- ה׳ בְּכִסְלֵו תשע״ז
- Parashat Vayetzei (in Diaspora)
Jacob's covenant, "if You will protect me, feed me, clothe me...i will make You my G-D"
וַיֵּצֵ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִבְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ חָרָֽנָה׃
Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran.
וַיִּפְגַּ֨ע בַּמָּק֜וֹם וַיָּ֤לֶן שָׁם֙ כִּי־בָ֣א הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח֙ מֵאַבְנֵ֣י הַמָּק֔וֹם וַיָּ֖שֶׂם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֑יו וַיִּשְׁכַּ֖ב בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃
He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.
וַֽיַּחֲלֹ֗ם וְהִנֵּ֤ה סֻלָּם֙ מֻצָּ֣ב אַ֔רְצָה וְרֹאשׁ֖וֹ מַגִּ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יְמָה וְהִנֵּה֙ מַלְאֲכֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים עֹלִ֥ים וְיֹרְדִ֖ים בּֽוֹ׃
He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.
וְהִנֵּ֨ה יְהוָ֜ה נִצָּ֣ב עָלָיו֮ וַיֹּאמַר֒ אֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֱלֹהֵי֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔יךָ וֵאלֹהֵ֖י יִצְחָ֑ק הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ שֹׁכֵ֣ב עָלֶ֔יהָ לְךָ֥ אֶתְּנֶ֖נָּה וּלְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃
And the LORD was standing beside him and He said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring.
וְהָיָ֤ה זַרְעֲךָ֙ כַּעֲפַ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ֛ יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה וְנִבְרֲכ֥וּ בְךָ֛ כָּל־מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָ֖ה וּבְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃
Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants.
וְהִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י עִמָּ֗ךְ וּשְׁמַרְתִּ֙יךָ֙ בְּכֹ֣ל אֲשֶׁר־תֵּלֵ֔ךְ וַהֲשִׁ֣בֹתִ֔יךָ אֶל־הָאֲדָמָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את כִּ֚י לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱזָבְךָ֔ עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִם־עָשִׂ֔יתִי אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי לָֽךְ׃
Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
וַיִּיקַ֣ץ יַעֲקֹב֮ מִשְּׁנָתוֹ֒ וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אָכֵן֙ יֵ֣שׁ יְהוָ֔ה בַּמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָנֹכִ֖י לֹ֥א יָדָֽעְתִּי׃
Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is present in this place, and I did not know it!”
וַיִּירָא֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר מַה־נּוֹרָ֖א הַמָּק֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה אֵ֣ין זֶ֗ה כִּ֚י אִם־בֵּ֣ית אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְזֶ֖ה שַׁ֥עַר הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.”
וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם יַעֲקֹ֜ב בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיִּקַּ֤ח אֶת־הָאֶ֙בֶן֙ אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֣ם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֔יו וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֹתָ֖הּ מַצֵּבָ֑ה וַיִּצֹ֥ק שֶׁ֖מֶן עַל־רֹאשָֽׁהּ׃
Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
וַיִּקְרָ֛א אֶת־שֵֽׁם־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל וְאוּלָ֛ם ל֥וּז שֵׁם־הָעִ֖יר לָרִאשֹׁנָֽה׃
He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had been Luz.
וַיִּדַּ֥ר יַעֲקֹ֖ב נֶ֣דֶר לֵאמֹ֑ר אִם־יִהְיֶ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים עִמָּדִ֗י וּשְׁמָרַ֙נִי֙ בַּדֶּ֤רֶךְ הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָנֹכִ֣י הוֹלֵ֔ךְ וְנָֽתַן־לִ֥י לֶ֛חֶם לֶאֱכֹ֖ל וּבֶ֥גֶד לִלְבֹּֽשׁ׃
Jacob then made a vow, saying, “If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear,
וְשַׁבְתִּ֥י בְשָׁל֖וֹם אֶל־בֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑י וְהָיָ֧ה יְהוָ֛ה לִ֖י לֵאלֹהִֽים׃
and if I return safe to my father’s house—the LORD shall be my God.
