1. Today’s Farbrengen, taking place on the 13th of Tishrei, is connected to the Hillula (day of passing — yahrzeit) of the Rebbe Maharash.

The Zohar teaches: “Each day performed its own work” (Zohar III 94b). This means that each day brings a new Divine service, uniquely suited to that day. At the same time the Talmud states:

Of all that the Holy One blessed be He created in His world, he did not create a single thing without purpose. (Shabbos 77b)

and similarly:

All that the Holy One, Blessed be He created in His world...He created solely for his glory. (Avos 6:11)

Thus, everything in existence, including every day, has a purpose in connection with the Divine service of giving honor to the Holy One blessed be He. What then is the special purpose and the unique “work” of the 13th of Tishrei, the Hillula day of the Rebbe Maharash.

In discussing the unique work of each day we should keep in mind that days may be grouped in several categories:

A — Meritorious days.

B — Average days — no special qualities.

C — Negative days — on such days the emphasis is on converting them into days of grace by neutralizing the negativity and thereby evoking greater light out of darkness and greater wisdom out of foolishness.

In the case of an Hillula day, it is the day of passing of a Tzaddik — a negative aspect — but at the same time on the Hillula day we find the loftiest aspects, for the negative is transformed to the meritorious side, thereby attaining greater quality.

This would be analogous to the Divine service of the righteous relative to the Divine service of Baalei Teshuvah — penitents — and the combination of both.

The Tzaddik serves G‑d on the level of holiness similar to a meritorious day. The Baal Teshuvah converts the negative to the positive like those days which transform the negative to good, attaining a loftier state. There is yet a third possibility — the combination of those two conditions. To “return the righteous to repentance,” for even the Tzaddik may attain the lofty state of Teshuvah.

With this introduction in mind let us analyze the “work” of this day and how it applies to the theme of the Rebbe Maharash as well as how it fits into this period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos.

Let us first attempt an analysis of the two categories of Tzaddik (righteous) and Baal Teshuvah (penitent — returnee) and in what manner the two conditions may be combined.

A Tzaddik has no contact with undesirable things. Right from the outset his Divine service follows a regular pattern, measured, and of predictable scope, similar to the service of the “daily burnt offerings according to their order” (see Siddur).

Different is the Baal Teshuvah. Having initially been involved in sinful pursuits and then having transformed himself to the realm of good, his Divine service put into motion a pattern of super activity and innovativeness, analogous to the additional “mussaf offerings according to their rule” (See Siddur). The Baal Teshuvah has undertaken the measured and systematic activities of the Tzaddik and has superimposed the additional, stronger and more intense Divine service congruent to his consciousness and conscience.

Careful observation will reveal that the momentum and upward mobility of Baalei Teshuvah are really incomparably greater than the steady advance of the Tzaddikim, raising them to levels not comparable to their previous position and condition, and not normally attainable. “They stride from strength to strength — to appear before the L‑rd in Tzion.” (Tehillim 84:8) Their acceleration brings them to reach the essence of G‑dliness.

Now, Tzaddikim also ascend to greater levels of holiness, but each step is relative to the previous level. The Baal Teshuvah however, can make the quantum leap.

Here, however, we come to the Kabbalistic principle of “Bringing the righteous back to Teshuvah.” In the Tzaddik’s regular rate of ascent we must introduce the supercharge of Teshuvah and effect the “mussaf offerings.”

Chassidic philosophy compares this to the pure unity of “one,” vis-à-vis the compounded unity of “three,” which allowed the initial opposition and then overcame it. The Baal Teshuvah had to convert the evil to good, he did it by conjuring up the infinite powers of his soul — but he had to deal with a real existence of evil.

A higher state may be reached when the Tzaddik, who never allowed room for evil, awakens in himself the infinite power of his soul without having to deal with actual evil. The “regular” offerings are now superseded by the “mussaf” offerings.

Ideally the ultimate goal of all our actions and Divine service in the world is to tap and reveal that infinite force in the measured and finite worldly existence. The world is complete but finite, while man has the role of improving the world — to bring and reveal the infinite, in a constructive way, in the structured and measured existence.

The Midrash states:

Seven things came before the creation of the world ...Teshuvah. (Bereishis Rabbah 1:4)

By stating “came before the world,” it implies that they have a connection to the world, albeit, prior and preparatory.

Well, if Teshuvah came before the world clearly the world has the potential to be upgraded by the infinite infusion of Teshuvah.

