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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Self-sacrifice for Torah and Chassidus I

What is the lesson from the fact that Yaakov tricked Yitzchok? The Rebbe explains:
The Rebbetzin Rivka was one of the ones who would copy the manuscripts of the Rebbe Maharash.

The Rebbe Maharash was very organized, and his exact schedule was known, including the times in which he would go for a stroll. Some [
chassidim] would sneak in during his stroll, after leaving a guard to inform them of his return, and would copy his manuscripts of Chassidus. In this way they copied numerous manuscripts. One of the copyists was the Rebbetzin Rivka.

The Previous Rebbe would hold the Rebbetzin Rivka’s transcripts of the manuscripts of the Rebbe Maharash in one folder along with the transcriptions of the Rebbe Rashab.

The Previous Rebbe, my father-in-law, related that this is also the way he behaved with his father, the Rebbe Rashab. ...

This seems difficult to understand. The Rebbe Maharash probably estimated, and perhaps even knew for certain, that they were copying his manuscripts while he would travel, for he knew the Rebbe Rashab and how much he yearned for manuscripts of
Chassidus. So if he didn’t want them to copy his manuscripts, he could have secured them in a way that it would be impossible to copy them. And if he did wanted them to copy his manuscripts, he could have given permission.

The same question can be asked concerning the manuscripts that the Previous Rebbe copied from the Rebbe Rashab. Why did it need to happen in such a way, without permission?

Rivka convinced Yaakov to go to Yitzchak and pretend to be Esav in order to receive the firstborn blessings. Chassidus asks: why was it necessary for the blessings to Yaakov to come through deception?

The reason for this is that in this way Yaakov rectified the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent used deception to bring Adam and Chava to sin, and this caused certain sublime sparks of holiness to fall into the forces of
Kelipah. Thus, the way to reclaim these sparks was through deception, as it is written, “With the crooked be cunning” (Tehillim 18:27).

This was the reason that when Rivka told Yaakov to go and receive the blessings from Yitzchak, she consoled him by saying that if any curse might come upon him through acting deceptively, it will be transferred to her. What kind of consolation was this?! Every son, and surely Yaakov, is concerned for his mother, loves her dearly and would not have allowed her to become cursed either! Moreover, we see that upon hearing this, Yaakov indeed stopped protesting and obeyed Rivka. Why did this argument convince him?

The Kabbalistic texts explain that Yaakov was spiritually similar to Adam, and this is why he was assigned with the task of rectifying Adam’s sin. Since Adam’s sin was the result of deception, the way for Yaakov to rectify it and ensure that Esav not receive the blessings was to use deception to claim the blessings, as it is written: “Your brother came with deception and took your blessing” (Bereshis 27:35).

Since this involved refining a level that transcends intellect (or is lower than intellect, as is the case with the sin of the Tree of Knowledge), one must receive it in a manner commensurate with the nature of this level. Thus, one cannot access this level in the normal manner, through intellect, but through displaying a willingness to sacrifice oneself, and risk one’s life. This is what Rivka meant when she said that “your curse will befall me, my son” (ibid. 27:13)—she declared that she was willing to risk her life as well, for this was the only way to accomplish their goal. This argument succeeded at persuading Yaakov to endanger himself in the same way.

The same is true of Torah in general, for Yitzchok’s blessings to Yaakov were related to Torah (Bereishis Rabba 66:3). It is all the more true of the inner dimension of Torah, as was the case concerning the copying of manuscripts of Chassidus. There is a higher level that one reaches through holy deception, without the knowledge of the giver, and through an approach of self-sacrifice on the part of the recipient (to endanger himself by doing something that might make the Rebbe upset with him [“kepeida”]).

Adapted from Toras Menachem 5711, Vol. 1, pp. 221-222-223.
See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 1, pp. 55-56.
We may pledge allegiance to the very lofty, holy cause of Torah and Chassidus. But since this involves eliciting a level so sublime that is completely beyond us, in order to truly attain it, we need to make a sacrifice, take a risk, do something different, uncomfortable, difficult, even painful.

We need to ask ourselves: Our Rebbeim, and the chassidim of earlier generations, had such tremendous devotion and self-sacrifice for this sublime cause. How much are we giving up for it, each person on his or her own level?

(See
here for further explanation.)

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