Monday, July 12, 2021

Ahavas Yisrael / Love of the Jewish People



Dovid Sears
Erev Tisha beAv 5773 (2013) 

We are posting this short essay in light of the principle that the Holy Temple was destroyed because of “sinas chinam,” gratuitous hatred – and that the tikkun for such hatred is ahavas chinam, gratuitous love. This is particularly needed this year, when division and strife have spread like a plague throughout Eretz Yisrael. May a renewal of ahavas chinam speedily put an end to all discord among us, and may Tisha beAv at last be transformed to a day of celebration.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov instructed us to follow the custom of the Arizal by stating prior to davenning: Hareini mekabel alai mitzvas asei shel ve-ahavta le-re’akha kamokha - Behold, I accept upon myself the positive commandment to ‘love your fellow Jew as yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18).”[1] Thus, one becomes united with all of Klal Yisrael. He also explained, “Through love and peace, it is possible to speak words of prayer. This is because speech is essentially bound up with peace, as it is written, ‘I shall speak of peace…’ (Psalms 122:8)”—and without peace, he adds, “it is impossible to speak or to pray, even if one is a man of peace.” The prayer service was redacted by the Men of the Great Assembly in the plural because it is a collective enterprise.

This reflects the underlying, essential unity of all Jewish souls—hence our mutual responsibility for one another. As our sages state, “All Israel are guarantors for one another.”[2] Accordingly, Hillel the Elder declared that the mitzvah of loving one’s fellow Jew is tantamount to “the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary.”[3] 

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya, explains:[4] “The basis and root of the entire Torah is to elevate and exalt the soul … unto the Divine Source of all the worlds, and also to bring down the blessed Infinite Light upon the community of Israel … to become ‘One into One.’[5] [But] this is impossible if there is, G-d forbid, disunity among the souls, for the Holy One does not dwell in an imperfect place…’”[6] 

Master kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordovero describes the souls of Israel as being intrinsically united with one another and with the very Divine Presence.[7] Therefore, he goes on to say, “one should seek the benefit of his fellow [Jew] and view the other’s benefit with a good eye and cherish his honor—for we are one and the same! For this reason too we are commanded to ‘love your fellow Jew as yourself’ (loc. cit.). Thus, it is proper that one desire the well-being of his fellow and never speak ill of him or desire that evil befall him.”[8] This goodwill must extend to all members of the Jewish people, inasmuch as we are all part of one collective whole.

Yet we sometimes find that certain Jews may reject the fundamentals of faith and even oppose the religious values that we deem to be our “life and length of days.” Concerning this sad situation, the author of the Tanya observes, “But as for the person who is not one’s comrade [in fulfilling the Torah and commandments] and who is not close to him, Hillel said, ‘Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creatures and drawing them near to the Torah.’[9] … One must attract them with strong cords of love—perhaps one will succeed in drawing them near to the Torah and divine service. And if one fails, he will not have forfeited the merit of the mitzvah of neighborly love.”[10]

Disagree, sometimes we must; argue, debate, and if all reason fails, walk away in a huff. But let us do so as brothers and sisters, who ultimately share a common point of origin and a common fate, and not as implacable enemies.

Chassidic tradition tells how the holy Berditchever Rov would welcome into his sukkah all sorts of Jews, including wayward Jews. Someone once asked, “How can you take such individuals into your sukkah?”  

The Berditchever Rov replied, “And what would a low character like me look like sitting in the sukkah of Avraham Avinu? Perhaps if I accept these wayward Jews into my sukkah, I too will be accepted into the sukkah of Avraham Avinu…” 

In the merit of the tzaddikim who felt with all of their hearts and souls the ahavas Yisrael that we all should feel, may we speedily be redeemed. Then all the grief associated with Tisha beAv will be transformed to unending joy.






