Reflections on Zach Adar
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

In the period following Zach Adar 5752, the mashpia Reb Mendel Futerfas would often repeat the famous saying of Reb Itche "Der Masmid," uttered years ago when, to the fleshly eye, it appeared as if the Rebbe Rayatz had lost his power of speech. "The Rebbe isn’t sick!" Reb Itche had explained. "Der Rebbe iz gezunt! The world is just too coarse to be able to hear him."

Whenever Reb Mendel related this he would burst into tears. A few minutes later he would recover his composure and sing a joyous niggun. Then he would start crying again…

Reb Mendel would also repeatedly emphasize the necessity of having emuna not only in Hashem but in chachomim and tzaddikim, which is why it states "Moshe commanded us the Torah" and "Remember the Torah of Moshe My servant," even though the Torah is obviously Hashem’s. Only when a Jew has one hundred percent faith in "Moshe Rabbeinu," when he is completely connected to the Rebbe, can he have true faith in Hashem. If, G-d forbid, his emuna in Moshe Rabbeinu is flawed, his emuna in Hashem is also defective.

Nine years have now elapsed since Zach Adar 5752, the beginning of a completely new period in which it would appear as if the Rebbe were ill, in fulfillment of Chapter 53 of Yeshayahu: "Surely he has borne our sicknesses and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, struck by G-d, and afflicted…he was wounded because of our transgressions." The darkness would become so intense that to many people it would seem as if "he were cut off from the land of the living." But, as the Prophet concludes, "He shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the purpose of the L-rd shall prosper in his hand."

No longer could we hear the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach at farbrengens. There were hardly any "dollars," "lekach," or "kos shel bracha." On the physical level, the Rebbe became beyond our senses to perceive.

What was going on?

Before I answer, I cannot overemphasize an obvious fact: The Rebbe shlita is chai v’kayam in a physical body, in the physical world. This is a truism in the category of "anything else is an impossibility." According to Chassidus, the world simply cannot exist without a living Rebbe in a physical body.

The most compelling proof is that every Chabad Chassid unequivocally accepted this as literal truth before Gimmel Tammuz. It was openly touted by mainstream Chabad publications: Kfar Chabad magazine, Sichat HaShavua, etc., even though in the natural order it was even then an impossibility. (Who among us isn’t familiar with the famous sicha of Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Truma 5748 in which the Rebbe emphasized several times that he was "not speaking about histalkus, G-d forbid"?) That the Rebbe is alive is something so absolute that no proofs are necessary. No proof can prove an axiom, nor can any ostensible contradiction threaten our faith. Pure and simple emuna is not open to argument.

One of the recurring themes running through the entire Likkutei Sichos (see page 7 of Volume 26, for example) is the principle that in every generation there has to be a Nasi in whom the neshama of Moshe Rabbeinu is invested. This Nasi HaDor is the sole channel for all of G-d’s vitality to the Jewish people, and from the Jewish people, to the world at large. This is how the world has operated since the beginning of time and so will it continue forever. It was created to function according to this arrangement, with these basic dynamics which are not subject to change.

As explained in many of our holy texts, the physical body of the Moshe Rabbeinu of a generation is the "connecting intermediary" (memutza hamechaber) through which Hashem’s chayus comes into the world to enliven and sustain it, as it states, "I stand between Hashem and you." As a flesh and blood human being who exists in the physical world, his body is so completely nullified to
G-dliness that his entire being is G-dliness. In this way, the Moshe Rabbeinu of a generation combines and unites this G-dly vitality with the material plane of existence, allowing Hashem’s chayus to descend and function within the parameters of physicality.

In the human body, the head and brain are the intermediary between the spiritual soul and the physical limbs and organs. In order for an organ to receive its vitality from the soul, the soul must first invest itself in the physical brain, after which each organ receives exactly what it needs to function. Similarly, the G-dly vitality that sustains the world must first be invested within the physical body of the Nasi HaDor. Afterwards, it is from the Nasi and through the Nasi that this vitality is transmitted to the particular aspects of Creation.

In the same way that no one would ever suggest that a person can live for even a minute without a head, so too does Chassidus explain that the world cannot exist for even a second without a live, physical Rebbe.

It would be beneath my dignity to respond to the "chachomim" who have proposed that someone else might have taken the Rebbe’s place, G-d forbid. The real root of the problem is that some people are looking for a compromise. But of course, no such thing exists.

Where does our absolute emuna come from? It was absorbed together with our mothers’ milk. If ever we are faced with something we cannot understand, we know that the deficiency is ours and not with objective reality. Objective reality does not change. The Rebbe is alive in a physical body, on the material plane of existence, and it really doesn’t matter if our vocabulary or understanding is sometimes inadequate to explain it.

