1. Everything in the world is a composite of various aspects, for in addition to a matter’s primary nature, it is also connected with other things. IA the time spectrum, for example, each day is distinct from another, possessing its own theme — and is simultaneously a part of and connected with the other days in the time spectrum. So too in regard to this Shabbos. Its primary aspect gives it its uniqueness which is that it is Shabbos Hagodol; in addition, other themes are commingled — the fact that it is the 12th of Nissan, that the parshah read on this Shabbos is parshas Acharei, and that it is a leap year. And since all these aspects coincide on the one Shabbos, there must be a connection between them.

That everything in the world possesses both an individual nature and also a connection with other things derives from the fact that such is the situation in the case of Torah and Israel, for “G‑d looked into the Torah and created the world.” Every letter in Torah is an individual entity, for halachically, each letter must be written such that it is totally surrounded by space (i.e. not touching another). Simultaneously, each letter is connected with all the other letters, as we find that letters may be substituted and transposed one with another. Indeed, the letters are so interconnected one with another that the entire Torah is “one Torah”; and therefore, by taking hold of one letter, one grasps the whole Torah.

The same applies to Jewry: The letters of the word “Yisroel” are the beginning letters of the words “Yesh Shishim Ribue Oysiyos LaTorah” — ”There are 600,000 letters in the Torah,” each letter in the Torah corresponding to one of the 600,000 root-souls of Jewry which encompass all Jewish souls. Just as each letter in Torah is an individual entity, so each Jew is an individual. But simultaneously, just as all the letters are interconnected forming one Torah, so each Jew is connected with all other Jews, forming one body of Jewry.

Because the world was created “for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of Israel,” the fact that the above phenomenon exists in the case of Torah and Israel extends also to everything in the world: every object possesses its individual function, and is also connected with other aspects. And this is true of this Shabbos.

However, before discussing the various aspects of this Shabbos, let us digress a little and analyze the above stated concept that all Jews, because they form one entity, are interconnected. It follows from this concept that every Jew is analogous to the entire body of Jewry, for, as R. Saadia Gaon said, when one grasps part of an essence, one is really grasping all of it.

That every Jew is analogous to all Jewry has ramifications in halachah, as our sages have stated: “Every person is obligated to say ‘The world was created for my sake.’“ This statement of our sages is perplexing: Is it really possible that the entire world was created for the sole purpose of one individual Jew? It is surprising enough that it should be true even of Jews who are of the category of the “heads of your tribes”; it is stupefying to realize that it applies to all Jews (“Every person is obligated to say”)!

In the light of the above mentioned assertion that every Jew is analogous to all Jewry, this statement of our sages is comprehensible. Since all Jews are one entity, and by grasping part of the essence one grasps all of it, it follows that “every person is obligated to say ‘The world was created for my sake.’“

In simple terms: The Baal Shem Tov taught that each Jew is dear to G‑d as an only son is to parents born to them in their old age. In the words of Tanya, a Jew’s soul is “verily a part of G‑d above,” analogous to a child which is formed from the very essence of the father. A father’s love to his son is not predicated on the son’s abilities or qualities, but is a natural, instinctive love, stemming from the fact that the son is part of the father.

Because each Jew is a son of G‑d, it follows that G‑d loves each Jew from His essence, regardless of the individual qualities of a Jew. G‑d loves each one, whether he is of the “leaders of your tribes” or of “the hewers of your wood and drawers of your water.” It is therefore no wonder that “Every person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for my sake” — for each Jew is “part of G‑d above.”

Let us now return to our main theme, which is that everything possesses both its individual character and also a connection to other things. In our case, this Shabbos, its principal nature is that it is Shabbos Hagodol. In addition, Shabbos Hagodol is associated with other aspects, some that are present every year, and others special to this year. Of the former category, Shabbos Hagodol is always in the month of Nissan, and close to Pesach, such that it is the Shabbos which blesses Pesach. The latter category, those aspects which are unique to this year, includes the fact that it is a leap year, that Shabbos Hagodol is this year on the 12th of Nissan, and that the parshah read today is parshas Acharei. Each of these aspects provide lessons in service to G‑d.

