CHABAD HOUSE – To see video and text go to https://www.teacherstrading.com/downloads/chabad-house/
Prepared for: Alter Bukiet
Transcribed by: Transcription for Everyone
Number of Inaudibles: 5
(START RECORDING – 00:00:00)
Rabbi Alter Bukiet: Good morning. We’re going to start the class today back to what we’ve been doing for the past two years, speaking of the Rebbe’s vision and taking a certain aspect of the Rebbe’s talks on a certain idea and putting the Rebbe — which I really like to do — in the context of history. Of how this was viewed historically and where the Rebbe was coming from to put himself on center stage and ask of the Jewish world in the 20th-21st century to change your view of thinking a little bit. Look at this topic, look at this Medrash a little differently. Reinterpret the way. That really is focused on our generation, what we’re going to be doing in our generation.
What I do is I walk you a little bit through history and in that way you get an insight of how things develop. So it’s not just in a vacuum. I always do it starting with a beauitufl story. I want to tell a story this week that I actually heard years ago, 1986, when I was in Sarasota, Florida with Sorele. We had this man tell the story. When he told the story, it was beautiful. It was to a crowd of people in Sarasota that were getting introduced to Chabad, orthodoxy for the first time. This man was a professor, a scientist from Minnesota. His name was Dr. Velvel Green. Back in those days, in 1986, his children were already into the world of being frum and getting married to religious girls and going out and being emissaries of the Rebbe.
He stood up in 1986 and told a story that went back to the days when he wasn’t yet that religious. He was becoming religious. He was involved with the Chabad house in Minnesota with Rabbi Moshe Feller who was bringing him around to yiddishkeit. 1969, he was this unique personality back then, that you had a professor who worked for NASA, taught in Minnesota University and from the world of science was merging with religion. Many others, not only the Chabad world, many other Jewish worlds, were taking him as a speaker. A conservative temple in Detroit, Michigan, booked him as a speaker for an evening. He agreed to talk and he flew into Detroit, Michigan. When he arrived, he realized that that night is yud tes Kislev. Yud tes Kislev on the Chabad calendar, the 19th of the month of Kislev is when the original founder of the Chabad Movement was released from prison and it’s a chasidic celebration. He realized oh, I should make contact with the two emissaries that he knew in Detroit at that time. He knew the original Chabad rabbi that the Rebbe sent to Detroit, Rabbi Berel Shem Tov. And he knew Rabbi Berel Shem Tov’s public relations man. His name was Itche Meir Kagan. Rabbi Kagan spoke a beautiful English, an American boy. He knew those two from different times.
He went running to these people’s homes to just tell them, look, I’m in town and I know tonight’s yud tes Kislev and I’ll come down after my talk in the conservative temple. I’ll swing by to join you for yud tes Kislev. When he came running to these two houses, the wives looked at him and said our husbands are not here. They’re on a plane to New York. Because the Rebbe is having a public rally in honor of yud tes Kislev. They’re not in Detroit. They got on a flight already. They’re on the way to New York. A little defeated, he leaves and he thinks to himself, what am I doing here tonight. If this is the custom of Chabad to be with the Rebbe in 770 in Crown Heights and listen to a beautiful (inaudible), what am I standing up in a conservative temple tonight.
He picked up the phone and he called up the Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Chadekov (ph). The Rebbe had five or six secretaries, this was the leading secretary of the Rebbe’s staff and he had a relationship with him. He gets on the phone to Rabbi Chadekov and it’s a couple of hours before the Rebbe’s going to go down to the public gathering. He says to Rabbi Chadekov, I made a mistake. I should really be in Crown Heights tonight, but I didn’t look at the calendar properly and I accepted an invitation to speak. I just wanted to tell the Rebbe that I ask forgiveness for not being in Crown Heights. I made a mistake, I’m sorry.
Then, in a little kibitzing way, which is just an interesting part of the story, he joked with Chadekov, oh, my two suppers for tonight are gone. In Detroit, then, there were not kosher restaurants. He joked that the two houses he was going to be able to go to to eat, they’re not home tonight so he doesn’t know. R’ Chadekov says stay on the phone. I’m going to buzz the Rebbe’s room. If the Rebbe’s there, I’m just going to tell him what you just said to me. He stayed on the phone and five minutes later, Rabbi Chadekov is back on the phone. He says the Rebbe responded.
