By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg,
Mashpia, Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim – Lubavitch, Kfar Chabad
Translated by Michoel Dobry
There is a well-known story about the students of the Baal
Shem Tov who knew of their teacher’s love for light and its increase, but
couldn’t get any candles. Once, the Baal Shem Tov came in and noticed that there
was a lack of candles on a particular black, cold, and frozen night. He said, "Ohr
(light) is gematria for raz (secret). One who knows the secret
that light can illuminate in everything…" and he scolded the students for not
bringing more candles. The students apologized and said that they weren’t able
to find any candles. The Baal Shem Tov commanded them to bring down the icicles
from the roof and to light them. Thus, they lit the candles of ice which shone
with a brilliant light.
The month of Teives, which we enter during the culmination of
the light-filled days of Chanuka, marks the depth of the winter, its cold, and
its darkness, a period during which the days are the shortest and the nights are
the longest. Even at daytime when the sunlight tries to break through the
darkness, the skies are covered with thick clouds that blacken the revealed
Also from a spiritual vantage point, this is a cold and dark
month. Not only does it have no joyful holiday or festival, it does have the
Fast of the Tenth of Teives (which will soon turn into a day of actual joy and
celebration), the start of the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash
and the subsequent exile. As the Rebbe MH"M explains in numerous sichos,
this fast is more stringent than all others. According to the Abudraham,
if the Tenth of Teives were to fall out on Shabbos, the fast would still be
kept, as is written [regarding Yom Kippur, the Tenth of Tishrei], "on that same
day." Furthermore, as stated in halacha, in those years when the fast
comes out on Erev Shabbos, the fast is kept in full even after the start of
Shabbos itself-something that we don’t find with any other fast.
Specifically during this time, the depths of the cold and
darkness, when no point of revealed light appears and we find ourselves as far
as possible from light and warmth, our holidays break through them. This is
especially true in the "seventh generation those auspicious days which have been
revealed to us in recent years, in an aspect of "candles of ice," which also
burn from the strength of the "essence" that illuminates in this generation, the
last generation of the Exile and the first of the Geula.
Immediately upon entering the month of Teives, we find
ourselves in the holiday of Chanuka. More specifically we have reached its
conclusion, the special day of "Zos Chanuka," which stands out in
addition to all other matters pertaining to Chanuka, as explained in the
teachings of our Rebbeim, especially in relation to us.
It is known that the Rebbe shlita was precise on many
occasions to point out that we say first "our G-d" and only afterwards say "the
G-d of our fathers." So too, we see that matters pertaining especially to us
affect us first, as they stem specifically from us and afterwards, matters that
pertain primarily to "our fathers."
This was the day that the Rebbe shlita held the
Seudas Hodaa following his recovery on Shmini Atzeres, 5738. The Rebbe
distributed "Kos Shel Bracha" to everyone (apparently in place of the "Kos
Shel Bracha" previously scheduled for Simchas Torah). This means that only
when his condition reached the point of "completely back to normal" could a
celebration in thanks to the Almighty be made, as brought in halacha.
We have always seen the special appreciation the Rebbe
shlita gave to this day, when he emphasized in his holy sichos the
fact that then eight candles burn with full force. The Rebbe called upon
everyone to fulfill all matters pertaining to Chanuka, specifically the Chanuka
Campaign, in the strongest possible fashion. Also, in its simpler meaning, the
Chanuka candles in the Rebbe’s place burned by day and by night (every day of
the holiday). More specifically, they burned well into the night of Motzaei
Zos Chanuka, when the Rebbe looked at them with that special Chanuka
"Moshiach look," a personal look which defies explanation and description.
I remember well the sicha the Rebbe gave during that
Seudas Hodaa of Zos Chanuka, 5738. We heard it via telephone
hook-up during our shlichus in Migdal HaEmek (I remember this one
especially because the misnagdim that were there then couldn’t stand the
very idea, and made fun of it). The Rebbe spoke then about the great quality of
Motzaei Zos Chanuka, as explained in Likkutei Torah, that the more
lofty and sublime a matter is, the less definable is the obligation to fulfill
it. The mitzva of wine libations is an explicit commandment of the Torah.
