1. This gathering is in conjunction with the 10th of Kislev, which is the day on which the Mitteler Rebbe was released from prison, as well as the 9th of Kislev, which is both his birthday and yartzeit (day of passing).

A birthday is itself an auspicious occasion, since at that time “a person’s mazal (spiritual source) reveals its strength” and assists the person in all his deeds. Similarly, the efforts expended by a tzaddik in his lifetime come to fruition on his yartzeit and “effect salvation in the world.”

A unique revelation is present when both the birthday and yartzeit coincide. The Talmud states: “G‑d fulfills the years of tzaddikim to the day,” as was with Moshe, whose birthday and yartzeit are both on the 7th of Adar. This statement is true regarding all tzaddikim: by some (G‑d) fulfills their lifespan “to the day,” but only in a spiritual sense, and for whatever reason keeps it from coming to actuality in the physical world. By others, such as Moshe and the Mitteler Rebbe, G‑d’s action reaches fulfillment in the physical sense as well.

Since “the body follows the head,” those activities of a Jewish leader (“head”) apply to his entire generation (“body”) as well. This effect extends to those in later generations as well, since “the words of the righteous stand forever.” Therefore, those of all later generations are also affected by a previous leader, such as the Mitteler Rebbe. Accordingly, a Jew in any particular generation will be under the influence of all previous leaders, as well as the leader of his particular generation.

This is in apparent contradiction to the Talmudic statement “a generation can have only one leader, and not two,” since it would seem from our explanation that there are many leaders in every generation. The contradiction, however, is only superficial. The Talmud refers to the actual leadership of the Jewish people, and in this area, there can be only one leader. When we refer to the blessings of a leader, his lessons regarding proper conduct, and his spiritual assistance in fulfilling these lessons, every contribution is eternal, since (as previously mentioned) “the words of the righteous stand forever.” Therefore all concepts connected with the Mitteler Rebbe are relevant to every Jew today.

The particular time to stress those lessons of the Mitteler Rebbe is in proximity to the 9th and 10th of Kislev each year. This is similar to the requirement to learn the laws of a particular holiday on that holiday. Although the necessity of learning all parts of the Torah applies every day, including holidays, certain areas must be stressed at certain times.

Nevertheless, even on a holiday, the day’s learning begins with the same parts of Torah that are learned every day. After the blessings for learning Torah in the morning, one immediately recites the verses of the Priestly Blessing, the Mishnah and Beraisa from the tractate Peah, and a complete chapter of Mishnah (“eizahu m’koman”) on a holiday as well as during the week. This study precedes that associated with the particular holiday.

We should mention parenthetically that this chapter of Mishnah (“eizahu m’koman”), although it is part of the “revealed” part of the Torah, alludes to a basic concept in the inner, “secret” part of the Torah.

We find that each area of the Torah contains within it, or at least alludes to, other areas of the Torah as well. For example, the Oral Torah contains within it many passages from the Written Torah, representing the “inclusion” of the Written Torah within the Oral Torah. Conversely, all parts of the Torah are contained within the Written Torah, as Maimonides explains that the Written Torah was given together with its explanation -namely the Oral Torah. Accordingly he explains the verse, “I will give you the stone tablets, the Torah, the Mitzvah,” that ‘Torah’ refers to the Written Torah, and ‘Mitzvah’ refers to the Oral Torah, both of which were given at Mount Sinai. We therefore find the entire Oral Torah alluded to in the Written Torah.

Furthermore, we find many verses in the Written Torah which force us to say that they were given together with their explanation, which is the Oral Torah. For example, in the commandment of tefillin, we are told to wear “totafos.” “Totafos” is not a Hebrew word, and without the Oral Torah’s explanation we would have no idea of its meaning, which is “four compartments.” So too, the Written Torah tells us to put tefillin “on your hand,” without telling us which hand. Only the Oral Torah reveals to us that they must be put on the left (or ‘weak’) hand. This is also alluded to in the Written Torah by the presence of an extra letter (the “hay” of “yadcha”) which allows the word “your hand” to be read as “weak hand.”

