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The Mask Of Moshe Rabbeinu
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

 The mashpia Reb Mendel Futerfas once related:

In the times of the Alter Rebbe there was a great international scare. Luckily, the danger never materialized. What happened was that all the leading astronomers predicted that on a certain date, an asteroid would collide with earth. They checked and rechecked their calculations of the celestial bodies’ orbits, but a collision seemed inevitable. The whole world was thrown into panic when the scientists’ findings were publicized. People from all walks of life dreaded the impending disaster, as the catastrophe would be of unprecedented dimensions.

Now, in addition to his other accomplishments, the Alter Rebbe was a leading expert in astronomy who was often consulted by non-Jewish scientists. Whenever a problem was beyond their capacity to solve, they would come to the Alter Rebbe for an answer.

And so, in light of the threatened collision, a delegation of scientists came to the Alter Rebbe and presented him with their findings. After studying their diagrams and calculations, the Rebbe agreed that they were correct. The asteroid was indeed headed directly toward earth. However, he explained, G-d “arranges the stars in their positions in the sky according to His will.” There is nothing to worry about, he reassured them. When the asteroid reaches a certain distance from earth, the Master of the Heavenly bodies will simply deflect its orbit.

It cannot be said that the astronomers simply nodded their heads and accepted the Alter Rebbe’s words at face value. Nonetheless, there was really nothing they could do, as there were no preventive measures. In any event, there wasn’t much time to think about it, since the predicted date wasn’t far off.

Then the day came, and lo and behold, at the last minute the asteroid suddenly altered its course, veering away from earth. The world emitted a collective sigh of relief as the disaster was averted, and G-d’s ongoing and direct intervention in the workings of the universe was publicly demonstrated.

* * *

Sometimes even the most obvious matters need to be repeated over and over until they penetrate our consciousness. Not only does G-d arrange the Heavenly bodies, but He arranges every other detail of our lives. Even when it seems to us that something or other is on a faulty course, no such thing has happened in reality. Everything occurs according to Divine plan. And if the plan is sometimes difficult to discern, the answer can be found by opening our holy sfarim.

Shabbos Parshas P’kudei 5752 was the first Shabbos after Zach (27) Adar I, when everything started to appear off course to our physical eyes. It was the first Shabbos in years without a farbrengen with the Rebbe shlita.

Knowing that der Rebbe hot altz bavorent (the Rebbe forewarned everything), we started to search for answers in the Rebbe’s most recent sichos kodesh. As the Rebbe stated in 5710, “I am seeking the answers to all the questions that are being asked in the words of these maamarim.”

In 5752, Zach Adar Rishon fell out in the week of Parshas P’kudei. In 5754, the terrible events of the day occurred with the same kviyus. (It should be noted that the unfortunate signing of the Camp David Accord also occurred on Zach Adar 5738.) This in itself demonstrates the Divine providence in what happened, and the fact that it was all part of G-d’s plan.

Like everything else in the world, the connection between Zach Adar and Parshas P’kudei is not arbitrary. The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach told us time and again that we must live with the times, with the Torah portion of the week. As Chassidim of the Rebbe, this means studying the Rebbe’s sichos kodesh on the parasha, as well as the Chassidishe Sidra in Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah, about which the Rebbe said (Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara 5752) that the very resolution to learn the Chassidishe Parasha hastens the complete revelation of the final Redemption.

As even a superficial analysis reveals, almost all of the Rebbe’s teachings on Parshas P’kudei share a common theme, as do the sections on the parasha in Likkutei Torah. These teachings contain numerous allusions to our present situation, some of which are shockingly obvious.

The following examples have been adapted from the seifer  Moshiach Achshav and are offered in the spirit of “give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser”:

First and foremost is the famous notation to the sicha of Shabbos Parshas VaYakhel-P’kudei of 5750, which gives us a basic insight into the significance of Zach Adar:

Zach, the numerical equivalent of 27, comes from the word meaning refinement (zichuch). The state of refinement is related to the Messianic era, which is described in the Book of Daniel (12:10) as the time when “many shall purify themselves, and become cleansed, and refined.” The process of purification will be completed when the inner reason for G-d’s tzimtzum (contraction) and concealment (the Divine name of Elokim) is revealed. Furthermore, the Rebbe notes that the 27th day of the month follows the 26th, whose numerical equivalent is Havaya. This is precisely the order of Divine service: First comes the revelation of the Divine name Havaya (tzimtzum for the purpose of revelation), after which the inner intention of the concealment of Elokim becomes revealed.

In Volume 1 of Likkutei Sichos, the Rebbe speaks about the Mishkan that was erected by the Jewish people in the parshiyos of VaYakhel and P’kudei, and contrasts it with the one that G-d commanded Moshe to build in Truma and Tetzaveh. The Mishkan described in VaYakhel and P’kudei possessed a much lesser degree of sanctity. Nonetheless, the Divine presence rested precisely on the Mishkan that the Jewish people erected by themselves, in accordance with G-d’s desire for a dwelling place in the lower realms. G-d helps us discern His true intention, the Rebbe explains, if we are sufficiently sincere in our desire to fulfill it.