If you had wondered how the finite corporeality can absorb and conform to the infinite, the answer is that G‑d prefaced the creation of Teshuvah to the creation of the world — so that the potential is there is for Teshuvah to do its work!

Since the act of bringing Tzaddikim to Teshuvah is an expression of the ultimate goal of existence, it is obviously associated with the ultimate salvation of Mashiach and the building of the Third Bais HaMikdash — the final and complete redemption.

This symbiosis of the two patterns of Tzaddik and Baal Teshuvah finds emphasis during Tishrei. Chassidus explains on the one hand, that Tishrei represents the Divine service of Teshuvah, and at the same time, being the anniversary of the creation of the world, it represents the natural sequence and normal advancement — similar to the Tzaddik. Herein lies the secret — Tishrei represents both the finite state of Tzaddik as well as the Divine service of the Tzaddik as he advances to the infinite state of Baal Teshuvah.

In this period which bridges Yom Kippur to Sukkos this comes to the fore. Yom Kippur of course is the day of Teshuvah — atonement and forgiveness. Sukkos is also associated with Teshuvah and forgiveness. As the Midrash states:

..When the people of Israel go forth from the presence of the Holy One, Blessed be He, bearing their palm branches and their citrons in their hands we know that it is Israel who are victorious, that they were successful in the judgment and that their iniquities were pardoned.... (Vayikra Rabbah 30:2)

With both of these aspects of Teshuvah in the month of Tishrei, when the world was created according to its natural law, they add the aspect of the Mussaf offering to the principal approach of “regular burnt offerings,” the infinite in the finite.

This may be understood in a more specific sense.

Having been afforded complete forgiveness and pardon by G‑d on Yom Kippur, Moshe then brought the Second Tablets to the Jewish people. The Second Tablets introduced a new and loftier aspect of Torah study. The Midrash states it thusly:

G‑d reassured him saying: “Do not grieve about the first Tablets. They only contained the Ten Commandments, but in the two tablets I am about to give you now, there will also be Laws, Midrash and Haggados.” That is the meaning of “and that He would tell you the secrets of wisdom,” that “sound wisdom is double (manifold)” (Iyov 11:6). (Shmos Rabbah 46:1)

Thus, Yom Kippur brought us the Second Tablets which brought with then the infinite wisdom implicit in the Decalogue. Even moreso, it gave every Jew the potential to deduce and “innovate” new ideas in Torah, as the Zohar teaches:

It behooves man...to strive to make progress in it daily. (Zohar I p. 12b)

And although the Torah is ageless and changeless — nevertheless man makes “progress in Torah.” This signifies a coalescence of the finite (in this case, changeless) and infinite — “progress.”

The Hillula of a Tzaddik also accentuates this point. It is at the time of death that the Tzaddik reaches the epitome of his worldly existence.

And the spirit returns to G‑d who gave it. (Koheles 12:7)

The soul returns to its source and root in a manner of absolute perfection. The physical life of the saintliest Tzaddik is merely a sojourn of descent. In that milieu the Tzaddik functions and accomplishes his goals till he reaches the day when his life is completed, and when he expires he attains a much loftier success — the infinite leap to the source. In a sense the act of dying is the final step of returning in the temporal life of the Tzaddik. Thus, the day of the Hillula represents this coalescence of the finite and the infinite and they radiate and are revealed in the corporeal world.

Notwithstanding the infinite intensity and loftiness of the passing of the Tzaddik relative to his own soul, there is also an aspect which reveals itself in the human, corporeal realm, and from which we may gain instruction.

In describing the events surrounding the Hillula of R. Shimon Bar Yochai, the Zohar relates that his students saw the bier rising, and being surrounded by fire. This was the physical manifestation of the lofty spiritual occurrence and it was visible to human beings!

In the case of each and every Tzaddik who passes away the lofty levels attained on that day will also be projected down to his students in a manner which they can absorb, and which will have a real influence on the material world.

Thus, on the day of the passing of a Tzaddik there is a unification of the pattern of Teshuvah with the pattern of the Tzaddik — the infinite joins the finite.

In the case of the Rebbe Maharash we discover this coalescence even more clearly.

The Rebbe Maharash is knows for his adage:

People say that if one cannot go (overcome his problems and obstacles) from below, one must go from above. I say that from the start one should go from above (transcend and nullify all opposition). (Likkutei Sichos — eng. ed. Vol. II p. 30)

Going “above” and over indicates an approach above limitations and restrictions, leaping in an incomparable way. This is similar to the Mussaf offerings.

