Avrohom Rainitz, Beis Moshiach
Usually, interviews for Gimmel Tammuz are done with mashpiim who set the Chassidic tone in a community or yeshiva. The in-depth talks with roshei yeshivos are for other occasions, when we want to discuss chinuch and learning. However, when it’s the Chabad rosh yeshiva from South Africa, Rabbi Noam Wagner, where lomdus and Chassidishkeit are found side by side, one strengthens and supports the other.
During this interview, which dealt with Chassidic topics, proofs were brought from the Gemara along with quotes from sichos and maamarei Chassidus, because, in truth, it is all one thing.
R’ Wagner was born in Toronto and learned in Litvishe yeshivos in his youth. With the influence of his Lubavitcher uncles, the Schochets, he was niskarev to Chabad and he learned in Oholei Torah in Crown Heights. Thus, he spent time in proximity to Beis Chayeinu and absorbed that special flavor that causes his talmidim to esteem him so very highly, and to learn from him on a deep and internal level.
During the “corona situation,” R’ Wagner spent most of his time learning and farbrenging with his talmidim via Zoom. The little remaining time he devoted to editing a series of articles in English that are published by the Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos. The first maamar was “Ha’Som Nafsheinu B’Chaim (“Eternal Life” in English),” and the second maamar, “V’Avdi Dovid.”
Before discussing the significance of Gimmel Tammuz, how are we, as Lubavitcher Chassidim, meant to respond to the great awakening and the anticipation for Moshiach in the wake of corona?
When people ask me whether corona is connected with the coming of Moshiach, the answer is definitely yes. If, in general, the Rebbe said that when you look at what is happening in the world you see how it is progressing toward the Geula, there is no question that an event of this magnitude, which has affected billions of people around the world, is part of the world’s progression toward the Geula. Especially according to what the Rebbe emphasized in many places, “There is no bad that descends from Above.” Certainly, there are deep positive progressions that are unfolding here. As you noted, even groups outside of Chabad have realized that this is connected with the Geula and we have seen a tremendous awakening and anticipation of the hisgalus of Moshiach.
However, it’s important to stop and stress that as Chabad Chassidim, our emuna in the coming of Moshiach does not need the affirmation and encouragement of any global process. Our faith that our generation is the last of galus and the first of Geula and that the Rebbe MH”M is about to redeem us, comes only from the Rebbe’s sichos, particularly his clear prophecy!
Perhaps what I am about to say is sharp, but it is important to emphasize: The Gemara says, “May the bones of those who calculate the endpoint burst for they say since the ketz arrived and he [Moshiach] did not come, he will never come.” Similarly, when faith in Moshiach is aroused because of some event or another, if the event passes and the Geula did not come, it causes a weakening in emuna. You can hear people saying, “How is it possible that corona is waning and Moshiach still didn’t come?!” Because when corona is what inspires emuna, when it passes, the emuna passes too, chalila.
Our emuna does not derive from any passing event; only from the word of Hashem through His prophet, the Rebbe.
On the one hand, you are saying that corona is part of the Geula process. On the other hand, you are expressing reservations regarding the connection between corona and the inspired emuna in the coming of Moshiach … How do you think we should regard these world events from a Chabad perspective?
The foundation of our faith that the Geula will come in our generation is a prophecy of the Rebbe, period. It’s just that sometimes this point is weakened and forgotten and then come events like corona which are meant to wake us up and remind us of the point. For those who were in darkness so that they forgot the Rebbe’s prophecy, corona is like a focused ray of light which illuminates and draws our attention to the sichos in which the Rebbe stated a prophecy that hinei zeh Moshiach ba, and the many sichos in which the Rebbe revealed to us the G-dly plan for our generation. Once that ray of light illuminated the sichos, we do not derive our emuna from the ray of light but from the sichos which it illuminates!
