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Why Does It Never Happen To Us?
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

HaRav HaKadosh R’ Moshe Alshich (“the holy Alshich”) lived in Tzefas during the same time as the Arizal. The Alshich was the official darshan of the city, while the Mara D’Asra was the famous Beis Yosef (Rabbi Yosef Karo, compiler of the Shulchan Aruch). The chazan, completing the stellar cast of medieval gedolim, was the famous R’ Shlomo Alkabetz, author of the liturgical poem, “Lecha Dodi.”

(Author’s note: In the preface to the Lubavitcher machzor it is noted that the Chabad nusach of davening “is that which is followed in the beis midrash of the Rebbe shlita.” R’ Shlomo Alkabetz, therefore, has a distinct merit in that “Yechi Adoneinu” is sung after his poem every Friday night in 770 and in every Chabad shul around the world, as was done in the Rebbe MH”M’s presence for over a year and a half.)

It is said that whenever the Arizal got up in shul to deliver a drasha, the Alshich would immediately fall asleep. The Alshich was very perturbed by this and tried several segulos to stay awake, but none of them worked. Finally, when it became obvious that something more than meets the eye was going on, he asked the Arizal for an explanation. “Your neshama,” the Arizal told him, “relates to the world of drush, rather than the world of sod. Thus, whenever sod is about to be revealed, it simply cannot listen.”

The Alshich, as the local darshan, attracted many listeners. In addition to the greatest geonim and tzadikim of Tzefas, many simple Jews came to hear him speak.

One time the Alshich gave a sermon on the subject of parnasa. HaKadosh Boruch Hu, he explained, is the only source of a person’s livelihood. He and He alone “provides sustenance for the entire world with grace, with kindness and with mercy.” No matter how hard a man works, he can never make even a penny more than is decreed from Above. Therefore, the Alshich continued, it is simply a waste of time to become too involved in worldly matters. Better to put all that effort into learning Torah, observing mitzvos b’hiddur, and to trust in G-d for all one’s needs.

Among the listeners in shul that day was a simple Jew who could barely read Hebrew and daven. Nonetheless, he was an extremely pious and G-d-fearing individual who worked very hard to eke out a living. Every morning he went out into the field with his horse and wagon, and dug deep holes in the earth to extract the clay. In the evening, when he returned to town, he would sell the clay for a few coins. Needless to say, it was not a very lucrative business.

When this Jew heard the Alshich’s sermon it made a great impression on him. He accepted the Alshich’s words literally, without any “chochmos,” and resolved to put them into practice. Why was he killing himself for a few cents when his time could be better spent reciting Tehillim? So he decided to stay at home and work on his relationship with Hashem. Let the parnasa run after him for a change of pace!

This fellow, not being very educated in Jewish matters, was unfamiliar with the concept of having to create a “vessel” through natural means for G-d’s blessing. Taking the Rabbi at his word, he stayed home and said Tehillim a whole day long. Surely an all-powerful G-d could provide for his family without his personal intervention.

The Jew was really enjoying his newfound life style. After years of backbreaking labor, it was a pleasure to daven at a leisurely pace and devote himself to developing his spiritual side.

Meanwhile, his family and friends were trying desperately to convince him that he was making a mistake. That can’t be what the Alshich meant, they pleaded. You must have misunderstood him. What do you expect, that money will fall from sky? But the Jew refused to listen.

“I heard him myself,” he insisted. “The Rabbi said that if a person trusts in G-d, G-d will send him everything he needs. ‘Cast your burden upon the L-rd, and He shall sustain you.’ Why should I be a fool and knock myself out for nothing?”

Two days later there was nothing left in the house to eat. The man’s family begged him to go out to work, but he refused. With no other option they decided to sell the horse and wagon, but the man didn’t care. What did he need a horse and wagon for, if G-d Himself would soon be sending him parnasa?          

A few days later the Jew was sitting and saying Tehillim when the horse and wagon, heavily laden with clay, suddenly walked into the courtyard. The children ran to feed and water the horse, and began to unload the cargo. Hidden inside they found a barrel full of gold and silver coins.

It turned out that the goy who had bought the horse and wagon had gone out that day to dig for clay and inadvertently uncovered the treasure. After hiding it in the wagon, he had climbed back into the pit to retrieve his shovel. At that moment the walls of the pit caved in, killing him instantly. The man had left no heirs. On instinct the horse had returned to his old home, bringing the fortune to his former master and transforming him into an instant millionaire.

The story soon became famous in the city of Tzefas, prompting the Alshich’s disciples to come to him with a complaint. “But we also trust in G-d!” they cried. “Why do none of us ever get to see any open miracles, and we have to work hard for a living?”

“The answer,” the Alshich explained, “is tmimus. The simple Jew had faith with his whole heart and soul, and truly deserved everything he was given. In your case, your emuna is already ‘tainted’ by intellectual understanding, and that’s why you have to work hard and expend effort…”


There are many popular tales told like this, especially among followers of the Baal Shem Tov. In all of these stories, the simple, uneducated Jew who does everything with a real tmimus is able to attain more than the biggest lamdan or the highest tzaddik.

