A Special Sweetening Treat!

shanah tovah
Weekly shiur
14 Elul 5773
(Notes taken during class, not reviewed nor edited by Harav Ginsburgh)

[Used without permission by Barzillai dov Ganya for Rosh Hashanah 5774]

Nigunim: Ani ledodi, Ketivah vachatimah tovah, Trein tapuchin

1. The complete Torah gives grace
A good evening. Today we are in the full moon of the month of Elul, the month of
Ani ledodi vedodi lo. In Chabad it is the day of the founding of the Yeshivat Tomchei
Temimim, where the complete Torah ( תֹּורָה תְּמִימָה ) is learnt, including both the revealed
dimension of the Torah and chassidut, the concealed dimension. The acronym for
revealed ( נגלה ) and chassidut ( חסידות ) is Noach ( .(נח
When we transpose the letters of Noach we get “grace” ( חֵן ). The second blessing of
the Priestly Blessing is that God give us grace ( וִיחֻנֶּךָּ ). Indeed, as we will see the middle
blessing of the Priestly Blessing corresponds to Torah and Torah that is complete, that
contains both nigleh and chassidut, gives grace, חן , in the eyes of both God and man. It
should contain both the body of the Torah, the nigleh, and the soul of the Torah,
2. 5774 and the Priestly Blessing
In the month of Elul we give remazim for the coming year, and one of the remazim for
5774 is related to the Priestly Blessing. The priests bless with love and there are 3
blessings, which is why it is called the triple blessing. The first words of each blessing
are “Bless you… Shine… Elevate” ( יְבָרֶכְךָ יָאֵר יִשָּׂא ). Their sum is equal to 774! This is a
beautiful sign for the coming year, and worthy that all priests have this in mind when
saying the blessing this year, and also the congregation being blessed.
We like to explain remazim that are connected to the parshah, based on the Alter
Rebbe’s dictum that we live with the time (and his birthday is this Shabbat). Ki Tavo
contains rebuke, but the inner light of the rebuke is love, that is their purpose. The Alter
Rebbe says, that according to the truth ( אַלִּיבָּא דֶּאֱמֶת ), all these curses are nothing but
blessings. There is no room for anything but blessing here. Therefore, the main
meditation this week is to think about how all the things that seem to be curses, are
actually blessings, and even if we don’t see it this way right now—in this world of
deceit, which is why the Alter Rebbe says that “according to truth”—they are all nothing
but blessing.
There is no greater blessing than the Priestly Blessing All the other blessings that one
blesses another is only to draw and reveal a potential state that already exists. But, the
Priestly Blessing reaches to high that it can draw down a new potential that did not exist
until now. It is like blessing Abraham and Sarah who according to their nature could not
give birth, and make them fertile. It is called: המשכה מהעלם שאינו במציאות , drawing down
from that which is concealed and not actual [like revealing the spark concealed in flint
stone). And this is done in three stages, the three blessings of the Priestly Blessing.
One of the interpretations of this being a triple blessing is that the 3 blessing
correspond to mitzvot ( מִצְֹות ), Torah ( תֹּורָה ), and teshuvah ( תְּשׁוּבָה ). The first is the blessing
for keeping the mitzvot. The first blessing comes down to us, thanks to our keeping the
mitzvot and fulfilling God’s will. So someone who wants to receive יְבָרֶכְךָ should perform
mitzvot. The second blessing is about Torah, which is light, יָאֵר is “God should
illuminate.” The Torah is considered a graceful woman, יַעֲלַת חֵן , she makes those who
learn her seem graceful, and as we said, חן is the ability to unify the nigleh with
Chassidut. Therefore it is clear that the second blessing relates to Torah. The third
blessing is יִשָּׂא , which is very connected with “carrying” or “elevating” like נֹושֵׂא עֲֹון , that
God carries your sins, He forgives, and thus this is teshuvah. One who does teshuvah is
worthy of God carrying His sins and transforming them into merits. The month of Elul
is specifically about teshuvah from love, Ani ledodi. And when one does teshuvah out of
love the transgression are transformed into merits, וַיַּהֲפֹךְ ה’ לְךָ אֶת הַקְּלָלָה לִבְרָכָה . And then it
is revealed that truthfully, it is all blessing. Thus יְבָרֶכְךָ corresponds to mitzvot, and to
merit the second blessing we must engage in Torah, and the most powerful faculty in
the Jewish soul, which prepares it for peace. There are enemies. How do you make
peace? You need of course also mitzvot and Torah, but the main thing is teshuvah as the
blessing says, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלֹום , “And he shall grant you peace.”