TO LEARN FROM THE REBBE
Nearly 27 years have passed since Gimmel Tammuz 5754. Gimmel Tammuz is approaching once again and the true and complete Geula has still not happened. Once again, the dilemma that divides Chabad Chassidim presents itself: how to regard Gimmel Tammuz. It is sometimes amazing to see how many categorizations there can be for one day in the calendar. It depends on whom you ask …
It is definitely possible to understand the various perspectives on this day, just as their faces are dissimilar, so too, their views are different. However, as Chassidim, we were taught that before we say what we think, we need to see what the Rebbe says. After seeing what the Rebbe says, what value is there to what we think? …
Chassidim look in the Rebbe’s sichos for an answer to “What is Gimmel Tammuz,” but a strange thing happened. Some, rather than looking at sichos and maamarim that were said on Gimmel Tammuz, look at the sichos that were said on Yud Shevat. Even one who thinks that Gimmel Tammuz is like Yud Shevat should learn from what the Rebbe himself did. When the Rebbe wanted to explain Yud Shevat, he did not look at the sichos that the Rebbe Rayatz said on Beis Nissan, when the Rebbe Rashab passed away. He repeatedly analyzed and extrapolated from the maamar that the Rebbe Rayatz produced for Yud Shevat.
This was to such an extent that although throughout 5710-5711, the Rebbe published a kuntrus of maamarim of the Rebbe Rayatz for every special calendar day, for Yud Shevat he did not publish a kuntrus and at the next opportunity, when the kuntrus for Purim 5711 was published, he clarified in his introduction:
“A kuntrus for Yud-Yud-Gimmel Shevat was not published this year because the Rebbe, my father-in-law, himself established the maamar (Basi L’Gani – kuntrus 74) for Yud Shevat, the day of his histalkus, who will come after him and change this? On his hilula, there is nothing for us except to learn and delve into this maamar itself.”
The Rebbe taught us with these words an important principle. When the Rebbe himself, in his maamarim or sichos, establishes what the essence of a day is, you don’t go and look elsewhere, not even in other maamarim and sichos of the Rebbe himself. Rather, “learn and delve into this maamar itself.”
This is what the Rebbe did throughout the years. Year after year, the Rebbe delved into this maamar again and again. The Rebbe did not say other maamarim. Each year, he explained another chapter of Basi L’Gani and derived instructions and guidance – what does the Rebbe want of us today and how should we conduct ourselves.
Therefore, when we want to know what Gimmel Tammuz is and what the Rebbe wants of us on this day, we need to learn the maamarim and sichos that the Rebbe said on Gimmel Tammuz and about Gimmel Tammuz.
CAN WE SAY THAT THE REBBE MERELY “WISHED” ETERNAL LIFE?
What do we discover when delving into the maamarim of Gimmel Tammuz?
Throughout his nesius, the Rebbe published two edited maamarim for Gimmel Tammuz and when we learn them in depth, we see amazing things with a clear response to the question, “What is Gimmel Tammuz?”
Gimmel Tammuz 5754 followed a period in which the Rebbe led us to new heights in the anticipation of the hisgalus, in the course of which he often spoke about the Nasi of the seventh generation meriting eternal life with no “interruption in between” until the complete Geula.
The concealment which occurred on Gimmel Tammuz was seemingly a contradiction to the motif that repeated itself dozens of times in the sichos that we heard from the Rebbe in the latter years. This contradiction, between what we see and what is written in the Rebbe’s teachings, can lead one to conclude that we were mistaken. And what is the mistake? That what the Rebbe said wasn’t a promise but a wish and request that, unfortunately, did not happen. Or, that all this was from the perspective of the Rebbe but we did not merit it.
In the maamar “Yehi Hashem Elokeinu Imanu,” that the Rebbe edited for Gimmel Tammuz 5750, the Rebbe speaks about these two points and negates them. The Rebbe explains in the maamar that although usually there is a difference between the prayer of a tzaddik and a promise, in that a prayer is only a request from below that something happen and a promise is from above and will definitely happen, when a tzaddik is in a state of utter bittul then even in his prayer and request there is the element of a promise!
