1. On this Shabbos, Shabbos Parshas Toldos, the International Conference of Shluchim begins. This conference will continue in the days of the coming week, the week associated with Parshas Vayeitzei.

Both these Torah portions — the portions with which we are instructed to “live” in these weeks — are associated with the concept of shlichus. The conclusion of Parshas Toldos relates how “Yitzchok sent Yaakov,” and Parshas Vayeitzei begins relating how Yaakov accepted this mission, “And Yaakov left Be’er Sheva and journeyed to Charan.

Our Sages teach, “The deeds of the Patriarchs are a sign for their descendants.” Thus, from the Torah’s description of Yaakov’s mission, we can surely derive a lesson regarding the mission of each Jew in the world, and in particular, a lesson which is relevant to the International Conference of Shluchim.

Yaakov’s journey from Be’er Sheva to Charan involved a great descent, to leave Eretz Yisrael and go to Charan, a place associated with “the wrath of G‑d.” It involved dealings with Lavan, a deceitful person, and several undesirable aspects. On the surface, Yaakov should have protested, refusing to leave Eretz Yisrael. Since he was a tzaddik — and “when a tzaddik decrees, G‑d fulfills” — his protest surely would have achieved its desired result.

Although his father Yitzchok1 sent him on this journey with a specific intent, to find a wife, there are many ways in which this intent could have been accomplished without Yaakov going to Charan. Indeed, Yitzchok himself found a wife from Charan without going there. Instead, his father sent his servant Eliezar who chose a wife for him. Similarly, in Yaakov’s case, there could have been a way for Yaakov to find a wife without having to leave Eretz Yisrael.

This indicates that Yaakov’s journey to Charan had a more general intent. Indeed, the Rabbis explain that Yaakov’s journey to Charan reflects the totality of man’s mission within this world, not to remain in the place where he grew up, but to go out to the world at large, build a Jewish home and refine his environment, to borrow an expression, “be fruitful and multiply; fill up the earth and conquer it,” and in this manner, establish a dwelling for G‑d in the lower worlds.

In an even larger sense, Yaakov’s journey is symbolic of the mission with which every Jewish soul is charged as it descends, “from a high roof into a low pit,” entering the body within this physical world for the purpose of making a dwelling for G‑d in this lowly world.

In this context, we can understand why the Torah mentions Be’er Sheva, the place from which Yaakov was sent, and why it mentions Charan, his destination. When a person departs on a mission, he must know that he is a shliach. He must be aware of the one who appointed him and appreciate that, “a shliach is equivalent to the one who appointed him.” Thus, at least in regard to the task which he is charged with fulfilling, he is negated to that individual and thus, becomes his representative, acting with his power.

Conversely, a shliach must also be an independent person, acting with his own knowledge and potentials2 for it is only in this manner that he will be able to fulfill his mission.

These two dimensions are reflected in the mission with which every Jew is charged, the mission that involves the descent of the soul into the body. We must be aware of the drastic nature of this descent which the soul undertakes, going “from a high roof to a deep pit,” i.e., the source of the soul is not merely an elevated place, “a roof,” it is a “high roof,” uplifted above all peaks. This is reflected in the name Be’er Sheva which literally means, “the well of seven.” This is a reference to the Sefirah of Binah3 which is the “well,” the source, for the seven emotional attributes that are represented by the seven branches of the Menorah.

Nevertheless, the mission involves the descent of the soul to “a low pit,”4 a drastic descent into a world of separation where G‑d’s light is hidden. Charan, associated with the arousal of G‑d’s anger, is symbolic of this world, a place dominated by the powers of kelipah which are “opposed to G‑d.”

In this environment, the Jew, the shliach, feels as a separate and individual entity, and the influence from the place where he was sent is no longer felt. Nevertheless, it is precisely in this environment that the mission, to establish a dwelling for G‑d in the lower worlds can be accomplished.

Furthermore, it is through establishing a dwelling for G‑d in the lower worlds, that the full power with which G‑d has endowed man becomes revealed. Since the Jew, the shliach, exists in Charan, a place where — were it not for his efforts, G‑dliness would not be revealed — he requires a greater measure of Divine influence to overcome the concealment which he faces. Thus, it is in such a situation that the full power of G‑d, the one who sends us on this mission, is revealed and even in Charan, His will is accomplished.

Similarly, carrying out this mission allows the shliach to reach a higher level of bittul. As he exists for himself, the shliach is a separate entity. When, however, he carries out his mission, he loses all self-consciousness and becomes totally negated to G‑d. In this manner, he reveals his source in Be’er Sheva, the high spiritual rungs.

