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The Avoda After Chaf-Beis Shvat
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

One of the outstanding qualities of the mashpia, Reb Mendel Futerfas, was his uncalculated mesirus nefesh for spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidus. This mesirus nefesh was apparent not only when he received a direct order, but even when he discerned on his own what the Rebbe wanted from him. He did what he knew the Rebbe wanted even if he had to completely change his usual mode of conduct. Even if what the Rebbe wanted was against popular opinion, or against Reb Mendel’s own inclinations, or even if it was opposed to the Chassidishe chinuch with which he was raised, nevertheless, Reb Mendel rose to the challenge and did what was demanded of him.

The very first step in avoda, the foundation, is “lech lecha mei’artzecha, umi’moladetecha, u’mi’beis avicha” (go out of your land, and your birthplace, and your father’s house), being prepared to leave everything behind for one’s shlichus. This approach is the road towards kabbalas ha’Torah, for we know that by fulfilling the command “lech lecha,” Avrohom began the process of matan Torah. So too, every Jew must leave his previous frame of reference and replace his views and inclinations with those of Hashem, as expressed through the communications of the Rebbe, the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation.

When the Rebbe initiated Mivtza Tefillin, Reb Mendel went out to put tefillin on any Jewish man he saw, even when there was a language barrier. He would simply approach a Jew and say, “I Jewish. You Jewish. I tefillin. You tefillin.”

When the Rebbe initiated Mivtza Seifer Torah, Reb Mendel stood outside the Itzkowitz Shul in Bnei Brak and signed people up to get letters in sifrei Torah. He had never done any activity like this before, but that didn’t stop him. Then the Rebbe instructed the Chassidim to register people for hakhel and to observe special customs on birthdays, and Reb Mendel participated in these new activities as well.

But as said above, Reb Mendel even went beyond that; he made it his business to anticipate the will of the Rebbe, even though the Rebbe had not given a direct order. Reb Mendel demanded that we connect heart and soul to the Rebbe with ahava rabba, travel to the Rebbe, write to the Rebbe about all our personal matters, even – or especially – when our spiritual situation caused us pain or embarrassment. He would quote the mashpia Hendel who said, “Kinderlach, don’t write to the Rebbe what you want to write; write what you don’t want to write! The Rebbe will help, and give you a tikkun and take you out of the mud!” Reb Mendel would also urge us to help someone, even if by so doing we would experience a yerida, a set back.

He would often say the following: “Chazal say that “isha k’sheira osa retzon baala” (a proper wife does the will of her husband). It doesn’t say that she follows her husband’s orders, but that she fulfills his desires, even if he doesn’t state them explicitly. The same should apply to the Rebbe-Chassid relationship. A Chassid should not be a ‘spoiled only child’ who has to have things constantly pointed out to him (see sicha Parshas Shlach 5748). As soon as he knows what the Rebbe wants, he should automatically do it. He should put aside all his personal issues and throw himself into carrying out the Rebbe’s will.”

A Chassid does not act because he understands. Nor does he act according to how he feels. Nor does he act according to his determination that what the Rebbe said is correct. That would be like the story about the rosh yeshiva who told his pupils, “Everything I tell you is true. Even if you find an explicit Gemara that contradicts my words, you must reconcile the Gemara with what I said. For it is not possible for the Gemara to say something against my words.” Rather, a Chassid yearns to do only what his Rebbe wants (“retzon baala”) without mixing in his own intellect or emotions.

* * *

The Rebbe says in Kuntres becha yivareich Yisroel (Seifer HaSichos 5752 vol. 2, p. 344) that the chiddush (innovation) of this new era in the nesius is expressed by doing what the Rebbe wants, even when not explicitly directed to do so. This new era began on Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748.

The Rebbe MH”M distinguishes three eras in the leadership of his father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz. The first era, marking the leadership of the Rebbe Rayatz in the physical world, continued until Yud Shvat 5710, the day of his histalkus. The second era was from Yud-Alef Shvat 5710 (the first full day after the histalkus), and especially from Yud-Alef Shvat 5711, until Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748, when the third era began, for by that point all the avoda had been completed. The Rebbe stated then that all that is needed until the Geula is kabbalas pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinui, to greet Moshiach.

Why is this new era connected with the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka? The Rebbe explained that this is because this era is especially related to women and girls, who not only make a dira (a dwelling place), but a dira naah (a pleasant dwelling place). When we carry out the orders of the baal ha’dira (owner of the dwelling place) we are indeed realizing the plan for a dira ba’tachtonim (dwelling place in the lower worlds), but there still remains a difference between the dira and the baal ha’dira. It is true that He lives there and the dira is completely nullified to Him, however, He resides in a dwelling that appears to exist separately from Him; we do not feel that the dira is an extension of the baal ha’dira Himself. But when we make the dira into a “dira naah ha’marchiva daato shel adam” (a pleasant dwelling place, which expands a man’s mind), there is a bittul to the baal ha’dira. There is also a chiddush (as it were) in G-dliness, as well — “Marchivim daato shel adam ha’elyon” (the mind of Supernal Man is also expanded). In this way the dira becomes one with the baal ha’dira. It is not merely a “dira lo yisborach” (a dwelling for Hashem), but “Hu yisborach Himself, Who is utterly one with His dira ba’tachtonim.