In order to dismiss the “brilliant insights” that were said after Gimmel Tammuz, namely that the talk about eternal life was “from the Rebbe’s perspective,” but we were not deserving, the Rebbe states that “this, that the request of the baal ha’geula also incorporates the idea of a promise, is also on the part of the recipients”!
In the maamar that the Rebbe edited for Gimmel Tammuz 5749, “Ha’Som Nafsheinu B’Chaim,” the Rebbe explains that although in general, life is limited, there is life which is supernatural that has no limits.
What allusions are there to be found in the sichos that the Rebbe said on Gimmel Tammuz?
In the sichos it’s not hints at all. In the sichos, the Rebbe clearly establishes that Gimmel Tammuz is a day which is, in essence, that of Geula. It’s just that sometimes we don’t see this at the time; only later on does it become apparent retrospectively that it was redemption from the start.
The Rebbe says this in connection with the redemption of the Rebbe Rayatz when, on Gimmel Tammuz, his death sentence was commuted and replaced with exile. At the time, they saw this as a day when there was a decree of exile but in hindsight it was seen that this day began the redemption process which ended a few days later and therefore, the Rebbe writes that “Chassidim ought to celebrate Gimmel Tammuz!”
When speaking about allusions in sichos, it is important to learn the sicha of 12 Tammuz 5710 where the Rebbe explains that the reason that 13 Tammuz 5709, a few months before his histalkus, the Rebbe Rayatz spoke about “long life, true life without an interruption” – is because the word “chaim” lends itself to “pshetlach” (non-literal interpretations) and so he added “long life” – which everyone knows means long life, literally.
It’s important to stress that on 13 Tammuz 5709, the Rebbe Rayatz only spoke about how the saying “what do you remember” enlivened Chassidim over the generations with the life-energy of “techiyas ha’meisim.” He then goes on to say that techiyas ha’meisim is life without interruption because true life is holiness and holiness is infinite.
That’s all; that is everything the Rebbe Rayatz said in that sicha. He did not speak about himself and did not say that he would live a long life etc. and yet this quote is enough for the Rebbe to say, “the reason he spoke about this on 13 Tammuz 5709 (and not in 5708 or 5707) is that it was the last Chag HaGeula before Yud Shevat 5710, so it was necessary to anticipate the message of eternal life.”
If this is what we need to learn from a one-time mention, with no direct reference to the life of the Nasi HaDor, simply because the words were said in the last year before Yud Shevat, all the more so need we relate in that manner to the dozens of times that the Rebbe said in the latter years, referring directly to the seventh Nasi HaDor, that he would continue to live eternal life without interruption!
Especially the sicha of Shabbos parshas Bo 5752, which is a compilation of the sicha of parshas Bo and the sicha of 3 Shevat (exactly 30 months before Gimmel Tammuz 5754), where the Rebbe says explicitly that the chiddush of the ninth generation since the Baal Shem Tov as compared to the eighth generation, is that in the eighth generation there was a histalkus of the neshama from the body while in the ninth generation this won’t happen; rather, we go to Yemos HaMoshiach with eternal life without interruption.
I don’t want to quote a piece from the sicha although there are astonishing quotes on the subject, because this sicha needs to be learned from beginning to end in order to understand that the quotes about eternal life are not just an expression that was used in passing in the sicha but are the essence of the entire sicha.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard people claim that these and other quotes are taken out of context. I am sure that someone who learns the entire sicha will come to the opposite conclusion, i.e. that the quotes don’t sufficiently express the import of what the Rebbe said about the eternal life of the Nasi of the seventh generation!