Based on the above, we can understand why the Torah uses the word Charanah for the expression, “to Charan,” rather than, the form L’Charan. L’Charan indicates that one shares a connection to the place from which one has departed. In contrast, Charanah reflects how Charan is a separate place where one is removed from connection with one’s source.5 Also Charanah indicates a descent within Charan itself, a penetration to the depths of the place which aroused G‑d’s wrath. There, Yaakov was forced to deal with Lavan, a master of deceit, and to endure severe physical hardships for twenty6 years.

Nevertheless, through Yaakov’s service in Lavan’s home in Charan, he was able to fulfill the mission with which he was charged in a complete manner. There, he gave birth to the twelve tribes of Israel, refined his surrounding environment (as reflected by his acquisition of Lavan’s sheep) and thus, fulfilled G‑d’s intent in Charan. This also brought Yaakov himself to higher peaks, as the Torah relates, “The man prospered exceedingly.”7

Yaakov’s ability to perform this mission stems from his association with the quality of truth. Truth is referred to as “the middle bolt which extends from one extreme to the other.” Truth establishes a connection between the highest levels and the lowest depths and enables the high levels of G‑dliness associated with Be’er Sheva to be revealed even in Charan.

Indeed, Yaakov’s entire life was associated with the mission of elevating the lowest levels of the world at large. This is reflected in the manner in which he emerged from his mother’s womb, holding onto Eisav’s heel. Indeed, his very name was given because of this position.

On the surface, why should Yaakov, “the chosen of the Patriarchs,” be given a name that is associated with Eisav’s heel? This, however, reflects his unique potential and his mission within the world, to refine even its lowest aspects, Eisav’s heel, and thus, make it possible to draw G‑dliness down into these realms.8

In this context, we can appreciate the nature of the mission with which G‑d charges the Jewish people as a whole. The first stage is a descent. This is reflected in the fact that Eisav emerges as the firstborn and Yaakov is born holding onto his heel. Afterwards, Yaakov begins his service of refinement. This involves a descent, enclothing himself in the garments of Eisav — both literally and figuratively, for he used Eisav’s own tactics to take his blessing from him as the Torah relates, “Your brother came with deceit and took your blessing.” Afterwards, he underwent an even further descent, journeying to Charan and dealing with Lavan.9

The intent is, however, through this service of refinement to bring about a revelation of Eisav’s high source, the lights of Tohu, levels of G‑dliness so elevated that they could not be contained within vessels.10 Nevertheless, through Yaakov’s service of refinement, he makes it possible to reveal the powerful lights of Tohu within the vessels of the world of Tikkun.

Yaakov carries out this service in a systematic fashion, step by step, continuing his work of refinement,11 ascending level after level, until he reaches the ultimate peaks, “until I come to my lord in Seir.”12 There he will reveal the ultimate lights of Tohu.

The description of Yaakov’s fulfillment of his mission provides a lesson for each Jew in regard to the fulfillment of the mission with which his soul was charged as it descends from the spiritual realms (Be’er Sheva) into this physical world (Charan) with the intent of transforming this world into a dwelling place for G‑d.

Although this is a tremendous descent, one need not become overwhelmed. One must be aware that one is G‑d’s shliach and “a person’s shliach resembles him.” Thus, he has been endowed with G‑dly powers. Furthermore, because he is sent to a place where G‑dliness is not openly revealed, he is given even greater powers. Through utilizing these powers in the task of refinement, he transforms this tremendous descent into a process of ascent in which he reaches even higher levels than those previously appreciated.

The above concept is further emphasized during the era of exile, which involves an even greater descent. Even at present when the Jews are living in generous countries, free from the persecution and oppression that existed in previous years, they are still, “children who were exiled from their father’s table;” they are not granted Divine revelation. Nevertheless, precisely because of this situation, they are endowed with an even greater measure of Divine power which ultimately, will enable them to reach the highest peaks.

Our nation’s history reveals this process. After the many years of suffering in Egypt, our people emerged “with great wealth,” affluence which reflected their refinement of the land of Egypt. Similarly, the more than 1900 years of exile which our people have suffered will lead to their emergence “with great wealth” with the coming of Mashiach.

Based on the above, we can understand why it is precisely in these generations, the final phase of this exile, that the concept of shlichus was introduced by the Previous Rebbe. By appointing shluchim to spread the wellsprings of Torah and Chassidus outward, the Previous Rebbe added new power and potency to help each Jew fulfill his mission in making this world a dwelling for G‑d.

This is made possible by those individuals — the shluchim — who devote themselves totally to the shlichus of spreading Torah and Chassidus outward. These shluchim — many of whom have gathered here to attend the International Conference of Shluchim — are dispersed throughout the entire world with the intent of reaching those Jews in the furthest removed corners of the world. Because these shluchim descend to the lowest and furthest parts of the world, they are granted even greater powers by those who sent them, and this enables them to reach even higher peaks through their service.

2. In this context, we can understand why the International Conference of Shluchim is held on the Shabbos on which the month of Kislev is blessed. The month of Kislev is connected with “the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.” It is the month of the redemption of Yud-Tes Kislev.

