Atzilus.

Shemoneh Esreh55 relates to the World of Atzilus.

The prayers following Shemoneh Esreh allude to and explain the Divine light that is drawn down into the world, into each day’s spiritual service, varying according to the nature of each individual’s service.

The [preliminary] passages from Modeh ani — “I offer thanks,” until veyachria beineihem — “which reconciles them,” are the plot of earth on which stands the ladder of prayer, in the spirit of the verse, “Behold a ladder standing on the earth, its top reaching up to Heaven.”

18. Climbing rung by rung

Let us now summarize the correspondence between the stages of prayer and the stages of the ladder.

The first stage [beginning with ground level] up the ladder of prayer extends from Hodu until afsei aretz. The dividing level — i.e., the thickness of the [bottom] rung — which separates this [lowest] stage from the next is the sentence, Leshem yichud. The next stage upward extends from Baruch she’amar to Chei haolamim. The two layers that comprise the second [dividing] rung are Yisgadal and Barchu. The third stage upward extends from Baruch… uvoreh choshech to gaal Yisrael. The upper and lower edges of the third [dividing] rung are HaShem, sfasai tiftach and ufi yagid tehilasecha. The fourth stage up is Shemoneh Esreh.

Considering the four stages of Yaakov’s ladder in terms of the avodah of prayer: The first stage, from Hodu until afsei aretz, corresponds to the World of Asiyah. The second stage, from Baruch she’amar until Chei haolamim, corresponds to the World of Yetzirah.

The beginning of this stage reflects how the World of Yetzirah is already a world that appears to have independent existence, the might of Him Who formed it being concealed. Nevertheless, the illumination of the Divine light is manifest there. I.e., at this stage the actually existent creation points to an underlying life-force — unlike the World of Asiyah, which utterly hides its underlying life-force.

The end of the World of Yetzirah is the blessing that begins with Yishtabach, whose concluding, phrase is Chei haolamim [lit., “the Life of the worlds”], alluding to the Divine life-force that animates the worlds. Worlds at this stage do indeed actually exist, but existence in the World of Yetzirah does not obscure the Divine light and life-force that brings this existence into being; or, at any rate, the degree of concealment here is not as severe as the concealment brought about by the created entities that exist in the World of Asiyah.

19. Thought, speech and action

On the mortal plane, the faculty of action is separate [from the soul itself], and corresponds to the World of Asiyah. The faculty that corresponds to the World of Yetzirah is speech. Though speech is connected with the speaker, it is still an existent entity that is heard by another. In this it differs from the faculty of thought: though a stranger may detect its presence, he cannot determine its content.

After all is said and done, however, these three faculties — thought, speech and action56 — are no more than “garments” of the soul.57 In this they do not resemble the World of Atzilus, which is a world that is united [with its Source]. In the mortal analogy, this corresponds to the superconscious source of intellect,58 which initiates and reveals original intellection.

20. Investing in spiritual labor

The above lengthy exposition is really only an abbreviated talk. For in fact one should have emphasized and elaborated on the severe spiritual damage incurred by the insufficient attention that our youths and adults devote to the current lack of avodah — working with oneself in general, and in particular, laboring in the service of prayer.

Chassidim in general, and temimim in particular, ought to open their ears and their hearts to hear and apprehend the fiery might of my father’s holy voice throughout his Kuntreis Etz HaChaim59 (Summer, 5664), and particularly in Chapters 32 and 33, with the concluding prayer and blessing. And with his strength, and the strength of all our holy forebears, we shall succeed in our spiritual labors, as we have been guided to do by the teachings of Chassidus, Amen!

21. The creative role of sifting materiality

For the sake of a deeply-embedded recollection, I shall tell you about a profound subject in Chassidus that my father spoke to me about, after discussing various other matters, on one of our walks. This teaching I am able and willing to pass on, in the hope that you will understand it and experience it in the course of your practical spiritual labors.

On account of a deep-seated reason noted in my diary, my father at that time evidenced a joy that welled from within. He gave an extensive explanation of how the Divine Name Havayah connotes self-revelation and compassion, and how the Name Elokim connotes self-concealment and strict justice.