We find a similar inclusion between the ‘revealed’ and ‘inner’ parts of the Torah; in our case, the allusion to the ‘inner’ Torah in the chapter “eizahu m’koman.’ A general distinction between these two areas is that the ‘revealed’ Torah contains many disagreements and varied opinions, whereas in the ‘inner’ Torah there are “no questions ... and no disagreements.” This chapter of Mishnah is unique among the 524 (or 523) chapters of the Mishnah in that it contains not a single disagreement — similar in character to the ‘inner’ Torah.

This unanimity in the Mishnah is not because there are no disagreements whatsoever regarding these particular laws. When we look in the Talmud we do find differing opinions. This indicates an additional stress on the point mentioned above -even though the Mishnah discusses topics over which there is disagreement, nevertheless, as they stand in the Mishnah there is no argument, similar in character to the ‘inner’ part of the Torah.

To return to our previous discussion, although there is a requirement to learn certain parts of the Torah during certain parts of the year (e.g. laws of the holidays), some parts (such as ‘eizahu m’koman’) are learned every day without apparent variation. So too, now is the time to stress those concepts associated with the Mitteler Rebbe. Nevertheless, the majority of time is spent in activities which are constant day to day, without apparent variation, with only a small portion devoted to acts connected with the Mitteler Rebbe.

This apparent lack of variation, however, is only in appearance. In reality, the special quality of the particular time imbues all activities of the day with its own special significance. Therefore, the Priestly Blessing, for example, even though it is recited every morning, obtains a special quality when recited on a holiday. Similarly, on a day connected with the Mitteler Rebbe, many of a person’s activities seem to be mundane and void of special significance. However, they take on a unique character due to their association with such a special day.

This point is illustrated by the statement of the Zohar: “every day has its special way of serving Hashem.” This implies that all activities of the day are done in accordance with the “way of service” of that particular day. Although there is no apparent difference between the manner in which the act was done today or yesterday, nevertheless, today the same act becomes unique, just as the entire day has a unique way of serving Hashem.

For example, the ‘tamid’ sacrifice was brought twice a day in the Temple, every day of the year, without exception or variation. When it came to Yom Kippur, however, the act of bringing the ‘tamid’ took on a new dimension in conjunction with the special holiness of the day.

A simple reading of the Bible will lead us to a similar conclusion. At the dedication of the Tabernacle each of the 12 ‘princes’ of the 12 tribes brought an identical offering — one silver plate, one silver bowl, etc. Nevertheless, each of the 12 offerings is repeatedly described in full 12 times, despite the Torah’s precision in never using even an extra letter. We have discussed this point on other occasions (cf. Likkutei Sichos Vol. 8, p. 43; Vol. 18, p. 83). In spite of the fact that every offering was physically identical, each of the ‘princes’ had his own unique kavannah (intention) and alluded meaning in accordance with his tribe.

Similarly, even without the person’s specific intention, the unique quality (“way of service”) of the day affects even those acts which appear to be identical day to day. Since today’s “way of service” is connected with the 10th of Kislev, therefore all our actions are permeated with the presence and example of the Mitteler Rebbe.

As mentioned before, we are in proximity to the 10th of Kislev (when the Mitteler Rebbe was released from prison) and the 9th of Kislev (his birthday and yartzeit). Furthermore, the two days are connected, since his redemption (on the 10th) was announced on the 9th, but was delayed a day since the 9th fell on Shabbos. It is therefore a proper time to make resolutions to increase in our Torah study and observance of mitzvos, in particular in accordance with the example of the Mitteler Rebbe. This is particularly true in that we are among a large number of people, as the Rebbe Rashab explains that when a resolution is made amongst many people, there is a much greater chance it will come to fulfillment.

The previous Rebbe once explained that the Mitteler Rebbe corresponds to the supernal sefirah of “binah” (understanding), representing a tremendous broadening and expansion of previous ideas (similar to the effect of “binah” in regard to “chochmah” — wisdom), like a “broad river.” We see that the Mitteler Rebbe wrote and published Chassidic philosophy in great volume. His explanations were also presented in a very broad, descriptive manner.