The first thing, about the talk tonight, is that the Rebbe said to let you know that he’s with you there more than with the people that are sitting across him tonight and staring at him for the seven-hour gathering. You should know, my presence is with you there in that conservative synagogue versus the whole crowd sitting with me in 770. Number one. Number two, the Rebbe said, there’s another Chabad family in Detroit that’s not showing up tonight. The family’s name was Afsin (ph). Go to the Afsins and eat supper tonight. In a very humanistic way, the Rebbe kept it very real with him. You have to have supper after a beautiful speech. The Afsins are not showing up tonight. I know they’re not coming tonight. You can call on the Afsins for supper tonight.
It’s the first part of the story, both parts of the story, that I really want to dissect. You can YouTube it and watch a chasidic gathering with the Rebbe in 770 which there are thousands of these YouTube clips of the Rebbe farbrenging and you’ll realize it was a religious cocoon. You entered in an environment that engulfed you from spiritual thought to spiritual song. It was this haven of spirituality and the outside world ceased to exist. It was over. You entered there and there was this tremendous emotional spiritual rush. You got 10,000 people singing together in unison. Listening in unison. A holy face staring at them. It was an amazing moment.
Velvel Green had that dilemma. He knew what he was missing. On the other side, he was going to be up against a crowd that were going to look at him a little bit, okay, you’re a religious Jew and now you’re coming to talk to us about our science and religion. By the way, the name of this topic, his son was telling me — I called his son who’s a Chabad emissary in Rochester, Minnesota and he said to me that night, my father’s topic name was like this. Full professor, half mystic. That’s how the conservative synagogue billed the evening. That was the name of the subject tonight. This is what he was going to be up against. He had to somehow or other look at the crowd and explain to them how a mystic and a professor can coexist in the same body. It wasn’t an easy task. Back in 11969, you didn’t have many in that caliber that can truly speak to both fields.
The Rebbe then turns around and says to him I know of the great spiritual cocoon that we’re about to create in this room. I’m there. I’m part of the reason why it is like that. But I want to tell you, don’t make that mistake. I’m telling you, your existence outside of this cocoon, I’m with you there even more than those that are existing with me in this beautiful total enveloped environment of spiritual bliss.
I want to teach you this and I want to show you this through one of the most profound verses that you have in all of the writing about the Tabernacles. The writing about the Tabernacles is done in the Torah three different times. Repeated three different times. Originally, when G-d said it to Moses. When Moses repeats it to the Jewish people the second time and the third time is when actually, the Jewish people go out and build the Tabernacles. Three times the Torah repeats it.
The Torah introduces it with eight verses at the original time. It’s at the beginning of the portion of Terumah in the Book of Exodus. It’s actually last week’s Torah portion. Beginning of Chapter 25. On my sheet, it’s A. I’ve put it out for you. Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe lemor, daber el Bnei Yisrael, speak to the Jewish people and they should take for me a terumah, a tithing. Me’eis kal ish asher yidvenu libo, from all those that have it within their heart. Tikchu es terumasi, take from them the tithing.
Then, the Torah goes on, six verses, to tell you what the tithing could be of. From material objects to financial objects to objects of value. Six verses. After the Torah tells us those six verses, the Torah ends with the eight verse and then the Torah begins to tell Moses how to build the Tabernacles. What’s the eighth verse? V’asu li mikdash, from all the tithings the people are going to bring, they should make for me a holy place, v’shachanti b’socham, that I can reside amongst them. This is that famous line.
That’s where all the conversation starts to develop over the fact that G-d doesn’t say, v’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’socho, singular, that I will reside in it, talking about the place. G-d turns around and says v’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’socham. Amongst them. This becomes the conversation. There was a period in Jewish history — at the back end of this class, that’s where we’re going to go to. There was a period in Jewish history where the mystics were developing the great mystical schools. During R’ Isaac Luria’s period. There were three great mystics that lived in Tzfat. Before Isaac Luria was a man by the name of R’ Moshe Alshich. During R’ Isaac Luria’s period, there was a man by the name of the Reishis Chachma. His name was R’ Eliyahu Vidas. He lived during that time period. Then, after R’ Isaac Luria’s period was the Shela in the early 1600s, R’ Yeshaya Horowitz. He made his way from many countries and ultimately ended up in Jerusalem and then from Jerusalem ended up in Tzfat.
