Yud Shvat

Introduction for the Tenth of Shvat

1. The Tenth of Shvat is the day that the Previous Rebbe (the 6th Chabad leader) passed away in the year 1950.

The Tenth of Shvat is also the day that our Rebbe officially accepted the seat of leadership one year later (1951).

2. Some information about the Previous Rebbe:

The Previous Rebbe was named (Rebbe) Yoseph Yitzchak Schneersohn and he was the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe. He was born in 1880 in Lubavitch, Belarus. At the age of fifteen he was appointed as the personal secretary of the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe (his father Rebbe Sholom DovBer). At the age of seventeen he married a distant cousin (Nechama Dina Schneersohn). He was then appointed to be the first dean and head of the new network of Lubavitch Yeshivas (named Tomchei Tmimim) in the Russian empire.

The Previous Rebbe was arrested and jailed seven times during his lifetime for spreading Judaism! During these arrests the Czarist police would horribly torture the Previous Rebbe which eventually led to the Previous Rebbe being physically weak and ill.

During his final arrest in Leningrad he was even sentenced to death! However a world-wide storm of outrage and pressure from Western governments forced the communist regime to lessen the punishment and he was instead banished to a place called Kostroma.

After many years of fighting to keep Judaism alive in the Soviet Union he eventually came to the United States in the year 1940.

3. Here is some information about the discourse that is translated in this email:

A) The last Chassidic discourse written by the Previous Rebbe before his passing was a four-part series. The Previous Rebbe’s (apparent) plan was to give out the first part of the discourse on the Tenth of Shvat to mark the anniversary of the passing (Yahrtzeit) of the Previous Rebbe’s saintly grandmother. As it transpired, the Previous Rebbe himself passed away on this day.

This four-part series is named after a verse from Song of Songs because the four-part series is based on the verse. The verse in Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) says “Basi L’Gani Achoisee Kallah – I have come into My garden, My sister, My bride” (Chapter 5, Verse 1). The four-part series had 20 paragraphs in total.

B) Every year on the Tenth of Shvat our Rebbe would take one paragraph from the four-part discourse and expound heavily on it. Since there are 20 paragraphs in the original four-part discourse, it took 20 years to finish expounding on the whole discourse of the Previous Rebbe. The Rebbe actually went through it almost two times. He started in 1951 on the Tenth of Shvat and ended in 1970 on the Tenth of Shvat for the first time. He then started again to expound on the first paragraph of the Previous Rebbe’s discourse in the year 1971 on the Tenth of Shvat. He would have finished it for the second time in the year 1990 but stopped after the year 1988 with only two paragraphs left.

The discourse translated in this email is the first discourse the Rebbe ever gave over! When the Rebbe accepted the seat of leadership on the Tenth of Shvat (1951), a year after the passing of his father-in-law the Previous Rebbe, he said a very heavy discourse. This first-ever discourse from the Rebbe was an explanation of the first paragraph of the Previous Rebbe’s four-part discourse.

In the Rebbe’s first discourse he outlined for us clearly what our mission statement is. The Rebbe began a new generation with new sights and goals, namely to spread Judaism and Chassidus throughout the whole world.

The Tenth of Shvat
Yud Shvat

This year the Tenth of Shvat falls out on Monday, January 29th.

Here is an excerpt from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s first ever discourse.

The Rebbe says:

1. It says in Shir Hashirim – The Song of Songs (Chapter 5, Verse 1) “Basi Le’Ga’ni Ah’choy’see Kallah – I have come to My garden, My sister, My bride”.

The Midrash Rabah (a major collection of homilies and commentaries on the Torah written by Rabbi Oshiah Rabah) tells us that this verse was said by Hashem when the Jews finished building the Holy Tabernacle. In other words this means that when the Tabernacle was built Hashem came down and rested there.

