The hall of the yeshivah was already filled from end to end …. There were Rebbeim, brilliant and renowned rabbonim, and the entire spiritual aristocracy of Warsaw…. They all rose in honor of the groom and remained standing until he took his seat….

An extended silence prevailed throughout the entire building. Suddenly, the face of our revered Rebbe, [the Rebbe Rayatz,] changed color; red was replaced by white. He resembled an angel of G‑d…. Like the stars of dawn, his pure eyes radiated sparks of ethereal light…. All those assembled were aroused in awe…. An indescribable trembling seized every man who beheld him ….

These words,1 penned by Reb Eliyahu Chayim Althaus, the chassidwhom the Rebbe Rayatz2 had appointed to serve as the shomer (escort) of his future son-in-law, our Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, in the days before his wedding, spirit us back to a world which is hard for us to picture. They do more than describe the Kabbalas Panim, the reception, that preceded the wedding of our Rebbe to Rebbitzin Chayah Mushka, daughter of the Rebbe Rayatz; they give us a glimpse of the spiritual environment that animated Jewish Warsaw in 5689 (1928). The lives of the people beat to a different drum, one that had a unique Jewish rhythm. Something beyond their material concerns dominated their thoughts. Yet even guests of that spiritual caliber were shaken with a sense of awe as the Rebbe Rayatz began to speak, introducing the maamar, Lechah Dodi, that he was about to deliver:

As is well known, the souls of the forebears of the bride and groom – for all Jews, those from as far back as three generations, and in certain instances, for there are many levels regarding this, those from even further back – come from the World of Truth and are present when a Jewish wedding is celebrated. By way of invitation to the souls of the tzaddikim – our revered forebears, the Rebbeim of their respective generations – to attend the chuppah and bless the new couple, we will now deliver a maamar. Its teachings derive partly from the Alter Rebbe; partly from the Mitteler Rebbe; partly from my great-grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek; partly from my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, the great-grandfather of the bride; partly from the groom’s great-great-grandfather R. Baruch Shalom, the eldest son of the Tzemach Tzedek; and partly from my father, the Rebbe Rashab, the bride’s grandfather.

Our Sages remind us:3 “Whoever cites a teaching in the name of its author should visualize that teacher standing before him.”

Whenevera maamar would be delivered by one of the Rebbeim, two dimensions could be perceived: the spiritual light and energy that the maaamar conveyed, and the intellectual concepts in which that light and energy were garbed. When the Rebbe Rayatz delivered his maamar in the above-described setting and with such an introduction, it was natural for those spiritual elements to take prominence over the intellectual.

But it wasn’t only at that time. Even when the maamar Lechah Dodi is reviewed in another setting or studied from a printed text, the spiritual aura it conveys is powerful.

In fact the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, suggested that every groom repeat this maamar before his wedding.4 The stated reason for doing so, as the Rebbe Rayatz emphasized, is to invite the Rebbeim to the wedding ceremony. Nevertheless, it is clear that the intent is also to infuse the wedding ceremony – and afterwards, the couple’s shared life – with the spiritual energy that the maamar conveys.


Our Rebbe advised not only reciting the maamar before the wedding ceremony, but also studying it as part of one’s preparation for married life.5 He facilitated that process by delivering his own review of the maamar6 in which he explained the concepts that the Rebbe Rayatz had conveyed in seminal form, enabling them to be internalized and to serve as guidance on which a couple can build their lives.

In that maamar, the Rebbe describes the relationship between a groom and a bride in terms of the interaction between a mashpia and a mekabel. The word mashpia relates to shefa, meaning “flow.” A mashpia is the source of flow, a bestower of energy, a giver of love, knowledge, blessing, and the like. The word mekabel means “recipient,” one whoreceives and accepts what the mashpia grants.

A true mashpia doesn’t need anything from the mekabel.7 If he does he is not a mashpia. That would be a give-and-take relationship and he would be just as much a mekabel as a mashpia. Rather, he is focused solely on giving.

When a mekabel comes in contact with such a mashpia, he is in awe. Such a person makes him feel small and he feels a tendency to withdraw. The mashpia must therefore take the initial step forward, extending himself to the mekabel, and inviting the mekabel to interact.


Taking this steps presents the mashpia with a dilemma: If he communicates with the mekabel on his own level, the mekabel will not be able to accept and internalize what is being given. Conversely, if the mashpia descends to the mekabel’s level, the mekabel will never be exposed to the higher level of the mashpia. Hence, the mashpia must reach out to the mekabel, but must do so in a manner that preserves his uniqueness. A carefully-designed process is necessary to make it possible for the two to share and communicate in a manner that brings to the fore the full range of potentials that each possesses.


The nature of this process can be understood through the explanation of three types of influence (i.e., endowment) that a mashpia conveys to a mekabel:

a) Hashpaah pnimis – “influence that is internalized.” In this mode, the mashpia imparts something substantial that the mekabel can absorb and internalize. This influence is, by definition, limited, since it depends on the level of the recipient, i.e., how much he is capable of receiving.

