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Not To Become A Bigger Chassid
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

Shortly before leaving Eretz Yisroel for a year in 770 as part of the k’vutza, my friends and I had the z’chus of farbrenging with our mashpia, the late Reb Mendel Futerfas. For hours on end the mashke and niggunim flowed freely, till mere words were insufficient to express our emotions.

Reb Mendel then said something that caught our attention. “What does being in the k’vutza really mean?” he asked us. “Is it just another stage in your development as Tmimim, or a higher level of growing ‘from strength to strength?’ Let me explain what I mean…

“Consider the little boy from a Chassidic home who is about to begin learning in cheider. The child is happy to have reached this milestone, as it means that he is no longer considered a baby. The child begins to conduct himself more maturely and shows greater self-control. He demands of himself more Chassidishkeit, more yiras Shamayim, and resolves to spend a little less time playing with his friends and more time learning.

“Over the next few years the process of maturing continues. He begins to study Mishna, then Gemara, and derives satisfaction each step of the way in his accomplishments.

“At long last he becomes a bar mitzva, and delivers the maamerIsa b’Midrash Tehillim’ after months of preparation. Everyone wishes him the traditional blessing of the Rebbe — that he should grow up to be a ‘Chassid, yerei Shamayim, and a lamdan.’”

At that point Reb Mendel paused for emphasis. “Make no mistake – the progression has to be in that particular order: first a Chassid, then a yerei Shamayim, then a lamdan. If yiras Shamayim comes before Chassidus, the result will not be a real fear of G-d, just a run-of-the-mill frumkeit. If the learning comes first, it will always have the potential to be abused.

“Now the bar mitzva boy is a ‘man.’ Everyone reminds him that he can now be counted in a minyan, and that from now on he is obligated in the Torah’s mitzvos. The bar mitzva boy accepts his new responsibilities and duties with an appropriate sense of gravity.

“A few years later he is a full-fledged yeshiva bachur. His enthusiasm and excitement reach new heights. Then he moves up from the yeshiva ketana to the yeshiva gedola. He is now a Tamim, grateful to be among the select Chayalei Beis Dovid. His whole being is dedicated to fulfilling the will of our holy Rebbeim.

“Finally, he is chosen to be part of the k’vutza to spend an entire year in the Rebbe’s daled amos. But what does it mean? What does it really signify?”

Reb Mendel paused to say another l’chaim, and when he resumed speaking he was almost shouting. “No, it’s not just another stage in the child’s education. The step you are about to take is another matter entirely! The time has come for you to divest yourselves of form. Your objective is not to become a bigger Chassid or one that is more mekushar. No, the time has come for you to cease being a meztius [i.e., a discrete existence]!

“Up until now it was all right to be a metziyus, because it was a holy metziyus. You were a Chassid, a yerei Shamayim, or a lamdan. You were a mekushar, a Tamim, or a shliach. These were all good things, but the bottom line was that you were still a metziyus, and compared to Hashem, it’s still considered a helem v’hester.

“You are now going to the Rebbe,” Reb Mendel concluded, ‘not to learn how to become better individuals, but to transcend being individuals entirely. You’ve got to go beyond the form, regardless of how sublime that form may be. You must belong to Hashem alone, and the only way to do this is by giving yourselves over to the Rebbe unconditionally. For even the greatest meztius is still limited…”

* * *

As the Rebbe MH”M has explained in many sichos kodesh, the fact that the Yom HaGeula of Gimmel Tammuz always occurs on the same day of the week as the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av underscores their inner redemptive quality.

Externally representing destruction and exile, the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av are defined according to halacha as being negative, and for that reason we avoid doing things that require making the special bracha of SheChechiyanu. At the same time, however, we know that nothing in the world occurs by coincidence, and that “no evil descends from Above.” Thus, it is precisely when something appears to be the furthest from good that it actually contains the very highest level of concealed goodness. Indeed, this is the lesson of Gimmel Tammuz:

Gimmel Tammuz 5687 was the day on which the Rebbe Rayatz was found “guilty,” “deserving of punishment” and sentenced to exile. In fact, in the Rebbe Rayatz’s own words, on that day “I was forced to go into exile in my city of refuge.” Later, of course, it would become obvious how Gimmel Tammuz was actually the beginning of the Rebbe’s redemption, leading to his departure from the Soviet Union and the dissemination of Yiddishkeit around the world on a truly unprecedented scale. This was also when he first declared “Immediate teshuva will bring immediate Geula.” This entire chain of events, which will ultimately culminate in the final Redemption with Moshiach, was thus initiated on Gimmel Tammuz, which all along contained the potential for the highest good.