3. Mitzvot, Torah, and Teshuvah as three crowns
The gematria of these three words, “mitzvot, Torah, teshuvah” ( מִצְֹות תֹּורָה תְּשׁוּבָה ) is
equal to 1860, therefore the average value is 620, the value of “crown” ( כֶּתֶר ). So these
three are like three crowns, שְׁלֹשָׁה כְּתָרִים . There is the crown of mitzvot, etc. If they
correspond to the three crowns noted in Pirkei Avot, according to Rabbi Shimon bar
Yochai, then the mitzvot are the crown of kingdom. A king issues commands, he gives
commandments, מִצְוַת מֶלֶךְ . Torah is of course the crown of Torah. And teshuvah is thus
the crown of priesthood, related to the Temple, the place of the priests, and where they
make the Priestly Blessing pronouncing God’s ineffable Name. This is the place of
teshuvah, that is what the Temple is meant for. God told us to make a Temple so that He
dwell there, and the place of the Divine Presence in each of us is where we do teshuvah.
Just as there is a return to the land of Israel, שִׁיבַת צִיֹּון , and that is one form of teshuvah,
there is another level of teshuvah which is building the Temple, and it is the main
expression of teshuvah out of love. There is a verse, and you shall enjoy all the goodness
וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְּכָל הַטֹּוב) ), and that is done in the Temple.
4. Mitzvot, Torah, and Teshuvah and their correspondence
with the first three communal commandments
We mentioned a few days ago that 774 is also equal to another triplet of words, the
three mitzvot that we were commanded as a community, once we enter the land of Israel.
These are communal mitzvot, not for individuals. The community has to first of all make
sure it has a king, שֹׂום תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ . That the leadership be according to Torah, that the
leader be someone who is completely nullified before God. This is the first mitzvah. The
second mitzvah is that this king has a army, and with this army he has to fight the wars
of God, and most importantly the war against Amalek, annihilating them, the end of
parashat Ki Teitzei, last week’s parashah. This war is against those who want to destroy
us, the holiness of the world, and we have to annihilate them completely. But, the war
against Amalek cannot be conducted without a king. The third mitzvah is that after we
are at peace from all our enemies, we build the Temple. When we mention these three
mitzvot using one word for each they are: מלך עמלק מקדש . And indeed, the value of all
three is 774. A sign that this is a good year to perform all three. May this be a year of a
King, Amalek, and Temple. And it is also the year of יברכך יאר ישא . How do they
correspond. We already explained the first and the last. The first corresponds to the
king, and thus the commandments, mitzvot are related to the king as we explained. The
king both blesses us and guards as ( וישמרך ), as he creates security in the land, with the
power of Torah performance. Of course the king has to be accepted willfully by the
people. It is the happiest mitzvah that we have. The king then is the source of blessing
and the source of safekeeping.
We also explained the last one. The Temple that we want so much is because the
Temple is a symbol of the wholeness of the teshuvah of the Jewish people. We are all a
priestly nation. So there is something about the priesthood that is greater than
everything else. What we are left with is why Amalek corresponds to Torah. The Priestly
blessing appears in Parashat Naso, which also indicates that the whole purpose is
“elevating,” or “carrying” נשא . And as we said it is the transformation of transgressions
into merits, by God carrying it.
The Ba’al Shem Tov explained that Amalek ( עֲמָלֵק ) is equal to “doubt” ( סָפֵק ) in
gematria. Just as there is a physical Amalek, its source is the spiritual Amalek within us.
Who is this spiritual Amalek? It is our own doubts in the truth of the Torah, the Written
Torah, the Oral Torah, the doubts in the truth of the tzadikim, and God forbid other
forms of doubt in faith. So we have to make war with these forms of doubt, God save us
from them. To do so we can only be victorious with Torah. The Torah which we said is a
graceful woman. When you combine the revealed Torah with Chassidut together, that is
what annihilates Amalek. Thus, every yeshivah bochur should sit and learn the complete
Torah. It is the power that protects the Jewish people including the soldiers that go out
to war.
So this is our opening for this evening. 5774 is the year of יברכך יאר ישא and it is also
מלך עמלק מקדש and they are connected with Ki Tavo where the rebuke is meant to
transform what at first seems as a curse in this world of deceit into a blessing in the
world of truth. And again as the Alter Rebbe said, they are all blessings.
5. Only blessings from the 15th of Av and on…
It is known that one year, the Mittler Rebbe, before he was barmitzvah had to hear this
parashah from someone else, not his father who would normally lein it. And he became
very ill from it (he was two months before barmitzvah and according to halachah he was
supposed to fast on Yom Kippur) but he was so ill that the Alter Rebbe wasn’t sure he
was allowed to fast. The Chassidim asked him, why he was so ill, because every year he
had heard this parashah and the rebuke. But, he answered that when his father would
lein the parashah it would all sound like blessings and he had never heard the curses
before. His father was in the world of truth then when he was reading it. What we also
learn from this is that the residue, the impression from the rebuke lasts until Yom
Kippur, the day of atonement, when everything is transformed and darkness is made
into light. It all begins on the 15th of Av and ends on Yom Kippur as the sages say that
these were the best days on the Jewish calendar. The phrase, “only blessings” ( ,(רַק בְּרָכֹות
only blessings equals 15th of Av ( חֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בְּאָב ), so the fact that these are all blessings
begins to illuminate on the 15th of Av. The crux of the exile is with the destruction of the
Temple which occurred on the 9th of Av. We all receive a shock then, and it takes 6 days
to recover. Just as one of our students experienced recently. And then one can realize
that even the 9th of Av (it takes 6 days) but then we can understand that even what
happened on the 9th of Av, according to the truth, is nothing but blessing, which is why
“only blessings” is equal to the 15th of Av. And then transforming it into actual blessings,
that takes from the 15th of Av to Yom Kippur. And in the middle we have the rebuke in
Ki Tavo, also in order to perform the saying, תכלה שנה וקללותיה , and not only that all the
curses be no more, but that they also be revealed as blessings.