וְהָאֶ֣בֶן הַזֹּ֗את אֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֙מְתִּי֙ מַצֵּבָ֔ה יִהְיֶ֖ה בֵּ֣ית אֱלֹהִ֑ים וְכֹל֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּתֶּן־לִ֔י עַשֵּׂ֖ר אֲעַשְּׂרֶ֥נּוּ לָֽךְ׃
And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God’s abode; and of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You.”
Kuntres Acharon, middle of Essay 4
אבל דוקא סודות המצוה
This, however, refers only to [the study of] the Kabbalistic mysteries of the mitzvah itself,
דלא גרע מלימוד הלכותיה, ואדרבה כו׳
for this is not inferior to the study of its laws; indeed, quite the contrary...,
אף שאינו משיג המהות
even though he does not apprehend the essence of the spiritual intent of the mitzvah as it applies to the visages of Atzilut.
Moreover, his understanding of the essence of the etrog, the object with which the mitzvah is observed, grants him some comprehension of the essence of the mystical reaches of the subject at large.
מה שאין כן בסדר ההשתלשלות
It does not apply to [the study of] the order of Hishtalshelut, the chainlike stages of progressive self-screening whereby the Divine light descends from level to level until ultimately this corporeal world is created:
אף אם משיג המציאות
Even if one does comprehend the external aspect of the existence of the Sefirot and spiritual levels involved,
לא עדיף מצד עצמו כלימוד המצות, שמשיג ותופס המהות
this is not intrinsically as worthy as the study of the laws of the mitzvot, where one comprehends and grasps their essence.
Knowledge of the various spiritual levels may indeed be superior for an unrelated reason, namely, that it leads to a “complete heart” (lev shalem), a wholehearted awe of G‑d — and this, as the Alter Rebbe will later say, is the purpose of all the mitzvot. Intrinsically, however, gaining this knowledge is not superior to studying the laws governing the performance of the mitzvot, whose essence he can understand.
ומעלה עליו כאילו קיים בפועל ממש
Moreover, this [study] is considered [in certain cases] the equivalent of actual performance,
כמו שכתוב: זאת התורה כו׳
as it is written,1 “This is the law [of the burnt offering and the meal offering...].”
The Gemara comments on this,2 “He who occupies himself with these laws is considered as if he had actually offered a burnt offering and a meal offering.”
Mastering the revealed laws of the commandments is thus in one sense superior to delving into the innermost dimension (the pnimiyut) of the Torah, on esoteric subjects such as the order of Hishtalshelut. For the study of the laws relates to the essence of the subject at hand, such as the physical objects with which the commandments are performed.
G‑d’s wisdom, moreover, which is inherent in these laws, descends and permeates the physical objects around which the laws revolve. It is thus the essence of G‑d’s wisdom that the student comprehends, and thereby he becomes involved in the “wondrous union” described in ch. 5 of Tanya, whereby his mortal intellect simultaneously “encompasses and is encompassed by” the Divine wisdom embodied in the Torah which he is studying. This intellectual union in turn unites his soul (which transcends his intellect) with the infinite light that is vested in the wisdom of the Torah.
The above is true only when he understands the essence of his subject. This is the case when he studies (for example) the laws regulating the observance of the commandments. If, by contrast, his subject is the hierarchies of angels in the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirahand Asiyah, or, yet higher, the configurations of Sefirot within the World of Atzilut, then his grasp is no more than external: he may indeed be aware of his subject’s existence, but he will be unable to know its essence.
* * *
And now, all the above notwithstanding, the Alter Rebbe is about to point out the superior aspect of the study of Hishtalshelut.
אלא שידיעת המציאות מההשתלשלות היא גם כן מצוה רמה ונשאה, ואדרבה, עולה על כולנה
However, the knowledge of the existence of the Hishtalshelut is also a lofty and exalted mitzvah.3 Indeed, it outweighs them all, all of the mitzvot and the study of the laws of the Torah.
