The Mitteler Rebbe, like Rashbi, revealed the secrets of Torah to all. The license to do so is alluded to in the Torah phrase, “this mound shall be a witness.”

The ninth day of the month of Kislev, which marks the passing of R. Dov Ber of Lubavitch,1 known as the Mitteler Rebbe, is usually in the week in which we read Parshas Vayeitze. R. Schneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe, taught that Jews “must live with the times,” meaning a Jew must live according to the directives derived from the weekly parshah.2 In Parshas Vayeitze we can therefore find allusions to and lessons associated with the passing of the Mitteler Rebbe.3

“This mound shall be a witness”

One of the events recorded in Parshas Vayeitze is the covenant made between Yaakov and Lavan.4 They heaped up stones, and said “ed hagal hazeh” — “this mound shall be a witness...that I will not go beyond this mound to you...for bad purposes.” In other words, the mound would be witness to the border between Yaakov’s territory (Eretz Yisroel) and Lavan’s territory.

A dichotomy exists in the idea of a mound. On the one hand, a mound serves to mark the boundary between two sides. On the other hand, a mound is a heap of loose stones, not cemented together like a wall. It is therefore not a true division, and at times one may cross the boundary. Torah states that the mound erected by Yaakov and Lavan was a witness that they may not go beyond it “for bad purposes.” Rashi, the commentator par excellence on Torah, takes note of this and comments, “For bad purposes you may not cross over, but you may cross over for business.”

The Alter Rebbe writes that there is an allusion in the word “gal” (“mound”) to Lag BaOmer, the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi). The letters of the word gal are the same as “Lag,” and, as will shortly be explained, the idea of a mound represents the quintessence of Rashbi’s work.5 Because both the Mitteler Rebbe and Rashbi revealed the deepest secrets of the Torah before their passing,6 the idea of a mound is associated also with the Mitteler Rebbe’s passing.

Revelation of the Esoteric

Rashbi, in contrast to his colleagues,7 revealed the hidden realm of Torah. Others also studied that realm, but did not reveal its secrets to others.8 This unique approach of Rashbi found its ultimate expression on the day of his passing. Not only did he himself then reach the loftiest understanding of the Torah’s mysteries,9 but he also spoke to his disciples “holy words not revealed until now.”10 Although he revealed those secrets only to his disciples — and then but a select few — he directed that those “holy words” be written down,11 thus enabling them to be available later to all Jews.

Rashbi’s revelation of the Torah’s secrets is puzzling, for secrets should remain hidden and not be made available to all. The Zohar itself says, “one must conceal the Torah’s secrets.”12 How, then, could Rashbi reveal them?

The answer is “this mound shall be a witness,” alluding, as we mentioned previously, to Rashbi’s passing. The division between the revealed and mystical realms of Torah, with the mystical remaining hidden, is not a permanent wall, but rather is in the nature of a mound. Sometimes the mound may be passed — when it is for good purposes, as, for example, in the future Messianic era when there will be no evil in the world.13 The division between the revealed and mystical aspects of Torah then will be eliminated, and the mystical will also be revealed.14

So, too, in the case of Rashbi. The root of his soul was of the level of Moshiach,15 and therefore he could reveal the secrets of the Torah. In his case there was no concern that passing over the division between the revealed and the mystical realms could result in evil. The reverse was true: The revelation of the mystical realm will bring the greatest good,16 the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

Elucidation of Chassidus

The same applies to the Mitteler Rebbe. The system of ChabadChassidus emphasizes the understanding and comprehension of the concepts found in the mystical aspect of Torah. The founder of Chabad Chassidus was the Alter Rebbe, who set forth its principles in rudimentary form. His successor, the Mitteler Rebbe, elaborated on and elucidated those seminal ideas.17

The same question asked about Rashbi may be asked about the Mitteler Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe did not see fit to reveal Chassidus in such an expanded form, indicating that even in the system of Chabad some aspects must remain hidden. Why then did the Mitteler Rebbe do so?

The same answer applies: “This mound shall be a witness.” The Alter Rebbe did not reveal everything because in his time it was possible that it would not turn out for good.18 When that concern passed, the Mitteler Rebbe removed the barriers and, explaining its concepts at length, revealed Chassidus in its entirety.

In our times, when we have already passed over the mound for good purposes, we have the preparation to “Gal einai” — “Open my eyes, and I will look on the wondrous things from Your Torah”19 — the reasons and mysteries of the Torah that will be revealed in the future,20 with the speedy coming of our righteous Moshiach.

Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, pp. 129-131