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

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gazing at the image of the Rebbe

Gazing at the image of the Rebbe

Rabbi Y. Oliver

Sanhedrin 96b describes how the image of Nevuchadnetzar was engraved on Nuvazraden’s chariot as he travelled to destroy Yerushalayim:
“A servant [honors] his master”[1]: [this is exemplified by Nuvazraden, as it is written:] “In the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nevuchadnetzar, king of Babylonia, Nuvazraden, captain of the executioners, came. He stood before the king of Babylonia in Yerushalayim, and he burned the House of Hashem and the house of the king.”[2]

But had
Nevuchadnetzar gone up to Yerushalayim? Is it not written [of the time of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash], “They carried him [Tzidkiyahu] up unto the King of Babylon to Rivlah,”[3] and R. Abahu said that this [Rivlah] was [the city of] Antioch [which is in what is today southern Turkey]? [Doesn’t this implies that Nevuchadnetzar was in the city of Antioch, not in Yerushalayim?]

R. Chisda and R. Yitzchak b. Avdimi [each offered a solution]. One answered: His [
Nevuchadnetzar’s] portrait was engraved on his [Nuvazraden’s] chariot, and the other explained: He [Nuvazraden] stood in such awe of him [Nevuchadnetzar] that it is as though he were in his presence.
Rashi there explains the opinion that holds that Nevuchadnetzar’s portrait was engraved on Nuvazraden’s chariot:
It seemed to him [Nuvazraden] as if he was standing before him [Nevuchadnetzar, when he gazed at his portrait]. Therefore it is written “Nevuchadnetzar came,” for this refers to his glory [that was manifest to everyone through the image of him].
Moreover, the Maharsha explains that this also answers the first verse in that chapter: “Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylonia came, he and all his army, against Yerushalayim, and he encamped by it.” When did Nevuchadnetzar come to Yerushalayim? Rather, since his portrait was present, it was as if he had gone to Yerushalayim.

What a tremendous impact! Nuvazraden connected with the evil energy of his master, Nevuchadnetzar, by regularly gazing at his image, and this imbued him with so much audacity to commit unadulterated evil that it was considered as if Nevuchadnetzar was actually there. 

The positive lesson from this is clear, for “Hashem made this one [the side of
Kelipah] opposite this one [the side of holiness].”[4] The realm of evil parallels that of goodness. Moreover, “The
measure of good is greater than the measure of retribution.”[5]

Thus, if
Nuvazraden was inspired to destroy the Beis HaMikdash and Yerushalayim because of the corrupting impact of an unholy image (which is consistent with the statement of Chazal, “It is forbidden to gaze at the image of a wicked person”[6]), all the more so that gazing at the holy image of a Tzaddik can imbue tremendous inspiration with a person.

Moreover, this is especially relevant for us,
chassidim of the Rebbe, who is adonenu, our master, for in our current situation, after Gimmel Tammuz, we do not see the Rebbe physically. However, gazing at his image from time to time (along with fulfilling all his other directives, of course) imbues us with strength to overcome the darkness of the end of the exile, and witness the coming of Moshiach very soon, when we will again see the Rebbe physically.

For as much as seeing an image of the Rebbe can accomplish, we are not satisfied with this, and we
davven to be able to see the Rebbe physically. As the Rebbe prayed on 
10 Shevat, 5711, at the conclusion of his very first ma’amar (see here), “May we merit to see and be together with the [Previous] Rebbe, down here in a physical body and within our immediate reach, and he will redeem us.” Based on the concept of “the Rebbe rules on himself” (see here), as chassidim of the Rebbe, we davven for the same thing after Gimmel Tammuz.

[1] Malachi 1:6.
[2] Yirmiyahu 52:12-13.
[3] II Melochim 25:6.
[4] Zohar 1:27:2.
[5] Rashi, Shemos 34:7.
[6] See Megillah 28a; cf. Tanchuma, Toldos 8.

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