6. 5774: a year of Ish Tevunah – a man of inner
The final blessing of the Priestly blessing begins, יִשָּׂא . These letter can also spell ,אִישׁ
which is one of four synonyms in Hebrew for “man.” Moshe Rabbeinu is called אִישׁ , and
God Himself is called a “man of war” ( אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה ). Usually, the highest connotation for
man is אָדָם , but God is not only not called אָדָם , he is called “not Adam” as in the verse,
“He is not a man to change His mind” ( לא אדם הוא להנחם ). But, He is called ish, איש . This is
very simple word and a permutation of ישא . To be an ish, and this is the future
description in the time of Mashiach, איש ואיש ילד בה , about women too, since an איש is
someone who is a mashpia.
Now, the value of the two remaining words in our remez from the Priestly Blessing
are יברכך יאר – adding the Torah together with the mitzvot – whose sum is 463, which is
equal to תְּבוּנָה (comprehension). Today there is also a modern word which uses the same
letters, .תֹּובָנָה
Tevunah is the ability to integrate what one has understood. One can understand
without integrating, but tevunah means to make it part of oneself. The entire month of
Elul is related to a מקלט , a place of refuge, based on the Arizal’s acronym of Elul in the
verse, וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא צָדָה וְהָאֱלֹהִים אִנָּה לְיָדֹו וְשַׂמְתִּי לְךָ מָקֹום אֲשֶׁר יָנוּס שָׁמָּה . The city of refuge is a place
that captures me, encompasses me, and Tevunah is when I encompass it. We are now
saying that when we add יברכך and יאר we get תבונה , which goes together with איש , in an
idiom that repeats four times in Proverbs, perhaps the highest connotation that the Book
of Proverbs uses to describe a person, איש תבונה . One should strive to reach a state of
being a man of tevunah, of comprehension. And so we have that 774 is also equal to איש
תבונה , a man of comprehension. So this is a great year for grasping a lot of tevunah.
8. Four instances of Ish Tevunah in the Tanach
If we want to understand what this man of tevunah is, we open the Book of Proverbs
and look at its various instances. The first is in the verse, כי שחוק לכסיל עשה זימה וחכמה לאיש
תבונה . First, let’s explain that we are going to meditate just on this phrase איש תבונה
(which we found from the Priestly Blessing, meaning that they too should have in mind
that we should all become איש תבונה ). This first verse says that when the fool creates זימה
it is nonsense, but in contrast wisdom is to the wise man as tevunah.
The second verse is אולת שמחה חסר לב ואיש תבונה יישר לכת . When someone who is
without a heart does something foolish, it is great joy for him. The commentaries say
that this is when he invents a crooked understanding ( סברא ). He thinks he’s come up
with something really important. In contrast, the man of tevunah is happy when we finds
something straight. It is also straight thinking. And this is what gives him joy. The man
without a heart has a crooked head and he enjoys his crooked theories.
The first two verses include the fool and the wise man in contrast to one another. In
the final two verses, the two halves of the verse are positive. No contrast here.
