Shabbos Parshas Shelach, 28th Day of Sivan, 5746

This is the Shabbos on which the month of Tammuz is blessed. The unique nature of that month need not be explained to those assembled here for it is popularly referred to by chassidim as “the month of redemption,” commemorating the Previous Rebbe’s release from prison on Yud-Beis Tammuz.1

The Previous Rebbe’s release and subsequently, his departure from Russia and ultimately, his arrival in America which came as a result of that release, led to an increase in the “spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.” Thus, our efforts in the month of Tammuz must be concentrated on this undertaking — Yafutzu Mayonosecha Chutzah.

This phrase originates in the Tanach.2 It follows that each of its words, like those of any Biblical verse, contains unlimited significance. They each can provide us with significant lessons associated with Yud-Beis Tammuz, emphasizing how we can increase the dissemination of Chassidus in an unlimited manner.

A) Yafutzu — “Shall Spread”: This implies that the study of the teachings of Chassidus should spread, i.e., be disseminated broadly, in an unlimited manner, without any limits or constraints. For if there are any restrictions whatsoever, one cannot consider this as yafutzu — spreading — in the true sense.

There are two implications to the above approach:

a) The first involves the place where Chassidus is studied. The study of Chassidus must permeate every aspect of that place without leaving a single element whose nature remains unaffected.

2) The second involves the teachings which are being disseminated. One should not hold back any concept (even the most abstract and refined). Instead, every idea should be disseminated outward. One should not think that since the people “outside” are on a low level, only the lower, more basic aspects of Chassidus should be spread to them and the “higher,” more refined aspects should be regarded as too precious to be “spread outward.”

Were a person to think in these terms, his mode would be one of constraint and limitation. This is the direct opposite of Yafutzu. Instead, Chassidus has to be spread in an unbounded manner, even to the extent that it is “wasted.” In this vein, in the discourses of Basi LeGani, the Previous Rebbe refers to the metaphor of a king who opens his treasure houses and uses the most precious and most valuable articles that have been stored for generations to obtain the funds necessary to be victorious in battle.

B) Mayonosecha — “Your wellsprings”: This word emphasizes the unlimited quality that must be associated with the spreading of Chassidus for the very nature of a wellspring is unlimited.

This concept is illustrated by a law regarding the immersion of an impure substance. When an impure article is immersed in a wellspring, it regains ritual purity regardless of the quantity of water present.3

To explain: When an impure article is immersed in water that has become separated from its source, quantity is significant. Since the water has been separated from its source, its spiritual power has been weakened and it is necessary for a specific quantity to exist to compensate for that weakness. Hence, immersion cannot bring about ritual purity unless such a quantity is present. There are no such restrictions with regard to a wellspring. As long as it is connected with its source, it has unlimited power. Accordingly, the quantity of water is not significant.

This teaches that in addition to spreading even the “highest” aspects of Chassidus outward without any restrictions, we must reach inward — to our own “wellspings” — and involve our deepest spiritual powers. One must tap not only his “revealed powers,” the aspects of his soul that easily flow into conscious thought and feeling, but even, his “hidden soul powers,” the qualities connected to the essence of the soul. In this way, his efforts will transcend all limits and constraints.

C) Chutzah — “outward”: As mentioned above, the spreading of Chassidus must be carried out in an unlimited manner. This arouses a question.

A lack of limitation is only possible because of G‑d’s infinity; while, in contrast, the creations are limited.

Thus, Chassidus explains, the world of Beriah, the spiritual worlds below it, and how much more, our physical world, are characterized by limitation. Atzilus is a combination of two opposites — G‑d’s infinity and the concept of limitation4 — but the worlds below Atzilus are by nature limited.

Surely, this applies to a place which Torah itself describes as “outside,” beyond the limits of holiness. Its limitations are surely greater for it lacks a connection with G‑d’s holiness, the source for the quality of infinity. Nevertheless, since Chutzah is a word in the Tanach, like all other Torah concepts, it possesses an unlimited dimension.

The intent is that there are manifold levels that can be described as being “outside.” For with regard to the “wellsprings,” even the highest levels of holiness are “outside.” Then there are levels outside the realm of holiness, and in that context itself, very many levels, until one reaches the furthest extremes possible. The wellsprings of Chassidus can — and must — be spread to all of these levels. No matter how far removed one is, Chassidus must be extended to him.