2. We shall first concentrate on the lesson to be derived from Shabbos Hagodol, which means “the great Shabbos.” The name “Shabbos” is a general one bestowed upon the seventh day of every week. “Shabbos Hagodol” is special among Shabbosim, for it is “great” compared to the others (even though a regular Shabbos is “great” compared to weekday).

There are many explanations as to what constitutes the greatness of Shabbos Hagodol. First and foremost is the explanation given in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, 430:1): “The Shabbos before Pesach is called Shabbos Hagodol because a great miracle happened on it. The Pesach [lamb to be used as the Pesach offering] of Egypt was taken from the tenth of the month [of Nissan and kept in the Jews’ homes until the time for it be offered] ... That day was Shabbos ... and when the Jews took their Pesach offerings on that Shabbos, the firstborn of Egypt gathered by the Jews and asked them why are they doing so. They replied to them, ‘It is a Pesach sacrifice to the L‑rd, for He shall kill the firstborn of Egypt.’ Their firstborn went to their fathers and to Pharaoh to request of them to send away the Jews. But they did not want to, and the firstborn waged war against them and killed many of them. This is why it is written, ‘He struck Egypt through its firstborn.’“

This reason for Shabbos Hagodol is difficult to understand. Shabbos is “sanctified of itself,” from above, and it is “a sign between Me and between you.” In other words, Shabbos belongs to Jews only, to the extent that a gentile who observes Shabbos is under the death penalty. What connection, therefore, is there between “He struck Egypt through its firstborn” — war among non-Jews — and Shabbos, and to the extent that it effects “greatness” in Shabbos?

The answer derives from the phrase which for-lows the words “He struck Egypt through its firstborn” — “For His kindness is everlasting.” The connection between war among gentiles and G‑d’s kindness is, at first glance, tenuous. The other events about which it is said “for His kindness is everlasting” — for example, “He alone performs great wonders” and “He brought Israel out of their midst” “with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm” — are easily understood why they are connected to G‑d’s kindness. But what does a war between non-Jews have to do with G‑d’s kindness?

However, since “There is none else aside from Him,” everything in the world is from G‑d. That is, the word in Hebrew for “everlasting” — “l’olam,” can also be interpreted to mean “to the world.” Thus the phrase now reads, “for His kindness is to the world”; and it is also “everlasting.” When, therefore, non-Jews squabble and do battle amongst themselves, this too is part of G‑d’s kindness, “for His kindness is to the world, everlasting.”

Shabbos Hagodol, then, is the day when Jews actually saw that even such a thing as “He struck Egypt through its firstborn” is connected with G‑d’s kindness. Of course, Jews believe with utter faith that “there is none else aside from Him” and that therefore everything in the world, including war among gentiles, is because of G‑d’s desire and kindness. What is special about Shabbos Hagodol is that then Jews actually saw that this is so — when they saw the miracle of “He struck Egypt through its firstborn.” And thus Shabbos, which is for the Jews only, is infused with greatness.

But not all is clear: True, Jews now saw that “He struck Egypt through its firstborn for His kindness is to the world, everlasting.” But what has that to do with a Jew’s service to G‑d?

The answer? This miracle came about precisely because of Jews’ service. The firstborn fought against Pharaoh and their fathers because they saw that Jews were preparing the Pesach offering to G‑d, Who would kill the firstborn. This teaches that when a Jew performs his service properly, as instructed, “Remove your hands from idolatry and take for yourselves a lamb for a mitzvah,” the natural result is that the Egyptians war amongst themselves — as happened on Shabbos Hagodol.

There is a lesson from the concept of Shabbos Hagodol for all Jews. Every Jew is a descendant of those who left Egypt, and therefore the events which happened to our forefathers apply to every Jew now. Moreover, not only is a Jew a descendant of those who left Egypt, but the exodus itself directly affects him, as related in the Haggadah: “If G‑d had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, we and our children and our grandchildren would be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt.”

When, therefore, Shabbos Hagodol approaches, every Jew is cognizant of the concept of “He struck Egypt through its firstborn, for His kindness is everlasting.” That is, a Jew sees — not with faith alone but with actual vision — that everything in the world, including strife amongst the nations of the world, is connected with G‑d’s kindness.