In general, quoting excerpts from the Rebbe’s sichos has a small advantage in that they highlight essential points so that even people who don’t learn the entire sicha are made aware of what the Rebbe said. On the other hand, that cannot suffice and we must learn the sicha, inside. When you learn a sicha inside, in the Rebbe’s words: 1) you see how the quote is part of the Rebbe’s entire approach and how it’s constructed and bolstered at length, in breadth and in depth; and 2) learning the Rebbe’s teachings impacts the soul (as the Rebbe emphasized regarding learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula, that this is not merely a segula since the Torah changes reality and learning causes a change in the soul of the person who learns), so that it is incomparably more effective when you learn an entire sicha as opposed to just hearing sound-bites.
The bottom line is that one who learns the Rebbe’s sichos comes to the clear conclusion that despite the concealment, the true is that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam.
THE JOY OF THE CHASSIDIM IN RUSSIA
That’s all good and well but when Gimmel Tammuz comes around again and we still don’t see the Rebbe, it isn’t easy to believe that true reality is different … People ask: Why don’t we see the Rebbe? What’s the answer to this question?
I agree that it isn’t easy; it’s hard, but as Jews we believe that Torah is what establishes true reality even if we don’t see it. There is a reality we can see and sometimes we “see” reality only after contemplating the teachings of the Torah.
Similarly with belief in G-d, we believe with complete faith although we have not seen Him. When the communists wanted to uproot belief in G-d, they would say: If G-d exists, why don’t I see Him? In their attempts to turn emuna into a joke, they would ask: Where is G-d? Where is He hiding?
Jews, believers, children of believers, were not fazed by these questions because Jews always knew that the reality we see is only a small part of true reality, and true reality is established by Torah!
This also answers your question. When you don’t learn the Rebbe’s sichos, it’s definitely hard, but when you learn the sichos, and as I mentioned earlier, not just excerpts but entire sichos, in which the Rebbe speaks about the eternal life of the Nasi HaDor, it affects a change in a person’s soul and suddenly his “vision” is not limited to the physical and he can “see” that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam, because that is what Torah says.
True, there is still the question: the Rebbe says in Likutei Sichos, volume 24, that in order for a Jew to be connected to Hashem with all his soul powers, including his intellect and emotions (to know and believe) – Hashem reveals His G-dliness in the world through Moshe Rabeinu who is the “man of G-d” – a person who can be seen and heard. So it is certainly valid to ask, why don’t we see the Rebbe?
We need to give this question over to Hashem with the request and demand that He remove this terrible concealment so we can see and hear the Nasi HaDor already. But we can’t ignore everything it says in Chassidus in general, and the Rebbe’s teachings in particular, about the eternal life of the Nasi HaDor just because we have a good question.
Rabbi Velvel Kesselman once visited our yeshiva and spoke enthusiastically about the Rebbe being chai v’kayam. The bachurim asked him: How can you demand this of us when you saw the Rebbe and we didn’t?
He said, first of all, I envy you. Despite the concealment, you believe beyond the limits of rational thought. Second, I saw the Rebbe but before that, for many years, I also did not see the Rebbe. I grew up in Russia where there were no maamarim or sichos of the Rebbe and not even a picture of the Rebbe! Where we lived, only one family had a picture of the Rebbe and in fear of the secret police they hid it under the ground and took it out only once a year to look at. We didn’t see the Rebbe then either, but we knew we had a Rebbe!
I heard a similar idea from Rabbi Dovid Raskin who said that Chassidim were farbrenging in Russia and they decided to write a letter to the Rebbe Rayatz. Since they did not know his exact address in New York, they wrote, “For the Lubavitcher Rebbe – New York.” Of course, they could not send the letter directly. They somehow sent it with someone leaving Russia and he dropped the letter in a mailbox outside of the Soviet Union. The envelope made it to America and eventually to the Rebbe Rayatz. The Rebbe sent them an answer which was also sent via clandestine ways. In the margin of the letter, the secretary wrote: P.S. The Rebbe’s address is 770 Eastern Parkway and in the future, you can use this address.
