-- Part 27 and Conclusion of Samach-Vav --
Finally, after two and a half years, sixty-one discourses and over 500
pages, we celebrate the centennial of the grand conclusion of Samach-Vav
– the Rebbe Rashab’s tour de force delivered one century ago (September 1905
through January 1908). From the outset this column has been following along
the flow of this comprehensive discourse, which lays out in elaborate detail
the psychological and spiritual dynamics of existence, its Divine purpose
and our role in the process.
And now, the final scene.
You are stranded on a dark lonely island called life. A weary traveler, on
the road for so long, with threatening winds at your back, you have no clue
where to find direction or refuge. Despite the intense desolation you sense
a voice, hardly detectable, deep inside yourself. But you cannot make out
its message. The struggle to survive at all costs controls your life. You
spend your days scurrying for food and shelter; dodging shrewd predators and
protecting yourself from harsh elements; making it day by day as you face
Just as you are about to give up, you discover an ancient roadmap. Difficult
and hard to read, the map highlights the pathways and avenues to help you
navigate your way. It also offers you a methodology, instructing you how to
develop tools and techniques to survive and thrive in this foreign place.
The roadmap and tools allow you to transcend the island’s loneliness. But
the challenge is great: Will survival instincts control you, in a never-ending
battle for “survival of the fittest,” pitting us one against another, focusing
on – and begin distracted by – the means while forgetting the end? Or will
you allow the roadmap and tools lift you to live a life driven by higher purpose,
recognizing that all the islands material resources are fuel to reach a greater
You soul contains the energy to scale the grandest heights. But its power
is concealed in a state of conscious dissonance as the soul descends onto
the island of spiritual detachment. Thus, the absolute need to follow the
roadmap and utilize the tools, which ignite the soul’s latent flame.
There is, in effect, a distinction between the roadmap and the tools. The
roadmap offers us a bird’s eye from above, shedding light on the dark roads
below. The tools, on the other hand, are crafted from the island’s actual
resources, and thus transform the island from within, from the bottom up,
transforming its raw materials into spiritual energy.
In other words, the tools transform the island; the roadmap directs the process.
Like the architect’s blueprint, which directs the entire structure, yet the
structure itself is made of crude materials, completely unlike the blueprint,
which is a piece of paper.
Yet, even the roadmap is not easily accessible, especially on an island full
of distractions and dangers. Exertion is necessary to study and scrutinize
The plot further thickens: On this island you meet other lost souls. Some
more lost than others. Many don’t even know or acknowledge the desolation
and aimlessness. Others know really well.
And then there are the rare few souls who are never distracted by the island
and its seductions. They are the souls that always have their sights on the
purpose. These souls are the ones you want to meet in your journey – the ones
that remind, cajole and motivate you to see beyond the trees; awake and inspire
you to access the roadmap and its tools, so that you transform your wandering
life into a meaningful, directional life.
As we roam the island it is indeed a great blessing to meet these souls that
remind us of our mission and help us stay the course.
With map in hand, illuminating the dark paths and crevices of the island,
you come to realize that you were sent to this isolated island with a mission:
To refine your environment and transform this bleak and barren place into
a beacon of light.
Only through the hard work of overcoming the challenges faced on the desolate
island, and discovering direction and tools, do you realize your full potential
and beyond. Transforming desolation into hope, darkness into light, generates
an entire new level of experience and the fulfillment of the entire purpose
As time passes, your confidence builds, your methods are honed as you continue
to refine your environment. Until the day comes when you reach your destination
– and the island ceases to be a fearful place. Instead, it becomes a comfortable
home, for you and others to live in peace and harmony, elevating all the islands
in the universe and all of existence.
So we have here five components: You the traveler; the dark island where
you find yourself; the illuminating roadmap; the tools; the destination. The
interaction of these five elements creates a dynamic called life and all its
* * *
The desolate island is our physical world. You and I – and every soul on
earth – is a stranded maroon on a dark island, where we begin our lives drifting
aimlessly without direction.
The roadmap is the Torah – a conveyor of light (ohr yeisoh) and Divine
blueprint of all existence. The tools and techniques are the mitzvoth, Divine
modalities to change the world in which we live. And the destination is redemption
– the final transformation of the material universe into a Divine home.
Some souls are like “sons,” spiritually aware of their mission and able to
read the roadmap effortlessly and implement its tools seamlessly. Other souls
are like “servants,” struggling to find their purpose, exerting themselves
to understand the roadmap, and above all – fighting with the forces of darkness
to excavate the hidden “sparks” within all matter.
Yet, also the “son” can become like a “servant,” when he exerts himself and
delves into the deeper dimensions hidden within the oral interpretation of
the roadmap. And even more so – through humility, the process of getting his
ego-consciousness out of the way, dedicating himself not to the Torah’s wisdom
alone, but to its power to allow in the higher state of unconsciousness and
reach the ultimate truth.
Indeed, it is the Torah and the “son” souls, through their intimacy with
the Divine, that transmit and reveal the power of the tools and of the “servant”
souls to fight their battles in transforming the universe into a Divine home.
Thus, we have the elegant interplay of the traveler (soul) on the desolate
island (universe), consulting the roadmap (Torah) that identifies the tools
(mitzvoth) which transform the island into a Divine edifice. As well as the
interaction between souls of different persuasions that help each other in
this difficult journey – all finally join as one in the unfolding drama leading
to the final destination – our rendezvous with G-d.
And so, this week we honor Samach-Vav’s conclusion one hundred year ago.
We finally come to the end of the glorious journey that the Rebbe Rashab took
us on one century ago, through the inner workings of the cosmos and the psyche,
exposing the complex dynamics of existence and helping us fulfill our life’s
When the Rebbe Rashab completed Samach-Vav he instructed his son, Rabbi Yosef
Yitzchak, to bring [a bottle of] Benedictine and come see him. The Rebbe Rashab
told his son: “I will share with you an episode. In 5638 (1878) when my father
[the Rebbe Maharash] completed the hemshech [sequence of discourses
titled] v’kocho he summoned me and instructed an aide to bring Tokayer
wine. He told me to close the door and then said to me: ‘Come and let us celebrate
you and I,’ and he spoke with me 1¾ hours on Chassidic subjects.”
As we now celebrate the centennial of Samach-Vav’s conclusion let us raise
a cup to the Rebbe Rashab – and to all the Rebbes – and thank them for their
priceless gift, providing us with a blueprint for life, relevant today just
as then, if not more.
We assure you, Rebbe, that we will honor your life work; your ultimate salute
to the dignity of the human spirit. We will not allow your great investment
to be squandered. The countless hours you spent, pouring your soul, heart
and mind into the 500+ pages of Samach-Vav will live on through our commitment
to actualizing its teachings into our lives, and sharing them with all those
May the completion of this epic journey mark the conclusion of our long odyssey
on our lonely island, with the realization of the entire purpose of creation.
In the concluding words of Samach-Vav: The revelation of the hidden Eden
[a new unprecedented energy that expresses the innermost aspect of the Divine
Essence], the ultimate revelation of the future redemption, when the ultimate
purpose, rooted in the Essence, will be realized: the Divine desire to transform
the lowest worlds into a Divine home.