Our resolutions must therefore begin with a commitment to a great quantitative increase in Torah study in general, and in Chassidic philosophy in particular. The effect of this resolution should be felt throughout the year, and since “one mitzvah leads to another,” should lead to an expansion in all matters of holiness. This expansion in Torah will help bring about an expansion in the Jewish people (“until it should be impossible to count them”) and in the land of Israel (“Hashem, your G‑d, will expand your borders”) and this should all come speedily and with great joy.

2. All the abovementioned applies to the celebration of the 10th of Kislev every year. There is, however, a lesson to be derived specifically in connection with this year, since there are constant variations as to which day of the week it occurs and which Torah portion is read during that particular week. This lesson, although accentuated this year, will provide us with guidance throughout all coming years as well. This year, the 10th of Kislev falls on Friday, the 6th day of the week, associated with the Torah portion of Vayeitze. We can therefore derive the relevant lesson from the 6th segment of this Torah portion.

The last segment of the portion, associated with Shabbos, is also connected with the 10th of Kislev. All of the weekdays reach their ultimate fulfillment on the following Shabbos, and are therefore all connected with it. Friday has a special connection due to its proximity to Shabbos, which is expressed in the fact that it is even called “erev Shabbos” (Shabbos eve).

At the beginning of the week’s portion: “Ya’akov left Beer-Sheva and travelled towards Charan.” The Mitteler Rebbe explains that this verse, which superficially relates Ya’akov’s trip from Eretz Yisroel to a foreign land, alludes to the general concept of exile. This exile of Ya’akov was the prototype for the later exile of the Jewish people from Eretz Yisroel, and even the general ‘exile’ of the soul — its descent “from a high peak to a deep pit,” i.e. a body in this physical world. The intent motivating this exile, however, was a positive one — that Ya’akov should later “return in peace to my father’s home,” even better off than he was before the descent — all due to his exile. This is in consonance with the principle that “a descent is always for the purpose of a later ascent.” Similarly, the exile of the Jewish people from Eretz Yisroel and the descent of the soul into the physical realm are also temporary means of bringing us to a subsequent elevation.

This concept, which sets the tone for the entire portion, receives special stress in the 6th segment of the reading. There, the Torah relates Ya’akov’s return from Charan to Eretz Yisroel and that “Ya’akov began his journey, placing his sons and wives on camels, and led his livestock ... to return to his father Yitzchok.” We see therein clear indication of the ‘ascent’ in Ya’akov as a result of his ‘exile’ from Eretz Yisroel. Before coming to Charan he was without money, livestock, or other valuables. Only in Charan, despite its low level of holiness, was he able to gather “sons ... wives ... livestock” to the extent that “the man (Ya’akov) became exceedingly wealthy.” Thus wealth was a direct result of his ‘exile.’

This idea is similarly stressed in the final segment, corresponding to Shabbos, where during his return to Eretz Yisroel, “Ya’akov went on his way and was suddenly encountered by angels of G‑d.” Again we see a great revelation to Ya’akov (angels of G‑d) in conjunction with his sojourn in exile, as this meeting took place in Machanayim, outside of Eretz Yisroel.

This same concept connects these final two segments with the 10th of Kislev. Since Ya’akov’s descent to Charan is compared with exile, it follows that his return to Eretz Yisroel corresponds to redemption. This is the obvious connection with the 10th of Kislev, when the Mitteler Rebbe was redeemed after his imprisonment.

From the verse mentioned above, “he was suddenly encountered by angels of G‑d,” we have a wondrous lesson regarding the situation of all Jews in our era of exile. Rashi explains why these angels came and from where they came from: “angels from Eretz Yisroel came to greet him and accompany him to the land.”