The mitzva of water libations, however, is only by Rabbinic decree.
Nevertheless, the latter (Simchas Beis HaShoeiva) produces a far greater
aura of simcha than does the Scripturally commanded Nisuch HaYayin.
Similarly, even though the Hakafos of Simchas Torah are not even
by Rabbinic decree, rather Jewish custom only, nevertheless, the simcha
they produce is even greater. We understand from this, the Rebbe shlita
said then, how great is the simcha of Motzaei Zos Chanuka, that
even Jewish custom does not require such an expression of joy. However, there
exists here a matter so high and exalted that it is impossible to define
adequately, even in the realm of Jewish custom.
We can bring as well the commonly known principle among
chassidim that the days of Chanuka correspond to the days of Sukkos. As
explained in chassidus, this is the reason why Beis Shammai likens this
to the bulls brought as sacrifices during Sukkos which decrease from day to day.
During Sukkos, we have the "chassidishe ushpizin," and chassidim
say that they appear also during Chanuka. If so, we find that Zos Chanuka
corresponds to Shmini Atzeres, the day of the Rebbe Rayatz, and Motzaei Zos
Chanuka is the day of the Rebbe MH"M. As the Rebbe himself explains with
regard to the day of Simchas Torah, it is actually a weekday which Jews turned
into a holiday, Yom Tov Sheini for those outside of Eretz Yisroel. This
perhaps sheds some light on the special appreciation we have seen the Rebbe
shlita give in relation to this day.
It can perhaps also be explained in relation to the aspect of
S’firas HaMalchus, which pertains specifically to the Rebbe MH"M, as is
known. Malchus represents the conclusion, when all the Divine attributes
and levels are apparently completed and all the shining has been finished. Then
comes S’firas HaMalchus, the final attribute, which acts to bring an even
greater continuation of holiness that will not stop there. Instead, it will
descend more and more to the furthest and lowest point attainable. The purpose
of S’firas HaMalchus is to reach specifically such a point that from the
depths and darkness will be disseminated the call of "Everything is G-dliness
and G-dliness is everything."
This comes to teach us that specifically when it appears that
everything has been completed already, only then does the main point and
emphasis begin. It is precisely here where the "essence" is revealed from behind
all its boundaries and limitations to become infinite in all aspects. And this
occurs where one is "absolutely positive" that He is nowhere to be found,
concealed in every way imaginable. Yet, we find "and the night will shine as
day" - not just that there will be light also at night, but "that the darkness
itself will shine."
Therefore, specifically when the glowing days of Chanuka come
to an end and we enter the dark and cold month of Teives, then the main purpose
of the "seventh generation" is expressed - to kindle even "candles of ice,"
"that the darkness itself will shine."
We can perhaps explain here another interesting phenomenon
that we have seen from the Rebbe shlita in recent years (which has been
written about before in this column). When the Rebbe would encourage singing
amongst the chassidim, the main emphasis would be on its concluding
section, repeated over and over again, stronger and faster. In other words, the
song truly began to "break through to the heavens" when it was about to finish.
Then, the Rebbe shlita began to encourage the singing very strongly and
the entire congregation proceeded to repeat endlessly the final section of the
For example, as seen when they sang the niggun of HaAderes
v’HaEmuna during davening and farbrengens (both the regular
tune and the "French" version), the Rebbe beat lightly in encouragement on his
shtender. But when they reached the actual conclusion, after "HaT’hilla
v’HaTiferes l’Chai Olamim," then the Rebbe shlita would start
pounding faster and faster on his shtender with tremendous encouragement
and the congregation would burst out with vigorous singing as he repeated the
final section over and over again.