The above is associated with the general theme of the month of Nissan and Pesach, which is the theme of faith. Nissan is the “month of redemption” and redemption is associated with faith, as our sages have said (Mechiltah, Beshallach 14), “Our fathers were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of faith.” This is certainly true of Pesach, which celebrates the actual redemption. Shabbos Hagodol introduces a further element into this: It reinforces faith, allowing Jews to actually see that G‑d’s kindness is responsible for everything in the world.

A further lesson from Shabbos Hagodol is that its miracle occurred because of Jews’ service, the taking of the lamb for the Pesach offering.

One of the directives stemming from the Pesach offering is concerned with the fact that it is the only offering in which the family unit is emphasized, for the Pesach offering had to be a “lamb for a household.” This teaches that a Jew must set up a home, meaning simply the fulfillment of the command, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” In addition to the literal “Be fruitful and multiply,” its concept also exists spiritually: To “make” another Jew, meaning to bring others close to their heritage. And this spiritual “Be fruitful and multiply” applies to all Jews, including those who cannot fulfill its literal meaning.


3. There is an additional lesson to be derived from the date on which Shabbos Hagodol falls this year — the 12th of Nissan. The twelfth of Nissan marked the conclusion of the offerings brought by the princes of each tribe for the dedication of the Mishkan — a different prince each day starting on the first of Nissan. On the twelfth, the prince of the tribe of Naftali brought his offering, and the dedication of the altar was completed, with the sum total of all the offerings counted, as stated (Bamidbar 7:84-88): “This was the dedication-offering for the altar on the day when it was anointed, from the princes of Israel: twelve silver dishes, twelve silver bowls ... all the oxen for the burnt-offering were twelve bullocks, twelve rams....”

The unique distinction of the twelfth of Nissan compared to the other days when the princes brought their offerings is thus that in the latter, only the prince of that particular day brought his offering, whereas the twelfth of Nissan saw the sum total of all their offerings. Although the joint nature of the princes’ offerings was also present on the first day, as stated (7:10): “The princes brought the dedication-offering for the altar on the day that it was anointed,” this was only in potentia — and the offerings were actually brought on successive days. Only on the twelfth of Nissan had all the offerings been brought.

In addition to the sum-total of offerings which were present, the twelfth of Nissan was also the day on which the prince of the tribe of Naftali brought his offering. Although the offerings of the princes were identical one with another, nevertheless, each prince intended his offering to symbolize different things, selected in accordance with his own judgment (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:14).

The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 14:15) says the following about the Prince of Naftali’s offering: “Why did Naftali present his offering after Asher? Because Asher was given his name in allusion to Israel’s happiness (“Asher” = happy; Israel is happy because G‑d chose Israel from all other nations (Ibid, 14:10)), and Naftali was given his name in allusion to the Torah which Israel received. What is the meaning of Naftali? “Nofet Li” (a honeycomb to me), and ‘nofet’ refers to the Torah, of which it is written: “More to be desired are they than gold and fine gold; sweeter than honey and the honeycomb (nofet); and [the Torah] was given in forty days, [forty] being the numerical equivalent of ‘Li’ [Lamed = 30, Yud = 10]. Since Israel’s happiness was dependent upon the Torah, Naftali presented his offering after Asher. Also, as the thought of [creating] Israel was conceived by G‑d first and after that He prepared the Torah for them, therefore Asher took precedence over Naftali.”

The Midrash then continues to explain the symbolism behind Naftali’s offering: “‘His offering was one silver dish, etc.’: R. Yudan said that the prince of Naftali presented his offering in allusion to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.” The Midrash then explains the connection between the rest of Naftali’s offering and the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

The special nature of Naftali’s offering, then, was that it alluded to the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. The offerings of the other days were connected to the service of the tribes; that of the twelfth day, Naftali, was also connected to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, who were of a loftier level than the tribes.

