January 3, 2019
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1148, Ha’yom Yom & Moshiach

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

When the Rebbe came to America, he was appointed by the Frierdike Rebbe to be in charge of Merkos L’Inyanei Chinuch and Kehos. One of the responsibilities he was given was the printing and spreading of Chassidus throughout the world. The Rebbe was very involved in this mission and even wrote to someone in 5706: “Recently I have had to edit a booklet about Purim and Passover in French (similar to the one about Tishrei), one about Purim in English, the first volume of ‘Our People’ in English, and the final proofreading of [the Chassidic discourse] ‘Mayim Rabbim.’ In the middle of being proofread are: the appendices to Tzemach Tzedek, the booklet ‘Ha-Tzemach Tzedek Ve’haHaskalah,’ and a collection of the Rebbe Rashab’s talks. At the beginning of being proofread are ‘Kuntres Eitz HaChayim,’ a booklet about the Rebbe Maharash, the talks of the Rebbe [Rayatz], a book of Chassidic Discourses, a book of questions and answers between a teacher and a child regarding Jewish religion and practice in English, a code of Jewish law for youth in English etc., etc.”

In a series of letters starting 20 Kislev 5708/1947, the Rebbe urged Chassidim in Manchester England to work hard to spread Chassidus and to be connected to the Frierdike Rebbe. The first letter, printed in Igros Vol. 2 pg. 277, was written to the Chassid and Shochet Rabbi A. Nemtzov: “Enclosed is a publication concerning Yud-Tes Kislev that just yesterday was brought from the printer. Similarly, we sent it to your colleagues, the ritual slaughterers R. Yitzchak and R. Shmuel. Certainly, you will share the text with many others in an appropriate manner. [In this way,] the merit of those many [others] will be dependent on you.

“[The following concept can be explained with regard to] these days between Yud-Tes Kislev and Chanukah: The Greeks made all the oil in the Sanctuary impure. The explanation of this is that the peripheral wisdom became overwhelmingly powerful, as is well known with regard to the sect of Hellenists that existed among the Jewish people at that time.

“In our Divine service within our souls, this refers to the intellect of the animal soul, i.e., ordinary mortal intellect, that becomes so overwhelmingly powerful that it defiles the powers of Chabad within the soul. A person cannot comprehend or feel a G‑dly matter or idea, although when deliberating about a material matter, he conceives, comprehends, and grasps it thoroughly. Ultimately, however, a single cruse of oil with the seal of the High Priest is found. With [this oil], the Menorah — and ‘the lamp of G‑d, the soul of man’ — is kindled.

On the surface, it is difficult to understand, after such a great descent in which all the oil in one’s soul was defiled, with what and who can elevate him from this deep descent. [In reply,] our Sages tell us that the hand of the High Priest is involved. The High Priest’s distinguishing quality is, that as stated in Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Klei HaMikdash 5:7: ‘His glory and his honor is to sit in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash the entire day. His home shall be in Jerusalem — “complete fear” — and he shall not depart from there.’ In every person, and particularly, in the High Priest, this represents the essential point of Jewish [identity] within him, the yechida of the soul for which no parallel exists within the forces of evil. Therefore it is always entirely intact. It is, however, possible that it will be on the level of sleep before coming to a challenge with regard to faith, as stated in Tanya, Ch. 19.

“The awakening from sleep before coming to a challenge [experienced by every individual] comes through connection with the High Priest, i.e., the leader of the thousands of the Jewish people, who ‘sits in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash the entire day and never departs from [Jerusalem]’ [i.e.,] complete fear. He grants all of those who connect with him the cruse of oil from which he can illuminate the lamp of his soul, even though, at the outset, ‘all the oils were defiled.’

“These days must be set aside not only for giving thanks — this refers to the power of faith and acknowledgment alone — but also for giving praise (Shabbos 21b), i.e., comprehending and understanding G‑dliness: ‘Know the G‑d of your fathers.’ This concept [is manifest through] the teachings of Chassidus Chabad for which Yud-Tes Kislev serves as Rosh HaShana. [These teachings] draw down the light of the inner dimensions of our Torah. It is, [however,] necessary that they shine within the inner dimensions of our souls.”

