1. The 24th of Teves, the Alter Rebbe’s yahrzeit, generally falls in the week of Parshas Vaeira. Based on the principle that the festivals have a connection to the Torah portions read at that time, we can assume that there is a connection between the Alter Rebbe’s yahrzeit and Parshas Vaeira.

That connection can be seen in the second verse of the Torah reading which states, “And I revealed Myself to Avraham, to Yitzchok, and to Yaakov [the Patriarchs (Rashi)] as the Almighty G‑d.” The Hebrew word for Almighty, ש-די, is an acronym for the names Shneur שניאור, the Alter Rebbe’s name; DovBer דובער, the Maggid of Mezritch’s name; and Yisrael ישראל, the Baal Shem Tov’s name. These three Rebbeim represent the “Patriarchs” of the Chassidic movement.

The service of the Patriarchs was a preparatory stage for the giving of the Torah and the entrance into Eretz Yisrael. Indeed, G‑d redeemed the Jews because of the covenant that He had made with the Patriarchs. Similarly, the service of the “Patriarchs” of Chassidus prepares us for the Future Redemption and the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah which comes at that time.

To explain the above in greater depth: The Torah is eternal and its narratives are not merely accounts of past history, but rather directives which apply at all times. In particular, this applies in regard to the Patriarchs for, “the deeds of the Patriarchs are a sign to their descendants” and the Patriarchs endow their descendants, the Jews in every generation, with their immense spiritual legacy.

In this context, the relevance of the beginning of the Torah portion, “And I revealed Myself to Avraham, to Yitzchok, and to Yaakov as the Almighty G‑d, but I did not reveal My name Havayah to them,” raises a question. Since the name Havayah has been revealed — the fullest dimension of this revelation coming at the giving of the Torah — of what significance is it that the Patriarchs were not granted such a revelation?

Furthermore, it is necessary to understand: The name ש-די is associated with creation as the Talmud states, “I am He who said די (“enough”) to the world.” If so, what is unique about the revelation of the name ש-די to the Patriarchs?

This narrative raises another question. On the phrase, “but I did not reveal My name Havayah to them,” Rashi comments, “I did not let My attribute (מדה) of truth become known to them.” The use of the word middah is problematic because it also has the connotation “measure.” How can the name Havayah which reflects an infinite dimension of G‑dliness be associated with any particular middah?

The concept can be explained as follows. There are two interpretations to the name ש-די: “I am He who said די (‘enough’) to the world,” and “There is די (‘enough’) within My Divine potential for every creation.”

According to the first interpretation, די refers to the world and indicates that the world will be confined within certain limits. According to the second interpretation, די refers to G‑d and points to His potential to provide His creations with all their needs.

Thus, the revelation of the name ש-די to the Patriarchs refers to the second dimension. At the time of creation, the revelation of the first dimension of ש-די established the limits of our worldly existence. By revealing Himself to the Patriarchs, G‑d brought about an influx of Divine beneficence that satisfied “every creation.”

Implied by the above is that the Patriarchs were able to reveal G‑dliness within the context of the world’s limits. The revelation they brought about, however, was also limited, only that dimension of G‑dliness which could be enclothed within the creations themselves, for until the giving of the Torah there was “a decree” separating the spiritual from the physical. “My name Havayah,” the potential to drawn down the dimension of G‑dliness which transcends the world, was not revealed to them.

At the giving of the Torah, however, G‑d nullified this decree and granted the potential for the G‑dliness which transcends creation to be revealed within the context of our limited existence. This does not mean that the revelation would nullify those limits. Instead, the intent was that the world itself would become a vessel for G‑dliness, that the infinite revelations would be internalized within it, and in this manner, the world would become “a dwelling for G‑d.”

For this to be accomplished, it was necessary that there be preparatory stages for this revelation. First the dimension of ש-די that established the world’s limitations had to be revealed and afterwards, the dimension of ש-די which brought about the revelation of G‑dliness that was able to be enclothed within the limits of creation. This refined the world and prepared it for the revelation of the giving of the Torah. Thus, even after the Torah was given, the revelation to the Patriarchs is significant for it grants the potential for our limited world to internalize the revelation of the name Havayah. This allows us to appreciate that, from an inner dimension, the revelation of the name ש-די to the Patriarchs is not an independent revelation, but rather a phase in the revelation of Havayah.

