The identity of the recipient of this letter was not released.

B”H, 16 Teves, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

Your letter was duly received and [indeed,] received with pleasure, because of the information — given indirectly — that you are well and that you have established fixed times for study sessions of Chassidus. Certainly among those study sessions is one that focuses on the maamarim of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, even though you do not mention that individually.

As I wrote at length in another place, it is well known that a comprehensive soul1 is the medium for all Divine influence, and not only spiritual influence. And the Rebbe [Rashab] said: “Study my Chassidus and you will become my chassid.” This serves as instruction, applicable in every generation. One’s hiskashrus (connection to the Rebbe) has to be through the Torah. In particular, this applies to Chabad chassidim. This is not the place for discussion of the matter.

In response to your notes on the subjects you studied:

a) In the Siddur, at the conclusion of Shaar HaSukkos, it states: “With regard to the Hakkafos of Shemini Atzeres that [are performed with] the Torah scroll itself.... This is a custom instituted by the prophets for the Hakkafos... and only a custom of the prophets.... Since the rejoicing of the Hakkafos is the rejoicing of the Torah itself, it is on a very high level.”

You ask: What is the source which states that [Hakkafos] are a custom of the prophets? In the second maamar entitled U’Shavtem in Likkutei Torah, it is stated that [the Hakkafos] are only a custom and the word “of the prophets” is omitted. Similarly, the Siddur of Maharid does not mention the prophets.

If one wishes to say that there is not a printing error in the Mitteler Rebbe’s Siddur, in light of the difficulty of the question, the following explanation — even though it is somewhat forced — can be given for the statement that [the Hakkafos] are a custom of the prophets based on the preface [of the following concepts]. The maamar mentioned above explains the difference between the wine libation [brought every day], the water libation [brought on Sukkos], and the Hakkafos, [stating that they respectively] draw down the intellectual potentials of Imma [Binah], the intellectual potentials of Abba [Chochmah], and the encompassing lights of Abba.

Thus the wine libation which is associated with the intellectual potentials of Imma is possible to be — and [hence] must be — expressed in an explicit law stated in the Written Torah, which is also associated with [the Sefirah of] Binah. The water libation which is associated with the intellectual potentials of Abba is possible to be — and [hence] must be — expressed in an explicit law stated in the Oral Torah, which is also associated with [the Sefirah of] Chochmah. The Hakkafos with the Torah scroll itself are associated with the encompassing lights of Abba (which are above Chochmah itself, and certainly, above Binah). [Because of the high source for this practice,] it cannot be referred to explicitly as a law, even according to Rabbinic decree. Hence it is merely a custom of the prophets.

There are several particulars with regard to the Hakkafos:a) they are carried out with the Torah scroll itself; b) they involve deed, rather than intellect, emotion, thought, or speech; c) they involve taking the Torah scroll from the ark in which it is enclosed, as stated there in the Siddur;d) afterwards, we circle [the reader’s platform] with [the Torah scroll].

It is possible to explain the particular activities and allusions [as follows]:

a) Since the Hakkafos are carried out with the Torah scroll itself, the happiness is therefore relevant to every Jew; i.e., it is not merely [associated] with understanding that is identified with the Levites or with wisdom which is associated with scribes, but it transcends both of them, being above even the inner light of Chochmah, and the beginning is rooted in the end.2

b) Since it involves an aspect of deed, it has the potential of drawing down an encompassing light. See the explanation given in several sources regarding the positive quality [expressed in the observance of] physical deed, [which relates to] the acceptance of the yoke expressed by a simple servant.3

c) The Torah scroll is taken out of the ark, which is identified with Arich Anpin, as explained in the Siddur, loc. cit. The encompassing lights drawn down by deedhave their source in Arich Anpin, the encompassing lights of Chochmah.

d) [Dancing] around [the reader’s platform] afterwards facilitates the internalization of these lights within man; i.e., since they are lofty, encompassing lights of a general nature, the manner in which they are internalized within man is first a process of iggulim,4and then yosher,5 as explained in the sichah of Simchas Torah, 5652, which is printed in the beginning of Toras Sholom.