This means that in addition to those angels who had already been with Ya’akov in Charan, additional angels left Eretz Yisroel to accompany him until he reached Eretz Yisroel. Ya’akov had no essential need for these angels; G‑d had already protected him with ‘local’ angels, to the extent that even Lavan recognized G‑d’s protection over him, even to “not say anything, good or bad, to Ya’akov.” The sole reason for G‑d’s sending the angels was that Ya’akov’s journey should not only be safe, but honorable as well. Even when still outside Eretz Yisroel, G‑d wanted him to feel the presence of Eretz Yisroel: the presence of redemption.

Furthermore, the non-Jewish nations themselves were even brought to realize this fact. The place where this encounter occurred was called “Machanayim” (camps, in the plural) in commemoration of the presence of the two camps of angels — the local ones and those from Eretz Yisroel. The nations accordingly came to a realization that G‑d had sent this second group of angels simply because the Jews were deserving of honor.

The Tzemach Tzedek expressed a similar point when he commanded “Make this place Eretz Yisroel. This means that even in the exile, a Jew can accomplish a transformation of his environment and bring it to the level of the Holy Land. The extent of this transformation is limited, however, by the fact that our capabilities are also limited. The revelation we are referring to here involved a transformation higher than any possible human accomplishment.

The verse reveals this by stating that Ya’akov was “suddenly encountered” by these angels. Ya’akov had apparently not asked for these angels nor expected them. The reason for this is that some revelations are so high that a human request is incomparably low and irrelevant. Ya’akov recognized that this was such a revelation and could only be given upon G‑d’s independent determination, and not in response to a prayer or request. The expression “suddenly encountered” therefore comes to stress the outstanding quality of this revelation — that it was categorically superior and independent of any human intervention.

One might claim that he feels no sense of redemption. Here we are, thousands of years after the ‘redemption’ of Ya’akov from Charan and we still find ourselves in the dark, bitter throes of exile. Furthermore, an honest appraisal of one’s personal behavior will also reveal a personal exile which compounds the effect of the exile in general.

For this claim we have the wondrous teaching from the above-mentioned portion. Not only is a Jew (even in exile) provided with all his necessities, including safety and security; not only does recognition of this fact penetrate even the non-Jewish nations (as Lavan recognized) and keep them from interfering with a Jew; not only do they come to help the Jewish people in all their needs, even moreso, G‑d sends him a revelation of angels from the Holy Land even when their presence is not totally necessary, simply because he deserves honorable treatment. These angels accordingly imbue him with a sense of redemption, even when he himself is still in exile. This applies to each and every Jew, since we are all given the command and capability of following in the footsteps of our Patriarchs — particularly Ya’akov.

What about his claim that he does not feel or see any sense of redemption? This must be attributed to a lack of effort on his part. The Zohar states that “G‑d looked in the Torah, and thereby created the world. So too, man learns Torah and thereby sustains the world.” In our case, his ‘world’ of redemption is dependent upon his Torah study. Through studying these concepts in Torah mentioned above (having a sense of redemption even in exile), and behaving in accordance with the example of Ya’akov, he will certainly bring about a realization of this concept in the physical world for himself and for all to see.

Since this story is related in the Torah, it must contain a lesson even for small children. This is true for a little boy of five, who has just begun studying; a little girl, even below five (since “women were given an extra measure of understanding”); and even younger ones who hear the stories told to them, as is the widespread Jewish custom.

When a small child views the world around him, he notices the overwhelming proportion of non-Jews. He might perhaps become afraid of them, that they might hit him, etc. We therefore tell him the lesson we have previously discussed. ‘Behave as a Jewish child should’ — in the steps of Ya’akov -’and G‑d will not only protect you, but send you angels from Eretz Yisroel, just as He did to Ya’akov!’

Unfortunately, there are many grown Jews who also need this lesson. They are so afraid of non-Jews that they denigrate themselves, fall at the feet of the non-Jews, and even dance before them, just to gain favor in their eyes. They would even endanger the security of the entire Jewish people just to improve their standing in the eyes of the non-Jewish nations. We must teach them, together with the children, to follow the proper path and not be afraid, for G‑d protects us, and in an honorable fashion, even in exile.

