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Saturday
Sep152018

T’SHUVA BEFORE GEULA?

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

T’shuva is something that we are always thinking about, as it is the prerequisite for Avodas Hashem. As the Tzemach Tzedek told someone in Yechidus (HaYom Yom 10 Teves): “It is written: ‘Let the wicked man abandon his path and the man of iniquity [abandon] his thoughts.’ The word און-iniquity can also be interpreted as hinting at אוֹן (‘strength’). Just as a wicked man must abandon his path, for without t’shuva he cannot approach holiness, so too a man of strength — that is, a person who is strong and confident in his own opinions — must ‘abandon his thoughts.’ He should no longer say: ‘This is what I say,’ or ‘This is how I hold.’ For any mention of ‘I’ and [any conception of oneself as an] entity [of weighty import] is the source of evil and instils divisiveness between people’s hearts.”

This is of utmost relevance, as we are working on getting the world ready for Geula. As the Frierdike Rebbe said (HaYom Yom 18 Sivan): “In this present era of Ikvisa D’Meshicha [the generation that can already hear the approaching footsteps of Moshiach], every Jew is obligated to seek the welfare of his fellow, be he an elder or a youth, to arouse him to t’shuva so that he will not leave the fold of the Jewish people, who, with G‑d’s help, will merit the complete redemption.”

This is especially so when we stand in the days of Aseres Yemei T’shuva, the ten days of T’shuva between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, that this has to always be at the forefront of our mind. T’shuva is a special gift for us while we are in this world. As we know (HaYom Yom 26 Sivan): “There is a blessing in ‘going down alive to the grave.’ As [our Sages explain on the similar statement that] ‘the sons of Korach did not die,’ ‘a place was fortified for them [in Gehinom]’ and they repented, because repentance is effective only as long as one is alive. [Similarly, regarding those who descended alive into the grave:] The blessing was that even in the grave, they would be alive and able to repent.”

Yet, our holy Rebbeim teach us that doing T’shuva stems from Avodas HaT’shuva. The Frierdike Rebbe records (Igros Kodesh, vol. 4 pg. 336) a story that took place in the time of the Rebbe Maharash in the year 1878. That year, during Shabbos Chanuka, the Rebbe Maharash recited a Maamer entitled “Ivdu Es Hashem B’simcha.” In it the Rebbe Maharash explains the importance of serving Hashem through joy. In the course of the Maamer he mentions that even T’shuva must be done with joy, and the same is with the Avoda of T’shuva.

The Rebbe Rashab heard this Maamer from his father and realized that his father was referencing a difference between T’shuva and the Avoda of T’shuva. He figured to himself that T’shuva must be on the actual Aveiros or real negative things from which one needs to distance himself, and the Avoda of T’shuva is the elevation in K’dusha that the person experiences. Yet, he sought to ask his father for the official explanation.

The Rebbe Maharash heard the question of his son, and he explained: T’shuva is the actual repentance and returning. Avodas HaT’shuva is the Avoda that inspires the person to do T’shuva. Based on the Avoda that inspires and causes the T’shuva, the quality of the resulting T’shuva will be determined. It is all achieved through the Avoda of T’filla.

The Rebbe Maharash then revealed to the Rebbe Rashab what he heard from his father the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek. On Shabbos Shoftim 5564, the Alter Rebbe said a Maamer in which he explained the Pasuk “We must set up judges and officers in all our gates.” According to the Alter Rebbe’s explanation, there are 50 gates of Bina and each of these gates represents a different attribute of the person. Each gate needs to be judged and watched to make sure it is being fully utilized in the service of Hashem.

The Tzemach Tzedek went into Yechidus by the Alter Rebbe to get some clarification on the Maamer. The Alter Rebbe explained that for every gate there is a special T’filla connected to it, because T’filla is what actualizes potential by making it reality. He then said over a teaching of his teacher, the Mezritcher Maggid (HaYom Yom 3 Tishrei):

“On Shabbos Parshas Ki Savo, 5528 (1768), my mentor and master (the Maggid of

Mezritch) delivered a teaching that opened with the verse ‘VeShavta ad Hashem Elokecha’ — You shall return to Havaya (G‑d), Elokecha (your L‑rd).

