Rabbi Zvi Homnick, Beis Moshiach
The great and mighty king lay on his deathbed. Being a world-class prodigious intellect, he had surrounded himself with the greatest minds in the world, and to them he was not just their king but also their teacher. As his most brilliant disciples gathered around his bed, he told them to ask any question they wished.
There was one question none had ever dared ask before, and they all turned to the greatest among them to pose the question. Knees shaking, he asked, “Your Majesty taught us all the years by way of vigorous debate. Anything that we said was challenged, argued, debated and often refuted. Yet, when Her Majesty the Queen, who despite being of above average intelligence is hardly in our league, would offer an opinion, Your Majesty would respond with, ‘Interesting,’ ‘Intriguing,’ and at times even with, ‘Fascinating.’ Perhaps Your Majesty would be so kind as to explain this behavior?”
The king smiled, “I always found it interesting, intriguing and even fascinating, how only an infinite G-d could have made me love what I would hate in anybody else.”
ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE
[This, the 15th installment, is a direct continuation of, and will be referring back to, many of the ideas discussed at greater length in the preceding articles]:
As the Rebbe explains in his famous teaching about the “long-short way” (and the Alter Rebbe himself states fairly explicitly at the end of chapter 41 of Tanya), the “short way” and the “long way” of Tanya are not two separate ways. However, there is a difference between how these two ways were integrated into one in the earlier generations and in the later generations, especially in the seventh generation.
Originally, the “short way” was the way to jump-start your day as the Alter Rebbe prescribes at the end of chapter 41, and to recharge from time to time throughout the day (once an hour as the Alter Rebbe writes there), but the main focus of your day was on the labor-intensive work of the “long way.” Also, in cases where one did the work but did not (yet) produce the desired results, it was necessary to resort to “if you can’t go underneath, then go over the top.” But that did not mean that you could give up on the “long way,” since there is no other way to “conquer” and transform the emotions of the animal soul, so that it too comes to love and fear G-d.
In the later generations, due to the ever shrinking capacities of hearts and minds, the Rebbe Maharash, who corresponds to the attribute of Netzach (victory), introduced the concept of “l’chatchila ariber.” When a person is locked in battle and is in the mode of “victory at all costs,” he can’t afford to wait until his mind and heart are perfectly aligned with his actions. He has to “go over the top” and tap into his deepest soul powers (super-love and super-bittul) and focus on doing what needs to be done. Obviously, he can’t neglect the intellectual and emotional work, since that is where the ultimate “victory” that he is fighting for is supposed to take place, but neither can he afford to work at the pace of his limited intellectual and emotional capacities. By channeling the attribute of Netzach, he can use those higher soul powers to turbo-charge his intellect and emotions beyond their natural limits.
Again, this is not some mystical idea, but a regular feature of real life. There are military officers who are chosen from among the best and the brightest based on their talents and abilities, and who spend years in military academies training their minds and hearts, along with their manual skills, to serve in command positions. Then there are wartime officers drawn from the regular combat troops who distinguish themselves by their total commitment to victory at all costs, and who lead and inspire those around them. These battlefield leaders learn as much as and sometimes more than their highly educated commanders, but they learn it on the job in the field. When necessary, they are sent back home to take a few officer level courses and quickly return to the field of battle. The fact that what they are learning is part of their real life-and-death blood-and-guts experience and not just theory, enables them to master material that is far beyond their natural intellectual gifts.
OUR FATHER, OUR KING
In our generation that corresponds to the attribute of Malchus (kingship), the Rebbe takes this and us to a whole new level. Yes, we need to be fully invested in the battle to make “a dwelling for Him in the lowly worlds,” and we need to be in the mode of “victory at all costs” (as explained in Basi L’Gani 5710). Yet, despite having that much lesser powered minds and hearts, we can tap even more deeply into the higher soul powers to super-power those minds and hearts, l’chatchila ariber within l’chatchila ariber.
Super-bittul and super-love are expressions of our relationship with Hashem as he is our Father. They would seem to represent the perfect balance between absolute Oneness (super-bittul – the child as he is still a part of his father) and Oneness even in the face of separateness (super-love – the child as he is born into existence). Yet, what G-d actually wants from creation is to be a king (Shaar HaYichud V’HaEmuna ch. 7). This requires a degree of separateness that can never exist between father and son, so the father-son connection is covered up by a human (animal) soul that experiences itself as completely separate and is sent to a world where the G-dly light is completely obscured. It is the job of the “son” (the G-dly soul) to compel (iskafia) and ultimately convince (is’hapcha) the “human being” (the animal soul) to willingly surrender his autonomy to G-d, the King, to “accept the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Qualitatively, the act of going against one’s own nature to subjugate one’s very sense of self to Hashem’s Oneness, within a reality where that Oneness is completely hidden, expresses even more just how absolute the Oneness of G-d actually is, when separateness itself becomes an expression of Oneness. But how can a person go against his own nature and the very nature of reality as he knows it? This can only be accomplished by tapping into the unlimited power contained within the innermost core of the super-bittul and super-love of the neshama, the infinite “spark” of Hashem Himself that is the source/essence of the soul. It also requires that the King make Himself accessible, not by means of overpowering revelation, but by making His presence known out in the field.
That is the power of Malchus, and that is the power of our generation as channeled to us through the Rebbe. It is this power that enables us to override everything that the mind and heart know and experience as reality, and in turn reeducate the mind and heart to create and experience an entirely new reality on a level that previous generations could not even dream of achieving, and to finish the job of conquering the world and making it into “a dwelling for Him in the lowly realms,” “and Hashem will be king over the entire earth.”