The Revelation That Makes It All Worthwhile
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg


The late Mashpia, Reb Mendel Futerfas, related: It was in the early days of the Rebbe Rayatz’s nesiyus, before the episode of his arrest and imprisonment. The members of the Yevsektziya, the Jewish branch of the Communist Party, were running rampant, supported and encouraged by the secret police. The mission of this self-styled “Society to Obliterate Religion” was to find and stamp out every vestige of Jewish observance in the Soviet Union.


The situation was intolerable and getting worse. Shuls and mikvaos were closing one after the other. Rabbanim, shochtim, and melamdim were being rounded up and sent to Siberia. Jews were forced to work on Shabbos; if they refused they were immediately fired from their jobs, branded “enemies of the state,” and unable to support their families. But worst of all, Jewish children were suddenly subject to mandatory education, to be systematically instilled with the Communists’ heretical poison. All methods of persuasion were employed by the Yevsektziya, from strong-arm techniques to ridicule and intimidation to brute force.


At that time the Rebbe Rayatz had recently ascended to leadership, and the infrastructure he would eventually establish for “spreading the wellsprings outward” was first taking shape. The Rebbe’s emissaries were sent all over the Soviet Union, fanning the faint sparks of Yiddishkeit wherever they might be found. Their function also included gathering information, which was then sent back to the Rebbe: in one location they were requesting a maggid shiur; in another, they needed money to buy machinery so they would not have to work on Shabbos; in a third, they needed help with building a mikva, etc. In other cities and towns the Rebbe’s emissaries organized minyanim or located children whose parents wanted them to learn Torah.


This information would be acted upon immediately: a maggid shiur would be sent out to wherever he was needed; funds would somehow be raised to buy the necessary equipment, enabling dozens of Jews to avoid desecrating Shabbos. Most of the Rebbe’s assistance, however, arrived in the form of Rabbanim, shochtim, mohelim, and melamdim, as the Soviets’ main objective was the complete cessation of Jewish education for the young. The Communists were well aware that “without kids, there can be no goats.” By inculcating atheism into the minds of the next generation, the Jewish religion would die a natural death, ch’v.


Standing up to the Yevsektziya required literal mesiras nefesh. Agents and informers were everywhere; no place was really safe. Any Jew who dared display his Yiddishkeit out in the open knew that sooner or later he would be accused of being a “counterrevolutionary” and face exile or even worse. This was the atmosphere in which the Jews of Russia lived.


Around this time, there was one particular Jew whose house was being used as a center for all these clandestine activities. It was there that all the local Jews came to daven and farbreng, and where the melamdim held their classes. This Jew and his family lived in constant fear. In the natural order of things, it was beyond the realm of possibility that the secret police would not show up one day and arrest them, as had already happened to many of their friends and acquaintances.


The pressure was unrelenting. Eventually the Jew decided that he couldn’t take it any longer, as his daily existence was simply unbearable. At that point he went to the Rebbe Rayatz and had a yechidus. Describing his family’s nervous state, he begged the Rebbe to relieve him of at least some of his responsibilities.


The Rebbe heard him out, and when the Chassid was finished complaining the Rebbe replied: As you know, the mikva in your community is no longer functioning. In order to ensure the continuation of our people, every effort must be made to enable Jewish women to keep the mitzva of taharas ha’mishpacha. I am, therefore, charging you with building a mikva in your home. Find workers you can trust and speak to Rabbi so-and-so for technical guidance, to ensure that everything is constructed according to Shulchan Aruch. G-d willing, after the mikva is built, you will then see to it that those who need to know are aware of its existence…


The Jew had no illusions about what the Rebbe was telling him. Not only was he not relieving him of any responsibility, the Rebbe was entrusting him with an illegal mission that was far more dangerous than anything he had undertaken previously. His efforts would have to be doubled; moreover, by publicizing the mikva’s existence to dozens of families who only might take advantage of it, he was endangering his family even further. All he needed was a single informant to go to the secret police and it was all over. And the Rebbe wasn’t making any promises - that he wouldn’t be arrested or even remain alive…


The man was completely broken. He burst into tears and began to cry.