The third verse is חושך אמריו יודע דעת יקר רוח איש תבונה . A person who speaks much,
who saves his words, as the sages tell us to do, he doesn’t say things that are not needed,
such a person has da’at. The word יקר has a reading and a written version: יקר is how it’s
read, and וקר is how it’s written. The pshat is how it’s read and the concealed level is
based on וקר . The reading is the external and the written form is the inner. So the inner
meaning is that the man who is “cool,” of “reserved spirit” he is the one who is a man of
tevunah. This in Chassidut is called ohne hispa’ailus (not getting excited). This is the
rectification of the kelipah of Amalek who is cold ( .(אשר קרך בדרך
The final and fourth verse that mentions a man of tevunah is the one that is most
well‐known: מים עמוקים עצה בלב איש ואיש תבונה ידלנה . This last verse, again both halves are
positive. Deep waters are positive and they are in the person’s heart, except that he
cannot bring them up, and reveal them from his heart. To this purpose he needs a man
of tevunah to bring them up and reveal them. There are 3 verses that mention this idiom,
בלב איש , in the heart of a man. First of all בלב איש is equal to 345, the value of משה . The
first verse is דאגה בלב איש ישחנה ודבר טוב ישמחנה . The secrets of the Torah are revealed only
to a person whose heart is worried in him. Indeed the worry has to be sweetened. And
as we explain in our book on this verse, there are three stages of submission, separation,
and sweetening in regard to these worries in the heart. That is the first time this idiom
The second instance is in the verse, which is even more well‐known, רבות מחשבות בלב
איש ועצת ה’ היא תקום . And the third time is in this verse, מים עמוקים עצה בלב איש . The second
verse is about thoughts in the heart, and in the third verse it is the advice that is deep in
the heart. In any case these are the three instances of this idiom in the Tanach, and they
deal with דאגה-מחשבות-עצה , whose initials spell מדע , knowledge. It could also be דמע or
If we’ve come this far let’s note that בלב איש which equals Moshe, and Moshe
contains the three patriarchs. How so? The first verse, רבות מחשבות בלב איש , corresponds
to our patriarch Abraham. At first Abraham’s name was אברם , and the initials of these
four words is אברם Avram. And then it was עצת ה’ היא תקום , the advice or plan of God is
what elevates him. In his first nature, Avram could not give birth to a son, but God’s
wondrous advice which was to reveal his spiritual root, allowed him to have a son.
Abraham then had many thoughts, what will be with me and Sarah? We don’t have
children. But, God’s plan came through and by changing his name to אברהם he had a
son, Isaac. This is how it always is. Abraham is not worried ( דאגה ), but he is full of
thoughts. He believes that God is running the world and doing all for the best, but he is
full of thoughts of how things will work out. In general it says that Abraham was full of
Now, what about the other two verses. Who does “Worry in the heart of man…”
Who among the patriarchs was a worrisome type, not just full of thoughts. That is Jacob,
who was always worried שמא יגרום החטא , lest the sins cause… This type of worry, when it
is holy, reveals the secrets of the Torah. Jacob’s difficulty in life was raising his children.
If Abraham was constantly thinking about what would be with him, but Jacob who is
with a house full of children, he is constantly worried. And so his root in Moshe
Rabbeinu is this verse, דאגה בלב איש . In Kabbalah there are two sets of partuzfim for
wisdom and understanding: אבא ואימא עילאין and ישראל סבא ותבונה . Tevunah is Rebbecah
and the father and mother are Abraham and sarah. Yisrael sava is of course then Jacob.
9. The four instances of Ish Tevunah correspond to the first
four sefirot
How does Rashi explain the final verse of a man of tevunah? Rashi says that this is
talking about a teacher and student. The teacher has a sealed halachah in his heart. These
are the deep waters that he cannot bring out, he cannot reveal it. How can it be brought
out. The man of tevunah then is his student, he needs a comprehending student to bring
it out. Only this type of student can bring it out. This is all from the remez that 774 is
equal to איש תבונה . How can we take Rashi’s explanation based on the verse’s literal
meaning, that the teacher needs a student who makes his Rebbe wiser, and say it in the
terminology of Kabbalah and Chassidut. The sealed halachah in the Rebbe, and this will
give more weight to our explanation that the deep waters are מוחא סתימאה , it is the
wisdom of the crown, the superconsciousness. Within the keter there is the inner and
external partzufim and the מוחא סתימאה is concealed, but in reality, and it is in the Arich,
the external partzuf of the keter. It is also called כח המשכיל , the power of intellect. When
the Rebbe has this knowledge in his concealed wisdom, מוחא סתימאה , he cannot express it
and it is described as שתיק רב . How can the student have the ability to reveal it? It is
because tevunah comes from binah, which is actually the binah of Atik, and in the sages
this is called אובנתא דליבא , the comprehension in the heart. This is the source of Isaac. So
there is this uvanta deliba. And this is what gives the student the power to reveal
concealed secrets in his Rebbe’s concealed mind. It comes from the fact that the student
has tremendous love and trust in his Rebbe. A true student loves his Rebbe even more
than the type of love between a man and a woman. It is love that cannot be described,
and he has more faith in his Rebbe than even his Rebbe has in himself. That is why he
can uncover the concealed mind of his Rebbe, thanks to his own אובנתא דליבא . This is all
an explanation for what Rashi is saying about this verse. So this final verse is the one
that describes that the root of tevunah is in the keter.
Now we can return to the first three verses that mention a man of tevunah and say
that they correspond to the wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (the Chabad). By
Divine Providence, we are here at the end of the Gaon of Vilna street in Rechovot, so we
shall say an explanation from the Gra about this. He explains that the first verse begins
with laughter. כי שחוק לכסיל , true laughter is spontaneous. You can’t really prepare true
laughter. It happens suddenly, like the Mashiach. If it’s not spontaneous it’s not real. So
the fool ( כסיל ), when he get a chance to fornicate in some way, it is spontaneous, like
laughter. The continuation is that the same is true of wisdom (a lightning strike upon the
mind) for a man of tevunah. It is like a sudden light in a dark night. This is the feeling,
the eureka experience that wisdom has for a man of tevunah. זימה requires some deep
thought too. What we see from this is that this verse is about the wisdom of the man of
tevunah: it is a sudden experience.
