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Pesach Sheni

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Never Despair

A Second Chance for Spiritual Progress

Still Time To Connect 1-4

Still Time To Connect 5-10

Continuing the Tasks

 
 Still Time To Connect 1-4 Continuing the Tasks


Proceeding Together
Talks and Letters of the Rebbe in the Wake of Yud Shvat 5710 [1950]
as recorded in Toras Menachem

Still Time To Connect - Pesach Sheni - Parts 5 - 10

Published and copyright © by Sichos In English
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Publisher's Foreword

The current installment of "Proceeding Together", continuing from Installment 12, translates sections 5-10 of an address of the Rebbe dating from Motzaei Pesach Sheni, 5710 [1950].

Like so much of this book, its teachings and insights are so timely that to people of our generation they almost appear to have been delivered especially for us.

Its major themes include:

  • The maintenance of one's bond with the Rebbe in the other world by energetically fulfilling his directives in this world;
  • The possibility even in such a situation of cultivating and experiencing a sensitive awareness of the Rebbe's nearness, even when this may have been deficient in the past;
  • The obligation to risk spiritual self-defilement for the sake of reaching out to a fellow Jew who may be spiritually dead;
  • An assurance that ultimately one will lose nothing from self-sacrifice of this kind.

In conclusion, we take the liberty of reminding ourselves and our readers that Lo hamidrash ikar ela hamaaseh - "Not study but practice is what matters most." [Avos 1:17].

Sichos In English
Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5755

5. A Bond of Unfailing Love.

With regard to our present situation, [1] the above concept [2] serves as an instruction, a directive, and a source of strength.

Despite the concealment that the histalkus entails, and the ascent that has taken place, we need to know that the bond [3] and the cleaving that existed until now - with those who were privileged to see the Rebbe [Rayatz], whether often, or rarely, or once, and even with those who were only privileged to receive a letter from him, and with those who heard of the Rebbe [Rayatz] by studying his maamarim and sichos, - with them this bond endures in all its intensity, with no possibility of weakening...

[At this point the Rebbe wept, then resumed:] My father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] once said: [4] "The teachings of Chassidus brought about a situation in which the Rebbe is not solitary, and chassidim are not solitary."

This means that the Rebbe [Rayatz] watches over and cares about every detail in the lives of the chassidim. Now, too, when he is on a higher plane, he watches over and cares about every detail in the lives of the chassidim (as discussed above [5]).

Accordingly, we are being given the strength to carry on with all the tasks which the Rebbe [Rayatz] demands and expects of us.

Indeed, since the purpose of the concealment is the consequent revelation, we should now engage in all the tasks which the Rebbe [Rayatz] demands of us, with redoubled energy. [6]

6. A Slap in the Nation's Face.

During the [Second World] War, when many people from other circles used to come to speak to the Rebbe [Rayatz] about the situation in Europe, he would urge them not only to express their gratitude to G-d that they were not located in that Vale of Tears, but at the same time to do whatever was possible to help their fellow Jews there.

One day a certain thinker of renown asked the Rebbe [Rayatz]: "If the ultimate intent of the entire Creation is in fact the Jewish people, how can G-d possibly allow that execrable villain to burn great numbers of Jews at the stake, and indeed their most superior individuals?"

The Rebbe replied: "When one wants to strike a man in such a place that his whole body will feel not only the pain but also the indignity, one slaps him in the face...."

It has been retold that when the Rebbe [Rayatz] himself was a little boy studying in cheder under the melamed Reb Shimshon, he had to suffer for all the other little pupils. Whenever one of them misbehaved, the melamed would call the [future] Rebbe to the front and threaten to punish him, explaining himself as follows: Even though the Rebbe had done nothing wrong, nevertheless, when his classmates saw what he was undergoing, they would be awestruck and would mend their ways....

The present slap in our collective face we should feel in our entire body, and this should lead us to invest increased vigor in all the tasks that the Rebbe [Rayatz] demands of us.

7. Never Too Late.

There is a well-known teaching of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], [7] that the message of Pesach Sheni [8] is that [9] "there is no such thing as too late."

One can always rectify things.

Even if one was impure, or [10] "on a distant road of yours" - even if a man was at a distance of his own choosing - he can still rectify things.

This teaching is also instructive in relation to our bond with the Rebbe [Rayatz].

There are people who were never in the presence of the Rebbe.

There are others who technically saw the Rebbe, and not once but many times, yet since this had no effect on them, they never really were in the presence of the Rebbe. Since they sensed no thing, they only imagined that they saw the Rebbe.

This being so, such people might think that their opportunity is forever lost.