The normal procedure is to start by going from below, in a measured and regulated manner and only if that approach fails must one opt for the “over and above” route. The Rebbe Maharash, however, changed that outlook. He said that right “from the start,” in the initial stages of orderly Divine service, there must also be the infinity of going “above.” All the special aspects of this day focus on this point: the month of Tishrei, the days between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, the day of the passing of a Tzaddik and the special aspect of the Hillula of the Rebbe Maharash on the 13th of Tishrei.

How may this be applied in action, for: “Practice is the essential thing” (Avos 1:17)?

Essentially, a Jew must follow the approach of the “regular sacrifices” as well as the “additional offerings.” And at the same time he must also combine the two, so that the “regular” takes on the form of the “additional.”

More specifically.

The average person should be ready to do more than his usual measured activity. The “leaders and heads,” who usually deal with spiritual and abstract matters, should put more emphasis on practical action.

Then, in the average person’s activities the aspect of the infinite should be injected, and when dealing with abstract and unlimited principles and ideas — they must also be drawn down and clothed in practical terms.

To clarify and exemplify this concept, let us consider several concrete illustrations in the area of a Jew’s Divine service.

Take for example the mitzvah of Tzedakah, which is equivalent to all the other religious precepts (See B. Basra 9a).

Giving charity to a pauper, whether the sum is large or small, is a measured and limited act: a setamount of money is given to a needy person. If the sum is only a penny then the mitzvah is truly limited and restricted. Along with giving money to a poor person there is another aspect of the mitzvah of Tzedakah, to cheer up the mendicant. Hence the Rambam rules: “He showed...give with a friendly countenance and joyfully.” (Laws of Gifts to the Poor 10:4 et. al.)

Here we are dealing with a spiritual quality touching upon a person’s feelings and emotions. Hence the effect cannot be measured.

Consequently, you may give a penny, the epitome of limited benevolence, to a poor person and at the same time show a friendly countenance and joyfulness and introduce the loftiest level of immeasurable spiritual benevolence.

Now let us take the example of the mitzvah of sounding the Shofar (ram’s horn) on Rosh Hashanah.

The Shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah represent a lofty theme. The Gemara quotes the Holy One, Blessed be He who says: “Make Me king over you...by means of the Shofar.” It is the Shofar blasts which esoterically arouse the desire for royalty from the innermost state of delight, way beyond any form of measure and limits. Yet, strangely enough, to reach that infinite state, you need Shofar blasts arranged in a set order and each blast must be of a certain duration and sequence, down to the minutest detail in the measurement of the various sounds of the Shofar.

Here we have a clear exemplum of a matter of lofty spirituality and infinite greatness which must be drawn down and precipitated in a measured and limited way.

It is important to keep clearly in mind the direct implication of the Rebbe Maharash’s aphorism “from the start to go above,” in relation to a person’s Divine service and Torah study. All problems or obstacles to a Jew’s Divine service must not be allowed to limit or restrict his full potential. Whether you are dealing with long-accepted limits, or the scope of your Torah study, or obstacles posed by external forces such as government or worldly restrictions — when it comes to Torah study and Jewish life we must “go from above” and disregard the apparent obstacles.

This should also be the attitude in communal work on behalf of other Jews.

In his role as leader of Russian Jewry, the Rebbe Maharash on many occasions traveled to the capital city (of Russia) and there conferred with government officials and influential Jews in order to ease the plight of his brethren. On one such occasion he met with several devoted Jewish askanim (involved in communal affairs) and laid before them a plan of action how to deal with the pressing Jewish problems of the hour. In that particular case the work would have involved extreme difficulty and perhaps even self-sacrifice. Some of the communal leaders tried to disinvolve themselves when they realized the dangers involved.

When the Rebbe Maharash saw this attitude he reproached them: It is written:

If you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place while you and your father’s house will perish. (Esther 4:14)

“So, too, in this case” concluded the Rebbe Maharash — “it is certain that salvation will come to the Jewish people and if you refrain from lending assistance the relief and deliverance will come from somewhere else, but then you and your father’s house will be lost — you will forfeit your chance to have the benefit and merit of having helped other Jews.”

The Rebbe Maharash demanded from others the same approach which he followed, “going from above.”

And he indicated that in doing so you will be helping not only the other Jew but you will also bring good results for yourself. Having told those influential Jews that the job would get done without them should have assuaged their consciences — but in fact his threat that they would lose out — motivated them to roll up their sleeves and undertake the risks. For they realized that they would reap glorious benefits for their body and soul.

There is a subject presently which may be compared to this case. The mitzvah of hospitality. Taking in guests and providing them with all their needs for the holidays.