We have seen this also during the singing of Lecha Dodi
on Friday night, when the Rebbe shlita would encourage the niggunim
sung by the chazzan (also when they would start to sing and dance, with
the Rebbe shlita’s encouragement for all to see, in 5753, "Yechi
Adoneinu" to the tune of "Chayelei Adoneinu") at the end of "Lecha
Dodi." During the entire "Lecha Dodi," the Rebbe
customarily beat gently on his shtender in encouragement, and just when
they reach the end, after turning back from saying "Bo’i v’Shalom," then
the Rebbe shlita began pounding the shtender forcefully, and the
congregation would burst out with vigorous singing as he repeated the final
section over and over again.
The same thing happened during Chanuka. The main singing and
dancing during "HaNeiros Halalu" is at the end, when everyone repeats
over and over the words "Al Nisecha" at the conclusion of the niggun.
Also with the niggun "Shuva Hashem Ad Masai,"
when they reach the final melody section, then the Rebbe starts his strong
encouragement and everyone repeats the end over and over. (In general, to my
recollection, when we saw the Rebbe physically and sang this song before him,
they almost never went back to the section of "U’neranena v’nismecha,"
rather they constantly repeated the last section or alternatively, after a few
rounds, started from the very beginning of "Shuva."
Also, as we all remember, with the niggun "HaRebbe
shlita MH"M Ohavim Ot’cha Kulam," the main encouragement and excitement came
(to the point of leaping, literally) at the end, at "nisgaber al ha’ola-a-a-a-m,"
As mentioned, perhaps all this is connected to the unique
point regarding "S’firas HaMalchus," which is the last of all the attributes.
When it appears as if the matter is finished, S’firas HaMalchus comes and
acts with the power of its essence to reveal, renew, and strengthen it many
times over from what it was before - to the point that the darkness and
concealment will itself shine.
As explained at length in the Rebbe Rashab’s discourse from
5659 (note there, particularly the Rebbe MH"M’s maamarim based upon it,
e.g., those coinciding with Parshas VaYigash [around Zos Chanuka and Hei
Teives]), it is specifically the "mekabel" that influences the most
prevalent concerns in the "mashpia." Therefore, S’firas HaMalchus, which
is in "the realm of the mekabel," brings into expression the true
foundation of the mekabel via G-d’s holy essence, higher than all things
revealed. This is so because specifically when all "revelations" have been
completed, then the "essence" gets to work at a much higher level.
Thus, also our generation, the seventh generation,
corresponds to S’firas HaMalchus. In this generation, lower than all those that
preceded it, when all the "revelations" have supposedly been completed, it is
the one that brings the Sh’china down further and to the true and
complete revelation. All this is possible because the source of S’firas
HaMalchus is rooted in the highest levels, reaching G-d’s very essence -
higher than all "revelations."
S’firas HaMalchus even reaches the main objective of it
all - the coming of Moshiach, the essence of his revelation as Melech
HaMoshiach, even before he takes action in this world. The call and declaration
of "Yechi Adoni HaMelech Dovid L’olam," which represents the revelation
of the essential existence of Moshiach, occurred even before "the light of
Moshiach" and its revelation in the world. After this and as a result of it, the
revelation comes for all to see through his activities, as explained at length
in D’var Malchus, Parshas Toldos - this point is specifically found in
the end of the Haftora of Parshas Chayei Sara.
As the Rebbe shlita explained on many occasions, apart
from the simple reason explaining the connection between the Haftora and
the Exile and subsequent Redemption, there is the fact that the saying of the
Haftora was established by the Sages due to the deepening of the Exile and
the cruel edicts of those who ruled over Eretz Yisroel at the time. When the
reading of the Torah was banned, the Sages established the reading of the
Haftora, which resembles the theme in the weekly portion. This reading was,
as it were, instead of the Torah reading in those days, so that the theme of the
parsha will remain, despite the rulings that prevailed in the Exile.
Therefore, we find that the Haftora has a special connection to the
nullification of the Exile and the rapid advance towards the Redemption.
In addition, on this basis, there is the special relation
between Moshiach and the Haftora. Moshiach is connected to S’firas
HaMalchus and the objective to bring the essence of the Revelation to the
place where all has been revealed, as mentioned before. Therefore, specifically
through the Haftora, coming after the Torah reading has already been completed,
with the Maftir not counted as part of the other aliyos, there is
an expression of the essence higher than all other revelations specifically
where everything that can be revealed has seemingly been revealed.
