February 11, 2017
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1056, B’Shalach, Ha’yom Yom & Moshiach

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, 

This Shabbos is Parshas B’Shalach. In the HaYom Yom of 17 Shevat we learn an amazing chain of events that took place between our holy Rebbeim on Parshas B’Shalach:

On Shabbos B’Shalach 5621 (1861) the Tzemach Tzedek said the maamer R’u ki Hashem printed in Likkutei Torah. Shortly afterward he said to his son, my grandfather: On Shabbos B’Shalach 5565 (1805) my grandfather said this maamer. Afterwards he sent for me and told me that in 5529 (1769) when he was in Mezritch the Maggid had summoned him to his room and had said:

On Shabbos B’Shalach 5516 (1756) the Baal Shem Tov said a Maamer on “Vayashav hayam… l’eisano - The Red Sea returned to its strength,” quoting the Rabbinic play on the last word, l’eisano - litnao, meaning to its condition or agreement. In 5521 (1761), a year after the Baal Shem Tov’s passing, my Rebbe (the Baal Shem Tov) came to me, said the maamer, and added an explanation of the subject “doing His will” in contrast to “doing His word.” And today my Rebbe again came to me to repeat the maamer.

Then the Maggid repeated the maamer to the Alter Rebbe, adding an interpretation of “River Ginai, part for me,” which is similar to Krias Yam Suf, the splitting of the Red Sea. The Tzemach Tzedek concluded: Today the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid and the Alter Rebbe came to me, each repeating the maamer in his own style. Several hours later the Tzemach Tzedek called my grandfather again and told him an interpretation of the maamer.

We are all coming from the special day of Yud Shevat. We all know that every year, the Rebbe explains a different chapter of the Maamer “Basi L’Gani” of the Frierdike Rebbe. This year, 5777, corresponds to chapter 7 (kol hashviin chavivin) of the Maamer. The Rebbe said Maamarim in the years 5717 and 5737 on this chapter of the Maamer.

In the Farbrengen of Yud Shevat 5717 (Toras Menachem Vol. 19 pg. 58) the Rebbe explains this HaYom Yom (which is based on a sicha of Acharon shel Pesach 5696) and the lessons that we can take from it.

Firstly, the Rebbe explains what the Mezritcher Maggid meant (see Likkutei Amarim of the Maggid 57b) with “the subject ‘doing His will’ in contrast to ‘doing His word.’”

There are many times when a person says something but his inner will and pleasure can be when his word is actually refuted. For example: A father who says a novel insight and his son, who is very clever, refutes the insight. At that point, even though the son refuted the words of the father, the father has much inner pleasure and joy from the brightness and intellectual abilities of his son. This is his true will, that his son should show his abilities and refute his words (respectfully) rather than just accept his words.

This explains the deep relationship that Hashem has with Tzaddikim. The Gemara (Moed Katan 16b) tells us: “Said R. Abbahu … ‘I rule man; who rules Me? [It is] the righteous: for I make a decree and he [may] annul it.’”

Seemingly, how can a Tzaddik annul a decree that Hashem made? Based on the above it is understood. The Tzaddik is like the “son that refutes the father,” which brings out the true will of the father. So Tzaddikim do the will of Hashem, even if that means, at times, that they may have to annul the words and decrees of Hashem.

With this we can understand another fascinating Gemara (Chulin 7a): “Once, R. Pinchas ben Yair was on his way to redeem captives, and came to the river Ginai. ‘O Ginai,’ said he, ‘divide your waters for me that I may pass through you’. It replied. ‘You are about to do the will of your Maker and I, too, am doing the will of my Maker. You may or may not accomplish your purpose; I am sure of accomplishing mine.’ He said: ‘If you will not divide yourself, I will decree that no waters ever pass through you.’ It, thereupon, divided itself for him. There was also present a certain man who was carrying wheat for Pesach, and so R. Pinchas once again addressed the river: ‘Divide yourself for this man, too, for he is engaged in a religious duty.’ It, thereupon, divided itself for him too. There was also an Arab who had joined them [on the journey], and so R. Pinchas once again addressed the river, ‘Divide yourself for this one, too, that he may not say. ‘Is this the treatment of a fellow traveler?’ It, thereupon, divided itself for him too.”

Once again, seemingly the river was correct in its assertion that it needs to fulfill what Hashem commanded it to do (keep flowing), so why did R’ Pinchas threaten to stop the flow of water? We find by the splitting of the Yam Suf (in our Parsha), the Torah (14:27) tells us: וÇיÌÅט משÑÆה אÆת יÈדוÉ עÇל הÇיÌÈם וÇיÌÈשÑÈב הÇיÌÈם לÄפÀנוÉת בÌÉקÆר לÀאÅיתÈנוÉ - So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and toward morning the sea returned to its strength. The Zohar tells us that the word לÀאÅיתÈנוÉ should be read and understood as “לתנאו” to its original condition. Hashem created the world that it must split and bend to his will and the will of the righteous. If not, then it ceases to exist.

The Rebbe learns a tremendous lesson from this in our service of Hashem. If we approach the world and know that we are doing the will of Hashem, all obstacles will “split” in front of us.  One may question and say: This is true for Tzaddikim, but not for simple people like us.  We see from this story that the sea split even for an Arab because he was travelling with the Tzaddik, Reb Pinchas Ben Yair. So too, if we connect ourselves to the Rebbe, then even though we may be simple people, all obstacles will fall before us, because we are travelling with the Tzaddik.

If this is the reality, that the world bends to the will of those that are standing strong in their general Avodas Hashem, how much more so, when it comes to “the only thing that now remains in the work of shlichus is to greet our righteous Moshiach in actual reality, in order that he should be able to fulfill his shlichus in actuality and bring all the Jews out of exile!”

While it may have been difficult in the earlier years of the Rebbe’s Nesius to speak about Moshiach and see the way the world is receptive to a message of Moshiach, as we are getting closer to Moshiach, the world is more and more receptive and responds positively to the activities of Yidden to bring Moshiach. Here are some quotes of the Rebbe to those that felt that they need to “tone down” the message of Moshiach because the world is not ready:

“In other words, what will be the world’s and the nation’s response to the Jewish efforts at ‘disseminating the wellsprings to the remotest reaches,’ in an effort to hasten the true and complete Redemption, since they do not understand what all this means?! Granted, these efforts are noble and sublime, but one might object, we have to consider the world’s reaction!

“The answer to these questions is: The world is ready and completely receptive! When a Jew performs his work properly, transcending all limits and constraints, and simultaneously channeling these efforts within the parameters of nature, he will see how the world, nature and the nations of the world will assist him in his work.” (Korach 5751).

“Now one need only open the eyes, to see that the whole world demands that every Jew stand in the condition and situation of the true and complete Redemption.

“It may be said that this is the reason why we see today that Jews can maintain their Judaism with great strength and mastery also over the nations of the world - for it all depends on their will. We are immediately prior to the Redemption, when it will become actually revealed that ‘And Dovid my servant will be the leader over them forever,’ ‘And the nations will know that I am the L-rd.’ This is reflected in the actual situation of our generation, which is a preparation for the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.” (VaYigash 5752).


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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