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Yud Tet Kislev (5766)
This week (Monday night & Tuesday) we will celebrate the holiday of Yud Tes (the ninteenth day of the month of) Kislev; the date that two hundred and seven years ago the author of the Holy book 'Tanya' and founder of Chabad Chassidut Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Laidi, often called the "Alter (old in Yiddish) Rebbe", was released from prison after being charged with treason; a crime punishable by death.
Perhaps you might ask yourself how did a Holy man like the Rebbe get himself into such a low predicament.
The Alter Rebbe was not just another leader of another faction of Jews. Rather he was the inventor of Chabad Chassidut; an in-depth systematic way of conception, understanding and internalizing of what G-d, the Jewish people and the Torah are.
Chassidut in its nascent form was originated by a great Jew called the Baal Shem Tov some fifty years earlier to inject new enthusiasm into Judaism. But the Alter Rebbe expanded, explained it and made it personal.
And like the first Jew, Abraham who did pretty much the same thing, he was hated for it.
The Alter Rebbe explained it with a parable.
Once there was a king whose son was dying of a seemingly incurable disease. The king was beside himself with grief but try as he could he found no one with a cure. Until suddenly a wise man appeared and made a bold and awesome announcement.
There was a cure, he said; the King must remove the huge precious diamond from the apex of his crown, grind it, mix the powder in water and try to pour some down his unconscious son's throat. The diamond would be sacrificed, much of the mixture, perhaps all of it, might be spilled, spat out rejected …. but if even one drop was swallowed it would save the boy's life.
The king agreed, removed his crown, had the diadem removed, ground diluted and, just as the wise man said, much was spilled and wasted.
But finally after hours of futile effort one drop entered the boy's body and he recovered.
The King in the parable is G-d. His son is the Jewish people who have lost Jewish consciousness and are spiritually dying in exile. The crown is the Torah and its gem are the Kabalistic mysteries. Crushing it up and mixing it with water is Chassidut and the Rebbe and his Chassidim are those trying to administer the mixture.
The Rebbe believed that he was paving the way for Moshiach; healing and transforming the entire Jewish nation … and there were many Jews, especially ultra-orthodox ones, that violently opposed this idea.
They forged papers and invented stories 'proving' that he was involved in a pact with Turkey to destroy Russia and have himself declared Messiah.
There was literally no chance that the Rebbe be freed. The documents and testimonies were planned to the finest detail and perfectly forged.
But the impossible happened. After fifty three days of imprisonment the Rebbe was miraculously set free with honors. It was a clear sign from Heaven that the teaching of this new wisdom should increase and spread over the entire Jewish world.
But a strange thing happened.
In the monumental letter of thanksgiving that he wrote upon his exoneration to his good friends Rabbis Levi Yitzchak of Braditchev and Boruch of Mezibuz the Alter Rebbe did not mention any of the above. Instead rather he writes of how the non-Jews recognized the great miracle of his exoneration!!
"....G-d has sanctified and magnified His name because even the gentile officials and all the people of the kingdom recognized that 'All this was from G-d it is all miracles in our eyes' (psalms 118:23).
This is very hard to understand. What do the non Jews have to do with it? Why doesn't the letter mention Chassidut or Chassidim? What was the Rebbe trying to say?
The answer lies in the origin of Chassidut.
As we mentioned above, the teaching of Chassidut began some fifty years earlier when a great Jew called the Baal Shem Tov had an 'elevation of his soul' and met with Moshiach (something like how Rabbi Yhoshua ben Levi did over a thousand years earlier in Talmud Sanhedrin pg. 98). He asked the Moshiach when would he come and fill the world with blessing and meaning and Moshiach answered, "I will come when your deep wellsprings of wisdom (Chassidut) are spread out."
In other words the purpose of Chassidut is to bring Moshiach and great blessing called Geula (redemption) that will follow.
This redemption will bring sweeping changes in the nature of mankind and all creation that are impossible to conceive of now. But the prophet Micha gives us an inkling of what it will be like:
"As the days of the exodus from Egypt I will show you miracles" (7:16)
In other words, the redemption by Moshiach that the learning of Chassidut will cause will be something like what happened when the Jews left Egypt … but much much more.
The Torah tells us that one of the main accomplishments of the exodus (perhaps the only reason that G-d sent ten plagues etc. and did not destroy the Egyptians immediately) was that gentiles, for the first time in history, would begin to recognize the Creator. As G-d said to Moses
"And the Egyptians will KNOW that I am G-d." (Exodus 7:5 14:4,18)
Previously, although the Egyptians were spiritual people with the ability to control nature and even duplicate some of Moses' miracles, they could not conceive of a G-d that creates all being constantly … including their gods and even themselves.
As Pharaoh said to Moses at their first confrontation, "I don't know this G-d" (ibid 5:2)
But the redemption from Egypt brought a crack in their wall of ignorance; the gentiles began to sense that there is more to reality than just the physical and the spiritual. Rather there is a Creator who creates them both with a plan for Creation, and the Jews are His representatives to set this plan in motion.
Namely to bring Moshiach.
But when Moshiach arrives and the Geula is complete then this revelation will be complete; all mankind will fully recognize, as the Alter Rebbe put it, 'All this is from G-d it is all miracles in our eyes'
Namely that the entire creation is a constant miracle. Then every human will give thanks to his/her creator who brings him/her into being constantly by doing the Seven Noahide Commandments: G-d's plan for the gentiles as it appears in the Torah He gave through Moses and the Jewish people to the world.
This is what the Alter Rebbe was implying in his letter. That the new flood of Chassidic teachings that would result from his release is all only a MEANS. And the goal is Moshiach; that the entire world, including all mankind, will be permeated with the knowledge and awareness of the Creator.
And even more. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that, in fact, the Alter Rebbe and ALL the Lubavitcher Rebbes after him were the Moshiach of their generation. So the release of the Alter Rebbe was not just the preparation for Moshiach, it was the revelation of the personage of Moshiach to the world.
As the Rebbe also said many times, Moshiach is here. It all depends on us to do all we can to reveal him even one moment sooner. We must all make resolutions to learn Chassidut or at least become acquainted with it, to do more good, speak more good and think more good because each of us is a representative....a Shliach of the Rebbe to improve the entire world. And even one good deed, word or thought can do it.
May we all celebrate this Yud Tes Kislev with Moshiach NOW!!
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