[1] Likutey Moharan I, 239. Cf. Rabbi Chaim Vital in the name of the Arizal, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Olam ha-Asiyah 1:3:2; Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, ‘Inyan Birkhas ha-Shachar, beginning.
[2] Shevuot 39a.
[3] Shabbos 31a.
[4] Likutey Amarim-Tanya, Chap. 32 (41a).
[5] Zohar II, 135a.
[6] Zohar I, 216b.
[7] This is also one of the foundations of the derekh ha-Baal Shem Tov, as discussed in Toldos Ya’akov Yosef, Kedoshim, et al. Rebbe Nachman mentions this principle, as well; see Likutey Moharan I, 260, where he refers to the souls of Israel as “actual portions of the Shekhinah.
[8] Tomer Devorah, chap. 1, s.v. “le-she’aris nachalaso.”
[9] Avos 1:12.
[10] Loc. cit.

Tisha BeAv

Tisha be-Av is one of the five times during the year that Breslover Chassidim daven together ki-vasikin. The Kinnos are recited with kavannah until the late morning. The recitation of Kinnos is taken seriously, as are all the laws of Tisha B’Av.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender


The yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender, zal, the central figure in the Breslov Kehillah of Me'ah She'arim after WWII, will be on 22 Tammuz.

For a brief biography of Reb Levi Yitzchok, see here.

A rare video of one of his shmuessen in Yiddish is also available online here.

May Reb Levi Yitzchok intercede above on behalf of all Klal Yisrael.

Three Weeks


From “Breslov Eikh she-Hu: Customs and Good Practices” compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears



Many Breslover Chassidim study Likutey Moharan II, 67, during the Three Weeks and recite the corresponding prayer, Likutey Tefillos II, 33. Some also recite this prayer on Tisha be-Av, but only after chatzos, since it contains words of consolation.
(Cf. Si'ach Sarfey Kodesh VI, 499)

*

Breslover Chassidim dance after davenning even during the Three Weeks, until Rosh Chodesh Av. The melody usually sung at this time is "Nicham HaShem Tzion." However, beginning on Rosh Chodesh, dancing is curtailed until after Tisha be-Av.
(Si'ach Sarfey Kodesh IV, 191)

*

During the Three Weeks, some Breslover Chasidim are accustomed to sit on the floor every weekday at noon to recite Tikkun Chatzos, including on Erev Shabbos, as mentioned in Shulchan Arukh. This was Reb Gedaliah’s practice. Reb Elazar informed us that his father would have liked his talmidim to do so be-tzibbur, but this was not feasible at the time. 

*

Like all Chassidim, Breslovers follow the shittah in halakhah that there is no public display of mourning on Shabbos Chazon.

Heh Av

This is the yahrtzeit of the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi) of Tzefas, universally recognized as the foremost master of Kabbalah by all Chassidic, Lithuanian, and Sefardic kabbalists. His teachings were written down by his talmid muvhak, Rabbi Chaim Vital (Calabrese), and primarily consists of “Eight Gates,” including the bedrock of his teachings, the Eitz Chaim.

In Tzefas, the hillulah of the Arizal attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world, who recite Tehillim and pray at his gravesite. It is also a widespread custom to immerse in the natural spring where he was accustomed to immerse, not far from his kever in the old Beis ha-Chaim. The Arizal stated that whoever did so would succeed in doing teshuvah for all his sins before he died.

(“Chayey ha-Arizal, a Hebrew biography of the Arizal culled from Shivchey Arizal and other classic sources was compiled and annotated by Rabbi Avraham Abish Tzeinvirt, and published by Makhon Da’as Yosef, Yerushalayim 1990. Rav Ya’akov Hillel of Machon Ahavat Shalom also has published an annotated critical edition of Shivchey Arizal.)

Tisha be-Av

Tisha be-Av  is one of the five times that Breslover Chassidim daven together ki-vasikin. The avodah of reciting Kinnos is taken very seriously and lasts until the late morning.

*

Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender stated that on Tisha be-Av, it is our minhag to recite the berakhah "she'asah li kol tzorkhi" in its proper place in Birkhos ha-Shachar.
(Si'ach Sarfey Kodesh VI, 497. Similarly, cf. Darkei Chaim ve-Shalom [Munkatch] 675. Some communities omit this berakhah because the Gemara associates it with donning the shoes, and on Tish Be-Av it is forbidden to wear leather shoes or sandals. However, it is permissible to wear shoes made from other materials, such as canvas or plastic.)

