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Tuesday
Oct312017

DON’T BE A PEASANT

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

We recently learned the following story in the HaYom Yom (6 Cheshvan): When the Alter Rebbe wished to bless R’ Yekusiel Liepler with wealth, the latter said he did not want it; he did not want wealth to distract him from studying Chassidus and from his involvement with avoda. When the Rebbe wished to bless him with longevity, his answer was: But not “peasant years” - men that have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear, who do not perceive G‑dliness nor do they hear G‑dliness.”

This story is also quoted by the Rebbe in the famous essay “Kuntres Inyana shel Toras HaChassidus - On the essence of Toras Chassidus.” In that classic essay, the Rebbe explains how Chassidus adds to all parts of the Torah, whether it be “P’shat, Remez, Drush or Sod.”

The Rebbe brings an example from the translation and meaning of Modeh Ani that we say every morning. According to “P’shat” - we are thanking Hashem for returning our Neshama and giving us new life. According to “Remez” - we are reminding ourselves of the ultimate “T’chiyas HaMeisim.” Just as Hashem gives a person life in the morning, so too Hashem will bring all dead people back to life. According to “Drush,” we learn from Modeh Ani how to show treat others. Just as Hashem returns our Neshama, even though we still “owe” much in our Avodas Hashem, so must we return things that we hold collateral from others. According to “Sod - Kabbala” - we remind ourselves that the returning of the Neshama comes through the spiritual level of “Melech chai v’kayam.”

The Rebbe continues and explains the point of Modeh Ani according to chassidus: We say Modeh Ani even before we wash our hands, to show that the inner level of a Jew - the part that “that a Jew neither wants nor is able to become severed from G‑dliness - stems from the very Essence of the [infinite] Ein Sof” - can never be made impure and is always connected with Hashem.

This idea breathes life into the previous-mentioned lessons of Modeh Ani. [For the purposes of this column, we will only discuss the level of “P’shat.”] It is not just that we are thanking Hashem for giving us life, we are thanking Hashem for giving us Jewish Life. Just to live, but not living as a Jew, is not life for a Jew. As an example of this, the Rebbe (ois 12) brings the aforementioned story of Reb Yekusiel Liepler.

In a very informative and inspiring letter (Igros Vol. 4 pg. 540), the Frierdike Rebbe recounts the life story of Reb Yekusiel Liepler. He was a very emotional person and when he connected to Chassidus, he wanted to have a Yechidus with the Alter Rebbe. In those days, chassidim prepared for a very long time before they went into Yechidus, so he was not allowed in. Being impatient, he climbed the wall of the Alter Rebbe’s house and entered through the window. When he encountered the Alter Rebbe, he screamed “Rebbe! Cut out the ‘left ventricle’” (i.e., where the Yetzer Hara resides)! The Alter Rebbe responded, “It says ‘V’Ata Mechaye es Kulam - you give life to all.’”

This HaYom Yom is a tremendous lesson for us, living in the final moments of Galus, right before the complete revelation of Moshiach. At first glance, things seem very good for the Jewish people. There is basically religious freedom for all Jews to serve Hashem and communities are growing all around the world. Kosher food is available everywhere and Torah learning is available to everyone in any language through the World Wide Web. It is very easy to get comfortable and settled in this life.

But we must remember “But not peasant years”; we must never get comfortable with “Galus years.” We must remember the words of the Rebbe that without Geula “All that I have done is l’hevel v’larik - a waste!” We must internalize the message of the sicha of Mikeitz 5752 (ois 11), where the Rebbe discusses the conversation between Pharaoh and Yaakov Avinu: “And Pharaoh said to Yaakov, ‘How many are the days of the years of your life?’ And Yaakov said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my sojournings are one hundred thirty years. The days of the years of my life have been few and miserable, and they have not reached the days of the years of the lives of my forefathers in the days of their sojournings.’”

The Rebbe asks: Granted that Yaakov felt that he had a hard and miserable life. But how can he say that he only had a few years, when at that point he was already 130 years old?

The explanation in brief: Of course Yaakov lived physically for a long time, but he felt that he did not have quality of life. Why not? Because the Geula had not yet arrived. Yaakov lived with Geula (as is implied by Rashi B’Reishis 30:25), and if the Geula is not here, he is not living full years.

This is how we must all feel about the life we have until the Geula.

In the sicha of Chayei Sara 5738 (there was no farbrengen that year on Parshas VaYeira), the Rebbe explained at length the first Pasuk and Rashi. The pasuk says: “And the life of Sara was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sara.” Rashi comments: “The years of the life of Sarah: All of them were equally good.”

We must make sure that “All of them are equally good.” All of our days are full and equally focused on bringing the Geula. We must feel that living, even the best life in Galus, is living “peasant years - men that have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear, who do not perceive G‑dliness nor do they hear G‑dliness.”

We are not complacent or satisfied until we have the Geula.

As the Rebbe says (VaYeira 5752):

It was explained above, that Moshiach exists in the spark of Moshiach (the aspect of Yechida) within each and every Jew. In addition, Moshiach also exists in the literal sense (the general Yechida). For it is known that “in every generation an individual from the descendants of Yehudah is born who is qualified to be the Moshiach for Israel,” and that “one who is worthy because of his righteousness to be the Redeemer, and when the time arrives, G-d will reveal it to him and will send him, etc.” And if it were not for the undesirable things that got mixed in, which delayed and obstructed, he would have been revealed and come in actual reality.

And according to the pronouncement of my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our generation, the Moshiach of our generation, all matters of Divine service have already been concluded and completed, and we stand ready to greet our righteous Moshiach. We are therefore at a time when all obstacles and hindrances have been nullified. Since this is so, there is now not just the existence of Moshiach, but also the revelation of Moshiach. Now we need only greet our righteous Moshiach in actual reality!

With this in mind, every activity must be imbued with the subject of Moshiach and Redemption, including one’s eating and drinking. For the longing for the meal of Leviasan, Shor HaBor and Yayin Meshumar is so great that even after the meal one remains hungry for it. Consequently, he will complain to G-d that he cannot fulfill the commandment of “And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless” in earnest until G-d seats us at His table for the feast of the world to come.

 

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

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