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   The Focus of a Jew's Life

A Historical Controversy

Terror at Midnight

The Expression of Inner Good

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 A Historical Controversy The Expression of Inner Good


Terror at Midnight

Publisher's Foreword

The sichah which follows emphasizes the fusion of opposites, more particularly, how the infinite and transcendent power of the soul should permeate the finite realm of our conscious powers.

The fusion of the infinite and the finite, the transcendent and the immanent, was a frequent subject for the Rebbe's talks.

This - because it was a real goal for the Rebbe in his leadership, one which he sought to inculcate within the heart of every Jew.

Mashiach is infinity and transcendence, but not in the clouds. "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d." (Yeshayahu 11:9) "All flesh will see." Yeshayahu 40:5

The transcendent revelations of the Era of the Redemption will permeate the realities of our material experience, bringing about a fusion.

As emphasized in the sichah, all G-dly revelations - even the revelations of the geulah which transcend our human limitations - are dependent on our conduct. And similarly, the fusion of the finite and infinite in the Era of the Redemption will come about through the fusion of the finite - the use of our conscious powers of intellect and emotion - with the infinite - the powers of faith and mesirus nefesh.

May the study of the Rebbe's teachings empower us to carry out this task. And may our efforts draw down overtly apparent Divine good and blessing, including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption, and the fulfillment of the prophecy, Yeshayahu 26:19 "And those who repose in the dust will arise and sing."

Sichos In English
3 Shvat, 5755

Terror at Midnight

When Moshe Rabbeinu communicated G-d's message concerning the Plague of the Firstborn to Pharaoh, he also told him when the plague would take place - at midnight.

Nevertheless, lest Pharaoh's astrologers err and not realize the exact time - and then say that Moshe's promise was not fulfilled -Moshe told them that the plague would take place: "Around midnight." [1]

On the surface, it is difficult to comprehend: Why was it necessary to inform Pharaoh when the Plague of the Firstborn would begin?

Moshe could have said - as had been his practice with regard to the other plagues - that G-d would bring this plague against the Egyptians without saying when the plague would take place.

The fact that Moshe did mention the time when the Plague of the Firstborn would occur thus indicates that this plague has a unique connection to the time of midnight, so much so, that when warning Pharaoh of the plague, Moshe had to tell him when the plague would take place. (It was only due to the presence of Pharaoh's astrologers that Moshe did not emphasize the exact time of the plague.)

The reason for this connection can be explained by highlighting the uniqueness of the Plague of the Firstborn and its difference from the other plagues.

We find two unique factors with regard to this plague:

a) In contrast to the other plagues, with regard to this plague, it was necessary for the Jews to have a special sign on their homes, placing the blood of the circumcision and the blood of the Paschal sacrifice on their doorposts and their lintels. [2] This was necessary to protect them, and to prevent the plague which was wrought against the Egyptians from harming the Jews.

b) G-d ordered the Jews: "No man should go out of the entrance of his house until the morning." [3] The Jews were required to remain at home throughout the night, for since the agent of destruction had been given license to devastate, it would not differentiate between the righteous and the wicked." [4] Had the Jews gone out, they too could have been harmed by the plague.

Moreover, the latter point is somewhat problematic.

With regard to all the other plagues, none of the Jews were afflicted; the plagues caused distress to the Egyptians alone.

Seemingly, with regard to the other plagues as well, "the agent of destruction was given license to devastate," and yet the Jews did not require any special medium of protection.

Why was the Plague of the Firstborn unique in this regard? And why was it necessary for the Jews to be forewarned in two ways:

a) by remaining home, and b) by making a sign with the blood of the circumcision and the blood of the Paschal sacrifice?

When the Agent of Destruction is Given License

The difference between the Plague of the Firstborn and the other plagues can be explained as follows:

With regard to the other plagues, it cannot be truly said that "the agent of destruction was given license to devastate."

Most of the plagues effected only the financial resources of the Egyptians, or their comfort.

Moreover, even when a plague, e.g., the plague of wild animals, brought death as well as financial loss to the Egyptians, unlimited license was not granted to "the agent of destruction." There was always a certain limit to the destruction wrought.