*

The fast is broken immediately after Ma'ariv in the synagogue, prior to Kiddush Levanah. It is customary to dance after reciting Kiddush Levanah upon the conclusion of Tisha be-Av, despite the fact that most restrictions are maintained until noon of the following day.
(Cf. Si'ach Sarfey Kodesh IV, 270)

*

Soon after Tisha be-Av, Reb Elazar Kenig usually begins studying the lesson from Likutey Moharan that he will publicly deliver on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, together with its related teachings from Likutey Halakhos, etc. On some years he has started learning his Rosh Hashanah lesson even earlier. 

Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig's Yahrtzeit


The 23rd of Tammuz is the yahrtzeit of Rav Gedaliah Aharon Kenig (sometimes spelled "Koenig"). Reb Gedaliah was the foremost disciple of Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz and founder of the Breslov community in Tzefat, Israel.

For a brief biography, see here:

An essay on the Breslov mesorah in general, which explains the places of leaders such as Reb Gedaliah, Reb Avraham, and others, appears here:

The Tzefat Breslov website is linked on the sidebar of this blog.

May Reb Gedaliah intercede above on behalf of Klal Yisrael, and may the seed he planted in the mountains of Galil HaElyon flourish and grow!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Sivan and Tammuz


From “Breslov Eikh she-Hu: Customs and Good Practices” compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears 

Khof Sivan

It was customary throughout the Ukraine and Russia to recite selichos on the twentieth of Sivan, including in the Breslover community. This commemoration of the 6,000 martyrs of the Nemirov massacre of 1648 persisted in Eretz Yisrael and chutz la-aretz until recent years, when it began to fall into neglect. However, Reb Noson mentions it in Likutey Halakhos.
(See Likutey Halakhos, Shluchin 5:36; Chovel Be-chavero 3:7, 9. The selichos for Khof Sivan are printed in the Siddur Tefillah Yesharah-Berditchev and elsewhere.)

*

Reb Avraham Sternhartz used to fast on Khof Sivan.
(Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn, in the name of Rabbi Moshe Burshteyn)

Ches Tammuz

In Uman, selichos were also recited on the eighth of Tammuz, when many thousands of Jewish men, women, and children were slaughtered during the Haidamak uprisings of the same period. However, this minhag has also fallen into disuse.

*

Reb Avraham Sternhartz used to fast on Ches Tammuz.
(Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn, in the name of Rabbi Moshe Burshteyn)

Khof-Beis Tammuz




The yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender, the central figure in the Breslov Kehillah of Yerushalayim after WWII, is 22 Tammuz. For a brief biography of Reb Levi Yitzchok, see hereA rare video of one of his shmuessen in Yiddish is also available online here. Together with his lifelong friend, Reb Elyah Chaim Rosen, Reb Levi Yitzchok rebuilt the Breslov community and devoted himself to preserving and passing on the Breslov mesorah from Uman. Much of this material has been transcribed from audio tapes and published as "Siach Sarfey Kodesh" in eight volumes. 

Khof-Gimmel Tammuz

This is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, talmid muvhak of Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz and founder of Mosdos Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma, the umbrella organization of the Tsfat Breslov community. Reb Gedaliah was a reknowned for his ahavas Yisrael, arichas apayim, and great wisdom both in understanding people and in all areas of Torah, particularly pnimiyus ha-Torah. He edited and published several seforim written by other Breslover Chassidim, including his teacher Reb Avraham’s Tovos Zikhronos and Reb Ephraim ben Naftali’s Likutey Even / Tefillas ha-Boker, as well as one original work, Chayei Nefesh, on the nature and role of the tzaddik. His other writings remain in manuscript.