In this context, we can appreciate Rashi’s statement, “I did not let My attribute (מדה) of truth become known to them.” The intent is that the name Havayah be revealed with the context of middah (“measure”). The measure in which it is revealed, however, is “My middah,” G‑d’s infinite measure, and not the limited measure of the world itself.

To explain the above from a deeper perspective: The difference between the two sources of revelation, Havayah and ש-די, as they exist after the giving of the Torah, reflect the difference between the Torah (which is above limitation) and the world (which is limited). In particular, this contrast can be seen as a reflection of the difference between the Torah and the mitzvos. Mitzvos are also related to the limits of the world and thus have certain limitations regarding the times and places where they are to be fulfilled. In contrast, the Torah is above the limitations of the world. Therefore, the obligation for Torah study is constant, applying in all times and in all places.

Furthermore, this contrast between the Torah and its mitzvos applies only with regard to the actual performance of the mitzvos. As the mitzvos exist within the Torah itself, they like the Torah, are above the limitations of time and space. Accordingly, even though the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed, when a Jew in the Diaspora studies the laws of the sacrifices even during the night, his study is considered equivalent to the actual offering of the sacrifices.1

Similarly, as the mitzvos exist within the Torah, there is no difference between the positive commandments and the negative commandments. As they exist within the world, the positive commandments represent the performance of an activity and the negative commandments, an act of restraint. As they exist within the Torah, however, they both represent positive forces.

The manner in which the mitzvos exist within the Torah is exemplified in our Sages’ statement that when the Jews received the Torah, they answered “yes” when they were instructed to fulfill both the positive commandments and the negative commandments. This implies that one makes a commitment to the essence of the mitzvos, the connection (tzavsa) with G‑d established by the mitzvos. Furthermore, the negative commandments are also appreciated as mediums to draw down holiness.

These concepts should be reflected in the existence of a Jew within this material world. He must see his 248 limbs and 365 sinews as extensions of the 248 positive commandments and the 365 negative commandments.

Based on the above, we can understand the change brought about by the giving of the Torah from a deeper perspective. The intent of the giving of the Torah was that the G‑dliness which transcends the creation should not remain above the limitations of the world, but rather should permeate those limitations as explained above. This is accomplished through the mitzvos which are, on one hand, associated with the limitations of worldly existence — for as explained above, the mitzvos are dependent on the limits of time and place — and yet are connected with the infinite potential of the Torah. This allows the spiritual source of each entity to be revealed and even those entities which appear negative to become positive forces which reveal G‑d’s will.

This is brought about by the Torah, the revelation of the name Havayah. Before the giving of the Torah, when there was a decree separating the spiritual and the physical, the world was only able to receive a revelation of G‑dliness that did not negate the limits of the world (ש-די). Thus, it was possible to say that the revelation of this level is separate from the revelation of the name Havayah. Through the revelation of the giving of the Torah which allowed the infinite G‑dliness of Havayah to permeate all aspects of existence, it was revealed that the revelation of G‑dliness within creation is also a dimension of this infinite revelation.

This relates to our Sages’ statement that the Patriarchs observed the entire Torah before it was given. In this manner, they revealed the level of ש-די within the world. The inner dimension of this revelation is the name Havayah.

Of the Patriarchs, the one most closely associated with the Torah is Yaakov.2 Thus the Torah describes him as “a simple person, a dweller of tents,” i.e., “the tents of Shem and Ever.” Similarly, we find the verse, “they will instruct Your judgments to Yaakov and Your Torah to Israel.” Thus, although more than the other Patriarchs, Yaakov was forced to confront difficulties and troubles in the world at large — the difficulties of Lavan, Eisav, Dinah, and Yosef — the Torah emphasizes how he remained on a level of completeness as it is written, “And Yaakov came to the city of Shechem complete.” Our Sages comment, “complete in his body, that his limp was healed; complete in his finances, that he was not lacking anything from the large present [sent Eisav], complete in his Torah, that he had not forgotten his studies in the house of Lavan.”

Yaakov remained complete even though “a man wrestled with him.” On the contrary, “he strove with an angel and with men and prevailed.” He was able to force the angel to bless him and, furthermore, the wound he suffered when wrestling with the angel healed.