Here, also, we see a process of descent for the purpose of ascent. The Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment came about because of a kitrug (negative spiritual force). Nevertheless, ultimately, this descent was intended to bring about an increase in the spreading of Chassidus outward.13

This spreading of Chassidus outward represents the process of, to quote the metaphor of the Alter Rebbe, taking the most precious jewel in the king’s crown, grinding it into an elixir, and dashing it upon the face of the king’s son in the hope that a drop will enter has mouth and save his life.

Similarly, in subsequent generations, as the darkness of exile has progressed, the Rebbeim have added to the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah.14 This process has reached a peak in our generation, and even more so, in the last years, and there has been an unbounded revelation of Chassidic teachings. To quote the Previous Rebbe, “the treasure stores of the nation that have been hoarded for centuries are being squandered,” and made available to the mass public. Texts that had been possessed merely by a select few15 have now been published and are being studied by many. In particular, this applies to the teachings of the Tzemach Tzedek.16

The intensification of the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah in our generation is also connected to the development of the concept of shlichus. The shluchim’s departure from “Be’er Sheva” (their native land) to spread Chassidus outward has not detracted from the intensity of the revelation of Chassidic teachings. Indeed, as described above, it has increased the powers they are granted from above which are revealed in the teachings of Chassidus.

3. The process of transformation of the world that is accomplished through shlichus has effected even those countries which had previously stifled Jewish expression. The very country which had issued the sentence of utmost severity upon the Previous Rebbe for his activities to spread Torah and mitzvos, and then sentenced him to exile, is now allowing and assisting Jews to emigrate. Hundreds of thousands of Jews have left — and are continuing to leave Russia — and are settling in America and in Eretz Yisrael. Furthermore, in certain instances, the Russian government is offering financial help.

An example of this is their care for the “Children of Chernobyl” whom they have helped settle in Kfar Chabad. The Russian government also sends doctors to care for them and thus, helps them to benefit from the education resources of the kfar. This represents a process of elevation after the descent, going from Charan (the place associated with Divine wrath) to Be’er Sheva (the source of the Jewish soul).

[The name Kfar Chabad emphasizes the importance of education. Our Sages compare Yechezkel’s vision of the Divine Chariot17 with that of Yeshayahu and explain that Yechezkel’s vision is more detailed and filled with emotion because he was like “an inhabitant of a kfar (a village).” These qualities — elaborate detail and emotional power — are two of the most important facets in education.]

4. There are several practical directives which should result from the International Conference of Shluchim. First and foremost, each shliach should feel strengthened and reinforced by this meeting. He should realize that no matter how far away he has been sent, the one who appointed him is with him. Indeed, “a person’s shliach is considered as he, himself.”18 Surely, the shliach has been given the potential to carry out his shlichus.

There are different levels of shlichus. Some shluchim carry out their service in further removed places than others. In this instance, they are given more power to carry out their services. Furthermore, at the International Conference of Shluchim, when all the shluchim, no matter what their level, come together, what is revealed is the common point that they all share, the fact that they are shluchim of the Previous Rebbe19 to spread Yiddishkeit and Chassidus outward.

They must dedicate themselves to this dissemination of knowledge without any limitations for as the Rebbe Rashab explains, “The present era is one when a person should, ‘grab and eat, grab and drink,’ [i.e., seize whatever opportunity to spread Yiddishkeit that comes his way].”

This approach is alluded to in this week’s Torah reading: Rashi interprets the opening verse of Yitzchak’s blessings, “And G‑d will give you,” to mean, “He will give you and then, give again.” This concept provides a shliach with an important lesson: As soon as he becomes a shliach — and surely, when he is in the midst of carrying out his shlichus — he should plan that his first activity should immediately be followed by a second activity, a further spread of Torah and Chassidus.

A shliach’s efforts should also include, to borrow an expression from the Talmud, “one shliach making another shliach.” The present shluchim should bring out others to further expand their activities. These new shluchim, in turn, should bring out others, extending the chain of these activities.20

The word “international” olami also has the meaning “eternal.” Therefore, it is appropriate that, as an eternal memento of this conference, a “Book of Shlichus” should be printed including, in addition to the words of Torah and the suggestions communicated at the conference, not only the names, but also the pictures of each shliach and his family. In this manner, when a shliach’s son will open the book, he will remember that he also is a shliach and he will be inspired to study Torah until he has matured enough to become a shliach himself.21

These activities will lead to the realization in deed and action of the concept that the Hebrew word shliach together with the number ten (signifying the ten powers of the soul) is numerically equivalent to Mashiach. Each Jew has a spark of Mashiach within his soul which can be revealed through the service described above. The revelation of the spark of Mashiach on an individual level will lead to the revelation of Mashiach for the entire world and the coming of the ultimate redemption. May it be in the immediate future.