Khof-Gimel Tammuz is also the yahrtzeit of sixteenth century kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordovero of Tzefas, author of Pardes Rimonim, Tomer Devorah, Ohr Ne’erav, and other important mystical works—a tzaddik with whom Reb Gedaliah felt a deep lifelong affinity. Reb Elazar, his brothers, and other chaveirim usually visit Reb Gedaliah’s kever on Har ha-Zeisim in Yerushalayim on the yahrtzeit, where they recite Tehillim and pray for Klal Yisrael in his merit.

An English translation of the first half of Reb Gedaliah’s “Chayei Nefesh” is available on the sidebar of this website. It is hoped that his other works, which include original commentaries on Likutey Moharan and Tikuney Zohar, as well as his letters and an encyclopedia of terms in Rebbe Nachman’s writings, will be published in the near future, be-ezras Hashem.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Shavuos


From Breslov Eikh Shehu: Breslov Customs and Practices, Past and Present, compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears (in-progress)

Shavuos Customs
Shavuos was one of the three fixed times of the year when Breslover Chassidim came to the Rebbe. Therefore, in recent years it has become common for many Breslovers travel to Uman to spend Shavuos near the Rebbe's tziyun. (However, there is no requirement to do so; the only time a Breslover Chassid is obligated to travel to Uman is for Rosh Hashanah.)

*

However, in Reb Noson’s day, his talmidim used to travel to him for Shavuos. They would try to arrive in time to conclude the counting of sefiras ha-omer together on the night of Erev Shavuos. One such occasion was Shavuos of 1834, when some eighty followers came to Reb Noson in Breslov. They prayed with such fervor that ever since, Breslover Chassidim refer to this as “der groiser Shavuos.
(See Rabbi Chaim Kramer, “Through Fire and Water,” chap. 33, pp. 366-377)

*

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender mentioned that during Reb Noson’s time, when the Breslover Chassidim who had come from far and wide counted the sefirah together on the night before Shavuos, virtually the whole city used to come to witness their fervor. This was an annual event that everyone looked forward to.
(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Moshe Wasilski)

*

In the Tzefas community, most Breslover Chassidim wear a white caftan on Shavuos at night and during Shacharis-Musaf. However, they do not wear this caftan for Minchah.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchok Kenig)

*

In Tzefas, the Breslov shul is decorated with greenery, following the common minhag.
(Heard from Rabi Yitzchok Kenig. See RaMaH on Orach Chaim 494:3.)

*

The Steipler Gaon mentioned that in the Ukraine it was customary to spread grass and small twigs on the entire floor of the shul.
(Orchos Rabbenu, vol. II, Bnei Brak 1992, p. 99, sec. 7)

*

Reb Noson darshans on the minhag of eating dairy foods on Shavuos.
(See Likutey Halakhos, Birkhos ha-Torah 1; Masa U-Matan 4:6; Eruvei Techumin 5:13; Shavu’os 1:4, 2:2; Devarim ha-Yotziyim Min ha-Chai 2:2 and 7; Simanei Behemah ve-Chayah Tehorah 4:40, 46; Mezuzah 2:4)

*

In Tzefas, as in most communities, the minhag is to eat milchigs after davenning Shacharis, during the Kiddush. However, the day meal is fleishig.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig. See Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 494:3, with Mishnah Berurah; Likutey MaHaRiCH Vol. III, p. 577.)

*

Breslover Chassidim traditionally remain awake all night and recite the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos of the Arizal. In the Tzefas community, the chaburah recites the Tikkun together, and the Chassidim recite Kaddish and dance after concluding each section: Chumash, TaNaKH, Mishnayos, etc.
(See Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eytz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag HaShavuos, chap. 1; ; Kitzur SheLaH Masechtas Shavuos: Seder Leyl Shavuos.)