The unlimited quality associated with the efforts of Yafutzu Mayonosecha Chutzah was given expression through the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz.

The Previous Rebbe’s source and roots were in Lubavitch, more generally, in the province of Moholiev (or Vitebsk) and, even more generally, in Russia as a whole. This is evident from the manner with which the Previous Rebbe cherished the Jews from that country. Nevertheless, from there, in connection with the events leading to and resulting from the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Previous Rebbe began a series of exiles from Lubavitch to Rostov until he was forced to leave that country and ultimately came to America, a place where the observance of Judaism was lacking — the “outer reaches” of Jewry in his time.

However, the intent of all these exiles was an elevation to a higher rung, indeed, to a rung so high that it could not be reached except through the process of these exiles. Each exile and descent brought about an increase in the dissemination of Chassidus until the greatest descent, coming to America, brought about an unlimited and unbounded increase in these activities.

This led to Yafutzu — unlimited and unbounded efforts — that tapped Mayonosecha — the essential qualities of the soul — and reached Chutzah — the furthest removed places. On a very simple level, we saw how through coming to America, the Previous Rebbe was granted the opportunity for abundance and peace of mind which he had never enjoyed previously. This gave him the potential to increase his dissemination of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus.

The Previous Rebbe’s personal experience relates to the concept of exile as a whole. The purpose of exile is to lead to a greater revelation. This is reflected in the Hebrew words used for those terms. The Hebrew word for exile golah resembles the Hebrew for redemption geulah except that it lacks an alef. Alef stands for G‑d, the “L‑rd (Alufo) of the world.” Drawing down the alef, generating the awareness of G‑d, transforms exile into redemption.

The relationship between exile גָלָה (golah) and revelation גִלָה (gilah), however, is even closer. There is no need even to add a letter. All that is necessary is to change the vowels. Thus even when the Alef of the redemption is still hidden in the exile, the exile itself can lead to greater revelation.

The above also relates to the portion of the Torah read this week, Parshas Shelach. Shelach means “send out”; a person is sent out of the physical — and even the spiritual — place that is his natural environment.

The command Shelach was associated with the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. In a personal sense, this parallels our efforts to — to quote the Tzemach Tzedek — “make Eretz Yisrael here,” i.e., make the place to which each one of us are sent an extension of Eretz Yisrael by spreading Torah.

This involves:

a) The manner in which the mission is carried out — an unbounded spread of activity as explained above regarding Yafutzu.

b) The source from which one is sent — it should involve the highest aspects of our spiritual potential — Mayonosecha; and,

c) the place to which one is sent — one must effect even the furthest removed places — Chutzah.

The Previous Rebbe was the Nasi (leader) of the generation. A Nasi exists for the people as G‑d told Moshe:5 “the only reason I endowed you with greatness is for the sake of Israel.” Accordingly, everything that happens to a Nasi relates to — and can be considered as existing for — every member of the generation.

Similarly, the increase in the service of Yafutzu Mayonosechoh Chutzah experienced by the Previous Rebbe in relation to Yud-Beis Tammuz relates to each and every individual. Everyone has to carry out the mission of Shelach in a manner of Yafutzu Mayonosechoh Chutzah as described above.

The Previous Rebbe himself expressed this point in the letter he sent regarding Yud-Beis Tammuz, stating “G‑d did not redeem me alone on Yud-Beis Tammuz, but rather, all those who hold the Torah dear, keep its mitzvos, and all those who merely bear the name Israel.” The Hebrew words for the latter phrase Kol Asher B’Shaim Yisrael Yichuneh imply a relation to a Jew whose Jewish identity is only a kinui, i.e. it is not the name he commonly uses, but rather one with which he is called on occasion. Nevertheless, he is a Jew and is affected by the Previous Rebbe’s redemption.6

May our service of Shelach and of Yafutzu Mayonosechoh Chutzah, which involves making our surroundings into Eretz Yisrael, lead to the era when we will all proceed to Eretz Yisrael in the literal sense. May we continue from the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz to the ultimate redemption led by Mashiach. And may this all occur speedily, in our days.

Sichos Shabbos Parshas Shelach, 28th Day of Sivan, 5749

This Shabbos is the 28th (כ"ח) of Sivan. The word כח means “power,” and thus, today is associated with the “power of Sivan.” Sivan, the third month, is distinguished by the giving of the Torah. The 28th of Sivan thus expresses the “the power of Torah.”