The qualities of the Patriarchs, it is true, are present in every Jew. This is why they are called the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of every Jew, as our sages say (Berachos 16b), “The name ‘Patriarchs’ is given to only three (Avraham, Yitzchok and Ya’akov) and the name ‘Matriarchs’ is given to only four (Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah).” Torah Or explains that this is because “the level of the Patriarchs must be present in every person, for they are the root and source of all the souls of Israel.” But, since regular service is only on the level of the tribes, whereas that of the Patriarchs is hidden, the greatness of the twelfth of Nissan is that the level of the Patriarchs was then revealed in the service of Jews.

Parenthetically, our sages’ statement that “The name ‘Patriarchs’ is given to only three, and the name ‘Matriarchs’ is given to only four” requires clarification. Every Jew is a descendant of Avraham, Yitzchok and Ya’akov, and therefore it is understandable that only these three are called the Patriarchs. But not every Jew is a descendant of four Matriarchs, Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah, for the sons of Rochel are not the sons of Leah, and the sons of Leah are not the sons of Rochel.

In other words, we are asking the following: We find that every Jew possesses the level of all the three Patriarchs and all the four Matriarchs. For example, on Pesach, the three matzos correspond to the three Patriarchs and the four cups of wine correspond to the four Matriarchs. Thus it follows that those who are descended from Leah possess the level of Rochel, and those from Rochel possess the level of Leah (since every Jew drinks four cups of wine). Now, physical things correspond to their spiritual counterparts. Since the descendants of Leah do not come from Rochel and vice-versa, why in their spiritual aspects does each Jew have aspects of both Rochel and Leah?

To return to our main topic: the lesson to be derived from Naftali’s offering, which alluded to the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. Chassidus explains that the difference between the tribes and the Patriarchs in terms of service to G‑d is the difference between nullification of the ego (the tribes) and nullification of the self (the Patriarchs). The offering of Naftali, which corresponded to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, teaches that a Jew should not rest content in performing the service of the tribes — nullification of the ego, but must reach the level of the Patriarchs — nullification of the self. At the beginning of a person’s service, when he becomes Bar Mitzvah, a Jew belongs to one of the tribes: in general, to the type of service of Yissachar or Zevulun — mastery of the Torah or mastery of good deeds. The offering of Naftali teaches that he must go further, and strive to reach the level of the Patriarchs.

When Shabbos Hagodol is on the 12th of Nissan, as this year, there is an extra element in the lesson derived from Shabbos Hagodol. We explained previously that Shabbos Hagodol is the theme of “for His kindness is (to the world) everlasting” — faith that everything in the world is associated with G‑d’s kindness, for “there is none else aside from Him.” Faith in general is a “heritage to us from our fathers,” for all Jews are “believers the sons of believers.” A Jew’s service is to bring that faith to the fore, to reveal it, to allow it to permeate his being in an inner manner such that every action is permeated with faith.

The twelfth of Nissan, when Naftali brought his offering_ corresponding to the Patriarchs, teaches that faith should permeate a Jew not just in a manner such that the person’s ego is nullified, but to the extent that his very self becomes nullified before G‑d. Faith, and as a result, Torah and mitzvos, should affect his very soul so that he is dedicated to them with his entire self.

An example of such selfless dedication is Torah, which is associated with Naftali (as noted earlier, that “Naftali” comprises the words “Nofet Li,” and ‘nofet” refers to Torah), and also with the festival of Pesach, the “Season of our Freedom,” for “the only free person is one who engages in the study of Torah.”

Torah may be studied in various ways, ranging from one extreme to the other: 1) Since one knows that he can only be truly free when he studies Torah, he forces himself to study to be free. In such a situation, of course, he has not attained freedom, for he must force himself to study Torah! Instead, the true concept of freedom is attained when one’s whole desire and delight is to study Torah. In such a situation, one’s Torah study is with selfless dedication, for since it is his whole desire and delight, affecting his very soul, he abandons himself to it totally.

All is not clear, however. Why should a person engage in Torah and mitzvos out of desire and delight, when we know that service in the manner of a servant — performing service because one must (nullification of the ego) — is a very lofty thing?