But he was not alone, as the Rebbe wept along with him. After a few minutes the Rebbe composed himself and said, “In the times of the Beis HaMikdash, part of the service on Yom Kippur included sending the goat to Azazel. The Torah specifies that it had to be done by an ‘ish iti’; according to our Sages, this person would not live out the year. Nonetheless, Chazal tell us that the Kohanim used to compete with each other, as they all wanted the z’chus of performing the holy avoda, despite knowing what it meant for them…”


* * *


This, explained the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach was the Rebbe Rayatz’s greatest mesiras nefesh. Not only did the Rebbe lead and direct a secret network that endangered his own life, but to send out others… (The Rebbe shlita’s voice would break whenever he related this.)


The mesiras nefesh of the Rebbe Rayatz and his shluchim was beyond measure. It is said that the Rebbe Rayatz, together with another nine Jews, swore that they would give up their lives “till the last drop of blood” to uphold and disseminate Judaism throughout the Soviet Union, with each one responsible for a different portion of the country. Operating under inhuman conditions, these Chassidim made no calculations, at a time when there was no hope for success in the natural order. When one Chassid succumbed, another immediately took his place. And when the second one fell, a third was sent to carry on.


It is was this literal mesiras nefesh that led to the redemption that began on Gimmel Tammuz 5687, when the Rebbe Rayatz was released from prison and the death sentence was averted. On Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe Rayatz set out for Kastrama. On Yud-Beis Tammuz, he was officially notified that he could return home. The next day, Yud-Gimmel, he was actually released. The Rebbe arrived back in Petersburg (Leningrad) on the 15th of Tammuz and recited the HaGomel blessing. As is known, the Rebbe Rayatz later left for Riga, Latvia, then Poland, and finally the United States. But the infrastructure he set up in the Soviet Union continued to operate.


The end result of the Rebbe Rayatz’s efforts was the fall of Communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union’s totalitarian and atheistic regime. Not only does the new Russian government allow Jewish observance, it actively helps Jews observe Torah and mitzvos, and enables many to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel.


* * *


It states in the Mishna: “He who reads the Megilla le’mafreia” - literally “backwards” - “has not fulfilled his obligation.” As the Baal Shem Tov taught, anyone who considers the wonders and miracles G-d performs for the Jewish people as history rather than present reality is making a big mistake.


One of the fundamental principles in Yiddishkeit is that all the events narrated in the Torah, especially Yomim Tovim, are remembered and reenacted anew. They are not merely historical occurrences. The lessons of the past are meant to be applied to the present, in keeping with the directive to “live with the times.” It is, therefore, very important that everyone familiarize himself with the basic story of the Rebbe Rayatz’s arrest and liberation, as recorded in Likkutei Dibburim, to determine those areas in which mesiras nefesh is demanded of us now.


Chassidus teaches that the Rebbe Rayatz’s redemption was not simply the salvation or deliverance of an individual. It was more than the victory of a single person (leading an unarmed force) against one of the mightiest empires in the world, although that, too, was miraculous. And it was even more than the victory of Judaism over its enemies (as the Rebbe Rayatz wrote in his famous letter, “The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem me alone, but all those who love our holy Torah and observe its commandments, and even those Jews whose only virtue is to be called by the name of Israel.”)


On the surface, the basic “story line” is that the Rebbe Rayatz was arrested because the Yevsektziya was wicked and the Communists were evil, but that G-d, in His infinite mercy, saved the Rebbe from their clutches. However, this interpretation raises a logical question: Why was it necessary for the Rebbe to undergo such suffering just so his Chassidim could have another celebration? Wouldn’t it have been preferable to forego all the suffering, and just forget about this particular day of geula?


The answer, however, is that the exact opposite is true: The real reason the Rebbe was arrested was that the time had come for a new revelation of pnimiyus ha’Torah in the world, the next step in the road toward the true and complete Redemption. The only way to reach this next stage was through mesiras nefesh, which successfully brought about the revelation of Gimmel Tammuz and Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.


To reiterate: The main point of Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz is not the Rebbe Rayatz’s liberation from prison, but the revelation of G-dliness for which all the Rebbe’s pain and suffering was worthwhile. It is for this reason that the 15h of Sivan, when the Rebbe Rayatz was actually arrested, is considered an auspicious day - so much so that in recent years the Rebbe shlita gave out a special kuntres with a new Chassidic maamer in honor of the occasion! (Kuntreisim have never been given out on days associated with negative events, such as Tisha B’Av, the Seventeenth of Tammuz, etc.)


