When we Reveal our Truest Essence
we Bring the Geula
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik
This last week we commemorated Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, the release and redemption of the Previous Rebbe from prison in Soviet Russia. During a Yud-Beis Tammuz fabrengen in 5717-1957 the Rebbe said the maamar “Hashem Li B'ozri”. The maamar explains the difference between two categories of mitzvos; chukim and mishpatim. Chukim are the mitzvos that we do for no other reason than that Hashem told us to, such as the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer. Mishpatim are the mitzvos that we understand the reason such as honoring one’s Father and Mother. In the fifth chapter of the maamar the Rebbe applies these two types of mitzvos into our daily lifestyle by explaining that they represent two approaches, the general and the specific, in all our activities.
Our connection to Hashem and our dedication to do His will is immutable and unchanging. Our service of Hashem is without qualification; we serve our higher purpose without question. This way of living is represented in the category of chukim, mitzvos not based on reason.
We are also encouraged to constantly ask ourselves the following question; “Is what I am about to do appropriate or is it not appropriate (Es past; yah or nisht)? The second point is represented in the other category of mitzvos, mishpatim; mitzvos based upon reason. On one hand we follow the will of Hashem without qualification. The will of Hashem is also that we should understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. All of this is part and parcel of our unwavering commitment to Hashem and His mitzvos. We extend ourselves even further into the realm of understanding, to infuse our intellectual and emotive qualities with kedusha, not just our higher qualities of will and self-sacrifice.
All day every day we have these two elements resonating within our lives. Remembering that we are serving with a higher purpose and that we carry ourselves as if in an army prepared to do all that we can, is our general mindset and is like chukim. When we render judgment on our particular thoughts speech or actions by asking if the next act or word or thought facilitates and furthers our overall commitment of being connected to Hashem and being a Jew we address the particulars, similar to mishpatim. At this stage our concern is real, to avoid doing things that weaken our enthusiasm or our dedication to fulfilling the fine details of a custom today or down the road. If it does we pull away from that activity entirely even if it might actually be permitted. Although we can't pinpoint a sin, since we are dedicated to instilling our attitudes with strength, confidence and enthusiasm to do the will of Hashem, and this doesn’t help, we pick something else to do, focus on or speak about.
Our reluctance might extend into avoiding becoming an expert on sports statistics, summaries of the latest novels, nuanced understanding of the latest cultural events or what is considered stylish clothes or designer eyewear. By going numb to these things we open up a world of connectivity to Hashem and the preciousness of a mitzvah. Whether it’s the latest iPhone or the latest social media, we can see where it brings us down the road and we act accordingly.
Therefore, when we venture out into new environments and new experiences that are not forbidden, just things that previous generations would not have engaged in we pause to consider why. It’s because they saw what it leads to in the long run. So precious to them is to have a feeling of closeness to Hashem, develop a willingness of the heart and a sense for Chassidus, take joy in a warm chassidishe word at a fabrengen and to have real pleasure in helping another Jew, that they were more than willing to redirect themselves when confronted with such opportunities that lead to the opposite; even later.
What seems today to be the innocent questions of the past; if our mind is in the wall-to-wall carpet or in our rain shoes (‘de kop ligt in de kelashen’) pale in comparison to the present day world with its dizzying array of variety and complicated involvements; but the question remains the same. If our excitement revolves around these things then our connection with Hashem becomes dry, the essentials become ethereal and remote. The transient and the unimportant overtake center stage.
There is a story about Rav Avraham Drizin (Meor) who while being driven from New York to Toronto to lead a fabrengen was stopped at the border. The driver of his car gave his own passport for review to the officer while Rav Avraham was in the back seat absorbed in learning a maamar. The driver did not speak Yiddish and Rav Avraham didn’t speak English. The driver tried to explain to Rav Avraham that the officer wanted to see his birth certificate. Not knowing Yiddish or the word for a birth certificate he said in both English and Yiddish; "He wants your ‘mahus’", meaning to say your identity, your birth certificate. Rav Avraham lifted his eyes off the page of the maamar and said; “He wants my mahus (meaning, my essence)? He lifted the maamar into the air and exclaimed; “This is my mahus!” When the officer saw this interaction he just looked at them and told them they could go. A lesson of the story is that our truest essence is a maamar.
By preserving and expanding our truest essence we go forward with resolve to complete the mission of our times to be released and redeemed from the prison of exile and go to greet Moshiach now!
A Good Shabbos