True, no one could have ever imagined what our eyes would behold on Gimmel Tammuz. But the cornerstone of our belief remains in place, because the foundation of the entire structure is not subject to change.

According to Torah, the ruling of a posek determines reality. Once a halacha is established, it cannot be altered to fit public opinion if it isn’t popular or bofen hamiskabel.

Literally thousands upon thousands of times we heard the Rebbe tell us that the Torah is the Torah of Truth and the Torah of Life, the guidebook by which a Jew must live, in contrast to man-made laws which vary according to circumstance. The Torah’s laws create life and determine what life is. The Torah is immutable. It doesn’t try to fit itself to the reality of the world. Only Torah can determine what reality is.

In general, the Torah rarely opposes what we perceive as reality. On the contrary, it strengthens that reality by establishing what we are supposed to do if such and such an event occurs. But as the Rebbe reminded us so many times, the only reason the world appears real is that the Torah allows it to. How do we know that snow is white? Only because it states in the Torah, "[Your sins] will be made as white as snow." Once the Torah has determined that something is a certain way, its characterization stands forever, even if it later appears that reality is different.

This principle is self-understood to every believing Jew. For example, once the Torah has established that the sun revolves around the earth, it doesn’t matter if science will insist that the earth revolves around the sun. (It isn’t necessary to mention the Rebbe’s well-known explanation that modern science, with its theory of relativity, confirms what we already know from the Torah.) The point is that it would never occur to us to reject the Torah because some may think it’s old-fashioned or out-of-date.

There are many other examples in which the Torah seems to be at odds with what we know today. But does a believing Jew simply disregard what the Torah tells us? Obviously not. The only issue for the Jew is to find out what the Torah really says. Once that is done, in a completely objective manner, "even if all the kings of east and west claim otherwise," our only answer is the saying of our Sages: "It is preferable that Shlomo and a thousand like him be lost, rather than nullify one letter of the Torah!"

The same principle applies to the issue at hand. Before Gimmel Tammuz, not a single Chabad Chassid doubted that according to Torah there could be no histalkus. So what happened? Are we supposed to change what the Torah says just because it’s suddenly unpopular? Anyone who even considers the notion is following his own theology rather than Hashem’s.

As the Rebbe shlita said way back in 5710, "Der Rebbe hot altz bavorent" (The Rebbe foretold everything). How much more so does this apply today!

I cannot believe that even the biggest fool would seriously consider that the Rebbe didn’t anticipate Gimmel Tammuz, that it came as a surprise to him or was against his will. How can anyone think that the Nasi HaDor would neglect to tell us what is expected of us after Zach Adar and Gimmel Tammuz?

Any responsible person in a position of leadership would anticipate the future, let alone a manhig Yisroel and prophet, the Nasi HaDor and Melech HaMoshiach. The Rebbe knew exactly what would occur, and foresaw everything.

The Rebbe told us that a new period related to the Final Redemption began on Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748, which would require more avoda and independent effort on our part. All previous types of avoda have been completed, and the only thing left to do is to actually bring about the revelation of Moshiach. In this new period we would not be able to rely on the Nasi HaDor, but would have to work independently. Furthermore, the Rebbe stressed that this would be the responsibility of each and every one of us.

From that point on, the Rebbe’s style changed dramatically. The maamarim gradually decreased in frequency and eventually ceased altogether. The sichos kodesh became shorter and more concise. The Rebbe almost completely stopped elaborating on Rashi, the Rambam, Pirkei Avos/ and the like, and those points that were elucidated were extremely brief. At the same time, the Rebbe began to speak incessantly about the coming Redemption. The Rebbe told us countless times that the service of separating the sparks is over, the "buttons are already polished," and that Moshiach is due to be revealed at any moment. The Rebbe explicitly stated that Moshiach is already present and having an effect on the world, and declared that "the time for your Redemption has arrived." The only service that remains is to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, allowing him to fulfill his mission to take the Jewish people out of exile.

The whole debate about whether or not to publicize Moshiach’s identity is superfluous. It is simply pointless to go around quoting sichos and tzetlach from before Zach Adar.

Before Gimmel Tammuz, everyone spoke about the Rebbe as Moshiach and nobody batted an eyelash. The banner "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu VRabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Vaed" appeared each week on the opening page of Kfar Chabad magazine. If that’s not publicly identifying Moshiach, what is? Every Chabad publication touted the Rebbe as Moshiach, clarified the concept, and called upon the whole world to accept his sovereignty.

