The Weekly Sicha of the Rebbe – Parshas Devarim

The Rebbe says:

1. With this week’s Torah portion we will read and study a new Book in the Chumash (the five books of Moses). So far this year we have experienced the Book of Bereishis (Genesis), the Book of Shemos (Exodus), the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus) and the Book of Bamidbar (Numbers). This Shabbos we begin the Fifth Book- the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy).

2. As we have previously discussed, the portion of Devarim begins a new era in the life of the Jewish people. They are now beginning a life of exile where they would not see miracles every day, nor would their necessities be taken care of for them by G-d.

Moreover, as we have also previously discussed, Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev explains that on this Shabbos of Parshas Devarim, which is called, “Shabbos Chazon – The Shabbos of the (prophetic) vision”, a vision of the third and final Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) is shown to the Soul of every single Jew.

In connection with these ideas- exile and redemption- the Rebbe begins this discussion:

3. The first time that the news of exile is brought to our attention is when Hashem (G-d) and Avraham Avinu (Abraham our father) made, “The Covenant Between the Parts – The Bris Bein Habsarim.

Now, a covenant is made between two parties to ensure that their love for each other will last no matter what; they make this covenant now while their love for each other is revealed so that in case anything happens in the future which would normally cause them to terminate their friendship, they will not end it because of the covenant they made previously. In other words, the love that both parties experience now, which causes them to make a covenant with each other, is a love which is not limited to logic and reason; it is their essential love for each other.

Bearing this in mind, we must wonder why Hashem would tell Avraham Avinu of the upcoming exile specifically during, “The Covenant Between the Parts”, when the essential love between Hashem and the Jewish people was revealed? Isn’t this the opposite of love?

4. The Rebbe now suggests and rejects a possible answer:

Our Sages tell us that Avraham Avinu was posed with a question; would he rather his children go into exile or experience Gehinom (hell)? In the end, Avraham Avinu chose exile.

Therefore, one might want to answer that since exile was the better option, Hashem was discussing it now when His love for us was revealed.

However this is not a good enough answer because when someone’s deepest love for another is shining, any sort of bad has no place there, and Hashem would not bring this up now.

5. The Rebbe now answers this question:

Chassidus explains the inner meaning of exile through a parable of a teacher and his student:

When a teacher is teaching his student he is focused solely on the student. However, when a new idea comes to the teacher he is now faced with a dilemma; he can either give attention to this new idea and focus less on the student right now so that he will be able to give over this idea to the student after he has thought it out, or he can let the idea pass and he will never be able to give it over to his student. A teacher who really cares for his student will choose to pay attention to the new idea and think it through now, even though he will be momentarily focusing less on the student, so that he will be able to give this new idea over to the student later.

Furthermore, the deeper this new idea is, the more the teacher will have to think it through and focus less on the student. Therefore, the more the teacher takes his focus off his student shows how precious this new idea is, and because of the teacher’s great love for the student he is momentarily taking his focus off of the student so that he can give him this new and sweet wisdom.

In short, even though externally to the student it looks like the teacher has abandoned him, in truth however this reveals how much the teacher really loves the student.

The same is true of exile: It looks like Hashem has abandoned us (Heaven Forbid), however this concealment is really proof of Hashem’s great love for us. Being that the world is about to receive the great revelation of Moshiach (the Messiah), it is focusing now on receiving this great light and is not focusing on receiving the regular light.

Now we can understand why Hashem spoke of the exile during “The Covenant Between the Parts”: Being that exile is really a proof of Hashem’s love for us (as we said in the parable of the teacher and the student) and is indicative of the great gift we will be receiving, Hashem told Avraham Avinu about this at a time when His love for us was revealed.

A proof to this line of thinking can be seen from how exile progresses:

Exile cannot only be an atonement for our sins, because if that were the case the exile would get weaker and weaker as time goes on being that there is less to atone for. However this is not the case. Practically we see that as time goes on the exile gets darker and darker.

During the Egyptian exile, which lasted two hundred and ten years, it got worse and worse for the Jewish people as time went on. They first had great years while Yaakov Avinu (Jacob our forefather) was alive, they then still had relatively good years while the Twelve Tribes were alive, only after this did they go into servitude, and after this, for the last eighty six years of exile, they experienced the horrible and bitter years of servitude, and towards the end it got even worse when Pharaoh took away their straw which they used to make the bricks.

So too in today’s exile, the revelation of G-dliness gets smaller and smaller as time goes on. First we had the revelation of G-dliness through the Tannaim, then through the Amoraim, and as time went on we had less and less revelation, until today where we have almost no
G-dly revelation in our world at all.

The reason for this is as we mentioned previously; because the world is getting closer and closer to the times of Moshiach and it is focusing more and more on receiving this great revelation and therefore the world looks darker and darker for now because it is receiving less and less of the regular light.

6. The Rebbe now points out how this will explain something else:

The Talmud tells us that when the Jewish people were fulfilling the will of Hashem the Keruvim (Cherubim/Cherubs) would face each other, and if they weren’t fulfilling the will of Hashem the Keruvim would have their backs to each other.

However, this becomes very difficult to understand in light of the Midrash which says that when the Babylonians entered the Holy of Holies while they were destroying the Beis Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) they saw the Keruvim facing each other. Why would the Keruvim be facing each other while the Beis Hamikdash was being destroyed and the Jewish people were being exiled from their land?

Based on the abovementioned explanation though, this becomes easily understood: Being that exile is only a bad thing externally and it really the great love of Hashem for His children, it makes sense for the Keruvim to be facing each other at this time.

7. The Rebbe now finishes off with the lesson for us:

Even though our exile is getting darker and darker we must not be affected by this, because we know that this is only on the surface of things and in truth we are getting closer and closer to the time when Moshiach will come and redeem us.

In order for this to happen we must prepare ourselves in two ways; 1) we must have this knowledge that in truth exile is proof of the great revelation which the world is trying to accept, and 2) we must stay connected to our teacher and thirstily wait to drink his great wisdom even though he looks like he is not paying attention to us right now.

Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume two, third Sicha.

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