For example, all of the plagues involved a specific agent of destruction, [5] e.g., frogs, lice, or the like, and this agent was given permission to harm or kill the Egyptians, only according to its natural tendency. Thus there was not an unlimited manifestation of destruction. [6]

With regard to the Plague of the Firstborn, by contrast, there was no restraint with regard to the manner in which the firstborn were slain. Since "the agent of destruction was given license to devastate," it was necessary for the Jews to take steps to protect themselves, lest they also be harmed.

A deeper distinction between the two can be made.

The intent of the plagues was primarily, not to punish the Egyptians, but to generate the awareness of G-d's presence, as it is written: [7] "So that you can tell... how I performed miraculous signs among them, and you will know that I am G-d."

Similarly, it is written: "Through this, you will know that I am G-d," [8] "So that you know that I am G-d," [9] and "So that you will know that there is none like Me." [10] Therefore, there was no need for the plagues to affect the Jews, for the Jews already possessed an awareness of G-d. [11]

There was a difference in this regard, however, between the Plague of the Firstborn and the other plagues.

In the nine other plagues, for the most part, the people who suffered from the plague did not perish, and thus they also could come to an awareness of G-dliness. With regard to the Plague of the Firstborn, by contrast, the intent was that the firstborn die; that they should perish, and not that their appreciation of G-d's power should be enhanced.

Since the intent of this plague was punishment, the possibility existed for the attribute of judgment to argue: "How different are these (the Jews) from these (the Egyptian firstborn)?" For the Jews in Egypt had also sunk to evil conduct, [12] as the Midrash states: [13] "These are worshipers of idols and these are worshipers of idols." And so, it is possible that "the agent of destruction," the extension of the attribute of judgment, would not differentiate between the Egyptians and the Jews.

(It is written: [14] "I will pass through Egypt..., I will smite every firstborn.... I will perform acts of judgment.... I am G-d." From this verse, our Sages derive [15] that G-d Himself was the one who smote the Egyptians, as we say: [16] "I and not an angel...; I and no other." This, however, does not totally discount the influence of "the agent of destruction." That agent was also present, and could promote accusations against the Jewish people. [17] And therefore it was necessary for the Jews to take protective measures to insure that the agent of destruction would not harm them.)

These protective measures involved:

a) not going out of their homes. Since the agent of destruction was given license to destroy throughout the land of Egypt, if a Jew went outside, no distinction would be made. With regard to this, everyone - Jews and Egyptians - were alike. A sign would not help. The only alternative was not to go out of their homes.

b) Placing a sign on their homes. G-d promised: [18] "I will pass over you," i.e., the agent of destruction was not to be given license in these places and so a distinction could be made between the Jews and the Egyptians. That distinction was made through the sign on the doorposts.

Where the Twains Meet

A question, nevertheless, remains: Since there was a certain legitimacy in the complaint of the attribute of judgment, why did the sign the Jews placed on their doors protect them from the plague?

The resolution of this difficulty depends on the concept that the Plague of the Firstborn has its source in a level of G-dliness above all the limits of the spiritual cosmos (Seder HaHishtalshelus); it was wrought by G-d, in His glory and His essence. [16]

Since this level transcends the attribute of judgment entirely, it does not leave any place for accusations that have their source in that attribute.

Rationale arguments of this type can effect those levels of Seder HaHishtalshelus that are limited in nature. The levels of G-dliness above the limits of Seder HaHishtalshelus, which are the source for the Plague of the Firstborn, however, transcend the scope of reason entirely, and will not be effected by such accusations.

This also explains why the Plague of the Firstborn took place at midnight.

For the levels of G-dliness that transcend the limits of Seder HaHishtalshelus are revealed at midnight.

It is for this reason that this moment can join together the two portions of the night.

To explain:

During the first half of the night, the attribute of gevurah (might) is revealed. This is reflected in the fact that as the night proceeds, the darkness is increased.

During the second half of the night, the attribute of chesed (kindness) is revealed, as reflected in the fact that as the night continues, signs of light appear and increase.