Only after Gimmel Tammuz did some people scramble to find other explanations for what has always been eminently clear. But of course, these new interpretations were not given to Moshe at Sinai! And anyone claiming that the Rebbe deliberately misled us, G-d forbid, for such a long period of time, is obviously not the kind of person to determine what is permissible and what is forbidden according to Torah.

There are several components to the new period that began on Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748, among which are the following:

Our generation is distinguished from all previous generations by the fact that the concept of hefsek or interruption of life does not apply. The Biblical injunction of "to dust you shall return" can be fulfilled by the spiritual nullification of "and may my soul be like dust to everything," after which we will pass directly into the eternal life of the true and complete Redemption.

The phrase that the Rebbe used so often in the early years of his nesiyus, referring to the darkness of exile as a "choshech kaful umechupal" (double and twofold darkness) virtually disappeared in his later sichos. The Rebbe repeatedly stated that the world is ready for the Redemption, and pointed to various world events to substantiate that Moshiach is already exerting a positive influence. The unique avoda of our times consists of joyously anticipating Moshiach’s imminent revelation.

With the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to see how the Rebbe foresaw everything. The Rebbe gradually accustomed us to the idea that there would be no histalkus of the soul from the physical body, and that his illness was more than met the eye. Rather, the whole phenomenon of Zach Adar and Gimmel Tammuz is only for the purpose of attaining the highest level of bittul necessary for the Rebbe’s revelation, the fiftieth gate, as the Rebbe elucidated so often in his most recent sichos kodesh.

On Rosh HaShana 5752 the Rebbe spoke about the baal tokeias face turning red (from the effort), and described a condition that we would recognize as a stroke. Yet the Rebbe went on to ensure us that he was only speaking of something that is extremely positive and helpful - "Sound the great shofar to signify our freedom" - the true and complete Redemption!

To anyone with even a drop of a Chassidishe chinuch, the notion that the Rebbe did everything he could to prevent our current situation but wasn’t able to is utterly repugnant. As every Chassid knows, the Rebbe transcends the limitations of the natural world. Everything that happens to him is with his full approval and in accordance with his will, which is synonymous with G-d’s will. As far as the Rebbe is concerned, there is no such thing as helem or tzimtzum. A Rebbe, who is completely nullified before G-d and united with Him, knows everything and can do whatever he wants. As the Rebbe declared in the sicha of Chaf Av 5710, whoever doubts this concept doubts "I am the L-rd your G-d" and "You shall not have any other gods before Me."

This even includes instances when a Rebbe is imprisoned or seemingly ill; to the Rebbe, there is no darkness or concealment. The concepts of geula and refua are extraneous to him; they only seem to apply from our limited standpoint.

Should the Rebbe decree that the Redemption must take place now, there is no doubt that it would happen. "When the tzaddik decrees, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, fulfills it." The fact that the Rebbe hasn’t done so is the ultimate level of mesiras nefesh, in accordance with G-d’s desire that the Jewish people redeem themselves from exile through their own efforts. (See sicha of Shabbos Parshas Pinchas 5744.)

During the period of S’firas HaOmer, the Rebbe Rayatz would make a mark in his siddur each night to remind him where he was holding. Surely there was no need for this, as the concept of forgetting did not apply to him. Nonetheless, the avoda of a tzaddik requires him to go through the motions in order to affect even the lowest levels of existence. Similarly, the Rebbe went through the motions of exhorting us and urging us on to do more, all the while knowing how things would play out.

On Shabbos Parshas B’Shalach 5730 the Rebbe said (non-edited, free translation):

This is the positive aspect to what is said about Moshiach: "Surely he has borne our sicknesses" and "But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was bruised because of our iniquities," meaning that he is together with the Jewish people and uses every means at his disposal to help them in their circumstances. Because he is together with Israel, this extends to his power of speech, with which he speaks words of nigleh and Chassidus to all the Jewish people, as evidenced by the baal hahilula.

Someone once asked my father-in-law, the Rebbe, "Rebbe! Even if there were legitimate complaints against you, and [G-d] wanted to inflict punishment, why would He choose to impair your speech, a power you have used throughout your life to spread Judaism with mesiras nefesh, and by means of which you were successful in establishing a dwelling place in the lower worlds? Why particularly the power of speech, when it was a faculty you had completely dedicated to HaKadosh Baruch Hu?"

The answer is "Surely he has borne our sicknesses," as this was manifested in my father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz.

This is also similar to what it states about Moshiach in Sanhedrin 98a, that he binds and unbinds his wounds one at a time, and not two wounds simultaneously. If Israel does tshuva, "they will immediately be redeemed," and Moshiach must therefore be ready at all times. But how is it possible for Moshiach to deserve these wounds in the first place?

