Preparing Properly
Sichos In English


Shabbos Parshas Pinchas; 24th Day of Tammuz, 5751


1. One of the unique points of this week’s Torah reading is the division of Eretz Yisroel as an inheritance to all the tribes and to each individual Jew. This is particularly relevant at present, standing as we are on the threshold of the Redemption, because we can derive lessons from this in regard to the division of Eretz Yisroel in the Era of the Redemption. Since we are still before the Redemption, however, albeit only momentarily, there must also be a lesson that can be derived regarding our conduct at present, for “the Torah is eternal.”


This lesson is based on the directive the Tzemach Tzedek gave to a Chassid who wanted to make aliya to Eretz Yisroel to devote himself there to Torah study and the service of G-d. The Tzemach Tzedek told him that instead of going to Eretz Yisroel, he should “make this place Eretz Yisroel.” The directive is applicable far beyond that individual instance. At every time and in every place, a Jew has to make his place Eretz Yisroel, i.e., a place where Yiddishkeit and G-dliness are openly revealed.


The directive to “make this place Eretz Yisroel” is problematic, however, for the fact is that the Diaspora is not Eretz Yisroel, and only in our Holy Land is the complete observance of the Torah and mitzvos possible. Indeed, while we are in exile, we pray three times a day for G-d to “gather us together from the four corners of the earth to our land.” This being the case, what is the meaning of the directive “Make this place Eretz Yisroel?” The question becomes stronger in light of the fact that the exile will end at any moment and we will proceed to Eretz Yisroel.


The question can be answered by resolving a difficulty regarding the division of Eretz Yisroel mentioned in this week’s Torah portion. The division of the land into tribal portions was carried out by means of a lottery. Rashi explains that not only was each tribe’s portion of Eretz Yisroel written on the lot picked for that tribe, the lot itself spoke and announced the tribe and its corresponding portion of land. The question arises: Since G-d does not do miracles without reason, what purpose was served by the lot speaking?


Since G-d commanded “The land shall be divided by lot,” every aspect of the division of the land had to be performed by the lottery. Therefore, in order to demonstrate that the division was genuine and not merely a chance phenomenon, it was necessary for the lot to speak.


But since the lottery was not a purpose in and of itself, why was such a miracle necessary?


The Rogatchover explained that every concept in Torah, even one that appears to be merely a preparation for something else, is designated by a unique Divine providence. For example, the journeys of the Jewish people through the desert were only a medium to reach Eretz Yisroel; nevertheless, these desert journeys received a measure of holiness and importance in and of themselves, as reflected in the verse, “And Moshe wrote down the places from which they departed for their journeys according to the word of G-d.” This concept also applies to the lots by which Eretz Yisroel was divided – and to an even greater extent, for G-d commanded that the land be divided in this manner. Hence, every aspect connected with the lottery was important. For this reason, the lot itself had to speak, thereby demonstrating that the division of the land depended on it.


There is an inner dimension to the concept that something that is secondary has an independent value of its own. The conquest of the land of K’naan by the Jewish people and its transformation into Eretz Yisroel – a holy land where the connection to G-dliness, Yiddishkeit, and holiness is apparent – reflects the spiritual task of the Jews in the world at large. This is the intent of Creation – that this physical world be transformed into a dwelling place for G-d, a place where G-d reveals Himself completely, as a person reveals himself in his own home.


In order for the conquest of the land to be complete, all the particular dimensions – both of the land and of the Jews, the ones accomplishing the conquest – had to be involved. This implies that: a) The entire land must be conquered. As long as a single portion of the land remains unconquered, the entire conquest – even of the lands which have been conquered – is not complete, for there is always the danger of war being waged by the people who have not yet been conquered. b) The conqueror must invest all of his energies and his three powers of expression – thought, speech, and action – in the conquest. If one of these faculties remains uninvolved, his conquest is lacking. He must invest his thought in planning the campaign, his speech in giving directives to carry it out, and his actions in bringing the job to fruition.


