Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 281ff.

I. Several interpretations are offered for the verse:1 “And Yaakov remained alone.” Among them:

a) The Talmud states2 (and this interpretation is quoted — with slightly different wording — by Rashi in his commentary to the Torah): “He remained because of small utensils.” This is alluded to in [the wording of the verse as well]. As the Baalei HaTosafos state:3 “Do not read Levado, “alone,” but rather Le'kado, “for his jug.”4

b) The Midrash states:5 “Just as with regard to the Holy One, blessed be He, it is said:6 “And He is exalted alone;” so, too, with regard to Yaakov, “Yaakov remained alone.”

As explained on several occasions,7 all of the interpreta­tions of a verse (— and certainly of a word —) share an intrinsic connection. When applying this concept to the verse at hand, we must understand: What is the connection between the two interpretations? On the contrary, they appear to have opposite imports.

According to the interpretation offered by the Talmud, Yaakov’s remaining alone is associated with “small [utensils],” objects that have little importance.8 {And the word Le'kado is interpreted as meaning “for his jug.”}

In contrast, according to the Midrash, Yaakov’s remain­ing alone reflects a peak of elevation, a state of aloneness9 which is compared to that of God Himself, i.e., His singular oneness. [Moreover, it indicates that such oneness] will be revealed [in a consummate manner] as will take place in the Era of the Redemption, as reflected in the continuation of the prooftext which speaks of “on that day.”

II. As is well known, the Shaloh writes10 that the weekly Torah readings contain allusions to all the festivals that fall during the weeks they are read. From this we can conclude that since in many years — as this year — the festival11 of Yud-Tes Kislev falls in the week — or on the Shabbos — in which Parshas Vayishlach12 is read, the intent of Yud-Tes Kislev is alluded to in that Torah reading.13

[The connection between the two] can be understood through the preface [of a concept of greater scope].

There are two explanations given for the fact that Chas­sidus was revealed in these later generations (as opposed to the previous generations, [when our people were on a higher spiritual level, to borrow our Sages’ expression]:14 “If those of the early generation were angels, [then we can be considered humans]”):

a) Because of the manifold spiritual darkness that has continued to swell in the later generations (and in particular, in the era of Ikvesa de Meshicha, the time when Mashiach’s approaching footsteps can be heard), it is necessary to tap a higher light which will enable us to overcome that darkness.15

b) To borrow an explanation from the writings of the AriZal16 (which is quoted as halachah by the Magen Avraham17 and the Shulchan Aruch of the Alter Rebbe18 — for whom [Yud-Tes Kislev] is a day of happiness and redemption): On Friday, one must taste the foods that are prepared for Shabbos, (as alluded to in the phrase: “Those who taste of it merit life”).19 Similarly, when seeing the entire span of the six millennia as six days,20 the last generations before the coming of Mashiachcan be understood as being Friday afternoon, [wee hours] before “the day which is all Shabbos.” As such, there is drawn down a reflection (at least, a foretaste) of the revelation of P’nimiyus HaTorah which will be made manifest (in a consummate manner) by Mashiach.21

These two explanations (like the two explanations of Yaakov’s remaining alone) reflect two extremes: According to the first explanation, Chassidus was revealed in the later generations because of their lower level. Because of the great spiritual darkness prevalent in these generations, it is necessary that there be a revelation of the higher light of P’nimiyus HaTorah.

According to the second explanation, by contrast, the revelation of Chassidus in these later generations is a reflec­tion of the unique positive nature of the present time; it is Friday afternoon, and one can already appreciate a foreshad­owing of the revelations of the era of Mashiach!22

III. To explain the above: As is well known,23 Yud-Tes Kislev marks the beginning of the fundamental efforts to “spread the wellsprings [of Chassidus] outward,” the dissemination of the teachings of Chassidus to all Jews, even those found in the outer reaches.24

As explained on several occasions,25 the expression “when the wellsprings spread outward,” implies that the wellsprings themselves will come into these peripheries. The intent is not merely that the wellsprings [of Chassidus] will have an effect on distant places (and yet, these well­springs will remain in their natural places), but that the wellsprings themselves will reach the peripheries.26

Furthermore, the wellsprings will spread in the outer reaches, i.e., they will flourish and prosper, to the extent that every dimension of the outer reaches will be permeated by the wellsprings of Chassidus.

Every matter has its source in the Torah. Thus the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, the reve­lation and dissemination of P’nimiyus HaTorah to Jews who are found in the outer peripheries begins from [a parallel initiative within the realm of Torah study]: that P’nimiyus HaTorah will be revealed within the teachings of Nigleh, the revealed dimension of Torah law, to the extent that they are joined in absolute unity.