Gimmel Tammuz also contains the key for understanding the inner nature of the Three Weeks. The entire period of Bein HaMetzarim, which outwardly symbolizes destruction and exile, is only for the purpose of leading to the highest level of hiskashrus and G-dly revelation in the Messianic era. In other words, the events that occurred were nothing but a removal of the form and limitations that will ultimately transcend all limitations, when “Yerushalayim will exist without walls.” However, it is only when Moshiach comes that we will be able to correctly perceive the positive role that the Galus played.

In the times of the Beis HaMikdash, open miracles were observed as a matter of course, and it was easy to perceive G-dliness. Everyone could attain a very high level of bittul and hiskashrus, because it didn’t require much effort. At the same time, people were limited by their own perceptions. They were spiritually elevated, but only in direct proportion to what they could see and hear.

It was not until after the destruction, when it appeared as if “G-d has abandoned the earth,” chas v’shalom, that the inner and essential connection between the Jew and G-d was revealed. It was then that we were able to perceive that this bond is independent of all external factors. Immutable and eternal, the pintele Yid transcends the very concept of revelations.

Nonetheless, during the Galus we are forbidden to thank G-d for the destruction and exile. In fact, a Jew is obligated to despise the Galus with every fiber of his being. Only afterward, in the Messianic era, will we be able to declare, “O L-rd, I will praise you; though you were angry with me.”

In a certain sense, the concept of redemption involves “opening our eyes” to the true reality, which was not readily apparent during the Galus. We are now at the end of the redemptive process, on the very threshold of the final Redemption. We are the last generation of Galus and the first generation of Geula. The service of refining the world has been completed, and even the “buttons have been polished.” And as the Rebbe MH”M has explained, the closer we get to the Geula, the less we perceive the painful and negative qualities of Galus, and the easier it is to have a foretaste of the ultimate simcha.

That is why the month of Tammuz had only negative connotations prior to our generation (the name itself is the name of a Babylonian idol!), whereas now, with the advent of the “holiday of holidays,” Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, the entire month is known as the “month of Geula.”

All this, the Rebbe has explained, was only to uncover the essential quality of the day of Gimmel Tammuz as the “beginning of the redemption.” Not only was it not a descent (even for the purpose of ascent), but an integral part of the redemption itself, which is further reflected in the 17th of Tammuz and in Tisha B’Av, when Moshiach is both born and revealed. Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe concludes, is thus the key to the ultimate transformation of this period into “days of rejoicing and happiness.”

Our essential connection to Hashem, which transcends all external factors, will be completely manifested in the third Beis HaMikdash, which, as “an edifice built by G-d,” will last forever. Melech HaMoshiach himself will then be revealed as existing above all limitations (the appearance of illness, etc.), by virtue of his complete and total unity with G-d and his bittul to Him.

On Shabbos Parshas BaMidbar 5751, the Rebbe described the practical difficulties involved in rising above the Galus in order to perceive the true reality: “They were born in Galus, they grew up in Galus, and they are, therefore, people who are steeped in Galus. And all of the questions and inquiries they pose stem from the darkness of the Galus.”

The only way to succeed is to follow the exact tried and true recipe for bringing the Geula that has been given to us by the Rebbe MH”M: learning about Moshiach and Redemption. Of course, during the Three Weeks, this also includes the Rebbe’s teachings (maamarim and sichos) that pertain to the Beis HaMikdash.

There is no substitute for studying the weekly Dvar Malchus, if not several times then at least once. In such a manner will our hearts and minds be filled with Moshiach-awareness, until the whole world will cry out in one voice: Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!


“The time has come for you to divest yourselves of form. Your objective is not to become a bigger Chassid. No, the time has come for you to cease being a meztius!”





A Jew is obligated to despise the Galus with every fiber of his being. Only afterward, in the Messianic era, will we be able to declare, “O L-rd, I will praise you; though you were angry with me.”


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