1. Parshas Vayigash shares a connection with Chanukah as evidenced by the fact that it is always read in the Shabbos following that holiday. Even though this year, the last day of Chanukah fell on the previous Shabbos, there is still a connection between them for Shabbos elevates all the days of the preceding week including the preceding Shabbos.

Thus, on one hand, the service of Chanukah is completed. It is forbidden to light a Menorah with its blessings, to recite Hallel, or to read the Torah portion of Chanukah. On the other hand, since “one must always advance higher in holy matters,” — indeed, this principle is expressed in regard to the Chanukah festival1 — it is obvious that the service connected with Chanukah has not simply ended, but rather must be continued and elevated to a higher rung.

Growth is a phenomenon which is appreciated by gentiles as well as Jews. It is manifest in animals and plants (and to a certain degree, even in inert matter). Thus, it is understandable that this quality should also be manifest in “holy matters.” Hence, after Chanukah, we should proceed to a higher level of service.

This theme is developed in the Torah portion of the week Parshas Vayigash which, as explained in various Chassidic texts,2 reveals a higher quality than the Torah portion read in connection with Chanukah which describes the sacrifices brought by the Nesi’im for the dedication of the altar.

To explain: The Torah readings of Chanukah expressed the principle of “Always advance higher...” The reading associated with the first day of Chanukah describes how the Nesi’im joined together in a spirit of unity to offer sacrifices for the dedication of the altar.

This unity was expressed in two ways: a) Through the donation of the oxen and wagons to carry the Sanctuary on its journeys. b) Through their decision to offer sacrifices which was a unanimous one (Bamidbar Rabbah 14:13), and had G‑d desired they would have all offered their sacrifices on the same day.3

Subsequently, on each of the days, we read how all of the Nesi’im actually offered their sacrifices, expressing the potential that existed on the first day. On the eighth day of Chanukah, Zos Chanukah, we then read the portion describing the sum total of all the offerings, a higher level of unity, reflecting a oneness that is established after the individual service of each tribe has been expressed. This reading also includes the description of the kindling of the Menorah by Aharon, the priest, which reflects a level that surpasses the previous service entirely. This is alluded to in G‑d’s statement to Aharon, “Your service is greater than theirs.”

All these services, however, involve the Sanctuary in the desert. In Parshas Vayigash, there are allusions to the Beis HaMikdash which represents a completely higher level of spirituality. This is expressed in the Chassidic discourses associated with Parshas Vayigash which contrast the levels of the Sanctuary and the Beis HaMikdash4 basing the explanation on the verse, “The beams of our home are cedars.”

The above verse refers to the Sanctuary whose walls were made of cedars (and whose roof from animal hides). In contrast, the Beis HaMikdash was made entirely of stone without any wood protruding (though some wooden beams were placed within the structure for support). The reason for this difference was that the Sanctuary was only a temporary dwelling for G‑d. Therefore, its structure reflected the hierarchy of the natural order from above to below: Its roof came from animal hides, its walls were from the plant kingdom, and its floor was dust (inert matter).

In contrast, Beis HaMikdash was G‑d’s permanent dwelling as the verse states: “This is My resting place forever.” It was a microcosm of the Messianic revelation in which the lowest aspects of existence (in the Sefiros, the Sefirah of Malchus) will rise to the highest levels. Consequently, the entire structure of the Beis HaMikdash was stone.

This concept provides us with a different interpretation of the verse, “The beams of our home are cedars.” In the previous context, “our home” referred to the Sanctuary and the fact that the beams were “cedars” represented a lower level than the stones of the Beis HaMikdash. However, the verse can also interpreted as a reference to the Beis HaMikdash where wood was used as a support (“beams”) for the stone structure.

The contrast between the Sanctuary and the Beis HaMikdash also parallels the contrast between the figures of Yosef and Yehudah who feature in this week’s Torah portion. Yosef refers to the potential for increase and growth and thus is representative of the plant kingdom. Yehudah reflects the quality of acknowledgement (Hode’ah in Hebrew) which reflects self-nullification. Thus, he is associated with the earth (in Sefiros, the Sefirah of Malchus), inert matter which reflects the quality of selflessness.

At present, the level of Yosef is above the level of Yehudah (as the level of plants is higher than that of inert matter). Therefore, Yehudah had to approach Yosef to derive nurture from him. However, in the Messianic age, Yehudah’s level will surpass that of Yosef. This is reflected in the Haftorah read this week in which the prophet is instructed to take “the staff of Yehudah” and “the staff of Yosef” and combine them together making them into “a single staff.” The prophecy concludes “My servant Dovid (from the tribe of Yehudah) will be their prince for eternity.”

Thus, though the Torah reading of Chanukah is associated with a high level, the dedication of the Sanctuary; Parshas Vayigash which contains a reference to the Beis HaMikdash represents an even higher peak. Furthermore, the Beis HaMikdash referred to is not only the Beis HaMikdash constructed by Shlomo which was “a microcosm of the Messianic revelation,” but also — particularly when the portion is being read at present in the exile that follows the destruction of the first and the second Batei HaMikdash — the reference can be interpreted as alluding to the third Beis HaMikdash5 which will be on a much higher level than the previous two.6 Indeed, the level will be so high that it will have been worth undergoing the destructions of the two Batei HaMikdash, and the subsequent exiles, to reach that peak. G‑d would have allowed the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash and the present exile which has lasted for more than 1900 years only for a positive intent, so that we could reach a level that is much higher than those experienced previously.

This concept is further emphasized by the Haftorah which describes the Messianic age and its closing verse mentioning “Dovid, My servant,” alludes to the Mashiach’s coming.