The answer is simple: Chassidus explains that a servant, although he serves because he must, nevertheless does possess the attributes of intellect, emotions, will and delight. What characterizes his mode of service is that these attributes are not his, but, because he is a faithful servant, they are his master’s attributes. In the words of Scripture (Bamidbar 12:7), “In all My house he is faithful”: A true servant possesses a “house” with everything a house has — foundations, walls, roof, etc. — but simultaneously, it is “My house” — the master’s house. Thus performing Torah and mitzvos as a “servant” does not negate performing them with desire and delight.

4. For service to be in the manner of self-nullification — in our case, for the service of Pesach, the “Season of our Freedom” to be whole and proper — one must ensure that other Jews perform the concepts of Pesach properly. Then a Jew cannot only ask G‑d for all his Pesach needs (including freedom from all non-holy things), but can demand them from G‑d. His claim? You, G‑d, have written and promised in Your Torah that when a Jew fulfills the mitzvah of tzedakah and thereby gives life to a poor person, You will repay him in kind when he needs it!

Thus, when a Jew helps other Jews, G‑d gives him everything he needs. And, since tzedakah must be given according to the means of the giver — a tenth (or fifth) of one’s possessions — it follows that since G‑d possesses an infinite amount of worlds, G‑d’s tzedakah to a Jew, a tenth (or fifth) of G‑d’s wealth, transcends all limits.

Some people ask how is it possible for a person to accept and deal with such largesse. But this is a foolish question: one should first accept what he is given — afterwards he will be able to assimilate it! Chassidus relates that when the Alter Rebbe was in the Maggid’s house, his conduct was to first take what he was given.

There is another story which illustrates the same approach. It was the Tzemach Tzedek’s custom to give some of the elder Chassidim the provisions necessary for the Pesach Seder: matzos, wine, morror, etc. Once, on erev Pesach, the Tzemach Tzedek’s messenger delivered the Seder provisions to R. Yekusiel Liepler, when he was deeply immersed in Chassidus. Because he was so sunken in thought, when he heard that the Rebbe sent him provisions he hastened to immediately eat them. In consequence, on the Seder night he had no provisions for the Seder. He went to the Tzemach Tzedek to find out why this time he did not merit to receive the Seder provisions from the Tzemach Tzedek as every year. After investigation, it was ascertained that he had been sent provisions; and when the messenger reminded R. Yekusiel that he had personally delivered them, he remembered that he had indeed received them, but that he hastened to immediately eat what the Rebbe had sent him. And, he concluded, the provisions were very good, for they helped him in understanding the matter he was then profoundly immersed in! Of course, R. Yekusiel then received further provisions for the Seder.

We learn from this story that when a person is given something, he shouldn’t think twice but should take it and “eat” it immediately — similar to that said before, that one should first accept G‑d’s abundant blessings and then worry about how to assimilate them.

There is a further lesson to be derived from this story, concerning service of self-nullification.

There is a puzzling aspect to this story. True, it is understandable that when R. Yekusiel heard that the Rebbe had sent him provisions, he should immediately eat them. What needs clarification is that he ate matzah and drank wine on erev Pesach, contrary to the halachah in Shulchan Aruch.

However, because R. Yekusiel was so deeply immersed in thought on Chassidus, he had no sensation of taste of the matzah, wine and morror which he ate. In such a state of mind, the senses were detached from the body in a greater measure than when one is asleep, and even more than when one has fainted. Thus, just as in such a state one cannot fulfill the obligation of eating matzah, so eating in such a state is not considered halachically as eating matzah.

On the other hand, since he did hear that the Tzemach Tzedek had sent him provisions, and he ate them — food connected with G‑dliness — they became part of his physical body — and certainly part of his spiritual body — and therefore his eating helped him in his Chassidic contemplation.

In spiritual terms: The profound immersion in thought is a level of nullification of the self, when one is unable to make a “reckoning” that enough provisions were sent only for use at the Seder, and therefore not to be used now. Such a “reckoning” applies when one’s mode of service is within limits; when it transcends all limits, when one’s self is nullified, such a “reckoning” does not take place.