The following is a freely translated excerpt from Volume 2 of Seifer HaSichos 5752, page 485, pertaining to Yud-Tes Kislev. However, it has been explained in many places that the same principle applies to the geula of Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. (See kuntres of Yud-Beis Tammuz 5751, Seifer HaMaamarim Meluket, Volume 5.)


In the same way that the giving of the (revealed) Torah occurred after and precisely because of the Egyptian exile, so too the inner part of Torah was given (on Yud-Tes Kislev) only after and because of the concealment of the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment (which was caused by the accusation against the revelation of Chassidus in the higher realms). This is because “Whenever a new aspect of the Torah’s light is revealed, particularly one so sublime, it is necessary to first undergo a period of concealment and imprisonment, etc.”


Among the reasons for this: In order to innovate novel concepts in Torah, there must first be an increase and innovation in the person himself (i.e., the one who is learning and innovating). As long as he remains on the level to which he is already accustomed, his capacity for learning Torah will also be limited to his regular abilities. It was precisely through the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment that his inner and essential strengths were revealed, and through his redemption that an innovation was effected (similar to the innovation of a servant, l’havdil, after he is liberated from servitude to geula). The innovation (geula) in Toras he’Chassidus that was revealed through him (which brought Chassidus down into intellectual understanding), actually revealed the very essence of Toras he’Chassidus.


The process actually works in the reverse order, as it is Torah that is the source of all Creation. We must, therefore, conclude that the real reason for the innovation brought about by the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment and redemption was simply G-d’s intention that the time had come for Chabad Chassidus to be revealed. The imprisonment and redemption were a consequence of this, which caused an innovation in the Alter Rebbe, leading to an actual innovation in Torah through him.


The Rebbe Rayatz brought a new and wonderful innovation in pnimiyus ha’Torah into the world, which was a significant step in the process of drawing down the Divine presence that was initiated by the Alter Rebbe, as explained in the maamer Basi L’Gani 5710.


The Alter Rebbe was the first to enable G-dliness to permeate the human mind, the “top layer” of the physical world. The Alter Rebbe caused the Shechina to descend from the “seventh firmament to the sixth” (the G-dly revelation having remained in the super-rational realm of emuna and mesiras nefesh after the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid).


As the revelation was actually too sublime for the intellect to absorb, and completely transcended the physical world, it was impossible to contract something infinite into something finite. It was, therefore, necessary that the etzem pnimiyus ha’Torah first be revealed, for only the etzem (the essence) is powerful enough to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. In fact, because the etzem transcends even the category of infinite and is not limited to it, only the etzem can successfully meld the two, allowing the infinite G-dly revelation to permeate the realm of limitation.


In order to reach this wondrous level of revelation, the Alter Rebbe and his Chassidim had to endure a great deal of suffering. They attained their goal on Yud-Tes Kislev, “He has redeemed my soul in peace,” when the new revelation of pnimiyus ha’Torah first commenced, revealing the pnimiyus of the soul, which reveals, as it were, the pnimiyus of Hashem.


After Yud-Tes Kislev, the Divine presence had only been brought down as far as the “sixth firmament,” and the subsequent avoda of our holy Rebbeim was required to bring it down even further. In order to do so, each Nasi had to access higher and more essential levels of Divine light. Nonetheless, the Shechina was still in “the firmaments.” It had not yet been drawn down to earth completely, which is the final objective of “a dwelling place for Hashem.”


It was the Rebbe Rayatz, the s’fira of yesod, who began to direct the Shechina “earthward.” (Chassidus explains that the five s’firos that come before yesod - chesed, g’vura, tiferes, netzach and hod - are “self-contained” in the firmaments, whereas the function of yesod is to influence in a downward direction. For this reason it is referred to as “kol,” “ki kol ba’shamayim uva’aretz,” as it connects and unifies Heaven and earth.) This is reflected in the fact that up until the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbeim were involved primarily in Heavenly matters, whereas the Rebbe Rayatz, especially after Gimmel and Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, concerned himself with even the lowest levels of existence. (The Rebbe Rayatz deliberately chose to live in big cities; initiated the translation of Chassidus into other languages; made sure that little children could learn Alef-Beis, and that simple Jews could keep Torah and mitzvos, etc.)