We mentioned previously that this portion, describing Ya’akov’s ‘redemption’ from Charan, corresponds to the 10th of Kislev, the redemption of the Mitteler Rebbe. We find an additional connection between the Torah portion and the Mitteler Rebbe in regard to our pre-redemption status as well.

The Mitteler Rebbe, as we mentioned, is well known for his broad and voluminous exposition of Torah in general, and Chassidic philosophy in particular — like a “wide river.” Our learning of Torah while still in exile, particularly Chassidic philosophy, and in a broad manner, brings us to a broadening of perspective and an elevation above and beyond our circumstances. Through learning Chassidus, we attain a sense of redemption even when in exile, just as Ya’akov felt when the angels from Eretz Yisroel (‘redemption’) encountered him in Charan (‘exile’).

Let it be G‑d’s will that we go directly from the redemption of the Mitteler Rebbe to the redemption of the entire Jewish people through Moshiach, when “those that live in the dust (the deceased) shall arise and sing,” with the Mitteler Rebbe in front, speedily in our days.

* * *

3. It is customary to discuss something from Rashi’s commentary on the weekly portion. Since we are close to the 10th of Kislev, we shall discuss a verse which was often mentioned by the Mitteler Rebbe.

In several of his Chassidic discourses, the Mitteler Rebbe discusses the “ringed, spotted, and streaked” (“akudim, n’kudim and b’rudim”) sheep of Ya’akov and their spiritual significance. In the process of creating the universe, there are 3 general stages of development (“worlds”) referred to as “akudim, n’kudim and b’rudim.” The ultimate purpose of their creation is for the lowest of the three, “b’rudim,” or world of “Tikkun.” Since “brudim” is the ultimate goal of creation, we will discuss Rashi’s comments regarding this “streaked” aspect of the sheep.

On the verse: “I lifted up my eyes and saw a dream that the bucks mounting the sheep were ringed, spotted, and streaked” (Gen. 31:10), Rashi explains the word “streaked” (“brudim”), that “The Targum translates it ‘open blotches’ ... a thread of white encompasses the body. The spots are open and extend one into another. I have found no example (literally ‘witness’) anywhere in Scripture.”

The first obvious question is why does Rashi say that the word “b’rudim” isn’t found in Scripture? The same word is found in Zechariah 6:3 in the vision of the four chariots, the fourth of which was pulled by horses which were “b’rudim”! A further question: Why does Rashi have to turn to Targum for a translation of this word? An advanced student would assume that “brudim” is the plural of “bared” or hail, and interpret that the spots were shaped like hail! (As the Radak explains.) Another point to be raised is Rashi’s description that the streaks were like “a thread of white.” From where does Rashi derive that they were white?

The explanation: Rashi cannot learn that “b’rudim” comes from the word “barad” (hail) as the Radak learns, because this would contradict what he has previously explained. Previous verses mentioned that the animals were “Cluim,” which Rashi explained as having broad spots, derived from the word “talai,” or patch. The difference between “n’kudim” (spotted) and “t’luim” (flecked) is only in the size of the spots: the former represents small dots, whereas the latter indicates broader marks. Rashi, therefore, cannot explain “brudim” as meaning hail — like spots, larger than “n’kudim,” this would make ‘b’rudim’ the same as ‘t’luim’! Since the Scripture uses two different expressions, they must have different meanings. Rashi, therefore, explains “b’rudim” according to the Targum.

Regarding Rashi’s statement: that “I have found no witness anywhere in Scripture,” Rashi does not mean that the same word is not found elsewhere. As we have mentioned, the same word is found in Zechariah. Rashi means only that he has no witness, i.e., no instance from which we can derive the meaning of the word. We can see that this is Rashi’s intention from a similar previous statement of his (Bereishis 30:41). There, Rashi declares that there is no ‘witness’ and brings immediately thereafter two verses with a similar word.

