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Self Transformation

Prepared by Rabbi Yehudah Leib Altein

During the later years, a maamar from the previous years would be submitted to the Rebbe before every yoma depagra, and the Rebbe would (usually) edit it and have it published. The last such maamar was the maamar of Ve’atah Tetzaveh, which the Rebbe edited in honor of Purim Katan, 5752 (a short time before he became unwell).

The group of bochurim that was involved in printing and distributing the maamar would send a duch of their activities to the Rebbe. The Rebbe generally did not reply to the duch, with one exception: when they sent in a duch about the above-mentioned maamar, the Rebbe wrote, יהי רצון שיפעל פעולתו.

Four Questions

The maamar is based on a maamar of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Vekibel Hayehudim 5687. In this maamar, the Frierdiker Rebbe quotes the opening possuk of this week’s parshah: “And you shall command the Bnei Yisrael, and they shall bring to you pure olive oil, crushed for the ma’or [source of light], to kindle the lamps continually.”

The Frierdiker Rebbe asks four questions on this possuk:

  1. The Torah usually writes “And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Command the Bnei Yisrael,’ ” making it clear that Moshe was giving over the command of Hashem. Why does this possuk write “And you shall command,” implying that Moshe was the one commanding?
  2. Why were the Yidden told to bring the oil to Moshe, if Aharon was the one lighting the menorah?
  3. Why the unusual terminology “for the ma’or,” and not “to illuminate”?
  4. The next possuk says that the menorah burned “from evening until morning.” Why here does the possuk say “to kindle the lamps tamid”—continually?

The Mesiras Nefesh Advantage         

In short, the answer to these four questions (as explained by the Frierdiker Rebbe) is as follows:

  1. The Hebrew word for command—tetzaveh—can also mean to connect. The possuk can thus be translated as, “And you shall connect,” i.e., that Moshe connects Bnei Yisrael to Hashem.
  2. Through this, “they shall bring to you,” meaning that the Bnei Yisrael effect an elevation in Moshe. This can be compared to the head and the feet. The head is greater than the feet, and it is the one that directs them where to go; yet, the feet are the ones that bring the head to its destination. Similarly, when Moshe, the “head,” influences Bnei Yisrael, they elevate Moshe to a higher level.
  3. In what way does Moshe affect Bnei Yisrael? Through revealing their nekudas hayahadus and their power of mesiras nefesh, which comes from the essence of the neshamah. This is the meaning of the words, “crushed for the ma’or”: through being “crushed” from the harsh decrees of golus, we reach the ma’or, the source of light—the essence of the neshamah.
  4. This power of mesiras nefesh is tamid, continuous—it has no limits and nothing can extinguish it. (However, the Frierdiker Rebbe does not explain why the next possuk mentions “from evening until morning.”)

Without Decrees

The Rebbe now adds a new dimension to this.

The Rebbe cites another point mentioned in the Frierdiker Rebbe’s maamar. As mentioned above, the Frierdiker Rebbe’s maamar is based on the possuk Vekibel Hayehudim, that in the time of Achashverosh, the Yidden accepted what they had begun at the time of Mattan Torah. This implies that at that time they reached a higher level than what they had been able to attain at the time of Mattan Torah. How was this possible? The Frierdiker Rebbe explains that they were able to attain this due to their mesiras nefesh.

This explanation implies that the possuk Vekibel Hayehudim is referring to when the Yidden displayed mesiras nefesh, namely, when Haman’s decree was still in effect. However, according to its basic meaning, the possuk was written after Haman’s decree was annulled, when the Yidden committed to celebrate Purim!

The Rebbe explains that there were actually two levels of acceptance, one during the time of the decree and one after, corresponding to two types of being “crushed”:

One level of being crushed was the result of being subject to Haman’s terrible decree. This is similar to the time when the Frierdiker Rebbe said this maamar (in 5687), when the Communist government actively fought against any type of Torah observance.

But then there was the time following the Purim miracle, when the Jews were no longer in danger. This can be compared to the time when the Rebbe said the maamar, when we are able to keep Torah and mitzvos without inhibitions. (When the Rebbe said the maamar, in 5741, there were still Jews left under Communist rule; in 5752, when the Rebbe edited the maamar, the Communist government had since collapsed and they were able to practice Yiddishkeit freely as well.) But nonetheless, we feel “crushed” from the fact that Moshiach has not yet arrived and we lack the Beis Hamikdash (as was the situation at the time of the Purim miracle, which took place during the seventy years of golus Bavel).

Inner Transformation

In a certain way, this second type of being “crushed” is more difficult and deeper than the first.

There are certain individuals who had mesiras nefesh in Russia for decades, but now that they have merited to arrive on free shores, their former passion is not as apparent.

Why is this so? When they were restricted in their ability to practice Torah and mitzvos, their nekudas hayahadus was revealed, but it did not transform their inner faculties, their perspective and feelings.

Now, however, we can practice Torah and mitzvos, study Chassidus, and work on ourselves without restraints. For us to be bothered from the fact that Moshiach is not yet here, we must refine ourselves a bit and be in tune to the fact that Elokus is presently in a concealed state. When we do this, we reach an even deeper level of ma’or.

This is what we add to Moshe. The Moshe of each generation reveals the ma’or, the essence of our neshamah, by inspiring Yidden to act with mesiras nefesh. We add to this by bringing it into our inner faculties. By studying Chassidus and working on ourselves, we refine our mindset and feelings so that we are bothered from the fact that we lack the revelation of the Beis Hamikdash.

At All Times

This is the true meaning of tamid, “continually.”

Although the essence of the neshamah revealed by the Moshe of the generation is unlimited and inextinguishable, it does not shine forth at all times. During the “evening”—spiritual darkness—it becomes manifest, while in the “morning,” when there are no restrictions, it lies dormant.

However, when we work on ourselves and develop a sensitivity to the fact that Moshiach is not yet here, the essence of the neshamah is effective at all times, even in the “morning.”

This is why the word tamid is written after the phrase “and they will bring to you,” describing the avodah of Bnei Yisrael, and not near the words indicating Moshe’s influence, “And you shall command/connect.”

The maamar concludes with the following statement (which in hindsight we can understand full well):

According to the simple translation of the verse, Moshe was told to command the Bnei Yisrael to bring the oil to him. This can also apply to the deeper meaning of the possuk: the leader of the generation gives us the koi’ach to fulfill our avodah, “and they shall bring to you.”

Maamar V'Ata Tetzaveh 5741, Sefer HaMaamorim Melukat Adar-Sivan, pp. 34.