At midnight, these two opposite tendencies are fused together. This is possible, because the levels of G-dliness that transcend the limits of Seder HaHishtalshelus are revealed at midnight. For as is well known, the fusion of two opposites is possible only through an influence which is above the limits of both factors. [19]

To restate this concept using different terminology:

At the time of the Plague of the Firstborn, the essential love of G-d for the Jewish people was revealed, a love that transcends all reason and logic. And when this love is revealed even if one's logic would ask: "How different are these (the Jews) from these (the Egyptian firstborn)?" and "Is not Esav Yaakov's brother?", [20] implying that they are the same, G-d replies: "I love Yaakov and hate Esav." [21] He loves the Jewish people, for they are His children, as it is written: [22] "You are children to G-d, your L-rd."

And the love which a father has for his children is an essential bond which cannot be challenged or deterred by a logical reason or complaint.

Moshe Rabbeinu told Pharaoh that the Plague of the Firstborn would take place at midnight to allude to the fact that there would be a revelation that transcends the limits of Seder HaHishtalshelus.

For had this concept not been communicated Pharaoh and his wizards would not believe that a plague whose intent is to destroy evil - and therefore "license would be granted to the agents of destruction" - would not effect the Jews, for Pharaoh knew that the two people's level of conduct was similar.

Moshe, however, informed him that a transcendent light would be revealed - and that transcendent light would reveal the Jew's essential bond with G-d.

Signs of Inner Love

Although the essential bond between G-d and the Jewish people would be revealed, it was, however, necessary for the Jews to make signs on their doorposts.

This concept can be explained as follows:

All the influence with which G-d endows us is drawn down to the earthly realm through the Divine service of the Jews.

Even those revelations which transcend the limits of Seder HaHishtalshelus, including the essential love which G-d has for the Jewish people is dependent on our Divine service.

Although this essential love is, by definition, perfect at all times [and not dependent on our Divine service], nevertheless, our Divine service is necessary so that this love will be revealed, and that it will be internalized within this earthly realm.

The Divine service that draws down these transcendent levels of love must in nature resemble that love, i.e., it must also transcend the limits of reason and logic, going beyond the limits of our conscious powers.

For that reason, the signs which the Jews placed on their homes on the night of the Plague of the Firstborn, the blood of the circumcision and the blood of the Paschal sacrifice, reflect a connection with G-d that transcends reason and logic.

To explain:

We see that the mitzvah of circumcision reflects such a bond by the fact that it is established with a Jewish child at the age of eight days, before he gains control of his intellectual faculties at all. [23]

Similarly, the mitzvah of bringing the Paschal offering required mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice that transcends logic.

For the sheep was the deity worshipped by the Egyptians. The Jews held the sheep for four days to attract the Egyptian's attention, and when asked, they told the Egyptians that they were going to sacrifice it for G-d.

This required actual mesirus nefesh.

By manifesting mesirus nefesh in this manner, going beyond the limits of their logic, the Jews brought about the expression of G-d's essential love for the Jewish people, a love which also transcends the limits of reason. This love was expressed through the revelations of midnight.

Making a Potential Actual

Based on the above, we can reconcile an apparent contradiction in the words of our Sages regarding the merit through which our ancestors were judged worthy of leaving Egypt.

In one source, our Sages say [24] that "It was in the merit of their faith that our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt." The fact that the Jews believed in Moshe's promise of their redemption, as it is written: [25] "And the people believed; they accepted [Moshe's promise] that G-d had taken notice of His people," served as the merit which enabled that promise to be realized.

In another source, [26] it is explained that the Jews were redeemed in the merit of the blood of the circumcision, and the blood of the Paschal sacrifice. This is alluded to in the verse: [27] "Through your blood (plural), you will live."

These sources are not contradictory, for the merits they mention, faith, the circumcision, and the Paschal sacrifice, all reflect a level of Divine service that transcends logic and reason.

In general, faith is a potential that transcends the limits of reason. In particular, this applies with regard to faith in the redemption from Egypt.

According to the rules of nature, it was impossible for even one slave to leave Egypt, [28] let alone 600,000. And yet the Jews believed in Moshe's promise.