*

Reb Noson states that the main parts of Tikkun Leyl Shavuos are TaNaKh and Mishnayos. Although the Arizal omits the Mishnayos, the Shelah ha-Kadosh includes them.
(Likutey Halakhos, Kriyas ha-Torah 6:26)

*

Accordingly, Reb Avraham Sternhartz used to recite the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos with the Mishnayos.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

In a letter to Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitch, Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz writes: “Remaining awake on the night of Shavuos gives life to all of one’s conduct for the entire year, both spiritually and physically. One should rejoice, for this is the 'wedding' of Matan Torah -- and one should rededicate himself to the study of the Rebbe’s teachings, which are a chiddush niflah, a wondrous innovation that comes from the Future World, from [the Torah of] Atika Setimah [the Hidden Ancient One], destined to be revealed in time to come…”
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren Rabbi Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 2, p. 14; cf. Reb Noson’s description of the Rebbe’s teachings at the beginning of his Hakdamah to Likutey Moharan.)

*

The Terhovitza Maggid, a close talmid of the Rebbe and a prominent Chassidic leader in his own right, and Reb Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl, author Me’or Einayim, always used to take turns visiting each other to celebrate Shavuos. On Shavuos night, they would dance together in ecstasy all night long. When Reb Nochum grew too old and weak to continue, he sent his son Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl to the Terhovitza Maggid for Shavuos, and they, too, danced all night.
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren R’ Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 64, p. 201. From this it would seem that the two tzaddikim did not recite the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos.)

*

Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz states that on Shavuos in Uman, the Chassidim took turns dancing all through the night. Thus, one group was always reciting the Tikkun and another was always dancing.
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren R’ Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 54, p. 190; ibid. Letter 64, p. 201)

*

By contrast, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender recalled that the Breslover Chassidim in Uman recited the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos, as is customary, and then danced for a long time. On one occasion, Reb Borukh Getche’s danced with the members of his chaburah all night until it was time to get ready for Shacharis.
(Si’ach Sarfei Kodesh V, 303)

*

Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn heard that in Uman, it was primarily the “ovdim” who danced at such length on Shavuos night. Most of the olam simply recited the Tikkun.

*

In the Breslov shul in the Katamon section of Yerushalayim, they used to dance after each of the three or four “kaddeishim” during the course of reading the Tikkun.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

The melody for “Atah Nigleisa” that we sing on Shavuos night came from the Rebbe Reb Borukh’l of Medzhibuzh, who sang it on Shabbos evening to the words of “Eishes Chayil”—while the melody we sing to “Eishes Chayil,” Reb Borukh’l used to sing to “Atah Nigleisa.” However, the Rebbe switched them. 
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

Just before alos ha-shachar, it is proper to immerse in the mikveh. Kabbalistically, this mikveh represents the Fiftieth Gate, and is the source of holiness of all immersions in the mikveh throughout the year.
(Likutey Moharan I, 56:7; Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren Rabbi Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 64, p. 201; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag HaShavuos, chap. 1)

*

As mentioned above, Shavuos is one of the five times that the tzibbur davens ki-vasikin.
(Oral Tradition)

*

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender stated that throughout the Ukraine, including in Breslover communities, it was customary to omit the yotzros on the first day of Shavuos, but to recite them on the second day. In Breslov communities in Eretz Yisrael (where there is only one day of Yom Tov), yotzros are recited during chazoras ha-SHa”TZ on Shavuos.
(See Si'ach Sarfei Kodesh IV, 463)

*

In America, the Borough Park Breslov congregation does so on both days.

*

Rabbi Nachman greatly praised the medieval poem "Akdamus Milin" and the regal melody with which it is sung. This remains a highlight of the Shavuos davening in Breslover shuls today. Each stanza is sung by both the chazzan and the congregation, not by alternating stanzas, as in many other communities.
(See Sichos ha-Ran 256)

*

Reb Avraham used to sing a melody without words prior to Akdamus, and extend and embellish the stanzas with various melodic phrases as he recited them.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

Reb Noson mentions the minhag followed by most congregations to recite Sefer Rus on the second day Shavuos (in chutz la’aretz).
(See Likkutei Halakhos, Birkhas ha-Shachar 5:18, 52; Kriyas Shema 5:17; Birkhas ha-Peyros 5:22; et al. This custom is mentioned in Machzor Vitry, based on a midrash in Pesikta Zutra (Midrash Rus); see Likutey Maharich III, p. 579.)

