November 8, 2016
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1043, Chassidic Thought, HaYom Yom

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

We have B”H had a very successful Shnas Hakhel and Tishrei. It is time to start a new series for this year. While I was considering what the series should be about, I recalled a story I heard last Tishrei from Rabbi Akiva Wagner, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch in Toronto.

An elderly Chassid who had just come out from behind the Iron Curtain had come to Crown Heights to see the Rebbe for the first time. When he arrived, his friends that had previously come out of Russia made a special welcome farbrengen in his honor. When they finished, and it was time for bentching, he asked them to bring a cup of wine. The Chassidim told him that being that there was no Minyan present, there was no need to lead the bentching over a cup of wine.

The Chassid looked up in surprise and said, “Does it not say clearly in the HaYom Yom that you should try to bentch with a cup of wine even when there is less than a minyan?” His fellow Chassidim could not remember. They took a HaYom Yom off the shelf and opened it. Sure enough, it is clearly written (14 Kislev): “We say Birkas HaMazon with a cup of wine, even if there are not ten present.”

The local Chassidim were shocked. How was it that they who had much more access to s’farim did not know this fact, and the Chassid who just came from Russia, where there was a true lack of S’farim, knew and internalized this fact? The Chassid, seeing their expressions, explained: “Dus iz der chiluk tzivishen a geshribene HaYom Yom un a gedrukte HaYom Yom – This is the difference between a written HaYom Yom and a printed HaYom Yom!”

He elaborated, “The Chassidim that are in America do not need to put forth much effort into obtaining a HaYom Yom. Anyone can go to the store and buy a printed Seifer. I,” continued the Chassid, “had no store in Russia at which to obtain a HaYom Yom. When I heard that a certain Chassid in Russia had a copy, I traveled to his house and spent the entire night copying the HaYom Yom by hand. Such a HaYom Yom, one does not forget the details that are in it.”

This story made me reflect on the importance of the Seifer HaYom Yom, the first Seifer that the Rebbe published. There are tremendous lessons that the Rebbe teaches us in this special Seifer, yet, all too often we do not give the right attention to what is being taught. With this in mind, I would like to begin a series based on the teachings of the HaYom Yom. We will try to keep it timely and practical. It is self-understood that since it is our shlichus to greet Moshiach and all our activities must “go through that gate,” we will be applying the lessons learned to our Avoda to bring the Geula.

This series would also fit with the well-known saying brought in Chassidus from the Seifer Yetzira: “Na’utz Techilasan B’Sofan – The beginning is wedged in the end.” The HaYom Yom is the first Seifer that the Rebbe printed. In the last year of Sichos that we have thus far merited to hear from the Rebbe, the Rebbe spoke about empowering us to bring the Geula. It is most appropriate to connect these two components.

Regarding this week’s parsha, Parshas Lech Lecha, the Rebbe teaches in HaYom Yom (3 Cheshvan): “B’Reishis is a cheerful sidra, even though its ending is not all that pleasant. Noach has the Flood, but the week ends on a happy note with the birth of our father Avraham. The really joyous week is that of Parshas Lech Lecha. We live every day of the week with Avraham, the first to dedicate his very life to spreading G‑dliness in the world. And Avraham bequeathed his self-sacrifice as an inheritance to all Jews.”

Many ask the question: Even in Parshas Lech Lecha there are some disturbing and seemingly negative occurrences. There is the famine and the descent into Egypt, the split with Lot, and the marriage to Hagar which brought about the birth of Yishmoel. If so, it is not such a happy Parsha!

I would like to suggest a possible answer: The HaYom Yom does not say that the reason for the happiness is because of the events in the Parsha. What it does say is that the joy is from the fact that “we live every day of the week with Avraham, the first to dedicate his very life to spreading G‑dliness in the world.” The Rebbe knows that during the week of Parshas Lech Lecha there are many events that may not seem positive and happy, yet this HaYom Yom reveals the source of true happiness: When you are living with Avraham and focused on spreading G-dliness, then you are not affected by the vicissitudes of life.

This is a tremendous lesson in Hiskashrus and in being focused on our Avoda to bring the Geula. One may feel that if he is overly focused on connecting to the Rebbe and on the special shlichus that the Rebbe gave to each and every one of us on 28 Nissan 5751 – “I have done all I can. I give it over to you. Do all that you can to bring the righteous redeemer, immediately! I have done my part. From this point on, all is in your hands…” – it will take away from his inner peace and joy.

This HaYom Yom is telling us that on the contrary! True menucha, inner peace, and joy come when you are living with the Avraham Avinu of our generation, the Rebbe, and you are totally focused on seeing the world the way the Rebbe sees it; a world that is waiting to become the dwelling place for Hashem with the revelation of Moshiach. It is not an abandoned jungle, rather a “Garden of Hashem” that is waiting to give forth the most luscious fruits and delights. If that is our outlook, then we are not thrown off-balance by the changes and challenges of the world and day-to-day life, because we are focused on our mission and we are living with our Rebbe.

Confusion comes when there are unexpected turns of events, things that change our plans and goals. It is very hard to remain constantly optimistic and joyous when there are so many unexpected turns in life.

When somebody feels that he cannot live with the Rebbe in 5777 – “It is so many years since…” – or that the Rebbe’s mission, announced on the very first day of accepting the leadership of Dor HaShvii in the Maamer Basi L’Gani, “…to complete the process of drawing down the Sh’china … within specifically our lowly world,” is not realistic in our times, that person will feel lost and abandoned. He will have good moments and also lonely and sad moments.

When we are living with the Rebbe and his shlichus to bring Moshiach then there are no obstacles. It is all part of Hashem’s plan to bring the world to Geula, so we can be truly happy all the time and have true menucha.

Let us finish with the words of the Rebbe (Lech Lecha 5752): “As mentioned several times, all the appointed times have already concluded, and my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our generation, has announced that t’shuva has already been done and we have also polished the buttons. Therefore, according to all the signs, our generation is the last generation of exile and automatically the first generation of Redemption. What this time requires is that one should prepare in reality to ‘Get you out of your land… to the land I will show you,’ imminently and immediately.

“Particularly in our generation, the last generation of exile and the first generation of Redemption, there should be a special emphasis on the Divine service of ‘Get you out of your land… to the land I will show you,’ and the acquisition of all ten lands. This must be reflected primarily in an increase in Torah study, which foreshadows this service. This needs to be not only with his three intellectual faculties as they are connected to his emotional character traits, but also in the essence of the three intellectual faculties. What this means specifically is an increase in the study of the inner teachings of the Torah (with intellectual explanations), including the subject of Redemption and our righteous Moshiach.”

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.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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