The quality of tmimus (wholeness and sincerity) enables a person to grasp the etzem (essence), whereas the intellect relates only to giluyim (outward revelations). Thus, because etzem is on a higher level (and contains all of the giluyim), whoever attains the etzem attains everything.

At the Siyum HaRambam of 5746 (printed in Volume 27 of Likkutei Sichos, starting on page 249), the Rebbe explains that there are three levels of “knowledge of G-d”:

The first level is the simple recognition that G-d exists. This precedes any particular Divine commandment.

The second level includes the commandments to comprehend G-dliness, leading to an understanding that G-d is the First Cause and the most sublime Essence.

The highest level is that no matter what we understand, it doesn’t even begin to approach what G-d is. G-d is above all intellectual comprehension and definition; the Torah allows us a glimpse into His true Essence, but our understanding will always remain limited.

At first glance, one would think that the first level, the simple recognition that G-d exists, is only a preparatory step for reaching the higher levels. But the truth is, the Rebbe explains, that this is the main point! Whatever comes after this basic concept is in the realm of “giluyim.” It is precisely the unformed, literal acceptance of G-d’s existence that reveals His highest Essence, and is, therefore, the foundation for everything that comes afterward. G-d’s Essence encompasses all further “giluyim,” which are automatically contained within it.

In the same way, the Rebbe continues, all of the various levels of “knowledge of G-d” that will characterize the Days of Moshiach stem from the essence of Moshiach himself, from the fact that Melech HaMoshiach will be revealed and functioning in the world.

Furthermore, Moshiach has his own intrinsic “value” that is unrelated to any effect he has on the world, in the same way that G-d doesn’t exist for any other purpose. Therefore, even before Moshiach has fully exerted his influence, his very existence serves to reveal the underlying G-dliness of creation. The tikkun of the world that follows Moshiach’s arrival is only the natural consequence of his revelation.

(This is one of the reasons that the Rambam emphasizes that Moshiach is “a descendent of the House of David”: The sovereignty of the Davidic dynasty is independent of the king’s having being chosen by the people. A Davidic king is a “king by virtue of his essence,” and doesn’t require any outside verification. This special quality is derived from the yechida of the king’s soul, which constantly pines for the “Yechido Shel Olam.” In the same way, Moshiach is Moshiach by virtue of his essence, and does not exist for the purpose of the world or any specific effect he will have on it.)

Of course, lest anyone conclude that because Moshiach is so lofty he doesn’t require our participation, the Rebbe immediately reminds us that actually everything depends on us: “Everything that happens in the future is contingent on our deeds and service now. Even the coming of Moshiach (which transcends tikkun olam)…is effected by our actions and service at present.”

The Rebbe goes on to explain that one of the primary ways we do this is by studying the Rambam’s works, the purpose of which is not only to determine practical, halachic courses of action, but is Torah study that is purely “li’shma.” This will bring about Moshiach’s revelation, which is also purely “li’shma,” and not for any underlying reason.

This sicha, like many others, underscores how important it is to participate in the Siyum HaRambam, and urge as many people as possible to begin the yearly cycle of study.

It also brings to mind the Rebbe’s words in the famous sicha of Parshas Toldos 5752: “The main innovation of the coming of Moshiach is the revelation of his essence. All the details that come afterward (his public disclosure after redeeming the Jewish people, and all other features of the Days of Moshiach) are only the result and consequence of the basic revelation of his essence, and are included within it.

“The declaration, ‘Yechi Adoni HaMelech Dovid l’olam,’ expresses the eternity of the sovereignty of the House of David, which continued through King Solomon, and will be perfected and completed by Melech HaMoshiach, who is ‘descended from the House of David and the seed of Solomon.’ The declaration is thus intended to effect the revelation of Melech HaMoshiach, and thereafter, to bring about his public revelation through his actions in the world.”

In light of the Rebbe’s statement on Shabbos Parshas VaYeira that Moshiach not only exists but is already revealed, and all that is left is to actually greet him, we can understand how essential it is to make this declaration in speech, in writing, and in every way possible.

The first thing we must do is foster an awareness that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach is chai v’kayam in the literal sense, and that he continues to answer our requests and to lead and guide us. For, as the Rebbe explained on Shabbos Parshas Shoftim 5751, it is the obligation and merit of each member of our generation to connect to him, to fulfill his directives (“your judges”), seek his counsel in important matters (“your advisors”), and believe in all of his prophecies, “culminating in the main prophecy [about Moshiach’s imminent arrival], a prophecy that is not being uttered as a scholar or judge, but as a prophet, which grants assurance that it will indeed occur: ‘Immediate teshuva will lead to immediate redemption’ and ‘Behold, Moshiach is coming.’”

To conclude: The main intention of saying “Yechi” is to access the etzem, the essential revelation and existence of Melech HaMoshiach in the world, whose function is to reveal G-d’s Essence. This will bring about the Rebbe’s revelation to the world at large, with the true and complete Redemption immediately.


It is precisely the unformed, literal acceptance of G-d’s existence that reveals His highest Essence, and is, therefore, the foundation for everything that comes afterward.





All of the levels of “knowledge of G-d” that characterize the Days of Moshiach stem from the essence of Moshiach himself.


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