The Power of Simple P’sukim
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg, Mashpia, Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim – Lubavitch, Kfar Chabad

We’ll start with a few excerpts of a letter from the Rebbe Rayatz, nishmaso Eden, on the main point of Mattan Torah - not only the in-depth understanding that comes from studying Torah, but more specifically, the chassidishe feeling that comes from acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven and simple fear of G-d, which are the keys that open all the doors of the Divine palace.

This is what the Rebbe Rayatz writes in his Igros Kodesh (Vol. 6, from p. 269, translated in part from the original Yiddish):

"Among the chassidim who came for the last days of the holidays of Sukkos was Reb Shlomo, the melamed from Nevel, who was called Shlomo der Geller ("the blonde," due to the color of his beard), along with four others who all came by foot.

"Reb Shlomo was accustomed to say: ‘In my Lubavitch, horses will have no share. When we will come to the World of Truth, and the angel Michoel will be the advocate, he will mention that I was in Lubavitch with the Rebbeim. The horses with their buchtes (large wagons), upon which people would travel to Lubavitch, will start pressing forward to demand their wages, as G-d deprives not even the smallest creature of its due. However, in my Lubavitch, the horses and the buchtes will take no share - I, myself, am the horse and its rider.’

"In those days, the custom was to daven on Simchas Torah at approximately eight o’clock, finish davening at around eleven, and then make Kiddush. After Kiddush, my father, the Rebbe, and my uncle would go to visit Reb Shilem nishmaso Eden, the son-in-law of my grandfather’s uncle, Reb Boruch Shalom, of blessed memory. They walked with great joy, singing and dancing without paying attention to the muddy streets.

"That year, they also went with the customary dancing, and the Chassid Reb Shlomo the Melamed, amazed everyone with his dancing. At one point he grabbed one of the guests and said, ‘Chaikel Paliser! Show them what you can do.’ Instantly, Chaikel leaped onto the shoulders of Reb Shlomo the Melamed and danced as if he were on the floor. Reb Shlomo also danced and jumped, and the wondrous sight overjoyed all those watching.

"When they arrived at the home of Reb Shilem and sat by the table, Reb Shlomo made a path through those standing, brought Chaikel Paliser to my father and said, ‘Chaikel Paliser is the simplest of the simple. He can’t learn at all, he struggles with the "Hebrew" part of the davening, he doesn’t know the meaning of the words in chassidus, but he davens under the stove with more geshmak (sweetness) than at the shining chassidishe eastern wall. He has feeling. He cries when one is supposed to cry and he laughs when one is supposed to laugh. Through their guidance, the Paliser chassidim awaken the hidden strengths, yet the revealed strengths of understanding and perception remain blocked.’

"In the seifer Chut HaShani - my father, the Rebbe, would say - it is written, ‘time will achieve what intelligence will not.’ Whoever exerts himself in the study of chassidus will attain clear knowledge of the powers of the soul, the qualities of one power over another, and what lacks in one power as compared to another, through his effort. He will know the root of the soul’s powers and the way to draw them downward, and then also the general concept and manner of the soul’s movement, as this understanding gives a general idea in the spiritual realm - he says - of what feeling (gefil) can do and what intelligence can not.

"My father continues in the sicha that we say ‘feeling will achieve what intelligence will not’ - not ‘what the intellect will not.’ For while the intellect and intelligence are both essentially one entity: wisdom, nevertheless, they are separated from each other. The word ‘intellect’ describes the intellectual contrivance or understanding which is revealed as a particular limited idea, whereas ‘intelligence’ represents the intellectual contrivance and essential understanding as it exists in its source, the power of the intellectual. ‘Intellect will achieve what intelligence will not’ means not only that the ‘intellect’ will not because the feeling is higher than the intellect, but also that the ‘intelligence’ will not. Feeling is higher than intelligence, which is the source of all revealed intellect. For this reason, it is easier to come from feeling to intelligence, as opposed to from intelligence to feeling.

"So it is with Shlomo - and my father turned to Shlomo the Melamed upon saying this - one ‘veint zich’ (feels the need to cry) when there is a need to cry, and ‘freilecht zich’ (one feels the need to be happy) when there is a need to be happy, this is an action of feeling. The feeling causes one to cry when there is a need to cry and to laugh when there is a need to laugh.

"There are a number of reasons why the whole concept of feeling is more prevalent among simple chassidim than among intellectuals or even among ba’alei avoda - ‘even… ba’alei avoda,’ because ba’alei avoda are on a higher plane than intellectuals.

"According to the well-known principle, ‘Every servant intellectualizes, but not every intellectual serves,’ the gap between an intellectual and a servant is far greater than that between a fool and an intellectual. However, with regard to feeling, simple chassidim - with their simple fear of G-d and their genuine fulfillment of mitzvos - are even higher than ba’alei avoda.

"Acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven and genuine fear of G-d are the keys that open all the doors of the Divine palace.

"Yidden, you must know that the World Above bears a similarity to the World Below: the order and conduct of human nature in the Lower World is in accordance with G-d’s Will. It is embedded in human nature, and the order and conduct of the World Above is similar to the World Below.

"In the Lower World, we see that there are places anyone can enter, and other places where only those suitable are allowed. There are still other places no one can enter: they only open the doors and let people peek inside. There are even places where they don’t even allow people to stand by the door and look inside; the doors remain locked.

"The World Above bears similarity to the World Below. In the celestial chambers, only those deemed fitting are permitted to enter. Those who are not considered fitting - even though they are Torah scholars of the highest and most Divine intellect - nevertheless cannot enter the celestial chambers. They may look inside when the doors are opened, but when the doors are locked they are not opened especially for them. Only acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven and genuine fear of G-d will open all the doors in the Divine palace.

"Grandfather [a reference to the Tzemach Tzedek] said once about Yisroel Moshe Podobranker, one of the more prominent chassidim, that his saying of p’sukim with his true yiras Shamayim has greater effect than someone else learning the deepest and most intellectual explanations of the Torah.

"I met Yisroel Moshe Podobranker when he was already very old, during the summer of 5631. He lived his entire life on a settlement near Podobranke. He knew little Torah, but he was a pious G-d-fearing Jew who showed integrity in his actions.

"There is a greater revelation of the soul in one who shows integrity in his actions. Every Jew possesses the aspect of the revelation of the soul, which derives from sudden feelings of repentance without any preparation. However, one who shows integrity in his actions displays this aspect of revelation far more frequently."

(Sicha, Simchas Torah night, 5654)

We can learn from the aforementioned that acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven and genuine fear of G-d are the keys that open all the doors of the celestial chambers. The letters of the p’sukim, which are the letters of the Torah, possess the aspects of a) purification of the soul’s radiance from material "filth"; b) eliciting the revelation of the soul’s essence via the radiance of the soul that enlivens the body.

At first glance, in-depth study and elucidation of the Torah should be the specific characteristics of the holiday of Mattan Torah. However, we see that Torah innovations are left primarily for the kinus Torah which takes place on Isru Chag or some other time before Yud-Beis Sivan. (It is important to note here the instruction of the Rebbe to organize kinusei Torah wherever possible in the days following Shavuos.) Furthermore, Shavuos night is spent staying up all night and reading the p’sukim of Tikkun Leil Shavuos, which seemingly completely contradicts understanding and comprehension. We jump from parsha to parsha, from subject to subject, without any logical connection between them. Even if someone tries with all his might to understand something, he finds himself almost incapable of understanding anything. Reading the Tikkun is similar to reading P’sukei HaSheimos - dry letters without any understanding.

Yet chassidus explains that specifically this is the correct preparation for accepting the Torah. We must know that the entire Torah is not just what we understand with our limited intellect, but rather, the literal word of G-d - "Torah and G-d are One."

"Anochi" stands for "Ana Nafshi k’savis Yahavis." G-d wrote the Torah and brought his whole essence into it. When we read and learn the Torah, it represents "you" - the Jewish People - taking "Me," Hashem.

However, we also have the tremendous merit and obligation to learn, understand, and accept the vitality and sweetness of learning Torah. But first and foremost, we must remember and emphasize that everything we understand is only in order to internalize the matter, to make it part of our inner nature. But the essence of Torah is far higher than any understanding or feeling. In its essence, we find G-d Himself in all His glory with His entire essence.

Thus, when we talk about accepting the main aspect and essence of the Torah, the tool to accept it is the non-emphasis of my existence, my understanding, and my feelings. Rather, Torah acceptance is achieved specifically through nullification of one’s own existence, with the emphasis that this is G-d’s Torah, which is beyond grasp and understanding, as it says, "No thought can grasp You at all." Therefore, specifically reading the letters of Torah without understanding or comprehending them, achieves this.

(Among the misnagdim of long ago, who specifically emphasized understanding and comprehension of Torah, there were those who would not "waste time, G-d forbid" by "saying Tikkun," but rather, learned Gemara on Shavuos night. (They even had the parable from the Maggid of Dubno about the "display window" which was considered unimportant because it was empty of merchandise. But even the Vilna Gaon would say Tikkun, in accordance with Jewish custom established by the Zohar, and certainly such a beautiful parable could not possibly refute halacha and Jewish custom.)