They were broken men, crushed by the harsh labor they were forced to perform, and torn by the grief they suffered from Pharaoh's decree mandating the death of their young sons. (For it is a natural tendency for a person to give up everything he has so that his children - and how much more so, a young child - will be saved.)

Despite these difficulties and the power of the Egyptian regime, the Jews believed in Moshe's promise that G-d would redeem the Jews from exile with simple faith.

And this simple faith which transcended the limits of reason called forth G-d's essential love which transcends all limits. According to reason, it might have been possible to accept the claim of the attribute of judgment: "How are these different from these?"

Nevertheless, for G-d's essential love for the Jewish people which transcends the limits of Seder HaHishtalshelus to cause a change within the context of Seder HaHishtalshelus, and more particularly, to bring about the actual redemption of the Jewish people, it was necessary for the Jews to manifest a similar pattern in their Divine service.

They had to show how their essential connection with G-d would be revealed within the context of their conscious powers, and to manifest this in actual deed.

This was accomplished through the mitzvos of the Paschal sacrifice and the circumcision, for they expressed the Jews' connection to G-d which transcends reason in actual deed.

Defining the Moment of Midnight

On the verse, [29] "And at midnight, G-d slew every firstborn in Egypt," we find two opinions in the Mechilta.

One states that it was "the Creator" who divided the night, while the other states that the night was divided by "He who knows His moments and His hours."

The Radbaz [30] explains that both expressions refer to G-d, but they highlight different attributes of His Being.

The first expression places the emphasis on G-d as Creator.

Since He brought the night into being, it was possible for Him to halt the revolution of the heavenly sphere, and in this manner, divide the night into two distinct halves.

The second opinion maintains that such an unnatural division is unnecessary. Although a human being cannot distinguish the exact moment of midnight, "He who knows His moments and His hours" can. And at that moment, G-d smote the Egyptian firstborn.

It is, however, difficult to understand: What is the inner distinction between these two opinions? And according to the first opinion, what was the purpose of the special miracle of G-d dividing the night?

Transcendence Within the Natural Order

The two opinions can be explained as follows:

As stated previously, the Plague of the Firstborn stemmed from a level of G-dliness which transcended Seder HaHishtalshelus.

The question is: How was this transcendent revelation expressed on the earthly plane?

According to the first opinion, that the Creator divided it, the transcendental nature of this revelation was reflected on the earthly plane as well.

Since nature and time are unable to contain the revelation of such a transcendent light, G-d halted the revolution of the heavenly sphere, negating the ordinary patterns of time and nature.

According to the second opinion, it was not necessary to nullify nature's ordinary patterns. Instead, the influence which transcended Seder HaHishtalshelus permeated the patterns of nature itself (in a way which parallels the miracle of Purim).

Elevating nature in this manner does more than reveal G-d's transcendence. It shows how nature itself can become a vessel for the Divine light which transcends nature.

With regard to differences of opinion among our Sages, it is said: [31] "These and these are the words of the living G-d." Accordingly, it is necessary to say that both of the descriptions of the revelation of midnight are appropriate (thus elevating it to a level above the Purim miracle).

On one hand, the Divine light which transcends Seder HaHishtalshelus was enclothed and internalized within the natural order (as reflected by the expression "He who knows His moments and His hours").

Simultaneously, this transcendent influence was overtly revealed (as reflected by the expression ("the Creator").

This unique revelation was made possible because the Plague of the Firstborn was the last of the Ten Plagues, the beginning of the exodus from Egypt.

The ultimate purpose of the exodus of Egypt was the giving of the Torah, as it is written: [32] "When you lead the people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d on this mountain." And the intent of the giving of the Torah is the fusion of the G-dliness which transcends the natural order with the natural order. Therefore, both the sources of influence mentioned above - "He who knows His moments and His hours" and "the Creator" - were associated with the Plague of the Firstborn, so that the fusion of the spiritual and the physical would be overtly revealed.

We see this pattern with regard to the exodus from Egypt as a whole.