At this point the message of Pesach Sheni reminds us:

Even one who did not offer the sacrifice on the eve of the first Pesach, and even when the fault was his own ("on a distant road of yours"), he can correct the past by offering the sacrifice of the Second Pesach.

Here, too: Even those who until now were lacking the above- mentioned awareness and sensitivity [11] can experience it now, and in this way correct the past as well.

This is possible because, as explained above, "the Rebbe is not solitary, and chassidim are not solitary."

By virtue of the power of the Rebbe who is to be found among his chassidim, even those who in the past did not experience the above-mentioned sensitive awareness can experience it now.

8. Recalling a Face: Recalled by a Face.

One of the ways of arriving at this, is to picture to oneself the Rebbe's countenance.

Whoever visited the Rebbe at yechidus should recall how the Rebbe appeared when he entered his study for yechidus. Those who did not see the Rebbe should visualize his face by means of a picture.

By [12] visualizing the Rebbe's face one in a sense beholds him.

In a certain way this is superior to studying his teachings, just as seeing is superior to hearing. [13]

By contemplating a picture of the Rebbe such people will now be aroused, even if never before, to a sensitized level of apprehension. [10]

9. Forty Years of Hindsight.

Surely, one might object, this is paradoxical - that when one used to face the Rebbe at yechidus and the like, one did not arrive at this degree of sensitive awareness, yet it should be attainable now?!

A solution may be found in a parallel teaching of the Sages: [14]

"No man plumbs the profundity of his mentor's understanding until forty years have elapsed."

This implies that once forty years have elapsed, he can do so.

This does not mean that now, forty years later, he has to see his Rebbe and hear Torah teachings from his lips, and then he will understand them in all their depth. Rather, it relates to the teachings he heard forty years ago: though when he saw his Rebbe and studied under him he did not appreciate their full weight, it is now granted him to do so.

The same is true in our context.

Though at the time spiritually unresponsive to the Rebbe's presence, a person may now - by means of a picture that enables him to see the Rebbe in the mind's eye - attain the appropriate sensitivity now.

At any rate, whether this finely-honed awareness is attained or not, this is not our primary concern. Our task is to do what is expected of us.

Be what may, it is clear and certain that the intent of the Rebbe [Rayatz] will be realized. However, in order that this should take place in a spirit of Divine lovingkindness and compassion, we should endeavor to do what the Rebbe seeks and demands of us, to meditate and to meditate again. For [15] "there is a sworn promise that exerted endeavor... will never be futile" - and this applies too to exerted endeavor that relates to oneself.

Ultimately, then, this meditation will yield the sensitive awareness that had been lacking.

10. Self-Sacrifice at No Cost.

In addition to the comprehensive message of Pesach Sheni, viz., that it is never too late, [16] we can derive another directive by considering the cause of the impurity that prevented certain people from offering the Pesach sacrifice at its proper time.

The Torah writes, [17] "There were people who were defiled by contact with the dead and were unable to offer the Pesach sacrifice on that day," and the Gemara [18] records various opinions as to the actual cause of their impurity.

Let us consider the directive that can be derived according to the opinion that [18] "those people... had been occupied in the burial of a `mes mitzvah'." [19]

In the case of [20] "any Jew who was found (slain) lying by the roadside with no one to bury him," the law prescribes that [20] "[even] a Kohen [21] who encountered him on his way is obliged to defile himself by contact with him, and even a Kohen Gadol [22] is obliged to defile himself by contact with him, and to bury him."

This obligation applies even if the Kohen is on his way to slaughter and sacrifice his Pesach sacrifice, which he will now be unable to do because of his defilement - as in the opinion cited above.

A similar obligation applies on the spiritual plane:

When one encounters out in the street a fellow Jew who is (G-d forbid) spiritually dead, one is obliged to get involved with him (even if this entails a measure of impurity) in order to get him out of his present situation.

One is obliged to actively encourage him in basic matters like putting on tefillin and observing Shabbos, even if one's own divine service will suffer as a result - so that (for example) one will not be able to apply himself with due concentration to the study of Chassidus, or daven at length with appropriate meditation - just as those who were occupied with a mes mitzvah were unable to offer the Pesach sacrifice.

In passing, one could derive an additional directive concerning one's involvement with a person who is spiritually dead, from the laws of eglah arufah (i.e., the heifer that was to be killed in expiation for an unsolved murder), [23] for there too [24] we find the term chalal ("one who is slain").