Simultaneously, R. Yekusiel certainly heard the messenger say that the Tzemach Tzedek had sent him food — for being in a state of self-nullification does not preclude the working of one’s powers. As we noted earlier, a servant does have the sensations of delight and will, but they are the master’s. Thus, when R. Yekusiel heard that the Rebbe had sent him provisions to eat, he immediately interrupted his contemplation, and ate what the Rebbe sent him: he fulfilled the mission.

The lesson from this, then, is that although in the middle of studying Chassidus, when he heard that the Rebbe had given him a mission (i.e., sent him food to eat) — a mission from G‑d since the Rebbe is G‑d’s representative — he immediately set aside his personal lofty study of Chassidus and hastened to fulfill the mission. Deep immersion in Chassidus does not preclude hearing the Rebbe’s mission!

We learn from this today that when receiving a mission from the leader of our generation, one should “grab” at it and immediately fulfill it — even if one is engaged in lofty matters. There is no room for “reckonings” concerning the advisability of first concluding the matter in which one is engaged and then, when free, carry out the mission.

Another lesson derives from the fact that R. Yekusiel ate what the Rebbe sent him all at once, not discriminating between the taste of the matzah, wine or morror. This teaches that one must fulfill the Rebbe’s mission regardless of the type of mission — whether it is in the category of “wine,” which symbolizes the secrets of the Torah, or in the category of morror, bitter herbs.

“Deed is paramount”: One should increase in all efforts of disseminating Chassidus, and in disseminating mitzvos — i.e. the mitzvah campaigns: Ahavas Yisroel and unity of Jews, education, Torah, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah, house full of Jewish books, Shabbos and Yom-Tov candles, Kashrus, family purity, abolition of the Who is a Jew law, and ensuring that all Jews have a letter in one of the general Sifrei Torah. And finally, the most important campaign — to prepare all Jews to leave exile, and immediately have the true and complete redemption, speedily in our days.

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5. The beginning of parshas Acharei talks of the Yom Kippur service, and how the High Priest, Aharon, should conduct that service. Verse three of chapter 16 states: “With this Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary: with a young bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.” Rashi, quoting the words, “With this,” comments: “Its numerical value (i.e. the numerical value of the words ‘with this’ in Hebrew — “B’zos”) is four hundred and ten, an allusion to the first Bais Hamikdosh [which existed for 410 years] .” That is, the words “With this” — referring to how Aharon should conduct the Yom Kippur service — allude to the fact that this passage dealing with the laws of the Yom Kippur service applies also to the first Bais Hamikdosh.

Although some years ago (Shabbos parshas Acharei, 5741) we analyzed this comment of Rashi’s, there are some points in our analysis that need further clarification.

We explained then what it is that Rashi finds difficult in the verse that he deems it necessary to use numerical values as an explanation (for Rashi never makes a comment unless there is a difficulty in the plain meaning of the verse). The difficulty is not that since the verse talks of two sacrifices (sin-offering and burnt-offering), the verse should have said “With these Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary” rather than “With this” (singular tense) — for if that would be the difficulty, Rashi should have explicitly stated so. Although Rashi usually does not explicitly state the difficulty but rather immediately gives the explanation (relying on the reader to deduce the question himself), he does explicate the difficulty when it concerns a textual difference. For example, in parshas Mikeitz (Bereishis 42:2), on the words “Redu Shomoh” — “Go down there,” Rashi says: “He did not say ‘Lechu [‘go,’ instead of ‘Redu’ — ‘go down’]; he thereby alluded to the 210 years that they [the Jewish people] were enslaved in Egypt, corresponding to the numerical value of ‘redu.’“ We see from this that in the case of a textual difference — “redu” instead of “lechu” — Rashi explicitly states that his comment is based on the particular word usage chosen by Scripture. Thus in our case, if Rashi’s comment is based on the use of the singular tense “this” rather than “these,” he should have said so explicitly.

We therefore concluded that the difficulty Rashi perceives is that the phrase “With this” is totally superfluous. The passage in which this verse appears tells when and how Aharon could enter the Sanctuary. The previous verse says that “He shall not enter the Sanctuary at all times.” Our verse then follows and tells us how he may enter: “Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary with a young bullock....” The words “With this” are therefore superfluous.

