Parshas HaChodesh1

מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ נִיסָן. אֲמִירַת כָּל הַתְּהִלִּים בְּהַשְׁכָּמָה. יוֹם הִתְוַעֲדוּת. הפטורה: כֹּה אָמַר - עוֹלַת תָּמִיד.

[On the Shabbos preceding Rosh Chodesh,] we bless the new month, Nissan. [It is our custom] to recite the entire Book of Tehillim early in the morning and to hold a farbrengen on that day.

The haftarah begins Ko amar and ends olas tamid (Yechezkel 45:18 - 46:15).

מִשִּׂיחַת אַאַמוּ"ר: חֵטְא בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן הָיָ' בְּקָרְבָתָם לִפְנֵי ה' וַיָּמוּתוּ, רָצוֹא בְּלִי שׁוֹב. דעֶר אֱמֶת אִיז אַז מְ'קוּמְט לִפְנֵי ה' דאַרְף זַיין תִּטְהָרוּ, רֵיין אוּן קְלאָהְר, עֶס מוּז זִיךְ דעֶרְהעֶרעֶן אִין מַעֲשֶׂה בְּפוֹעַל, כָּל הַגָּבוֹהַּ גָּבוֹהַּ בְּיוֹתֵר יוֹרֵד לְמַטָּה מַטָּה בְּיוֹתֵר, וְרָצוֹא בְּלִי שׁוֹב, הִיא מִיתָה. וְעַל זֶה בָּא צִוּוּי ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה (וַיִּקְרָא טז בּ) שֶׁיּאֹמַר לְאַהֲרֹן, אוֹתִיּוֹת נִרְאֶה, וּבְכֹחוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הוּא הַשְׂכָּלָה, לֵאמֹר, בִּשְׁבִיל לָבוֹא אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ גַּם מִבֵּית לַפָּרוֹכֶת שֶׁהוּא לִפְנֵי הַצִּמְצוּם, דאַרְף מעֶן ווִיסעֶן אַז עַל הָאָרֹן, אוֹתִיוֹת נִרְאֶה, הַשְׂכָּלָה, אִיז פאַראַן אַ כַּפּוֹרֶת, אַ כַּוָּנָה פוּן אַ פאַרשְׁטעֶל, וואָס דאָס אִיז דעֶר פְּנֵי הַכַּפּוֹרֶת, אֲשֶׁר עַל כֵּן וְלֹא יָמוּת, זאָל מעֶן נִיט בְּלַייבּעֶן בַּאם רָצוֹא אַלֵיין, כִּי בֶּעָנָן אֵרָאֶה עַל הַכַּפּוֹרֶת, דעֶר צִמְצוּם הָרִאשׁוֹן אִיז כַּוָּנָתוֹ הַגִּלּוּי, אוּן דעֶר מָבוֹא צוּ דעֶם אִיז דעֶר וְאַל, בִּטּוּל עַצְמִי, טאָן וואָס חֲסִידוּת הֵייסְט, נִיט דאָס וואָס דעֶר שֵׂכֶל זאָגְט, דאַן אִיז יָבוֹא אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ.

The following teaching is drawn from a sichah of my revered father, the Rebbe [Rashab]:

The sin of Aharon’s sons was that “when they drew near before G‑d, they died.”2 [They experienced] ratzo3 without shov.4 In truth, when one comes “before G‑d” he must be pure and clear, and this must find expression in one’s actual practice, for the higher a level is, the lower it descends.5 Indeed, ratzo without shov is death.

For this reason, G‑d commanded Moshe to tell Aharon: [“He shall not enter the holy chamber at all times — beyond the curtain, in front of the cover that is upon the Ark — so that he shall not die, for I appear upon the cover in a cloud. With this [offering], Aharon may enter the holy chamber….”]6

The name Aharon (אהרן) comprises the same letters as the word meaning “seen” י,(נראה)י7 which, in terms of our spiritual faculties, is identified with the intellect.

[The above-quoted verse continues, speaking of] “enter[ing] the holy chamber, beyond the curtain.” [In spiritual terms, this refers to the highest levels of Divinity] that “precede” the tzimtzum. One must realize that “upon the Ark (הארן)” — which also shares the letters of the word נראה, thus also referring to intellect — there is a cover, an intended self-concealment that is alluded to by the phrase, “in front of the cover.” And one is told: “He shall not die” — one should not content himself with the thrust of ratzo alone.

[The rationale is that] “I appear in a cloud upon the cover.” [Paradoxically, the intentional self-screening that is called] the First Tzimztum exists for the sake of [G‑d’s ultimate] self-revelation [to man]. The prerequisite to that revelation is hinted at by the phrase “he shall not,” humbling one’s ego, which means doing what Chassidus demands, not what one’s own intellect dictates. With this preparation, one “may enter the holy chamber.”8

Living as a Chassid

There is something paradoxical about ratzo, the state of yearning for G‑d. On the one hand, it is outwardly oriented. A person yearns for closeness with G‑d so powerfully that he loses all sense of self. On the other hand, that very yearning has a self-satisfying quality, a subtle delight in one’s own self-transcendence. Ironically, the “I” takes pleasure in going beyond the “I.” This of course indicates that the person has not really gone beyond himself.

How can he transcend himself? By following the directive that “he shall not” — by not doing what he himself wants, but what is required of him. This discipline leads him safely back to shov — to living within this world and transforming it into a dwelling place for G‑d.