Although earlier generations saw the dissemination of Chassidus, through which the redemption will come, the Previous Rebbe, whose Yartzeit is on the tenth day of Shevat, introduced new dimensions. The doctrines of Chassidus would now not be restricted to a select few but would be spread to all Jews.

The Baal Shem Tov, in a famous letter1 to his brother-in-law, tells of the time he experienced an elevation of the soul to the celestial spheres. When he came to the abode of Moshiach he asked, “When will the Master come?” Moshiach answered: “When your wellsprings will spread forth to the outside.”

The Baal Shem Tov was the founder of Chassidus and the Chassidic movement. Moshiach’s answer meant that the world would be ready for his coming when the wellsprings of Chassidus would be disseminated to all — even to those “outside,” those who are estranged from Judaism.

B’reysh G’lei

All things have their source in Torah.2 That Moshiach will come when the wellsprings of Chassidus will spread forth is also alluded to in the Torah, which, recording the departure of the Jewish people from Egypt, states: “The children of Israel went out with a high hand.”3 Targum Onkelos, the authoritative Aramaic translation of the Torah, renders “with a high hand” as “b’reysh g’lei.”

The word b’reysh (בריש) alludes to the Ball Shem Tov,4 for the letters of the word b’reysh are the beginning letters of Rabbi (ר) Yisroel (י) Baal (ב) Shem (ש) and Rabbi (ר) Yisroel (י) ben (ב) (son of) Sarah (ש). B’reysh also is an allusion to Rabbi (ר) Shimon (ש) ben (ב) Yochai (י) (Rashbi),5 and to Rabbi (ר) Yitzchok (י) ben (ב) Shlomoh (ש) (the AriZal).

The common denominator between the Baal Shem Tov, Rashbi and the AriZal is that they all were great teachers of the esoteric realm of Torah, its inner secrets. It is through their teachings that the future and final redemption will come: “The children of Israel went out with a high hand” — “b’reysh g’lei.” As stated in the Zohar: “With this book of the Zohar we will go out from exile with mercy.”6

There is a difference, however, between the way Rashbi and the AriZal disseminated their teachings, and the way the Baal Shem Tov spread Chassidus. The former revealed the secrets of the Torah only to a select few, those who had attained the necessary spiritual heights. Even then, there were limits placed on the secrets revealed. The Baal Shem Tov, on the other hand, spread his Chassidic doctrines to all, without any limits. And it is precisely in such a fashion that Moshiach comes — “When your wellsprings will spread forth to the outside.”

Transformation of the mundane into sanctity

There is a very good reason why the allusion to Rashbi, the AriZal and the Baal Shem Tov is found only in the Targum and not directly in the Torah.7 The verse, “The children of Israel went out with a high hand,” refers to the exodus from Egypt. Because the exile in Egypt, the first in Jewish history, is the prototype of all subsequent exiles,8 and the exodus from Egypt is the root of all subsequent redemptions, the verse “The children of Israel went out with a high hand” alludes also the future redemption. But it is only an indirect allusion, for the plain meaning of the verse clearly refers to the exodus from Egypt.

The Targum, the Aramaic translation of Torah, alludes to the future redemption more openly. Torah is written in the holy tongue; Aramaic was a language used in exile. The Torah was translated into Aramaic because in exile not all Jews could understand the holy tongue. The translation into Aramic introduced the Torah’s wisdom and sanctity into a non-holy tongue, transforming the mundane into the sacred.9

This transformation is a preparation and introduction to the future redemption specifically. In the redemption from Egypt evil had not been eliminated, and the Jews, in their exodus from Egypt, had to flee from its evil.10 The future redemption through Moshiach will be utterly different, for then, “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth.”11 Because evil and impurity will be totally eliminated, the Jewish people will not need to flee from the exile, as written, “you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight;”12 instead, “all flesh together will see that the mouth of the L‑rd has spoken.”13 In the Messianic era, the physical flesh will see G‑dliness.

That is why we find the allusion to the names of Rashbi, the AriZal and the Baal Shem Tov specifically in the Targum. The teachings of these three masters of the esoteric realm of Torah must be disseminated in the manner of “Your wellsprings will spread forth to the outside” — not fleeing from the “outside,” from anything which is not filled with sanctity, but the reverse: to there spread the wellsprings of the esoteric. This approach is similar to the Targum, which introduced Torah and sanctity into the mundane, the preparation to the future redemption.

B’reysh alludes also to the Previous Rebbe

The word b’reysh alludes also to the Previous Rebbe — Rebbi (ר) Yosef Yitzchok (י) ben (ב) Sholom (ש) (Sholom Dov Ber — the Previous Rebbe’s father), and also ben (ב) Shterna Sarah (ש) (the Previous Rebbe’s mother). The Previous Rebbe added new dimensions to the idea of spreading Chassidus to the “outside,” and therefore automatically to the hastening of the future redemption — “b’reysh g’lei.”

