1. Since the Torah is a guide to our actual conduct in our lives at present, it follows that there is a connection between this week’s Torah reading, Parshas Vayeira, and the day of the month on which this Torah portion is read, the 18th of Kislev. Furthermore, since we are within three days of the 20th of Cheshvan, the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, there is also a connection between this Torah reading and that day.

The latter point can be understood within the context of the well-known story concerning the Rebbe Rashab and the Tzemach Tzedek. When the Rebbe Rashab was four or five years old, he was taken to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, for a birthday blessing. When he entered his grandfather’s room, he began to cry.

After calming him, his grandfather enquired about the reason for his tears. The child responded, “In cheder, we learned that G‑d revealed Himself to Avraham our forefather. Why does He not reveal Himself to me?”

The Tzemach Tzedek answered him, “When a Jew (according to an alternate version, ‘a tzaddik’) who is ninety-nine years old recognizes that he must undergo [the spiritual service of] circumcision, he is worthy for G‑d to reveal Himself to him.”

This story emphasizes that man must earn the revelation of G‑dliness through his service. Even most tzaddikim are not worthy of such a revelation.1 When, however, a tzaddik has carried out his service for ninety-nine years and realizes that he must still circumcise himself, then, he is worthy of G‑d’s revelation.

Based on this explanation, the question arises: Since the revelation of G‑dliness is dependent on such elevated service, how is this story relevant to every Jew, to individuals who are far below the rung of tzaddik?

The resolution to this question is related to the concept that G‑d’s revelation to Avraham was associated with the circumcision. Although G‑d had revealed Himself to Avraham previously, the revelation Avraham experienced after the circumcision was much greater. The difference was twofold: Firstly, a higher level of G‑dliness was revealed to him and secondly, he was a more receptive vessel for the revelation and it could be internalized to a greater extent.

(Both these concepts are alluded in the verse which relates that Avraham “was sitting in the heat of the day.” The “heat” refers to an intense revelation of G‑dliness as reflected in the verse “Like the sun and its shield are Havayah and Elokim.”2 Avraham’s “sitting,” implies that the revelation was received and internalized in “a settled manner.”)

These two concepts are intrinsically related to the nature of the mitzvah of circumcision. On one hand, circumcision is above all the mitzvos of the Torah as the Rambam writes, “Three covenants were established in connection with all the mitzvos of the Torah.... In regard to circumcision, by contrast, thirteen covenants were established.” Simultaneously, the mitzvah of circumcision affects the lowest aspects of our being, even our physical bodies, establishing “an eternal covenant3 in your flesh.” Furthermore, the mitzvah of circumcision is associated with the Jews’ taking possession of Eretz Yisrael,4 i.e., expressing our relationship with G‑d in the world at large.

These two dimensions of the mitzvah of circumcision are interrelated. It is through drawing the influence into the lowest levels of material existence that the ultimately transcendent spiritual nature of its source is revealed. To explain: The ultimate purpose for the creation of this world is that G‑d desired to have a dwelling in the lower worlds.

This implies that, not only will the revelation of G‑dliness be extended from the spiritual realms into our material world, but that the most essential revelations will be in this world. This is implied by the term “dwelling.” Just as a person reveals his most essential qualities in his own home, so too, the essential dimension of G‑dliness will be revealed in this material world.5

This concept is reflected in the verse, “The heavens and the celestial heights cannot contain You, but this house.” I.e., the “heavens and the celestial heights” — the spiritual realms — cannot contain G‑d’s essence and yet, in “this house” — the Beis HaMikdash in this material6 world — His essence will rest.

Thus the revelation of Havayah associated with the circumcision relates to each and every Jew. (We find this concept in halachah. If, for certain reasons, a circumcision could not be performed for a Jew, our Sages still deem him as “circumcised.” Similarly, “a woman is as if she has been circumcised,” i.e., she also possesses the spiritual dimension of circumcision.)

And it is at the time of circumcision, that the soul of holiness, the G‑dly soul which is “truly a part of G‑d,” a reflection of His essence, enclothes itself in one’s body. Thus, for each person, the circumcision represents the time when “G‑d revealed Himself to him.” Furthermore, this revelation permeates his physical body. Accordingly, even though outwardly, a Jew’s body resembles that of a non-Jew, in truth, its life-energy is derived from the soul. Thus even the physical body of a Jew is holy.

The connection between the revelation of G‑d and the entry of the soul in the body at the time of circumcision is reflected even in a child’s life. Firstly, a child has a direct appreciation of G‑dliness, to quote Torah Or: “[The essence of G‑d’s] light is in revelation. Therefore, even infants know that G‑d exists.” Furthermore, children have a unique manner of relating to G‑d and thus we find a great sage saying, “I pray with the intention of a child.”7

Moreover, children understand that the awareness of G‑d has to be connected with physical entities. Thus they understand of the importance of reciting blessings, thanking G‑d for the food that they eat. Similarly, we see that children have a unique attraction to a mezuzah, and kiss it eagerly several times a day. Also, through having a tzedakah pushkah and holy Jewish texts in their rooms, they transform their room — and the entire house — to a “sanctuary in microcosm.”

