1. This Shabbos falls directly before the second of Iyar, the Rebbe Maharash’s birthday. On this day, “the spiritual source of his soul shines powerfully.” Since he was a Nasi, a leader of the entire Jewish people, this day has an effect on all Jews. It is a day when an emphasis should be placed on studying his teachings and following the directives which he gave us.

One of the most well-known of those directives is contained in the following adage:

Everyone (lit. “the world”) says: “If you can’t crawl under, try to climb over.” I say, “Lechat’chilah Aribber” — “At the outset, one should try to climb over.”

This implies that a Jew should not consider the obstacles or even the limitations of worldly existence. Instead, he should realize that, because he is a Jew, he is not bound by these limitations and can and must, view his existence in a manner that his first impulse is to “climb over” those limitations.

In particular, there are two lessons included in this adage:

Climbing over implies rising above all limitations. Thus, it requires that we constantly rise above our previous state. Though previously, one’s behavior could have been considered as “climbing over,” i.e., beyond limitations, over the course of time, one has become accustomed to this level and to “climb over,” one must reach a higher peak.

Though this process involves an unlimited process of growth, it serves as a directive for practical behavior within the context of our limited world. The approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber, though opposite to that of the world at large, should become one’s first impulse, followed without any for second thoughts or reconsideration.

This directive exemplifies the service of the Rebbe Maharash and is also connected to his birthday, the second of Iyar. In the context of Sefiras HaOmer, the latter date corresponds to the Sefirah, Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes — Beauty of Beauty — i.e., the ultimate of beauty.

In Chassidus, it is explained that Tiferes ascends to the highest levels — the level of Kesser — but also descends to the lowest depths. Therefore, it is referred to as “the middle bar which extends from one end to the other.” This is reflected in the Rebbe Maharash’s approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber, rising above all limitations (for Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes ascends to the highest of levels) and expressing these peaks in behavior within the context of the lowest levels of our physical world.

There is a unique connection between the above and the month of Iyar: The unique aspect of the month of Iyar is that every day of the month is associated with the mitzvah of counting the Omer. In terms of our spiritual service, this mitzvah involves refining our emotional qualities, ascending step by step from below to above. Nissan, the first month, is a month of miracles, a month of Divine revelation. Iyar, in contrast, is a month where the emphasis is on man’s service in an ordered pattern of growth.

This service begins on the second of Iyar (for Rosh Chodesh is also above the limits of our world. It is not “a day of work” (and, hence, Tachanun is not recited upon it). The connection of the second of Iyar with Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes emphasizes how even this ordered service from below to above must be carried out in a manner of Lechat’chilah Aribber. The influence of Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes allows the highest of all levels to be connected with the lowest possible rungs.

2. The concept of Lechat’chilah Aribber has its source in the Torah. The Torah begins in a manner of Lechat’chilah Aribber. The first letter of the Torah, a beis, which begins the word Bereishis, stands for the word berachah,” blessing. This shows how G‑d’s blessing is present even before there exists anyone to bless.1

The second word of the Torah, borah — “created”, also emphasizes the concept of Lechat’chilah Aribber. As the Alter Rebbe explains in Iggeres HaKodesh (20), creation ex nihilo has its source in G‑d’s essence. No other level of G‑dliness can bring about such a feat. Thus, the Torah teaches us how our world is connected with G‑d’s very essence.

The Torah continues “And the spirit of G‑d was hovering over the water.” This also is an expression of Lechat’chilah Aribber. Our Sages explain that this refers to “the spirit of Mashiach.” Thus, even before all the particular creations were brought into being, “the spirit of Mashiach,” the ultimate state of the world’s completion, was “hovering” above existence.

Similarly, the first of the G‑d’s statements which created individual entities, the statement, “Let there be light,” also reflects the concept Lechat’chilah Aribber. In general, light is above the limits of the world. Surely, this applies to the light created on the first day which allowed Adam to see “from one end of the world to the other.”2

Also, the conclusion of Torah, “All the signs and wonders... and all the mighty hand... which Moshe performed before the eyes of all Israel,” also reflects the concept Lechat’chilah Aribber. The “signs and wonders,” i.e., the highest spiritual levels, were revealed for “all Israel,” the totality of the Jewish people.

