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Sichos In English

Shabbos Parshas B’Haalos’cha; 19th Day of Sivan, 5751

1. Parshas B’Haalos’cha contains an element that is unique with respect to all the other parshiyos of the Torah. The two verses beginning, "And it came to pass when the ark would set out...," are set apart (by upside-down Nunnim. Our Sages explain that these verses can be considered as a separate book of the Torah. According to this reckoning, there are seven books of the Torah: the Book of BaMidbar, which is divided into three books, and the other four books. Therefore, this week’s Torah portion includes portions of three of the Torah’s seven books.

There are several difficulties: a) According to this division, the sixth book of the Torah begins, "And it came to pass that the people complained." This unfavorable occurrence is hardly an appropriate beginning for one of the books of the Torah. b) Similarly, we do not find a name for this sixth book in the works of our Sages. c) There are extensive explanations regarding the significance of the division of the Torah into five books, not seven. What is the significance of the seven books? d) What is the reason that this division is made specifically in Parshas B’Haalos’cha?

A key to the resolution of these difficulties can be found in the opening passage of our Torah portion which describes the menora, which is a symbol of Torah – for "the Torah is light." Thus, just as the menora had seven branches, the Torah is divided into seven books.

To explain in greater detail: On the verse, "And you shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within," the Rabbis commented: "within them," i.e., within each and every Jew. Therefore, every element of the Sanctuary teaches us fundamental lessons regarding our service of G-d. This concept also applies in regard to the kindling of the Menora.

Although there are myriad meanings for every Torah concept, the simple meaning of the concept (which emerges from Rashi’s commentary) produces a lesson relevant to each and every Jew – man, woman, and child.

Rashi interprets the word "B’Haalos’cha," the opening phrase of this Torah portion, to mean "to kindle until the flame rises up on its own accord." This is relevant to our service of G-d. The candles refer to our service of Torah and mitzvos: "A mitzva is a candle and the Torah, light," and similarly to our souls: "The candle of G-d is the soul of man." The light of Torah must illuminate every aspect of our lives, even our involvement with mundane affairs, and even our surrounding environment. Through the mitzvos, which establish a tzavsa (bond) between G-d and our material world, the world is transformed into a dwelling for G-d, a shining menora spreading G-dly light.

This G-dly light must be kindled "until the flame rises up on its own accord." Although the menora is lit by a Jew (Aharon the Kohen), the ultimate purpose is that it shine on its own accord without the assistance of the person lighting the menora. Similarly, in regard to our service of
G-d, although G-d grants a Jew the potential to carry out the service of "the light of Torah and the candle of mitzva," and a Jew also receives influence from Aharon the Kohen who lights the candles of the souls of the Jewish people, the ultimate purpose is that the candle of his soul shines on its own accord. A Jew’s soul should be permeated by "the light of Torah and the candle of mitzva" to the extent that, without any external influence, "the flame rises up on its own accord."

In particular, each of the terms in the above phrase is significant. The word "flame" refers to the part of the candle that produces light. This reflects the service of a Jew, to light up his surrounding environment, and not merely with a small light, but with a large flame.

This flame must rise up, i.e., a person should not stand in one place, but rather, he must constantly advance further in the service of G-d. In particular, the phrase "rise up" implies a unique type of advance. Frequently, a person will proceed in his service, expanding its breadth and scope, however, he will remain on the same level. In this instance, we are speaking about a person elevating the nature of his service, rising to a higher plane.

This flame must rise up "on its own accord"; This tendency for growth and development in the spreading of Divine light must become a person’s natural tendency. Although initially a person is given the potential for this service by G-d, this service must permeate his being until it becomes his natural tendency.

We see this in regard to the study of the Torah ("And Torah is light"). At the outset, a person is taught to study by others. Ultimately, however, the purpose is for a person to acquire the skills necessary to allow him to study the Torah himself, and furthermore, to study in a manner in which the Torah becomes engraved in his memory, becoming part and parcel of his thinking processes.

(This is reflected in the concept that the Torah concepts that a person develops are considered his own. Not only does he receive from the Torah, he adds to and increases the Torah.)

In a larger sense, the concept of a Jew developing himself in Torah study until his "flame rises on its own accord" relates to the concept of the giving of the Torah as a whole. At the outset, the Torah was given to the Jewish people by G-d (i.e., the candle was lit by others). After the Torah was given, however, "the Torah is not in the Heavens," and Torah decisions must be decided by the Jewish people. In fact, G-d and the Heavenly court come to hear the Torah decisions rendered by the Jewish people on the physical plane.

A similar concept applies in regard to the observance of the mitzvos. The ultimate dimension of this service is when it becomes internalized to the extent that it becomes a person’s natural reaction. To quote our Sages, "When one reaches Modim, one bows as a spontaneous reaction." (This should not be done coldly, merely out of habit, but rather as an expression of one’s progress in the service of G-d, as reflected in the observance of the mitzvos b’hiddur, in a beautiful and conscientious manner.)

Similarly, our service in the world at large that is governed by the directives, "All your deeds shall be for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him in all your ways" must also be carried out in a manner in which "the flame rises up on its own accord." Even when a person eats, sleeps, and is involved with mundane activities, he "places
G-d before him at all times," and does so in a manner which reflects how this appreciation became part and parcel of his very being.

A similar concept applies in regard to our efforts to influence others. Our intent should be to cause their "flame to arise on its own accord." Even after the person who influenced them has departed, the influence will remain strong, and they will continue to shine with "the light of Torah" and "the candle of mitzva," for this is their true being.

There are two possible explanations of "the flame rising up on its own accord": a) At the outset, a Jew’s body does not shine with "the light of Torah and the candle of mitzva." Nevertheless, through work and effort the body is trained so that the Torah and its mitzvos become the body’s natural, spontaneous reaction, effectively training it to go against its own nature. Indeed, the body must be trained to carry out this service; without training, it would not do so. b) From a deeper perspective, however, this is the body’s true nature, for the true essence of every creation in this physical world is G-dliness. From this perspective, the service of the Torah and mitzvos actually reveals the body’s true nature.

These two explanations can be considered as two phases in a sequence. At the outset, the body conceals the light of Torah and mitzvos, and therefore, our service must involve training the body’s nature. Ultimately, however, through the refinement of the body, we can reveal the essential G-dliness present in a Jewish body.

The concept of kindling the lights "until the flame rises up on its own accord" is also relevant in regard to the effects of our service in the world at large. When a Jew performs a mitzva with a physical object – and the performance of most mitzvos involve physical things – that object becomes refined and elevated. Furthermore, in certain instances it actually becomes transformed into a holy article.

In these instances, although the holiness was conveyed upon the article through the Jew’s performance of the mitzva, that holiness is imparted to the object itself, and remains even after the mitzva has been completed. For this reason, such an object can be used for an oath; it is because the person taking the oath holds a sacred article in his hand that the oath derives its power.

We see this in regard to the sacrifices. Although it is necessary for a human being to consecrate a sacrifice, once the sacrifice is consecrated, it changes the nature of the physical things itself, causing it to become holy. Furthermore, this holiness can add to the person who consecrated it and bring him atonement.

Although the material nature of the world is not [apparently] associated with holiness, G-d gives a Jew the potential to transform a material entity into a holy object through his service of Torah and mitzvos, and for that holiness to become an integral part of that thing itself, for "the flame to rise up on its own accord." This involves a fusion of opposites, bringing together the material and the spiritual, which is accomplished by man’s actions. A parallel can be seen in the kindling of the lights in the Sanctuary. Here too, it is man’s activity that is needed to bring the fire to the wicks. Once the wicks have been kindled, "the flame rises up on its own accord."


The above applies, not only in regard to those matters which are obviously associated with a mitzva, but also in regard to service in the world at large, in carrying out "All one’s deeds for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him in all your ways." Furthermore, it can – and must – be carried out, not only by adults, but also by children. This is accomplished by a child placing a Chumash, siddur, and tzedaka box in a fixed place in his room. In this way, even when he does not use them, their very presence will remind him of their importance.

The ultimate intent is that this service of elevating the world at large involve even the lowest elements of existence, causing them to shine "on their own accord" with G-dly light. Indeed, it is through the service with the lowest elements of existence that the transformation of the world into a dwelling for G-d is completed. In Chassidus, this concept is explained through the following analogy: When one wants to lift up an object, one places the lever below the bottom of the object and when it is lifted up, the higher portions of the object will also be raised.

In this context, we can understand a deeper dimension of the kindling of the menora by Aharon the Kohen. Aharon’s service involved "loving the creations and drawing them close to the Torah," i.e., he involved himself with even those people who have no redeeming quality other than being
G-d’s "creations." This represents an involvement with the lowest level of the Jewish people. Similarly, the light from the menora spread throughout the world, allowing even its lowest aspects to be elevated.

On the basis of the above concepts, we can resolve the questions concerning the seven books of the Torah and the fact that the sixth book begins with the passage describing the Jewish people’s complaints: The numbers seven and five are of general significance. Thus, the menora, the symbol of the Jewish people as a whole, contain seven branches, one for each of the seven emotional qualities. Similarly, the number five is associated with the five books of the Torah, which represent five categories within the Jewish people.

(The existence of these five categories is alluded to in this week’s chapter of Pirkei Avos, which describes Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai as having five students. Surely, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai who was the Nasi of the Sanhedrin and who renewed the study of Torah for the Jewish people in Yavneh, possessed more than five students. However, the intent is that these five represented general categories, which included all the Jewish people.)

Although both five and seven are of general significance, there is a difference between them. Five refers to the service with oneself and the service in the realm of holiness, whereas seven refers to service with others and service within the world at large. For this reason, there are five books of the Torah. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai is described as having five students, for when describing the Jewish people as they study the Torah, it is necessary to speak of only five categories. Nevertheless, when considering the ultimate purpose of our service – that even the lowest elements of our existence become permeated with
G-dly light, which is the purpose of the Torah, as our Sages said, "The Torah was given solely to bring about peace in the world" – it is necessary to speak within the context of seven books.

And the sixth book – i.e., the book that follows the five levels of holiness – begins with a description of the lowest level of the Jewish people’s behavior to show that through the process of t’shuva, even this level of conduct can be elevated to the point that "the flame rises up on its own accord."

The potential to carry out this service is derived from the fifth book and the message its two verses communicate. The first verse, "And it came to pass when the ark set out, Moshe would say, ‘Arise, O L-rd, and Your enemies will be dispersed...’" reflects the service of refining the world at large. The second verse, "And when it came to rest, he would say, ‘Return, O L-rd, [to] the myriads and thousands of Israel,’" alludes to the indwelling of the Divine presence among the Jewish people.

2. A similar concept can be derived from Parshas Shlach, which we begin reading during the Mincha service. Parshas Shlach describes Moshe Rabbeinu’s sending of spies to Eretz Yisroel. Among the questions raised by that narrative are: a) The Torah refrains from speaking negatively about all things, even a non-kosher animal. If so, why does it relate a narrative that is unfavorable in nature? b) The Haftoros chosen for the parshiyos share the theme of the parsha. If so, why was the passage describing the mission of the spies sent by Yehoshua chosen as the Haftora for this parsha? Although both passages describe stories of spies, the narrative of the Torah reading is negative in nature, while the narrative of the Haftora is positive.