The second verse is אולת (a crooked mind) שמחה לחסר לב . In Proverbs the חסר לב is the
opposite from the נבון , the comprehending person. שמחה is joy, the inner experience of
binah, understanding. Wisdom is חיך מה (which is a smile, a tiny smile, that is how
laughter begins). A person who is always smiling can either be someone very wise, or a
fool. In any case, there is the laughter of the fool and there is the joy of the man who
lacks a heart. In contrast, there is the איש תבונה יישר לכת , what makes the man of tevunah
happy and full of joy is a straight argument and understanding—a straight path. So this
verse, describes the binah of the man of tevunah. There is a statement in Kabbalah that
yesod binah reaches all the way to tiferet (and this is the straight path, דרך ישרה שיבור לו
.(האדם, דרך שהיא תפארת לו מן האדם
The third verse is explicitly about knowledge, da’at. What does it say: חושך אמריו יודע
דעת יקר רוח איש תבונה . Here we see da’at explicitly. The reading and written forms יקר and
וקר . There is a person with a rich spirit ( יקר רוח ) and a person with a cool spirit ( .(וקר רוח
The first, the rich spirit, is one who feels that his thought is valuable and he wants his
thought to be transformed into action, he doesn’t want to speak much. (It is worthwhile
for everyone to learn the Gra’s commentary on these verses in Proverbs). A man of cool
spirit is one who doesn’t get excited easily and has an adamant spirit, he is not moved
easily. So again this verse is about da’at, knowledge.
This is exactly their order in Proverbs. The first is about wisdom, the second about
understanding, and the third about knowledge. And the fourth verse is the source of all
the tevunah, in the אובנתא דליבא , which again, allows the devoted student to bring out his
Rebbe’s concealed mind.
Let’s have a musical intermission, and then we’ll be’ezrat Hashem continue.
10. Two rebukes in the Torah
Let’s continue with transforming the rebukes into blessings, “only blessings.” In fact,
the words, כי תבוא “When you come [to the land…]” is equal to “rebuke” ( תוכחה ). This
itself is amazing, since the greatest blessing is coming to the land of Israel. It is explained
that all the rebuke is in order to bring us to teshuvah. Teshuvah has the power to
There are two rebukes in the Pentateuch: Bechukotai (the 33rd parashah in the Torah,
and therefore it is always read in proximity to Lag Ba’omer) and Ki Tavo, the 50th
parashah, connected with the 50 gates of understanding. What is the connection between
these two numbers? There is also a connection between the number of curses in each. In
Bechukotai there are 49 curses, and in Ki Tavo there are 98, twice as many, a ratio of a
whole to a half. The relationship between 33 and 50 is that of two thirds. If 33 is related
to Lag Ba’omer, then 50 is Shavu’ot. 33 is the closest whole number to two‐thirds of 50
days of Sefirat Ha’omer. The first rebuke is read specifically before Shavu’ot and the
second before Rosh Hashanah, and each time there is a week gap. But, the goal is to
transform the rebukes, the curses into blessings.
It is known that rebuke, תוכחה is תוך אהבה , that the inner aspect of love transforms it
into blessing. Like every positive phenomenon, as it progresses it increases, like the light
of the tzadikim, that continually increases. At the literal level, it seems that the negative
also increases, but now we’ve discovered it’s inner meaning as positive.
11. The final 3 verses of the rebuke in Ki tavo
Now let’s look at the final 3 verses of the rebuke, and so if it is all blessing it should
be revealed that these verses contain the most blessings. Indeed, these final 3 verses are
explained in Chassidut in a way that shows that they are all blessings. The first verse
reads, “Your life will hang in suspense before you. You sill be afraid night and day, and
you will not believe in your own life” ( .(וְהָיוּ חַיֶּיךָ תְּלֻאִים לְךָ מִנֶּגֶד וּפָחַדְתָּ לַיְלָה וְיֹומָם וְלֹא תַאֲמִין בְּחַיֶּיךָ
Then it continues, “You will say in the morning, ‘If only it were evening!’ and you will
say in the evening, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the fear in your heart that you
will experience, and because of the sights that you will behold” ( בַּבֹּקֶר תֹּאמַר מִי יִתֵּן עֶרֶב
וּבָעֶרֶב תֹּאמַר מִי יִתֵּן בֹּקֶר מִפַּחַד לְבָבְךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּפְחָד וּמִמַּרְאֵה עֵינֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּרְאֶה ). The third verse, the one
that concludes this section, which is seemingly about something new, and somewhat
surprising, yet it is a continuation, reads, “God will bring you back to Egypt in ships via
the path about which I said to you, ‘You will never see it again.’ There, you will offer
yourselves for sale to your enemies as slaves and bondwomen; but there will be no
buyer” ( וֶהֱשִׁיבְךָ י־הוה מִצְרַיִם בָּאֳנִיֹּות בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ לֹא תֹסִיף עֹוד לִרְאֹתָהּ וְהִתְמַכַּרְתֶּם שָׁם לְאֹיְבֶיךָ
לַעֲבָדִים וְלִשְׁפָחֹות וְאֵין קֹנֶה ). What does וְהִתְמַכַּרְתֶּם mean? We ourselves want to be sold to our
enemies, this is the only instance of this verb form, which means “becoming addicted”
לְהִתְמַכֵּר) ), you become addicted to your enemies. The pshat says Rashi is that you want to
be sold to them, but there are no buyers. Rabbeinu Bechayei says this is something good.
