Veata Tetzaveh-The function of a Tzaddik and Rebbe, and the mystery of the Purim celebration

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer


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Parshas Tetzaveh & Purim

Veata Tetzaveh” & “Chayav Inish Lebesumei

[Torah Or p. 162 & 195]

Purim is a memorable day in the life of every Jew. Indeed, its unique character is not merely a personal feeling but one echoed by our Sages[1] as well, who maintain that in the future all holidays will be nullified with the exception of Purim. The Alter Rebbe states that the joy of Purim surpasses the joy of any other holiday,[2] highlighting the special status bestowed upon Purim above all the rest. The reason for this reverence is because on Purim we revealed a part of our relationship with Hashem that had never been seen before, even at Matan Torah. As such, the Sages[3] state that on Purim we completed the acceptance of the Torah. This is because during the original events of the Purim episode, we remained faithful to Hashem despite the threat of annihilation, and despite there not being any incentive for doing so. This altruistic display of self-sacrifice resulted in revealing the essential bond between Hashem and the Jewish people, and for this reason the holiday of Purim will never be abolished. As this revelation occurs anew each year on Purim, it is celebrated on a level that differs from all the other holidays. Purim is the time for a Jew to engage in his essential bond and unity with Hashem and the source of this bond’s permeating manifestation in his service of Hashem throughout the year.

The current Mamar is a combination of two separate Mamarim featured in Torah Or, one at the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Parshas Tetzaveh, and the second in Esther, on Chayav Inish Lebesumei. These two Mamarim of the Alter Rebbe were conjoined into a single Mamar in the later Mamarim of the Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe. These two Mamarim formed the basis of the famous Mamar of Vekibel Hayehudim, recited by the Rebbe Rayatz in the Chabad Shul in Moscow in 1927 under the threat of the Stalinist regime. This was also the basis of the famous last edited Mamar that we merited to receive from the holy hands of the Rebbe, on Purim Katan, 1992. It was distributed several days prior to the occurrence of 27th Adar 1992, and it can certainly be viewed as the parting words the Rebbe left for the Chassidim to study and follow. The Mamar of Ata Tetzaveh” [both the original in Torah Or, and its later variations] emphasizes the important role that a Nassi, leader, plays amongst the Jewish people, and how he is the one that nurtures his flock with faith and dedication in their service of G-d. Just as Mordechai did in his times, the leader of each generation is tasked with the job of providing internalized faith to the Jewish people. Just as this faith allowed the Jewish people to overcome Haman’s decrees and cause the Purim salvation, similarly in our times this will assist us in ushering in the complete and final Redemption. Amen. May it happen speedily, now!

 

Explorations of the Mamar:

1.      Why was the oil commanded to be brought to Moshe if Aharon was the one lighting the Menorah?

2.      How do Moshe and Aharon give us strength in our service of G-d?

3.      Why did we need to re-accept the Torah in the times of Purim, and how was this acceptance greater than the acceptance of the Torah on Sinai?

4.      Why would a Jew perform an act of Mesirus Nefesh? From where does such strength derive?

 

Question:

The verse states, “And you shall command the Jewish people, and they should take to you the pure olive oil.” The verse is commanding the Jewish people to give Moshe the oil that will be used to light the Menorah. Why did the oil need to be brought to Moshe if it was Aharon who actually lit the Menorah?  Why not just give it directly to Aharon?

The position of Aharon and Moshe as leaders:

Aharon and Moshe were not simply leaders who led the Jewish people out of Egypt and gave them direction in the service of G-d. They actually served as the channels through which G-dliness would flow into the Jewish souls. Aharon is called a Shushvinin, an escort of the Jewish people, as Aharon feeds the passionate feeling of love for G-d into the Jewish souls and hence assists them in incorporating their souls within G-dliness. Aharon feeds a Jew the joy he has within his service of G-d when performing a Mitzvah and learning Torah. Moshe’s contribution to the Jewish soul, however, is the opposite of Aharon’s. Moshe gave over the Torah to the Jewish people. Learning Torah brings about a complete unity between Hashem and the Jewish soul. This unity is so great that the soul loses its feeling of self-existence and reaches a state of utter nullification. This state of nullification is referred to as Shuv, return, and it is in contrast to the soul power given through Aharon, which is the ecstatic feeling of love and joy, referred to as Ratzo. Nevertheless, it is specifically the nullification that the Jewish souls receive through Moshe that allows Aharon to subsequently implant the love and joy of Hashem felt during our service of G-d. This then is the meaning of the verse, Ata Tetzaveh Es Bnei Yisrael, that Hashem is commanding Moshe to connect [Tetzaveh comes from the word Tzavsa, which means “connection”] the Jewish souls with Or Ein Sof. To further understand this soul power that Moshe gives each and every Jewish soul in detail, we must first introduce the saying of the Sages on the verse in Esther, Vekiblu Hayehudim.[4]