Three of them said the exact same interpretation on this verse. The first one to introduce the verse from their perspective, not mentioning each other, and off of these three great mystics, it changes the direction of how people viewed the verse. Let me get you to the three mystics.
Prior to these three mystics, the interpretation to this verse was entirely different. Let me start you how the original interpolation to this verse went. I’m going to start you by the Midrash. The Midrash in the beginning of the portion of Teruma, the Midrash goes into seven different interpretations on the word Terumah. But the running theme is about the Torah. The Midrash is trying to paint an image that although we’re talking about building a house for G-d, it’s really about the Torah. It’s about the ark. It’s about the tablets in the ark, in the temple. It’s all about a different version of what the relationship with the Torah is about. But we don’t go away from the Torah.
The Midrash then tells a beautiful parable. You can read it while I say it, but let me not waste time reading it. Let me just tell you the parable. A person falls in love with a girl and it’s an only child and he takes her away to a different country. The father-in-law comes after them and says, listen, I know that you married her and I know that she’s going to be your wife, but do me a favor, build me a grandfather’s flat that whenever I come, I have a place to visit, a place to stay.
G-d realizes the moment He gave the Torah, there’s a new marriage taking place. He gave away His child to the Jewish people. His child being the Torah. The bride over here being the Torah. We are the ones who are taking away from G-d so to say. This is the Midrash poetry. Therefore, G-d turns around and says do me a favor, build me a room. What’s the room? The Tabernacles. That when I come visit, I have a place to visit my daughter, the Torah. From the Midrash’s view, this whole story of the mishkan is an emphasis on a continuous relationship that G-d desires with what he started with, giving the Torah at Mount Sinai. That was the date that his child was taken away from him. Now, He’s just finding a residence that he can come visit his child on this world.
We are, to a certain degree, bystanders to this whole story. we married the child. That’s why this whole story has developed. But who is the child there that G-d wants to visit and He created a Tabernacles to visit? The Torah. The Midrash lays down the (inaudible) of their perspective to what the purpose of the Tabernacles was about. The purpose of the Tabernacles was about G-d’ willing and G-d’s desire to continue that relationship that he started on Mount Sinai where he expressed the Torah. He allowed a being of His to be taken from Him. He wants to have the opportunity to not lose that relationship with him. Therefore, he created a Tabernacles and He’s asking us, the son-in-law, be a mentsh, be a good son-in-law and allow me visitation rights. Open your house for me. That there’s a room in your home that I can visit my child. That’s the Midrash.
Based on how the Midrash lays out this view, it becomes the floor of the commentaries. The commentaries fall in line behind this Midrashic view. For example, the Ibn Ezra, Avraham ben Haezra, a man who lived in Spain in the early 1100s, a great Spanish commentator, right at the top of my page 2-C, what does he turn around? He continues along the Midrashic line and in simple words, what does he write? G-d wants to continue speaking. He started speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He wants to continue speaking with Moses. He doesn’t want to chase him around Israel. Create a place where that teaching of G-d’s wisdom has a home where you can continue the conversation with Moses.
The Ibn Ezra takes the Midrash and just enhances it a little further and says what do you mean, G-d wants the continuation of Mount Sinai? He simplifies it. That that’s what Moses — he’s continuing his conversation with G-d which in essence is a continuation of conversation from Mount Sinai which in essence is the whole idea of him continuously teaching the Jews the Torah. The reason for his house is that that Torah teaching can continue.
Based on this type of commentary, what does it mean the plural, v’shachanti b’socham, amongst them? Why does the Torah change its language? Work with me here because this is going to be a very interesting conversation. In walk Rashi’s grandchildren. Same time, 150 years later than the Ibn Ezra. They’re called Da’as Zekeinim. This is a commentary written on the Torah from Rashi’s grandchildren. R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki had beautiful grandchildren. Some of them argued with him and some of them protected him. If you learn the Talmud, running alongside R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki’s commentary on one side, goes on the other side his grandchildren. Some of them are there to protect their grandfather’s honor and some of them say we challenge our grandfather. These same grandchildren wrote an interpretation on the Chumash. On these words, and reside amongst them, they say a beautiful interpretation.