Rashi’s comment that the streaks (b’rudim) were white can be understood in reference to an earlier verse. When Ya’akov peeled stripes from the wooden sticks (30:37) he “uncovered the white layer underneath.” When the animals saw these sticks and mated, the offsprings had markings instead of uniform coloring like their parents -similar to the sticks which also had various colors, the color of the bark and the revealed white of the fresh wood underneath. Rashi therefore derives that the streaks were white, since they resulted from the animals’ gazing at the sticks, which also contained white (cf. 30:35 and Rashi there).

We have often discussed the fact that Rashi’s commentary, although it primarily addresses the simple meaning of the verse, alludes to deep, esoteric concepts in Torah.

As previously mentioned, “b’rudim” represents the world of “Tikkun,” which is characterized by the presence of differing entities which nevertheless coexist and intertwine together. This aspect is compared to a multi-colored object, the beauty of which derives from the combination and proximity of the many colors. Chassidic philosophy explains how such a coexistence can be effected: through a spiritual revelation from a source higher than any differentiation of “colors.” This comes from the infinite light of G‑d, which is described as being “white” to indicate its purity and transcendental nature. Rashi alludes to this concept by translating “b’rudim” as “a thread of white” — the combination of many entities (“b’rudim”) comes through a higher, totally pure revelation (“thread of white”).

We can apply this concept to our personal service of G‑d. “White” represents the untainted essence of the soul. How can one bring this essence into actuality in our daily lives? One must remove all of the influences and attitudes which cover and conceal this essence. This is similar to the way Ya’akov revealed the white part of the sticks — by peeling off the outside bark, and allowing the white to show through.

A further lesson can be derived from Rashi’s comment that “the spots are open and extend ...” The Hebrew word for “spots” (“chabarburot”) is similar to the word “bond” (“chibur”), meaning the connection between G‑dliness and everything in the world. This bond to G‑d must be “open” and “extended,” to permeate every detail and every corner of the world. A person thereby fulfills the purpose of his creation; to make the world a dwelling place for G‑d.

Let it be G‑d’s will that we should not stop with the learning of Torah, but improve our actions and thereby merit the redemption. There are some for whom the opportunity to learn Torah is enough. They prefer exile to redemption — as long as they can sit and learn Torah! Some even confuse “light” and “darkness,” they claim we are already in the midst of the redemption, despite the fact that the exile has never been as severe as in recent times.

Nevertheless, Moshiach will take every Jew out of exile. They will be collected individually, and even if they prefer remaining in exile they will nevertheless be brought to redemption.


4. It is also customary to discuss my father’s commentary on the Zohar. The Zohar on this week’s portion states: “R. Shimon went out into the city and met R. Abba, R. Chiya, and R. Yossi ... each one explained a verse: R. Abba commented on ‘G‑d spoke to Avram;’ R. Chiya on ‘The land you (Ya’akov) are lying upon;’ and R. Yossi on ‘This time I (Leah) will thank G‑d,’ and all of them spoke words of praise of R. Shimon.” My father comments that each of the three chose a verse corresponding to his own spiritual qualities, and explains the similarity of R. Abba, R. Chiya, and R. Yossi to Avraham, Ya’akov, and Leah in Kabbalistic terms. He does not discuss, however, what we can learn from this story to pertain to our lives.

We must first understand why these three wanted to praise R. Shimon. In general, we find that praise is offered in order to elicit the particular quality that is mentioned. It is for this reason that we praise G‑d in our prayers, since He certainly does not need our praise! By declaring that G‑d is “The Shield of Avraham,” we draw down and reveal this aspect of His in the world. Similarly, these three praised R. Shimon in order that he would teach them the inner secrets of Torah.

There are three general levels in the study of Chassidic philosophy and the manner in which it affects the person:

1) When a person studies Chassidus at its deepest and most profound level. This is the level of Avram (“ram” meaning “elevated”) and R. Abba.

2) When this knowledge is brought down to a level of concrete realization, to the extent that it permeates the person’s entire being, even to his lowest aspects (symbolically represented by a “heel”). This is the level of Ya’akov (whose name stems from the word “eikev,” or “heel”) and R. Chiya.

