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Wednesday
May202015

WE’VE DONE THIS BEFORE

The Torah describes at length the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, the preparation for Mattan Torah, Mattan Torah itself, and the vicissitudes of the lives of Bnei Yisroel in the desert. We all know that the Torah is not a history book; rather, it is a lesson for our current lives. When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we can, and always should, look at the Torah for guidance

This is especially relevant regarding the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim. Leaving Galus – and the Galus mentality – is not easy. It is a process that starts in our minds and hearts (through learning about Moshiach) and then extends to our lives, our families, communities and the entire world. It’s a journey that is going to have its challenges and we must be ready for them.

This is not the first Geula; Yetzias Mitzrayim was the first one. The Torah describes in great detail the exodus from Egypt, so that we should not commit the same mistakes and we should learn from the past so that we can reach the future. Our generation is the reincarnation of the souls of the Jewish people that left Mitzrayim, so we are especially empowered to learn from their redemption.

While it is a comfort to know that “this was done before” and that the map has already been drawn, it also comes with a responsibility. We are not afforded the luxury of saying “it was a first time mistake.” We are not reinventing the wheel. We will be held accountable. 

[One of the people that I would visit on Mivtzaim (the CEO of a big company) once told me: “I allow my workers to make many mistakes, as long as they do not make the same mistake twice!”]

One of the challenges that we are facing is the obvious feeling of “abandonment.” From 28 Nissan 5751, the Rebbe taught us week after week how to prepare for Moshiach and to anticipate the arrival of Moshiach. Yet, just as it felt like we reached the grand finale, the Rebbe “stops teaching” (27 Adar 5752) and then after 3 Tammuz 5754 starts the current test of concealment. Is this the way forward to Geula? Is it a step backward ch”v?  How are we, as Chassidim, to deal with this? And most importantly, how does the Rebbe want us to deal with it? 

Let us review our “blue-print,” the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Gemara (Shabbos 86b) tells us a detailed description of the final preparations to Mattan Torah:

“On Monday Hashem said to them, and you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests; on Tuesday he informed them of the order to set boundaries, and on Wednesday they separated themselves [from their wives]. But the Rabbis hold: the New Moon was fixed on Monday, and on that day he said nothing to them on account of the exhaustion from the journey.”

It seems ironic, just as the Jews were about to receive the Torah, Moshe stops teaching them?! To say that it was just because of their physical exhaustion, is not befitting such holy people who were anxiously anticipating Mattan Torah. Rather we must say that having Moshe “stop teaching” temporarily is part of the process of actually receiving the Torah!

Another parallel between the concealments at the time of Mattan Torah and the concealment of our times is the following: When Moshe finally goes to receive the Torah, he is concealed for an extended period of time. The concealment is so great, that many of Klal Yisroel started to believe that Moshe passed away and that it was time for a new leader.

History is repeating itself. There were concealments in speech and later on complete concealments before the giving of the Torah, as are happening now before the final redemption. So the question is, why? Why did Hashem set redemption up in such a way that Moshe stops teaching and needs to be concealed?  Why did Moshe have to stop teaching in order to prepare for the giving of the Torah?

The Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 28 pg. 7-14) gives a fascinating explanation: Moshe Rabbeinu was not giving the Jewish people a break of their preparations for Mattan Torah, rather he was giving them a chance to do the main preparation for Mattan Torah!

The receiving of the Torah is very different from the transmission of any other wisdom. When a teacher presents a lecture, the student grasps the intellect of the teacher. When Hashem gave the Torah however, he put himself into the Torah, so that when one learns and unites with the Torah, he is uniting with Hashem himself!

How is it possible that a finite being unite with the infinite Hashem? This can only happen if the person nullifies his individual existence and agendas; only then can he be a vessel to hold the infinite. This explains why Moshe Rabbeinu did not teach the Jews the Torah on the second of Sivan. He was giving the Jewish people the time and opportunity for self-reflection to reach this level of Bittul, thereby being prepared to receive the Torah.

With this understanding, we can “explain” (of course we do not want explanations on concealment… ad masai!?) the concept of Moshe “stopping to teach” in our generation. 

In our generation “and after the completion of all forty two journeys in the “wilderness of the nations,” [when] we find ourselves already “by the Yarden near Yericho” (Matos-Massei 5751) there needs to be a special Avoda. Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation has to stop speaking/teaching and there needs to be a “Kabbalas HaMalchus,” by the people.

In the words of the Rebbe (Mishpatim 5751): “The appointment of David, the King Moshiach, has already occurred, as it says, ‘I have found David My servant, with My holy oil I have anointed him.’ It requires only an acceptance of his kingship by the people and a complete revelation of the attachment between the king and the people – in the true and perfect Redemption.”

At the same time, during the period that “Moshe is not speaking,” the Rebbe (sicha 3 Shvat 5752) tells us that we have another responsibility. Just as Aharon HaKohen was the mouthpiece of Moshe Rabbeinu, the Chassidim have to be the mouthpiece of the Rebbe, to give over the sichos and Torah of the Rebbe – and especially his Nevua of Moshiach (Shoftim 5751) to the world!

Now to answer the second question, why did Mattan Torah demand a total concealment of Moshe Rabbeinu that left room for the Jewish people to think that he passed away? Why does there need to be this concealment of the teacher (which seemingly is contrary to teaching) before the great revelation of Torah?

The Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 2 pg. 360) explains – and the explanation goes for the general concealment of Galus as well – with an interesting parable:

There was once a teacher that prepared a lesson for his students. Because of his caring for his students, he really thought about and prepared the lesson in a way that the students would fully grasp the lesson.

Then, in the middle of the lesson, the teacher had a Eureka moment. With this new idea the teacher feels that he will be able to develop a whole new approach of teaching for his students. Yet the teacher is afraid that if he does not stop the lesson and go to a private room to focus on and develop this novel idea, it will be lost. 

Thus, out of love and care for his students, the teacher stops the lesson and focuses on the new thought. At that point, the students may feel abandoned and lost, yet those students that realized how much their teacher loves them – and understand that he would never “leave his flock unattended” – do not let this period of isolation disrupt their connection to their teacher. On the contrary, they anxiously await the new revelation which will be revealed by the teacher on his return.

The lesson of this analogy is clear. Mattan Torah was not just Moshe teaching us another lesson of Hashem’s wisdom. He was receiving a whole new approach to serving Hashem. At that point, the barriers that separated the physical world from being a vessel for spirituality were broken. Hashem was giving over his essence, “Anna Nafshi Kesavis Yehavis,” to the Jewish people. It is understood that to receive this properly, Moshe had to be focused on receiving it – and internalizing it – properly. This demanded a separation – and concealment – from his students, the B’nei Yisroel.    

The same is true in the times before Moshiach. Moshiach is ready to reveal the deepest secrets of the Torah. With the giving over of the “Torah Chadasha,” the entire world will be transformed forever. The truth and purpose of creation will be revealed to all and felt by all. It will be the ultimate revelation that Hashem – and the whole creation – has been waiting for since the inception of the entire universe. It is clear that to be ready to give over such a revelation, there needs to be a period of focus – and concealment – of the teacher.

Yet, we Chassidim must remain strong! We already know the script. We know what happens when one loses faith in the words of Moshe. The after-effects of the “cheit ha’eigel” are still felt till this day. We – the Dor HaShvii – are the Shevet Levi and we must remain strong in our faith in the words and prophecy of our Rebbe. May we be zocheh to see the Hisgalus of the Rebbe, Now!

Kabbalas HaTorah – and Moshiach – B’simcha u’bip’nimius!

 

 

 

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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