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Understanding Chassidus

Learn a Maamar from Samach Vov

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The series of chassidic discourses affectionately known as Samach Vov, from the year 5666 by the Fifth Chabad Rebbe, the Rebbe Rashab, are famous for their exceptionally comprehensive and deep nature. Join Dr. Yaakov Brawer for clear and profound elucidations of these discourses.

Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 1
Introduction to the Maamar
After an introduction to the maamar, we examine the verse that recalls the unique love of our youth.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 2
The Metaphor of Hide and Seek
The relationship between G-d and the Jewish people is depicted through a parable depicting the father of a dearly beloved son. In order to test (and reveal) the depth of his child’s love for him, the father creates the false impression that he has abandoned his son altogether.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 3
Searching for Our Father
The ultimate goal of prayer is to reveal our inner spiritual core, which is rooted in the transcendence of G-d's own self but descends into the created realm and is vested within the limiting bounds of the physical body.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 4
The Nimshal (Applying the Metaphor)
The essence of divinity is discovered within our own selves as the love of G-d that transcends all human faculties of intellect and emotion.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 5
Ahavah Rabbah (Great Love of G-d)
Even if human intellect and emotion cannot themselves elicit what is described as "great love" (Ahavah Rabba), yet intense devotional exertion elicits a gift from G-d, allowing the individual to transcend the limitations of their faculties, and opening the gate even to this lofty experience.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 6
Collective Redemption
Thus far we have discussed, in detail, the underlying meaning of “I remember to you the love of your youth” and its significance for the individual achievement of personal redemption (unity with the Creator). In this class, we will consider its implications for the Jews as a nation in the context of both the redemption from the Egypt and, ultimately, the final redemption.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 7
As a Nation, Then and Now
In this class, we continue our study of the ‘love of our youth’ as it relates to the later stages of Exodus transitioning into the Giving of the Torah. We then move on to consider the dynamic of 'remembering youthful love' as it characterizes the present exile.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 8
The Susceptibility of Boundless Holiness
In this class we introduce the concept that Mitzvos elicit ‘Ohr Makif’ (all-encompassing light), and the susceptibility of boundless Holiness (Makif) to appropriation by the forces of darkness.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 9
Makifim of Seder Hishtalshalus
In general, there are two types of 'makifim' (transcendent lights), those that are “close” to that which they encompass (relative makifim) and those that are “distant” (absolute makifim). Metaphorically, these can be compared to a garment and a house respectively. We'll first consider the “close” makif.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 10
The Relative ‘Makif’ (Transcendent Lights)
In general, there are two types of 'makifim' (transcendent lights), those that are “close” to that which they encompass (relative makifim) and those that are “distant” (absolute makifim). Metaphorically, these can be compared to a garment and a house respectively. We'll first consider the “close” makif.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 11
Sechel and Middos l’Maalah (Intellect and Emotions Above)
In this class we will apply the principles of the metaphor of human intelligence and emotions to the ‘nimshal’, namely to the relationship of sechel and middos above in Atzilus.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 12
Evolution of Ohr Pnimi and Ohr Makif within Atzilus
In this class we will examine the principle of pnimius of elyon establishing makif of tachton, whereas chitzonius of elyon establishing pnimius of tachton in the context of ilah v’alul in Atzilus.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 13
Larger Dimensions of Seder Histalshalus
We have been exploring the Makifim (transcendent lights) of Seder Hishtalshalus, and now begin to investigate larger dimensions of Seder Histalshalus beginning with the relationship of Kesser to Atzilus.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 14
The developmental transitions from the beginning of Hishtalshalus
The developmental transitions from the beginning of Hishtalshalus (Iggul and Kav) to the very end (Zeir Anpin and Malchus of Atzilus).
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 15
The Beginning of Being
In this class we will continue to explore, in detail, the highly counterintuitive concept that the same principles discussed previously apply to the very source of being, i.e. Igul Hagodel and Kav.
Samach Vov: Hashamayim Mesaprim, Part 16
Conclusion of the Maamar
After a brief review of concepts previously developed and underscoring their practical implications, we’ll conclude by examining the relationship of the content of the Maamar to the introductory paragraph which deals with the Yom Tov of Shavuos.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 1
Audio | 43:18
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 1
Beginning the Maamar 'Naso es Rosh B'nei Gershon'
This Maamar returns to the subject of the role of Mitzvos in eliciting Makkifim that begun in the previous Maamar.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 2
Audio | 40:07
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 2
The Divine ‘Light’ Elicited by Positive and Negative Mitzvahs
In this class, we continue our exploration of the fundamentally different nature and impact of positive and negative Mitzvos.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 3
Audio | 43:29
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 3
Relationship of ‘Kav’ to ‘Iggul Hagadol‘
In this class, we will continue our exploration of the “close” Makkifim associated with performance of positive Mitzvahs. We will examine the relationship of the Ohr Makkif to the Ohr Pnimi that it encompasses.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 4
Audio | 45:07
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 4
The Nature of Tzimtzum in ‘Iggul Hagadol‘
In this class, we will examine the tzimtzumin that allow for the emergence of Kav from Igul Hagodal. We will explore the concept of B’kiah and examine its significance in generating the Ohr of Kav.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 5
Audio | 40:23
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 5
The force behind the extension of Kav from the Ohr Kodem Hatzimtzum
We previously explored the nature of the Tzimtzum that is the source for the extension of Kav. We now identify the driving force behind it.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 6
Audio | 45:39
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 6
The Transcendent Source of Negative Mitzvahs
In this class, we will consider a metaphor illustrating how the experience of something negative can touch the essence of the self, regardless of personal stature, whereas the gratification afforded by any number of perceived positive activities has variable and limited influence depending upon the level of the person.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 7
Audio | 44:15
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 7
The Impact of Negative Mitzvahs
In this class we discuss how the active rejection of that which is contrary to the Divine Will impinges on Etzem Ohr (the divine essence). This is the source of the “distant makkiffim” that are drawn down through the negative commandments.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 8
Audio | 43:56
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 8
The Relation of Mitzvos to “Attik”
The relation of Positive Mitzvahs (white fire, white hair) and Negative Mitzvahs (black fire, black hair) to two different levels in Attik.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 9
Audio | 48:16
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 9
Apprehending the essence of Ohr through negative inference
The apprehension of essence of Ohr through Yedias Hashlilah, and the impact of Mitzvos on Ahavah and Yirah.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 10
Audio | 47:43
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 10
The role of Mitzvahs in drawing down Ahavah Rabba
In the time of the first Beis HaMikdash positive mitzvahs were sufficient to ignite Ahavah Rabba, but in the time of Golus it’s elicited principally by negative mitzvahs.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 11
Audio | 42:54
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 11
The significance of negative mitzvahs in the time of exile
In the time of golus אהבה רבה is elicited largely by מצוות לא תעשה, and more specifically through the agency of the myriad of rabbinic regulations legislated after Bayis Rishon. The maamar discusses why the obstacles and darkness of golus is no impediment to Etzem Ohr.
Samach Vov: Naso, Part 12
Audio | 40:03
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Samach Vov: Naso, Part 12
Concluding the Maamar
The Maamar ends with an explanation of the role of Bnei Gershon and Bnei Kehas respectively. Gershon is etymologically related to the word Gerush (to expel) and refers to the Makkif Harachok elicited by Mitzvos Lo Sa’seh. These makifim expel forces of negativity that seek to draw strength from the side of Holiness.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 1
The Paradox of Kelipah
As discussed in the previous class, Mitzvos Lo Saaseh are instrumental in excluding forces of the “other side” from attaining nurture from the Makiffim of Kedushah. Ishmael, however, seems to take on a life far beyond that which would be expected. What is the secret of his power?
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 2
Makkifim of Kedushah and Kelipah
Kelipah’s source of being is Kedushah, however the mechanism whereby Kelipah is sustained is indirect, by way of Makiffim. Hence, whatever is found in the dimension of Kedusha, has a corresponding – albeit corrupt – counterpart in the realm of Kelipah.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 3
Makkifim of Kedushah and Kelipah Continued
Makkifim of Kedushah effect us in a variety of ways. It may happen, for example, that a person suddenly feels a powerful urge to do Teshuvah. The negative counterpart of these Makkifim are manifest in evil thoughts and imaginings.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 4
The Yechidah
The Yechidah of our soul is our essential Ratzon (desire), our unique and absolute bond with the Creator. It is what establishes us as an eternal holy nation, incapable of being separated from G-d.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 5
The Yechidah and the Ratzon of Mitzvos
The essence of the Ratzon of the Jewish people, the Yechida, is unitary and absolute, reflecting a singular, unbreakable, eternal bond with our Creator. The unity of Yechida is also apparent in the Ratzon inherent in the fulfillment of Mitzvos.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 6
Penimius Hamakif and the Two Dimensions of Shmirah
The Ohr Makkif elicited by Positive Mitzvos is vulnerable to parasitic invasion by Sitra Achra, and thus requires the protection afforded by the ‘distant’ Makkif associated with Negative Mitzvos.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 7
The Redeemed Sparks of Holiness Need Protection
The performance of a mitzvah with a physical object “rescues” and elevates the sparks of holiness contained therein. Nevertheless, since the sparks had been initially trapped in pure physicality, they are susceptible to setback and require special protection.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 8
Rejecting the Sparks of Holiness in the Forbidden
Although even that which is expressly forbidden is ultimately sustained by deeply concealed Kedushah (holiness), we do not have the ability to rectify and liberate these sparks. Our approach is one of avoidance and rejection (Negative Commandments).
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 9
Exertion in Torah study elicits a Distant Makkif.
The ‘Distant (Essential) Makkif’ accessed by Negative Commandments is also made available through Torah study.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 10
Returning to the Posuk: v’Zacharti Lach…
Whereas the Makkifim of positive commandments bring the advantage of revelation, they do not manifest essence. Negative commandments bring the presence of essence into the revelations elicited by positive commandments, and thus enable Ahavah Rabbah during the time of Golus.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 11
Synergy Between the “Relative Makifim” and “Absolute (Distant) Makifim”
The advantage and disadvantage between the “Relative Makkifim” drawn down by Positive Mitzvos and the “Absolute (distant) Makkifim” drawn down by Negative Mitzvos—and ultimately the synthesis of the two.
Samach Vov: u’Re’isem, Part 12
Concluding the Maamer "u’Re’isem Oyso" and Starting "Vayikach Korach"
This class is a transition between two Mamarim—the central theme of both, Tzitzis, provides conceptual continuity.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 1
Relation of Mitzvos to the name Havayah
The Maamar indicates that the Shem Havayah is Ohr Penimi. How then, can Mitzvos, rooted as they are in Makkifim, derive from letters of Shem Havayah?
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 2
Distinctions between Ohr Makkif (Sovev) and Ohr Penimi (Memale)
The Maamar now identifies and describes three characteristics that define Ohr Pnimi and distinguish it from Ohr Makkif.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 3
A Mashal for Sovev and Memaleh from Nefesh Ha’Adam
This section of the Maamar completes the description of the 3 characteristics that distinguish Ohr Pnimi from Ohr Makkif, and then introduces a lengthy Mashal in order to clarify these concepts.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 4
A Metaphor for Ohr Penimi (Memale)
The Maamar illustrates the concept of Hislabshus of Ohr Penimi with the Mashal of the investment of the powers of the Nefesh in specific organs of the body, beginning with a description of Chochmah and Binah.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 5
The Mashal of Koach HaSechel for Ohr Penimi
The Maamar continues the description of how the specific constituency of the brain determines the quality of the manifestation of the Koach Hasechel (intellect) invested therein.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 6
‘Ohr’ Impacts the Fashioning of the ‘Keli’
The Maamar now expands the concept, alluded to briefly previously, that each Koach Hanefesh (Ohr) plays a major role in fashioning the developing Eiver (Keli), such that it acquires the capacity to ultimately enclothe that specific Koach (Ohr).
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 7
Relationship of Kochos Hanefesh to the concept of Ohr Pnimi and introduction to Ohr Makkif
The text now relates the foregoing discussion of the Mashal to the original Nimshal (Ohr Pnimi/Mamale). It then begins an analysis of Ohr Makkif using the Mashal of human Ratzon.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 8
Ratzon B’nefesh Ha’adam as a Mashal for Ohr Makif
Unlike Kochos Penimim (e.g. intellect, motion, hearing) there is no Keli specific for Ratzon. Rather, Ratzon can act everywhere and anywhere in the body, although it is neither grasped by, nor fully revealed in any limb.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 9
Ratzon compels the limbs, yet it’s not affected by the limbs
Whereas the powers of the Nefesh that animate a limb are also affected by the limb, Ratzon is not influenced by the activity or status of the limb that it drives.
Samach Vov: Vayikach Korach, Part 10
The Ratzon Paradox
Ratzon is totally impervious to the activity and status of the limbs and organs of the body, and is thus detached and removed them. On the other hand, the limbs operate exclusively at the behest of Ratzon, indicating that Ratzon is totally bound to the limbs.
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