This relates to the concept of "I will be with him in times of trouble." When the Jewish people are troubled and tormented, so too is Moshiach. This does not mean that he considers these things "suffering," but a "regular" Jew would, as there are some people who simply cannot relate to spirituality. To them, all that exists is what their physical eyes can see. Nonetheless, Moshiach must be together with them, in their own particular context and situation.

Even though, as explained in the holy Zohar, Pharaoh punished the Jews with mortar and brick (chomer u’leveinim), which can also be understood in the spiritual sense, as "chomer" corresponds to the kal vachomer of Torah study, and "leveinim" corresponds to libun hilchasa, the process of arriving at halacha - nonetheless, there are some Jews who have never heard of this concept or are not aware of its explanation in Torah Ohr. And even if they are aware of it, they do not really understand the meaning of suffering through "kal vachomer"; all they know is that suffering means not having enough parnasa, or it means a literal wound or injury.

But Moshiach shows these kinds of Jews as well that "I will be with him in times of trouble." This is the advantage of Moshiach being together with the entire Jewish people.

Similarly, on the night of Simchas Torah 5745 (printed in Volume I of Hisvaaduyos) the Rebbe stated (free translation):

…Even after he arrived in this country, where it was possible to lead a Jewish life in tranquility, there were obstacles in terms of physical health, especially involving the power of speech, which was his primary method of disseminating the wellsprings outward, i.e., the saying of Chassidus (only afterward were his words written down), as is known to those who were alive at that time (even though this is not something that is generally spoken about).

In certain respects, this concealment was worse than the concealment he experienced in "that" country (i.e. Russia): In "that" country, the concealment was derived from external factors, such as the government. This wasn’t the case, however, with the concealment he experienced here, which arose from his own body…

In general, the physical health of the body affects one’s avodas Hashem, as explained by the Rambam. If, G-d forbid, a person’s health is compromised, it creates obstacles and impediments in his Divine service. In this case, [the Rebbe’s] much bigger concealment pertained to the very faculty through which most of his avoda was accomplished.

One of the professors who was treating the Rebbe at the time asked him a question: "How does a believing Jew like yourself explain the fact that the very faculty that is most needed is the one that is affected?" It appears that the professor had a specific reason for asking: He realized that as a doctor, G-d had granted him the power to heal. However, once he saw that a recovery was impossible within the natural order, he looked for some sort of trick to effect a refua that would transcend nature.

That is when he came up with the idea to ask the above question, the intention being that when the Rebbe would see that the state of his health was having a negative influence on a Jew’s emuna, it would arouse him to bring about his own refua…in a manner that transcends nature: "The tzaddik decrees, and the Holy One, Blessed be He fulfills his command"; "The will of His servants He will obey…"

There are many things in the world that seem to contradict G-d’s will. People do aveiros, steal, murder, and rob. Yet would anyone think that G-d really wants to stop them, but nebach, it’s beyond His ability to do so? To the believing Jew, G-d is omniscient and all-powerful. Whatever happens in the world is according to His will, whether or not we can understand it.

In the same way, the Rebbe knew exactly what would happen before and after Gimmel Tammuz. With prescience and foresight, he taught us how to look at the world around us and determine what reality is according to Torah.

The Rebbe has also emphasized that the unique avoda of our times flows in the direction of "below to Above." Bringing about Moshiach’s revelation is dependent on us. No longer can we wait for explicit directives; we must act independently, and G-d will give us special powers and abilities to know what to do.

The avoda required of us now is different from anything we’ve ever done in the past. No longer can we fulfill our obligation by simply studying a Rashi sicha or going out on mivtzaim. Every action we take must be with a single goal in mind: Moshiach. As the Rebbe commented about himself: "I am crazy about Moshiach!"

The acceptance of Moshiach’s sovereignty must come from below, from the people, which is why we cannot wait for explicit directives. And in order to accept Moshiach’s sovereignty, the world has to know who Moshiach is.

In other words, there was no stroke and no histalkus in the usual sense. In fact, the concept of histalkus does not pertain to the ninth generation, which will seamlessly pass into the era of eternal life. The process of refining the sparks of holiness has been completed. The period we are now going through is for the sole purpose that we act as if under our own power and do all we can to bring Moshiach.

The Rebbe has placed his trust in us. He is watching each of us intently, waiting for us to fulfill our mission. With true achdus and love for one another, we will overcome all obstacles and make the Final Redemption a reality.

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam


"The Rebbe isn’t sick!" Reb Itche had explained. "Der Rebbe iz gezunt! The world is just too coarse to be able to hear him."




This Nasi HaDor is the sole channel for all of G-d’s vitality to the world. This is how the world has operated since the beginning of time and so will it continue forever.




In this new period we would not be able to rely on the Nasi HaDor, but would have to work independently.


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