 

This continuation is based on Torah Or: Chayav Inish, Vikibel Hayehudim[5] and VeAta Tetzaveh[6]

Reaccepting the Torah on Purim:

The verse states, Vekiblu Hayehudim Es Asher Hichlu Laasos. The Gemara[7] interprets this verse to mean that the Jews concluded the acceptance of the Torah on Purim, for at Matan Torah this acceptance was as yet incomplete.[8] At first glance, this statement seems puzzling – how was the Torah not fully accepted by Matan Torah, and how was it any more accepted on Purim? On the contrary, at Matan Torah we gladly recited Naaseh Venishmah and experienced a strong love and passion to unite with Hashem through His Torah. We willingly took the Torah upon ourselves without any seeming coercion or outside factors. On Purim, however, we were threatened with annihilation and hence accepted the Torah out of force so that Hashem would rescind the decree. How then can one possibly say that the acceptance of the Torah was greater in the times of Purim than at Har Sinai? This matter can be understood from an earlier statement of Chazal regarding the manner in which we accepted the Torah on Har Sinai at Matan Torah.

The ulterior motives of accepting the Torah at Matan Torah:[9]

The Sages[10] state that at Matan Torah, Hashem placed a mountain [Har Kigigis] over our heads, threatening that it would become the place of our burial if we refused to accept the Torah. Based on this threat, the Gemara concludes that we did not truly accept the Torah until the times of Achashveirosh. This, however, begs the following question: In truth, we had already agreed to accept the Torah prior to the threat of the mountain, so why did this threat affect our status of acceptance of the Torah? Indeed, we had recited Naaseh Venishmah several days before the episode with the mountain. The Rishonim[11] state a tradition that when we were told in Egypt that we would receive the Torah, we became exceedingly excited to the point that we began counting down the days until Matan Torah. This eventually became known as the Mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer.[12] Hence, what purpose did the threatening mountain serve? The Alter Rebbe[13] explains the meaning of this event, based on Chassidus, to refer not to an external threat of a physical mountain, but rather to a metaphorical description of our motivations and eager desire to accept the Torah at that time. The term Har [mountain] refers to a very high level of love of G-d. The term Gigis, which is a bucket, represents a passion that encompassed every fiber of our being. When the Jewish people left Egypt, they were going from the depths of physical suffering to the epitome of luxury, and they witnessed countless nature-breaking miracles performed by Hashem. At Kerias Yam Suf, every Jew experienced a revelation of G-dliness and prophecy greater than that experienced by any of the prophets of the later generations. We were the recipients of an unparalleled boundless show of love from Hashem. All this naturally aroused an indescribable passion and love for Hashem and His Torah, and it is therefore no wonder that we were willing and excited to receive it. This then is the meaning of being forced with a mountain over our heads to accept the Torah, as the loving actions of Hashem “forced” upon us such a strong love for Him that we were emotionally blinded in our decision to accept the Torah. Thus, the acceptance of the Torah at that time was tainted by the emotional state of mind we were in and hence could not be considered a complete acceptance. 

The acceptance of the Torah in the time of Mordechai:

In the time of Mordechai, we were within the 70-year period of exile between the first and second Temples. The definition of “exile” is not just a geographical change in the presence of the Jewish people in Israel, but a concealment of the emotional attributes that we have for Hashem. During exile, G-dliness is concealed and we do not feel any love or passion for Him. Thus, there was no emotional motivation towards accepting the Torah in the times of Mordechai. Furthermore, even from a physical perspective, the continued observance of the Torah actually threatened our very existence during the time of Haman’s decree in the first place. Haman’s decree was only against Jews. Therefore, if the Jews would have converted to a different religion, Heaven forfend, they would have not been included in his decree.[14] Hence, we had no spiritual motivation to accept the Torah during the time of Mordechai and even on the physical level, accepting the Torah at that time, prior to the victory of 13th Adar, would have cost us our very lives. There was absolutely no benefit involved in accepting the Torah at that point. As such, the Sages state that by accepting the Torah specifically during that period, we finally completed the acceptance of the Torah because we did it without any ulterior motives.

Why did we accept the Torah during the time of Mordechai?