On one hand, the land of Egypt was not nullified entirely; even after the exodus, it remained a country of influence. Nevertheless, at the time when Egypt was at the height of her power, when not even one slave could flee from there, 600,000 men - and many women and children - left, marching proudly. [33] This reflects a revelation of G-dliness which transcends nature, within the natural pattern of the world.

To Permeate the Lowest Realms with the Highest Potentials

As mentioned above, the revelations which transcend Seder HaHishtalshelus were drawn down through the circumcision and the Paschal sacrifice.

Since the revelation of midnight fused the higher and lower planes in an overtly evident manner, we must say that the Divine service of faith and mesirus nefesh which transcends logic and reason that was expressed through the circumcision, and the Paschal sacrifice should have followed a similar pattern.

These transcendent spiritual potentials were intended to permeate the people's conscious powers, reaching even their lowest potentials.[34]

This had a parallel effect in the spiritual realm, causing the revelation which transcends Seder HaHishtalshelus to permeate the framework of nature.

The Divine service associated with the mitzvah of circumcision is, as explained at length on other occasions, [35] intended to establish an eternal bond with G-d transcending the limits of reason in our actual physical flesh, and more particular in the organ associated with "Yesod, the end of the torso." [36]

This same motif was fulfilled in a more encompassing manner by the Divine service associated with the Paschal sacrifice.

For the Paschal sacrifice involved a lamb, a material outside of the human sphere, further removed even than "the end of the torso."

Moreover, the Egyptians worshipped the lamb as a false deity. And yet, this was the entity which the Jews made into a means of expression for their mesirus nefesh that transcended the limits of intellect.

This concept also relates to a distinction that exists between the Paschal sacrifice and other sacrificial offerings. [37]

At the outset, the entire intent of the Paschal sacrifice is that it be eaten. With regard to all the other sacrifices, partaking of the sacrifice is an additional mitzvah aside from the actual bringing of the sacrifice. With regard to the Paschal sacrifice, by contrast, the entire intent of the sacrifice is that it be eaten; this is the fundamental purpose of the Paschal sacrifice.

Eating is one of the activities in which "a human resembles an animal." [38]

The purpose of the Paschal sacrifice was to have the faith and mesirus nefesh which transcend reason and logic be expressed on this lowly plane.

True Freedom

As mentioned on several occasions, [39] the true concept of freedom is not only that the soul should be freed from the restraints generated by the body and the animal soul, but that the body and the animal soul themselves should be freed.

And on a more encompassing scale, freedom implies that within one's surrounding environment, even those dimensions which conceal G-dliness, should be effected by the revelation of the soul.

The initial step leading to true freedom - the freedom of the soul, the body and the animal soul, and one's surrounding environment - is the revelation of faith, for faith reveals the soul.

This is expressed in the mitzvah of circumcision (which involves the portion of the body associated with "yesod, the end of the torso") and in the Paschal sacrifice which involved offering a lamb, an entity beyond the human sphere, part of one's surrounding environment. [40]

The power to descend and effect inferior levels of existence is derived from a very high rung. Accordingly, we can appreciate that the power of the mitzvah of circumcision which reveals G-dliness within our physical flesh, even within the organ associated with "yesod, the end of the torso," is very high. And the power of the Paschal sacrifice is even higher, for it draws G-dliness into a realm outside the human sphere.

This achieves a true experience of freedom.

For as long as one has not taken the "great wealth" [41] of Egypt out of exile, refining one's surrounding environment, one has not left exile entirely oneself, and one's own experience of freedom is lacking.

Thus we find that the circumcision served as a preparatory step for the Paschal sacrifice.

As the Midrash relates, [42] when the Jews wanted to partake of the Paschal sacrifice, Moshe told them that first they must circumcise themselves, and then they performed the circumcision. For a preparatory step is always a lower level than the object for which the preparations are made.

Anticipating the Ultimate Exodus

It is written: [43] "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show [you] wonders," indicating that the Future Redemption will follow the pattern of the exodus from Egypt.