The Rebbe writes (free translation, beginning on page 202):

The end of Parshas P’kudei mentions the cloud that rested on the Mishkan. The cloud was a concealment that prevented Moshe from entering the Ohel Moed. However, right after it descended, “G-d called to Moshe,” a call that signifies revelation, the revelation that comes after concealment… This, in fact, is the purpose of a call that follows concealment: it does not merely push away or remove the concealment, but causes “the night to be as illuminated as the day.” It is precisely by means of concealment that the highest level of revelation is attained.

As this pertains to later generations, a question is asked: In the past, there were many finer generations than our own, who were nonetheless further away chronologically from the Redemption. How then can it be that our own generation is the one in which the Redemption will occur?

The answer is as explained above: Sleep is deepest right before the dawn. We must be very careful to avoid falling back asleep, G-d forbid, and make sure that we arise with the morning. In this way we will merit “the night will illuminate as the day.”

In other words, the Rebbe is teaching us not to fear the darkness of our present situation. HaKadosh Boruch Hu will surely give us the strength and wisdom we need to determine the correct path, even if the directives don’t seem that explicit. All we have to do is be sincere in our desire to fulfill Hashem’s will.

This is also the theme of the last maamer the Rebbe edited before Zach Adar, “V’yikchu Eilecha.” The words “v’yikchu eilecha” (“and you shall take to yourselves”) follow “V’ata tetzaveh” (“And you shall command”). When the Jewish people fulfill their Divine service under their own power, it gives an increase in strength to Moshe Rabbeinu. Furthermore, they really aren’t acting under their own power, but with the strength of Moshe Rabbeinu behind them.

On Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara 5752, the Rebbe said that Moshiach is already present in the world (“the only Moshiach of our generation, my father-in-law, the Rebbe”). We must actually greet him so he can carry out his mission and take the Jewish people out of exile. (It is axiomatic that we need to know his identity before we can greet him and accept his sovereignty.)

On Beis Nissan 5748 the Rebbe spoke about the “tumult connected with the era of the ‘heels of Moshiach’ and the need to say ‘ad masai.’” What is necessary, he explained, is to make the declaration of “Yechi HaMelech,” which will actualize the sovereignty of Melech HaMoshiach by giving life to the king. Furthermore, the expression “there is no king without a people” relates primarily to Melech HaMoshiach.

Referring to the cloud that rested on the Mishkan, the Rebbe explained that the darkness of our present times should not be interpreted as a yerida l’tzorech aliya, a necessary but unfortunate descent for the purpose of a later ascent. On the contrary, the “cloud” is an integral part of the revelation of G-d’s presence, and is thus an inherently positive phenomenon.

The reason it has to come about in such a manner, he continued, is that the world wasn’t initially a proper vessel to contain such a tremendous revelation of G-dliness. To our physical eyes it appears as darkness and concealment, but in truth the “cloud” is a manifestation of the highest level of Divine revelation.

The theme of  ‘the cloud being synonymous with revelation rather than a preparation for it’ is further elucidated in the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Ki Sisa 5752, the last sicha that was completely edited by the Rebbe.

Another point the Rebbe made in this sicha concerns the significance of the veil with which Moshe Rabbeinu covered his face (analogous to our current situation wherein the Rebbe is concealed from us on the physical plane). The concealment is not a descent or preparation for the later revelation, but an actual component of the Redemption. Our current situation of concealment is comparable to Moshe Rabbeinu’s veil, which became a necessity because of the rays of glory that emanated from Moshe’s face, whom the Rebbe identifies with the Rebbe Rayatz. All this is a preparatory stage for the fulfillment of “And I will restore your judges as in days of old, and your counselors as in the beginning,” with Melech HaMoshiach at their head. The “veil” is necessary, the Rebbe explained, so that the world will be able to accept the intensity of Moshiach’s revelation.

Interestingly, the “veil” only relates to the world at large. Though, as far as Jews are concerned, it doesn’t hide anything at all. The Jew’s task consists of revealing Moshe’s “rays of glory” throughout the world, until “the stone in the wall will cry out.” This service will be perfected in the Messianic era, but the way to reach that goal is through our present actions and deeds.

There is a maamer in Likkutei Torah on Parshas P’kudei that discusses the necessity of the negative preceding the positive. Indeed, the prohibitions are on a higher spiritual level than the positive mitzvos.

This concept is particularly applicable to our current situation, when our physical eyes see negation, void. Yet we know that it is precisely from this state that will lead to the ultimate revelation.

The more we study the Rebbe’s words, the more we see how the Rebbe forewarned everything. The key to getting through the present darkness is to rededicate ourselves to studying the Rebbe’s teachings in depth. By living with the Dvar Malchus each week, we will not only know what to do, but have the strength and fortitude to do it.


Our situation of concealment is comparable to Moshe Rabbeinu’s veil, which became a necessity because of the rays of glory that emanated from his face.




The “veil” is necessary, the Rebbe explained, so that the world will be able to accept the intensity of Moshiach’s revelation.


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