[When measuring the distance from the cities which are nearest to the body in order to determine whose Sanhedrin is obliged to fulfill the mitzvah of the eglah arufah, one consideration is rov (lit., "majority"; i.e., Whose population is more numerous?), but] the law also takes into account the counter consideration of karov (lit., "near"; i.e., Which city is nearer?), for the verse says, [25] "Then, as for the city which is nearest...." [26]

Translated into spiritual terms that relate to the fellow Jew described above:

One should not be overawed by the fact that this individual is "slain", that for the major [27] and overwhelming part he is evil. Rather, one should perceive him as he is with regard to his soul, which is [irremovably] near [28] to Divinity (as described in the phrase, [29] "clinging and cleaving to You").

This being so, there is a possibility and an obligation to bring him near to Divinity. [30]

To resume the above comment on possible loss to one's own spiritual labors:

In fact, however, nothing will ultimately be lacking in one's own avodah because of one's involvement with a mes mitzvah.

For this is the central message of Pesach Sheni, the Second Pesach - that even those who had become defiled because they were occupied with a mes mitzvah should be enabled to offer their Pesach sacrifice.

In the spirit of the above assurance, an incident has been handed down about a certain individual who was related to the family of one of the Rebbeim. He was a man of modest intellect, and in addition a shlimazl: every enterprise that he tried proved luckless.

One day his friends collected a sum of money that would enable him to invest in some sort of business. Before he got started, however, he met a man from a nearby township who told him that he urgently needed a sum of money for a dowry so that he could marry off his daughter, and he promptly gave away every penny for hachnassas kallah....

He was ultimately recompensed from heaven, and indeed he became one of the greatest magnates in the whole of Russia.

Footnotes:

  1. (Back to text) This sichah was delivered two months after the passing (histalkus) of the Rebbe Rayatz on Yud Shvat, 5710 [1950].

  2. (Back to text) Viz., that the ultimate intent underlying the Divine self-concealment expressed by Gevurah, is the revelation expressed by Chessed.

  3. (Back to text) In the original, hiskashrus.

  4. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5700 [1940], p. 111ff.; HaYom Yom, entry for 22 Iyar.

  5. (Back to text) Sichah of the last day of Pesach, 5710 [1950], sec. 1ff.

  6. (Back to text) See also the sichah of Shabbos Parshas Terumah, 5710 [1950], sec. 5 (in Proceeding Together, Installment 1, p. 9 in the printed version).

  7. (Back to text) See the sichah of Pesach Sheni, 5701 [1941], sec. 5, in Sefer HaSichos 5701 [1941], p. 115; see also HaYom Yom, entry for Pesach Sheni.

  8. (Back to text) Pesach Sheni (lit., "the second Pesach") was an opportunity given to certain persons who were unable to offer the Pesach sacrifice (on 14 Nissan) to do so one month later (on 14 Iyar); see Bamidbar 9:6-14.

  9. (Back to text) In the Yid. original, es iz nito kein farfaln.

  10. (Back to text) Bamidbar 9:10.

  11. (Back to text) In the Yid. original, derhern.

  12. (Back to text) This comment, based on the notes made by one of those present, was later added to the record (hanachah) of the farbrengen as originally drafted and distributed.

  13. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, p. 121, and the sources indicated there.

  14. (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 5b.

  15. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, entry for 12 Tishrei (et al.), where the context relates to one's endeavors in disseminating Yiddishkeit.

  16. (Back to text) See sec. 7 above.

  17. (Back to text) Bamidbar 9:6.

  18. (Back to text) Sukkah 25a-b.

  19. (Back to text) Lit., "the dead [whom it is] a mitzvah [to bury]," because he has no known relatives to do so.

  20. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Avel 3:8.

  21. (Back to text) Cf. Yayikra 21:1 (and Rashi there) and v. 2.

  22. (Back to text) Cf. Yayikra 21:11 (and Rashi there).

  23. (Back to text) See Devarim 21:1-9; Rambam, Hilchos Rotzeiach U'Shemiras Nefesh 9:1ff.

  24. (Back to text) Devarim 21:1, as in the above-quoted law of the mes mitzvah.

  25. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 3.

  26. (Back to text) On the subject of rov vs. karov, see Bava Basra 23b.

  27. (Back to text) Cf. the above-mentioned consideration of "majority".

  28. (Back to text) Cf. the above-mentioned consideration of "nearness".

  29. (Back to text) From the liturgy of Hoshaanos for the third day of Sukkos (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 327). See also HaYom Yom, entry for 17 Tishrei.

  30. (Back to text) There is no record extant of the explanation that was given at this point on the subject of rov vs. karov.
 Still Time To Connect 1-4 Continuing the Tasks



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