What does it mean amongst them? They don’t go away from the focus is on G-d and giving of the Torah. They say it’s very simple. That the Jewish people, when they witnessed how G-d gave the Torah, there was a certain imagery that was exposed to them. Do you know what was exposed to them? They witnessed how the angels, spiritual energies because they are an energy that cleaves to the source, surrounded the image of G-d. Because they were cleaving to the source. Because angels have no choice and therefore they’re just simply an expression from the source. Therefore, they cleave back to the source. That’s what the Jewish imagery at the giving of the Torah was. They witnessed that in this great spiritual moment of revelation of G-d, they saw other worlds in that revelation. The other worlds that they saw was the angel, the spiritual worlds. What they witnessed in the spiritual world is how G-d was amongst them. That the angels encircled G-d. Therefore, the Jews turned around and said we’re going to mimic that. The encamping of the Tabernacles was surrounded by the 12 tribes. There were four tribes on each side of the Tabernacles and G-d resided amongst them. That’s what the them is about.
It’s not that we’re going away from the interpretation. No, to the contrary. The reason why they’re doing this is because that’s what they witnessed at Mount Sinai. They witnessed at Mount Sinai a whole different spiritual world. In that spiritual world, they realized the concept of cleaving which human beings don’t have. We’re independent. We’re not born with a nature to cleave. We’re born with a nature that’s exactly the opposite. It’s all gravity. We’re pulled away from the source. We don’t cleave upwards. We’re independent. All of a sudden, at Mount Sinai, the Jews witnessed this amazing moment where their eyes were opened to a spiritual world. In that spiritual world, they saw the concept of a being totally connected to its source. By being connected to its source, it cleaves to it because that’s its energy. They witnessed the spiritual world surrounding G-d, so to say. Cleaving back to its source. Therefore, they did the Tabernacles that way. They turned around and created that they — they parked the Tabernacles in the middle recreating the imagery that they saw at the giving of the Torah.
Audience Member: You once taught about G-d coming back to His garden to dwell amongst us?
Rabbi Alter Bukiet: Yes?
Audience Member: It’s very, very similar.
Rabbi Alter Bukiet: We’re going to get to it. I promise you, I’ll get back to it.
All of a sudden, the word b’socham, amongst them, doesn’t go far away from the original Midrashic interpretation that the beauty is the Tabernacles. What they were doing was to the contrary, cleaving to the Tabernacles. Like the angels cleaving to G-d. o
On the bottom of the page, Nachmonides doesn’t move too far from that either. Look what Nachmonides says. In the beginning of the portion of Terumah, he says like this. I’m going to do a verbal translation. Do you want to know what the inner secret to the whole concept of a Tabernacles is? What is the purpose? Recreation of Mount Sinai. Nachmonides continues right down the Midrashic line that the purpose of the Tabernacles is a continuation of G-d’s Torah. Just now it takes on a different format. But that’s the purpose of Mount Sinai. It doesn’t move away from that.
I want to tell you a beautiful thing I read from R’ Eliyahu Kramer, the Vilna Gaon, head of the whole Lithuanian movement. He writes on the verses of Shir Hashirim that what G-d started at Mount Sinai were people lifted above the earth comes down in the Tabernacles where people experience it on earth. From this perspective, it’s two sides of the same point. The whole concept of the Tabernacles is the other side of the experience that people had on Mount Sinai. Therefore, to a degree, it’s all been focused around the G-dliness of the giving of the Torah, of G-d’s voice on this world. The human being is just there to house it. But don’t for one second make the mistake that you are the significant reality to it. You’re not. But G-d wants to experience like the Midrash says. He wants to visit his daughter. Who’s his daughter? The Torah.
What does it mean amongst them? Amongst them means how the people witnessed at Mount Sinai the angels cleaving. They’re cleaving. Therefore, now, they parked the temple in tehir midst and they surrounded it. But it’s all about the temple. That’s what it’s about.
