1. An Opening Maamar. [After1 directing that a niggun be sung, the Rebbe delivered the maamar beginning with the words HaYosheves BaGanim, which he later edited for publication.2 ]


2. Secret Copies by the Rebbitzin. The saintly Rebbitzin [Shterna Sarah],whose yahrzeit falls today, was one of those who used to make manuscript copies of the writings of [her father-in-law,] the Rebbe Maharash.3

The Rebbe Maharash was highly organized: his daily schedule was known in detail, including the times at which he would leave the house to go for a drive. At those times [family members] would steal into his study, after having appointed a watchman to notify them of his impending return, and would copy manuscripts of chassidic teachings. Many discourses were written in this way — and one of their copyists was the Rebbitzin.

In the files of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], the copies which [his mother] had made of the writings of the Rebbe Maharash were placed together with the accounts which [his father] the Rebbe Rashab had made of the maamarim4 delivered by the Rebbe Maharash.

3. Not Master of My Own House?! My revered father-in-law once recounted that he used to do the same with the writings of his father, the Rebbe [Rashab].

One day his father caught him in the act, and said: “So am I no longer master even of my own house?!”

Heartbroken by these words, my revered father-in-law asked for a way to rectify the matter. Some time later his father allowed him access to his manuscripts, and from that time on, before leaving on a journey, he would entrust him with the keys to his bookcases.5

4. The Price of Torah is Self-Sacrifice. Now this is problematic. The Rebbe Maharash probably assumed, and perhaps also clearly knew, that his manuscripts were being copied in his absence. After all, he knew [his son, the Rebbe Rashab], and his passion for manuscripts of Chassidus. Either way, then: If he did not want the discourses to be copied, he could have rendered that impossible; and if he did not mind that they were being copied, he could have given his permission. Why, then, did they have to be copied in this way?

The same question applies to the manuscripts of the Rebbe [Rashab] which were copied by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz]: why did this have to be done in this way, without permission?

An explanation may be found in the second maamar [which the Rebbe Rayatz] delivered after the series of maamarim which were delivered on Rosh HaShanah in the year 5694 [1933] and which were published with the approach of Rosh HaShanah this year. That second maamar, dating from Shabbos Parshas Vayishlach, begins with the words,6 VaYomer... Yisrael Yihyeh Shmecha.7

There it is explained why the blessings which Yitzchak gave Yaakov had to be secured by guile (that is,8 “by the wisdom of his Torah learning,” but in a way which is called “guile”), as it is written,9 “Your brother came with guile and took your blessing.” The reason: It was due to guile that the sparks of holiness fell into the nether world as a result of [Adam’s] sin with the Tree of Knowledge, as it is written,10 “The serpent was cunning.” Hence it was through guile that those sparks had to be elevated by Yaakov (whom the Sages liken to Adam11 ), who takes the blessings from Eisav; as it is written,12 “With the perverse, [be] wily.”

In this connection, Rivkah’s words to Yaakov, when she advises him to secure his father’s blessings with guile, call for explanation. She reassures him that if the blessing transpires (G‑d forbid) to be a curse, she takes it upon herself:13 “Let your curse be upon me, my son.” Now, what kind of consolation is that? Any son, and especially a son like Yaakov, is concerned for his mother’s welfare — yet we see that Yaakov was reassured by his mother’s answer!

The solution in brief: When a desired gift — likewise the spiritual level from which it is to be secured — transcends the giver’s reason14 and choice and will, the recipient must likewise be equipped with an appropriate vessel. That vessel cannot be reason, but a stance of self-sacrifice, a willingness to place himself at risk.

This concept allows us to understand Rivkah’s reassurance, “Let your curse be upon me, my son.” She was prepared even for self-sacrifice. Indeed, self-sacrifice was indispensable for this acquisition: it could be secured only through self-sacrifice, and not by any considerations of reason. Moreover, Rivkah’s answer elicited an approach of self-sacrifice in Yaakov, too.

This principle applies to the acquisition of Torah learning in general,15 and especially to the acquisition of the pnimiyus of the Torah, its innermost dimension. This we see in the above incidents involving the copying of chassidic manuscripts. There is a mode of acquisition that can be reached through guile stemming from holiness, without the knowledge of the giver, and through self-sacrifice on the part of the recipient16 — for example, by risking a stern reaction on the part of his Rebbe.