Similarly, the concept of Lechat’chilah Aribber can be seen in the beginning of the Mishnah, the compilation of the oral law. Firstly, the first tractate, Berachos, is associated with blessing. Furthermore, that tractate begins with the question: “When does the time for the recitation of the Shema begin?”, immediately teaching a Jew about the oneness of G‑d which is the theme of the Shema. Our Sages have also noted that the tractate begins in this fashion because: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of G‑d;” i.e., at his very first stages of knowledge, a person is introduced to the highest levels of awe of G‑d.

The conclusion of the Talmud, “May G‑d bless His people in peace,” also expresses this principle. The Hebrew B’shalom can be interpreted as Beis Shalom, “two levels of peace,” peace in the spiritual realms and peace in the physical realms, Shalom, G‑d’s name being drawn down and revealed on even the lowest levels of our world.

We also see the concept of Lechat’chilah Aribber in the beginning of the Shulchan Aruch which Rav Yosef Karo opens: “Be strong like a lion...” and the notes of the Ramo which begin: “I have placed G‑d before me at all times.” Similarly, the text concludes with the verse: “A good hearted person is always celebrating.” Happiness which “breaks down barriers” is found in a constant manner.

The teachings of Chassidus also follow the same pattern, emphasizing the approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber at the beginning and the conclusion. Thus, the Tanya (the written Torah of Chassidus) begins on the title page with the verse: “It is very close to you” and the text itself begins “Mashbian oso....” The Tzemach Tzedek explains that this means that the soul is made full and satisfied with potential. Similarly, the conclusion of the Tanya praises G‑d, “May He be uplifted and blessed.” Chassidic thought explains that blessing implies a process of drawing down. As G‑d is “uplifted,” He is “blessed” and drawn down within the context of our world.

3. The concept of Lechat’chilah Aribber can also be seen in the portions of Torah associated with the present day: The weekly Torah portion, begins: “Be holy.” Being holy does not mean merely separating oneself from undesirable matters — for such a concept is self-understood for a Jew — but rather to reach the highest levels of holiness to the extent that one’s holiness is associated with the holiness of G‑d. Thus, the verse explains — as a reason why a Jew can “Be holy” — “because I (G‑d) am holy.”3

Furthermore, this potential is granted to all Jews; men, women, and children. Every Jew can reach a level of holiness equivalent to that of G‑d. This applies not only in regard to matters of the soul, but also in regard to matters of the body, including even the lowest levels of our physical behavior.4

The above can also be associated with the following passage from our Torah portion which discusses the laws of Orlah (produce which grows in the first three years of a tree’s existence and is forbidden) and Neta Revoi (the produce of the fourth year which must be eaten in Jerusalem). The passage states:

When you come to the land and plant a fruit bearing tree... for three years, its produce will be a forbidden growth. It may not be eaten. In the fourth year, the fruit will be holy, an object of praise for G‑d. In the fifth year, you may eat the fruit [and thus,] increase your produce.

There are parallels to these three levels in our service of G‑d. The fruit of the first three years is equivalent to the service motivated by the three lower emotional qualities: Netzach, Hod, and Yesod. Because these represent the lower levels of G‑dliness, there is a possibility of dominance by worldly influences. Hence, the produce is forbidden.

The produce of the fourth year parallels service inspired by the lower level of Tiferes and is thus, connected to the revelation of the glory of G‑d’s greatness in the world for G‑d desired to have a dwelling place in the lower worlds. This aspect is further emphasized by the fifth year which represents service inspired by the higher levels of Tiferes (equivalent to the level Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes).

Since Tiferes is “the middle bar which extends from one end to the other,” it ascends to G‑d’s infinity and reveals those levels on the lower planes in a manner in which, “the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see that the mouth of G‑d has spoken.”

In particular, the differences between the two levels of Tiferes represent the differences between the produce of the fourth and fifth years. The fourth year refers to a level of G‑dliness that reflects the limits of the worlds (the number four paralleling the four worlds: Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah). Similarly, our Sages compared the ultimate state of the world to a porch enclosed on all four sides (the shape of a closed mem).