By the way, if you turn the page to Page 3, I made a copy of the Or Hachaim on this verse. The Or Hachaim doesn’t change up. The Or Hachaim was a man by the name of R’ Chaim ben Atar who lived in the early 1600s. At the same time as the Baal Shem Tov. He ended up living in Israel for a very short period of time. The Baal Shem Tov desired very deep to meet him. The Baal Shem Tov actually started to travel to Israel to meet him, but it didn’t work out. The Baal Shem Tov said if I would have met with the Or Hachaim, the Messiah would have arrived.
The Or Hachaim on the portion of Terumah on the word b’socham walks down the same exact path. Do you know what the path is? Simple. Amongst them. The same idea of Rashi’s grandchildren. That they cleaved around the temple. But the focus was the temple. What took place in the temple was G-d’s relationship with the Torah and the mitzvot. We cleaved around it.
Where does a little shift begin? Where does a tiny crack begin to open up that all of a sudden maybe start refocusing the story of the Tabernacles a little differently? The Talmud. I want to tell you a story in the Talmud. The story in the Talmud is the man who actually was the one who recorded the oral tradition, R’ Yehuda Hanasi, who wrote the Mishna 2,000 years ago. Then, for300 years after he wrote the Mishna, the Talmud developed until the end of the period of R’ Ashi. It ended up at a difficult time when the Roman emperor became part of the church. That’s when the Talmud closed and the Jews in Rome — the great relationship that for a period of time the Talmud would say that Rome was the Jerusalem in exile. That’s what they thought. They thought of Babylon as the great new savior. Like we Americans speak about America. The great savior for Judaism 1,900 years ago — you have to hear about how the rabbi wrote about Pepidoo, Nahardai, all these cities of Babylon. It’s the Jerusalem of Babylon. It’s the Jerusalem outside of Israel. It was sacred. The one who began the writing down was R’ Yehuda. He recorded the oral tradition and it was called the Mishna. The constitution of the oral law.
He was marrying off his son. The Talmud says first he went to marry off his son to R’ Chiya’s daughter. Before the wedding took place, she passed away. The Talmud asks why did she pass away. After much research, they realized that she wasn’t good enough for R’ Yehuda’s son. Because R’ Yehuda Hanasi comes out of the dynasty of King David. R’ Chiya didn’t. R’ Chiya came out of King David’s brother. It wasn’t good enough yichus for R’ Yehuda Hanasi’s son so the daughter passed away. Sad. The Talmud continues. He found a second match for his son. He found it by R’ Yosei ben Zimra. Who was R’ Yosei ben Zimra? Talmud says he was a kohen, priestly family. Okay. Once it was a priestly family, the yichus was good for R’ Yehuda Hanasi. The deal was — in those days there was two separate — there was eirusin and there was nisu’in. We do it altogether today. The ketuba and the recital of the ketuba under the chuppah is the eirusin. Then we say the seven blessings. There’s betrothal and then there’s the marriage. Years ago, they wrote the ketuba, they signed the ketuba and that was a commitment. Then you didn’t get married, but you were tied to each other. They didn’t do it at the same time.
R’ Yehuda decided he wants to betroth his son, but then his son should go learn 12 years and come home after 12 years. Why 12 years? Multiple commentaries what’s the 12 years. Some say because R’ Yehuda was working on the six sidrei Mishna and he wanted his son to dedicate two years to each section. One year to just learn it and the second year to review it and correct mistakes that his son believed should be corrected. If you take six portions of the Mishna and you spend two years per portion, it was 12 years. He wanted his son to be around him over those 12-year period when he was writing the Mishna. But he wanted his son to be committed to this girl, so let the betrothal take place and he’ll get married 12 years later.
What happened? The girl walked by the boy. The boy took a look at the girl. She was a very pretty girl. And he decided, told his dad, you know what, let’s shave it down to six years. I’ll do what you want me to do over a six-year period. She happened to walk by a second time. When she walked by a second time, he said no, dad, let me get married first. Then after I get married I’ll spend 12 years. Let me first get married. Let me set up a house with her first. He was embarrassed of his father. It’s in the Talmud. He knew that his father wanted him first to spend 12 years with him then to settle down in a home with this lady and create a home and he’s going really against his father’s will where he’s reversing the order. He wants to first settle down and create a home with this lady and then for 12 years learn in kolel. You know, have his father support him as he walks on his father’s thesis which was called then the Mishna. His father realized that his son was embarrassed and picked up the whole — good father, picks up right away what happened here and realizes he’s put his son in a very difficult position. This is a Talmud in the tractate of Kesubot, 62b.