A similar concept applies to our mission of establishing a dwelling for G-d within this material world. It is necessary that all the aspects of the world be included in the dwelling; i.e., it must become evident throughout the entire world that every aspect of the world belongs to G-d. Just as a person reveals every aspect of his personality in his home, i.e., his thought, his speech, and his action, so too must all the spiritual parallels to thought, speech, and action be revealed in G-d’s dwelling in this world. Similarly, since the actions of the Jewish people transform the world into a dwelling place for G-d, all our faculties of expression (thought, speech, and action) must be utilized and must become a dwelling place for G-d. Accordingly, there are certain mitzvos that are fulfilled through thought (prayer, for example), others through speech (Torah study), and others through action (deeds of kindness).


Every mitzva can and should be fulfilled on all three planes (thought, speech, and action.) In the Shma, we declare how our love for G-d should be “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” Similarly, every dimension of our service should involve our entire being and all of its particular elements. This is how we will transform every particular element of our being.


Based on the above, we can understand why it was necessary for G-d to make a miracle and have the lot announce the portions of Eretz Yisroel to be given to each tribe. Since the lottery was necessary as a preparation for the conquest of Eretz Yisroel, it had to include all the means of expression (thought, speech, and action.) Thus, in addition to the actual deed of preparing and picking the lots (action) and the intention that Moshe and the Nesiim invested in the lottery (thought), G-d wrought a miracle and the lot spoke (speech). In fact, it was the speaking of the lot that made the greatest impression on the people. 


The lottery was merely a preparatory step to the conquest of Eretz Yisroel, nevertheless all the means of expression (thought, speech and action) were involved in it. This shows how a person must be deeply involved in every phase of his activity. To quote an expression of the Rebbe Rashab: “A pnimi (a person who invests his inner being into his life experiences) – whatever he is involved in, he is totally involved in.”


This concept is borne out by the following narrative: Once the yeshiva students were singing a niggun in preparation for the recitation of a maamer. The Rebbe Rashab noticed that they were singing hurriedly, and it was evident that they were interested in the maamer, not in the niggun.  The Rebbe delivered an entire sicha emphasizing investing oneself entirely even in what appears to be nothing more than a preparation for something else. “Whatever one does, one must do truthfully... [Therefore], when one is involved in something, he must be totally involved in it.” When it is time for the next step, he must be totally involved in that.


There are two points in the Rebbe Rashab’s sicha: a) Total involvement reflects truth and inner commitment. b) Full involvement in the preparatory stages of an activity ensures that the activity will also be carried out properly. c) G-d created the world in such a way that before being involved in one’s essential activity, it is necessary to undergo several preparatory stages, thereby preparing oneself and the world at large for the essential activity. Accordingly, the preparatory stages have all the importance of the essential activity itself and require full-hearted involvement. An example of this concept can be seen in regard to education: On the one hand, education is merely a preparatory stage for the observance of the mitzvos. On the other hand, it must be given independent importance. Indeed, there are times when the importance of educating a child for the performance of mitzvos supersedes the importance of the performance of mitzvos themselves.


On a larger scale, this concept can be explained in the following manner: Ultimately, there is one intention behind our service, which is to make this world a dwelling for G-d. The realization of this intent involves certain activities that are preparatory in nature and others which reflect the essential intention. Nevertheless, from the perspective of G-d’s essence, all are associated with the same fundamental intent. Accordingly, man must invest himself fully in all dimensions of his activity, even in those appearing to be merely preparatory in nature.


Based on the above, we can appreciate the service required by the directive, “Make this place Eretz Yisroel.” Our present Diaspora service is a preparation for the ultimate service we will perform in Eretz Yisroel. But the fact that we now find ourselves in the Diaspora is not an accident; it has specific Divine intent connected with the ultimate purpose of transforming this world into G-d’s dwelling place. Accordingly, effort has to be invested into each place and each situation, reflecting within it the ultimate intention, namely, that it become part of G-d’s dwelling, as will be revealed in Eretz Yisroel in the Era of the Redemption. Thus, every place where Jews exist will be transformed into Eretz Yisroel, i.e., a place where G-dliness is openly revealed.  This will bring the world to its ultimate state, the state of Redemption, when we will serve G-d in Eretz Yisroel in the most literal sense.


