Monday, September 22, 2008
According to numerous sources in Kabbalah and Chassidus, Hashem reveals Himself to the world via Tzaddikim. However, certain people have “forgotten” those earlier sources, and accused the Rebbe of innovating this concept (G–d forbid).
In particular, the Rebbe’s sicha in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 2, pp. 510-511 has been quoted out of context by some who have a consistent agenda to discredit the Rebbe and Chassidus Chabad in general. I do not wish to repeat the crude, offensive, boorish misinterpretation of this sicha that has been brazenly hurled against the Rebbe by those opponents, nor is there any need to, because their twisted words are unfortunately common knowledge.
What I would like to do is “set the record straight” by demonstrating that anyone who studies the sicha properly will see that:
- it is not an innovation at all, but directly based on earlier sources; and
- it is not at all saying what they attribute to it.
What’s hard to understand is how anyone—even a total outsider and a beginner to all concepts Chassidic, assuming he’s being intellectually honest, and not simply a coarse scandalmonger—could interpret the sicha as they do. For immediately in the paragraph that follows the Rebbe’s statement concerning the Frierdiker Rebbe that he is Atzmus “as it put itself in a body,” the Rebbe explains exactly and unequivocally what he means in the text itself, and elaborates further the footnotes.
To make this clear, I present the relevant excerpt from the sicha below. The numbers below are my translation of the Hebrew footnotes in the sicha. The  parentheses and [a] and [b] notes are my clarifications. First is the Yiddish of the sicha, then the translation.
Bemeila iz doch nit shayach tsu fregen a kasha vegn a memutza, vibalt az dos iz Atzmus Umehus alein, vi er hot zich areingeshtelt in a guf.Ve’al derech maamar haZohar, “man p’nei ho’adon do Rashbi,” oder vi be’eis ha’shlichus iz afilu malach nikra b’shem Havayeh, oder vi Moshe Rabeinu hot gezogt venosati eisev.Therefore it is not possible to ask any questions about [how it is possible to turn to the Rebbe as] an intermediary [for the purpose of asking him to pray to Hashem on one’s behalf], since this is Atzmus uMehus itself as it put itself in a body.This is similar to the statement of the Zohar, “Whose is the face of the Master [G-d]? This is the Rashbi.” Or [this can be explained along the lines of the idea that] at the time he performs his mission, an angel is called by the name of Havayeh [one of the Names of G–d]. Or [this can be explained along the lines of the idea that] Moshe Rabeinu said, “I [Moshe] will give the grass”. 2:38a.' I saw baalei nigleh [Talmudic experts] questioning this [statement from Zohar], and with a tremendous noise [claiming that it contradicts the doctrine that G–d doesn’t have a form, saying], “How is it possible, etc., etc. [and thereby seeking to dismiss the words of the Zohar].” However [this is not only a matter of Kabbalah, for], we find [a statement] similar to this also in the revealed dimension of Torah [i.e., a Talmudic source], in Talmud Yerushalmi, Bikkurim, 3:3: “‘And G-d in His holy chamber’—this refers to Rebbi Yitzchok, the son of Rebbi Lezer in the house of study of Keisrin.” Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh end sec. 25.[a] [Devarim 11:15] See Likkutei Torah, Vayikra 50a.[b]
[a] There the Alter Rebbe writes:One should not be surprised if a spark from a ray of the Shechinah is called [in the Baal Shem Tov’s Tzava’at HaRivash] by the name Shechinah, for we find that even an angel, which was created [and not a spark of the Shechinah], is called by G–d’s Name in the parsha of Vayeira [“And he [Avraham] said [in reference to the angels who visited him], ‘L-rd, do not pass by your servant’” Bereishis 18:3], according to the commentary of the Ramban [ibid.: “He [Avraham] called them by the Name of their Master [G-d], because he recognized that they are supernal angels, as they are called Elokim and Eilim [names of G–d], and therefore he prostrated to the ground before them.] And as it is written [ibid. 16:13], “And she [Hagar] called the name of G–d, Who spoke with her [where the verse says explicitly in ibid. 16:7 that it was an angel speaking to her],” and there are many similar examples.[b] There the Alter Rebbe writes:With this we will understand that which appears surprising at first glance concerning the meaning of [the section] “And it will be if you will listen diligently” [Devarim 11:13], which Moshe said. How did he say, “I [Moshe] will give the grass” [as reward for observing the Mitzvos—ibid. 11:15] as if he is the one giving, G-d forbid, as the commentators ask. For since in Mishneh Torah [Devarim] Moshe is like one speaking for himself [as opposed to repeating the words dictated to him by G–d]—analyze the Ramban in his preface to his commentary on the Torah—if so it should have been written “And G–d will give the grass.”Rather, the explanation is that the Shechinah is speaking from the throat of Moshe [Zohar 3:232a, ibid. 3:7a], and the spirit of G–d [within him] was what spoke [the words] “I [Moshe] will give the grass,” not that he himself was the giver, G-d forbid. The reason for this is along the lines of what was explained earlier that through the Giving of the Torah the [Jewish people] attained the level of marriage [with G–d], which is the inclusion and complete bittul [nullification] to Atzmus Ohr Ein Sof [the Essence of G–d’s infinite light], until their souls literally flew out from them. Moshe Rabeinu was constantly in a similar state, as it is said, “Go [Moshe] and tell them, return to your tents, and you stand here with Me” [Devarim 5:30]. For he took up no space, and he was not an independent entity [from G–d] at all. Therefore he was able to say “I will give,” for the word of G–d was speaking in him from within his throat.
To sum up, the Tzaddik’s tremendous bittul, total effacement of self to Hashem, enables him to act as a vessel through which Hashem reveals Himself to us. This doesn’t mean that the Tzaddik is the same as G–d, G–d forbid, but on the contrary: because he is so devoted and “nullified” to Hashem, Hashem can reveal Himself through the Tzaddik.
Labels: Divine revelation via Tzaddikim