“The Maggid [understood this verse as implying that ‘You shall return until Havaya is Elokecha,’ and] explained that one must bring one’s Divine service of t’shuva to the point that Havaya, [the aspect of Divinity] that transcends all worlds, becomes Elokecha (your L‑rd). [He went on to say that] the Divine Name Elokim has the numerical equivalent of the word HaTeva (הטבע), meaning nature. This [link is exemplified] in the verse, ‘In the beginning, Elokim created….’ [I.e., the natural world came into being through the Name Elokim. Thus the term Elokecha (your L‑rd) refers to the Divine power within us that endows us with life-energy.]”

The entire holy brotherhood [of the Maggid’s disciples] was greatly aroused by this teaching. However, one of the disciples, the tzaddik R’ Meshulam Zusya of Anipoli, declared that he could not reach such a level of t’shuva, and therefore divided it into its components. T’shuva (תשובה), he pointed out, is an acronym for the following five verses:

תמים תהיה עם ה אלוקיך ת: “Trust G‑d your L‑rd with simple faith.”

שויתי ה לנגדי תמיד ש: “I have placed G‑d before me at all times.”

ואהבת לרעך כמוך ו: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

בכל דרכיך דעהו ב: “Know Him in all your ways.”

הצנע לכת עם ה אלוקיך ה: “Walk humbly with G‑d your L‑rd.”

[The Rebbe Rayatz added:] When my revered father [the Rebbe Rashab] told me the above, he concluded: “The word t’shuva comprises five letters, each representing a distinct path and approach to the labor of t’shuva.” He explained these five approaches at length and then said: ‘All of them are actualized through the service of prayer.’”

Dear Chassidim sh’yichyu!

The Rebbe often quoted the words of the Rambam in Hilchos T’shuva (7:5): “The Torah has already promised that ultimately Israel will repent towards the end of her exile, and immediately she will be redeemed, as it is stated (D’varim 30:1-3): ‘And it shall come to pass, when all these things have come upon you… and you shall return to the L-rd your G-d… Then the Lord your God will return your captivity.’”

The Rebbe would quote the Gemara (Sanhedrin 97b) which states that “all the deadlines for Moshiach have passed and now we just need T’shuva.” The Rebbe added (Shmos 5751): “All of the signs mentioned by our Sages indicate that we are currently situated at the very end of the period of exile. We have ‘passed all the deadlines.’ We have also performed T’shuva [repentance, return, a prerequisite for Redemption]. Indeed, my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our generation, declared (several decades ago) that we have already concluded all the service [necessary for Redemption], including the ‘polishing of the buttons,’ and we now stand ready (‘All of you stand ready’) to greet our righteous Moshiach.”

So what is left? The Rebbe explained (VaYeitzei 5752): “And the only thing missing is that a Jew should open his eyes as he should, and then he will see that all is ready for the Redemption! There is already the Shulchan Aruch (the Set Table); there is already the Leviasan, the Shor HaBar and the Yayin Meshumar. The Jewish people already sit by the table, ‘the table of their Father’ (the Holy One Blessed be He), together with our righteous Moshiach. (This is as it is stated in holy books that in every generation there is ‘one descended from Yehuda who is qualified to be Moshiach.’) In our generation this is the leader of our generation, my sainted father-in-law. And now forty years after the passing of my sainted father-in-law we also have already ‘a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear.’

“We must now only open the ‘heart to know’ and open ‘the eyes to see’ and open the ‘ears to hear.’ Likewise we must utilize all 248 physical limbs and 365 physical sinews in the learning of the inner aspects of the Torah, as revealed in the teachings of Chassidus, and observing the directives of our Rebbeim and leaders. These directives include learning about the concepts of Redemption, in a way that will open the heart, eyes and ears. That is, one must understand, see, and hear in the physicality of the world the true and complete Redemption in actual reality. One should learn the Torah of Moshiach (the inner aspects of Torah) in a way of seeing. All of the above is already prepared; one need only open the eyes to see it! Also the custom of the Jewish people which is continually spreading in our time, to learn the subject of Redemption and Moshiach, in order to prepare himself and others even more for the revelation of the true and complete Redemption, as mentioned above.”

 

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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