We are speaking of preparing the world for the true and complete Redemption, which implies that the service preparing the world for the Redemption must also be true and complete in nature; i.e., it must be complete, involving every dimension of our experience, and true, involving every aspect of our being. Through serving Hashem in this manner we prepare ourselves and the world at large for the ultimate Redemption. This implies two dimensions in the service of “Making this place Eretz Yisroel”: a) The service must involve “this place” – the Diaspora. b) Within the Diaspora, a person must infuse the spirit of Eretz Yisroel, i.e., of the Redemption. This will prepare us for and hasten the coming of the Redemption and the beginning of the era when “Eretz Yisroel will spread out to all the other lands.”


2. Every person – man, woman, and child – has a portion of the world to refine. Thus, everyone possesses an individual responsibility to make his portion of the world Eretz Yisroel. No person’s portion of the world resembles another’s. Each person lives in a particular place and has a specific and individual mission in that place. Similarly, each day and more particularly, each moment, is associated with a specific Divine intent. Therefore, to prepare the world at large for the Redemption, each person must “Make this place – his individual portion of the world – Eretz Yisroel.”


One might ask: I live in a small place and my life is seemingly insignificant. What importance is there in how I conduct myself, and how can my conduct have an effect on the world at large? Similarly, in regard to the Redemption, a person might ask: How is it possible for me to bring about the Redemption? My service involves only a small portion of the world!


That’s where the directive “Make this place Eretz Yisroel” comes to the fore. A Jew must infuse G-dliness into his portion of the world. This will have an effect on the world as a whole, for each portion of the world is a microcosm of the entire world. In this manner a person can fulfill our Sages’ directive, “Each and every person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for me.” For by fulfilling the intent associated with his individual portion of the world, he can bring the entire world to a state of fulfillment. Through experiencing a personal redemption and expressing that redemption in every aspect of his conduct, everyone can hasten the coming of the Redemption in the world at large.


The message that each person should “Make this place Eretz Yisroel,” i.e., have the Redemption pervade his life experiences, should be communicated to others – to one’s family members, students, and everyone he encounters. In this way, the spirit of Redemption that is manifest in all these particular aspects of existence will manifest itself completely in the world at large.


3. Emphasis is placed on this concept on the present Shabbos, the Shabbos on which the month of Av is blessed. Although Torah sources often refer to this month with the name Av, when blessing it, it is common custom to refer to the month as Menachem Av. Av (father) has a positive connotation, indicating that it serves as a source of positive activity. Menachem (comfort), however, reflects a more inclusive intent, referring to the time when Hashem, in the era of the Redemption, will comfort the Jews regarding the exile. The name Menachem is placed before Av to indicate how the Redemption is the fundamental intent. The descent into exile was intended only as a preparation for the Redemption. Indeed, we find that at the very beginning of Creation, “The spirit of G-d (i.e., the spirit of Moshiach – Rashi) hovered over the waters,” for this is the intent of the entire Creation.


The intent of the Three Weeks is that they serve as a preparation for bringing about the Redemption. This is further emphasized by that fact that this year, Rosh Chodesh Av falls on a Friday. Our Sages emphasize that Adam was created on a Friday so that “he would appreciate that ‘everything is prepared for the feast.’” In an ultimate sense, this refers to the feast of the era of the Redemption. Similarly, we must realize that – when looking at the history of the world as a whole – it is now Friday, after midday. We are preparing for Shabbos. In fact, the Rebbe Rayatz declared that our preparations are complete – “even the buttons are polished” – and we are all “standing together prepared to bring Moshiach.”


As a further preparation for the Messianic Era, siyumim should be held on each of the Nine Days, including Shabbos, and this year, including the Shabbos of Tisha B’Av, in order to reveal the positive qualities and joy that are latent in the Three Weeks. These activities will hasten the transformation of these days into days of celebration, when with true and complete joy we will proceed together with Moshiach to Eretz Yisroel in the true and complete Redemption.


At every time and in every place a Jew has to make his place Eretz Yisroel, i.e., a place where Yiddishkeit and
G-dliness are openly revealed.




As long as a single portion of the land remains unconquered, the entire conquest – even of the lands which have been conquered – is not complete, for there is always the danger of war being waged by the people who have not yet been conquered.




Once the yeshiva students were singing a niggun in preparation for the recitation of a maamer. The Rebbe Rashab noticed that they were singing hurriedly, and it was evident that they were interested in the maamer, not in the niggun...


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