And from the mezuzah, one proceeds from one’s house to the world at large as the Rambam writes, “Whenever one enters or departs, one will confront the unity of G‑d’s Name.” This will inspire a person to enhance his service of “Making this place Eretz Yisrael,” i.e., transforming the world into a dwelling for Him.

Based on the above, we can understand why the Rebbe Rashab cried for the revelation of G‑dliness. In essence, that revelation is already present. What is lacking — and therefore, necessary — is merely that a person appreciate and become aware of that revelation.

To explain: Through circumcision, the G‑dly soul has established a connection with the person’s body, allowing him to appreciate G‑dliness within the context of his material environment. What was unique about Avraham was that he actually saw G‑dliness in an open and manifest way. This is what the Rebbe Rashab desired, not only to have the essential connection with G‑dliness established by the soul through circumcision, but rather that G‑d should reveal Himself to him, openly and manifestly, as He did to Avraham.

In this context, we can appreciate why the Rebbe Rashab described Avraham as “our forefather.” For our forefathers have transmitted to us, their descendants, their entire spiritual heritage. Hence, the Rebbe Rashab desired that this dimension as well, the direct revelation of G‑dliness also be granted to him.

The Tzemach Tzedek answered that for a person to receive a direct revelation of G‑dliness, he must merit it through his actual deeds. When a person serves G‑d for ninety-nine years, and then realizes that he requires to undergo circumcision, he is worthy of a manifest revelation.

This produces a lesson for every individual, when he reads that G‑d revealed Himself “to him,” he must realize that “to him” does not mean only to Avraham, but “to him,” to his own self. Since he is a descendant of Avraham and has entered into “the covenant of Avraham” through circumcision, G‑d reveals Himself to him. This should arouse in him a desire to actually see that revelation. And indeed, as can be derived from the story concerning the Rebbe Rashab, even a young child can desire such a revelation. Moreover, that desire can be so powerful that it motivates him to cry.

Similarly, this desire should be powerful enough to motivate every individual to carry out his service in causing G‑dliness to permeate every aspect of his being and all dimensions of his portion in the world at large. In this manner, he will make himself a vessel worthy of Divine revelation and indeed, cause that revelation to permeate the entire world, making the world a dwelling for Him.

On the basis of the above, we can appreciate the connection to the present date, the eighteenth of Cheshvan. Eighteen is the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew chai (חי), meaning “life.” For a Jew, life refers to the expression of the G‑dly soul. Cheshvan, by contrast, reflects our service within the context of material reality, for in contrast to the month of Tishrei, Cheshvan is a month without holidays. This indicates an emphasis on the service of refining the world within its natural limits. Thus Chai Cheshvan refers to the union of the soul with the body, the same concept alluded to through the mitzvah of circumcision.

2. There is a connection between the above and the twentieth of Cheshvan, the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab. Twenty is the numerical equivalent of the letter chof which is associated with the level of Kesser which transcends all of the Sefiros. The revelation of G‑dliness within the context of material reality mentioned above is connected with the revelation of the level of Kesser.

Significantly, the Rebbe Rashab’s service centered on bringing about the revelation of G‑dliness in the world, not only for himself, but for others as well. This is reflected in his founding of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, a Yeshivah which put the emphasis on the study, not only of Nigleh, the revealed realm of Torah law, but Pnimiyus HaTorah, Torah’s mystical dimensions. Furthermore, the two were not seen as separate disciplines, but rather as different aspects of G‑d’s perfect (temimah) Torah.

This approach allows one to comprehend Pnimiyus HaTorah with a sound intellectual framework, for there to be a revelation of G‑dliness apparent to the “eye of the mind.” Furthermore, this will serve as a preparation for the ultimate revelation of G‑dliness that will take place in the Era of the Redemption. This was also emphasized by the Rebbe Rashab in the founding of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, for he stressed that the students are to serve as “soldiers of the House of David” whose task is to hasten the coming of Mashiach.

In the renowned sichah which focuses on this subject,8 the Rebbe Rashab speaks of the conflict with “those who scorned the footsteps of Your anointed (Ikvos Meshichecha).” This phrase is contained in Psalm 89. Significantly, we have completed the service associated with that psalm and are in the midst of the service associated with Psalm 90. The latter service is emphasized by the conclusion of the psalm, “May the pleasantness of G‑d our L‑rd be upon us, establish for us the work of our hands.” This verse is associated with the revelation of G‑dliness in the Beis HaMikdash, and more particularly, in the Third Beis HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands.”

Furthermore, the Previous Rebbe has informed us that all the service necessary to bring about the Redemption has been completed. This is particularly true after forty years9 have passed since the Previous Rebbe’s death in which the “soldiers of the House of David” have spread the wellsprings of Chassidus outward to new frontiers.

Additional influence is also contributed by the present year, a year of “wonders10 in all things.” And these wonders will also include the wonders that will accompany the Redemption as it is written, “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”

{The Rebbe Shlita also spoke explicitly about several concepts associated with Mashiach and the Redemption. These were published in a separate essay entitled, “Mashiach in Every Generation.”}