Weekly Dvar Torah: Come with Me to the Inner Chambers of Pharaoh

As we prepare for Yud Shvat, we are learning the Maamar Basi L’Gani of Yud Shvat for this year.

The original Maamar Basi L’Gani, which the Frierdiker Rebbe gave out to study on the day of his passing, 10 Shvat, 5710 (1950), consists of 20 chapters.

Therefore, on the day of his Yartzait, every Yud Shvat, our Rebbe, his successor, would teach and explain one chapter every year. And after 20 years the Rebbe started again from chapter one.

This year we are at year 73, which makes it chapter 13 for the fourth time, so we try to review chapter 13 as the Rebbe taught it to us twice, once in 5723 (1963), and the second time in 5742 (1983).

In general, the theme of the Basi L’Gani is, that the seventh generation is the one that draws G-d back down to this lowly world, as was in its original form, and this brings the Geula when G-dliness will be fully revealed.

Chapter 13 explains how we are able to draw the essence of G-d all the way down to the lowest possible level, even to levels that are the epitome of the antithesis of G-dliness.

The Rebbe quotes the Zohar which explains a passage in this week’s Parsha: וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֶל מֹשֶׁה בֹּא אֶל פַּרְעֹה = G-d says to Moshe, come to Pharaoh.

The Zohar asks, it should have said go to Pharaoh, what does it mean come to Pharaoh? The Zohar explains that when Moshe was commanded to go to Pharaoh, he was afraid to enter Pharaoh’s palace, because Pharaoh represents the ultimate Klipa, the absolute antithesis of G-d. And Moshe was worried that he Could be conquered by Pharaoh. So G-d responded and said, I agree with your concern, therefore I will go to Pharaoh and you come along with me, and I will protect you, so instead of you being overwhelmed by Pharaoh, you will instead crush Pharaoh, and take the Jews out from Egypt.

Based on this, the Rebbe asks, if Moshe was correctly afraid to engage Pharaoh because he may be dragged down by Pharaoh, how could it be that we simple Jews are expected to engage the lowly world, and still be able to elevate it and draw G-dliness even to the lowest of the lows. We even pray daily to Hashem and we ask that we should never be challenged by such tests.

The Rebbe explains that when a Jew has the right approach, then G-d goes with him, and with Hashem at your side you have nothing to fear, you will succeed in drawing the light of G-d into this world.

Some elaboration is in order.

The Midrash says, that originally at the time of creation the Shechinah was down here in this world, and because of seven generations of sinners, the Shechinah withdrew step by step, first from the earth to heaven, then from the first heaven to the second heaven, until it withdrew all the way up to the seventh heaven.

Afterwards came seven righteous generations who caused the Shechinah to descend back from the seventh heaven downward. Avraham Avinu lowered the Shechinah from heaven seven to the sixth. Yitzchock from heaven six to five, and five more Tzadikim brought the Shechinah down from one heaven to a lower heaven. Until Moshe, who is the seventh, brought the Shechinah down from heaven to earth.

The change caused by each of the first six Tzadikim was a heaven, from one heavenly level to a lower one, but at the end of the day the Shechinah remained somewhere in a heaven. Do any of us have a clue as to what heaven is? Do we know how to access heaven? Do we know where the button to the elevator that takes us to heaven is?

So how do we access G-d who is somewhere in heaven? Perhaps the great Tzadikim who were very spiritual could access the heavens, but us little mortals, how will we reach and connect with G-d?

This is where we see the power of Moshe, he was the seventh, and since all sevenths are beloved, they are granted a gift to be able to bring the Shechinah down from heaven to earth, and this becomes the place where we get closer to G-d, because G-d is now close to us.

Now that G-d is so close, we are able to go with Him, because He is right there alongside us. When we do what Hashem wants from us, such as when we go to work and use every opportunity to do a Mitzvah; when we earn money to pay for buying an item that is used for a Mitzvah; when we raise children in a good Jewish home; when we tithe our money, or more, for Tzedakah; when we use every tool at our disposal to teach, spread, and strengthen Yiddishkeit, then we are confident that G-d walks hand-in-hand with us, and He protects us from any potential challenge that threatens our Yiddishkeit.

This is what we, the seventh generation, merited to, more than any previous generation. In the past we had to distance ourselves from the world, and we had to live a secluded life in order to remain loyal to Hashem. Mingling with the world was a threat to our Yiddishkeit. However, now in the seventh generation, as a preparation for the Geula, the Shechinah descended from being in heaven down to this physical world, and G-d walks along with us and He protects us. And instead of being influenced by the world, we become the influencers. We make G-d’s presence known in this very lowly world.

Seventy-three years of the Rebbe’s work through his Chassidim and Shluchim, tell the tale.

We are at the threshold of Geula, and G-dliness is getting closer and closer to us, because G-d is down here with us and alongside us. All we need to do is to go along to feel Him and ultimately when Moshiach will come we will be able to see Him.

Have an intimately G-dly Shabbos,
Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Yosef Katzman

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