Listen to what he says to his son. I’ll read it together with you. His father placates him and says to him, my son, you have your maker’s perception. You and G-d think alike. Don’t be embarrassed. How do you and G-d think alike? Let me tell you the story. When G-d was taking the Jews out of Egypt and He sang the song, what was the first thing they sang? The words that they sang were tevieimo v’sitaeimo which translate you bring them and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance. That first G-d says let’s go get the land. The house we will live in, we’ll work that out later. First let’s go get the land. What ends up happening? He creates v’shachanti b’socham. The land doesn’t happen. They don’t (inaudible) 40 years and what He does do is he creates a home where He resides with them. G-d turned around and did exactly what this boy did. Before this boy went out to settle the land, so to say, 12 years of study, he said let me first create the home where I can live together.
Which, to a certain degree — the commentaries bring this — that if they would have gone to the land of Israel, that would be like the betrothal where the Jewish people are committed to G-d and G-d to the Jewish people, but there is no sacred home where they reside. After they would settle the land, then they would build a Tabernacles and that would be the marriage. That would be the chuppah. That would be the nisu’in where now they’ve created a home where they live intimately. G-d refers to them. He first created a home and then he went ahead and found the land 40 years later where the home will reside. But the home came before the land.
Therefore, R’ Yehuda Hanasi looked at his son and said you’re no different than G-d. That initially, we talked about go out there and create a land first, go out there and get the properties and the territories, which to R’ Yehuda Hanasi was the Talmud. Gain all that insight, become a leader that way and then build a home. You desire to do it the other way. You want to first build a home and then you’re going to go out and study and conquer the land. Fine. Don’t be embarrassed.
From the Talmud’s perspective, all of a sudden, there’s a little bit of a shift going on. We’re talking about G-d marriage to the Jewish people. This is the authority. It’s not the giving of the Torah so much. It’s G-d’s marriage. But there are two forms in the marriage. There’s a form where the Jewish people first take on this unbelievable relationship with G-d which is about creating a land, no particular location where they live with G-d. The whole land is there. Then there becomes a particular holy site. But in principle, there’s a little shift going on here from the Midrash. Where the focus goes a little bit away from it’s that the Jewish people are incidental. That shift starts happening. All of a sudden, the Talmud opens up and says no, it’s about a marriage. Yes, a marriage takes a certain format. We don’t get married every day. It’s once in a lifetime. In that once in a lifetime, there is certain imagery and certain objects that are in the marriage and therefore makes it a marriage. Therefore, the Torah and mitzvot which is part of the marriage. It takes place in the temple. It’s significant, that’s what makes it a day of marriage. But who’s getting married? G-d and the Jewish people. It’s a little shift.
The Tabernacles becomes the place where G-d and the Jewish people are getting married. It’s not the bedroom of the father-in-law that’s all about the father-in-law wanting to be with his daughter which happens to be the Torah. We are the sons-in-law on the side that have to watch this unbelievable relationship between the father and daughter. We’re on the outside. We’re not relevant. We’re the tzugekumener. We’re the Johnny come late in this relationship. G-d wants to have a place where you can go back to the original relationship, which is Him and His daughter. We schlep along as a son-in-law that just, you know, pays the rent on the house and does the cleaning that the father-in-law can come and spend time with His daughter. A little different. When you create an imagery that it’s G-d and the Jews getting married.
There are two formats to the marriage. There’s the conquering of the land, a people, a nation and then it gets focused into a marriage of the intimacy of you and your wife, you and your husband in a private home. That’s the Tabernacles. But it’s about us. We’re not innocent bystanders in this whole story of the Tabernacles. Yes, the Tabernacles was made up very uniquely with objects that make it unique. Like a marriage. It’s not just simply oh, today I married you. No, there’s a whole imagery that goes to it. We invite hundreds of people to witness it. We have a chuppah, we have a ketuba. There are objects that make the day into a marriage. But at the same time, it’s about marrying this person. The Jewish people are brought into the conversation because it’s a marriage.
The Talmud shifts a little bit the focus of the Tabernacles. The focus of the Tabernacles is not slam dunk about G-d and the Torah. It schleps us into the conversation. We join the party. We’re a participant in this (inaudible). It’s a beautiful Talmud.