The Midrash Rabah continues and observes that the word used in this verse is not “Le’Gan” which would mean “To the garden” but “L’Gani” which means “To My garden”. The Medrash Rabah explains that the reason it says specifically “Le’Gani – To My garden” is because Hashem is saying “I have come to the place where My main essence (Ikar Shechinah) was originally found and revealed”. Meaning: Hashem is saying that He is not coming to a new place that He has never been before. He is saying that He is coming to a place that He has been before and for whatever reason He left (as we will explain soon) but now at the time of the building of the Tabernacle He is coming back.

2. The Rebbe now examines the Midrash Rabah’s wording of “…Hashem’s main essence…”:

The Midrash Rabah said that Hashem’s main essence was originally found in this world (and then left) and is now coming back to the world (at the time of the completion of building the Tabernacle). This means that the level of Hashem that was originally in this world and is now coming back (at the time of the completion of building the Tabernacle) is not just any level, but His main essence (Ikar Shechinah). There are myriads upon myriads of levels within Hashem’s essence, but the part of Hashem that was originally in this world and is now coming back is Hashem’s main essence.

[Editor’s note: The Rebbe actually enumerates many levels within Hashem and speaks at length of what Hashem’s “main essence” (Ikar Shechinah) could mean. After close examination at what each (general) level in Hashem means, the Rebbe explains (based on the Alter Rebbe) exactly what level is referred to as Hashem’s “main essence”].

3. The Rebbe now explains why Hashem’s main essence left this world:

The Midrash Rabah explains that when Hashem created the world His presence was found here. His main essence was in this world. Then Adam sinned by eating from the “Tree of Knowledge” (see Genesis, Chapter 2, Verses 16-17, and Chapter 3, Verses 1-25. This sin caused Hashem’s main essence to leave this world and reside in the heavens!

There are actually 7 heavens. So when Adam sinned he pushed Hashem’s main essence from this world to the lowest heaven (let’s call it heaven number 1). Then there were 6 other sins done which pushed Hashem’s main essence even further away from the world.

The Midrash Rabah continues and tells us that the next sin was done by Adam’s son Cain when he killed his brother Abel (see Genesis, Chapter 4, Verses 1-17). This pushed away Hashem’s main essence from the lowest heaven to a higher heaven (let’s call it heaven number 2).

The next sin was done by Adam’s grandson Enosh by bringing idolatry into the world (see Genesis, Chapter 4, Verse 26 with Rashi’s commentary). This pushed away Hashem’s main essence even further away from the world from the second heaven to the third heaven.

[Editors note: The next 4 sins were not stated clearly by the Rebbe. The Rebbe said “and so on…” after repeating from the Midrash Rabah what the first 3 sins were. Perhaps we could say that the Rebbe did not want to belabor ideas of sin. The next 4 sins are stated clearly in the Midrash Rabah].

(The next sin was done by “the generation of the flood” (in Noah’s times) by acting immorally (see Genesis, Chapter’s 6 and 7). This pushed away Hashem’s main essence even further away from the world from the third heaven to the fourth heaven.

The next sin was done by “the generation of the dispersed” who built a tower to wage war with Hashem (see Genesis, Chapter 11, Verses 1-11 and Rashi’s commentary on Verse 1). This pushed away Hashem’s main essence even further away from the world from the fourth heaven to the fifth heaven.

The next sin was done by the people of Sodom who acted wicked and sinful (see Genesis, Chapter 13, Verse 13 with Rashi’s commentary). This pushed away Hashem’s main essence even further away from the world from the fifth heaven to the sixth heaven.

The next sin was done by the people of Egypt (in the days of Abraham our Father) by being steeped in lewdness (see Genesis, Chapter 12, Verse 19 with Rashi’s commentary). This pushed away Hashem’s main essence even further away from the world from the sixth heaven to the seventh heaven.)

4. The Rebbe now explains that the sin of Adam was the worst sin of all:

The sin of Adam was the worst sin of all the other six sins because his sin pushed away Hashem’s main essence from this world. This means two things:

#1): The other six sins pushed away Hashem’s main essence within the heavenly spheres, but the sin of Adam pushed away Hashem’s presence from our world. And of course what matters to us most is Hashem’s presence being pushed away from our world.

