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BASI L’GANI – 5718 –

Beis Moshiach presents the maamer the Rebbe MH”M delivered on Yud-Alef Shvat 5718, in accordance with the custom established by the Rebbe to review each year a section of the Rebbe Rayatz’s hemshech “Basi L’Gani” of 5710. • This year we focus on the eighth section of the profound and foundational Chassidic discourse. * Summary of the entire maamer.

Translated by Boruch Merkur


1. “I have returned to My garden, My sister, My bride.” On these words, the Midrash Rabba comments: “‘To My garden (l’gani)’ – to My bridal chamber (li’g’nuni), to the place where My essence was revealed in the first days of Creation,” for the Ikar Sh’china (the essence of the Divine Presence) was manifest then in the lower realms, in the physical world itself. But sin caused the Sh’china to depart, casting it away from one degree to the next, until it reached the seventh heaven. Then righteous people arose, tzaddikim, who drew the Sh’china back downwards. This process reached its pinnacle with Moshe Rabbeinu, who completed the entire process of drawing the Ikar Sh’china back down to the psychical plane. This G-dly manifestation is brought about through the Divine service of iskafia sitra achra, rejecting unholiness, and is’hapcha, sublimating it. In so doing, “the glory of the Alm-ghty is manifest (istalek) in all the worlds,” referring to a revelation of G-dliness known as Ohr HaSovev Kol Almin.

The primary manifestation of this G-dly revelation took place in the Mikdash, G-d’s sanctuary in this world. Regarding the Mikdash it is written, “‘Make for Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell among them’ – Here it does not say ‘within it’ but ‘within them,’ meaning within each and every Jew.” The Sanctuary in the desert, the Mishkan, was made of atzei shittim, acacia wood, alluding to the avoda of transforming shtus d’l’umas zeh, unholy folly, into shtus d’k’dusha, holiness that transcends reason. The wood used in the Mishkan was in the form of planks. The word “keresh – plank” is composed of the letters Kuf-Reish-Shin, letters that signify aspects of unholiness. In order to sustain their existence, the Kuf and Reish took among them the letter Shin (“a letter of truth”), enabling them to syphon vitality from the realm of holiness. The ultimate purpose of Divine service is to transform “keresh” into holiness.


2. Although Kuf shares a likeness with the letter Hei, Hei is associated with holiness whereas Kuf pertains to the unholy. This distinction is apparent in their shapes, as follows. Hei is composed of a Daled with a leg before it, on the left side. Daled has a Yud at the rear, alluding to a back-to-back union, which is an incomplete union. However, the letter Hei also has a Yud in front (i.e., its left leg), symbolic of a face-to-face unity, which is a complete union.

The Rebbe also explains that the letter Daled receives from Gimmel, as our Sages say: “Gimmel-Daled alludes to g’mol dalim, giving to the poor.” The Alter Rebbe teaches that the shape of the letter Gimmel is composed of a line – a Vav – with a point beneath it, a Yud. Vav signifies drawing G-dliness down into the world (hamshacha). Vav begins with the letter Yud, because all hamshachos are preceded by tzimtzum, a contraction of G-dliness.

To illustrate: In order for a rav to be able to teach in a way that his disciple can fathom, he must first constrict his own knowledge on the matter until it is focused into a mere point, something he feels will be comprehensible to the student. This tzimtzum is the first stage of the hamshacha, represented by the Yud at the top, the head of the Vav. The teaching must then be communicated to the student. The more the original teaching must be focused and reinterpreted for the sake of teaching the student, the more it is subject to tzimtzum. The shape of the letter Vav embodies this part of the process of hashpaa in the sense that the further it extends, the more it tapers and narrows. At the next stage, however, when the concept enters the mind of the mekabel, and he attempts to assimilate the information, processing it with his own mental faculties, the hashpaa is further constrained. This second tzimtzum is signified in the letter Gimmel by the Yud that stems out from the lower part of its Vav. The Yud symbolizes the tzimtzum engendered by the mind of the mekabel, namely, that it receives only a point of the general hashpaa.