Meaning that the conclusion is some surprising transformation into good, because no
one wants to buy us. But, Rashi says that the reason there are no buyers is because they
will demand that you be killed, no sold into slavery. Thus, according to Rashi, this is
indeed the worst. In a sichah, the Rebbe says that even all that is in Rashi is a blessing
internally. So even the הרג וכליון , says the Rebbe, is like how the sages say that the Torah
can only be kept by one who is willing to kill his yetzer, one who has כלות הנפש . With all
this rebuke, the simple Jew enters a state that is above and beyond reason, a positive
state, and he is divorced from his bodily (needs) in a positive way, he then becomes like
someone who is 100 years old ( בן מאה which equals 98, the number of curses), and has no
body, and lives a fully spiritual life.
After these three verses, there is a concluding verse that reads, “These are the words
that constitute the covenant that God commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in
Moab, in addition to the covenant that He made with them at Horeb” ( אֵלֶּה דִבְרֵי הַבְּרִית
אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה י־הוה אֶת משֶׁה לִכְרֹת אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מֹואָב מִלְּבַד הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר כָּרַת אִתָּם בְּחֹרֵב ). The entire
rebuke is called a covenant. There is no more sacred word for connection between two
parties and it is likened to the covenant that God made with us at Mt. Sinai, Horeb.
Now, let’s explain how these verses can be explained as blessings.
12. Making a blessing out of fear
The Degel Machaneh Efraim writes והיו חייך תלויים לך מנגד , your life, he says, is God’s
Name. One should perform the verse, שויתי ה’ לנגדי תמיד . The Rama in the Shulchan Aruch
writes that this is the first thing every Jew must fulfill, שויתי ה’ לנגדי תמיד , for He is your
life. Meaning, that your Life, God, is hanging before you and in front of you. But, the
continuation ופחדת לילה ויומם and then it says, ולא תאמין בחייך . If “your life” is God, how
can you understand this? He doesn’t explain, so we have to add to his explanation. The
second half is easier: What does it mean that you will be afraid night and day? That by
seeing God’s Name before him day and night, he merits fulfilling the verse, אשרי אדם
מפחת תמיד (whose initials spell “truth” אמת ). God is called Fear, like the Fear of Isaac. So
to fear night and day is like what the BST said, to fear only God. But, what about “You
shall not believe in your life?” For this we need a deep topic in Chassidut. There are two
forms of life, חי בעצם and חיים להחיות . The first is God’s essential life, which the Rambam
explains in not in addition to His essence. He and His life are one thing. And what God
gives life to all creation, that is only a revelation of His essence. First He brings
everything into existence, He makes it into being, and then He adds life to it. So how
shall we explain, “You will not believe in your life.” First, “He is our life” ( ,(כי הוא חייך
and Your Life is hanging before you. But, now we explain that at some point a Jew
reaches a state where he doesn’t need believe in חיים להחיות , that God gives me life, but
rather it becomes something that is perceived, not through faith, but reality. Therefore
this is a great blessing: You will not believe in the life God gives you, but You will
experience that God is giving you life. Where will the faith then be directed? To God’s
essential life!
Apparently the middle stage, when a person fears only God, that is what brings him
to a state of experiencing the life that God gives him at every moment, it is dependent
upon it. So first Shiviti, then constant fear of God alone, and finally knowledge and
perception of the life God is giving you.
13. Making a blessing out of anticipation for morning and
Now for the second verse. בבוקר תאמר מי יתן ערב ובערב תאמר מי יתן ערב . One of the
greatest Chassidim in Chabad is Rebbe Isaac of Homil. He writes that the most essential
pulse of the Jewish heart is the run and return between “God is all” and “All is God.” In
every split second there is a comprehension that nothing but God exists. And the next
split second, there is the comprehension that is the opposite, that all of reality that is
before me is real, and not just real, but the final purpose of what God wants, and that
this itself is Divine. From one extreme to the other, this inner run and return is pulsating
in us. Sometimes this is called the higher unification and the lower unification, or the
higher da’at and the lower da’at which are also these two unifications. The higher da’at is
in the morning and the lower unification is in the evening. Higher d’aat is God is all. The
lower da’at is usually explained as much less, because you feel that the lower reality is
real, and the Divine is only behind it. But at its root, the lower da’at which allows being
to be experienced is actually higher. All the higher unifications, all that is written in
Kabbalah is like garnisht next to it. Again, the lower is “All is God.” Since it is not clear
and not easy to say which is better, there is a run and return between them. Each of these
forms of consciousness admit that the other has more wonder to it. In this sense, God is
called אל ההודאות , a God of acknowledgments. The lower knowledge acknowledges that
there is more wonder in the fact that God is truly above and beyond all that exists, and
the higher knowledge acknowledges that there is more wonder in God reaching His
purpose in the lower reality. This is akin to the description of Moshe Rabbeinu’s grave,
the higher one’s think it is below, and the lower beings think it is above. Moshe
Rabbeinu’s grave is a connotation for the 50th gate, and so the 50th gate is run and return.