R’ Raskin said that when they received the letter, they farbrenged an entire night over this line. The Rebbe has an address! They had never been in New York and did not know what “Eastern Parkway” is, and some of them never dreamed they would ever get out of Russia and get to that place called “Eastern Parkway,” but just knowing that the Rebbe has an address in this physical world, gave them chayus!
Today, we have sichos and maamarim, not only in writing but audio and even video! Still, even today, our main chayus is not in videos but in knowing there is a Rebbe and he is in this physical world. Where he is and what he is doing at this moment, makes no difference. The main thing is we have a living Rebbe, “ah lebediker Rebbe,” and we are mekushar to him!
We need to connect to the “source of living waters” which can be found explicitly in the Rebbe’s teachings and it’s also important that we know how to differentiate between this and “the broken cisterns” of the emotions, as holy and pure as they might be. True, sometimes the reality that emerges from the words of the Rebbe sounds more extreme than the most “extremist” ideas. However, it is not that we are looking to be “extreme” but rather to be connected to the truth of Torah in its purest form.
IN THE SOURCES ALL IS CLEAR; YOU JUST NEED TO LEARN THEM!
You are involved with the Jewish community in South Africa. Is someone who is not a Lubavitcher Chassid able to accept this, to believe in something just because that’s what is written?
What you’re asking about “chai v’kayam” is what people ask about the Rebbe being Moshiach. The answer to both is one and the same. When you learn in the sources, every believing Jew agrees and accepts it as the truth.
I’ll tell you a story that happened here, in South Africa, eleven years ago. Since we are below the equator, Shavuos falls out in the winter here and Shavuos night is very long. Gabbaim in shuls think of original ideas of how to fill the time and in one of the big shuls here, belonging to the Mizrachi movement, they decided to hold a symposium on the topic of Moshiach with a Mizrachi rabbi, a Litvishe rabbi, and a Lubavitcher rabbi.
They brought a famous Mizrachi rabbi from Eretz Yisrael but when it came to the Litvishe and Lubavitcher they ran into a problem. They couldn’t find someone in the Litvishe community who was knowledgeable in inyanei Moshiach and no Lubavitcher was willing to participate in the symposium.
They finally came to me, as a Lubavitcher rosh yeshiva, and since I thought this was an excellent opportunity to convey the Rebbe’s message, I agreed. One of my fellow shluchim, who was afraid that what I had to say would not be accepted told me apprehensively: I heard that you are going to this debate … What if they ask you THE question?
I told him: Then I will give them THE answer.
He was not reassured. He asked: You’ll tell them the truth?
I said: What do you think, that I’ll lie to them?! Of course, I will tell them the truth!
When I went to the shul, the organizer welcomed me and said they were very grateful that I had agreed to enter the lions’ den as though to say, that you will lose is a given but you deserve congratulations for showing up. When he later saw me saying Tehillim as part of the Tikkun Leil Shavuos, he thought I was saying Tehillim for the success of my talk.
There was a large crowd, about a thousand men, women and children. The Mizrachi rabbi spoke before me. He presented his approach according to which the State of Israel is the Moshiach and the Geula. When he was done, I began to offer a comprehensive talk in which I presented the Torah sources which make clear what the Geula is and who Moshiach is.
My approach was simple. When you speak about Moshiach, you need to understand that Moshiach is a Torah-halachic topic from every angle. For some reason, when speaking about Moshiach, people start to speak emotionally and say things like, “It can’t be.” Why can’t it be? Because it doesn’t sit well with you or because you saw that in another halacha?
I asked a simple question: Who knows where it says halachos about Moshiach? Many knew that the answer was the Rambam. Which book of the Rambam? There were a few there who actually knew. Did you ever learn it? Almost nobody said yes.