The above explanation begs the following question: Every decision one makes in life has a reason that leads him to make that decision. At certain times, the reasons for our decisions are intellectually based while at others, they are based on emotions. However, all in all, people do not make decisions without a reason. What then was the reason why we decided to continue observing the Torah in the time of Haman, at the cost of our very lives, if we could have simply left our religion, Chas Veshalom, and been saved from the decree? When a Jew gives up his life Al Kiddush Hashem, what is the cause and reason behind this decision? What motivates and causes a Jew to have Mesirus Nefesh for Hashem and His Torah? The explanation is as follows: Every Jew contains a G-dly soul that consists of five levels: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida. The Yechida is the highest level of the soul and is completely united with Hashem Himself eternally. Furthermore, it is an actual part of Hashem. During exile, when the Jewish people are placed under threat for following Hashem’s Torah and Mitzvos, this level of Yechida is revealed. On this level, a Jew cannot even begin to entertain the thought of being separated from Hashem or His Torah, just like one cannot entertain the thought of staying alive without a heart or brain.[15] This is the hidden source of our ability to perform acts of Mesirus Nefesh and give up our lives Al Kiddush Hashem. This power is found within every single Jew, even the most simple and unlearned, and was the reason why the Jewish people did not even entertain the thought of leaving the Torah to be spared from the decree. This reason for accepting the Torah can never be changed. This is in contrast to the motivations we had at Matan Torah, which were emotionally based, and hence subject to the potential decrease of our observance should the emotion become concealed. Our acceptance in the time of Mordechai was an essential acceptance that can never be changed or removed, and it is therefore defined as the completion of our acceptance of the Torah. 

 

 A Parable:

A bachelor was attempting to win the hand of a potential bride. He showered her with gifts, words of affection, and care. Her womanly emotions were aroused and after some time, she excitedly agreed to his marriage proposal. After the marriage, as the newlywed couple settled into their daily life routine, the previously experienced level of affection and gifts began to decline. This led to a decrease in the woman’s feelings for her husband, as her emotional feelings of love were solely aroused based on the earlier acts. They had not yet lived long enough together to share a deeper bond and connection. At the couple’s 50th year anniversary, they looked back at the once external and superficial love they shared, based solely on the excitement of the outward acts of affection and gifts. They now shared a ceaseless bond, unaffected by gifts or words, that was an essential soul connection. The Jewish people at the time of Matan Torah are compared to the bride that was showered with gifts and affection by Hashem, Who is called the “Groom” according to the Sages. It was under this influence that we accepted Hashem’s wedding ring, which is the Torah. It was only hundreds of years later, in the times of Achashveirosh, that our essential bond and connection with Hashem was revealed, and our acceptance of His Torah became a ceaseless bond that is unaffected by gifts and affection shown by Hashem.

 

The Moshe of each generation reveals the Yechida of Mesirus Nefesh:

The abovementioned revelation of the Yechida, which gave the Jewish people the ability to have Mesirus Nefesh, does not come about automatically on its own. Rather, it is aroused by Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe arouses the Yechida of every Jew and helps it to achieve an absolute faith and nullification towards G-d, to the point of Mesirus Nefesh. This does not only apply to Moshe in the times of the Midbar. It also applies to the leader of each generation, as the spirit of Moshe is found within each one. Mordechai in his time was the Moshe Rabbeinu of his generation, and he aroused their Yechida and gave them the strength to withstand the decree of Haman and remain faithful to Hashem. This then is the meaning of the verse, Ata Tetzaveh Es Bnei Yisrael, “You shall connect Bnei Yisrael”, as Moshe literally connected the Jewish people with Hashem in a form of absolute nullification and faith, to the point of Mesirus Nefesh. Furthermore, through doing so, Moshe himself also received a revelation from above that he would not have received otherwise-the revelation of the “pure olive oil” that the Jewish people brought to Moshe. The “pure olive oil” refers to the essence of Hashem. When Moshe connects the Jewish people with Hashem, this causes Hashem to give Moshe a revelation of Anochi, His essence. This then is the meaning of the verse, Vayikchu Eilecha Shemen Zayis Zach, as it is the Jewish people that cause Moshe to receive this revelation.

 

Lessons of the Mamar:

·         Hiskashrus: Being connected with the Tzaddik and leader of the generation helps to reveal the essence of one’s soul, the Yechida, and assists one in his utter dedication to Hashem. 