These questions can be resolved as follows: Yehoshua and Kaleiv declared: "The land is very, very good," bringing out a positive dimension to the entire narrative of the spies. This was Moshe’s intent in sending them. And for this reason, Yehoshua sought to emulate Moshe’s conduct and sent spies before setting out to conquer Eretz Yisroel.

Here we can see the lasting dimension of the positive nature of Moshe Rabbeinu’s activity in sending spies: how "the flame rises up on its own accord." Even in a subsequent generation, his activity was emulated.

3. Now is a time when we must light up the candles of the Jewish people in this era of exile. The cumulative legacy of all the positive activity of the previous generations is granted us, and now all that is necessary is to kindle the flame, and make sure that it "rises up on its own accord." Although our generation is on a lower level than the previous ones, compared to the heel in relation to the entire body, it is our generation that has the potential to elevate the service of all the previous generations. We will be the last generation of exile, and the first generation of the Redemption, and in this way bring redemption to all the Jewish people of the previous generations.

This is particularly relevant after the Rebbe Rayatz’s example of emulating the conduct of Aharon the Kohen, "loving the creations and drawing them close to the Torah." Through his activities, the wellsprings of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus were even spread to those on the periphery of Jewish involvement.

These activities were specifically directed to hastening the coming of the ultimate Redemption, as the Rebbe Rayatz proclaimed, "Immediately let us turn to G-d in t’shuva, and immediately we will be redeemed." He also stated that all that is left is to "polish the buttons" before Moshiach’s coming. That service has already been completed. And now all we must do is "stand prepared" to greet Moshiach and to proceed "with our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters" to Eretz Yisroel, to Yerushalayim, and to the Beis HaMikdash.

5. [The following remarks were made by the Lubavitcher Rebbe shlita during the farbrengen of Shabbos Parshas B’Haalos’cha. The Rebbe made these statements in discussing a subject of greater scope. Because of their relevance, we have published them under an independent heading. They are not a complete treatment of the issues discussed and must be considered within the context of the Rebbe shlita’s previous statements on these issues.]

The day following the present Shabbos is the 20th of Sivan, which was established as a day of fasting because of the pogroms that took place in Poland.

Polin, as that country is called in Yiddish, can be broken up into two Hebrew words "po lin," meaning "Here we will spend the night": [That country] served as a haven for the Jewish people in the night of exile. This expression contains two implications: a) that one’s stay will only be temporary. Ultimately, the Jewish people will leave exile, and in the era of the Redemption, come to their true place in Eretz Yisroel; b) that during the interim while the Jewish people are in exile, they will be able to "spend the night" in peace and tranquility.

For many generations this was realized in Poland. The Polish noblemen raised the Jewish people to prominent positions, entrusting their finances to them. The Jewish people, in turn, used this prosperity to bring about an increase in the service of Torah and mitzvos.

(These noblemen would call their Jewish overseers Moishkeh, a derivative of the name Moshe. This reflected a deep spiritual concept – that every Jew possesses a spark of Moshe Rabbeinu in his soul.)

This teaches us lessons in regard to the exile as a whole: a) that exile is associated with night – darkness and concealment. It is only a temporary state leading to the era of the Redemption; b) that the Jewish people should use the prosperity offered by the exile to advance in the service of G-d.

Also, there is a particular lesson in regard to Poland. There is a need to provide rabbis and community leaders who will motivate the Jewish people living there to turn to G-d in t’shuva.


A Jew’s soul should be permeated by "the light of Torah and the candle of mitzva" to the extent that, without any external influence, "the flame rises up on its own accord."




Through work and effort the body is trained so that the Torah and its mitzvos become the body’s natural, spontaneous reaction.




The Rebbe Rayatz stated that all that is left is to "polish the buttons" before Moshiach’s coming. That service has already been completed. And now all we must do is "stand prepared" to greet Moshiach.




By placing a Chumash, siddur, and tzedaka box in a fixed place in the child’s room, even when he does not use them, their very presence will remind him of their importance.


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