The Rebbe then continued this theme in a letter written to another Shochet in Manchester, Rabbi Shmuel Rien and a copy was sent to the legendary Chassid Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik, who was in Belgium at the time: “In one of his talks, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, said that drawing close the estranged must be carried out in a manner that elevates them to you and not that you descend (from your level in [the observance of] the Torah, its mitzvos and prayer) to them.

“A connection to the above can be made to the days of Chanukah which are nigh approaching. Although the fundamental dimension of the miracle was the victory in battle, [our Sages] made the primary [commemoration of the miracle] dependent on the miracle of the oil (as explained in the maamer entitled B’Chof-Hei B’Kislev in Torah Or and Shaarei Orah). With regard to oil, we find [several] opposite characteristics: a) It is made by pressing and crushing [the olives] (Shmos Rabbah, the beginning of Parshas Tetzaveh; see also Menachos 8:4). This alludes to humility. b) It permeates through all entities. This reflects its connection to all entities. Conversely, c) [Oil] does not become mixed with other liquids (Shmos Rabbah, loc. cit.) which points to its discreteness (see Imrei Binah, Shaar HaKerias Shema, secs. 54-56).d) It rises above all other liquids (Shmos Rabbah, loc. cit.) which indicates elevation.

“This same pattern of service should be followed when the time comes to shine light in the courtyards and the public domain until the feet of the Tarmudites disappear. Tarmud (תרמוד) shares the same letters as the word moredes (מורדת), ‘one who rebels’ (the maamer entitled Ner Chanukah, 5643, et al.). a) The beginning of one’s Divine service must be characterized by kabbalas ol; ‘my soul will be as dust to all.’ b) Afterwards, one must “love one’s neighbor.” If he sees that his neighbor is not like oil (i.e., his body does not ascend and become consumed in the light of his soul which is ‘the lamp of G‑d’), he must [extend himself and] permeate through to him. c) He himself does not descend and become intermingled [with undesirable qualities] through this service. On the contrary, he ascends to great heights until ultimately… d) He reaches a lofty and elevated rung. For on his own account he is nothing, but with regard to his work, he is the agent of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. Hence, who can compare with him? For a person’s agent is comparable to the person himself.

“And in that vein, our Sages say (Bava Basra 75b): ‘In the [ultimate] Future, the righteous will be called in the name of the Holy One, blessed be He.’”

When Rabbi Chitrik received this letter, he wrote a response to the Rebbe. He told the Rebbe that he is trying to affect his friend but his friend “is locked up in his own world and how can he be taken out of his locust skin.” The Rebbe responded (Ibid page 299): “With regard to the conclusion of your letter (which came as a response to my words that one must [extend himself and] filter through to a colleague): ‘What can one do if he is enclosed in his room? How can he be taken out of his locust skin?’ [In that context,] my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, wrote in one of his letters (quoting the Rebbe Rashab) – HaYom Yom 13 Teves: ‘When a lantern is kindled, all those who seek light gravitate to it.’

“To focus on his wording: He employed the term חפצים (translated as ‘seek’). חפץ, in contrast to רוצה, refers to inner will and desire (see the maamer entitled Tovah HaAretz in Likkutei Torah, Parshas Shlach). The inner desire of every Jew is perfectly [bound] with G‑d and His Torah, the Torah of light. As is well known, proof of this concept can be seen from the law governing a bill of divorce given under compulsion, as Rambam writes in the conclusion of Ch. 2 of Hilchos Gerushin.”

The lesson for us, in our Avoda to bring Moshiach, in obvious: We must be lamplighters and kindle lanterns. We should never question if those around us are ready, or interested, in knowing about Moshiach. We should never feel discouraged if it seems that people are locked into their “Locust Skin.” We must remember: “When a lantern is kindled, all those who seek light gravitate to it.”

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

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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