I told them: If you had a question in the laws of issur-heter (forbidden/permitted, generally referring to kashrus and family purity laws), would you consider asking a talmid chacham who learned dozens of mesechtos of Shas but never learned Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah? Obviously, not, because a person who never learned Yoreh Deah cannot express an opinion about whether a chicken is kosher or not, even when we admire his knowledge in the mesechtos that he learned.
After this introduction, I began teaching Hilchos Melachim in the Rambam from which it is clear that Moshiach is a human being, from the house of Dovid, etc. who brings shleimus in Torah and mitzvos; everything that every Lubavitcher who learns inyanei Moshiach and Geula knows. To my audience though, it was all new.
When learning the Rambam, it’s enough just to read the words of the Rambam, without commentary, and everyone understands that the Rebbe is Moshiach. The question is not whether the Rebbe is Moshiach according to the Rambam but whether they ever learned the Rambam …
I told them that I once reviewed a sicha in a shul on Acharon shel Pesach, the one about two eras of Yemos HaMoshiach. It’s a sicha with a lot of lomdus and throughout the sicha I noticed one of the people standing on the side looking annoyed until, at a certain point, he exclaimed, “Nu, tell us already, who is Moshiach?” I wasn’t talking about that but when he heard the Rambam about “a king from the house of Dovid who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvos,” he heard “Lubavitcher Rebbe” again and again. Then I heard his friend say to him: Relax, he said earlier that there are two eras so maybe the Rebbe will be Moshiach only in the first era.
The same thing happened at the symposium in South Africa. After I explained what the Geula is, according to the Rambam, it was clear to all even before I said it, that according to the Rambam the Rebbe is Moshiach. The questions that followed were topical clarifications of the laws of the Rambam like: How is it possible to say after Gimmel Tammuz that the Rebbe is Moshiach when the Rambam says that if Moshiach is killed that proves that he is not the Moshiach promised by the Torah?
How did you explain that?
First, I pointed out that the Rambam says “killed” and not “died,” since when he is killed in war that shows his failure as Melech HaMoshiach, while if he “dies” – the Gemara itself says how it is possible for Moshiach to be from the dead, that is, he will be resurrected before the general resurrection of the dead and immediately redeem the Jewish people.
Like the Rebbe’s handwritten answer (regarding what he said in the first maamar Basi L’Gani) that was publicized:
They asked me about what I said that soon will be fulfilled the promise of “arise and sing those who dwell in the dust” and he – the Rebbe, my father-in-law – among them, and he – the Rebbe – will take us out of exile – the order is (as also brought in Chassidus) that first there will be the coming of Moshiach and Yemos HaMoshiach, and only then will the dead come to life? The answer to this is, although in general the order is the coming of Moshiach, the building of the Beis HaMikdash, the gathering of the exiles and resurrection of the dead, still, the resurrection of individuals was and will be before that as we know several stories in Shas and Medrashim and from tzaddikim who resurrected the dead, as our Sages say, “the smallest among you can resurrect the dead.”
Then I said that really we continue to believe as we always did that Moshiach is from the living (and maybe this is the reason that the Rambam says only “killed” and does not mention “died” for according to the Rambam there are two possibilities, either “killed” and then he is not the one the Torah promised or, despite the way it looks, he is alive). I explained that the Torah is that which establishes reality and when the Torah states that a certain person is alive, he is alive.
This was also based on sources in the Gemara and halacha which is why it was accepted. I stressed that even with “chai v’kayam,” Jews don’t establish their views based on what “seems to them” but on what it says in Torah. I said that I wasn’t there to argue and convince but to present the Torah sources for them to arrive at their own conclusion, but to base it on the sources and not their gut feelings.
I told them that I once met a doctor who spoke disparagingly against a Lubavitcher rav who says the Rebbe MH”M is chai v’kayam. He said: I am a doctor and as a doctor I say to you that it is impossible to say the Rebbe is alive.