The dissemination of Chassidus without limit began, as mentioned earlier, with the Baal Shem Tov. He used to travel from city to city and relate Chassidic thoughts to even the simplest of Jews. So that these simple Jews could grasp the concepts he was trying to impart, he would clothe the ideas in story form, stories which contained the most profound secrets of the esoteric.

The Mezritcher Maggid, successor to the Baal Shem Tov, used a different method to spread Chassidus. He did not dress the concepts in story form but spoke of them as they were. Chassidus in such a form, however, could be appreciated only by his intimate circle of disciples, and Torah greats.

The approach of the Alter Rebbe — the Mezritcher Maggid’s successor — and the following Rebbeim, was different again. The Alter Rebbe gave Chassidus an intellectual framework, enabling it to be understood rationally as well as mystically. Chassidus was now within the grasp of all Jews, not just saintly mystics who could appreciate it because of the loftiness of their souls or devoutness of their service.14 Thus from the time of the Alter Rebbe on, the number of Jews who studied Chassidus grew steadily, and the number of adherents to the Chassidic way of life increased mightily.

Dissemination of Chassidus to all

Yet certain constraints still remained. While the Chassidic way of life could be adopted by all Jews, the study of Chassidus remained limited to those whose intellectual capacity was capable of plumbing its depths. Moreover, there still remained two camps among Jews: Chassidim and non-Chassidim.

The Previous Rebbe refused to recognize any such distinctions. His approach was to deliver Chassidic discourses to all Jews, without limits or distinctions. He would speak Chassidus wherever he would be, whether a place of Chassidim or not. Moreover, the Previous Rebbe emphasized that even those Jews whose observance of mitzvos was not complete should learn Chassidus.

In this respect we find the Previous Rebbe’s approach very similar to the Baal Shem Tov’s. They both delivered Chassidic discourses in a form comprehensible to all, even to the simplest of Jews; and they both spread Chassidus to all categories of Jews, without limit. Other Rebbeim made the Chassidic way of life available to all. The Baal Shem Tov and the Previous Rebbe made also the teachings of Chassidus available to every Jew.

Open revelation of Chassidus

But there remains a cardinal difference between the Baal Shem Tov’s method and that of the Previous Rebbe. The Baal Shem Tov clothed Chassidus in stories, enabling the simple, unlettered Jew to understand them. And although these stories contained deep secrets, the simple Jews to whom they were addressed understood only the stories, not the secrets.

The Previous Rebbe did not clothe Chassidus in stories. His triumph was to deliver Chassidic concepts as they were — and yet still be understood by all Jews. He achieved this by explaining its lofty concepts in simple ideas and plain terms — but it was Chassidus, not Chassidus clothed in stories. Unlike the Baal Shem Tov’s listeners who heard only the story, the Previous Rebbe’s listeners heard the Chassidus; and understood at least something of its profundity.

The dissemination of Chassidus to the outside, it has been noted, is the preparation for Moshiach, who will come openly to all Jews. Thus the closer the time to Moshiach’s coming, the more open must the dissemination of Chassidus — the preparation to his coming — be to all Jews.

Medicine for the soul

Spreading of Chassidus on such a magnitude is explained by a famous parable given by the Alter Rebbe.15 A king’s son was critically ill. The only possible remedy, the doctors advised, was to administer a powder made by crushing a certain type of diamond. The only diamond that suited happened to be the chief gem in the royal crown. The king’s ministers were dubious about the propriety of destroying the crown — the symbol of the kingship — on the mere possibility that it could save the king’s son. The king, however, was overjoyed at the prospect that his son’s life might be saved and ordered the diamond crushed. But the son’s condition had worsened, and now he could not even open his lips to swallow. The ministers now thought the king would not destroy the diamond. But the king instead gave orders for the precious diamond to be crushed as quickly as possible and the medicine administered, being ready to squander the entire diamond in the hope that at least one drop would reach his son’s mouth — and perhaps save his life.

The son is the Jewish people. The sickness is the spiritual weakness of our people in exile. The diamond is Chassidus which normally is too precious to be used as “medicine.” But when the patient is critically ill there is no more time for hesitation. In the hope that some part will reach those who need it, Chassidus must be disseminated as liberally as possible, even if most will be squandered.

The Previous Rebbe took the most profound concepts in Chassidus and oversaw their translation from the holy tongue and Yiddish into many languages. He saw to it that the medicine be available to all Jews.

He thus made the last preparations to the true and complete redemption, which, the prophet says, will be such that, “As in the days of your going out from Egypt I will show wonders”16 — “with a high hand” and “b’reysh g’lei.”

Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, pp. 872-876