Because this is a difficulty of not just different word usage (a subtle difficulty) but of superfluity (a greater, more obvious problem), Rashi need not first explicate the difficulty, but rather launches directly into the answer — that the words “With this” are included as an allusion to the first Bais Hamikdosh.

This explanation given some years ago requires clarification. Since the words “With this” allude to the first Bais Hamikdosh, why doesn’t Rashi clarify the status of the second Bais Hamikdosh: Do the laws of the Yom Kippur service apply also in the second Bais Hamikdosh, or only in the first Bais Hamikdosh (since the allusion from the words “With this” refer only to the first Bais Hamikdosh)?

The Toras Kohanim cites a separate proof that the Yom Kippur service applies also in the second Bais Hamikdosh. It says: “‘With this Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary’: What does this teach? Since it says (verse 2) ‘the Sanctuary ... before the ark-cover which is upon the ark,’ I may think that [the Yom Kippur service applies] only in a Sanctuary which has the ark and ark-cover. From where do we know that [it applies in a Sanctuary] that has not the ark and ark-cover [such as the second Bais Hamikdosh in which the ark and ark-cover were missing]? It says, ‘With this Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary,” which equates a Sanctuary that has no ark and ark-cover with a Sanctuary that has the ark and ark-cover.”

Rashi, does however, not cite this proof, and it may well be that Rashi is of the opinion (in the plain interpretation of Scripture) that the laws of the Yom Kippur service apply only in the first Bais Hamikdosh.

Nevertheless, since Rashi says “Its numerical value is 410, an allusion to the first Bais Hamikdosh,” and not “From here we learn” or something similar, it means that in halachah there is no difference between the first and second Bais Hamikdosh; it is only an allusion to the fact that the first Bais Hamikdosh possessed an element in the Yom Kippur service not present in the second Bais Hamikdosh.

But then, why doesn’t Rashi explain what that element was? Also, if halachically there was no difference in the Yom Kippur service of the first and second Bais Hamikdosh, Rashi should explain what difference the missing element in the second Bais Hamikdosh made.

The Explanation

From Rashi’s words that “With this” alludes to the first Bais Hamikdosh, it is clear that halachically there is no difference between the first and second Bais Hamikdosh. Nevertheless, there was a factual difference, in that the first Bais Hamikdosh possessed an element not present in the second. Rashi need not say what that difference is, for it is self-understood from this passage which talks of the Yom Kippur service. When one learns the details of that service, it becomes clear what matter could have been missing in the second Bais Hamikdosh.

What were the elements in the Yom Kippur service? Aharon had to come with “a young bullock” — and one could obtain a young bullock in the times of the second Bais Hamikdosh as easily as in any other era. The same applies to the “two he-goats”; to setting these goats “at the door of the Ohel Moed; to placing lots on the goats; to sending one of the goats to Azazel. There is no reason that any of these elements, and the other details enumerated in the parshah, were not present in the second Bais Hamikdosh.

The only thing that could possibly have been missing was the “ark-cover,” used in the Yom Kippur service, as stated (16:13-14): “The cloud of the incense shall cover the ark-cover ... And he shall sprinkle [the blood] with his finger upon the ark-cover.” A student of Scripture already knows of the future destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, for Rashi at the beginning of parshas Pikudei (Shemos 38:21), on the words “Hamishkan Mishkan” comments: “[Mishkan is written] two times, as an allusion to the Sanctuary which was taken as a pledge at the two destructions.” Obviously, when the gentiles destroyed the Bais Hamikdosh, they looted its vessels. It is thus possible that in the second Bais Hamikdosh some of these vessels, including the ark and ark-cover, were missing. Since Scripture, in detailing the elements of the Yom Kippur service, refers to “the ark-cover,” it must be referring to the ark-cover made by Moshe specifically. Thus it was impermissible to make a new ark and ark-cover to replace those looted.

The missing ark-cover in the second Bais Hamikdosh does not constitute a halachic difference between the two Bais Hamikdoshes; it is merely a factual difference: In the first Bais Hamikdosh the ark and ark-cover were present, and in the second they were not — and therefore the High Priest could not sprinkle the blood on the ark-cover. However, every other element in the Yom Kippur service was able to be performed in the second Bais Hamikdosh.