In the morning you think that the 50th gate is below, and in the evening you think that
the 50th gate is above. This is an amazing explanation. There can be no greater blessing
for our consciousness of God then this run and return between the morning and the
night. And again, this is the pulse of the Jewish soul.
How can we now explain the continuation. .מפחד לבבך אשר תפחד וומראה עיניך אשר תראה
A person who is praying is told to face down with his eyes and to place his heart above.
The heart, its fear, is felt from the wonder of that which is above. And this is the fear of
the heart that is meant here. And from the sight of what your eyes see, is for the one who
is above and is looking down. So we now have two beautiful examples of transforming a
curse into a blessing.
14. Making a blessing out of returning to Egypt
What about the third verse, And God will return you to Egypt on ships, on the path
that I said you would never see again, and there you will want to be sold (addicted) to
your emenies, to slaves and maidservants, and there are no buyers.”
God will return you to Egypt, the literal meaning is that God will take you out in
exile, from the land of Israel to Egypt, and Egypt is a symbol for all the exiles, because it
means “straits,” God forces us into straits, taking away our true Jewish free will. In the
Arizal the example of this is a person who is raised as a slave, which makes the soul
which should be free to break forth. All Jews are kings and a king forges a path. But, to
be in Egypt is to be like a slave.
But והשיבך also means to do teshuvah. The purpose, the final goal of returning to
Egypt is to do teshuvah, and God works in the most secretive ways to return us to Him,
even as He brings us back to Egypt. Indeed, in the entire rebuke, God’s essential Name,
Havayah appears exactly 26 times, and the value of Havayah is of course 26. 26 times
God’s mercy (Havayah is the Name of mercy). What are these ships? There are a number
of different explanations. Rashi says that these are slave ships. But, if we darshen this a
little, it says that “ship” ( אניה ) is “I,” and thus “ אניה ” is self‐consciousness ( ,(מודעות עצמית
which is what happens to someone who is captive in Egypt—he is in the prison of his
own self‐consciousness. He is a prisoner within his own egocentricity. This is felt also in
the special word in this verse, והתמכרתם , and you will grow addicted. You become
addicted to thinking about yourself, to being self‐conscious. Actually, this verb form
appears 2 more times in the Tanach. Ahab was the most wicked of all Jewish kings, and
twice it says that he “grew addicted” ( התמכר ) to do evil in God’s eyes (‘ .(לעשות הרע בעיני ה
And the second time is at the end of 2nd Kings. It says that all 10 Tribes had become
addicted to doing evil in God’s eyes. Actually they inherited this התמכרות fron Ahab. The
Rebbe, since he wants to transform everything into a blessing, says that to become
addicted to your enemies is to become addicted to collecting the sparks of holiness. Why
is there exile in the first place? To add converts to the Jewish people. And to be addicted
to our enemies (the evil that holds the sparks of holiness captive), is to be addicted to
.עבודת הבירורים
What do the slaves and maidservants represent? Becoming Ba’alei teshuvha whose
main task is to be God’s servants.
We come now to the final words, and the Rebbe writes that here the world אין should
be read ayin. The Alter Rebbe explains that the אין is the source of the Jewish people’s
soul, and it is higher than the World of Rectification, but above this there is the ayin that
is our source, the source of the Jewish people. There is a principle in Chassidut that
between every two beings there is a state of nothingness. The nothingness prepares the
path to being that is much higher than the initial state of being. So the first being has to
be nullified so that the new being can appear. Now, all the difficulties are meant to bring
us to blessings. Because our mazal can only awaken when we reach a state of
nothingness. This is like the seed that rots in the ground and then emerges as something
infinitely more than where he came from.