From Motzaei Zos Chanuka, when we enter a cold and
dark month, when everything possible has been revealed, and then we kindle the
"candles of ice," we come immediately thereafter to the festive day of Hei
Teives - "Didan Natzach" - the day of the "pidyon shvuyim" of the
s’farim of our Rebbeim.
"And the year after, he established them." The Rebbe himself
established this day the following year on Hei Teives, 5748, to be an auspicious
day for a reawakening and acceptance of good resolutions in general, and
regarding the s’farim in particular.
On the first Shabbos after the court decision, Shabbos
Parshas VaYigash 5747 (Hei Teives that year came out on a Tuesday), the Rebbe
said (the clear words of this sicha - black on white - were printed and
edited ["and sealed with the king’s signet ring"]) that from now on, starting
from that Tuesday (a double portion of good), a new era has begun with
one outstanding matter of concern: "All stand and prepare yourselves for the
building of the third Beis HaMikdash in the final and complete
As we know, the Rebbe shlita did not look at the
battle over the s’farim as a regular court case, but much more than that.
As the Rebbe said especially at length during a sicha on Zos Chanuka,
5746, this case was the equivalent of "Petersburg," as the importance of the
case was established from Above. This was a judgment on the unique path that the
Rebbe shlita paved in the seventh generation - yet, a path based and
founded upon all the previous generations. Nevertheless, it progressed in giant
steps toward the main purpose and objective: to draw down the Sh’china not just
from one heaven to the next, but from Heaven to earth, to fill the entire world
with G-dliness, even this most lowly and external world, more distant than any
other. Even from the Internet and the VCR, from Times Square and the Central Bus
Station, from Thailand, Tokyo, and New Zealand, from all the signs and stickers
and various "gimmicks," Yiddishkeit and chassidus will spread
forth in abundance. This is the business of Melech HaMoshiach, who will
bring the Redemption.
During the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment in Petersburg, the
charge arose in the Heavenly court as to whether the world was ready for the
revelation of chassidus. In our generation, the question has been: is the
world ready for the teachings and approach of the Rebbe MH"M? At the time of the
court battle over the s’farim, there were those who were even brazen
enough to suggest that today’s Lubavitch is, as it were, not the original
Lubavitch ("Lubavitch iz nisht ahktiv" - "Lubavitch is no longer
And the Rebbe’s response? Despite the fact that the whole
world knows that such a charge is utterly baseless, when, baruch Hashem,
it sees the great and wondrous activities of Lubavitch throughout the globe -
nevertheless, when such a claim is brought before us, we must learn something
from it. What do we learn? Now there must be a degree of activism in Lubavitch’s
activities to the point that what we have done up until now will seem as if we
After Petersburg, the Alter Rebbe began taking Chabad
chassidic teachings on a much wider and deeper path, far more than had been
done previously. So too after Hei Teives, the Rebbe shlita came with his
declaration that we are now in a new era, when all that remains is to prepare
The matter was immediately clarified and emphasized further
to the point where the Rebbe said (in the lengthy unedited portion of the
sicha) that his intention is not, ch’v, to put a halt to anything. On
the contrary, everything must continue with greater intensity and "shturem."
However, now the emphasis is that everything must be filled by one central point
- Moshiach and Geula.
The Rebbe said further (in the same sicha) that if
they claim that this is just " vilde reid" (wild talk), there is no need
to be concerned because the truth is based upon the Torah of Truth. This truth
must be stated loudly and clearly without consideration of "what will the world
say?" This is particularly true today when the world is ready. Thus, when the
message is given over in a adamant yet gentle manner, it is accepted and causes
much positive results.
Furthermore, the Rebbe continues, when there are those who
claim that "there were eulogies and there was an embalming," we must state
plainly that the actual reality is in accordance with the Torah of Truth, and
thus, there is no need to be concerned about what people will say. The message
simply must be conveyed clearly to a world ready to hear it and accept it, if it
is given over in the path of Torah.