For example, when a teacher wants to convey a concept to a student, he does not present the concept as he sees it. Were he to do so, the student would be lost. Instead, he gauges the student’s existing scholarship and intellectual capacity, and tailors his presentation to fit the student’s ability to grasp it. On an apparent level, he has compromised the full depth of the concept,8 but that is necessary. This is the only way in which the student will grasp his instruction.

b) Hashpaah be’ofen makif – “influence that is imparted in an encompassing manner,” also called hashpaah chitzonis, external influence. When a mashpia is on a far higher plane than the mekabel and desires to express himself spontaneously, there is no way that he can communicate what he wishes to convey to the mekabel in a manner that the mekabel can internalize. Therefore, the mashpia does not even attempt to relate to the recipient on his own level. Instead, he conveys his insights in such a manner that the recipient is aware that they are far beyond his reach. Hence the term makif, “encompassing.”

For example, students traditionally observe their spiritual mentors in prayer. They do not merely glance at them while they daven. They watch and listen for prolonged periods – and through that, they learn. True, they cannot internalize this influence. By merely observing, they have not been taught concepts that they can comprehend, but they have been exposed to the higher plane on which their mentor operates, and in the process, they are elevated beyond their own limited horizons.

c) Hashpaah atzmis – “essential influence.” In this case, the influence that is conveyed transcends not only the mekabel, but the conscious state of the mashpia as well. The mashpia communicates not only the peripheral aspects of his being but also something of his own essential core.

The most appropriate – and perhaps the only perfect example – of such influence in our material world is the birth of a child. Parents who are blind or otherwise physically handicapped may give birth to a child who is sighted and physically sound. Since they are conveying their essence and not their revealed powers, the fact that their revealed powers are impaired does not affect the essential influence they convey to their child.

To a lesser extent, there are parallels to hashpaah atzmis on many levels. When such influence is conveyed, both the mashpia and the mekabel align themselves with their own respective essential cores, and bond with each other in a manner that transcends their own conscious state of being.


In the relationship between a bride and a groom, all three of the above forms of influence are conveyed. The first two levels of connection, hashpaah pnimis and hashpaah be’ofen makif, are necessary as preparatory stages to enable hashpaah atzmis to take place. To go back to the example of mashpia and mekabel: As an invitation to the mekabel to share his higher level, the mashpia reveals something of his inner self.

True, the mekabel cannot internalize intellectually what he sees, yet this awakens his eagerness to receive more. However, it also produces an approach of bittul; the mekabel’s awe of the mashpia increases as he is exposed to the latter’s higher qualities.

This opens up the mekabel and makes him able to receive the influence the mashpia will convey. Furthermore, the mekabel’s eagerness awakens the mashpia’s desire to give more and indeed, to share on a higher level, conveying hashpaah atzmis.

In this phase, the emphasis shifts to the mekabel, forhis potential reflects the essence more than the potential of the mashpia. And it is the mekabel who will ultimately bring this potential into expression.


The concepts which the Rebbe Rayatz taught in his maamar (the first of the maamarim that follow) were fleshed out and elaborated upon by the Rebbe (in the second maamar). In translating these maamarim, we have continued that process, presenting them – as in the earlier publications in this series – as a shiur on paper. When a maamar is taught in a shiur, the teacher reads a passage, translates it into the language in which his listeners are most comfortable, and intersperses his own explanations, sometimes brief and sometimes lengthy. In these pages we have tried to capture that live interplay between the words of the Rebbe and the words of the student, i.e., the words of the teacher conveying the maamar – or, to borrow the classic idiom, divrei harav and divrei hatalmid.

The reader now has before him the original Hebrew text of the maamar, its translation, the explanatory words and concepts added by the translators, and the Rebbe’s explanatory notes which were originally included as footnotes but are here woven into the exposition of the texts. The footnotes here include the translation of footnotes originally included in the Rebbe’s maamarim as well as references and commentary added by our staff.


As in a marriage relationship, the translation of these maamarim was not a one-person effort but the result of harmonious synergy. Moreover, here, not only two people were involved, but many different contributors. Among those who shared their skills are:

Rabbis Eliyahu Touger and Sholom Ber Wineberg, who translated the texts and provided the explanations;

Mrs. Rochel Chana Riven, who edited the maamarim and labored to make them comprehensible to the widest possible readership;

Rabbi Aharon Leib Raskin, who annotated the sources and checked the authenticity of the translation;

Uri Kaploun, who edited the Foreword;

Spotlight Design, who crafted the layout and typography;

Yosef Yitzchok Turner, who painstakingly applied that design page by page to produce an attractive and user-friendly text; and

Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English, who oversaw every phase of the project’s development.


Every wedding on this earthly plane is a microcosm of the bond between G‑d and the Jewish people. By celebrating weddings in the present era – and by applying the insights into the husband-wife relationship that these two maamarim convey – we hasten the time when that ultimate wedding relationship will blossom into complete fulfillment in the era of Mashiach.

Sichos In English
Yud Shvat, 5777 (2017)