It is customary to connect everything with the Previous Rebbe. This is particularly true in the present days which mark the days preceding his wedding (13 Elul). They are related to the previous Shabbos which marked his "oifruf," when he was called up to the Torah in preparation for that event. In a simple sense, an oifruf marks an ascent. Even those who were on a high plane beforehand are elevated to a more uplifted rung. This is possible because there is an unlimited potential for elevation.
In particular, this is true because one is called to the Torah and receives an aliyah (which means "ascent"), and recites a blessing.1 Thus although the Previous Rebbe's level was elevated even before his oifruf, for he was the only son of the Rebbe Rashab,2 because of the oifruf, he ascended to a higher level.
The positive qualities of the Previous Rebbe are reflected in his name. Yosef, his first name, implies an increase that knows no bounds. Furthermore, Yosef is connected with the quality of transformation as reflected in Rachel's prayer, "May G-d add to me another son," which as interpreted by Chassidus, alludes to the potential which Yosef has to transform someone who is "another," estranged from his Jewish roots, into a "son." This relates to all Jews, for all Jews are Rachel's children as reflected in the prophecy which describes Rachel as "weeping for her children" who have been exiled.
Yosef is also connected with the Redemption as reflected in the prophecy which mentions how G-d will "again stretch forth (yosif in Hebrew) His hand to acquire the remnant of His people." Indeed, the entire Jewish people are called "the flock of Yosef." Why? Because Yosef provided sustenance for the entire Jewish people, Ya'akov, his wives, and all of his descendants. Moreover, Yosef served as the ruler of the land, and therefore, even Ya'akov showed him honor in respect for his authority.
Furthermore, Yosef is referred to as Yosef HaTzaddik ("Yosef, the Righteous") an appellation not applied to any of Ya'akov's other children. Although they were all righteous, only Yosef is referred to in this manner.
These qualities are conveyed to all those who are called by this name and thus to the Previous Rebbe. Although the name Yosef (Yitzchak) was used in the family of the Rebbeim and it is common to give names after one's relatives, it can be understood as referring to Yosef HaTzaddik as well. For we see that the Rebbeim did not only name children after family members. Indeed, the Rebbe Maharash was named Shmuel after a person who had no connection to the family of the Rebbeim at all.
Although the Previous Rebbe had two names, Yosef and Yitzchak, this does not imply that he does not share a connection to the qualities related to Yosef, but rather that in addition to the qualities connected with Yosef, he also possesses the qualities associated with Yitzchak. Furthermore, there is a connection between these two positive qualities.
The name Yitzchok was given in connection with Sarah's exclamation, "G-d has granted me joy." Our Sages stated, "It is forbidden for a person to experience complete joy in this world, because 'then (in the Era of the Redemption) our mouths will be filled with laughter.' " Nevertheless, since the Previous Rebbe stated L'Alter l'Teshuvah, l'Alter l'Geulah ("Immediately to Teshuvah, immediately to Redemption") and declared that Mashiach's coming is an imminent reality, there is the possibility for complete joy at present.
Indeed, the Previous Rebbe was the Mashiach of our generation and revealed himself in a complete manner. And therefore, he demanded that his Chassidim's conduct be characterized by joy at all times. Although he himself suffered imprisonment and was under a death sentence (which was later commuted to exile), he continued to emphasize the importance of happiness. And he conveyed that quality to all of the members of his generation, and in particular, to the men, women, and children, in shul here today. From them, this quality can be spread to all the members of the generation.
Since "the Nasi is the entire generation," the qualities possessed by the Previous Rebbe are drawn down to all the members of the generation. Thus, we have the potential to demand that G-d reveal, in a generous manner, all the positive qualities associated with both these names.
Furthermore, a Nasi, is also identified with kingship and a king is, as the Rambam writes, "the heart of the entire Jewish people," and leads them in all their concerns. The existence of the entire nation is dependent on him, including every aspect of their being. Therefore, he takes responsibility for their financial concerns as well. Surely, we see this approach in the conduct of the Previous Rebbe as reflected in the thirty years of his Nesi'us.
The above is particularly true since ours is the generation of the Redemption, when G-d will "again stretch forth His hand... to the remnant of His people... in the islands of the sea." This refers to America, the land in which we are located at present, the lower half of the world, and Australia, "the lower half" within "the lower half of the world." Furthermore, in our generation the Jews manifest a host of positive virtues, including qualities associated with each of the letters of the Alef-Beis.
In reflection of these positive virtues, each Jew recites the prayer of the High Priest on Yom Kippur in which all the blessings connected with the year are mentioned in the order of the Alef-Beis. [The Rebbe Shlita proceeded to mention each of these blessings beginning with "a year of light, a year of blessing" until "a year of prosperity."] There will be abundant prosperity, every person having all his needs fulfilled. Although there are those who might argue that some of the material benefits enjoyed by people today are luxuries, this is not the case. A Jew is entitled to live in prosperity, and indeed, to enjoy an unbounded degree of prosperity. And with a healthy body, he will have a healthy soul and fuse the two into a single unified entity.
There is also a connection between the above and this week's Torah reading, Parshas Ki Seitzei. This parshah begins "Should you go out to war." This emphasizes that war involves "going out," departing from a Jew's natural state. This applies to all wars, even a war which is a mitzvah and is carried out in a miraculous nature, as happened in regard to the conquest of Eretz Yisrael when the walls of Jericho were toppled by shofar blasts.