5. A Leap of Holy Folly. The concept that guile can enable a person to scale lofty heights is explained by my revered father-in-law in the maamar that was published on the eve of his passing.17 What is required is that one should transform the spirit of folly that derives from the unholy side of the universe to a holy spirit of folly.18 This transformation empowers one to attain a loftier spiritual level than could be attained through avodah guided by reason. This is the holy spirit of folly that surpasses holy reason.19

In this light we can understand the statement of my revered father-in-law in the above maamar20 on the teaching that21 “the essence of the Divine Presence was apparent in this lowly world.” He explains there that “Divinity was primarily revealed in the Beis HaMikdash,” and adds, “as it is written,22 ‘And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell within them.’ [Significantly,]23 the last word of the verse is not [as expected] בתוכו [which would mean within it],but בתוכם [which means within them] — [for24 G‑d craves a dwelling place] within every individual Jew.”

Now this is problematic. The indwelling of the Divine Presence in the souls of the Jewish people serves here to testify (“as it is written...”) to the indwelling of the Divine Presence in the world. Now, the souls of the Jewish people are themselves Divinity — Elokus that has become a yesh, an existent entity.25 Since they are Elokus, how can the indwelling of the Divine Presence in them serve to testify to the indwelling of the Divine Presence in the world?

The converse is also problematic. Why should the command to “make Me a sanctuary” be a prerequisite to having the Divine Presence “dwell within them — within every individual Jew”? After all,26 “the soul which You have placed within me is pure”; moreover,27 “You are sons unto the L‑rd your G‑d,” and similarly many other verses. Surely this connection should suffice for G‑d to “dwell within them.” Why, then, should there first be a need to “make Me a sanctuary”?

To explain: When the soul undertakes its spiritual tasks in its standard mode, that avodah is governed by reason. By contrast, avodah in a mode of self-sacrifice — avodah fuelled by a holy spirit of folly — is sparked only by the obscuring veils of the world, the body and the animal soul. Therefore, the prerequisite for having the Divine Presence “dwell within them” — the essence of the Divine Presence and not merely an irradiation of it — is that “they shall make Me a sanctuary.” In its context, this phrase refers to the28 “sanctuary which is called Mishkan,” the Tabernacle. This was built of beams of29 “acacia wood, standing upright.” [The Hebrew word for acacia is שטים, which is related to שטות.] The acacia wood thus hints at shtus dileumas-zeh, the folly that stems from the unholy side of creation, which (as explained in the maamar30 ) is transformedinto shtus dikedushah, thefolly motivated by holiness.And these acacia beams stand upright, for they are pillars that connect the infinite Ein-Sof light with the lower worlds.31


6. Names are Potent. At the wedding,32 my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], said33 that the wedding celebration of every Jewish couple is attended by the souls of their forebears from the World of Truth, souls from as far back as three generations — and there are some couples whose weddings are attended by souls from further and yet further back. At that point my father-in-law enumerated all the Rebbeim, all the way back to the Alter Rebbe.

Since at that time he did not mention any generations before that, in the maamar delivered on Yud Shvat34 I mentioned by name only the Rebbeim as far back as the Alter Rebbe. I’m afraid to intrude. Besides, why intrude? After all, the Rebbe did not mention any more.

Nevertheless, it did disturb me. So today, Yud-Gimmel Shvat, which is a continuation of Yud Shvat — as is emphasized by the fact that the maamar [of 5710] beginning HaYosheves BaGanim of Yud-Gimmel Shvat is continuous with the maamar beginning Basi LeGani of Yud Shvat [5710] — I mentioned by name all the Rebbeim back to the Baal Shem Tov.

The concept of mentioning the Rebbeim by name is related to the well-known teaching35 that if a person is genuinely distressed by his limited understanding or ignorance of the words of the Sages, uttering the Sages’ names out of heartfelt yearning will stand him in good stead. So, too, we find that in the Beis HaMikdash, dawn was heralded for the beginning of the day’s service by the announcement, “The entire eastern sky is lit up, all the way to those who are in Hebron.” This allusion to the merit of the Patriarchs serves as a reminder and a catalyst.36


7. Heavenward in a Storm. As is well known, the Baal Shem Tov said37 [before his passing] that he was able to leave this world by “ascending Heavenward in a storm,”38 like Eliyahu HaNavi — but he wanted to personally realize the message of the verse, “For dust you are, and to dust shall you return.”39

One might well ask: If there is positive value in returning to dust, how is it possible that Eliyahu HaNavi was lacking that manner of perfection?

