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Devar Torah - Vayishlach

Thursday, 15 December, 2016 - 11:00 pm

We ascend to a Higher Level
when we participate in Yud Tes Kislev

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

The Alter Rebbe once said that he guarantees anyone who will take part in his simcha of Yud Tes Kislev that they will be taken out: from constraints and limitations to growth and expansion; from materiality to spirituality; and from gehenom. The Rebbe Rashab explained that all three of these are correct. He explained further that gehenom refers to this world. With all of the commotion and confusion of this world it’s difficult to see one’s life purpose. Usually all that we can see is the day directly in front of us with all of its challenges and demands. The Alter Rebbe guarantees that when we participate in Yud Tes Kislev we ascend from this commotion to a higher level (and from there we can ascend the highest levels). 


What do we need to do, how do we properly participate in the Alter Rebbe’s simcha? The previous Rebbe quoted (In the year 5693-1938 during his last Yud Tes Kislev in Poland. The Rebbe repeated and explained this further on Yud Tes Kislev 5719-1958) the Tzemach Tzedek who said that we need to hold on to the Alter Rebbe’s doorknob. The previous Rebbe explained that it means to set aside times to study Chassidus on a regular basis (On Shavous that year he added: “With ahavas Yisroel”).

Our preparation for Yud Tes Kislev is to arouse our connection to the Alter Rebbe who will help us. We do this by holding onto his doorknob; by learning Chassidus we become connected to the Alter Rebbe and all of the Rabbeim. This connection isn’t reserved to once or twice a year on a special Yom Tov, it’s a constant connection. Through that connection our hearts and minds remain united with the Rebbe, which strengthens all aspects of our service of Hashem. The Rebbe has explained that we accomplish our purpose in this world by having an active connection to Yaakov Avinu.

My father would recite Tefillas Haderech daily. He once told Reb Meir Harlig that when on a trip our custom is to recite Tefillas Haderech daily without Shem and Malchus (without Hashem’s name and the word ‘Melech’ in the bracha). He then told him that when he leaves 770 he says Tefillas Haderech daily without Shem and Malchus. When he is in 770 he doesn’t say it because he is at home and we don’t recite Tefillas Haderech when we are at home.

My father was not a Chosid of the Alter Rebbe; he was a Chosid from Los Angeles for close to 50 years. Nevertheless his heart and mind was by the Rebbe no matter where he was, and this is how he succeeded (see volume 10 of Likutei Sichos parshas Vayishlach on this topic at length). 

Some feel that although my father, as well as many other Chassidim lived this way, nowadays this kind of level is impossible to achieve.  The answer to this is to be found in a story from the previous Rebbe. Once, the previous Rebbe sent two Chassidim, Rav Shmuel Livitan and Rav Eliyahu Simpson to Chicago to meet with a Mr. Lisner. Mr. Lisner’s great-grandfather was a Chosid of the Alter Rebbe who lived during the times of the liberation of the Alter Rebbe on Yud Tes Kislev (There is a known Sicha about his great grandfather).  After meeting with them, Mr. Lisner went for his checkbook while asking them why came (what cause). They told him that they didn’t come for money.  He became confused. In front of him were two elderly Chassidim who traveled 16 hours by train from New York to Chicago to sit and drink 7-Up and tell stories about is great grandfather? He didn’t get it, what was the catch? He didn’t realize they were there to fulfill the will and desire of the previous Rebbe that he would become aroused to return to his roots. A Rabbi from Chicago at the time Rabbi Perlstein explained to Mr. Lisner with an example. Just as a sofer, a scribe fixes a Sefer Torah when the letters become cracked and faded, so too there are spiritual sofrim. Every Jew is like a letter in the Torah. Over time that letter of can become cracked and faded when he or she neglects or forgets to learn the Torah and do mitzvos (Shabbos, Tefillin etc.). These two Rabbis, Rav Shmuel Livitan and Rav Eliyahu Simpson are spiritual sofrim, they came here to fill in the ink, to strengthen you and help you live up to your greatest potential. Mr. Lisner loved the explanation, he now understood why they came and truly appreciated their visit. When Rav Shmuel Livitan and Rav Eliyahu Simpson returned to New York they went into the previous Rebbe for yechidus. When they told over what occurred they repeated the explanation of Rabbi Perlstein and how much Mr. Lisner appreciated it. The previous Rebbe wasn’t very pleased by the explanation. Seeing this, Rav Shmuel quoted the Gemara that says clearly that a Jew is like a Sefer Torah! To do this the Rebbe responded; surely a Jew is like a Sefer Torah but not like ink on parchment, he is never cracked nor faded. A Jew is like letters carved in stone. You just need someone to wash and polish the stone.

Internally, we are all complete.  We have all that we need to stay connected; we were never lost. Our neshamos might just need bit of washing and polishing, which is accomplished by learning Chassidus to reveal who we really are. We don’t have to wait around for someone to show up with a brush and polish, we are able to take matters into our own hands. By taking part in Yud Tes Kislev we are bonded with all the Rabbeim and this gives us the strength to get out of our own galus and help all of us get out of galus altogether, ascending together to greet Moshiach now.

Good Shabbos, Good Yom Tov. L’Shana Tovah b’Limud haChassidus v’Darchei HaChassidus 

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