I just want to show you something that I did here. I know it’s in Aramaic. It’s just interesting that when you learn and you have the ability to see how the commentaries work. There was R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki, I mentioned him, this great French commentator 1,000 years ago. One of the most original writings on the Talmud. In the Talmud that we have, he makes no commentary on this whole story. But I found there’s a book that came out that after they printed the Talmud with the original Rashi’s printing, they found handwritten from Rashi. I want to show you what they found from his handwriting on the source.
Look what Rashi says that they found later in his handwriting. He says one word to explain why G-d built the Tabernacles first in the story of how R’ Yehuda Hanasi presents that he changed His mind. He started off first wanting to conquer a land and then He changed it. He said no, let me first build a house. It’s the last line. V’asu mishkan kodem. And he made the Tabernacles first. I underlined those two words, me’ahavaso l’Yisrael, for His love for the Jewish people. Rashi starts interpreting the Talmud and says I want to tell you something. I know the Midrash focuses on the Torah. I’m telling you what the Talmud is doing here is a little bit of a shift. That the purpose of the Tabernacles is about His relationship with the people.
On that little shift, in walk three great mystics. R’ Moshe Alshich. His name was Moshe Alshich and his works is called the Alshich. He lived in the early 1500s in Tzfat. He lived until 1590. He was a disciple of Joseph Caro. He got to know R’ Isaac Luria who lived for three years in Tzfat. That’s all, by the way. From 1578 to 1581. He passed away at the age of 36, a very young man. But got to know Moshe Alshich in those three years. At the same time, there was the Remak, R’ Moshe Cordovero. He was another great mystic living at the time of the Arizal. He had a student. He wrote the famous book called Reishis Chachma. The student’s name was R’ Eliyahu Devabus (ph). R’ Eliyahu Devabus lived at the end of the 1500s into the early 1600s. Then came the third mystic in Tzfat. A man who started out in Austria, went from Austria to Germany, went from Germany to Prague, went from Prague to Yerushalayim and he ended up in Yerushalayim in 1621. Then, in 1626, he moved from Yerushalayim to Tzfat. He joined the mystics of Tzfat. He was R’ Yeshaya Horowitz, known as the Shela. He wrote a book called Shnei Luchot Habrit. Many, many great chasidic masters came out of this man’s family. The Stracheler came out, the Chozeh miLublin. Great chasidic masters in the 1700s, early 1800s came out of this man’s grandchildren. From this man.
Each one of these mystics, without quoting the other one, come back to this verse, v’asu li mikdash, you shall make for me a Tabernacles, v’shachanti b’socham and I will reside amongst them. Do you know what they say? Three simple words. B’soch kal echad v’echad. That G-d wants to reside amongst every single Jew. All of a sudden, at the height of building the Tabernacles, G-d changes around according to their interpretation and shifts it entirely away from the Tabernacles. Although he’s about to tell them to build the Tabernacles, he turns around and tells them I want to tell you something. Although I’m telling you to build a Tabernacles, v’shachanti b’socham. My purpose is not because I simply want to reside in this building and the building is where I’m Jewish. Through this building, I end up residing in every single one’s life. That’s the real purpose. Three mystics said it. It changed the entire direction.
All of a sudden, instead of talking about a marriage and a marriage taking place inside a building which happens to be the Tabernacles, instead of talking about grandma and grandfather’s flat, which has nothing to do with us, it has to do with G-d revisiting His Torah that He gave away to us. In come these three mystics and say no, change the whole direction with this. It’s not about the marriage inside the building, it’s not about grandmother’s flat, it’s outside of the Torah. It’s taking place in each person. That’s the real thing that’s going on here. They shift the whole direction of this.
From that point and on, in the chasidic world, they jumped on this commentary and they began to work this commentary. I’m just going to tell you that the Alter Rebbe, the founder of the Chabad movement, in his writings of Likutei Torah, the Sfat Emes in his writings on the portion of Terumah in 1873, R’ Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev his writings on the portion of Shemini, they all quote this commentary. They all find the significance of G-d residing in the Jew, that a Jew makes his own being into a holy house. Better your midot, your attributes, your emotional attributes, make them holy. Better your intellectual attributes. That your mind should become a residing place for G-d. They all work the person as becoming the mishkan.