(At that time, the shofar was sounded by the priests. They are entrusted with responsibilities which should be shouldered by the entire people, but because of the need for precise and careful service, are given over to the priests.
The connection between the priests and the entire nation is also reflected by the Priestly Blessings which they convey upon the entire people. And indeed, the Jews are "a nation of priests," i.e., each one has a priestly quality as reflected in the fact that each Jew recites the Priestly Blessing every day.
One might ask: Why was this passage chosen to be recited each day after the blessings over Torah study? And the answer is that these blessings are of essential importance.)
In particular, there is a unique connection to the portion of this parshah associated with the present day, the third aliyah of the Torah reading. Towards its conclusion, this portion (23:6) states: "And G-d, your L-rd, did not desire to listen to Bilaam, and G-d, your L-rd transformed the curse into a blessing, because G-d, your L-rd, loves you."
Although negative statements about the Jews were being made by a prophet, one whose vision is lauded by the Torah, G-d did not begin to heed his words. Why? Because He "loves you."
May these words be fulfilled in a most literal sense, may G-d not listen to any unfavorable statements that are made against the Jewish people. And since G-d will not listen to them, they will have no power to cause harm to another Jew.
And may we immediately proceed "on the clouds of heaven" to Eretz Yisrael, and directly to the Holy of Holies. This is particularly relevant in the present year, a year when "I will show you wonders." And we have seen wonders in the battles between the gentiles. And in regard to all matters, G-d tells the Jews not to be concerned, He is busy preparing their redemption.
May we follow the counsel "A good-hearted person is always celebrating" and seek to involve ourselves with the numerous opportunities for celebration that exist, confident that there is no need for concern about all material affairs of this world. And when a Jew -- for reasons desired by G-d -- must "go out to war," i.e., leave his natural state, he must realize that he is, as the opening phrase of the Torah reading states, al oyvechoh, lit. "above your enemies." A Jew is above them totally, and therefore need not take up arms, and he stands above all the matters which run contrary to a Jewish way of life.
And it is because he must contend with such factors, i.e., there are things which take him away from the study of P'nimiyus HaTorah, that a Jew hates exile. And therefore, he involves himself with such matters for only a minimal amount of time and returns to his true state, above all connection to war.
And through our efforts in observing the mitzvos, we will receive "the reward of a mitzvah [which] is a mitzvah," i.e., the opportunity to perform mitzvos in the Era of the Redemption. And then we will bring sacrifices in the Beis HaMikdash and in this manner elevate all the different elements of existence in this world.
It is a shame to spend further time on such matters for we must prepare to greet Mashiach through studying P'nimiyus HaTorah in a concentrated manner and in that way establishing a wondrous unity with G-d's thought. And by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah, we will hasten the coming of the Redemption. May it take place in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) Although he was merely the viceroy, Yosef had a unique amount of power as the Torah relates, "Without you, no man will raise his hand or foot in the land of Egypt." Furthermore, he even had a certain power over Pharaoh as Rashi (Bereishis 50:5) explains in regard to the oath that he was required to take.
- (Back to text) And therefore, our Sages declare, "One who says Reuven [actually] sinned is making in error."
- (Back to text) This is reflected in the law stating that whenever a person has two names, a legal document which mentions them must have them written on the same line.
Similarly, whenever a person has two names and another person is being named after them, he should be called by both these names. If, however, a very close family member also has one of these names, then it is possible to give the person only one of names, because in such an instance, there is no alternative.
- (Back to text) Even afterwards, when he returned to Petersburg, then the capital of Russia, and was able to recite the blessing Hagomel, expressing thanks for his redemption, danger continued to surround him.
- (Back to text) The number thirty is significant, for as Pirkei Avos states, "Kingship is acquired through thirty attributes."
- (Back to text) And through sending shluchim to Australia, it is as if the Previous Rebbe went there himself, for "a person's shliach ('agent') is considered as an extension of him." And through those shluchim, Torah and Chassidus was spread in that Continent.
- (Back to text) The Hebrew for war milchamah (äÄçîÄ) shares the same root is the Hebrew for bread lechem (ìçî). The struggle to earn one's livelihood and the necessity of making overseas journeys (after which the blessing Hagomel must be recited, thus indicating the danger involved) is also outside the natural state of a Jew.
- (Back to text) Furthermore, as the Baal HaTurim writes, each Jew has a dimension that relates to the High Priesthood. In this context, we can understand why it has been emphasized frequently in the last addresses that, in the Era of the Redemption, all the Jews will meet together in the Holy of Holies. Since every Jew has a point in his soul that shares the qualities of the High Priest, every Jew has a place in the Holy of Holies.
According to one of the opinions mentioned by our Sages (see sichos Shabbos Parshas Acharei, 5751), a High Priest is allowed to enter the Holy of Holies at all times. There is merely one restriction, that he bring the sacrifices required in Parshas Acharei. And thus this also will be possible for every Jew, because of the point in his soul that relates to the High Priesthood.
- (Back to text) Significantly, in the maamarim on this portion in Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe emphasizes that the qualities possessed by the four letters of G-d's Name are mirrored in the soul of every Jew. The emphasis in this maamar, however, is -- in contrast to the maamarim on Parshas Re'eh -- fundamentally on the dimension within our souls which relates to the kotz ("tip") of the letter yud, i.e., the highest spiritual level we possess.