You may think that since there is a committee there is no need to care or worry about the needs of the guests. Here we may draw the lesson from the story of the Rebbe Maharash. True, all will be well and cared for. But you must still do your share — so that you will bring benefit to your soul and your body!

On this day of the Hillula of the Rebbe Maharash. We should undertake to increase all matters connected to the Rebbe Maharash. Studying his teachings and emulating his ways, especially “from the start to go above.” Knowing that we have been assured success will certainly add to the momentum and enthusiasm and help you succeed.

Our involvement in all aspects connected with the Rebbe Maharash will speed the fulfillment of the promise: “Arise and sing you who dwell in the dust” with the coming of our righteous Mashiach and the true and complete redemption, speedily and truly in our time. In one day, one moment, in true reality.

* * *

2. While the 13th of Tishrei always occurs between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, it does not always occur on the same day of the week or in the same Torah portion. When this day corresponds to Shabbos and the portion of Haazinu there must be additional aspects to be gleaned from this day under this setting.

The portion of Haazinu presents us with a very powerful message. Moshe’s opening words of Haazinu are:

“Listen Heavens”!

Which emphasizes the combination of heavenly and earthly powers — the heavenly powers descend and join the earth. While the earthly forces rise and are raised to the heavenly spheres. As we explained earlier this is a form of “from the start going above.”

A more thoughtful look at Haazinu however will reveal a more profound concept with stronger overtones of “going from above.”

The Sifri explains that Moshe was closer to heaven so he used the term “pay close attention” while to the earth he said: “listen” because he was farther from the earth. On the other hand the prophet Yeshayahu said “Listen heavens and earth pay heed,” because he was farther from the heavens.

In Chassidic eschatology Moshe stood on the level of Atzilus, the highest world of Emanation, while Yeshayahu was only on the level of Beriah, the world of creation.

In reading Haazinu on the 13th of Tishrei, we get the clear message that for us we must not only raise the earth to the heavenly spheres but we must also put the heavens first — as Moshe, we must also be closer to the heavens!

This is no mean task. If we review for a moment the status of Yeshayahu — remember, the Talmud tells us of the highly advanced level of Torah study at the time of Yeshayahu — especially during the reign of King Chizkiyahu:

Search was made from Dan unto Beer Sheva, and no ignoramus was found, from Gabbath to Antipatra, and no boy or girl, man or woman was found who was not thoroughly versed in the Laws of tumah and taharah. (Sanhedrin 94b)

This means that even the small children studied, knew and followed all the intricate details of the laws of Tumah and Taharah, quite an accomplishment! Yeshayahu was the prophet, the messenger of G‑d in such an advanced era, yet he could only reach the world of Beriah and spoke to the heavens from a distance.

Now consider this — in the darkness of the galus — the Previous Rebbe comes to us and teaches us the adage of the Rebbe Maharash and tells us that we “must go from above” and when it comes to Haazinu — we must aim for Moshe’s level, of speaking to the heavens closely! This is the height of going above, above!

And all this in our daily lives, in the corporeal world, in the time of the darkest galus: “Lechat’chilah Aribber!” When the Shabbos of Haazinu arrives and the portion is read in its entirety then the theme of the opening words also take on a greater sense of perfection and completeness.

At the close of Haazinu G‑d tells Moshe to ascend Mount Nebo and see the land. The Great Maggid explained that in the word Nebo (N=50, Bo — “in it”) we know that at this point G‑d gave Moshe the 50th gate of understanding, which was withheld from him previously.

Which teaches us an amazing lesson — that no matter how great you are and no matter what level of perfection you attain it is only relative to your previous station, in one second more you must strive to rise again and not remain stagnant! Moshe had reached the apex of his life, it was the last day of his worldly existence, yet he strove and longed for the higher infinite perfection of the 50th gate of understanding — if he had not attained that he would have considered his life still missing some-thing.

If the 50th gate was created “in the world” — Moshe had to reach it. Without it his life would be imperfect. After carrying out the “regular offerings” we must also do the “additional sacrifices” and they must be approached as if they, too, were of the regular order.

Rashi tells us that when Moshe was told by G‑d to ascend Mount Nebo:

In three places in Scripture the expression “In that self same day” is used.... Here too, regarding Moshe’s death it states “In that self same day,” because the children of Israel said... “If we notice him about to ascend the mountain, we will not let him do so — the man who brought us out of Egypt...divided the Red sea...brought the Manna...made the well rise and gave us the Torah... we will not permit him to go!” Thereupon the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, “Behold I will bring him unto his resting place in the middle of the day.” (Rashi, Devarim 32:48)

Thus G‑d’s command to Moshe affected all the Jewish people. Especially as Tanya explains that every Jew has an aspect of Moshe’s soul (see Tanya ch. 42).

