September 5, 2018
Avremele Rainitz in #1134, Interview, Rosh HaShana

Chassidim throughout the generations would compare the Rebbe’s beis midrash to the Beis HaMikdash, so what did the Rebbe innovate with the kuntres “Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel?” * How can one compare the revelation of the Sh’china in a shul in which dozens of people daven to the holiness and presence of the Sh’china in the Mikdash in Yerushalayim where all the Jewish people gathered? * We spoke with a mashpia in Oholei Torah, Rabbi Nachman Shapiro, member of the Vaad L’Hafatzos Sichos, about the issue of the day as it pertains to the thousands of Chassidim visiting Beis Chayeinu for the month of Tishrei.

In one of the stories recalling the travel of Chassidim to Lubavitch 200 years ago, the Chassid, RAvrohom Dovber of Bobruisk, described in full color his trip as a young boy, together with his father, to the Tzemach Tzedek. His riveting description reaches a crescendo as his father explains to himFrom the day the Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies was destroyed, until Hashem has mercy and sends us the righteous redeemer who will gather us from the four corners of the earth and lead us to Eretz Yisroel and builds for us Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash with the Holy of Holies, Lubavitch is our Yerushalayim, the shul where the Rebbe davens is our Beis HaMikdash, and the room the Rebbe sits in is our Holy of Holies. The Rebbe is our aron which contain the luchos of Hashems Torah.”

This expression, made famous by the Rebbe Rayatz in the HaTamim journal, became over the years an integral part of the Chabad outlook regarding the status of the Rebbe’s beis midrash. Generations of Chassidim grew up on similar aphorisms, which magnified and elevated the spiritual status of Beis Rabbeinu and compared the Rebbe’s room to the Holy of Holies or to Gan Eden HaElyon, meaning, this is the holiest place in the entire world.

I asked Rabbi Shapiro, known as a scholar in Nigleh and one who delves into the teachings of Chassidus with a broad knowledge of the Rebbe’s teachings:

What did the Rebbe innovate with “Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel” in describing Beis Chayeinu as “the primary miniature sanctuary that replaces the great Mikdash in Yerushalayim” - when in the time of the Tzemach Tzedek Chassidim called his shul “our Beis HaMikdash?”

Indeed, generations of Chassidim grew up comparing the Rebbe’s shul with the Beis HaMikdash, but when they said that, they meant that just like when the Mikdash stood, it was the holiest place in the world, so too today, in galus, the Rebbe’s beis midrash is the holiest place in the world.

In other words, after the churban, we know that holiness remained in shuls which are “miniature sanctuaries.” Although there is no comparison between the G-dly sanctity in the Beis HaMikdash to the holiness of shuls, in a micro way, a shul is a holy place just like the Beis HaMikdash was holy. Obviously, there is no comparing the supernal holiness of the Beis HaMikdash with the holiness of shuls which are only miniature sanctuaries.

Among all the shuls in the world, not all the shuls are equal. For example, there are gradations in holiness between small shuls and big shuls, for the latter have the advantage of b’rov am hadras melech. Similarly, it was obvious that out of all the shuls in the world, the shul of the Nasi Ha’dor is the most important. Meaning, when speaking of the same sort of holiness of a miniature sanctuary, there are various levels, and Beis Rabbeinu is on the highest level of all.

The Rebbe’s tremendous innovation in kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel is that the comparison between Beis Rabbeinu in Bavel and the Beis HaMikdash is not merely symbolic, but substantive:

The very same holiness that was present in the Beis HaMikdash, which is no comparison at all to that of other shuls, itself went to shine forth in Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel, or in the words of the Aruch, “the Mikdash traveled and settled there.” As the Rebbe puts it, “The revelation of the Sh’china in the Mikdash in Yerushalayim (and in no other place) traveled and settled in a certain place in Bavel…”


What singles out the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash and Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel so that the holiness of the rest of the shuls don’t compare at all to this unique sanctity?

It’s explained in Chassidus that in the general infusion of life force into the worlds, there are three general levels: olam, shana and nefesh (world, year, and soul). Olam represents the dimension of space in the world. Shana represents the dimension of time in the world. And soul refers to the creations and creatures of the world. These three levels operate simultaneously and therefore what you find in one exists in the other two levels.

So, just like there is a “head” in nefesh, which is the Rosh B’nei Yisroel, there is a “head” of the shana which is Rosh HaShana, and a “head” in olam which is the Beis HaMikdash. That the Beis HaMikdash is the “head” of the aspect of world sets it on an entirely different level compared to other locations of holiness in the world which are part of “olam” but are not “rosh.”

Since olam, shana and nefesh are parallel dimensions, we can learn in Chassidus about “rosh” and “shana” and understand from that the uniqueness of the Beis HaMikdash which is the “head” of the “world.”

