Publisher’s Foreword

Certain mamaarim are regarded as classics in chassidic literature. The very mention of their names evokes satisfying memories of the clarity of insight one received from studying that text.

From the time that it was recited in 5657 (1897) onward, the maamar, VeYadaata has certainly been regarded as one of these classics. Rav Sholom DovBer, the Rebbe Rashab, selected it as the maamar which he would frequently recite publicly to “purify the air.”1 Among mashpiim, it is renowned for its simple, yet profound explanation of the oneness of G‑d. For many students of Chassidus, it is remembered as their first experience of haskalah, a maamar which challenges and develops one’s intellectual comprehension of chassidic concepts.

VeYadaata focuses on the verse,2 “And you shall know today and take it unto your heart, that Havayah3 is the E-lohim in the heavens above and the earth below, there is nothing else.”

Both Havayah (הוי׳) and E-lohim (א-להים) are names which refer to G‑d. As explained in the Kabbalah and in Midrash4 the different names of G‑d represent different manifestations of His attributes. The maamar analyzes the difference between the qualities expressed by these two names. More significantly, it explains how Havayah which is identified with the revelation of G‑dliness and E-lohim which is identified with the attributes associated with His concealment are united to the point we can say, “Havayah is the E-lohim.”

It begins the explanation of this concept by bringing an analogy from the functioning of our conceptual powers. When we conceive of a concept, two forces are at work simultaneously, a power of revelation and a power of formation. Despite their opposite nature, these two forces work as one. Nevertheless, this analogy is not sufficient, for the functioning of the power of formation in fact places limits on the revelation of any given concept. And in the analogue, the interrelation between Havayah and E-lohim, the name E-lohim does not, by contrast, place any genuine limits on the revelation of the name Havayah. For were that to be the case, the oneness of G‑d with our material world would not be complete.

To show how, in truth, the process of concealment brought about by the name E-lohim does not limit the revelation of the name Havayah, an analogy is drawn to the process of communication between a teacher and a student. A teacher does not reveal his full appreciation of a concept to a student. Instead, he communicates it in a concise form and uses analogies. But through these methods, he communicates the totality of his understanding of the idea. The analogy:

a) does not prevent the teacher from perceiving the totality of the original concept as it is enclothed within the analogy,

b) communicates to the students the germ of a concept which they would otherwise be incapable of understanding,

c) gives the students the potential that, through labor and effort, they can perceive the totality of the idea conceived by the teacher.

In the same manner, in the analogue:

a) From G‑d’s perspective, the limitations of our material existence do not restrict Him; for Him, there is no concealment in our world;

b) We receive life energy, and through our divine service, we can perceive how G‑dliness is the source of this life energy;

c) By toiling with body and soul, we can come to a realization of the inner dimensions of the G‑dly light vested in our worldly existence.

Having explained these concepts, the maamar turns from the abstract conception of these ideas to their application in our everyday lives. It explains that each one of us faces challenges which appear to conceal G‑dliness. Nevertheless, in principle, these challenges are, like the teacher’s analogies mentioned previously, mediums to bring us to a deeper awareness of G‑d.or does the maamar merely deal with the concepts of challenges to our commitment to divine service on a larger scale. On the contrary, it focuses on the challenges which we face in our day-to-day living, e.g., maintaining honesty in our business dealings and setting aside time for the study of Torah and sincere prayer despite the pressing demands on our time. Through meeting these challenges, we are able to perceive the inner G‑dly light invested in creation, and bring the world to the Era of the Redemption when the oneness of G‑d will be revealed throughout all existence.

In a manner which reflects to no small degree the concepts which the maamar expresses, the translation and publication of this text represent the fusion of the contributions of many people with different and even opposite tendencies: The text was translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger. Rabbi Sholom Ber Wineberg reviewed its content. Rabbi Aharon Leib Raskin contributed the references. Benyamin Baird served as copy-editor. Yosef Yitzchok Turner is responsible for the layout and the typography. And the project as a whole, and every one of its phases in particular, was supervised by Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, director of Sichos In English.

A word of clarification: () represent parenthesis that are found in the original text. [] represent the translator’s additions to the text, { } is employed in place of [] which are found in the original text or when the original texts has two parenthetic clauses one within the other.

The concepts explained in the maamar are particularly relevant in the present age when the paradoxing interplay of Divine hiddenness and revelation is so acutely felt. On the one hand, we are brief moments before the advent of the ultimate Redemption. Conversely, however, there is no need to elaborate on the manifold elements of hardship and challenge resulting from the fact that the Redemption is not manifest in a revealed manner throughout the world.

Sichos In English

11th Day of Nissan, 5753
91st Birthday of the Rebbe Shlita