1. We spoke previously (on the second night of Sukkos) that every day possesses two aspects: 1) it is part of the time continuum, a continuation of the previous days and a preparation to the following days; 2) it has its own unique aspect. This is particularly emphasized on the third day, for “third” has two interpretations: 1) it is a number, which follows “one” and “two;” 2) it also is an expression of distinction and praise, a concept for itself.

These two aspects of “third” are emphasized by the fact that “third” corresponds to the sefirah of Tiferes. Chesed is the first sefirah, which is on the right, Gevurah is the second sefirah, which is on the left, and Tiferes is the third sefirah, which is in the middle. Tiferes, the middle sefirah, joins together and unites those on the right and left. In addition, Tiferes possesses properties of its own. Indeed, it is loftier than the other two, and it is precisely for this reason that it can unite and “make peace” between these otherwise two contradictory sefiras (Chesed-kindness, and Gevurah-severity).

Thus the “third” has two aspects: as a number, which unites the right and left; and an element unique to itself, higher than right and left. It thus follows that the greatness of “third” derives from both its aspects: 1) Because it is a number that follows (and is greater than) the other two, it is loftier and can unite them; 2) it is intrinsically lofty, and infinitely higher than the others.

This is found also in Torah, which is a “threefold Torah” given to the “threefold people by the third born (Moshe) on the third day (of preparation) in the third month (Sivan).”

This element of “three” found in Torah possesses special properties. Of the three pillars on which the world stands, Torah, prayer, and deeds of loving kindness, their order is as follows: Deeds of loving kindness is the right pillar, and comes first; prayer is second, on the left; and Torah is third, the middle pillar.

We find this order present also in our forefathers: The first of the forefathers is Avraham, whose service lay in the realm of loving kindness and love (the right pillar). The second is Yitzchok, on the left, whose service was to elevate that which is below to above — similar to prayer. Ya’akov is the third of the forefathers, whose service was in the realm of Torah study, the middle pillar.

In man’s service to G‑d, the same order applies: first deeds of loving kindness, then prayer, then Torah study. The preparation to prayer is to give tzedakah (deeds of loving kindness), as the Talmud states (B. Basra 10a): “Rabbi Elazor would give a perutah to a poor person and then pray.” And prayer precedes Torah study, as the Alter Rebbe notes, that “Torah study after prayer is much loftier than before prayer.” Thus the order is first deeds of loving kindness, then prayer, and thirdly Torah. Because Torah study follows prayer and tzedakah, it follows that it completes them and is greater than they. It carries the distinction of being “third.”

Torah also possesses the second aspect mentioned previously, in that it has properties of its own which are infinitely higher than the two services of prayer and deeds of loving kindness — and precedes them. First of all, the very idea of prayer and deeds of loving kindness comes from the Torah. In man’s service too, there is the aspect of Torah which precedes prayer — the recital of some passages — verses from the Written Torah and the Oral Torah — in the morning immediately after saying the blessings over the Torah.

The two aspects of Torah are illustrated by the difference between it and mitzvos. Mitzvos are likened to a person’s limbs (248 positive commandments corresponding to the 248 limbs), whereas Torah is likened to a person’s blood, which gives life to the entire body. Thus Torah has two aspects: 1) Torah as it is one of the 248 commandments/limbs, which is the Torah studied after prayer and giving tzedakah. In this aspect, Torah, while greater than all other mitzvos (“Torah study is equal to all of them”), is still within the same framework of reference. 2) Torah as it is infinitely higher than mitzvos, just as the blood, which gives life to the limbs, is infinitely higher than them (i.e. at such a level, it is not possible to even say that “Torah is equal to all of them,” for it is totally removed from mitzvos).

Torah is particularly associated with today, the third day of Sukkos. The three festivals of Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos correspond to our three forefathers. Avraham corresponds to Pesach, as related in Torah that Avraham said “Knead dough, and make cakes (matzos);” Yitzchok to Shavuos, for the shofar of Mattan Torah came from the ram that was offered up instead of Yitzchok; Ya’akov corresponds to Sukkos, as stated “Ya’akov journeyed to Sukkos.”

