"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Seeing" G–dliness through feminine aid

For those who doubt the tremendous degree of respect that the Chassidic path (in addition to that of earlier rabbinic sources) holds for womenfolk, please read this:
My father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe, related the following episode:[1]

It once happened that as the Alter Rebbe was leaving his room, he heard his wife, the Rebbetzin, talking with several women, and saying about him, “mine says.”[2]

It is written in the holy books that a woman should not refer to her husband by name, out of respect.[3] This would hold true all the more concerning the Alter Rebbe, who was a Nasi [leader] of the Jewish people. Therefore his wife did not refer to him by name, but said “mine.”

The Alter Rebbe said—in a melody, as was his custom—“If I am yours with one Mitzvah, with how many Mitzvos am I Hashem’s?” He leaned on the doorway, and entered a state of deep, trancelike concentration.

When he emerged from his meditative state, he declared:

[It is written], “Go out and see, O daughters of Tzion, king Shlomo.”[4] Through the daughters of Tzion [i.e., Jewish women], one is able to “go out” of the limitation of one’s vessel, and “see” G–dliness (which is represented by “king Shlomo,” which alludes to “the King who possesses peace [i.e., Hashem]”[5]).

We can explain this by connecting it with the statement of my father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe, concerning his father, the Rebbe Rashab, that when the Rebbe Rashab witnessed a particular event, although others had witnessed it as well, he would explain its lesson in the service of Hashem.

The reason for this is that Chassidus teaches us to extract the inner aspect of everything, even something simple, and derive a lesson from it in one’s service of Hashem.

Thus, it is not surprising that one word that the Alter Rebbe heard from his wife, the Rebbetzin, led to the addition of new concepts in Chassidic philosophy, in Chassidic melodies, and in the service of Hashem.

Toras Menachem, Vol. 7, pp. 274-275.



[1] HaYom Yom 23 Shevat.
[2] A Yiddish idiom by which to refer to one’s family member.
[3] Cf. Darkei Chaim VeShalom, sec. 1063.
[4] Shir HaShirim 3:11.
[5] Shir HaShirim Rabba 1:1.
Comment: This story has to be the most powerful statement concerning the positive impact that a wife can have on her husband that I’ve seen.

The Talmud says (Yevamos 62b) that one’s wife brings her husband joy, blessing, goodness, Torah, protection from sin, and peace. These are all tremendously valuable things, of course.

However, the Alter Rebbe says in Tanya here that the core of all one’s divine service is to come to “see” G–dliness. I.e., this is at the core of everything else, necessary as all those other elements may be. And according to the above story, the ability to attain this is granted by one’s wife.


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4 comments:

  1. All that you said is true about the positive impact that a wife can have on her husband..However, I just don't see how you got that from the story. The way I see it the Alter Rebbe was so great that he was able to learn out and see G-dliness in everything.. and he would explain its lesson in the service of Hashem. If I - for example - give charity, and you see me do it, and you learn out that since i had money and the recipient did not therefore you should do the same with mitzvot by giving opportunities to perform Mitzvot to people that otherwise would not..is that my greatness for giving charity in the first place or yours for learning a lesson?? While it is true that the Rebbetzin displayed great respect - and this is a great thing in itself - the lesson here is "to extract the inner aspect of everything, even something simple, and derive a lesson from it in one’s service of Hashem." I do not see how this is "the most powerful statement concerning the positive impact that a wife can have on her husband"

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  2. Read it again. This is not a lesson that I derived, but a lesson that the Alter Rebbe derived, when he declared:

    "Through the daughters of Tzion [i.e., Jewish women], one is able to “go out” of the limitation of one’s vessel, and “see” G–dliness ... "

    Concerning your words concerning deriving lessons, I would comment that although everyone should derive lessons from their personal experience, obviously a lesson that the Alter Rebbe derived, and one that was told, explained, and publicised in print by the later Rebbeim, is far more significant than a lesson derived by a regular person. (Not that those lessons aren't also significant, of course.)

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  3. Sorry about that. I appreciate your trying to clarify it for me..but I guess I didn't understand it clearly enough...

    So the Alter Rebbe hears a word from his wife and learns about G-dliness. (He concludes, that now he understands the passuk “Go out and see, O daughters of Tzion, king Shlomo.” That one can learn about G-dliness though Jewish women.)

    The Rebbe responds to this story, concluding that "Chassidus teaches us to extract the inner aspect of everything, even something simple, and derive a lesson from it in one’s service of Hashem." And that therefore "one word that the Alter Rebbe heard from his wife, the Rebbetzin, led to the addition of new concepts.."

    So, the message is that this demonstrates "the respect that the Chassidic path holds for womenfolk" because it values the word of the woman.

    OK - I think i get it now...

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  4. I would think that the story of R' Akiva is more powerful...

    But regardless, the whole concept is kind of freaky.

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Thank you for your comment! :)