In this dynamic of g’mol dalim, the recipient, Daled, symbolizes “one who has nothing of his own.” However, by accepting and receiving the hashpaa from Gimmel, the letter Daled becomes a Hei. That is, the hashpaa brings about an increase in G-dly light. This increase or benefit is a result of tz’daka, charity. The word “tz’daka is spelled Tzaddik-Daled-Kuf then Hei, “tzedek Hei,” for through charity Daled becomes a Hei. The hashpaa resulting from giving tz’daka gives rise to the letter Hei, face-to-face unity.


3. It is written, “I have created it, formed it, even made it.” The three terms here – “created – brasiv ,” “formed – y’tzartiv,” “even made – asisiv” – allude to the three garments of the soul: thought, speech, and action, respectively. Although these three share the common element of being mere garments of the soul, one of the three stands out – action. The distinct quality of action is apparent in the shape of the letter Hei, which is composed of three kavim (lines). The upper, horizontal line and the vertical line on the right side it is connected with signify thought and speech, and the disjoined left side signifies action. Embodying the notion that the power of action is distinct from the powers of thought and speech, the left side is separate from the other two lines of the Hei.

The shape of the letter Hei – with its three kavim signifying thought, speech, and action – teaches that the three garments of the soul are to be filled with G-dly light. G-dliness should be apparent not only in the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos in thought, speech, and action, but even in non-obligatory matters (divrei ha’r’shus); even in mundane activity the three garments of his soul are to be dedicated to G-d. Here we speak not only of physical things used for a Mitzva, but even divrei r’shus, dedicated to the Divine service of “Know Him in all your ways.” Take for example the pursuit of a livelihood. Not only does one’s conduct in business have to be strictly kosher and ethical, he also must be careful not to be overly immersed in his occupation, consumed by and obsessed with work. When one immerses himself in and becomes preoccupied with his work, he detracts from and diminishes fear of G-d and fear of sin.


4. As we have seen, the shape of the letter Hei teaches that all of one’s thought, speech, and action should be filled with G-dly light. As a result, one’s middos (character traits) are also refined. The maamer illustrates this concept with a description of a gabbai tz’daka. On the one hand, a fundraiser must be assertive, adamant, and persuasive. Nevertheless, the gabbai tz’daka speaks in a peaceful and pleasant manner and he shuns pride to the furthest degree. To ensure that the Yetzer HaRa, the Evil Inclination, does not deter a person by shaking his confidence with the question, “who am I and what am I?” there must initially be a sense of pride (hagbaa) in his avoda. But this applies only to the beginning of one’s avoda. Thus, a gabbai tz’daka who has already gained influence over others must distance himself from haughtiness to the ultimate extreme.


5. The shape of the letter Kuf is the same as a Hei apart from the Kuf’s elongated left leg, which dips below the baseline. This aspect of the letter Kuf is reflected in the mystical significance of a field. There is a holy sense of field and one that is unholy. Regarding the “unholy field” it is said: “He found her in a field. The betrothed maiden cried out but there was no one to rescue her.” The Tzemach Tzedek comments that “maiden” alludes to the G-dly Soul, which descends into the physical world. And the abusive man finds her in the “field,” the unholy field. A holy field is a place where G-d is present, as the verse states, “Beseech G-d when He is to be found; call out to Him when He is close.” Whereas, regarding an unholy field it is written, “Eisav is a man of the field” – he becomes the ruler and sovereign of it, to the extent that when the “maiden cried out” there is “no one (to) rescue her”; in this field the ruler and sovereign is none other than “Eisav…a man of the field.”

In terms of avoda, falling prey to Eisav begins with the letters of inappropriate thoughts and idle chatter that fill our minds and conversation, for negative thoughts and speech give rise to negative actions – the rod of the Kuf descending below. Not only are inappropriate thoughts and idle chatter detrimental unto themselves, they also detract from one’s general avoda.