Before the Alter Rebbe, there were also Torah giants who achieved prominence in both Nigleh and Nistar, the Torah’s mystic secrets. Obviously, their involvement in the Torah’s mystic secrets transformed their approach to Nigleh. Never­theless, they would regard [these disciplines] as two different realms: the revealed and the hidden.

[Against this background,] the Alter Rebbe brought about a new development, joining together both aspects of the Torah in complete unity.27

IV. “Israel attaches itself to the Torah”;28 moreover, the Torah is “our life,”29 and Israel and the Torah are one. It is thus evident that just as the spreading of the wellsprings outward brought about a new development in the Torah — the unification of the hidden and revealed aspects of the Torah; so, too, [it brought about a new development] within (the spiritual makeup of) the Jewish people. Through the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus, [the possibility was generated for] the wellsprings to spread outward within [the individual world of every] person,30 i.e., the hidden dimen­sions of the soul could be united with the revealed and conscious ones.31

[Within each one of us, there exist dimensions of the soul which are hidden, i.e., transcendent spiritual potentials that are too elevated to be controlled by our conscious minds; for example, the power of emunah, faith.] It is true that before the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus, the light of faith, (the hidden dimension of the soul) that tran­scends intellect, also had an effect on the revealed powers of the soul, causing the powers of intellect and emotion to func­tion in a different [and more elevated] fashion. Never­theless, the power of faith itself remained higher than intellect; ([it was not] revealed [within or able to be con­trolled by a person’s conscious self]).

The Alter Rebbe made it possible for faith and kabbalas ol (the acceptance of G‑d’s yoke) which transcend intellect to permeate an individual’s personality entirely to the extent that they themselves enter [that limited] realm and become one with the person’s power of conscious thought. Concepts that are beyond the scope of intellect become real and mani­fest within his mind.32

V. Just as on the individual level, Chassidus grants the potential for “spreading the wellsprings outward,” that the wellsprings of the soul, [the powers of faith and kabbalas ol,] will be united with the outer reaches, [i.e., our conscious powers of intellect and emotion]; so, too, it grants the potential for true unity among the Jewish people, that they join as “one complete organism.”33

The “leaders of the thousands among Israel” are the “heads and the minds” of the Jewish people;34 they are the “wellsprings.” In previous generations (before the revela­tion of Chassidus), the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people remained secluded from the people at large. Certainly, they exercised influence over the people — through the Torah that they taught them, or through the personal example of refined conduct which they demonstrated. Nevertheless, although they were able to affect the Jewish people as a whole (and many individuals on a personal level), they themselves remained separate from the “outer reaches.”

The new [inspiration] of “spreading the wellsprings out­ward” [altered the nature of this interaction], bringing the leaders of the Jewish people out from their own secluded spheres35 and into [contact with the people at large, including those on] the peripheries. [The leaders] interacted with “the poor of their people” — with poverty understood in terms of our Sages’ statement:36 “No one is poor except in knowledge” — and spoke to them in terms that they could understand.

Moreover, since the “spreading of the wellsprings out­ward” must encompass every aspect and particular of these peripheries, [the involvement of] the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people [with the people at large] also included immersing themselves in the material concerns of the Jewish people.

VI. The Torah is the soul of the world, as evident from our Sages’ statement37 that the world was created “for the sake of the Torah which is called ‘first.’” It can thus be concluded that since Yud-Tes Kislev brought about a new development in the Torah, it also brought about a similar new develop­ment in the world at large.

To explain: As is well known, because of [the conceal­ment that characterizes] our world, we can appreciate only the Divine light that enclothes itself in the world, [the light originating in] the name Elokim38 (which is numerically equivalent to hateva, nature39). Through meditating on worldly matters, we can come to the knowledge and recog­nition that “there is a Master to this structure.”40 We cannot, however, appreciate the name Havayah41 which tran­scends the nature of our world.42

The occurrence of miracles from time to time does reveal the name Havayah within our world. Nevertheless, this is not relevant to the world as it exists within its own perspective. On the contrary, this represents an upset of the natural order of the world.

Chassidus, however, made possible that G‑dliness which is above the nature of the world would be revealed within the world itself. Accordingly, Chassidus provides explana­tions dependent on mortal wisdom — using examples and analo­gies from material entities43 — to demonstrate that the world is at one with the G‑dly light that transcends the world.