Then, with a glad heart, he quoted the verse, Elokim yechoneinu viyevarcheinu, ya’eir panav itanu selah — “May G‑d be gracious to us and bless us; may He make His countenance shine upon us forever.”60

My father proceeded: “Something here is problematic, and one ought to give oneself a deep, perceptive, comprehensive and viable explanation of it. How are supplications for grace, and blessings, relevant to the Divine Name Elokim, which signifies G‑d’s self-constriction and concealment? How is it appropriate to ask for a blessing and compassion from the Name Elokim, which signifies the attribute of strict justice and self-occultation?

“Our verse enumerates four levels within the Name Elokim: (a) yechoneinu asks that G‑d grant us grace; (b) viyevarcheinu means ‘And may He bless us’; (c) ya’eir panav requests that the Divine countenance shine upon us through the Name Elokim; and (d) itanu selah means that at all times G‑d relates to us and is with us.

“In fact, as is explained in Chassidus, a blessing should rightfully derive from the Divine Name Elokim, for it is written, ‘In the beginning G‑d (Elokim) created.’61 That is to say, it was through the Name Elokim that material existence actually comes into being, for through one’s spiritual endeavors in the sifting and refining of [the obscurity brought about by] the Name Elokim, he can become a vessel able to contain ‘pure gold.’”62

The wealth underlying this thought is to be found in haskalah, in the theoretical teachings of Chassidus. Unfortunately, however, that’s lying under the table, and no one is involved with it.

When one removes the mud [from the gold ore], then burns it, pours it, and sifts it, separating the dross from the metal and the metal from the dross, it is then that the pure gold is revealed.

And this is the message of the phrase, (lit., “May He make His countenance shine upon us forever”): one comes to perceive the truly luminous Countenance.

22. The kishke recipe

As to [filling oneself with] the haskalah of Chassidus, people used to use the analogy of a kishke.63 At first it is loathsome, but once it has been cleaned, and only then stuffed with flour and fat, it becomes a fine dish.

23. Guests of honor at a comradely farbrengen

As we once mentioned, a number of fine and robust guests grace every chassidic celebration with their presence: the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, and the successive Rebbeim.

We do not begin to understand the exalted worth of a soul. So when a soul is Above, engaging in the apprehension of Divinity in the Lower Garden of Eden or in the Higher Garden of Eden, how much more certainly does this transcend our understanding.

One ought to have the spiritual sensitivity to be able to discern between the Lower Garden of Eden and the Higher Garden of Eden, and to apprehend the G‑dly bliss experienced by a soul Above.

This is true of souls in general, but especially so with regard to the souls of tzaddikim, and even more so with regard to comprehensive souls.64

The mortal mind cannot grasp how the comprehensive souls of certain tzaddikim can tear themselves away from their G‑dly delight; one cannot grasp the extent of their self-sacrifice in foregoing this, in order to come and participate in a celebration of chassidim — who are souls enclothed in bodies, each with an animal soul and an Evil Inclination — and even to envy these souls enclosed in bodies for the way in which they can engage in spiritual pursuits.

One really ought to have the spiritual sensitivity to appreciate this. Chassidim do have this sensitivity, except that it is musty and dusty. But if one gives it a bit of a polish, it comes to light. That rubbing down is accomplished through meditation [on Chassidus] both before and during one’s davenen.

24. In holy rapture

When one sings the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun,65 the melody of the Four Themes, one elicits Above an arousal of the Alter Rebbe’s soul. As we were privileged to hear from my father: When the Tzemach Tzedek once sang this niggun at a gathering of chassidim, each of them looked around to see whether the Alter Rebbe was standing at his side.

The Rebbe now asked those present to sing the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun, and as it was sung he was in a state of holy rapture. He then asked them to sing the rollicking melody, Nie zhuritzi khloptzi.66

25. It’s time to get into shape

All in all, the time has come to begin one’s preparations for the month of Elul.67 It’s time to start drilling.

May G‑d grant everyone a healthy summer and a happy always.