What Am I Needed?
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
following is taken from a letter written by the Rebbe Rayatz, printed in Volume
3 of Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, starting on page 438 (free
answer to your letter, it is a good thing that you decided to move to Ramat
Yitzchak, may you experience both material and spiritual success. May Hashem
grant you your livelihood abundantly and easily, that you be able to establish
regular times for Torah study. I wonder, however, why you have done nothing as
far as group learning is concerned. How is it possible that with 500 people
living in your area, may their number increase, you have not yet found two or
three - elderly, middle-aged, young married men or bachurim - with whom
to learn Chassidus?
no circumstances can I believe that in a group of religious people this size,
there cannot be found [at least] some to whom you can show a Chassidic maamer
or sicha, especially if you explain what it is.
only possible answer is a lack of effort, or more correctly, a failure to sense
the responsibility that has been placed on the shoulders of all T’mimim,
may they live and be well, regardless of who they are. It makes no difference if
a Tamim’s knowledge of nigleh and Chassidus is only average, or if he
is inexperienced in the "service of the heart." He nonetheless
possesses the obligation (and the mitzva) to improve his surroundings,
i.e., to make sure there are public shiurim in halacha and Agada,
that the daily portion of T’hillim is recited after davening,
and that Chassidus is studied. In a location where there is no one available to
teach Chassidus, every person should learn by himself to the best of his
am sure you have heard the rather lengthy story about a Chassid of the Alter
Rebbe who was very wealthy and philanthropic, was a true oveid Hashem, a
famous lamdan, maskil in Chassidus, etc. Then, may G-d protect us,
he lost his entire fortune and ended up deeply in debt. This occurred at a time
when several of his relatives were due to get married - after he had
already promised to pay for their weddings, provide them with a dowry, etc. In
addition, two of his own daughters were also already betrothed.
Chassid traveled to the Alter Rebbe and poured out his heart. He would have no
objection, he cried, if G-d decreed that he should be poor. Surely, it would be
a just sentence. But how could it be that he should remain in debt, incapable of
meeting his obligations and unable to fulfill his promises to his family? Those
promises, he continued, had been made when he was a wealthy man, when according
to the holy Torah he had the right to make them. If he did not live up to his
word, it would be terrible chilul Hashem. The Chassid wept
bitterly over the prospect of being forced to commit the sin of desecrating G-d’s
Name. He begged the Alter Rebbe to arouse Hashem’s mercies from the true
Source of all mercy and loving-kindness, and pray that he be able to repay his
debts and fulfill his promises. Afterward, he would willingly accept whatever
G-d had decreed. "Rebbe," he concluded his plea, "I must pay back
all my debts. I have to give my relatives everything I promised them. And I must
take care of my own daughters."
Alter Rebbe listened in great dveikus. After a short while he raised his
holy head and said: "You only speak about what you need. About what
you are needed for, you say nothing..."
Alter Rebbe’s words penetrated deeply into the Chassid’s heart, and he
fainted full-length upon the floor. Reb Zalman, the Rebbe’s servant, had been
standing in the doorway and saw what had happened. He called two Chassidim out
of the next room (the "lower Gan Eden"), and together they carried him
outside, poured water over him, etc., until he revived.
the man came to, he said nothing, but began to devote himself to avoda,
Torah, and t’filla with such vitality and dedication that everything
else was forgotten. His days were spent fasting, learning, and praying, and he
was very happy. His Divine service was performed with chayus and with
the second Shabbos of his stay in Liozna the Alter Rebbe spoke about Tohu
and Tikkun. In Tohu, he explained, there are many lights and few
vessels. In Tikkun, there are few lights and abundant vessels. Our avoda
consists of drawing down the many lights of Tohu into the abundant
vessels of Tikkun, through the process of birur (refinement), as
is written, "He created it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited."
Monday of that week the Alter Rebbe summoned the Chassid, gave him a blessing
for success, and ordered him to return home and resume his business affairs. In
a short while the Chassid recouped his losses, paid off all his debts, and was
able to fulfill his promises to his relatives. He married off his daughters, and
was able to give even more tzedaka than before.
Alter Rebbe’s holy words, "You only speak about what you need. About what
you are needed for, you say nothing" - should be inscribed in the heart of
every member of Anash, and especially in the hearts of T’mimim.