VII. It is possible to explain that this concept is explained [by allusion] in the Alter Rebbe’s wording in his renowned letter44 in which he states that the redemption of Yud-Tes Kislev occurred in a manner in which “G‑d performed won­ders and manifested [His] greatness within the earth.”45

There are two general approaches within the order with which G‑d controls the world:

a) the natural order, in which G‑d’s life-energy is not overtly obvious; this manner of expression stems from the name Elokim;

b) Divine Providence which is overtly revealed; within the natural order, it becomes obvious that the Divine light and life-energy is directed through His provi­dence; this manner of expression stems from the name Havayah.46

Within the manner of expression that stems from the name Havayah itself, there are several different modes:46

a) a diminutive expression (katnus): within the natural order, G‑d’s providence can be appreciated;

b) a prominent expression (gadlus): G‑d’s providence which transcends the natural order is expressed in a manner in which its greatness is realized and appre­ciated, reflecting our Sages’ statement:47 “A great matter — “[the mystic secrets of] the Divine chariot.”

Even when [G‑d’s providence] is expressed in a manner of gadlus, it is, however, relative to the expression of katnus, i.e., in both instances we are speaking of the manifestation of G‑dliness within the context of the natural order. [In some instances, the providence is not noteworthy.] On other occa­sions, it will be prominent, and at times, its prominence will be staggering. [There will, however, always be a common denominator]; it is not beyond the natural order entirely.

There is, however, another mode of expression, “G‑d per­formed wonders,” which is entirely beyond the natural order.48

VIII. These three forms of expression of [the influence from] the name Havayah are reflected in three types of miracles:49

a) Miracles which are enclothed within the natural order to the extent that the miraculous nature of the event is not obvious (like the Purim miracle). Although this is an expression of [influence from] the name Havayah, since the Divine Providence is not openly apparent, this can be considered as katnus, diminu­tive, as explained above.

b) Miracles which are overtly revealed, but which have an attachment to nature, for example, the conquest of Jericho by Joshua. After the miracle of the wall falling — a miracle which was not enclothed in the natural order, “the people arose... and destroyed everything that was in the city... by the edge of the sword.”50 [The fact that an actual battle was neces­sary indi­cates] an attachment to the natural order.

Or to cite another example: the war against Midian. Although the Jews had to “Select men from yourselves for the army,”51 and “they marched against Midian,”52 [fighting an actual war,] “not one man was missing.”53 This is obvi­ously beyond the ordinary pattern of war.

{Or to refer to a well-known story: Once a sick person came to the Alter Rebbe. Although all of the doctors had already despaired of healing him, the Alter Rebbe told him to eat half of a shemurah matzah with water. [He followed this directive] and regained his health.

On the surface, the story is a contradiction in terms: [The Alter Rebbe did not merely pray for the man; he gave a direc­tive] to perform an act which affected the body of the sick person and strengthened his health. On the other hand, according to the natural order, shemurah matzah and water cannot provide a remedy for a sick person ([particularly, one whom] all the doctors despaired [of healing]).

[The resolution is indicated above:] The healing [came from a source] above the natural order. It had, however, an attachment to the natural order [and therefore, the matzah and the water were necessary].}

c) Miracles which do not have any attachment to the natural order, for example, the miraculous manner in which the armies of Sannecherib were devastated. At that time, King Chizkiyahu said:54 “I will sleep in bed,”55 and yet be victorious.

IX. On this basis, we can appreciate the wording used by the Alter Rebbe cited above: “G‑d performed wonders and mani­fested [His] greatness within the earth.” The revela­tion of the light of Chassidus on Yud-Tes Kislev originated not only in a ray from the name Havayah (which would be manifest in a diminutive manner within nature), nor even in a prominent manner (reflecting gadlus, “greatness”), but which nevertheless shares a connection to the natural order. Instead, its source is “won­ders” which G‑d performed and which transcend entirely the natural order.

And yet, as the Alter Rebbe concludes, [these wonders were manifest] “within the earth.” For the intent and purpose of the teachings of Chassidus is to bring “G‑d’s wonders” — the Divine light which transcends nature — into the context of the world itself.56

X. The Torah itself recognizes the division into [Nigleh] and P’nimiyus HaTorah, which it calls “hidden,” (i.e., according to the Torah itself, [these teachings] are not to be revealed). As is well known,57 the potential to join these two dimen­sions together stems from the fact that the Alter Rebbe drew down “the essence of the Torah’s inner dimensions.”58

The distinction between the hidden and the revealed dimensions of the Torah exists only with regard to the way the Torah has been extended [for the sake of revelation within this world]. [For in this framework,] every entity is structured in a particular fashion. [And to relate to this framework, the Torah also takes on several structures, each one defined by its own rules.] The essence of the Torah (“the essence of the Torah’s inner dimensions”) knows no division or definition. The essence of the Torah is the essence of both the hidden and the revealed dimensions of the Torah, and therefore it can fuse the hidden and the revealed.59

To cite a parallel to this concept in the realm of Halachah: The Torah recognizes the distinction between mitzvos which are minor and those which are more severe. Nevertheless, there is a clear statement of Halachah which says:60

A person who states that the Torah does not origi­nate from G‑d — even if he says that Moshe said one verse or one word on his own initiative — is consid­ered as one who denies the Torah. The same applies to one who denies [the Torah’s] interpretation, the Oral Law.