*

Reb Gedaliah told Reb Aharon Waxler that one should say “shnei se’irim le-khaper” during the Musaf of Shavuos, as in the Musaf of Rosh Hashanah.
(Heard from Rabbi Aharon Waxler. Cf. Siddur Baal ha-Tanya, Musaf shel Shalosh Regalim)

*

Shavuos is the yahrtzeit of the holy Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, and the Rebbe’s great-grandfather. Therefore, it is a custom of Chassidim in general to mention a teaching from the Baal Shem Tov, or at least to mention him on Shavuos.
(According to most mesorahs, the Baal Shem Tov passed away on the first day of Shavuos; see Siddur Arizal of Rabbi Avraham Shimshon of Rashkov, p. 298; Rabbi Yitzchok Eizik Yehudah Yechiel Safrin of Komarno, Heikhal HaBerakhah, “Ki Seitzei,” 129b; Sefer Baal Shem Tov, “Ki Savo,” in Mekor Mayim Chaim, note 12; Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch, Likutey Dibburim, Vol. III, p. 1054; Darkei Chaim vi-Shalom-Munkatch, Hil. Yom Tov, 527). 

The Mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate: A Shavuos Teaching



Likutey Moharan I, 56, sec. 7
Translated by Dovid Sears
This is a difficult excerpt from a complex lesson, but well worth studying, especially in preparation for the coming Yom Tov.

The holiday of Shavuos represents an extremely great and exalted level of consciousness, which is supernal loving-kindness and great compassion; for the extent of compassion depends upon the extent of divine perception (da’as). This is because at the Giving of the Torah, the Holy One, blessed be He, appeared as an Elder full of compassion” (Rashi on Exodus 20:2).[1]

“Elder” refers to one who possesses a composed mind (yishuv ha-da’as; see Kinim 3:6; Zohar III, 128b). This determines the extent of compassion, as we have stated. Thus, Shavuos [which commemorates the time when God was revealed as an “Elder full of compassion,”] is characterized by supernal loving-kindness and great compassion.

This is also the paradigm of the mikveh of Shavuos,[2] which is the aspect of the mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate—the highest gate of the Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding,[3] the aspect of supernal loving-kindness and great compassion.

Therefore, the mikveh saves from all troubles, as it is written, “The Hope (Mikveh) of Israel, Who saves her in a time of trouble” (Jeremiah 14:8).[4] For it is supernal loving-kindness, which saves from all troubles. This is why the mikveh purifies from all impurities, as it is written, “And I will sprinkle upon you purifying water, and you will be purified” (Ezekiel 36:25).[5] For “there is no suffering without sin” (Shabbos 55a). Thus, the mikveh, which delivers from all trouble and all suffering, purifies from all forms of impurity and all sin.

This is the paradigm of MaN (Aramaic: manna),[6] which corresponds to the aspect of “exalted consciousness”; because the manna is the aspect of da’as.[7]

This corresponds to “an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach), extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut)” (Shabbos 104a).[8] An “open statement” is the aspect of revealing da’as, for speech is the medium through which da’as is expressed; as it is written, “Da’as and understanding are from His mouth” (Proverbs 2:6).

In Egypt, da’as was in exile, as it is written, “However, I did not make Myself known to them by My Name YHVH (Exodus 6:3); thus, speech was also in exile. This is the aspect of [Moses’s description of himself as] “difficult of speech and difficult of language” (ibid. 4:10).[9] However, when they left Egypt, when da’as went out of exile, speech came forth and “opened up.” This is the meaning of an “open statement”: speech opened up and revealed da’as.

Through the revelation of da’as, the perception of God’s trustworthiness spreads forth and it becomes apparent that He is trustworthy—He promises and He acts. This is the aspect of “extended trustworthiness”: His trustworthiness spreads forth. In Egypt, where da’as was in exile, His trustworthiness did not spread forth, and it was not apparent. Accordingly, Rashi explains the verse: “ ‘However, I did not make Myself known to them by My Name YHVH’—I was not known by My true quality.” Since higher consciousness was not revealed in Egypt, His trustworthiness was not apparent; for loving-kindness depends upon da’as, as we have said.