#2): To push away Hashem’s presence once it was in the heavenly realms was not nearly as big of an action as to push away Hashem’s presence from the physical to the spiritual. The removal of Hashem’s presence from the physical world to the spiritual worlds is a very great removal. To remove Hashem’s presence from one spiritual realm to another is not as big of action.

5. Now the Rebbe tells us how Hashem’s main essence was brought back into this world:

The Midrash Rabah continues and tells us that after these events seven Tzadikim (righteous ones) came and returned Hashem’s main essence to the world. Through the seven righteous ones being totally nullified to Hashem and acting out His every will, they brought back Hashem’s main essence.

The seven righteous ones were:
1) Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father).
2) Yitzchok Avinu (Isaac our Father).
3) Ya’akov Avinu (Jacob our Father).
4) Levi (one of Jacob’s children, one of the twelve tribes).
5) Kehos (the son of Levi).
6) Amram (the son of Kehos).
7) Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher, the son of Amram).

1) Avraham Avinu brought down Hashem’s main essence from the highest heaven to the next level, from the seventh heaven to the sixth heaven.
2) Yitzchok Avinu brought down Hashem’s main essence from the sixth heaven to the fifth heaven.
3) Ya’akov Avinu brought down Hashem’s main essence from the fifth heaven to the fourth heaven.
4) Levi brought down Hashem’s main essence from the fourth heaven to the third heaven.
5) Kehos brought down Hashem’s main essence from the third heaven to the second heaven.
6) Amram brought down Hashem’s main essence from the second heaven to the first heaven.
7) Moshe Rabbeinu brought down Hashem’s main essence from the first heaven to this world.

6. The Rebbe now explains that Moshe Rabbeinu’s act of bringing down Hashem’s essence was the greatest of all the seven righteous ones:

Just like we explained with regards to the sin of Adam that pushing away Hashem’s presence from this world is worse then pushing away Hashem’s presence from one heaven to the next, this also holds true for the other way around. Moshe Rabbeinu’s drawing down of Hashem’s presence is greater then the other six righteous ones drawing down Hashem’s presence.

When Moshe Rabbeinu brought down Hashem’s presence into this world it was by-far greater then the other six descents of Hashem’s presence through the other six righteous ones, for two reasons:

#1) What matters to us most is that Hashem’s main essence is now in our world.

#2) The descent of Hashem’s main essence into the physical world is the greatest kid of descent (as opposed to the descent within spiritual realms)

7. The Rebbe now explains why Moshe Rabbeinu had the merit of bringing down Hashem’s main essence into this world:

Moshe Rabbeinu was the seventh righteous one starting from Avraham Avinu. The Midrash tells us that “all seventh ones are special”. This means that Hashem decided that all seventh ones are special and there is no logical reason for it.

8. The Rebbe now states clearly that we are the seventh generation from the first Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Alter Rebbe, Rebbe Shneur Zalmen Schneersohn) and we must bring the revelation of Moshiach into this world:

We are now in the seventh generation from the first Chabad Lubavtich Rebbe. [The Alter Rebbe (Rebbe Shneur Zalmen Schneersohn) was the first to disseminate the wellsprings of the inner Torah, namely Chassidus. Then came the second Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe (Rebbe DovBer Schneersohn). Then came the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe (Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneersohn). Then came the Rebbe Maharash, the fourth Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe (Rebbe Shmuel Schneersohn). Then came the Rebbe Rashab, the fifth Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe (Rebbe Sholom DovBer Schneersohn). Then came the Frierdiker Rebbe, the sixth Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn). And now our Rebbe is the seventh Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe.]

As we said, the Midrash tells us that “all seventh ones are special” and therefore we have the great responsibility and privilege to be the ones to bring down Hashem’s main essence into this world. We did not work for this privilege. We did not even choose to be the seventh ones. Hashem made us the seventh and He demands from us to fulfill His mission to bring down His main essence into this world. We find ourselves now at the end of the birth pangs of Moshiach (Messiah) and we have the privilege to bring Moshiach NOW!!!

Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Basi L’Gani Tuf Shin Yud Aleph.