3) The knowledge affects the person to the extent that it brings him to concrete physical expression. This corresponds to Leah, who (in the verse quoted in Zohar) thanked G‑d for having her give birth to another son, Yehudah. The act of birth represents all concrete, physical action.

Although these three levels apply to the study of Torah in general (including the revealed aspect), they are particularly necessary when studying the inner, esoteric parts of Torah. One can learn the Talmud, for example, without having in mind any practical consequence, such as a legal conclusion, etc. When learning the inner part of Torah, however, one must ensure that his study permeates his entire being to the extent of affecting his actions. This is because the purpose of learning the inner parts of Torah is to “Know the G‑d of your fathers and (thereby come to) serve Him with all your heart ...”

After achieving all these three levels there remains one final step. In the verse regarding Leah, she praises (“odeh”) G‑d for the birth of Yehudah. Therefore, even after a person perfects himself and becomes a tremendous intellectual, etc. (the idea of Leah), he must reach the level of “bitul” (utter devotion and self-negation) represented by Yehudah. Through this “bitul” he will be able to reach higher levels, that were previously unattainable.

This is also the explanation of the cryptic statement that “The ultimate knowledge is not knowing.” This is seemingly contradictory: how can we reconcile knowledge, and moreso, “ultimate knowledge” with “not knowing”? In light of the previous discussion, the statement becomes clear. After accumulating all the knowledge humanly possible, a person must reach a level of self-negation (“not knowing”). Through this, he will be able to reach an even higher level of “ultimate knowledge,” far superior to that previously realized.

With this we can also explain the statement of the Rebbe Rashab: that “‘The ultimate knowledge is not knowing,’ but when one opens a Likkutei Torah — that’s knowing!” The ultimate is not to remain on a level of “bitul” but rather to reach a higher state of knowledge.

[In Tanya (Iggeres HaKodesh 24) there is a discussion of the severity of speaking in the middle of prayer “shacharis, ma’ariv, minchah, etc.” The Rebbe Shlita discussed a mistaken interpretation of the incongruous order and the “etc.”, and gave his own explanation. He then continued,]

We see from this instance that sometimes even a mistake can bring a good result. There is a story illustrating this point in regard to the Radatz (R. Dovid Tzvi of Tchernikov). After a reprinting of the Alter Rebbe’s Likkutei Torah, a copy was presented to the Radatz. The printer remarked that he had found and corrected 3000 printing errors. The Radatz seemed to be displeased, and explained that previously there were many parts of Likkutei Torah that were difficult to understand due to these errors. Upon encountering such a section, the Chassidim would exert themselves and increase their study amidst great energetic discussion until they arrived at a solution. Now (due to the corrections) everything will be easy to learn, they will not have to exert themselves, and everyone will learn a little bit and then go to sleep!

Since we have mentioned R. Dovid Tzvi, we should discuss an interesting subject: what he was called. He was well-known as being one of the greatest, well-learned chassidim, and one of the few to receive rabbinical ordination from the Rebbe Maharash. Nevertheless, Chassidim always referred to him by his first name — not ‘Reb Dovid Hersh,’ or even ‘Dovid Hersh,’ but ‘Dovid Hershel’! This is an example of the custom among chassidim not to use excessive honorary titles, etc.

After searching for a halachic source for this custom, I finally found it explicitly discussed in the Talmud. There, it discusses the reason why Uriah was considered to have rebelled against Dovid: while standing in front of the king he referred to Yoav in an honorable fashion — “my master, Yoav.” While standing in front of the king one is forbidden to accord honor to any other individual, and such an act is considered rebellion.

Chassidim always consider themselves to be standing before their Rebbe. When repeating a statement from one’s teacher, our Sages say that one must imagine that the teacher is standing right before him. Since the words of the Rebbe are always engraved in the minds of the Chassidim, they are always standing before their Rebbe. Standing before their Rebbe they do not want to accord anyone else honor, and therefore minimize the use of honorary titles.