The question, "For what am I needed?" should be always visible before
our eyes, at all times.
purpose of the creation of the body and the descent of the soul is well known.
It is not for the sake of physicality; these matters do not require further
explanation. That being said, every member of Anash, and especially T’mimim,
is obligated to transform his surroundings with the light of Torah, arousing
others through public study, strengthening Yiddishkeit, and fostering
good midos through Ahavas Yisroel. This is the clear response to
the question, "For what am I needed?"
words should awaken every living soul among Anash and T’mimim,
spurring them on to strengthen Judaism and spread Torah and yiras Shamayim
in general, and Chassidus and Chassidic practices in particular.
as a Tamim, are surely aware of the impact a single individual can have
on his environment, and understand why it is important to take the lead. This
matter, the strengthening of Judaism, affects my very soul; it is the sum and
substance of all my vitality. Every report I receive of a positive action taken,
a shiur having been established, or a farbrengen having been held
with love and brotherhood is a glad tiding, a medicinal remedy for my weak
health, may Almighty G-d answer the prayers of my beloved Anash and T’mimim
for a complete recovery in the immediate future, together with the rest of our
ailing Jewish brethren who are in need of a refua materially and
is it possible that in all this time you have done nothing? I hope that from now
on you will take the initiative and begin to show effort in all the above. May
Almighty G-d help you, and grant you this merit.
Yud-Alef Nissan is already behind us (as are Pesach and Acharon Shel Pesach),
and we recently marked Chaf-Ches Nissan, the day ten years ago when the Rebbe shlita
uttered the famous sicha of "Do all in your power to bring Moshiach,"
we are still "under the influence" of the great and holy day, as we
will continue to be throughout the Rebbe’s 100th year.
is, therefore, appropriate that we ask ourselves: What can we do to finally
achieve the ultimate objective: to bring Moshiach in actuality?
several recent columns (in connection with Chaf-Hei Adar, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s
100th birthday, and Yud-Alef Nissan, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach’s birthday)
we discussed the inner significance of birthdays, as elucidated in the Rebbe’s
sichos kodesh. A brief summation:
though one might think that a fetus is much better off physically and
spiritually before it is born, it is not considered entirely "alive"
in many important respects - "it is not a soul." The reason is that
the fetus does not truly possess whatever it has, but receives everything in a
passive manner from its mother. At the moment of birth, however, the fetus turns
into an independent being, who, despite all his deficiencies, can be said to
"own" his achievements.
in fact, is the entire innovation of Chassidus (which is also why it wasn’t
until Chassidus came along that the inner significance of birthdays was
revealed): that a Jew shouldn’t observe Torah and mitzvos "as an
addition to his essence," but must be so suffused with vitality and
enthusiasm that he truly "acquires" whatever he does.
more striking is the unique innovation of Chabad Chassidus, which emphasizes
that this vitality and enthusiasm shouldn’t come from "Above" in an
"encompassing" way (i.e., only on faith), but must be derived from the
individual’s own avoda and efforts.
of this pertains to the higher faculties of intellect and emotion. As far as the
lower faculties are concerned, up until relatively recently, G-dliness was still
"an addition to one’s essence." This led to the innovation of the
past few generations, and particularly the innovation of our own "seventh
generation," that G-dliness should "burst forth" from even the
lowest levels of creation, "below which there is nothing lower." To
the members of our generation, shlichus means bringing G-dliness
literally all over the world, to even the most remote locations, and that these
places must be transformed into Torah centers in their own right, with G-dliness
"bursting forth" from videos, satellites, billboards, and the
Internet. This is the final step before Moshiach’s ultimate revelation.
would obviously recognize it as ridiculous if someone were to claim that the
Baal Shem Tov’s innovations were sufficient, or the Alter Rebbe’s, or the
Rebbe Rayatz’s, and that there is no need to go beyond them. As for how to
relate to such a person, suffice it to say that we would know that his words are
not coming from a place of holiness.
same principle applies to the singular avoda of these last few moments of
Galus. We cannot content ourselves with the objectively wonderful service
of the early years of the Rebbe’s leadership. We are now in a new era, the era
of the "birthday," and the "order of the day" is to act
under our own initiative.