This is a reflection of the connection between Yaakov and the Torah. Since the Torah is the source for all perfection, even the aspects of perfection connected with worldly matters, Yaakov who is associated with Torah confronts worldliness and remains “complete.”3

Based on the above, we can appreciate the connection between the 24th of Teves, the yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe, and Parshas Vaeira. Of the three “Patriarchs” of the Chassidic movement, the Alter Rebbe, like the Patriarch Yaakov is associated with Torah study. This is reflected in the fact that the Alter Rebbe is referred to as “the author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch.” These two texts are of fundamental importance, the Tanya being “the Written Law of Pnimiyus HaTorah” and the Shulchan Aruch, a basic text of Nigleh, the revealed dimensions of Torah law.4

It can be explained that just as the revelation of G‑dliness by the Patriarchs was a preparation for the revelation of the Torah, the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah by the “Patriarchs of Chassidus” serves as a preparatory stage for the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah in the world at large in the Era of Redemption. This will be the complete revelation of the name Havayah. This revelation will permeate even the lowest dimension of worldly existence.

Just as among the Patriarchs, the fullest expression of their service was exemplified by Yaakov, similarly, among the “Patriarchs of Chassidus,” the Alter Rebbe epitomized the spreading of Pnimiyus HaTorah, revealing its teachings within a structured intellectual pattern. This transition into the realm of intellect reflects how Pnimiyus HaTorah is drawn down into the limits of the world at large.

These two concepts — the emphasis on the Torah and the efforts to draw down that Torah into the limits of the world at large — are reflected in the Alter Rebbe’s name, Shneur Zalman. Shneur relates to the words Shnei Or (“two lights”), the light of Nigleh and the light of Pnimiyus HaTorah. Zalman shares the same letters as the word l’zman (“to time”), reflecting how these lights of Torah will permeate the limits of time (and thus space) which define our material world.5 Since the Alter Rebbe fused the two dimensions of Torah, Nigleh and Pnimiyus HaTorah, together, he also had the potential to reveal Torah, the G‑dliness that transcends creation, within the creation itself.

Just as Yaakov our Patriarch was forced to confront many difficulties and tribulations, so, too, the Alter Rebbe was subjected to the difficulties of imprisonment. Nevertheless, these difficulties did not hinder his service. On the contrary, he was redeemed and his redemption increased the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. This service was continued by the Rebbeim who followed him, each one spreading Chassidus further and thus preparing the world at large for the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah in the Era of Redemption.

2. The Hebrew word Avos translated as “Patriarchs” literally means “fathers.” By referring to Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov as the fathers of the Jewish people, we imply that just as a father’s estate becomes the property of his children, each Jew a descendant of the Patriarchs, inherits their great spiritual legacy.

Thus, we must look at every Jew as an heir to the Patriarchs and realize how, “His nation are a part of G‑d; Yaakov is the cord of His inheritance.” Similarly, every Jew is called Yisrael, one who “strove with an angel and with men and prevailed.” Because of a Jew’s essence, each Jew, regardless of his present situation, even as he exists in the darkness of exile in this material world, can “strive with an angel and with men and prevail.”

Furthermore, every Jew, regardless of his present situation, inherits the entire Torah as it is written, “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov.” Since each Jew is a member of “the congregation of Yaakov,” he is an heir to the Torah. An heir receives his inheritance regardless of his personal standing. Similarly, each Jew receives the entire Torah as his inheritance.6

This is what we must perceive when we look at another Jew. If these positive qualities are not perceived, we must understand that they are being obscured by the darkness of exile, and it is necessary to search further. If one sees undesirable qualities, one must realize that the other person is, to quote the Baal Shem Tov, only a mirror and those undesirable qualities are in fact one’s own. The appreciation of the positive qualities of each Jew are emphasized by the teachings of the “Patriarchs of Chassidus.” Thus, the Baal Shem Tov taught that G‑d loves each Jew as dearly as parents love an only son.

The awareness of these concepts should inspire greater ahavas Yisrael. In this context, we see a unique emphasis in the teachings of the Alter Rebbe who devoted an entire chapter, Chapter 32,7 to the subject of ahavas Yisrael. Furthermore, in the first draft of the Tanya, the Alter Rebbe did not include Chapter 32. This implies that the content of the chapters 31 and 33 themselves could be understood without such an addition. Thus, the fact that such an addition was made highlights its importance and reflects that the lesson of Chapter 32 is of fundamental significance.8

In this context, we can appreciate the significance of the fact that Rosh Chodesh Shvat is celebrated on Wednesday, “the day on which the luminaries were suspended in the heavens.” The word “luminaries” is plural, referring to both the sun, “the great luminary,” and the moon, “the small luminary.”

