September 6, 2017
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1084, 18 Elul, Ha’yom Yom & Moshiach

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

This Shabbos is Chai Elul, the birthday of the holy Baal Shem Tov in 5458 (1698), the date on which his holy master (Achiya HaShiloni) was revealed to him in 5484 (1724), and the date on which the Baal Shem Tov was revealed [as a Rebbe] in 5494 (1734). It is also the birthday of the Alter Rebbe in 5505 (1745).

In the HaYom Yom (18 Elul), the Rebbe quotes a special teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that was said on 18 Elul: A digest of the teaching delivered by the Baal Shem Tov after the Kabbalas Shabbos service on the eve of Shabbos Parshas [Ki] Savo, on Chai Elul, 5652 (1892):

And it shall come to pass when you come to the land…: As indicated by the Midrash, the word eretz (“land”) shares a root with the words merutzah (“running”) and ratzon (“will”). [The verse can thus be interpreted as follows:] When you attain a will [to do G‑d’s bidding], such a will being both a Heavenly gift and an inheritance present in every Jew, you shall settle…: your task is then to anchor [this spiritual aspiration] in a settled manner. And you shall take … and place it in a basket…: You will thereby draw down lights into vessels. And you shall go to the place that the L‑rd your G‑d chooses…: A Jew must realize that whenever he goes from one place to another, this is not his own doing; he is being led from Above, with the intent —to make His Name dwell there…: to make G‑dliness known in that place.

After the Evening Service, [the Baal Shem Tov] repeated the above teaching and added the following interpretation: “And it shall come to pass, when you come to the land…: In order to attain a will [to do G‑d’s bidding], you must —go to the place… to make His Name dwell there…: You must devote your life utterly to make G‑dliness known there. How does one make G‑dliness known? By reciting a blessing and a verse of T’hillim.” 

Before we discuss the actual teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, it must be noted that this teaching was said “on the eve of Shabbos Parshas [Ki] Savo, on Chai Elul, 5652 (1892)” which was over 130 years since the passing of the Baal Shem Tov! Indeed, if you look at the source of this HaYom Yom (a sicha of the Frierdike Rebbe), it states that this teaching was (among seven teaching that were) heard by the Rebbe Rashab in Gan Eden!

The following is a synopsis of the story as told by the Frierdike Rebbe: On Friday, 6 Elul, 5652, was the wedding of my aunt Mussia. The Sheva Brachos finished on Thursday and my father, the Rebbe Rashab, went to the Ohel of his father the Rebbe Maharash and the Tzemach Tzedek and he went the next day as well.

The next Shabbos was Parshas Ki Savo. My father’s davening was not the way he usually davened, “it was a flaming fire,” and he finished davening very late. On the following Shmini Atzeres, 5653, the Rebbe Rashab explained what happened on that Shabbos:

In general, explained the Rebbe Rashab, I would not say a Maamer publicly until I fully worked on it and got the directive to say the Maamer. How would I know that it was the right time to say the Maamer? If the Maamer became one with me. The Maamer that I wanted to say that Thursday of the Sheva Brachos, even after much effort and toil, did not “become one with me.” So I decided to go to the “source of the Maamer,” it was a Maamer of the Rebbe Maharash, and maybe by the Ohel of the Rebbe Maharash it would become one with me. It did not, so I returned the next day and B”H, after much toil, it became one with me.

“Hashem does not remain in debt,” and my father , after seeing how much effort I put into the Maamer, decided to repay me. So on Shabbos, 18 Elul, which is the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, he came to me and invited me to go with him to the highest places in Gan Eden to hear the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov.

The above-quoted teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, printed in the HaYom Yom , were from those teachings that the Rebbe Rashab heard at that auspicious time.

Now let us return to the actual teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. One of the main parts of the teaching is the following quote: “you shall settle…: your task is then to anchor [this spiritual aspiration] in a settled manner. And you shall take … and place it in a basket…: You will thereby draw down lights into vessels.”

It is interesting to note that in the famous sicha of 28 Nissan 5751, where the Rebbe gave over to us the tremendous privilege and responsibility to bring Moshiach, the Rebbe used the expression, “The only thing I am able to do is to turn the matter [over] to you: do everything in your ability – things that are in the nature of lights of Tohu, but, in vessels of Tikkun, to actually bring our righteous Moshiach immediately, instantly, in reality.”

Many ask and wonder what that line means in general and in practical application. The answer is very simple and straightforward. We all know that before the creation of this world (Tikkun) there was a world of intense light (Tohu). Due the intensity of the lights, the vessels of Tohu shattered. Hashem then limited the light and thus the vessels of Tikkun can hold the light. The ultimate goal is that the highest lights of Tohu should be able to be revealed in the expanded vessels of Tikkun.

In practical terms: We must never “water down” the message of Moshiach. We must continue to give over the great “lights of Tohu,” i.e., the Rebbe is Moshiach (Mishpatim 5752), He is a Navi that told us that Moshiach is on the way (Shoftim 5751), we are now living in Yemos HaMoshiach (19 Kislev 5752), we need to get ourselves and the world around us ready to greet Moshiach (Chayei Sara 5752). At the same time, we need to give over the message in a way that is graspable by the recipient of the message.

This is one of the reasons why the Rebbe encourages so strongly the idea to teach the parts of Torah that speak about Moshiach. When one understands what Moshiach is, then these “lights of Tohu” settle into his vessels of Tikkun.

In the words of the Rebbe (Chayei Sara 5752) : From the international convention must come and be brought good resolutions such that every shliach must prepare himself and prepare all Jews in his place and city, etc. to greet our righteous Moshiach. This should be done through his explanation of the concept of Moshiach, as explained in the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, in a way that it will be received by everyone according to his intellect and understanding. This includes in particular learning the subject of Moshiach and Redemption, and specifically in a manner of Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. And since this is the Divine service of the time, it’s understood that this applies to every Jew without any exception whatsoever.

On a deeper level (based on sicha Tazria Metzora 5751 ois 6): The power of Torah is, not just that it is intellectual which allows lofty ideas to settle; rather, that Torah has the power to combine opposites in a harmonious and beautiful way. While the middos of Chesed and G’vura are intrinsically opposite of each other, Tiferes combines them together. It reveals the oneness in creation and thereby creates harmony in all aspects of creation.

The same is true in our case: The “Lights of Tohu” and the “Vessels of Tikkun” seem like polar opposites and thus cannot come together. Through learning Torah, in general, and specifically the “Maamarim and Likkutei Sichos of Nasi Doreinu” that explain the concepts of Moshiach, we then are able “to anchor [this spiritual aspiration] in a settled manner. And you shall take … and place it in a basket…: You will thereby draw down lights into vessels.”

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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