[For every aspect of the Torah —] it makes no difference which word or which interpretation — [is an expression of the Torah’s fundamental G‑dly core].

XI. Similar concepts apply with regard to the Jewish peo­ple.61 (For as explained in sections IV-V, Yud-Tes Kislev brought about unity between the hidden and revealed dimensions of the soul.) The revelation of the teachings of Chassidus — which drew down the essence of the inner dimensions of the Torah — inspired the revelation of the essence of the soul,62 the level of yechidah. This is why it was able to unite the hidden and revealed dimensions of the soul.

To apply this concept within the realm of our Divine service: Faith and kabbalas ol have the potential to permeate a person’s conscious powers, because the revelation of the essence of the soul also involves the revelation of all of a person’s potentials (and thus permeates them all).63

{Similarly, with regard to the Jewish people as a whole, Yud-Tes Kislev was able to generate the power which brought the “heads of the thousands of Israel” close — [not only from the perspective of their inner feelings, but] also on a revealed level — and indeed, in unity with the Jewish people as a whole. This came as a result of the revelation of the general yechidah for the Jewish people as a whole. At this level, [the Jewish people,] who are described with the anal­ogy of a human body, are united on the level of yachid,64 “singular oneness.”65}

A parallel to this concept exists in the world at large66 (as explained in section VI). From the perspective of revealed Divine light, it is impossible for the world to be unified in an overt manner with the Divine light which transcends the world. Since this [transcendent] light is defined as light and revelation, it cannot be revealed within the context of this world [which is characterized by con­cealment]. ([Indeed, the very word for] world, Olam, shares the same root letters as the word helem, meaning “conceal­ment.”67)

It is only through G‑d’s essence — for He is the Ulti­mate of Being and contains the potential for everything — that there exists the possibility for the existence of a yesh,68 an entity which feels itself, and for that yesh to be at one with G‑d in the ultimate sense of unity.69

XII. The new development associated with “spreading the wellsprings outward” — that the essence (“the well­springs”) will be united with the outer reaches — is expressed when the wellsprings enter [— and permeate —] peripheries which can be described (using terminology borrowed from my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe,70) as “an unfitting place.”

For it is only because there is an essential revelation of the wellsprings71 that it is possible for them to permeate a periphery that is not a medium for their expression, and indeed, is even unfitting and unsuitable for them.72 For since [these wellsprings] are the essence of G‑d, the Ulti­mate of Being, they are the essence and the ultimate of existence for all creations. And therefore they can permeate even the existence of peripheries which (within the context of their own framework) are an unfitting place [for the revelation of G‑dliness].73

This is the connection between the two explanations of why the teachings of Chassidus were revealed in these later generations: a) because of the great [spiritual] darkness [which characterizes] these generations, and b) as a fore­taste of the revelations of the Era of the Redemption.

The revelation of “the essence of the inner dimensions of the Torah” is expressed in the fact that it has the poten­tial to illuminate the darkness of these later generations, and indeed, transform this darkness into light.

From the above, it is also evident why the foretaste of the teachings of Mashiach ([revealed] on “Friday afternoon after midday”) are associated with a time in which the darkness of the exile has increased, the redoubled darkness of the era of Ikvesa de Meshicha. For it is through the illumina­tion of the greatest74 darkness75 — and the transformation of that dark­ness to light, “and night will shine as day”76 — that the essential power of the teachings of Mashiach, “the essence of the inner dimensions of the Torah,” is revealed (albeit as a foretaste).

XIII. According to the above, we can appreciate the connec­tion between the two interpretations of the verse: “And Jacob remained alone”: that he remained for his jug; and that his remaining alone parallels G‑d’s being “exalted alone.”

It is through the refinement of small utensils77 — i.e., the refinement of lowly and insignificant objects, the ulti­mate of the darkness, concealment, and hiddenness78 — that it is possible to recognize and feel the inner core of how G‑d is “exalted alone.” The true oneness of the Holy One, blessed be He — that He is singularly unique — stems from His essence.79 [From the perspective of His essence], the existence of entities who feel themselves as yesh is no contradiction to the oneness of the Holy One, blessed be He. For from the perspective of His essence, the essence of the existence of a creation [in this world] who feels himself as a yesh is the true Yesh, [the One Who Truly Is, G‑d Him­self].80

(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayishlach, 5727,
Yud-Tes Kislev 5711, 5725)