The 28th of Sivan falls within three days of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, the fourth month. One of the distinctions between the third and the fourth months is that the third month is associated with drawing down influence from above, while the fourth month is associated with the service of the lower realm on its own initiative. This concept is also reflected by the names of the Hebrew letters, gimmel and dalet, associated with the numbers three and four. Our Sages7 interpret these names as relating to the phrase gomail dallim, “show kindness to the poor.” Gimmel, three, is associated with “showing kindness,” the mashpia, generating influence. Dalet, four, represents the recipient and his efforts to advance on his own initiative.

Making such an advance requires additional empowerment from G‑d. This power is granted on the 28th (כ"ח) of Sivan, the day which expresses “the power of Sivan,” the power of Torah, and prepares us for the service of the month of Tammuz. כ"ח Sivan endows us with the strength to make such advances, not only with regard to the service of Torah and its mitzvos which we were commanded to fulfill, but also in those areas of our conduct where we have no specific command from G‑d to guide us.

This concepts shares a connection to the central topic of this week’s Torah reading, the sending of the spies. The interrelation of these concepts is further emphasized by our Sages’ statement8 that the spies were sent out on the 29th of Sivan. After receiving the power to serve G‑d on one’s own initiative on the 28th of Sivan, Moshe sent the spies on their mission.

To explain: Noting that the Torah states,9 שלח לך — “You send,” Rashi comments that G‑d did not order Moshe to send the spies. Instead, the Jews came to Moshe and requested that spies be sent. Moshe consulted G‑d, who consented to such a possibility, but left the decision up to Moshe.

This represents a departure from the established precedent. Previously, Moshe had consulted G‑d regarding several matters suggested by the Jews, e.g., the offering of the second Paschal sacrifice, the offering of the sacrifices of the princes. In all these instances, he did not act until he received specific instructions from G‑d. If so, why in this instance did he decide to send the spies? The fact that he did not receive explicit instructions from G‑d should have raised doubts in his mind. Moreover, since G‑d had already promised the Jews that Eretz Yisrael was a good land and ordered them to enter it immediately, why was it necessary to send spies? Sending them opened up the possibility — as ultimately transpired — for the Jews to err and not to desire to enter Eretz Yisrael.

Furthermore, we find that Moshe, himself, had doubts about the success of the mission and prayed for Yehoshua, “May G‑d save you from the counsel of the spies.”10 Despite the fact that at the outset the people he chose for the mission were righteous and leaders of the people, he, nevertheless, felt it necessary to pray on behalf of Yehoshua. If so, why did he send the spies?

The concept can be explained as follows: By leaving the matter up to Moshe’s choice, G‑d opened up a new realm of service, the possibility of serving Him even when no direct command is involved. A person must decide how to behave, hoping that he is acting in a manner where his individual will reflects G‑d’s will despite the fact that G‑d has not given him any explicit instructions.

To elaborate: There are two types of service of G‑d:

a) The fulfillment of His commands. This reflects the nullification of our minds and wills to carry out His desires. To quote Pirkei Avos:11 “Negate your will before His.”

b) Service in the realm of reshus, the realm of conduct where there are no explicit Divine commands. There a person’s service involves working on his mind and his will until they reflect G‑d’s will. To refer to the above mishnah: “Make your will as His will.”

The fulfillment of the latter service requires the granting of special Divine empowerment, the potential of free choice. As Rambam writes:12

Freedom of choice is granted to every man. If he desires to tend to a positive path..., the potential is his... There is nothing holding him back... This concept is a fundamental principle. It is a pillar of the Torah and mitzvos.

Though we also have free choice whether to fulfill mitzvos or not, the very fact that G‑d has commanded us to perform these acts influences our choice since, by nature, every Jew desires to fulfill G‑d’s will. It is in the areas where there is no explicit command and yet man chooses to do good, that our potential for choice is expressed in the most complete manner.

In particular, the potential to choose is twofold: a) The very potential to choose, the ability to act independently, is itself a unique power. The natural state of creation precludes that man be under the dominion of his Creator. It is only because of G‑d’s gift that he has the potential to choose. b) G‑d grants choice through the Torah’s command, “And you shall choose life.” This implies that G‑d gives us the potential to choose good even when this runs contrary to his natural tendencies and habits.

