Levi Liberow, Beis Moshiach
One of the main problems I have with applying the primary message of “Yatir M’b’chayohi” to our situation after Gimmel Tammuz is the last line in Siman Chaf Zayin in Iggeres Hakodesh, “The closer one was to the sanctuary of Hashem (—the Tzaddik) in his lifetime, the closer he is in receiving the blessing,” making a clear distinction between connecting to a Tzaddik before and after his histalkus.
This mirrors the “system” the Alter Rebbe’s explained previously in the chapter:
1. The Tzaddik’s true life is emuna, yirah andahava;
2. When he passes on, he in essence remains alive, since his true life, emuna yirah andahava,are eternal.
3.This spiritual life (previously “embodied” in the Tzaddik) continues to be present in the world through his students and is thus present in this world even more.
However, what is often overlooked is that the initial connection (hiskashrus) must be made in this world, between a soul-in-a-body student to a soul-in-body Rebbe.
As an analogy, a Chassid who makes the initial direct connection with the Rebbe is like a pot directly on the fire. After a Rebbe’s histalkus, the fire become unavailable to warm other “pots” directly, but is still very much active through the “pots” that forever remain on it. Placing a pot on top of the first pot, it may eventually reach a boil, but it’s not the same as if it was put on the fire directly. Our connection to the Baal Shem Tov, for example, is only through the stories and teachings that were heard from him that in turn inspire us. Inspiring yes, but not personal.
Thus, using Siman Chof Zayin as the “framework” for hiskashrus in this post Gimmel Tammuz period is in essence creating two classes of Chassidim — those who saw and those who didn’t; those who have memories and stories to tell and those who can only read and listen; the legacy keepers and the “generation who didn’t know Yosef”; those who can experience direct hiskashrus and those who cannot.
This is the logical conclusion, but I’m quite sure that practically all Chassidim would strongly oppose understanding the situation as such.
The chinuch our children are given — where we encourage them to directly connect to the Rebbe — clearly negates this, and more than anything else, reality itself proves this to be blatantly untrue: hiskashrus is alive and well in Lubavitch, some would say even more than before,”Yatir”, clearly showing that the Rebbe is here — “b’chayohi.”
But what is it that makes hiskashrus possible when we (still) cannot see or hear the Rebbe?
I see it like this: Hiskashrus (lit. “bonding”) is a two-way-street and to make it real is possible by one side giving to the other. For thousands of years, hiskashrus meant that the Rebbe gave and we received, now it means we step up to the plate and do the Rebbe’s work.
I once read an interesting observation on the development of Tefilla in Jewish history:
As we know, until the time of the Anshei Knesses Hagedola, prayer was offered in one’s own words in one’s own quarters. The Sages established the idea of “organized prayer” and the idea of shuls where Jews should gather to daven together.
Why wasn’t this brilliant idea which truly solidified Jewish life as we know it thought of before?
A possible explanation is offered: Until that time, prophecy was commonplace. So long as prophets were common, Hashem maintained an immediate connection to man. When prophecy became uncommon (at the start of the Second Beis HaMikdash era), the sages with their Ruach HaKodesh sought to offer a replacement: if Hashem won’t reveal himself to us, we will “take the initiative” and come before him on a regular and organized basis. (See Tur Orach Chaim, siman 98)
In a similar vein, to epitomize the demand of Yiddishkeit of Dira B’Tachtonim — that we ourselves (“Avoda b’koach atzmo”) make this world a seat for the Divine, we were put into a such a state where the hiskashrus to the Rebbe must come completely b’isarusa d’ltata from our initiative. The Rebbe is waiting to pick up the phone, but we must place the call. If the Rebbe is not appearing to us, it means we must appear before him. If the general won’t call up the reserves, it’s because he expects the reserves to come themselves, which the last 27 years show rather clearly.
To use the analogy of the fire and the pot: in this generation “first degree” hiskashrus is possible and we could place our “pot” directly on the “fire” even though the “fire” is concealed, because we each were given a flintstone and through avoda b’koach atzmo we can achieve a true, first-degree hiskashrus.
There’s another point that ties into this and “validates” this “chiddush” in hiskashrus:
The mission of Dor Hashvi’i is to finish the job and bring the Geula. As long as this doesn’t happen completely, we are still in Dor Hashvi’i and our primary method of hiskashrus is by doing all we can to bring the Geula.
This mission is still an unfinished one, and unlike the “conventional” form of hiskashrus, what connects you in this “mode” of hiskashrus is not how close you were to the source on the receiving end, but how close you are in the present and how dedicated you are to completing the still unfinished mission of the Rebbe. A Chassid born in 5711 or a Chassid born in 5781 are exactly at the same place and can connect just as strongly.
And a final word to those Chassidim who had the zechus to see the Rebbe:
Your memories and recollections of the Rebbe are like water on parched soil to the younger generation, but please take good care that the subtext of your memories and stories is not that you lived in the “yemei ha’or” and the youngsters you’re talking to are “a generation who knew not Yosef.” Please, never let there be an understanding from you that you are “from the Rebbe’s times” and we’re not. If anything, it’s the opposite.
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