Consequently, Moshe’s Divine service on his last day on earth, including the paramount ascent embodied in Mount Nebo provide a lesson for all Jews.

One must always strive to advance in true progressive steps, to reach the state of “Pay heed heavens and listen earth,” closer to heaven than to earth. At that point there is yet a greater condition climbing Mount Nebo — the 50th gate. Yet, you must accomplish this in life with many good and healthy years just as the majority of those Jews present at the time G‑d told Moshe to climb the mountain lived and inherited Eretz Yisrael.

Here we come to another subject, the great attachment of the Jewish people to their Nasi and leader. Actually Moshe had already prepared the people for the inevitable, he had shown Yehoshua the respect due a leader, as Rashi explained:

It was a Shabbos of transmission of office, authority was taken from one and given to the other. Moshe appointed a meturgeman for Yehoshua that he should hold a public Halachic discourse during Moshe’s lifetime. (Rashi, Devarim 32:44)

So, part of Moshe’s neshamah was transmitted to every Jew and his hand picked successor was ready, willing and able to carry on — and was accepted by the people — yet their love for Moshe was so great that they proclaimed “We will not let him go.” They wanted him to accompany them into the Holy Land! This was the intensity of their attachment and love for the Nasi of their generation.

The lesson:

Our attachment to the Nasi of our generation must be so intense that we must strongly want that our Nasi will accompany us as a live body and soul to Eretz Yisrael, with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

What about the events of 5710 (the passing of the Previous Rebbe)? We will soon witness “awake and sing you that dwell in the dust.” The Zohar says that the righteous and Nesi’im will rise immediately, and we also find in Talmud, that Moshe and Aharon will be present in the Third Bais HaMikdash. This makes it clear that when Mashiach comes the righteous will rise form the dust immediately.

For those who wonder why we speak “wild things” there are two answers:

1 — Since we live in “wild times,” when darkness covers the world, we must speak “wild things.”

2 — These ideas are not so “wild,” for every Jew recites in his daily prayers: “Speedily cause the scion of Dovid Your servant to flourish...for we hope for Your salvation every day.”

Moreover, this is one of the 13 principles of our faith: “I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of Mashiach...I await his coming every day.”

The Rambam tells us that one who does not long for Mashiach every day rejects the whole Torah.

So when we speak of Mashiach and the resurrection it is not so “wild” at all!

It is thus appropriate to awaken and energize the hope and longing for Mashiach. It has been brought to my attention that the Chida (R. Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulay) wrote about hoping for Mashiach in his book Midbar Kdeimos:

Even if the Jewish People only have the merit of hoping [for the redemption] ... they are worthy of being redeemed. And if you should say, “There were times that we hoped and expected the redemption to come and we were disappointed!” “Hope in the L‑rd ... and hope in the L‑rd” (Tehillim 27:14); although you have hoped ... if your supplications were not heard, you must still hope, again and again....

On the text of the Amidah: “Speedily cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish.... for we hope for Your salvation all day,” you may ask: Why is our hope a reason for bringing Mashiach? If we are worthy, the redemption will come without our hopes, and if we are not worthy, will our hoping help?! But the explanation is: We must pray: “Please bring the scion of David ... and if You will say that we are truly not worthy, nevertheless bring the redemption, because we hope for the salvation all day!” If we have the merit of sincere longing and striving, alone, we become worthy of being redeemed.

One need not defend the greatness of the Chida who was a definitive Posek in Halachah as well as an authority on the esoteric teachings of Torah.

Thus, Halachah rules that the hope and longing for Mashiach will bring the redemption. This should satisfy those who claim that in the past they have not seen this longing expressed in such a clear manner. Perhaps this is one of the sins (of omission) that prolong the galus.

Thus, one should not be stymied by anyone who scoffs and one should not debate this point — rather this Halachic ruling should be publicized to show that there is a solid basis for the longing for and seeking of the advent of Mashiach.

All avenues that speed the redemption should be followed — study the teaching of the Rebbe Maharash and follow his guidance in a manner of “Lechat’chilah Aribber.”

And we will certainly be redeemed and celebrate the holiday of Sukkos — the Season of Our Rejoicing — in our Holy Land, in Yerushalayim the Holy City, on the Holy Mount, in the Bais HaMikdash.