2. Ya’akov is associated with Torah (as will be explained later), and thus Sukkos, which corresponds to Ya’akov, is associated with Torah. And this receives special emphasis tonight, the third night of Sukkos, for its “guest” is Ya’akov.

In addition to Ya’akov, the Chassidic guest of today is the Alter Rebbe, and the common theme between them is that they both have two names. Of the three forefathers, Ya’akov is the only one to possess two names — “Ya’akov” and “Yisroel.” Likewise, of the first three Chassidic guests — the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid and the Alter Rebbe, the Alter Rebbe is the only one who has two names. The Baal Shem Tov’s name is “Yisroel” — one name. Although the Maggid has two names, Dov Ber, “Ber” is simply “Dov” in another language. The Alter Rebbe has two different names: “Schneur,” which means “two lights,” and “Zalman,” which has a separate meaning.

In addition to having two names, Ya’akov and the Alter Rebbe share another theme — both emphasize the idea of Torah. Of Ya’akov it states (Bereishis 25:27): “Ya’akov ... was a dweller in tents,” which Rashi explains to mean he dwelt in “the tent of Shem and the tent of Ever” — where he learned Torah.

The idea of Torah is expressed in both Ya’akov’s names, as stated: “He set up a testimony in Ya’akov and He put Torah in Yisroel.” Testimony here refers to Torah, as we find written (Devorim 31:19) “So that this Song be a testimony” — and “this Song” refers to the entire Torah. The connection between Torah and the name “Yisroel” is self-evident from the latter part of the verse, “He put Torah in Yisroel.”

That Ya’akov was a “dweller in tents,” plural, alludes to the two parts of Torah, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. It also alludes to the exoteric and esoteric parts of Torah. This too is expressed in both of Ya’akov’s names: “Ya’akov” derives from the word “eikev,” meaning “heel,” which corresponds to the exoteric part of Torah, which deals primarily with the physical world. “Yisroel” has the same letters as “Li Rosh,” “Rosh” meaning “head,” which refers to the esoteric part of Torah.

So too with the Alter Rebbe. Of all the Maggid’s disciples, it was the Alter Rebbe who was chosen to write the Shulchan Aruch, emphasizing his connection to Torah in general, and to halachah in particular. Moreover, he wrote the halachos together with their reasons — allowing them to be totally understood.

We find these two aspects of 1) halachah and 2) total understanding, also in the esoteric Torah of the Alter Rebbe, who was the founder of Chassidus Chabad. 1) The Alter Rebbe, through Chassidus Chabad, brought the deepest esoteric matters into a framework of comprehension and understanding. 2) Chassidus Chabad is the halachah in regard to service to G‑d. Moreover, from the Tanya written by the Alter Rebbe, we derive many actual halachos, in addition to those halachos which are explicitly mentioned.

These two aspects are alluded to in the Alter Rebbe’s name, “Schneur,” two lights, the light of the exoteric Torah and the light of the esoteric Torah — similar to Ya’akov (“dweller in tents — plural). Moreover, both these concepts are alluded to in the one word “Schneur,” indicating that although two separate disciplines, they are really one. Furthermore, this combination of the exoteric and the esoteric affects the actual world, as expressed in the Alter Rebbe’s second name, “Zalman,” the letters of which, when transposed, form the word “Lizman” — “to time” — indicating that the Torah affects the temporal world.

Because both of tonight’s guests are associated with Torah, it follows that the Simchas Bais Hashoeva of tonight is also associated with Torah. This is even more emphasized by the daily portion of Chumash, which begins with the words “And Moshe went up” — and Moshe exemplifies the concept of Torah.

3. Today’s portion of Chumash, the seventh section of parshas V’Zos HaBerachah, starts with the words “And Moshe went up from Arvos Moav (the plains of Moab) to Mt. Nevo.” The Maggid interpreted “Nevo” to mean “Nun Bo,” referring to the fiftieth gate of wisdom (Nun = fifty). The Talmud states that “Fifty gates of wisdom were created in the world and all of them were given to Moshe less one.” Thus, said the Maggid, the verse “Moshe went up ... to Mt. Nevo” means that at the time of his passing on, Moshe merited to have also the fiftieth gate. He was only given 49 gates at first, so that he could obtain the 50th through his own efforts — for then it is in a loftier manner, as stated “And Moshe went up ... to Mt. Nevo.”