In the Lunar blessing we say: ברוך עושך ברוך יוצרך ברוך בוראך וברוך קונך . The point is that
the ayin illuminate the קונה . So at first there is the “grow addicted.” You grow addicted
(like a ba’al teshuvah) to serving God like a servant, engaging in recovering the sparks of
holiness. And then the ayin illuminates the .ואין קונה – קונה
Let’s say something more. The verse contains another phrase that we didn’t explain:
God said that we would not see the way to Egypt anymore. Why is this about the path
stressed here. This curse follows the verse, נורא עלילה על בני אדם , even when a Jew
transgresses and does the opposite from what God wants, it is still considered to be נורא
עלילה , God did it, he planned it. All the difficulties you went through are to reach
teshuvah, because that it the final intent. All the toil of berurim, clarification is just a step
in the direction of the toil of unification ( .ואין קונה ,(יִחוּדִים
15. Social development: present, post, and neo
Now let’s return for a moment to the revelation of the nothingness between every
two states of being. There is a modern idiom that connects to this: post. There is zionism
and post‐zionism. The concept of “post” states that something has reached a state of
nothingness. There is a power in the development of society, “these are the chronicles of
man,” that make it so that certain things just end. We have to ask whether this is
something negative and nonsensical or whether this is positive. But, in any case, the
state of nothingness that follows being is “post.” Zionism is about returning to the land
of Israel. But, if return to Egypt follows, then all of Zionism is nothing and we’ve
reached a state of post‐Zionism. Now if something is negative then the fact that we reach
its post, it is positive. What then is negative about “post?” That it is considered the final
goal. It is not understood that it is an intermediate stage. What follows the post is neo. If
there is Zionism, there is post‐Zionism, and then there is neo‐Zionism. A new face, new
way. It is like that the old Zionism has to rot in the earth in order to give birth to
something new, neo‐Zionism. This is the meaning of, “and there is no buyer” ( ,(אין קונה
where the ayin, the nothingness, connects and resides within the .קונה
We are talking about communal issues. Here the issue is regarding our lives as a
community. We reach a state of post because we are frustrated with what happened and
what came out of all that’s been done to date. It’s not what we dreamt would happen. So
it’s over, let’s finish it. But, most people don’t understand that to finish it is all in order
for something new to grow. There are a number of faces of people here who feel post,
and we need more people whose faces are neo. This is to explain the final verse in the
rebuke, with the final goal being .ואין קונה
16. Curses and blessings, prime and composite numbers
Let’s end with some lower energies. We’ll do a gematria. From it we can understand
what a curse and what a blessing are. Let’s count how many letters in the first verse. The
first verse contains 46 letters. All three verses together contain 197 letters, which is
exactly the number of letters in the account of the first day of creation. Is there a ratio
between 46 and 197? The most important concept in number theory is prime numbers.
Every prime number is like a king from which a series of infinite numbers emerge. The
prime numbers form a series: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, and therefore we can say where
each prime is in the series, ordinally. The 46th prime is 197 (starting with 1). This is a
start. Let’s see if there’s another example of this in the Torah. We said that the first day’s
account has 197 letters, so let’s look at just the first 3 verses in that account. We find that
in these 3 verses there are exactly 28 letters in the first and in all three together there are
103. And indeed, 103 is the 28th prime number (from 1). This is truly wondrous, there is a
very low probability that this would happen. To this day there is no way to predict the
prime numbers. This is the greatest mystery in mathematics and therefore of the entire
natural world. The unknowable head of mathematics is this topic of prime numbers.
Now let’s see if there’s something else that will prove to us that there is some connection
between the Torah’s first three verses and the three final verses of the rebuke. Together
they contain 103 and 197 or 300 letters, which is the triangle of 24 (the sum of integers
from 1 to 24) like the 24 books of the Tanach. 24 is important too because it is the
factorial of 4 (1 times 2 times 3 times 4) and indicates the number of permutations that
can be made between 4 objects. So we can organize these 6 verses in the form of a
triangle (homework for the children in cheider). Why is the triangle obvious here,
because the Torah’s first verse is the first 7 lines of this triangle (the triangle of 7, 28
letters). What we need to explain then is what it means to be a prime number. A prime
number is a point, it is point like. All other numbers are composite numbers. Every
prime number begins an infinite series of composite numbers (multiples of the prime).
The prime is the first point. “Point” ( נְקוּדָה ) is equal to “curse” ( קְלָלָה ). To be prime is to be
a point, the root of all the blessings that come out of it. A curse is thus something simple,
prime. Blessing ( בְּרָכָה ) in Hebrew comes from the same word as “complexity” ( .(הַרְכָּבָה
The root of all reality is general. All the world is prime, which is why the Torah begins
with בראשית , In the beginning,… the earth was chaotic. This is a curse. To be “beginning”
to be “prime” ( ראשוני ) that means to be a curse. But, then the light comes out and that is
the complexity that then appears. To be prime is to be chaotic and for this reason, that is
why a tzadik who is prime is at first grasped to be like a curse.
To be post‐something is to understand that what came before was a curse and that
the current state is even worse, but it is all leading to a state of neo.
May the year and its curses end, and may it all transform into blessings, and only
blessings. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year, a year of the
complete and true redemption with the Mashiach who will come and redeem us

rosh hashanah

About barzdovg666

I'm a revelationist/prophestylist, and lover and servant of HaShem of Hosts.
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