We find a parallel to this in another aspect of the Yom Kippur service. Scripture states (16:32) that “The priest who shall be anointed and who shall be consecrated shall make atonement.” Rashi comments: “I know only that he who is anointed with the anointing oil [is eligible to perform the service]. Whence [is it derived that] he who has [only] the larger number of garments [is also eligible]? Scripture states, ‘and who shall be consecrated.’ These are the High Priests who arose from [the time of] Yoshiyahu and onwards, for in his days the cruse of anointing oil was concealed [and the High Priests were consecrated by the fact that they wore 8 garments instead of the 4 of the regular priest].”

We see from this that although the anointing oil was missing, all the other elements of the Yom Kippur service were present. In our case, then, although the ark-cover was missing in the second Bais Hamikdosh, all other elements of the service remained intact.

Rashi’s comment, that the words “With this Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary” allude to the first Bais Hamikdosh, means that the High Priest’s entrance on Yom Kippur with all its attendant details was whole and complete (“With this”) only in the first Bais Hamikdosh. In the second Bais Hamikdosh, some elements were missing.

Not all is clear, however. Yoshiyahu, in whose time the cruse of anointing oil was concealed, lived in the times of the first Bais Hamikdosh. This means that from his time onwards, the Yom Kippur service in the first Bais Hamikdosh was incomplete. How then can Rashi say that “With this” — referring to all the details of the Yom Kippur service — applies to the first Bais Hamikdosh?

However, the words “With this” refer to Aharon’s entrance into the Bais Hamikdosh (“With this Aharon shall enter the Sanctuary”), and not to Aharon himself. Concerning the High Priest himself, there was indeed a difference between he who was anointed with the anointing oil and he who was consecrated with the larger number of garments. But in regard to how Aharon should enter the Sanctuary, there was no difference between the way Aharon entered as related in this passage and the way it was done in the times of the first Bais Hamikdosh: All elements of service narrated in Scripture were present in the first Bais Hamikdosh.

One problem remains unresolved: There were years during the first Bais Hamikdosh when the High Priest didn’t enter at all into the Bais Hamikdosh to perform the Yom Kippur service. During the reign of Achaz and Atalia, the priests were not allowed to serve in the Bais Hamikdosh. How then can we say that the Yom Kippur service (entrance into the Sanctuary) was perfect in the times of the first Bais Hamikdosh?

A careful analysis of Rashi’s words answers the question. Rashi says that the words “With this” allude to “the first Bais Hamikdosh” and he does not say they allude to “the number of years of the first Bais Hamikdosh.” Thus the allusion is to the first Bais Hamikdosh in general, as compared to the second Bais Hamikdosh. Even though there were a number of years in which it was impossible to enter the Sanctuary, it does not affect the fact that in general the Yom Kippur service in the first Bais Hamikdosh was performed in its entirety.


6. We have spoken a number of times concerning the printing of Tanyas in every place in which Jews reside. Tanya is the “wellspring” of Chassidus, and by printing Tanyas in all places, one not only brings the “waters of the wellspring” to those places, but also the actual “wellspring.”

The above is also associated with the publication of the thousandth edition of Tanya (for the 11th of Nissan) in which were included the “opening pages” (title pages) of many editions of Tanya printed around the world.

However, people in some places were unable to complete the printing of their editions or to send their “opening page” to be included in the above mentioned thousandth edition. These people should do so until Pesach Sheni, which is associated with the first Pesach and also conveys the message that “nothing is irretrievable.” At the least, they should send their “opening page” before the festival of Shavuos, the “Season of the Giving of our Torah,” for the goal of the exodus was the giving of the Torah, as written: “When you shall take the people out from Egypt, you shall serve G‑d on this mountain.” A supplement to the thousandth edition of Tanya will then be printed, containing the “opening pages” of editions which were not included in the thousandth edition.

May it be G‑d’s will that this project, which is the idea of disseminating Chassidus, hasten the true and complete redemption.