The exodus from Egypt came about in the merit of the Jews' faith, and because of the expression of that faith on the lowest levels - encompassing the lowest levels within an individual's personality (circumcision), and even entities outside the human sphere (the Paschal sacrifice).

Similarly, the Future Redemption will also come in the merit of faith.

Despite the overwhelming concealment of G-dliness brought about by the present exile, it is possible to arouse our people's simple faith in the coming of Mashiach. For "he is waiting behind our wall"; [44] Mashiach is already here, he is merely hiding behind the wall.

The intent is that this faith should not remaining merely an encompassing potential, but that it should be internalized and permeate one's intellect and emotions. Moreover, it should be transmitted even to one's lowest potentials (circumcision).

This is accomplished through studying the teachings of Chabad Chassidus [45] and comprehending them thoroughly. This draws the power of faith into the powers of intellect, internalizing it, and enabling it to effect all of our other potentials, causing the nature of one's emotional characteristics to change. [46]

Afterwards, these wellsprings are spread to an even wider periphery, extending into one's surrounding environment (the Paschal sacrifice). And as the wellsprings continue to be dispersed, as promised by Mashiach, we will proceed to the dawning of the Redemption.

May it be in the immediate future.

(Adapted from Sichos Acharon Shel Pesach, 5721 and 5722)

Footnotes:

  1. (Back to text) Shmos 11:4. See Berachos 4a, cited by Rashi in his commentary to the verse.

  2. (Back to text) See Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 29; Targum Yonason 12:13; Zohar, Vol. II, p. 35b.

  3. (Back to text) Shmos 12:22.

  4. (Back to text) Bava Kamma 60a; Mechilta and Rashi to the above verse. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos Shemiras Guf ViNefesh, law 13.

  5. (Back to text) Even the plague which killed the livestock (dever) was limited. Firstly, by the fact that it afflicted only livestock, and moreover, from the fact that it affected only five types of beasts [(horses, donkeys, camels, oxen, and sheep) Zohar, Vol . II, p. 31b.]

  6. (Back to text) The limited nature of the destruction conveyed by the previous plagues is also reflected by the verse (Shmos 9:31- 32): "The flax and the barley were destroyed since the barley was ripe.... The wheat and the spelt were not destroyed, because they are late in sprouting."

  7. (Back to text) Shmos 10:2.

  8. (Back to text) Ibid. 7:17.

  9. (Back to text) Ibid. 8:18.

  10. (Back to text) Ibid. 9:14.

  11. (Back to text) See Torah Or, Parshas Va'eira (p. 57a); see also the elucidation of these concepts in Toras Chaim.

  12. (Back to text) See Zohar Chadash, the beginning of Parshas Yisro.

  13. (Back to text) Yalkut Reuveni, Shmos 14:27; Zohar, Vol. II, p. 170b. 14. Shmos 12:12.

  14. (Back to text) Sifri, Devarim 26:8.

  15. (Back to text) Haggadah Shel Pesach Im Likkutei Minhagim, p. 25.

  16. (Back to text) See Zohar, Vol. II, p. 41a, Vol. III, p. 149a.

  17. (Back to text) Shmos 12:13.

  18. (Back to text) See the explanation of this concept in Or HaTorah, the maamar entitled VaYachleik Aleihem, ch. 5ff.

  19. (Back to text) Malachi 1:2.

  20. (Back to text) Ibid.:3.

  21. (Back to text) Devarim 14:1.

  22. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, Parshas Toldos, where this concept is explained at length.

  23. (Back to text) Mechilta, Shmos 14:31.

  24. (Back to text) Shmos 4:31.

  25. (Back to text) Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 29; Mechilta, Shmos 12:6, quoted by Rashi's commentary to that verse.

  26. (Back to text) Yechezkel 16:6.

  27. (Back to text) Mechilta, Shmos 18:11, quoted by Rashi, in his commentary to Shmos 18:9.

  28. (Back to text) Shmos 12:29.

  29. (Back to text) Vol. I, Responsum 814.

  30. (Back to text) Eruvin 13b.

  31. (Back to text) Shmos 3:12.

  32. (Back to text) See Shmos 14:8.