Regarding Rosh HaShana, Chassidus explains that if it was called “techilas ha’shana,” the only special thing about it would be that on this day is the beginning of the flow of life and it would even be reasonable to say that the chayus within it is loftier than that of the rest of the days of the year. However, since it is called the “rosh” of the year, that teaches us that it is incomparably greater than the rest of the days of the year since its life force is a “chayus atzmi” which completely transcends the rest of the days of the year, and then this “essential aliveness” descends to be the source of the life energies of the rest of the days of the year. Furthermore, it governs all the rest of the days of the year.

The same is true when speaking of the Nasi Ha’dor, the Rosh B’nei Yisroel, who is the head in the aspect of “nefesh.” His uniqueness is not defined by the fact that he contains within himself the loftiest level of divine “chayus;” rather, he has within him a “chayus atzmi,” and from that, chayus is drawn to the rest of the people of the generation. Furthermore, what follows from him being the source of each individual life force is that he leads the entire generation.

All of the above is true for the aspect of olam. The Holy of Holies is greater than all other holy places not only in quantity, but on a whole different level of quality. That does not mean that the Holy of Holies is the first stop where the Sh’china dwells and from there it continues to other places. Rather, the Holy of Holies is like the head, wherein shines forth the “essential aliveness” and “essential holiness,” and from there the light is drawn to the entire world and even after that, the holiness of the Holy of Holies continues to lead and direct the holiness in the world.

This is the Rebbe’s innovation, that Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel is “in the place of the great Mikdash in Yerushalayim.” That means that it too is considered the “rosh” compared to other shuls in the world: its holiness is an intrinsic and essential holiness from which holiness is drawn to all the shuls in the world (as the Rebbe writes in detail “from it the presence of the Sh’china is drawn to all shuls and battei midrash throughout the world”) and its sanctity continues to lead and influence the holiness of the other sources of holiness in the world!

The most amazing thing is that the Rebbe supports this great chiddush with sources in the Gemara and Rishonim and uses it to explain the Gemara, in that it is impossible to say that the Sh’china was exiled both to the “house of worship of Hutzel” and the “house of worship that moved and settled in Neharda’a” (two places about which it was said that when the Sh’china was exiled from Yerushalayim, it went there), but sometimes it is here and sometimes there, because this is not ordinary holiness which can exist simultaneously in several places but a level of “head” and it is not possible for there to be two heads. There is only one head!

When you understand that 770 is the “rosh” and source of holiness for the entire world, obviously this is the place to be on Rosh HaShana:

Traveling to the Rebbe once a year was a fundamental practice of Chassidim, as we know from the Chassidic aphorism based on the Gemara, “Rebbi lo shana, chiya minayin” - if we don’t go to the Rebbe once a year, from where will we get chayus for the upcoming year?

As the Rebbe once said (VaYikra 5749) that the very idea of a Chassid going to his Rebbe is an obvious thing, since from time to time every Chassid goes to his Rebbe (with all the details involved in this) and this trip affects his avoda for the entire year until his next trip (in the following year, or in that year itself).

There was a particular emphasis put on going to the Rebbe for Rosh HaShana, as the Rebbe Rashab once said, “How is it that a Jew is not in Lubavitch for Rosh HaShana. What other place is there?”

This connection between Rosh HaShana and the Rosh B’nei Yisroel was brought into sharper relief after the Rebbe publicized his letter from the first day of Slichos 5710, in which he explains why Rosh HaShana is called “rosh” and not “techilas.” This is because this day, compared to the rest of the days of the year, is like the head, relative to the body and limbs, and as such, includes within it, in a concealed state, the life force for all the days of the year. This is then channeled in a revealed way into the individual days of the year.

The Rebbe clarifies there that just like with the head and limbs of the body, a person is healthy when the life force in the head is whole, and the particular life force is drawn down to each limb, the same holds true for the avoda of Rosh HaShana. These days need to be in sync with their function as the head of the entire year and also connected with the rest of the days of the year, to infuse them with the “life force” of the acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, Torah study and the fulfillment of mitzvos.

The Rebbe goes on to emphasize that one of the inyanim that helps in the avoda in general and the avoda of connecting Rosh HaShana with the rest of the days of the year in particular, is connecting with the Rosh Alfei Yisroel (i.e., the Rebbe), whose soul is the aspect of head and brain relative to the other souls of his generation. They derive their “nourishment” and “life force” from him and through him are connected and unified with their original source and essence.

Hiskashrus with the Nasi and Rosh Doreinu, writes the Rebbe, is what will help with the avoda of the days of Rosh HaShana and connecting them with the rest of the days of the year.