The conclusion from all the above: The first three elements mentioned above reflect the inner nature of the Divine influence, and through the three [activities] associated with these levels the Divine influence is drawn down. The fourth element relates to the internalization of this influence within man. From this it can be understood that what is significant in the maamar in the Siddur is the difference in nature between the laws of the wine libation, the water libation, and the Hakkafos. These represent the first three elements. These three particular elements are a custom carried out by a prophet, i.e., King David, who was a prophet (see Rashi, Megillah 14a) for we find [in reference to] David [acting in this manner] when the ark was taken from the house of [Oved-Edom]: “David was dancing and leaping,” [and he said:] “I will be lowly in my eyes; and among the maid-servants... I will be honored” (II Shmuel 6[:16, 22]). The conduct of David the prophet serves as instruction for the entire Jewish people, as stated in the Rambam [Mishneh Torah,] the conclusion of Hilchos Lulav.6The intent of the expression “the custom of the prophets” here is not necessarily that we saw [the prophets] conduct themselves in this way on Shemini Atzeres, but rather we found that when the Torah scroll was taken out of the ark in which it was enclosed, there would be a great expression of happiness and it would be expressed in deeds and through dancing.

Similarly, the intent of the statement in the Siddur regarding the Hakkafos being a custom of the prophets is not to highlight the practice of circling [the reader’s platform] as opposed to proceeding in a straight line and the like. Instead, the focus is on the fact that at times the Torah scroll is taken out of its ark and then there is happiness which is manifest on the level of action “with great rejoicing, dancing before [the scrolls],” instead of studying and the like.

Note also that the practice of holding a celebratory feast on Simchas Torah is derived from the conduct of King Solomon (see the beginning of Koheles Rabbah,the Tur,and the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 669) who was also one of the 48 prophets. See also Zohar III, p. 256b, and Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 21 (p. 56a), with regard to the concept of SimchasTorah.

b) In the maamar entitled Zos Chanukas, 5640, at the conclusion of sec. 8,7 it isstated: “Therefore the princes offered silver bowls and golden spoons even though a freewill offering of flour would be brought in an Egyptian basket.” You raise a question, for [it is stated] only with regard to the meal offering of a sotah that it should be brought in an Egyptian basket.

Note that: i) a similar statement is found in Likkutei Torah, the conclusion of Parshas Naso, p. 29b; ii) You could have asked a stronger question, for Sotah 14bstates: “What is the order of the meal-offerings? A person should bring a meal-offering from his home in a silver or gold bowl.” Implied is that [he should not use] an Egyptian basket.

[The resolution of] the above can be explained [as follows]: The primary intent of the princes in these twelve days was to bring freewill offerings for — to use the Torah’s words — “the dedication of the altar.” It is obvious that what was most significant in relation to the altar were the entities offered upon it: the meal-offering, the incense, and the sacrifices. Nevertheless, the princes also desired that the vessels in which they brought the above should also become consecrated. In that context, the following law is [significant]. If the freewill offerings were brought in an Egyptian basket — a basket made from palm leaves — then the basket as well as its contents would become [sanctified]. This would not apply [if they were brought] in a silver or golden vessel (Bikkurim 3:5). The order of the meal-offerings mentioned in Sotah, loc. cit., is different, because in that instance, the vessels were left unconsecrated and only the meal was brought to be offered.

c) The maamar entitled BaLailah HaHu, 5700, sec. 4, states that during sleep opposites can be combined, like an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. You raise a question, for our Sages (Berachos 55b) state that a person will not see an elephant passing through the eye of a needle in his dreams.

According to my humble opinion, there is no question. The [above-cited Talmudic] passagestates: “[In] a man’s [dreams], he is only shown what he thinks about in his heart.... Know this. For a man will not see in his dreams... an elephant in the eye of a needle.” From that it is understood that if a person thinks about this very matter, that it is impossible to see an elephant [passing through] the eye of a needle in a dream, it is possible that at night he will dream about an elephant entering the eye of a needle, because a dream combines opposites. (Nevertheless, it is very uncommon that a person will even think about the negation of this image,8 for they are opposites whose combination is entirely impossible. Therefore our Sages said that one won’t see this [image].) See the gloss of the Turei Zahav to Orach Chayim 288:105 and the Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, Shaar HaMiluim, the conclusion of sec. 62.9 Consult those sources.