Moshe, we are told went up to Mt. Nevo from “Arvos Moav.” “Arvos” means thickness and darkness, and Moav indicates imperfection (the lack of the fiftieth gate). Moshe was able to go up to Mt. Nevo — to obtain the fiftieth gate of wisdom in the loftiest fashion — precisely because previously he was deficient. It is the concept of light illuminating from previous darkness, in which case the illumination is that much brighter.

Everything concerning Moshe applies to Jews, all of whom possess the level of Moshe in their inner soul. Our Sages, on the verse “And now, Israel, what does the L‑rd your G‑d ask from you except to fear Him,” ask “Is then fear such a small thing?” (that the Torah can say G‑d only asks to fear Him). And the Talmud answers “Yes, for Moshe, fear is a small thing.” The Alter Rebbe in Tanya (ch. 42) explains why it should be easy for Jews just because it’s easy for Moshe — “for every soul of Israel has within it of the level of Moshe.”

It follows, then, that every Jew also possesses something similar to the idea of “And Moshe went up ... to Mt. Nevo” — the revelation of the fiftieth gate of understanding. This teaches the greatness of a Jew. Since “fifty gates of wisdom were created in the world,” all of them belong to a Jew — for that is the purpose of their creation. A Jew need only perform the requisite service to obtain them. And when a Jew does serve G‑d properly, he reveals that which was previously concealed — that Jews are engraved in G‑d’s essence (as noted above). Thus, the idea of “Moshe went up from Arvos Moav to Mt. Navo,” as it applies to every Jew, is that through service to G‑d in the world (world = concealment, “Arvos Moav”), he becomes elevated to a high spiritual level (“Moshe went up”) — higher than could be previously possible, to the revelation of the fifteenth gate (“Mt. Nevo”).

Thus this year, when today’s portion of Chu-mash is “Moshe went up,” adds extra distinction to the idea of Torah — which, we noted above, must be the focal point of today’s Simchas Bais Hashoeva. How is the fiftieth gate of wisdom” particularly connected to Torah? Chassidus explains that the 49 days of Sefirah before Shavuos correspond to the 49 gates of wisdom, and Shavuos, the fiftieth day, corresponds to the fiftieth gate. And Shavuos is the “Season of the Giving of our Torah.”

On the third day of Sukkos, therefore, when Simchas Bais Hashoeva is associated with Torah study, its daily portion of Chumash emphasizes each Jew’s connection to the revelation of the fiftieth gate of wisdom (“Mt. Nevo”) — the idea of Mattan Torah. And thus the celebration and joy of the Simchas Bais Hashoeva must be correspondingly lofty.

A cold-blooded person may ask: Why the big fuss about the joy of tonight that it should be loftier than ever before? It’s not the first time Simchas Bais Hashoeva is being celebrated. It has been celebrated in past years, especially when the Bais Hamikdosh existed! Moreover, we are in exile — how can we rejoice? It is a paradox: On the one hand, Simchas Bais Hashoeva is a remembrance of the Bais Hamikdosh. On the other, it is now exile — how can both be combined?

The answer is that one’s perceptions don’t change the facts. The fact is that every year “a new loftier light descends, and such a lofty light had never as yet illuminated in history.” If one doesn’t see this light — it doesn’t change the fact. As to how one can reconcile the paradox of rejoicing in exile — G‑d is omnipotent, and a Jew, who is connected to G‑d, can perform the apparently impossible!

The sum total of the above is that on this night, Simchas Bais Hashoeva must be celebrated in the highest fashion — a joy associated with Torah, there must be made good resolutions to increase in Torah study, both the exoteric and esoteric spheres. Through this we reach the highest of levels in Torah, the fiftieth gate of understanding — until we reach the ultimate in Torah study, learning Moshiach’s Torah from Moshiach himself.