Accordingly, this era is connected to the life of a Jewish woman, the Rebbetzin, for it is the special role of the Jewish woman, the akeres ha’bayis, to fashion a dira naah through doing the mitzvos that are unique to her with warmth and enthusiasm. It is important in these final moments of Galus, to inspire all Jewish women by telling them how privileged they are to bring about the final Redemption.

By the way, I must mention the timing of this sicha, which was one of a series of sichos about the special role of Jewish women and girls. There had been a debate between the N’shei Chabad and the gabbaim of 770 about the famous Melaveh Malka on Chaf-Ches Teives. That was when the women took the position that Moshiach’s identity must be publicized, and people asked to accept his malchus. Some men were reluctant to allow the use of 770 downstairs for the Melaveh Malka because they did not know the propriety of the situation.

Throughout that time, the Rebbe shlita gave positive and encouraging answers to the women organizing the event, and inquired as to the details. Consequently, the women were allowed to use the shul. Afterwards, when the Rebbe received a list from R’ Chaim Baruch Halberstam of about twenty places around the world that had participated in the Melaveh Malka via hook-up, the Rebbe wrote that it “caused great pleasure” (goram nachas ruach rav). R’ Chaim Baruch said that it was the first time in twenty years that the Rebbe responded to a report about hookups.

Then the Rebbe wrote to the N’shei Chabad of London regarding their projects in inyanei Moshiach and Geula, asking them to be in communication with the N’shei Chabad of Crown Heights. The Rebbe wrote: “Received… And many thanks, and it should be a great success, and certainly they are in touch with the N’shei Chabad here to find out about their latest celebration. I will mention it at the tziyun.”

When you are familiar with what was going on at the time, the sichos the speak about the greatness of Jewish women and girls are seen in a different light. This is especially so when the Rebbe stresses that women are not only batul to the baal ha’dira to fulfill his orders, but are also concerned about making a dira naah.


In the sicha of Chaf-Ches Teives, the Rebbe explains the significance of the three eras at length. In the first era, until Yud Shvat 5710, the avoda focused primarily on Yud, the number ten, to bring the world to a state of completeness and perfection. The number ten alludes to the perfection of nature, which upon attaining perfection indicates it’s readiness to receive the revelation of eleven, the wondrous revelation of Geula, the G-dliness that transcends nature.

In the second era, after Yud Shvat 5710, and especially from Yud-Alef Shvat 5711, the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, the revelation of Geula, symbolized by the number eleven, began. The one who was born on the eleventh of Nissan, became nasi on the 11th of Shvat, 5711, when the revelation of Geula, the aspect of eleven, began.

However, at this point there were still two things missing. First off, although this revelation elevated the ten to eleven, it was still only eleven and not ten. The ten itself, as ten, did not contain the eleven, but it was elevated and included within the eleven. And secondly, this was merely the lowest aspect of eleven, the aspect to which the ten could be raised, but not the eleven itself as it is above all limitations

Put more simply, the tachton was elevated and wasn’t such a tachton anymore. The elyon wasn’t such an elyon anymore, either. In fact, this circumstance is what enabled them to unite. However, the elyon as it is above all limitations, and the tachton as it is lowly, could not unite.

This is the chiddush of the third era which began on Chaf-Beis Shvat: Chaf-Beis (22) is two times eleven, i.e., the highest aspect of eleven, that which is truly unlimited, that which is above bli gvul (unlimited) precisely as it is above gvul (that which is limited). Only Hashem’s essence itself can unite the elyon (lofty), as it is lofty, with the tachton (lowly) as it is lowly. Doing so allows the tachton to remain a tachton; nevertheless, it unites with the elyon to the extent that there is no difference between them, for the dira becomes one with the baal ha’dira.

At this point, let us call tachton “Chassid” or “man” and apply the concepts discussed above. The avoda of the tachton himself, in which he is not told explicitly what to do, is vital. Avoda coming from himself expresses his essence, but does so in his state of being a tachton. When the avoda comes from him, he is not doing it because he is battul and is obeying the elyon. At the same time, the avoda of the tachton must be uncompromising, so that the elyon can be revealed in its full strength.

In other words, in this era two things are asked of us: 1) Not to be a spoiled, only child, and wait for explicit orders, but to do things on our own. 2) Not to compromise the slightest bit; to bring the etzem in all its glory to every corner of the world.

There are those who have nostalgia for the past, being unwilling to “leave your land, your birthplace and your father’s house,” in order to rise to the call of the hour. They are like those who were genuine Chassidim of the previous generation, who could not or would not rise to the occasion when the Rebbe took over. Since creation, there has never been a time without a nasi in a physical body. We were always told that life is impossible otherwise! So what happened all of a sudden? Did everything change because of what we saw? One shouldn’t try to be a chacham at such a fateful time. M’darf zich halten in der Rebbe’ns klamke (we must hold on to the Rebbe’s doorknob) and go with him. The Rebbe doesn’t want us to be the spoiled, only child. We must do what we have to do, despite our lowly status. Let’s do it because he wants us to, in the way he wants us to do it!


“Don’t write to the Rebbe what you want to write; write what you don’t want to write! The Rebbe will help, and give you a tikkun and take you out of the mud!”





It is important in these final moments of Galus, to inspire all Jewish women by telling them how privileged they are to bring about the final Redemption.  





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