Thus, after the service connected with Chanukah was concluded, the week which followed began a new phase of service, a service which is connected with the third Beis HaMikdash and the Messianic redemption.

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2. The miracle of Chanukah is associated with oil which serves as a metaphor for Pnimiyus HaTorah, “the secrets of secrets.” This oil must be kindled “at the entrance to one’s house, facing outward,” alluding to the service of “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward,” bringing the wellsprings themselves (and not only the influence they produce) into the outer reaches.

In the previous generations, Pnimiyus HaTorah was concealed even from the Torah scholars. It was revealed only to a select few and even they were taught privately, not in public. In the time of the AriZal, however, the situation changed and it became “a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom.” With the revelation of Chassidus and particularly, Chassidus Chabad, Pnimiyus HaTorah was revealed within the context of the framework of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge allowing for the “spreading of the wellsprings outward.”

Each of the Rebbeim contributed and added to this spreading of knowledge. In particular, the Previous Rebbe sent out Shluchim, “soldiers of the House of David,” throughout the entire world to prepare the world for Mashiach’s coming. Thus, after these six generations of spreading the wellsprings outward — “Six years shall you sow your field and six yours you shall prune your vineyard” — we are prepared for Mashiach to come in this, the seventh generation, for “all sevenths are dear.”

In the sequence beginning with the Patriarchs, it was the seventh generation who “brought the Shechinah down to the earth.” Similarly, it is the task of our generation to draw down the eternal Beis HaMikdash and the Messianic redemption through the service of “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.”

[As the Previous Rebbe relates in the discourses continuing the theme of Basi LeGani,] “the great treasures which have been collected for many years from generation to generation,” which for years were left hidden and concealed, were opened with the objective of winning the war. Therefore, these treasures were “squandered,” given to each and every individual who is a soldier in this great effort to emerge from exile.

We must announce and proclaim that we are living in a special time, an era when, to quote the Previous Rebbe, “We must stand together prepared for the construction of the Messianic Beis HaMikdash and the coming of Mashiach.” The Messianic Beis HaMikdash is already constructed. It is waiting in the heavens to descend and each and every Jew is charged with the mission of bringing it into revelation within this world.

This mission is incumbent on every Jew, men, women, and children without any distinction of background, custom, or affiliation. It is the mission of the people as a whole, “anyone who is called by the name Israel.”

Even in the Talmudic era, our Sages stated, “All the appointed times for Mashiach’s coming have past.” “The harvest has past, the summer has gone by and we have not been saved.” One might explain that the exile is being continued in order to increase the “great wealth” which the Jews will receive after they emerge from exile.

To explain: We are taught that the Messianic redemption will parallel the exodus from Egypt. We find that G‑d gave Moshe special instructions to ensure that the Jews left Egypt with “great wealth.” [Similarly, our service at present in refining the world can be explained as preparing for the accumulation of this “great wealth.”] This rationale, however, is no longer relevant for we have the “great wealth” that has accumulated through the service of the Jews throughout the generations, particularly, the service after the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah.

Though this “great wealth” is infinite in nature, we may assume that through their service, the Jews have already earned the revelation of such unbounded wealth. If something is lacking, they will earn that through their service after the Messianic redemption when the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos will reach a full and complete state.

The only possible explanation for the prolonged exile is that G‑d “desires the prayers of the righteous,” — and “your people are all righteous” — who will pray for the coming of Mashiach and then, he will come immediately.7

The declaration that we must stand prepared to greet Mashiach does not mean, however, that all that is necessary is to pack our bags and wait, without fulfilling any more service. The contrary is true. As long as we are in exile, even if it is only for a single moment, we must use that moment to its fullest, filling it with a complete measure of Torah and mitzvos.

We see a parallel to this concept in the journeys of the Jews through the desert. The Torah relates that “they camped at G‑d’s word and they journeyed at G‑d’s word.” Thus, even though an encampment was temporary — since it was “at the word of G‑d” — it had a permanent dimension.

The same applies in regard to our existence in exile. Although Mashiach is coming any moment, until he comes, we must work to endow the exile with a permanent dimension of Torah and mitzvos. This service, in turn, hastens the coming of the redemption.

We see a parallel to this concept in this week’s Torah portion. When Yaakov and his children came to Egypt, Yosef settled them in the best portion of the land and they “took possession of it.”8 Even though they knew that they would only be in Egypt for a limited period of time, they settled there in a permanent manner, “being fruitful and multiplying.”9

Similarly, although we are in the last moments of exile, we must establish Chabad houses, establishments dedicated to Torah, prayer, and deeds of kindness in each and every place. Though this involves the fusion of two opposites, a yearning for the infinite service associated with the Messianic redemption and simultaneously, carrying out service within the context of our present existence, a service of limitations, this can be accomplished by each Jew.

There is nothing that G‑d cannot do. Even the fusion of two opposites is possible. Since a Jew is “truly a part of G‑d from above,” these qualities are reflected in our souls as well.

In addition to the establishment of central Chabad Houses in each place, each person should transform his own home — and within a large home, each individual should transform his room — into a Chabad House, i.e., a place for Torah, prayer, and Tzedakah.

Furthermore, in these special days, a Farbrengen should be held in the central Chabad House in each place — in particular, this refers to those who will return home after spending time in the Beis Chabad established by the Previous Rebbe — and also, they should hold a Farbrengen in their own homes.10

May these activities of establishing “sanctuaries in microcosm” hasten the coming of the time when we will merit the building of the third Beis HaMikdash. May it be speedily, in our days.