The answer is that any being attains its perfect self-fulfillment by realizing its own role, by completing its distinctive task. Eliyahu HaNavi, therefore, in light of his lifework, had to ascend Heavenward in a storm; the Baal Shem Tov, in light of his lifework, had to proceed along the path of the verse, “To dust you shall return.” And in this lay his perfect self-fulfillment.

* * *

8. A Body in Time of Need. Here is one way in which this concept may be understood.

The lifework of Eliyahu HaNavi40 is toattendcircumcisions, to attend the Seder on Pesach eve, to save Rav Hamnuna Sava.41

When Eliyahu HaNavi visits a circumcision or a Seder, he is not vested in a body; when he appeared in order to save Rav Hamnuna Sava, however, out of respect for him he invested himself in a body. This explains42 why he was unable to attend the scholarly assembly43 presided over by Rashbi becausehe was engaged in saving Rav Hamnuna Sava. Now, Eliyahu appears at numerous circumcisions at the same time, and visits the Seder of every Jewish household at the same time — so why should the assembly of Rashbi be different? The difference is that at circumcisions [and at Seder celebrations] he appears without a body. Only a spark of his soul appears, and that is why he is able to be in many places simultaneously. In honor of tzaddikim, however, he appears in his body, in his entire essence, and that is why he cannot be in two places at the same time.

Another task of Eliyahu is to convey messages to sages. And, last but not least, before the arrival of Mashiach he will appear in order to bring the hearts of our people close to the service of G‑d, and in order to herald the coming of Mashiach.44 On this mission, too, he will appear vested in his body. This is evident from the discussion in the Gemara45 which connects his arrival with the laws that limit the crossing of certain spatial bounds on Shabbos.

That is why Eliyahu had to ascend, with his body, Heavenward in a storm — so that his body would remain intact, in the World of Yetzirah.46 Thus, when the need arises, he vests himself once again in his body and appears in this world below. And in this lies his perfect self-fulfillment.

9. Arousing a Fainting Soul. As to the lifework of the Baal Shem Tov: It is well known47 that in the era in which the Baal Shem was born, our people — Bnei Yisrael — were languishing in a faint. From this they were aroused by the newly-descended soul of the Baal Shem Tov, whose name was Yisrael, just as people arouse a man who has fainted by whispering his name in his ear.

A few years ago, when my revered father-in-law was once asked to intercede on behalf of a woman in a serious state who had been unconscious for a long time, he directed that his name should be whispered in her ear. This was done. She regained consciousness, and in due course recovered fully.48

Now, one might well ask: How is the Rebbe’s name related to that woman, to the point that whispering it in her ear should help her?

The explanation is as follows. People are aroused from a faint when called by name because at such a time the “particular vitality”49 of their soul is absent, though the “comprehensive vitality”50 remains. Calling a person by name has the power to evoke his “comprehensive vitality,” arousing it and making it manifest.51 Hence, when even the “comprehensive vitality” of an ailing individual is deficient, whispering the name of the Rebbe — whose soul is a comprehensive soul52 — draws vitality even into that individual’s “comprehensive vitality” which, relative to the Rebbe’s comprehensive soul, is only one particular component.

This is why the Jewish people were aroused from their faint by the descent of the Baal Shem Tov’s soul — the comprehensive soul of all the Children of Israel.

The lifework of the Baal Shem Tov was to arouse all the Children of Israel, including also the least meritorious and the most lightminded; to reach out to individuals at the very lowliest levels; and to arouse and connect them, too, to the Holy One, blessed be He — to the very Essence of the Infinite One. Since this was his lifework, it was his obligation — and accordingly, it was also his desire — to fulfill the command, “and to dust you shall return.”

Such was the lifework of the Baal Shem Tov. It is thus obvious that precisely in this lies his perfect self-fulfillment.