·         No ulterior motives: Our relationship with Hashem contains many aspects of motivation; love, fear, reward, social standards, and choice of community. However, in truth, a Jew’s service of G-d derives from a level so deep that nothing in the world can alter it or cause it to weaken. This level, however, remains dormant, and it is the job of every Jew to arouse it within his service.

The Mamar of Vikibel Hayehudim 1927:[16]

The above Mamar of Vikibel Hayehudim was recited by the Rebbe Rayatz in the Chabad Shul in Moscow, in the year 1927, under the threat of the Stalinist leadership. The Mamar was delivered at the height of persecution, led by the Communists and Yevsektsiya, against the Jewish religion. Any Jew that was found supporting or upholding a Jewish religious institution, including synagogues, Mikvaos, and schools, was persecuted and sent to labor camps in Siberia. It was at the height of these events that the Rebbe Rayatz recited this Mamar, in the center of Moscow, with full knowledge that members of the Yevsektsiya and Communist regime were present. The Rebbe Rayatz emphasized in that Mamar the need for Mesirus Nefesh in serving Hashem, a clear reference to the type of service required for fighting the evil Stalinist regime. The talks of the Rebbe that night were filled with courage and open threats to the Yevsektsiya, and they made those present shiver with fear for their very lives, due to the potential outcome of such subversive words being said in the face of the evil enemy. The Chassidim called on the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, to attempt to persuade her son, the Rebbe, to stop with this talk. He told his mother, “I am not doing any of this on my own accord; I have received guidance from my father”. The Rebbe then fainted and needed to be taken into the next room and revived. As a result of this Mamar and the Rebbe’s leadership in keeping the spirit of Judaism alive, the Rebbe Rayatz was arrested several weeks later, on 15th Sivan of that year. 

_______________________________________________________________________________

[1] Midrash Mishley 9; Yalkut Shimoni Mishley 944; Pirkei Direbbe Eliezer 46; Torah Or Esther 1st Mamar; Sefer Hasichos 1990 p. 347; See Mamar Kol Hamoadim Beteilim 1961 [printed in Toras Menachem 30 p. 123]; Sefer Hamamarim Admur Hazakein 1/394

[2] Torah Or Esther:Chayav Inish” 2

[3] Shabbos 88a

[4] This continuation is not found in the original Mamar of Ata Tetzaveh in Torah Or, and is rather found as a separate Mamar under Torah Or Esther: Chayav Inish. However, in the Mamar of Vikibel Hayehudim of the Rebbe Rayatz and Ata Tetzaveh of the Rebbe, the following continuation is recorded as an explanation of Ata Tetzaveh.

[5] Mamar Vikibel Hayehudim of the Rebbe Rayatz, recited Purim Katan 1927, printed in Sefer Hamamarim 1927 p. 110; This Mamar is based on the Mamar in Torah Or p. 98, Chayav Inish Lebesumei.

[6] Mamar Ata Tetzaveh of the Rebbe, recited on 10th Adar Rishon 1981, printed in Melukat 6; Sefer Hamamarim Adar p. 34. This was the last edited Mamar distributed by the Rebbe to Chassidim. It was distributed on Sunday Parshas Ki Sisa 1992 to men, women, and children.

[7] Shabbos 88a

[8] So is the wording in the Mamar Vekibel Hayehudim ibid, and Torah Or: Chayav Inish p. 98; In the Gemara, ibid, the wording is, “They fulfilled what they already accepted”.

[9] See Mamar Vekibel Hayehudim, ibid

[10] Shabbos, ibid

[11] Ran, Pesachim 28a

[12] Ran, ibid

[13] Torah Or, “Chayav Inish” p. 98b

[14] Torah Or p. 91 and 97; See Sichas Purim 1955 p. 23

[15] From the perspective of the Yechida, when a Jew is threatened with his life or his religion, it is similar to a mugger telling his victim, “either cease to exist or I will kill you”. Both given options mean death, and it is impossible for one to make himself disappear. Similarly, it is not possible for the Yechida to stop being attached to Hashem and His Torah, as that is its very identity. 

[16] See Yoman Purim Katan of the Rebbe Rayatz, printed in Likkutei Dibburim 5/1324; Kovetz Megillas Purim 1927; Iggros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz 1/632; 4/16; Likkutei Dibburim 5/1284; 5/1386-1393; Sefer Hasichos 1927 p. 165; Hisvaadyus 1984/1066; Regarding the connection of Stalin’s death on Purim 1953 with the unusual events that transpired in the Purim Farbrengen that Purim-see Beis Moshiach 641; Mamar of Al Kein Karu Hayamim Haeilu Purim recited on Purim 1953 [Mugah].

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