I said to him: I’ve seen many instances in which people asked the Rebbe medical questions and the Rebbe referred them to a rav, but I’ve never seen that someone asked the Rebbe a halachic question and the Rebbe referred him to a doctor. With all due respect for the field of medicine, this is a Torah-halachic subject and we pasken according to halacha. If you think he is mistaken because halacha says otherwise, go and ask him about it. But to say that the rav is mistaken in his halachic ruling because you disagree … The rav paskens according to halacha and not according to your feelings!
Do you have Torah examples where the halachic psak determines reality and not the other way round?
The Rebbe often brought the psak halacha based on the Talmud Yerushalmi on the verse, “L’Keil gomer olai,” that if Beis Din decided to make a leap year, that changes reality, even retroactively! Similarly, the Rebbe cites what it says in the Gemara and halacha about spontaneous generation (ex. flies arising from rotting meat). Although scientists today said this is not possible, we pasken according to Chazal and discount the scientists.
So too, with declaring life and death, halacha and medicine don’t always see the reality eye to eye and we as believing Jews pasken according to halacha, of course, and not according to medicine. Even if doctors will declare that a person is dead, if, according to halacha, he is alive, we ignore the doctors and treat him as a living person.
Therefore, when we examine Torah sources and arrive at the Torah conclusion that the Nasi HaDor must be alive in a physical body, we believe with complete faith that this is the reality.
[By the way, in medicine too there is a rare instance in which we know that a person is alive although his heart and brain are not working. This is in a standstill operation where the blood circulation and brain operation are stopped for an hour as the body is cooled. The heart does not beat, the brain does not work, and of course the person does not breathe. The patient is operated on in a state of induced death and when the operation is over, the body’s temperature is raised, the blood resumes circulating and the heart and brain function once again. These operations are done successfully and people live many years afterward.]
When you examine the subject from a Torah perspective and bring halachic sources, people are surprised by how complicated it is. In the Gemara there are some stories of tzaddikim who were alive in a body even after their passing like Rabeinu HaKadosh, Rabbi Elozor the son of Rashbi, and others. The issue comes up in halachic literature with detailed discussions regarding when these tzaddikim are obligated in mitzvos etc.
In the Rebbe’s sichos too, there are references to these subjects. In the sicha of 20 Menachem Av 5731, the Rebbe says that in light of the Gemara that says “Yaakov did not die,” practically speaking that means his body does not convey impurity since a dead person conveys impurity and a live person does not!
When speaking about the Moshe Rabeinu in every generation, there is the sicha in Likutei Sichos volume 26 in which the Rebbe declares that the life of Moshe is eternal even within the physicality of this world, by being enclothed in the body of the Nasi HaDor who is the “extension of Moshe.” As the Rebbe puts it, “There must be a Moshe in every generation in whom is enclothed the neshama of Moshe,” and he adds that Moshe’s life “remains eternal in this physical world through being enclothed in the Nasi HaDor within every generation” (in the footnotes there the Rebbe quotes the Ein Yaakov that even Moshe’s physical body did not die).
So to say that on Gimmel Tammuz there was a literal histalkus is like saying that after 3300 years in which “Moshe Rabeinu did not die” because he continues to live within the physical body of the Nasi HaDor, on Gimmel Tammuz Moshe Rabeinu died, G-d forbid! And not just Moshe but all the Nesiim, from Moshe until our generation – they all died on Gimmel Tammuz 5754, heaven forbid!
You explained all this to the crowd in shul that night? How did they react?
First of all, throughout the lecture, they were fully attentive. After all, this is a subject which they never heard about from a halachic vantage point. Furthermore, they did not dream that there is a halachic angle. Suddenly, they heard Gemaras, Medrashim, halachos, all about the life of tzaddikim. It was fascinating to them. No wonder then that at the end of the talk they all applauded. Afterward, many people came over personally to thank me for opening their eyes to look at the subject from a Torah perspective. Although eleven years have passed since then, many people in the community still happily remind me of that event.