This is the aspect of ANOKHY (Exodus 20:2),[10] the initial letters of which our Sages interpret to mean “Yehiva Kesiva Ne’emanim Amareha . . . My giving, My writing, Her statements are trustworthy” (Shabbat 105a).[11] [The initial letters of “ANOKHY” corresponds to this phrase.] Through the Giving of the Torah, the “statement” [i.e., holy speech] was opened and da’as was revealed, and through this, God’s trustworthiness spread forth. This is the aspect of “ne’emanim amareha . . . her statements are trustworthy,” corresponding to “extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut), an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach),” discussed above.

This is also the aspect of MaN (manna), which is an acronym of “Ma’amar Ne’eman (a trusted statement),” corresponding to “an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach), extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut).” For the manna embodies the paradigm of great da’as. Therefore, “the Children of Israel ate the manna for forty years” (Exodus 16:35)—because “at the age of forty, one gains understanding (binah, as in the Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding)” (Avos 5:21).

NOTES

1. In the Kabbalah, the term “elder (zaken)” is related to the sefirah of Keser, which transcends all harsh judgments and is the source of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy. These Thirteen Attributes are symbolized by the beard, which in Hebrew is “zakan.” The word zakan is related to zaken, “elder.”
2. A mikveh is a natural body of water or man-made pool that meets certain halakhic requirements, which enables a person or object to regain a state of ritual purity (taharah). This water is symbolically related to the “river that came forth from Eden,” mentioned at the beginning of Genesis.
3. Our Sages state that the world was created through “Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding,” all but one of which were revealed to Moshe Rabbenu (Nedarim 38a). The Zohar and other kabbalistic works relate these Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding to the fifty times that the Exodus is mentioned in the Torah (see Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Shiur Komah, Hakdamah, Parshah 92). Thus, there is a deep connection between the revelation of the mysteries of creation and the Exodus, which culminated in the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, when the entire nation attained prophecy. According to the Arizal (see Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Shavuos, Drush 1), the mikveh into which it is customary to immerse on Shavuos morning is related to this awesome level of the Fiftieth Gate—which ultimately will be made available to all Israel with the proliferation of da’as in the Messianic Age.
4. The word mikveh also can mean “hope.” Thus, the verse from Jeremiah, which refers to God as the “Hope of Israel,” may be understood homiletically to allude to the mikveh in which one immerses to attain purity.
5. That is, just as God will purify all humanity through water in time to come, when divine knowledge will fill the world, so the mikveh purifies even today.
6. The word “MaN” is spelled “mem-nun.” In context of this lesson, these letters are an acronym for “mikveh nun,” the Mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate.
7. By eating the manna from heaven during their forty years in the desert, the Children of Israel attained higher levels of consciousness. The manna was the ideal food, possessing none of the spiritual or even physical problems associated with ordinary food.
8. The Gemara renders each letter of the Hebrew alphabet interpretively. This cryptic phrase is what it has to say about the letters mem and nun. The Rebbe goes on to elucidate this idea in keeping with his teaching about the exile and redemption of consciousness (da’as).
9. This refers to Moshe’s speech impediment, which was only manifest during the period of Egyptian exile. After the Exodus, the Torah never again mentions this problem. This implies that Moshe stuttered because holy speech in a transpersonal sense was in exile in Egypt. With the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, speech was rectified (Zohar II, 25b).
10. This is the first word of the Ten Commandments, which begin ANOKHY / I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt…” (ibid.).
11. The letters of the word ANOKHY, when read backward, are an acronym of Yehiva Kesiva Ne’emanim Amareha . . . My giving, My writing, Her statements are trustworthy.” This interpretation suggests that with the word ANOKHY,” God gave His approbation to the words that followed. The emphasis on the trustworthiness of God’s word in this interpretation of the Talmudic Sages lends support to Rebbe Nachman’s lesson.