A Miracle - By Natural
Sichos In English
Shabbos Parshas Korach; 3rd Day of Tammuz, 5751
1. On the third of
Tammuz, 5687, the Rebbe Rayatz was released from prison in Leningrad on the
condition that he spend three years in exile in the city of Kostrama. At the
time, it was not known whether or not this was a positive development, for
although exile is preferable to imprisonment, it is also connected with several
hardships and dangers.
A short time later,
on Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Rebbe Rayatz was informed that he would be freed, and
the following day, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, he received official documents to this
effect. It was thus revealed that the third of Tammuz was the first stage in the
process of the Rebbe Rayatz’s redemption. Moreover, it was revealed that a death
sentence had previously been issued. The sentence of exile had replaced it, and
as such, represented a lessening of his judgment, which ultimately led to his
complete redemption on Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.
One might ask: Since
the redemption was a Divine miracle, why did it have to come in stages? Why
wasn’t the Rebbe Rayatz granted a complete redemption immediately? Moreover,
even after Yud-Beis Tammuz when the Rebbe Rayatz was freed, he did not achieve a
complete victory over the opposing forces; many restrictions against the Jews of
Russia remained in place, forcing the Rebbe Rayatz to leave the country. These
restrictions continued to exist many years after his departure, and it was not
until very recently, more than 60 years after his redemption, that the full
ramifications of his redemption are being realized in the exodus of Jews from
Surely this pattern
of redemption coming in stages is controlled by Divine providence. Hence, we
must try to understand the reason for the pattern. This is all the more relevant
because the Rebbe Rayatz’s redemption relates to the entire Jewish people, as
the Rebbe Rayatz writes in his renowned letter:
It was not me alone
whom the Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed on Yud-Beis Tammuz, but also all
those who hold our holy Torah dear, observe its mitzvos, and all those
who are called by the name "Israel."
Many years before the
Rebbe Rayatz’s redemption, another great miracle occurred on the Third of Tammuz
- at Yehoshua’s command, "The sun stood still over Givon." Here too, a question
arises: On the one hand, the stopping of the sun was a great miracle. On the
other hand, it had a limitation. Why did the sun stop? So that Yehoshua should
be able to complete the battle against the K’naanim, a battle that was being
fought through natural means. Hashem surely could have caused the K’naanim to be
defeated miraculously, without the need for battle.
There is also a more
abstract question involved with this miracle: Did the miracle cause only the sun
to stop, or was it more inclusive, affecting also the entire cosmos, i.e., the
orbiting of the spheres, which govern the movement of the sun? The question
revolves around the concept of the integration of miracles with the natural
order. To what extent did the miracle permeate the natural order? Did it merely
break the natural order through the halting of the sun’s orbit? Or did it
actually transform the natural order by causing the entire cosmic order to come
to a halt?
A similar question
arises in regard to the miracle described in this week’s Torah portion, i.e.,
the miracle of the blossoming of Aharon HaKohen’s staff. After Korach’s revolt,
Moshe Rabbeinu took the staffs of all the Nesiim, as well as Aharon’s staff, and
placed them together in the Sanctuary. He put Aharon’s staff in the center,
surrounded by the others. A miracle transpired and Aharon’s staff sprouted
flowers and fruit.
The question is:
Since the entire purpose of the miracle was to show that Hashem had chosen
Aharon, why was it necessary for the miracle to take place within the framework
of the natural order? (I.e., the almond branches budded, grew flowers, and then
produced fruit.) Seemingly, the growth of the fruit alone would have been a
sufficient sign that Hashem chose Aharon.
To explain: A staff
can only sprout flowers and fruit through a miracle. In this instance, however,
the miracle permeated the natural order of the world, causing the staff to
sprout almonds through a "natural" process. What’s the point in investing a
miracle in a natural process?
Our Sages declared:
"Everything which the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created
only for His honor." Thus, although the nature of the world ("olam" in
Hebrew which relates to the word "helam" meaning concealment) is such
that the G-dly life-force within it is concealed, nevertheless, each particular
being in the world exists for one purpose alone: to reveal Hashem’s glory.
There is logical
support for this concept: Since the world and all its creatures were created by
Hashem, and He invested, as it were, time and effort, to bring them into being,
He surely did so with a purpose - that they relate to the Divine life-force
which creates them, and thereby add to His honor.