In contrast, the number five refers to a level of G‑dliness which transcends the limits of the world, a level which is Lechat’chilah Aribber. Thus, the number four is associated with the daled which is associated with poverty. Since the level of G‑dliness is constrained within the limits of the world it is considered as “poverty” when compared to the unbounded revelation that is associated with the fifth year, which “increases your produce.”

The fifth year expresses the two aspects of Lechat’chilah Aribber, a) revealing the levels that transcend the limitations of the world; b) on the lowest planes.

In expression of this latter point, we see that the produce of the fifth year has no holiness associated with it. Rather, it can be eaten anywhere and used for any purpose. This reflects how even the lower dimensions of this world can become a dwelling place for G‑d and, also a means of revealing G‑d’s blessing, “to increase your produce.”

The above can also be connected with the daily portion of Rambam which completes Hilchos Maaser Sheni and Neta Revoi and begins Hilchos Bikkurim. In the conclusion of Hilchos Maaser Sheni, the Rambam discusses the declaration made after separating all the tithes in which a Jew5 states that he has fulfilled all the different agricultural requirements. That declaration concludes with the request: “Look down from Your holy habitation... and bless Your people Israel as You swore to our fathers [with] a land flowing with milk and honey.”

On this verse, our Sages commented:

How great is the power of those who perform mitzvos! Every other mention of the word Hashkifah (“Look down”) is associated with a curse and this is a blessing. How great is the power of those who give the tithes! They transform a curse into a blessing. Whenever the Torah mentions the word Hashkifah (“look down”), it is associated with difficulty... with the exception of this instance.

This emphasizes the infinite aspects of the blessing associated with this verse, how it can transform difficulty into blessing, revealing the transcendent levels of G‑dliness on the lowest planes of existence in a manner of Lechat’chilah Aribber.

The concept of Lechat’chilah Aribber is also associated with the opening verses of Parshas Emor which is read in today’s Minchah services. The portion begins: “Say to the priests... and you shall say to them....” Our Sages explain that the repetition in the verse is to teach us to hold the adults responsible for their children. As explained above, Lechat’chilah Aribber involves connecting the highest levels with the lowest levels through the influence of Tiferes Sheb’Tiferes, “the middle bar that extends from one end to the other.” Here also we see a unity established between the adults, those who teach, and the children, those who receive. Furthermore, this activity will also increase the light possessed by the adults, until complete unity6 is established between the two.7

In a larger sense, the concept of holding the adults responsible for the children applies, not only within the Jewish people itself, but to the Jews’ (the adults) influence over the world at large (the children). The Jews’ efforts to refine and educate the world bring the Jews themselves to a higher level.

To take out a practical lesson from the above: Today is an appropriate time to accept resolutions to study the teachings of the Rebbe Maharash and to follow his directive to live in a manner of Lechat’chilah Aribber in all aspects of our behavior, those associated with Torah and mitzvos and those associated with the world at large.

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4. Also, now is an appropriate time to invest efforts in printing the teachings of the Rebbe Maharash. In this context, it is worthy to mention the publication of a new text, Sefer HaMaamarim 5626, which include the first maamarim recited publicly by the Rebbe Maharash.

[The very first maamar, Zachor es Yom HaShabbos, explains how the remembrance of the Shabbos has an effect on a Jew’s behavior throughout the week, elevating it to a higher level.]

This text has been printed in regular Hebrew letters, even though previously, the Rebbe Maharash’s teachings had been printed in an offset copy of the original manuscript. The reason why they had been printed in this manner is associated with a reluctance shared by many Torah scholars throughout the ages to write down their teachings in a Hebrew script similar to that used in a Torah scroll or to have their teachings printed with regular Hebrew letters which resemble such a script. Rather, the teachings were generally written and printed in Rashi script.

However, at present, it has become customary to print Torah texts with regular Hebrew letters. The reason for this change is self-understood, for in this manner the texts can be spread to a greater readership. This practice will be continued in regard to the Rebbe Maharash’s other texts and to other texts of Chassidus. May it be followed in all realms of Torah literature and may the spread of these teachings usher in an age when “Man will no longer teach his fellowman... for they will all know Me,” when we will be redeemed from the exile in mercy. May it come immediately.