Both of these aspects are more clearly expressed in those areas where there is no explicit Divine command. When there is a Divine command to fulfill a particular mitzvah, man’s choice is influenced and his fulfillment of the command is aided by the infinite power of the Commander. However, in those areas where there is no explicit command, man has a challenge, to use his own limited potential to make the correct choice. We are taught that even in these areas, he is granted the potential to mold his thought and desires to match G‑d’s will.

Based on the above, we can understand why Moshe sent the spies: When G‑d did not tell Moshe whether or not to send the spies, Moshe rejoiced at the opportunity to act with free choice, without being “forced” by G‑d’s command.13 He was happy to be given the chance for man’s own free will to parallel G‑d’s desires.

On this basis, we can also understand why it was this matter — sending the spies — that G‑d left to the Jews’ free choice. Sending the spies was a preparatory step for the entry into Eretz Yisrael. The settlement of Eretz Yisrael was the ultimate goal of the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah, for it allows for the establishment of a dwelling for G‑d in the lower worlds.14 For this reason, the manner in which the Jews approached the conquest of Eretz Yisrael was intended to be carried out in a natural manner, through war. Hence, it was appropriate to follow the natural course of behavior that any army would take when approaching a foreign land, sending spies. In keeping with this entire motif, G‑d left the decision to send spies to the Moshe and the Jewish people.

The spies, however, made one mistake. They interpreted their mission as also leaving the decision whether or not to enter into Eretz Yisrael up to man’s discretion.15 This error, redefining and deviating from the mission that Moshe gave them, caused their journey to be ill-fated. However, at the outset, their mission was intended to assist in the transformation of Eretz Yisrael into a dwelling place for G‑d.16

The empowerment which Sivan generates extends beyond the potential to choose to carry out G‑d’s will on one’s own initiative. Even when man makes a wrong choice and deviates from G‑d’s will, he is granted the potential to correct his undesirable choice and transform it into a positive influence.

This is expressed by Moshe’s prayer for forgiveness and atonement after the sins of the spies:17 “And now, may the power of G‑d be increased” which is associated with the concept of teshuvah. The service of teshuvah reflects man’s potential to serve G‑d on his own initiative in an even deeper manner than the concept of free choice. For a baal teshuvah must transform his heart and break through the barriers created by his negative deeds. And since on a revealed level, he has severed his connection with G‑d, he must begin these efforts on his own initiative.

This requires an “increase” in “the power of G‑d,” i.e., one must tap a level of G‑dliness that transcends the Torah. Nevertheless, the Torah also reveals the existence of this level and it is the power of Sivan, the power of the Torah, which makes this potential accessible to us. For, as is well known,18 it was when Moshe ascended to receive the Torah that he became conscious of the potential for teshuvah. Thusthe28th of Sivan grants potential, not only for the service of free choice in a desired manner, Moshe’s intent in sending the spies, but alsoto correct and transform the consequences of making an undesirable choice through teshuvah.

The concept of transformation is emphasized by the coming month, the month of Tammuz. Indeed, the very use of the name, Tammuz, as the name of a Jewish month, reflects a transformation since the name is derived from that of a Mesopotamian deity.19 This concept is also underscored by the fact that this month contains one of the four communal fasts which the Rambam explains will ultimately “be transformed into festivals and days of rejoicing.”20

The awareness of this concept is more powerful in the present age after we have witnessed the redemption of the Previous Rebbe on Yud-Beis Tammuz. This redemption is a taste of how ultimately the entire month, including the 17th of Tammuz, will be transformed into “a month of redemption.”

The redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz also relates to the 28th of Sivan. One of the results of the Previous Rebbe’s redemption was his coming and settling in America. America was referred to as “the lower half of the world,” a place where, according to our Rabbis,21 “the Torah was not given.” Thus, bringing the Torah to America is associated with service on our initiative, drawing the Torah into the lowest levels of our world.

That service was given added power on the 28th of Sivan22 when the Previous Rebbe injected new energy into the efforts of spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidus by founding the institutions, Machne Israel, Kehot and Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. The activities of these institutions have continued even after his passing and receive new energy this year, the fortieth year following that event.

The above concepts must be brought down into deed, for “deed is most essential.” The 28th of Sivan should be set aside for a day of farbrengens. (Indeed, we have seen the positive results of these farbrengens for more than three consecutive years.) These efforts should inspire us to apply more effort in the mission with which we were charged by the Previous Rebbe, spreading Yiddishkeit and spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. May these activities hasten Mashiach’s coming and may he arrive immediately, without any delay at all.