November 14, 2017
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1093, Ha’yom Yom & Moshiach

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

On Simchas Torah 5701 the Frierdike Rebbe told the following story:

The chassid Reb Zalman Zezmer was a student of the Mitteler Rebbe, as he was very young in the times of the Alter Rebbe. He was brilliant and an intellectual person in his very essence. When Reb Zalman wanted to arouse his emotions, he would retell the following story:

In his city there was a big lamdan who also had very good middos. He was a very refined person, but he did not learn Chassidus. One day, this lamdan asked Reb Zalman: “What did Chassidus accomplish?” “I answered,” said Reb Zalman, “that Chassidus elevates the mind over the emotions.”

The lamdan then went to the Alter Rebbe and he asked the same question. The Alter Rebbe responded: “Animals also have middos, but by them it is all according to their nature. The raven is an achzar (cruel) while the eagle has mercy, but by humans, middos are according to one’s intellect. Why is it that way? Shouldn’t one’s middos also come naturally? The answer is that Hashem ‘wanted to add merits to the Jewish people’; he wanted to give us the merit, and refine us, through Avoda. Thus, middos must come through our own Avoda.”

When this lamdan heard this, and realized that all his middos tovos until then were the product of his nature, like that of an animal, he fainted. When he was revived, he asked “And what is Chassidus?”

To which the Alter Rebbe answered (HaYom Yom 19 Cheshvan):

“Chassidus is Shma Yisroel. The word Shma (ùîò) is an acronym for the words, ‘Raise your eyes on high’ (ùàå îøåí òéðéëí) — ‘on high,’ not ‘heavenward.’ That means higher and higher, reaching beyond the intellect. Yet [we should] understand this very [non-intellectual] dimension with our minds as well — as the verse continues, ‘and behold Who created these.’”

In Likkutei Dibburim (English translation, Vol. III, pp. 197-200), the Frierdike Rebbe adds the following story, connected with the above anecdote, that he heard from an older Chassid:

“…At his first yechidus, the Rebbe Maharash had quoted the above-cited teaching, that the word Shma (ùîò) is an acronym for the three Hebrew words (ùàå îøåí òéðéëí) that mean, ‘Raise your eyes on high.’ Then, enigmatically, he had added three words: ‘Shma is Yisroel.’

“When that message was decoded, it told the chassid that a person who meditates on the above verse whenever he says the Shma with every fiber of his being is elevated thereby to the level of Yisroel. And the name Yisroel is reserved for a Jew who serves G‑d like a son; he has reached the stage at which his service is motivated not only by an awe of G‑d, but also by his love of Him.

“After following this advice throughout his long life, the old man concluded his reminiscence of his original yechidus to the Rebbe Rayatz with these words: ‘One request I have yet to the Almighty: When the time comes for me to return to Him the soul that He has entrusted in my keeping, and I am to breathe Shma Yisroel for the very last time, I pray that He grant me a clear mind, so that then, too, I will be able to recall those words the Rebbe told me — Shma is Yisroel!’”

This is similar to another HaYom Yom that we learned recently (12 Cheshvan): “One of the Alter Rebbe’s first teachings, which in those [early] days were known as verter, was the following mystical interpretation of the opening verse of the Shma: Shma Yisroel (lit., ‘Hear, O Israel’) — a Jew hears deeply that Havaya Elokeinu— our strength and vitality transcend nature, and that Havaya Echad — Havaya is One.”

The explanation (see HaYom Yom - Sichos in English): “Nature has a rhythm and rhyme of its own. On the one hand, nature manifests G‑d’s presence (‘How manifold are Your works, O G‑d!’). On the other hand, G‑d hides Himself in nature. (Indeed, the word for nature in the Holy Tongue (äèáò) is related to the root (èáò) meaning submerged and hidden.) And every Jew finds himself placed in the midst of this ambiguity. However, his soul is ‘an actual part of G‑d Above,’ not a mere part of nature; he is not bound by its limitations. Hence, when he looks at the natural world around him, he sees through it, unraveling the code, as it were, and perceiving that the world is G‑d’s creation.

“As his contemplation deepens, he understands not only that the world was brought into being by G‑d, but that it and every created being within it are also expressions of G‑dliness. This is the intent of Havaya echad, ‘G‑d is One’ — not only that there is one G‑d, but that all existence is at one with Him.

“This oneness should resonate within the person as well. Instead of reciting the Shma as a barren intellectual exercise, he takes it to heart. Whenever he recites that verse, he reminds himself that Havaya Elokeinu, Havaya Echad — G‑d as He is perceived in nature (Elokim) is identical with G‑d in His transcendent aspect (Havaya). Keeping this in mind, he will not plan his life according to the dictates of a natural, short-sighted view of the world, but instead will place the dictates of G‑d’s Torah and His mitzvos at the vortex of his existence.”

I want to share with you a story that happened to me and is connected to the Pasuk Shma Yisroel: Baruch Hashem, I have the z’chus to have lectured in many places on the topic of Geula and Moshiach. After one lecture, someone from the audience raised his hand and asked if he could ask a question. I answered that of course he can. So he asked: “Why are we lecturing on such abstract things, like Moshiach, and not on the more practical parts of Judaism?”

I asked him to give me an example of a fundamental aspect of Judaism he preferred I lecture on and he said I should speak about the Pasuk of “Shma Yisroel.” I asked him if he ever learned the Rashi on the Pasuk Shma Yisroel, to which he answered no. I told him that according to Rashi, the whole Pasuk of Shma Yisroel is a reminder to us why we need Moshiach.

The Pasuk says “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” Seemingly, the Torah could have said “Hear, Israel, the Lord, who is our G-d is one.” Why the repetition “the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is one”? Rashi explains: “The Lord, who is now our God and not the God of the other nations-He will be [declared] in the future ‘the one God,’ as it is said: ‘For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord’ (Zeph. 3:9), and it is [also] said: ‘On that day will the Lord be one and His name one’ (Zech. 14:9).”

Thus, the central theme of Shma is a message of why we need Moshiach!

Not only do we find the centrality of Moshiach in the Pasuk of Shma Yisroel, this really applies to every Pasuk in the Torah! The Rambam (in Hilchos Melachim Ch. 11) writes “One that does not believe in Moshiach, or await his arrival, is a denier of the books of prophets and the five books of Moshe , for they are full with references about Moshiach.”

The Rebbe explains the above halacha of the Rambam in a revolutionary way (sicha Acharei 5751): It is not only that there are many passages in the Torah that speak about Moshiach; rather, every passage in Torah speaks about Moshiach. The differences in the passages are only whether they speak openly about Moshiach, or does one have to look in the commentaries and find the connection.

Parenthetically, a chassid and shliach, Rabbi Dovid Dubov of NJ, took upon himself to prove the above and has printed over 30 books to date, entitled Yalkut Moshiach U’Geula Al HaTorah, showing how literally every verse in the Torah is associated with Moshiach.

This leads us to a fascinating conclusion: Our sages say (Zohar, Part II, p. 161) “Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world.” If every verse in Torah is connected with Moshiach, then every part of creation is connected with 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

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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