10. Hold on Tight to the Rebbe’s Doorhandle. What can we learn from the above concepts in terms of avodah, especially for ourselves?

Our task is — not to chase desperately after great and wondrous attainments (even if one were to be certain exactly what constitutes great and wondrous attainments...). The reason: If such a goal is not a person’s lifetask and his specific mission in this world, then firstly, it is most doubtful whether he will attain it; and secondly, of what use are spectacular attainments if one does not fulfill the mission that Divine Providence has charged him with? In plain language: Of what use are spectacular attainments (and what manner of attainments are these anyway!) if one does not fulfill the command of G‑d, as relayed by the tzaddikim who are His servants, concerning his avodah and his other activities?

This, then, is the practical conclusion for us: When the Rebbe [Rayatz] charges someone with a mission, with a shlichus that consists of a defined task, then even if it appears to that individual that he was created for loftier things and even if he fancies that he has the requisite talents, he should realize that this is not his path; this path will not lead him to his self-fulfillment, and hopefully it will not lead him (G‑d forbid) to the opposite.

Instead, let him “hold on tight to the [Rebbe’s] doorhandle”;53 let him walk “in a straight path, in one of his paths that he has shown us.”54 This will benefit him in this world and in the next.


11. Resurrection Before the Resurrection. I have been asked: Howcan I say that we will soon witness the fulfillment of the prophecy that “those who repose in the dust will awaken and sing joyful praises”55 and that my revered father-in-law will be among them, and that he will lead us out of exile? After all, people ask, the sequence of events (as is also cited in the teachings of Chassidus). See Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, letter #200, Vol. 2, p. 71, and sources listed there (and in Eng. translation: To Live and Live Again (Sichos In English, N.Y., 1995), p. 141ff.). is that first there will be the coming of Mashiach and the Days of Mashiach, and only after some time will the Resurrection take place.

The answer is that in general terms the sequence is:232 the coming of Mashiach, the building of the Beis HaMikdash, the Ingathering of the Exiles, and the Resurrection of the Dead. Nevertheless, certain individuals have been and will be resurrected before that time, too — as in a number of well-known accounts in the Gemara and in the Midrashim, and accounts of tzaddikim who resurrected the dead. In the words of the Sages,56 “The least among you can resurrect the dead.”


12. Teshuvah: A Change of Direction. [At the end of the farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke of teshuvah. Regrettably, no full account of these two segments of the farbrengen was committed to writing after Shabbos — only a summary, which is translated below.]

Teshuvah is not only confession. Rather, its core is the soul’s self-nullification vis-à-vis its Root and Source, as it is written,57 “And the spirit shall return to G‑d.”

Thus the Zohar58 teaches that one can do teshuvah “in one moment.” [The phrase in the original Aramaicis בשעתא חדא,which is reminiscent of the Hebrew root שעה, meaning “to turn.”59 The original phrase can thus be understood as intimating that] teshuvah can be accomplished “by one about-turn” — by a single change of direction.

If so, this is permitted and possible and obligatory on Shabbos, too. Indeed,60 the word Shabbos שבת)) shares the same letters as תשב (“you will return”).61

Disencumbering oneself of one’s mundane affairs by moving in an upward direction is no workaday activity,62 and is therefore possible on Shabbos.63

13. Teshuvah: Lively Toil. As said above, teshuvah can be done “in one moment,” and it could be that only minor oddments64 still need attention. But even then, that limited activity should be done with alacrity.65 This is the opposite of melancholy, and is attained by being joyful.

Alacrity is required with regard to all three interpretations of the term tzavaצבא) ) that are discussed in the maamar that was released for publication on the date of the passing [of the Rebbe Rayatz].66

Since our Rebbeim [in the World Above] demand that we do this, they themselves are no doubt also fulfilling their role as our Rebbeim and leaders — by analogy with the verse,67 “He tells His words to Yaakov,” [on which the Sages comment: “That which He Himself does, He commands Israel to do”].68

This is the help that they give us in our avodah, our Divine service, so that it should proceed along a straight path. I don’t know if we should add “and easily,” because avodah literally means “work,” and is intended to require exertion, not to be handed to us readymade. What we can ask is that our avodah should proceed without obstacles arising from the self-concealment of the Divine Countenance, and that it should be blessed with success.