For this very reason, the Rebbe urged people to come to shul for the reading of the Aseres HaDibros, primarily little children, even those still in the cradle and who can’t understand anything. Yet, the small child receives the Torah in the same fashion as the great scholar, listening from the reader equally. This emphasizes again that the main aspect of the Torah is not the intellect, the understanding, or the "existence," but rather, specifically the G-dliness within Torah, which is received through self-nullification.

This is the reason for the custom of Lubavitch that on Shavuos (also the seventh day of Pesach and Simchas Torah), we go out on "tahalucha" as great a distance as possible. The Rebbe emphasized this as "my shlichus" - to make Jews happy with the words of Torah.

Tahalucha was so important to the Rebbe, that when he spoke about the "edict" and the absolute prohibition against taking too much mashkeh, he said that whoever goes against the "edict" should know that this pertains to the klamke (the "doorknob" of chassidus). Thus, he did not want such a person to go out on this shlichus, which he called "my shlichus." Going out for the T’fillin Campaign, the Rebbe said, "I can’t tell such a person ‘no’ - it’s a commandment of the Torah. However, this shlichus - to go out and make Jews happy - is ‘my shlichus’ - and if he can’t follow the ‘edict," then he shouldn’t go!"

Anyone who was in 770 in past years remembers the marvelous scene on Shavuos and the seventh day of Pesach. Like a king reviewing his troops, the Rebbe stood at the entrance of 770 with his kapote whipping in the wind, surveying and following the throngs with his eyes, all passing before him, young and old, weak and strong, without exception, marching forward on tahalucha.

Afterwards, there was the special attention in the form of sichos at farbrengens as a way of expressing a heartfelt thanks and a big yasher ko’ach to those who went out, telling them to say "l’chaim," with a special emphasis given to those who went out to the farthest places.

In later years, the Rebbe also went out at night to greet those returning from tahalucha and join with them in the dancing and joy.

(In 5751, while standing at the entrance of 770, the Rebbe said the sicha about Shavuos, where he calls it an appropriate time to ask for the Redemption. The Rebbe stated further that "ha’kol modim," i.e. all worldly matters testify to the critical need for the Redemption. On Shavuos of 5752, the Rebbe also made his first public appearance since Chaf-Zayin Adar.)

Reb Dovid Raskin is accustomed to say glibly that the whole purpose of the soul’s descent into the body is for the tahalucha. "Standing" is fine for souls when they’re still in the higher worlds, but when they come here, it’s in order to be "on the move…"

Again, the emphasis of the tahalucha is not saying and explaining words of Torah, rather, specifically on going with the feet - and the farther the better. This teaches us that the tool for receiving the Torah is specifically the nullification of one’s existence, to be a "foot" and not a "head," to put one’s own self aside and be devoted to the essential point which stands above all revelations.

It is only possible to attain this essential point through total devotion to the Rebbe, the "faithful shepherd" who draws down the faith essential to every Jewish soul. All of us, all members of this generation, must strive to devote and nullify ourselves completely to him, because this is the only way to devote and nullify ourselves to the King of all Kings, G-d Almighty. "And they will all accept upon themselves the yoke of Your kingdom. May You soon reign over them forever and ever, for kingship is Yours, and You will reign in glory for eternity, as it is written in Your Torah: G-d will reign forever and ever."

Once this point has been internalized through the nullification of one’s existence and the total devotion to fulfilling the will of the Rebbe without "mixing in" my existence at all, der farshtunkener seichel enushi ("the stinking human intellect," as the mashpia Reb Mendel Futerfas, in the name of Reb Chatche Feigin, would say), will not move us from "the pure faith," from the essential point, from the Rebbe and his demand which penetrates and fills all else - "the only thing that remains in the work of shlichus is to greet our righteous Moshiach in actual deed, in order that he may fulfill his shlichus and take all Jews out of exile."

We conclude by wishing one another - man, woman, and child - to "accept the Torah - and greet our righteous Moshiach - with joy and inner feeling," and that this acceptance will bring his complete revelation before our very eyes with the true and complete Redemption, mamash, now!

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam va’ed!


The tool for receiving the torah is specifically the nullification of one’s existence, to be a "foot" and not a "head," and to put one’s own self aside and be devoted to the essential point which stands above all revelations. * "Accepting the torah — and greeting our righteous Moshiach — with joy and inner feeling"

The Tzemach Tzedek said once about Yisroel Moshe Podobranker that his saying of p’sukim with his true yiras Shamayim has greater effect than someone else learning the deepest and most intellectual explanations of the Torah.

Like a king reviewing his troops, the Rebbe stood at the entrance of 770 with his kapote whipping in the wind, surveying and following the throngs with his eyes, all passing before him, young and old, weak and strong, without exception, marching forward on tahalucha.


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