The latter argument
is reinforced by the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that Creation is an ongoing
process, happening every moment of existence. Why did Hashem choose to create
the world in a manner that requires His constant investiture within it? He could
have invested enough energy in the initial Act of Creation, to maintain the
world for 6000 years!
chose to create the world in the manner in which it presently exists so that
each creation would feel that it has the potential to increase and enhance the
positive dimension of the world by revealing Hashem’s glory. In the case of a
person, not only does he follow Hashem’s will, he is also capable of
contributing independently to Hashem’s glory. (This, in turn, brings a person
great joy, because everyone prefers being a contributor to being a recipient.)
It is in order to
maintain a constant connection with the Creation, that Hashem invests so much of
Himself into bringing the world into being. In this manner, He grants each
particular the power to reveal His glory at every moment.
Were the Creation to
have received an initial burst of Divine energy that would continue to maintain
its existence at all times, the revelation of Hashem’s glory would be in a much
more general and distant manner. However, because Hashem created the world in a
manner that requires Him to sustain it at all times, every moment of existence
can serve as a means to reveal Hashem’s glory. For example, when a Jew takes a
drink of water and recites the blessing "...for everything was created by His
word," this reveals the existence of Hashem’s word, i.e., His creative force,
within the water. Likewise, every blessing reveals the uniqueness of Hashem’s
Hashem’s glory is
also revealed through miracles. His ultimate intent is that these miracles
should permeate nature and thereby openly reveal G-dliness within this
framework, as well. This was reflected in the blossoming of Aharon’s staff, in
which the miracle was drawn down into the natural framework of the almond tree’s
production of fruit.
The teachings of
Chassidus point out a connection between the concept of a miracle
permeating the natural order and the Priestly Blessing. The Priestly Blessing
draws down G-dly energy from beyond the natural order, but imbues it within that
order, affecting positive changes within our reality.
In light of the above
we can answer the question asked above regarding the miracle of Yehoshua: The
intent of the miracle was not that it entirely transcend the natural order, but
rather that it amplify the success of the war as it was being waged (primarily)
within the limits of the natural order. Therefore, the enemy was not defeated
through miracles that entirely transcend nature, but rather, by a miracle that
allowed the success that was achieved by natural means to be more complete and
Based on the above,
we may conclude that the miracle of the sun standing still did not effect only
the sun, but rather, it influenced the entire natural process by which the sun
moves. In this manner, the miracle had a greater connection to the natural
Based on the above,
we can also understand the gradual nature of the miracle related to the freeing
of the Rebbe Rayatz which began on the third of Tammuz. Although the third of
Tammuz was a miracle that transcended nature, it also influenced the order of
nature itself, causing it to conform to this miraculous series of events. Simply
put, the very same people who arrested the Rebbe Rayatz were the very ones who
set him free and, indeed, were forced to assist him in certain elements of his
For this reason,
i.e., that the opposing forces should remain within their natural context,
without losing their power, the Rebbe Rayatz’s redemption had to come about in
stages. First, the commuting of his death sentence to exile, and only later, his
The effects of the
Rebbe Rayatz’s redemption did not end with his own personal freedom; they
ultimately resulted in the religious freedom and the freedom to emigrate which
the Russian government has, in recent times, granted the Jewish people.
2. We can connect the
concepts explained above to the transition from the month of Sivan, the third
month, to the month of Tammuz, the fourth month. Our Sages associate the
transition from three (Gimmel in Hebrew) to four (Dalet in Hebrew)
with the phrase, "gomeil dallim" (bestowing kindness upon the poor). This
transition from Gimmel to Dalet takes us from the month in which
the Torah was given to the month associated with the Rebbe Rayatz’s imprisonment
and then, through gomeil dallim, brings about the transformation of the
latter month into a month of redemption.
This process is also
alluded to in the shape of the letter Dalet. To explain: Both the letters
Dalet and Reish are associated with poverty (for the word "dallus"
means poverty and the word "rahsh" means a poor person). Similarly, the
shapes of these two letters resemble each other. There is one difference between
them, however. The letter Dalet has a point at its corner which resembles
the letter Yud, whereas the Reish does not.
The point of the
Dalet represents the attribute of bittul, self-nullification, which
emanates from the essential point of the soul of the Jew. Even if a Jew is
estranged from his roots, he remains a Jew, for this essential point of the soul
transcends all concealment, and connects the essence of a Jew to the essence of
Hashem. The poverty of the Dalet, therefore, represents the attitude of
bittul that connects a person with the highest levels. The letter
Reish, by contrast, is not associated with this quality of bittul
and thus reflects poverty, which has no connection to holiness.
a miracle - by
Sichos in English
The enemy was not
defeated through miracles that entirely transcend nature, but by a miracle that
allowed the success that was achieved by natural means to be more complete and
Even in the lowest
levels of distress, one can bring forth the Yud, the essential point of a Jew’s
soul, which establishes a connection to the highest levels of
In the Messianic Era
these miracles will permeate the nature of the world and the world itself, and
the gentile nations will assist the Jews in earning a livelihood, and indeed,
enable them to enjoy prosperity. In fact, we have already begun to see this
happen in the present generation.