this new period in history, which began (primarily) on Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748, the
Rebbe gave us specific directives and instructed us in a new "style"
of avodas Hashem. Of course, the overall goal was always (and will always
remain) the same: the transformation of the world into a suitable "dwelling
place for Hashem in the lower realms," leading to the ultimate fulfillment
of the prophecy, "And the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed, and all
flesh shall see that the mouth of G-d has spoken."
particular approach of any given generation, however, has changed over the
years. For example, in the times of the Baal Shem Tov, the emphasis was on an
inner arousal of the heart and an avoda that transcended rational
thought. The Alter Rebbe stressed the study of Chabad Chassidus and the
contemplation of Hashem’s greatness. In the Rebbe Rayatz’s time it was mesiras
nefesh, and up until recent years the Rebbe shlita’s main emphasis
was on disseminating the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, i.e., the service of shlichus.
the Rebbe MH"M began to talk about the special avoda we need to do
at this crucial time in history, "the only thing that remains to be done in
the service of shlichus..." This was not to deny or belittle, G-d
forbid, anything that came before; in the same way that the Baal Shem Tov did
not in any way detract from Torah and mitzvos, and the Alter Rebbe did
not detract from the Baal Shem Tov, so too does every era have its own unique avoda,
the gateway through which all other aspects of avodas Hashem must pass.
concepts are not new, and they are not anyone’s invention. The Rebbe MH"M
explained everything to us clearly and explicitly on many occasions (the sicha
of Chaf-Beis Shvat 5752 is a good example). It is, therefore, axiomatic that in
order to know what is required of us now, we must study these most recent sichos
(especially the weekly Dvar Malchus) and contemplate them deeply. The
Rebbe’s earlier sichos and maamarim are simply not enough to
provide us with direction for what to do now.
Rebbe MH"M’s early sichos and maamarim are infinitely
wonderful and deep, yet at the same time we have to know what the Rebbe expects
from us at present. These particular directives are not to be found in
the earlier sichos and maamarim but only in the most recent,
particularly the "Dvar Malchus" of the year leading up to
Shabbos Parshas Tazria-Metzora 5751 the Rebbe said that learning about Moshiach
and Geula, "particularly the maamarim and Likkutei Sichos
of the Nasi of our generation," is the "straightest path - the
easiest and quickest of all Torah ways - to bring about the actual revelation
and coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu." Following this directive, the Vaad L’Hafotzas
Sichos decided to publish a collection of the Rebbe’s sichos on
these subjects. The Rebbe insisted that they wait until the very latest ones
were ready to be included.
sichos kodesh aren’t "too long." They aren’t "too
hard." They aren’t "too complex or inaccessible to the average
person." These arguments were raised hundreds of years ago to justify
learning only nigleh to the exclusion of Chassidus, and they all come
from the yetzer ha’ra. In truth, there is nothing to talk about. We
simply have to learn the Rebbe’s latest sichos in order to know what to
do at present, as "the Rebbe foresaw everything."
but true, one can still find Lubavitcher yeshiva bachurim who
never learned the sicha of 2 Nissan 5748, and who think that the saying
of "Yechi" was made up by someone or taken out of context.
Similarly, there are still people who are unaware of the connection between
"ad masai" and "yechi ha’Melech," or who
never studied the sicha of Parshas Shoftim about the Rebbe’s prophecy
of Moshiach, "a prophecy that is not being uttered as a scholar or judge,
but as a prophet, which must then transpire."
is also perhaps an explanation of what the Rebbe meant when he said that too
much "polishing of the buttons could only cause damage." We mustn’t
concentrate on the earlier sichos (which have already been sufficiently
"polished") while ignoring the latest ones, because the "only
service that remains is to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu."
the weekly Dvar Malchus has to be a priority, and must come before any
other kind of learning. Each and every one of us must resolve to learn it, from
beginning to end.
when we ask ourselves "For what am I needed?" the answer must be
different from what it was years ago, even though our objective is still the
same. We are needed to perform the special service of "bringing the Days of
Moshiach," the only gateway through which all other types of Divine service
is no doubt that the Rebbe stands behind his words. The Rebbe shlita is
the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation, the Nasi HaDor, "general neshama,"
"connecting intermediary," prophet, King Moshiach, etc., etc. But even
if we were to look at the Rebbe as merely (G-d forbid) an extremely wise and
responsible leader, his words should surely shock us to the core: "Do all
in your power."
more we study the Rebbe’s words, the more we see how "the Rebbe foresaw
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.
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!