  33. (Back to text) This is reflected in the general thrust of the two mitzvos of circumcision and the Paschal sacrifice. These two mitzvos were commanded before the giving of the Torah, when the world was still "contaminated" (see Shabbos 146a; Zohar, Vol. I, p. 52b). For this reason, there was a decree separating the lower realms from the higher realms (Shmos Rabbah 12:3), and the Torah and its mitzvos could not permeate the material nature of the world.

    Before the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah, it was necessary to elevate certain aspects of the world's material nature, while it was still in a contaminated state.

    This was the purpose of these two mitzvos. This in turn generated the potential for the contamination to cease entirely at the giving of the Torah (Sichos Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5712).

  34. (Back to text) See the sichah for Parshas Vayechi in this series.

  35. (Back to text) See the Introduction to the Tikkunei Zohar, p. 17a.

  36. (Back to text) See Pesachim 76b.

  37. (Back to text) Chagigah 16a.

  38. (Back to text) See the communal letter of Pesach, 5722, and the sources mentioned there.

  39. (Back to text) The above does not represent a contradiction to the concepts explained in Tanya, ch. 31, which states that "the evil in the souls of the Jews still remained strong in the left part of the heart, for their contamination did not cease until the giving of the Torah." And for this reason, the Jews had to flee from Egypt.

    Although the circumcision and the Paschal sacrifice brought about freedom even with regard to the refinement of the body and the animal soul (as explained in the Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 56, and the Zohar Chodash, at the beginning of Parshas Yisro), nevertheless, the refinement achieved at this time was primarily due to the revelation from above. From their own perspective, they were not yet prepared for this freedom.

    Their Divine service in circumcising themselves and offering the Paschal sacrifice was merely a preparation for the revelation from above. For since the world at large was still "contaminated," the observance of the mitzvos was different.

    [For that reason, we do not derive Torah law from the observance of the mitzvos before the giving of the Torah (Jerusalem Talmud, Mo'ed Kattan 3:5, Yoma 28b; see also the discussion of this subject in the S'dei Chemed, the Pe'as HaSadeh, and the Encyclopedia Talmudis; see also above note 34 concerning contamination.)]

    For this reason, the nullification of the evil of the animal soul was only external, what was seen at that time. Internally, in a hidden state, the evil continued to exist. Nevertheless, the nullification of evil on the external plane because of the revelation from above began - and generated the power for - the nullification of evil in an internal way which was accomplished through the Divine service of the Jews in the days which they counted until the giving of the Torah.

    This made it possible that, at the giving of the Torah (after the Jews' Divine service of preparation), their contamination ceased, i.e., even internally, not even a hidden trace remained (Sichos Leil Beis D'Chag HaPesach, 5720).

  40. (Back to text) Cf. Bereishis 15:14. See the sichah for Parshas Vayigash in this series where this concept is explained.

    On this basis, we can also explain why the lamb selected for the Paschal sacrifice had to be set aside four days before the sacrifice, so that it could be inspected (Pesachim 96a).

    The sacrifices (which are epitomized by the korban tamid, the daily offering) bring a person close to G-d (as reflected by the connection between the Hebrew word for "sacrifice," korban, and the word karov, meaning "close").

    The inspection of the sacrifices is intended to make sure that a person's process of coming close to G-d is perfect, without any blemishes. This is achieved through refining one's portion of the world as expressed through the Paschal sacrifice.

    When a person does not shoulder the task of refining his surrounding environment, even if he refines all of the powers of his soul, including even his lowest potentials (circumcision), it is possible that the essence of his soul is still in exile, distant from G-dliness. See the sichah for Parshas Vayigash in this series.

  41. (Back to text) Lekach Tov, Shmos 12:6.

  42. (Back to text) Michah 7:15.

  43. (Back to text) Cf. Shir HaShirim 2:9.

  44. (Back to text) See the Sichah for Yud-Tes Kislev in this series, which explains the parallel between Yud-Tes Kislev ("the Rosh HaShanah of Chabad Chassidus") and the mitzvah of circumcision.

  45. (Back to text) Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 56b.
 A Historical Controversy The Expression of Inner Good



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