This bittul of
the Dalet reflects the nature of the fourth month, the transformation of
poverty and exile to redemption. Even in the lowest levels of distress, one can
bring forth the Yud, the essential point of a Jew’s soul, which
establishes a connection to the highest levels of G-dliness.
The above explanation
has particular ramifications regarding the service of disseminating the
wellsprings of Chassidus, a service that is particularly related to the third of
Tammuz. From the connection to Parshas Korach and the blossoming of Aharon’s
staff, we learn that this service must be carried out with z’rizus, with
energy and vitality.
concept has ramifications regarding all aspects of our service of Hashem. This
energy and vitality must permeate every aspect of our service, expressing a
fundamental commitment to Hashem, as the Rebbe Rashab stated, "Were we commanded
to chop trees [we would do so with joy]."
The above also
relates to a Jew’s involvement with worldly affairs and the earning of a
livelihood. Aharon’s staff was placed in the ark together with the measure of
manna. It thus serves as a reminder to the Jewish people that their sustenance
is dependent on Hashem and not on natural means alone.
It is written "And
Hashem will bless you in all that you do," implying that there is a necessity
for man’s activity within the context of the rules of nature. Nevertheless, this
activity is merely a medium through which a Jew receives the livelihood that
Hashem sends him in a miraculous manner. In the Messianic Era these miracles
will permeate the nature of the world and the world itself, and the gentile
nations will assist the Jews in earning a livelihood, and indeed, enable them to
enjoy prosperity. In fact, we have already begun to see this happen in the
3. To focus in
greater detail on the service of spreading the wellsprings outward: This service
must become part of a person’s nature, an essential part of his being. When he
wakes up in the morning, he must feel that his entire existence is the spreading
of Chassidus. The intent is not that he exists as a separate being who dedicates
himself to this goal, but rather, that the spreading of Chassidus is his very
being. In this manner, he will be able to spread the wellsprings - the level of
Torah from which even a single drop brings purity - outward. This means
extending one’s own personal service beyond the essential point of faith to the
powers of intellect and emotion; in a deeper sense, transcending one’s own self
in order to extend the wellsprings to others, and ultimately reaching the
furthest peripheries, the area beyond the scope of holiness.
An example of this
service of bittul can be taken from the well-known story regarding a
Chassid who was stopped on the street by a policeman in Petersburg. In response
to the policeman’s question, "Who are you?" the Chassid answered, "I’m bittul,"
i.e., bittul was the totality of his existence. Moreover, he gave this
answer in Russian, which reflects the fact that this awareness had permeated
even the mundane dimension of his being.
The question arises:
Even if a single individual carries out his service in a perfect manner, what
effect can it have on the world at large? On the surface, the world does not
seem to be affected by a Jew’s service in spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus
outward or in preparing for Moshiach’s arrival!
In truth, however, to
think that the world is not affected by a Jew’s service represents a very narrow
view of what is going on in the world. The world is, in fact, ready for
Moshiach’s arrival, and when a Jew carries out his service in the proper manner,
the world itself and the gentile nations assist him. This is particularly true
of the present year, a year in which, "I will show you wonders."
As regards practical
action, efforts must be made, from the third of Tammuz onward, to intensify our
service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. In particular, these
summer months should be used to enroll children in summer camps, and the camps
should utilize every moment to give the children additional exposure to
Yiddishkeit, and they should do this with joy and vitality.
In addition, during
these months, Pirkei Avos should be studied every Shabbos. (Significantly, the
present Shabbos is the tenth Shabbos on which Pirkei Avos has been studied since
Pesach.) Furthermore, as mentioned on previous occasions, it is proper for these
teachings to be studied, rather than just recited. At least one teaching should
be studied in-depth, i.e., with its commentaries. It is also worthy to mention
the virtues of the Chassidic custom of reciting maamarim after the Mincha
service on Shabbos. May these activities hasten the arrival of the time when,
together with "our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters," we will
proceed to Eretz Yisroel, to Yerushalayim, and to the Beis HaMikdash.