I’ll tell you a story that illustrates how after learning the Torah sources people without preconceptions understand on their own that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. You don’t even need to explain it to them. They put two and two together.
When I was on shlichus in Venice, a businessman from Bnei Brak wanted to learn Tanya. We sat and learned Shaar HaYichud v’ha’Emuna together. He was a very deep person, who understood well. When we learned about the midda of rachamim which Hashem included when He created the world, “that is, the revelation of G-dliness through the tzaddikim and signs and wonders in the Torah,” he said he had a question. Since it says that tzaddikim are a revelation of G-dliness in the world, just as there is always a revelation of G-dliness, so too, there always needs to be tzaddikim in the world. What about now?
At first, I didn’t understand what he meant. Then he explained that after Gimmel Tammuz what tzaddikim are there? When I said that the Rebbe is a tzaddik who reveals G-dliness in the world, he looked at me in surprise and asked/stated: So you’re one of those nuts?!
But since he had gotten to know me by then, and to see that I usually had solid sources for what I said, he immediately said: Explain it to me. I must understand it.
I said: As a good Jew, I will begin with a question. Why did you ask about tzaddikim after Gimmel Tammuz when you come from Bnei Brak and there are many great people there? It’s because you understand that we are talking about a Nasi HaDor and it is obvious to you that the Nasi HaDor is the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and it’s clear to you that there is no other tzaddik who is the Nasi HaDor. Obviously, this is a solid assumption and also comprises the answer, being that the Rebbe is the Nasi HaDor, we must say, according to Torah, that he is chai v’kayam, even under the circumstances after Gimmel Tammuz.
He thought about it and accepted it. Afterward, when his friend, who wasn’t there at that shiur, heard it from him, his reaction was: They convinced you so quickly?!
He was a very logical person who could put two and two together and the moment it was clear to him that the Rebbe is the Nasi HaDor who reveals G-dliness in the world and there is no one who took his place after Gimmel Tammuz, he concluded that we must say according to Torah that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. Otherwise, who is revealing G-dliness in the world?
LEARNING IN DEPTH; NOT JUST QUOTES!
What do you suggest people do to prepare for Gimmel Tammuz?
As I said at the beginning of our talk, when a Chassidic holiday approaches, we must sit and learn the the Rebbe’s maamarim and sichos about that day, in this case, maamarim and sichos about Gimmel Tammuz.
In the sicha of 19 Kislev 5723, the Rebbe spoke sadly, with tears, along the lines of the familiar plaint of the Rebbe Rashab that “the inyan of avoda has become weakened,” that nowadays one can say that also Torah study has weakened, especially the study of Chassidus.
Along those same lines, we can say that all the questions about Gimmel Tammuz and the weakness in the simple belief that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam have one reason: a weakness in learning the sichos and maamarim of Gimmel Tammuz.
In general, when we define ourselves as people who live with Moshiach only because of our belonging to a certain group and not because we have a koch in the sichos of inyanei Moshiach, that leads to “living Moshiach” in a peripheral manner only. It is no surprise then that when Gimmel Tammuz comes and challenges our “makif” belief with the hiddenness and concealment, we are likely to be thrown.
But when our emuna comes from learning the maamarim and sichos in particular, and learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula in general, as they appear in Torah, both the Written and Oral Torah, in Nigleh and Chassidus, then our emuna is internalized and no storm wind can move it.
In the merit of our learning these subjects, may we reveal the true reality of Gimmel Tammuz even to our physical eyes and just as on Gimmel Tammuz 1927 they realized retroactively that it was the start of the redemption, so may it be with us, that we immediately merit the complete hisgalus of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. And then we won’t need to look to the sichos because the Torah reality and the material reality will unite into one, single reality and it will be absolutely clear that Gimmel Tammuz 5754 was the beginning of the true and complete Geula.
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