In light of all this, when Rosh HaShana comes (the rosh of “shana”), we need to be with the Rebbe, the Rosh B’nei Yisroel (the rosh of “nefesh”) in 770, Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel (rosh in “olam”).


But how can we compare the Beis HaMikdash, where all the Jewish people went, to 770? With all due respect to the thousands who go to 770 throughout the year, they are not “all the Jewish people!”

The Rebbe notes that one of the reasons for the enormous difference between the holiness of shuls that are only miniature sanctuaries, and the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash, is as mentioned before, the aspect of essential life force and the source of that life force. This is because in the Beis HaMikdash where all the Jewish people gathered, there was the full revelation of the general level of “Sh’china” called Knesses Yisroel (Gathering of Yisroel). In an ordinary shul where only ten or many tens of Jews gather, there is only “part” of the Sh’china, as it were.

This seemingly only intensifies the question that you raised: How can we compare 770 to the Beis HaMikdash?

The Rebbe continues and reveals another aspect in the special sanctity of Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel: Since this is the permanent place of Nasi Doreinu, and the Nasi is everything, i.e., he includes all the people of the generation, this is like having all Jews in Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel. This is why the Sh’china dwells there, as in the Beis HaMikdash in a manner of “head,” and from it, the holiness is extended to other shuls and battei midrash in the world, like the Beis HaMikdash is described as sending forth light to the entire world.

That means that even if there was a shul where thousands of people davened, more than the number in 770, it would not be a matter of quantity in which we would make comparisons, but a matter of an altogether different quality: This is the house of the Rebbe, the Nasi Ha’dor, and therefore, this is the shul that the entire generation davens in. We are talking about chayus and holiness on the level of “rosh,” which is an altogether different, incomparable quality.


You said previously that the Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel is special because it is the home of Nasi Doreinu. Some wonder, even today, when we don’t see the Rebbe in 770, is it still considered Beis Rabbeinu with all the qualities you referred to?

First, based on the Rebbe’s sichos, it is clear that despite the concealment, the Rebbe’s eternal place is 770, especially as in this kuntres, the Rebbe says that Beis Rabbeinu (770) is the aspect of talpiyos, “the mound (place of elevation) that all mouths (that pray) turn to,” for more than 50 years (5700-5750), “ad olam,” and “increasing and continuing until the coming of the righteous redeemer.”

Take a look: the Rebbe, who certainly knew what would take place on 27 Adar and 3 Tammuz, edited and published this kuntres with all of its amazing revelations, some of which we have discussed, in Cheshvan 5752. Was the Rebbe speaking only about the brief period from the printing of the kuntres until 3 Tammuz? G-d forbid to think so.

Second, even according to those who are in error, in the kuntres, the Rebbe attributes the qualities of Beis Rabbeinu to the Rebbe Rayatz, despite the fact that 40 years had passed in which the Rebbe Rayatz had not been seen in 770 in a revealed way. Included in the above are the parameters that the Rebbe cites for establishing 770 as the home of the Nasi Ha’dor (Rebbe Rayatz): 1) it is his shul, 2) it is his beis midrash, 3) it was the headquarters for his activities for his final ten years. In light of this, the Rebbe establishes that “holiness does not budge from its place,” and on the contrary, “it continues in a way of ascending in holiness, ever increasing until the coming of the righteous redeemer.”

Surely after decades of 770 being Beis Rabbeinu and the place of Torah, t’filla, and activities of the Rebbe MH”M, it continues to be Beis Rabbeinu.

To summarize: The unique quality of Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel is expressed both from above-downward and from down-upward. From above-downward, in that it has an essential innate holiness and from it, holiness is drawn down to other holy places in the world. As a result, also from down-upward – that many Jews from all over the world go to daven in 770, as the Rebbe notes in one of the footnotes of the kuntres, “that also on the literal level, many Jews gather and come to Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel, incomparably so to other shuls and battei midrash.”

The Rebbe does not suffice with that and reveals another unique advantage that Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel has over other shuls in the world: this is the place where the Geula will begin, here is where the redemption of the Sh’china will happen first, and here is where the Beis HaMikdash will first be revealed.

As the Rebbe explains at length, since from the Gemara it is clear that the holiness of the Mikdash moved to Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel, and the Sh’china that was exiled along with the Jewish people is found in Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel, when the time for the Geula arrives, just as the return of the Sh’china is from the place it was in galus, so too, the restoration of the future Mikdash will be from the place that the Mikdash went to during galus, i.e., Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel. That is where the Beis HaMikdash will be revealed first and then it will move to Yerushalayim!

So, in addition to the importance of going to 770 for its sanctity, there is another reason to come here, because that is how one awakens and strengthens the pining for the complete Geula that will begin here, in Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel, teikef u’miyad mamash!

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
See website for complete article licensing information.