כמו שכתוב: וידעת היום כו׳
Thus it is written,4 “Know this day [...that the L‑rd is G‑d],”
דע את אלקי אביך כו׳
and5 “Know the G‑d of your father...”; i.e., there is an obligation to attain a knowledge or apprehension of Divinity.
ומביאה ללב שלם כו׳
Moreover, this leads to a “whole heart,” for the latter verse concludes, “and serve Him with a whole heart”; i.e., a knowledge of G‑d leads one to serve Him with one’s entire being.
As explained in Likkutei Torah, in the discourse beginning VeLo Tashbit, this refers to serving G‑d with awe — and this is the ultimate intent of all the mitzvot, as the Torah states,6 “G‑d has commanded us to perform all these statutes so that we may fear the L‑rd our G‑d.” And it is the study of the innermost dimensions of the Torah and a knowledge of the various spiritual levels which comprise the order of Hishtalshelut that enable one to fulfill the mitzvah of “knowing G‑d,” which leads in turn to the “whole heart” of “fearing Him.” Thus the Alter Rebbe concludes:
And this is the essential thing: the wholehearted awe of G‑d is the ultimate purpose of all the commandments.
As mentioned above, one can attain this state only through a knowledge of the order of Hishtalshelut, even though this knowledge is merely an awareness of its existence and not a grasp of its essence.
והשגת המציאות הוא להפשיט מגשמיות כו׳
The comprehension of existence entails divesting [this subject] of any physicality....
In other words, one should endeavor to picture its spirituality. Hence, as the Rebbe has often stressed, one should study the innermost and mystical dimension of the Torah in such a way that one7 “derives sustenance from it” (יתפרנסון מיניה) — viz., the “sustenance” derived from comprehension. And soundly-based comprehension can be secured only when this dimension of the Torah is studied with the intellectual elucidation afforded by the teachings of Chabad.
רק שזו היא מצוה אחת מתרי״ג
However, this mitzvah (of knowing G‑d and apprehending Divinity) is but one mitzvah of the 613,
והאדם צריך לקיים כל תרי״ג
and a man must fulfill all 613,
לפי שהן השתלשלות המהות דחיצוניות דכלים דאצילות
for they descend from the essence of the external aspect of the vessels of Atzilut, a source whose standing was explained above.
לכך צריך להרבות בלימוד כל התרי״ג, וקיומן בפועל ממש, במחשבה דבור ומעשה, שהן בריאה, יצירה, עשיה
Hence, one must extensively study all 613 mitzvot, and [hence] fulfill them in actual practice in thought, speech and deed — which parallel Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah respectively —
לברר בירורין אשר שם
in order to purify whatever needs purification (beirur) there.
As previously explained, the extraction and elevation of the sparks exiled in the various worlds is the ultimate purpose of creation.
Monday, 5 Kislev 5777 / December 5, 2016
שיעורים:חומש: ויצא,חמישי עם פירש"י.
תניא: אבל דוקא... '213' שם.
והנה סולם מוצב ארצה - תפלה היא סולם ההתקשרות של הנשמה באלקות. והגם שהוא מוצב ארצה, התחלת התפלה היא בהודאה לבד, אבל וראשו מגיע השמימה, בבחינת ביטול עצמי אבל בא לזה ע"י [על ידי] הקדמת ההשגה וההבנה בפסוקי דזמרה ברכות ק"ש [קריאת שמע] וק"ש [וקריאת שמע].
Torah lessons:Chumash: Vayeitsei, Chamishi with Rashi.
Tanya: Here we speak (p. 607)...within those worlds. (p. 607).
"A ladder was standing on the ground.1" Prayer is the ladder that connects souls and G‑dhood. And although it stands "...on the ground,"the start of davening being no more than acknowledgement, yet "its top2reaches the Heavens"3 - a state of total bitul, self-nullification. But one reaches this level through the prior attainment of comprehension and understanding4 inherent in p'sukei d'zimra,5 in the b'rachot of sh'ma and in sh'ma proper.
Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943) from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.