It becomes a whole storyline of how G-d resides in you, how you better yourself. All these great mystics spoke of it. By the way, it wasn’t only mystics. There was the famous R’ Chaim Yosef Dovid Azoulai, the Chida, a man that lived in the 1700s, famous for his travelling the world. He wrote on the Torah. He took the writing of these mystics — he’s not a mystic, by the way, but he was very respectful — and he wrote beautifully the same idea, the same thought. That the person, in his personal life, becomes a holy edifice. All based on an injection in this verse that’s started by the mystics in the 1500-1600s. They introduced a whole new way of thinking. If you can back your way back to the commentaries I put in the front of this worksheet, it differs from them. Because those commentaries are based on the Midrash. That the real story wasn’t about people, it was about the Torah.
In walks the Rebbe on the backend of everything, on the backend of those mystics in the 1500-1600s, on the backend of the great chasidic masters that all spoke about the human being changing his identify and a relationship with G-d where he becomes a house for G-d and says I want to take this even a step further.
V’shachanti b’socham, I reside amongst the people. Do you want to know why? Because the people are going to change the world. The Rebbe goes into this whole idea that G-d desires the dwelling place in the world. G-d doesn’t desire to dwell in a holy edifice where it’s a cocoon and it’s isolated from the world where only priests can function there and you have to sanctify yourself to enter the room and its certain surfaces at certain times. It has a whole schedule with machines and priests and Levites and everybody functioning and it’s a holy place. No. G-d wants the sacrimonous and the worldliness and the most unholy place in the world to also identify. Who does that? we. Not the animals, not the angels, nobody. There’s no other being that does that. Every Jew, we all should be doing this. All people as well. Change the world. Take the most secular, take the most farfetched corner of the world, not only physically, but figuratively, ideas that you would never fathom that could identify itself with any kind of holiness and bring G-d into it. Nothing is divorced of a relationship with G-d.
The Rebbe turned around and says I believe that when you make a holy edifice in a place that’s out there, unholy, it’s a greater accomplishment than the building the Tabernacles. It’s very easy to make a cocoon and isolate it and create rules and regulations around it and therefore it has holiness. Go out there in the world where there is no cocoon and there are no rules and show that even in that format, G-d has a relationship. That’s even greater the Rebbe says.
Therefore, the Rebbe turns around and says this is what the verse means. V’shachanti b’socham, I want to reside amongst them because these are the people. It’s only us that can take G-d to a place that’s not natural and show even on those unnatural terms, G-d resides there. The Rebbe build a whole theology on it. That’s why (inaudible).
It was very easy for the Rebbe to say I’m going to live in Crown Heights. I’m going to lock community into its own world. you want to see holiness? Come to Crown Heights. You want to see G-dliness? Come. Because out there in Lexington there’s no G-dliness. You want the real G-dliness, come to an environment that I’m going to create and that’s where you’ll see G-dliness. The Rebbe turned around and said that there’s no corner of the earth that there shouldn’t be somebody there saying to you you can be G-dly here as well. We can find a relationship with G-d in this environment as well.
That’s exactly what the Rebbe said to Dr. Velvel Green. I am more with you sitting in a conservative temple on yud tes Kislev night than the cocoon called Crown Heights, locked into 770, a building where everything is spiritual and holy. That’s the Tabernacles. You want to know where are you really at? I’m really out there. That’s even a greater truth and a greater accomplishment than any accomplishment that can be accomplished in this warm closed environment that everybody shares something equally and it’s all identified with a certain set of disciplines and an adherence to a certain style. That’s why it’s holy. Show G-d and show G-d’s holiness where none of that exists. He did that for 5,000 centres around the world where he took — he translated this word and I reside amongst them, that it’s the them that will go out there and create an edifice for G-d in the most unnatural places. From the Rebbe’s perspective, that edifice is even greater than the holy edifices that people create in beautiful closed environments.
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CERTIFICATE OF TRANSCRIPT
I, ROCHEL BADDIEL, as the Official Transcriber, hereby certify that the attached transcript labeled: CHABAD HOUSE was held as herein appears and that this is the original transcript thereof and that the statements that appear in this transcript were transcribed by me to the best of my ability.
February 24th, 2019
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