This also applies with regard to Eretz Yisroel. The true
reality must be explained in accordance with Toras Emes. Even the
Gentiles believe this, after all, it’s written in the "Bible." The world is
ready to accept it.
This is what the Rebbe said at the beginning of the period
that he termed "a new time and a new era." The words have not changed one iota,
but have come to pass slowly in orderly stages. Back then, a few months after
Hei Teives, also in orderly stages, we heard clear unequivocal declarations from
the Rebbe, which became even clearer as time progressed. He began saying that
the last buttons have already been polished despite the fact that until then we
had always heard that the last buttons still need to be polished.
[Note: It’s a pity that we have to keep correcting over and
over again (even in recent issues of Beis Moshiach) the mistaken
statement that the Rebbe said that the buttons have already been polished in
5750. If you check the Rebbe’s sichos, you will find that this was said
back in 5747 (although afterwards the Rebbe used the expression "we need to
polish the last buttons"). It was also said in 5748, both before and especially
after Chaf-Beis Shvat (not just in the famous Beis Nissan sicha,
as has been written.)
Taking a glance, for example, at the sicha from
Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha 5748 (unedited, Toras Menachem, Vol. 3, p.
432): "Not only this, but even the ‘polishing of the buttons’ has been
finished…" Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara (edited, ibid., p. 481): "to the point
that even the ‘polishing of the buttons’ has already been finished…" Shabbos
Parshas VaYeitzei (edited, ibid., p. 543): "In the language of my saintly
father-in-law, the Rebbe, leader of our generation - that there is nothing left
except ‘to polish the buttons’ and after several decades of disseminating the
wellsprings in the shlichus of the leader of the generation have passed,
they have already finished ‘the polishing of the buttons’ - so with absolute
certainty, nothing remains except the last act of "All of you stand ready and
prepare yourselves" to greet our righteous Moshiach, etc.]
As time progressed, the Rebbe began filling every
farbrengen and every other opportunity with Moshiach and Geula, to
the point that the style of the sichos changed completely.
The subject soon began moving into the high gear, with all
the implications connected to it, especially after the passing of the Rebbetzin,
nishmasa Eden, on 22 Shvat 5748. Also this date the Rebbe noted as the
beginning of a new era (sicha from 22 Shvat 5752).
Furthermore, starting from Yud Shvat 5750, marking forty
years of his leadership, the Rebbe again noted the beginning of a new era, for
now "Hashem has given you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear."
All this leading to the unique style and demands of the
famous 28 Nissan 5751 sicha of "Do everything you can" and everything
that was added in the period that followed, as written, explained, and
publicized in D’var Malchus from the sichos of 5751-5752. Then,
the resolute clarification made at the Shluchim Convention 5752 where the Rebbe
established that "the only thing that remains in the work of shlichus is
to greet our righteous Moshiach in actual deed."
Finally, 5753-5754, and the public acceptance before the eyes
of the whole world, acceptance along with encouragement with all his strength
and total self-sacrifice, as is known and publicized, of the declaration of "Yechi
Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam va’ed!"
All of this was expressed to the fullest specifically when it
appeared that this time all the revelations had been totally finished. After
Gimmel Tammuz, however, the irresistible and indestructible essence, which is
higher than all the revelations, is being revealed. It exists with full force
and spirit, which is especially important when you have to light "candles of
ice." For example, when the cry of "Yechi" bursts out from every corner
and it appears, ch’v, out of place, such as the fact that the Rebbe is
chai v’kayam. Literally and physically, shlita - breaking forth in
every language and form, when it appears from a revealed standpoint that there
is nothing to talk about. But it is specifically this conduct that brings the
revelation of the essence in full, also among all other revelations, when we
will see the Rebbe shlita, the King in all his glory, bringing all of us
the true and complete Redemption speedily before our very eyes, "And the world
will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as water covers the sea."
Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam