"And Yehonason told him: 'Tomorrow, is the new moon. You will be brought to mind, because your seat will be empty.'"

This verse often served as the opening verse for the maamarim delivered by our Rebbeim when erev Rosh Chodesh fell on Shabbos, beginning from the Alter Rebbe.1 These maamarim are explained by the Tzemach Tzedek in Or HaTorah2 with notes, commentary, references, and summaries, and, similarly, in the maamarim of the subsequent Rebbeim.3

Among the points emphasized is that the phrase: "You will be brought to mind (ונפקדת), because your seat will be empty (יפקד)" uses the same root with two opposite connotations. "Your seat will be empty" implies a lack of completion and perfection, a deficiency. "You will be brought to mind," by contrast, implies that one will be remembered.4 In particular, this is significant because memory reveals the deep resources of the soul. Nevertheless, "You[r] be[ing] brought to mind" will be come about because "your seat will be empty."

Moreover, the entire matter involves a combination of opposites. As explained in the maamarim regarding the phrase "And Yehonason told him," Yehonason (יהונתן) is identified with G‑d's name Havayah (י-ה-ו-ה). The first three letters of his name are the first three letters of the name Havayah. And the last letter of the name Havayah, the hei, is alluded to by the letters נתן which are numerically equivalent to 500. 500 is five as it includes5 ten times ten.

This is granted to David, as implied by the phrase "And Yehonason told him," for [Yehonason implies] giving,6 and [it is known that] "one who gives, gives generously."7 Moreover, [in this instance,] the influence involved an inheritance which is on a higher level than a gift.

Thus Yehonason was drawing down energy to David and serving as a source of influence for him. Nevertheless, the conclusion [of the Haftorah reflects an opposite thrust, speaking of] "David attain[ing] greatness."8 For David was greater than Yehonason. Moreover, the form of the verb in that phrase, הגדיל, implies that David imparted greatness to Yehonason. This motif will blossom into perfection in the ultimate future when "the woman of valor [will be] the crown of her husband,"9 Malchus,10 [identified with "the woman of valor,"] will [ascend and] serve as "a crown" for Zaer Anpin,11 ["her husband"]. In the present era, Zaer Anpin conveys influence to Malchus. In the ultimate future, Malchus will convey energy to Zaer Anpin.

For that reason, in the ultimate future, deed will surpass study in prominence. In general, study is associated with Yehonason and deed is associated with David. In the ultimate future, deed will be of greater prominence,12 as mentioned in the maamar entitled "My servant David will be king" authored by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe.13

The above concepts can be connected with the Alter Rebbe's maamar in Torah Or that is associated with this week's Torah portion: Lehavin Inyan HaBerachos14 ("To understand the concept of reciting blessing"), the notes to that maamar in Or HaTorah,15 and the maamar entitled Chayav Adam Livareich Meiah Berachos Bichol Yom ("A person is obligated to recite 100 blessings every day")16 in the renowned series of maamarim [from the year 5638] authored by the Rebbe Maharash. That maamar focuses on the prooftext [cited by our Sages]:17 "Now, what does G‑d your L‑rd ask of you...?" and cites Rashi who explains that [in the verse cited, rather than מה, "what,"] one should read מאה, "100," as Tosafos explains. The maamar asks, however: The verse states מה, "what." On what basis does Rashi state that the term should be read as מאה, "100"?

In that series of maamarim, it is explained that the 100 blessings include all the blessings that a person is required to recite every day. These include three types of blessings as explained in depth in the Biurei Zohar of the Mitteler Rebbe, Parshas Ekev.18:

a) blessings [recited in appreciation for] satisfaction; in par­ticular, the Grace after Meals which is a Scriptural requirement;

b) blessings [recited before the performance] of mitzvos; and

c) the blessings of prayer,

From this, it is understood that although there are different levels with regard to the nature of the blessings, they all share a common factor: They all involve blessing which is associated with drawing influence down from above.

In addition to the differences mentioned above, there are two forms in all the blessings (as explained in the maamar in Torah Or), blessings that only begin with the term Baruch and blessings that both begin and conclude with the term Baruch. The blessings that also conclude with Baruch are drawn down from "one world to another,"19 from the hidden realm20 to the revealed realms,21 until the lowest levels.

[Since the influence is drawn down to these low levels,] it is necessary that they also conclude with the term Baruch. [The term for the conclusion of a blessing, chasimah, literally means "seal."] The concept of a seal is protection, so that a foreign entity will not enter, like the seal of a letter which protects it so that it will not be opened by an undesired person. Similarly, on Hoshaana Rabba, the blessings of the new year are sealed. This makes it possible for them to be internalized on Shemini Atzeres. For with regard to Shemini Atzeres, it is written:22 "There will be an assembly for you," [which is interpreted to mean:] "for you alone, and not for strangers with you."23

A similar concept is implied by the conclusion of a blessing with the phrase Baruch. It is a promise that no foreign influence will intrude.

With regard to these blessings as well, it is said: "A person is obligated to recite blessings." Implied is that it is within the person's potential to bring about blessings, including even blessings that conclude with Baruch.

To explain the idea: In several sources,24 the difference between prayer and blessing is explained. When praying, one is on a lower rung and asks [for Divine kindness]. With regard to blessing, by contrast, the person conveying the blessing stands on a higher rung. He is in a position of mastery and he draws down the blessing.

The implications of our Sages' statement17 that a person is obligated to recite 100 blessings every day is that a person is in control of all these 100 blessings, even the blessings that are part of the prayer service. He is a master of even these blessings and can bring about a new will Above,25 as implied by the phrase osim ritzono shel Makom which could be interpreted as "they generate G‑d's will."26 A person has the power to achieve the above even with regard to the blessings that conclude with Baruch.

On this basis, [the Rebbe Maharash] explains our Sages' statement: "A person is obligated to recite 100 blessings every day, as it is written: "Now, what does G‑d your L‑rd ask of you...?" Rashi states that one should read מאה, "100." Tosafos explains that Rashi is employing the Talmudic structure al tikri, "Do not read מה, 'what,' read מאה, '100.'" [The alef is added, because מה is numerically equivalent to the milui of G‑d's name Havayah when the names of the letters are spelled with an alef.27

Rashi's statement that the term should be read as מאה implies that one should read and draw down the alef, i.e., that the Divine service of the Jewish people draws down the Alef, [G‑d's infinity,] into the 45, making it 100.

Tosafos states "Do not read מה, 'what,' read מאה, '100,'" [the words of the Torah] have a k'ri, the manner in which they are read, and a k'tiv, the manner in which they are written. These reflect the states of hiddenness and revelation., as our Sages say:28 "I [G‑d] am not called as My name is written." Therefore [Tosafos] says "Do not read...," i.e., do not content yourself with a revelation on the level of Mah; it must be mei'ah, 100, i.e., the alef must be drawn down. This is brought about through an increase in the Divine service of the Jewish people. Hence, this interpretation is advanced by Tosafos whose name implies the concept of increase.

The intent is that not only, as Rashi states, is the alef read and drawn down — on this level, however, it is possible to remain in the hidden realms. Hence, [Tosafos states:] "Do not read מה, 'what,' read מאה, '100,'" i.e., influence should be drawn down into the revealed realms; [as in the ultimate future, when] "I will be called as My name is written."

On this basis, we can understand why the verse does not explicitly state מאה, 100. Were it to state this explicitly, the intent would be G‑dly light that could become settled in vessels. Instead, the intent is to draw down G‑dly light that is too high to become settled in vessels. [Indeed, one draws down] from the very source of the light, the מאור. This is alluded to by the fact that the author of the teaching: "A person is obligated to recite..." is Rabbi Meir (מאיר). Rabbi Meir is identified with the meor, which is above the light itself, as our Sages state,29 "he would illuminate the eyes of the Sages." It is possible to say, that here the intent of the term "the source of light" is G‑d's Essence. From G‑d's Essence, the potential is drawn down for every Jew to recite 100 blessings every day.

Now, it says "a person is obligated." There are matters that are given to a person's choice (reshus) and others that are obligations. In general, it is explained that matters that are reshus are on a higher level, as explained with regard to the concept30 that the recitation of the evening service is left to a person's choice and the concept that [eating matzah on] the Seventh Day of Pesach is left to a person's choice.31 Here, the intent is to draw down the lights that are on the level of reshus to the point that they become obligations, i.e., light that is settled in a vessel.

On this basis, we can understand the concepts [explained originally in connection with] the verses beginning: "Tomorrow is the new moon," that through Divine service on this physical plane, it is possible to reach a higher level than through drawing down [light] from above. This can be understood from the concept [implied by] "until David attained greatness." Although previously, Yehonason had been the source of influence, for his name is associated with the name Havayah [which is a powerful source of influence,] as explained above in connection with the concept of Havayah whose milui employs an alef. Nevertheless, it was David who "attained greatness," because Divine service on this physical plane reaches a higher level. Moreover, [such Divine service as personified by David] makes others great, [indeed, even inspires greatness above,] as our Sages state:32 "Israel adds strength to the Heavenly company.

A similar concept is explained with regard to the verse:33 "And now increase the strength of G‑d." [As our Sages relate,]34 the Holy One, blessed be He, told Moshe: "Be of assistance to Me." Immediately, Moses responded: "And now increase the strength of G‑d." Since this matter was brought about by Moses, it is also within the potential of every Jew. As is well known with regard to the concept that "fear is a small matter,"35 {which is also derived from the verse: "Now, what does G‑d your L‑rd ask of you...?"} Since fear is a small matter for Moshe [and there is a spark of Moshe in every Jew], fear can be considered a small matter for every Jew.

Through our deeds and Divine service, we make a dwelling for G‑d in the lower realms.36 This will be achieved with the coming of Mashiach. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to wait until then, for the matter is dependent on our deeds and Divine service. Through involvement in the Torah and the observance of the mitzvos in general and, in particular, through studying these matters now and reading the Haftorah of this Shabbos, these influences are drawn down. {As explained, the requirement for a person to recite 100 blessings every day applies also on Shabbos. Now, on Shabbos, when there are less blessings recited during the Shemoneh Esreh, the sum can be completed by adding blessings associated with satisfaction, as explained in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch,37 i.e., blessings associated with satisfaction experienced by the body on this material plane.}

And then we will "go forth with our youth and with our elders, with our sons and daughters,"38 a great congregation will return here,"39 to our holy land, to "the land upon which the eyes of G‑d your L‑rd, are [focused] at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year."40

This verse also alludes to the importance of Divine service on this material plane, because the word רשית, meaning "beginning of," is written in a short form.41 This alludes to our Sages' statement that "a year which is impoverished (רשה) at its outset will become ample at its conclusion."42 As explained in several sources,43 even though before the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah, the year was impoverished, through the sounding of the shofar, "G‑d will answer me with expansiveness,"44 [evoking abundance]. In particular, this applies because the sounding of the shofar is associated with arousing Divine pleasure.45 Indeed, it draws down entirely new energy, as the Baal Shem Tov explained46 on the verse:47 "Sound the shofar on the new moon," that the shofar must be renewed. This leads to renewal within the world, as it is written:48 "Behold, I will create a new heaven and a new earth," and "a new Torah will emerge from Me,"49 with the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our days.

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