This provides every Jew with a twofold lesson in his service of G‑d. Firstly, he must appreciate that he is a “luminary,” that he can and he must, shine forth and provide others with light. Secondly, the mention of the two luminaries, the sun and the moon, teaches one that he must be both a great luminary and a small luminary.

Being a “great luminary” implies that a person realizes that he possesses important potentials which he wants to use in a contributory fashion. (Needless to say, for his contributions to be received, it is necessary for him to give in a generous and positive manner.)

Being a “small luminary” implies that a person must appreciate and radiate to others that other individuals can contribute to him as our Sages comment, “Who is a wise man? One who learns from every person.” As a small luminary, one reflects the positive virtues that others possess.

A person must know how to express both these dimensions in his life and must have the sensitivity to appreciate which quality is demanded at each particular time.

The above statements concerning the positive qualities of each Jew are particularly appropriate regarding the present generation, the heirs to the legacy of holiness left by the martyrs of the previous generation. We are “a brand saved from the fire,” a clear example of how, despite awesome challenges, “Yaakov came to the city of Shechem complete.”9

One must realize how much G‑d loves the Jewish people as a whole and each individual Jew in particular as we recite in our prayers, “With eternal love, You have loved us.” In particular, the present era, is a time when this love is expressed. It resembles the month of Elul, a time when “the King is in the field” and receives everyone with a pleasant countenance and shows everyone a smiling countenance. Now is a time when we can approach G‑d with our requests and He will grant them.

Particularly, after the Holocaust, G‑d owes the Jewish people, as it were, to make up for the horrors which the Jewish people suffered10 and to bring them blessing, including leading them to teshuvah which will speed the coming of the Future Redemption. The Jews — each individual and the people as a whole — will be blessed with open and apparent good and only with good.

If this is true at all times and particularly in our generation, it has special relevance at present when, “nations are challenging each other.” G‑d gives the Jews a special promise that “all that I have performed I have performed for your sake.” Throughout the world, we are promised, “The Guardian of Israel does not slumber or sleep.” In particular, this applies in Eretz Yisrael, where “the eyes of G‑d, your L‑rd are always upon it from the beginning of the year until its end.”

3. The verse “And Yaakov came to the city of Shechem complete,” provides us with a practically applicable lesson. At first, Yaakov feared a war over Shechem. Nevertheless, when all the nations around him massed to attack him, he put on armor and conquered Shechem “with his sword and bow.”

To apply this in present terms, all the nations around Eretz Yisrael attacked her and the Jews were forced to “put on armor” and they conquered Shechem and the areas of Judah and Samaria with “a sword and a bow.” After G‑d has given these lands back to the Jewish people, it is absolutely forbidden to return them; doing so would endanger the lives of millions of Jews. Rather they should be settled by the Jewish people.

With unique Hashgachah Protis, at this time, hundreds of thousands of Jews are arriving in Eretz Yisrael from Russia. They should be given the opportunity to settle in these lands in peace and security. In this manner, through teshuvah, these Jews will be able to correct and make up for the seventy years they were prevented from observing Torah and mitzvos.11

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4. In connection with the yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe, it is proper to increase our study of his works, establishing fixed times to study the Tanya and his Shulchan Aruch, together with the explanation of these works in the texts of the Rebbeim who followed him. This applies to everyone, both men and women, for women are also required to study the laws governing those mitzvos in which they are obligated and also the teachings of Chassidus, for they enable us to fulfill the mitzvos of the love and fear of G‑d which women are also obligated to fulfill.

(In this context, it is worthy to mention the efforts of my mother who was known for her ability to copy carefully Chassidic texts to enable them to be circulated throughout the Chassidic community.)

The study of the works of the Rebbeim is facilitated by the fact that at present, there are a multitude of texts of Chassidus and the explanations of the Rebbeim in Nigleh which are being printed. Furthermore, even many of the texts which were previously printed using the characters of Rashi script, are now being reprinted using square letters.

May the printing of these Chassidic texts hasten the coming of the era when no single Jew will remain in exile and rather, we will proceed “with our youth and with our elders, with our sons and with our daughters,” to the ultimate redemption.12 May it be in the immediate future.