In order to accomplish this, however, even greater sacrifices were required than those made by the Alter Rebbe. (The Alter Rebbe was “only” in danger of receiving the death sentence, G-d forbid, whereas the Rebbe Rayatz was actually sentenced to “the opposite of life.”) Because of the Rebbe Rayatz’s mesiras nefesh, we merited the Chag HaGeula on which the Shechina began to descend to the very lowest levels.


As is known, the process of “bringing the Shechina down to earth” and establishing a “dwelling place for Hashem” is to be completed by the “seventh generation,” the s’fira of malchus, i.e., the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. Without going into it too deeply, the s’fira of yesod starts to bring the Divine presence down to earth, but the main descent occurs with the s’fira of malchus, when the true importance of the “lower realms” is finally perceived. (By contrast, from the perspective of yesod, the lower realms are only a means by which the Shechina can descend, rather than an end in itself.)


We see this reflected in the Rebbe shlita’s nesiyus, how with each successive year he has reached “lower” and “lower,” extending himself to reach even the “lost and remote.” The Rebbe has actively endorsed the utilization of every form of modern communications and has included even non-Jews in his domain, encouraging them to keep the Seven Noachide Laws.


We may belong to a lowly generation, but that’s the whole point of the Divine plan: the lower the better, the more effectively to establish G-d’s dwelling place on earth.


We have now reached the most decisive phase of all. The service of “refining the sparks” has been completed and the “buttons have already been polished”; the only thing remaining is the unique avoda of our generation to bring about the complete revelation of Moshiach. Indeed, all that is necessary is that we “open our eyes” to see how the whole world is ready, and accept upon ourselves “the only Moshiach of our generation” so that he can fulfill his Divinely-appointed task of redeeming the Jewish people and the entire world. Again, we must be the ones to initiate it, without our having received an explicit directive, for the ultimate objective is for G-dliness to burst forth from even the lowest levels of existence.


If mesiras nefesh was necessary in all previous stages, how much more so is it necessary at present, as history reaches its culmination in the Messianic era. Indeed, nothing can compare with the mesiras nefesh of the Rebbe shlita, who “willingly risks his life” in order to win the battle. “Surely he has borne our sicknesses, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, struck by G-d, and afflicted.” Some have even concluded that “He was cut off from the land of the living,” chas v’shalom, but that is only how things appear to the physical eye, and the true reality is contained in the next verse in Isaiah: “He shall see his seed (‘so too is he alive’), he shall prolong his days, and the purpose of the L-rd shall prosper in his hand” - the true and complete Redemption, immediately and at once.


This why it is especially important now that we demonstrate not only mesiras nefesh but uncompromising akshanus (stubbornness), together with genuine love and achdus towards our fellow Jews. It is precisely through us, the lowliest of all generations, that the Geula will come about, as the Rebbe has enjoined us, “Do all in your power.” We must allow nothing to distract us from our final goal, “to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actuality.”


We will be “stubborn” and learn the Dvar Malchus each week and incorporate it into our lives; we will be “stubborn” and continue to proclaim that the Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach. We must be ever vigilant that Moshiach and Geula remain on the front burner. We will stubbornly convey the message that there is a judge and counselor of our generation, who is the prophet and Nasi of our generation. The Rebbe is chai v’kayam, and continues to lead and guide each and every one of us individually. Jew and non-Jew alike have the merit and obligation to obey his directives and advice, and to believe in and publicize his prophecies, the main prophecy, of course, concerning Moshiach’s imminent revelation. And we will stubbornly accept his sovereignty with the holy declaration that will ultimately bring about his complete hisgalus before the eyes of the world:


“Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!”


Not only was he not relieving him of any responsibility, the Rebbe was entrusting him with an illegal mission that was far more dangerous than anything he had undertaken previously.




The man was completely broken. He burst into tears and began to cry. But he was not alone; the Rebbe wept along with him.




The main point of Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz is not the Rebbe Rayatz’s liberation from prison, but the revelation of G-dliness for which all the Rebbe’s pain and suffering was worthwhile.


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