6. The Rebbe continues in the maamer, citing the verse, “the pit was empty (reik); there was no water in it” (VaYeishev 37:24). “Reik” is spelled Kuf-Reish. The Torah teaches that these letters have “no water” within them (i.e., they are devoid of “soul,” as follows). The Rebbe distinguishes between “pit” (which is “empty” and contains “no water”) and “well,” which refers to the soul: “A garden fountain, a well of living waters.” Well water originates from saltwater, but they become “living waters” by passing through the constricting force and pressure of the earth and its fissures. The same is true of the soul: by descending into the physical world and investing itself within the “constriction” and “pressure” of the body and the Animal Soul, the soul channels a “wellspring” of “living waters” into the Higher Gan Eden, which is a “trough of water.” Divine service done specifically in the physical world reaches the spiritual heights of Ohr HaSovev.

The fact is that the decent of the soul into the physical world actually casts the soul down from the Higher Gan Eden to the Lower Gan Eden. Nevertheless, avoda in the physical world brings about the concept of innovation (his’chadshus):

The preeminence of Gan Eden over the physical world is akin to the superiority of the mind over emotions. The general Hishtalshlus (the order of the worlds) is divisible into three levels, paralleling the physical body of man: head, torso, and legs. The head houses the brain, the most exalted organ, the torso refers to middos, the emotional attributes, and the legs are merely the power of action, the lowest faculty. Reflecting the superiority of emotion over action, the torso is positioned above the legs. Indeed, all of the body – it’s legs (action) and even the torso (emotion) – receives from the brain (mind). The same understanding applies to the spiritual worlds, shedding light on the concept of Gan Eden, which is at the level of mind.

But all this is as Gan Eden exists unto itself. Through avoda specifically in Olam HaZeh, however, there is an increase of G-dly light in the Higher Gan Eden. This is the meaning of a “garden fountain – mayan ganim” – that as it exists unto itself, only Ohr HaMemalei shines in Gan Eden. Thus, it is said of Gan Eden that there the souls “sit and bask in the radiance of the Sh’china” – that the grasp is only at the level of Memalei. But through avoda in Olam HaZeh, Ohr HaSovev is manifest.


7. The above discussion pertains to the aspect of “be’er – well,” spelled with an Alef (Beis-Alef-Reish), whereas “bor – pit,” spelled with a Vav (Beis-Vav-Reish), is described in Torah as being “empty”: “the pit was empty (v’ha’bor reik); there was no water in it.” Because of the (unholy) letters Reish-Kuf (which spell “reik – empty”), “there was no water in it.” Thus, our Sages say, “‘There was no water in it’ – but there were snakes and scorpions in it,” meaning that falling short in one’s avoda results in the empowerment of klipos and Sitra Achara. Symbolic of this syphoning of energy to the unholy realm is the elongated left side of the Kuf, whose “legs descend into death” (as discussed above).

This concept is also expressed in the saying, “k’kof bifnei adam – like a monkey before a man”: Although there is thought, speech, and action in the realm of klipa, and it imitates k’dusha, it is just (a simulacrum) “like a monkey before a man.” The true expression of thought, speech, and action is in k’dusha, which corresponds to “man.” The Hebrew word for “man” is “adam,” spelled Alef-Daled-Mem, or Alef with the word “dahm” (“blood,” spelled Daled-Mem). “Dahm” is an acronym for “dibbur u’maaseh – speech and action,” and the Alef represents thought. It is thought that energizes “dahm” – speech and action. The word “adam,” being composed of the letter Alef and the word “dahm,” signifies thought, speech, and action as they are in the realm of holiness, whereas the thought, speech, and action of the unholy realm – their imitation of holiness is like “a monkey before man.”


8. The Mishkan was constructed from krashim, wooden planks, to allude to the ultimate purpose of the service in the Mishkan: to transform darkness into light. The power granted to accomplish this transformation is the avoda of tzaddikim, especially the Rebbeim of each and every generation, including the leader of our generation, the baal ha’hilula. It is the Rebbe who empowers all of his adherents and those who are associated with him to perform the avoda of iskafia and is’hapcha of Sitra Achara. Through this avoda, the glory of the Alm-ghty is exalted in all the worlds. “Basi l’gani,” the return of the Sh’china to the physical world, is thereby achieved as it was before the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. In fact, an even higher revelation of G-dliness is reached, to the extent that the ultimate purpose for the creation of the world is fulfilled – “G-d desired to have a dwelling place in the lower realms.”


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