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Thursday
Aug312017

PRIORITY NUMERO UNO

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

One of the most famous teachings of the Baal Shem Tov is (HaYom Yom 9 Iyar): “Our master, the Baal Shem Tov, taught: Whatever a person sees or hears is a directive for his service of G‑d. This is what Divine service consists of — understanding and deducing a way to serve G‑d from everything [one sees or hears].”

In a fascinating letter (a Michtav Klali – Public Letter, dated 5 Tammuz 5727), printed in Likkutei Sichos volume 8 pg. 337), in which the Rebbe connects the miracles of the 6 Day War with the fact that it is 40 years since the Geula of the Frierdike Rebbe is 5687, the Rebbe actually points to places in Gemara and the Rambam to support this teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. The Rebbe references two sources.

Firstly, “This practice is one of the paths of repentance, for when a difficulty arises, and the people cry out [to G-d] and sound the trumpets, everyone will realize that [the difficulty] occurred because of their evil conduct, as [Yirmiyahu 5:25] states: ‘Your sins have turned away [the rains and the harvest climate].’ This [realization] will cause the removal of this difficulty.

“Conversely, should the people fail to cry out [to G-d] and sound the trumpets, and instead say, ‘What has happened to us is merely a natural phenomenon and this difficulty is merely a chance occurrence,’ this is a cruel conception of things, which causes them to remain attached to their wicked deeds. Thus, this time of distress will lead to further distresses.

“This is implied by the Torah’s statement [Leviticus 26:27-28]: ‘If you remain indifferent to Me, I will be indifferent to you with a vengeance.’ The implication of the verse is: When I bring difficulties upon you so that you shall repent and you say it is a chance occurrence, I will add to your [punishment] an expression of vengeance for that indifference [to Divine Providence].” (Rambam Hilchos T’shuva 1:3)

Secondly, “Just as we recite blessings for the benefit which we derive from the world, we should also recite blessings for each mitzvah before we fulfill it. Similarly, the Sages instituted many blessings as expressions of praise and thanks to G-d and as a means of petition, so that we will always remember the Creator, even though we have not received any benefit or performed a mitzvah.” (Rambam Hilchos Brachos 1:3)

In the letter (Igros Kodesh Vol. 3 pg. 289) from which the above teaching is taken, the Rebbe Rayatz relates that once, when he was strolling with his father, the Rebbe Rashab, he asked him the meaning of the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching.

The Rebbe Rashab answered: “To be able to learn how to serve G‑d from everything one sees or hears is the Alef-Beis, [the very basis, of our Divine service]. It is not an easy Alef-Beis. It may even be quite a difficult Alef-Beis.”

The Rebbe Rashab continued walking for a while, rapt in thought. The Rebbe Rayatz accompanied him in silence, reluctant to disturb his father’s reflections.

After a short while, the Rebbe Rashab stopped and said: “The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything a person sees or hears is a lesson in serving G‑d. So that is a fact.”

They walked home, and the next time they strolled together the Rebbe Rashab explained how one arrives at such an understanding. “When a person feels that this principle is important, it is possible to learn this Alef-Beis.

One time, continued the Rebbe Rashab, I had yechidus with my father the Rebbe Maharash; I asked him how I can attain a personal level of Avodas Hashem. He answered “through Hisbonenus VaHamakas HaDaas – deep contemplation and complete focus and attachment to the subject. I said,” continued the Rebbe Rashab, “that it is very difficult for me to properly attain and focus on this level.”

The HaYom Yom 9 Elul teaches: “If the matter at hand genuinely affects a person, then he will understand and grasp it very well. Proof of this can be found in the Torah, in the laws concerning women and the legal arguments that they could put forth— arguments that are debated by the Tanaim, the Amoraim, and the Geonim, who were all prodigious intellectuals! Now, the Torah is a Torah of truth, yet women [at large] are not capable of advancing such [intricate] arguments. But the truth is that when a matter genuinely affects a person, even a limited mind can propose deep arguments.”

One of the first times we learn about “Daas” is when we first learn Perek 3 of Tanya. The Alter Rebbe writes: “Daas, whose etymology may be found in the verse, ‘And Adam knew (ידע) Eve,’ implies attachment and union. [As applied to Daas of the Divine soul, this means] binding one’s mind with a very firm, strong bond and firmly fixing one’s thought on the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof, without diverting his mind from it (i.e., the subject matter conceived in Chochma and developed in Bina is absorbed in the mind by concentration, Daas).”

As talmidim, we are all told the following story to emphasize the point. There was once a simple and illiterate villager who received a letter in the mail. As he was illiterate, he brought the letter to a learned person to open and read to him. The wise person opened and read the letter and sadly informed the simple villager, that his father had passed away. On the spot the villager fainted. Later, the wise man asked the villager, “Why is it that you, who could not read and understand the letter, fainted, but I did not?”

The simple farmer responded “Because it was my father!”

Here are two of the many lessons that can be learned from the above in regards to our Avoda, in general and more specifically to our avoda, in bringing the Geula.

The reason that we are not so involved in Moshiach is because it is too lofty a concept and we cannot properly comprehend the whole idea. We must constantly remind ourselves and internalize that “if the matter at hand genuinely affects a person, then he will understand and grasp it very well.” It is all about making Moshiach and Geula a reality and priority in our life.

The real way to bring the Geula is my making it the reality and a priority, through Hisbonenus VaHamakas HaDaas – deep contemplation and complete focus and attachment to the subject.

Some may ask: Doesn’t the Gemara (Sanhedrin 97a) say that Moshiach will only come B’hesech HaDaas, when we stop thinking about Moshiach?

The Rebbe (Balak 5751) explains: “Although our Sages have declared that Moshiach will come ‘when we are distracted from his coming,’ this does not contradict, G-d forbid, the need for thought and reflection of the most powerful order on matters of Moshiach and Redemption. This means primarily thought and reflection that we are now standing at the very entrance of the Messianic Era, that ‘Behold he is coming,’ since all the deadlines have since passed, t’shuva has been done and all of the different aspects of our Divine service have been completed in accordance with the details mentioned above.

“The resolution of this apparent contradiction is that the term for distraction, Hesech HaDaas (literally, removing one’s knowledge) actually means transcending one’s knowledge. This implies that after one has allowed this matter of Moshiach to permeate one’s intellect (by applying one’s thought and constant reflection, etc.) one then reaches the level where this then transcends one’s knowledge.

“Despite the uproar associated with this matter recently, the year of ‘I shall show him wonders,’ and after witnessing the wonders which testify that this is ‘the year that the King Moshiach will be revealed,’ we see how difficult it is to inculcate the awareness and the feeling that we are literally standing on the threshold of the Messianic Era, to the point that one begins to thrive on matters of Moshiach and Redemption…

“The solution to this dilemma is Torah study concerning Moshiach and Redemption. For Torah, which is G-d’s wisdom and thus transcends the natural order of the universe, has the capacity to alter the nature of man. Even when one’s emotions are still outside the parameters of Redemption, G-d forbid, (because he has not yet emerged from his internal exile), he can nevertheless learn the Torah’s teachings concerning Redemption and thereby be elevated to the state of Redemption. One then begins to thrive on matters of Redemption, borne of the knowledge, awareness and feeling that ‘Behold he is coming.’”

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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