Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneerson (Rebbe RaShab)
A mystic of the highest order, the Rebbe Rashab authored the
most comprehensive documents on mysticism to date, elegantly
outlining the mystical infrastructure and its application
to our lives. He wrote over 1500 discourses (‘maamorim’),
totaling over 50 published volumes of teachings and responsa.
Rabbi Sholom Dovber was a Rebbe – a leader – to
thousands. He worked tireless on behalf of the Russian Jewish
community during the difficult period of transition from Czarist
Russia, through World War I, to the Russian Revolution. Recognizing
the coming turmoil of the 20th century, in 1887
the Rebbe Rashab established Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, dedicated
to educating a new generation of young leaders to launch a
1860: Born on 20 Cheshvan to the Rebbe Maharash and Rebbetzin
1875: Marries his cousin Rebbetzin Shterna Sara.
1880: Begins his work in public affairs.
1883: Begins guiding the Chassidim and accepts the post of
Rebbe after the passing of his father in 1882.
1892: Endeavors to have the expulsion from Moscow rescinded;
provides substantial financial subsidies to enable those expelled
to settle in new places.
1893: Re-establishes the committee of communal affairs in
1897: Establishes Yeshivot Tomchei T’mimim.
1901: Visits Germany, France and Holland on communal concerns.
1902: Helps establish a factory for weaving and spinning wool,
which provides 2,000 Jewish families with ample livelihood.
1904: Establishes committees to send matzot to Jewish soldiers
in the Far East during the Russo-Japanese War.
1906: In Petersburg, successfully endeavors to halt the pogroms
raging in Russia.
1911: Establishes Yeshivas Toras Emes in Chevron, Israel.
1915: Due to World War One, leaves Lubavitch and moves to
Rostov, on the River Don.
1920: After Shabbat ends, on the eve of 2 Nissan, he passes
away and is interred in Rostov. His only son, Rabbi Yosef
Yitzchak, known as the Frierdiker Rebbe, succeeds him as Rebbe.
Sefer Hamaamarim: 5643/44; 5646-50; 5651; 5652/53; 5654;
5655/56; 5657; 5658; 5659; 5660-62; 5663; 5664; 5665; Hemshech
Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashana – 5666; Sefer Hamaamarim:
5668; 5669; 5670; 5671; Hemshech B’sha’a Shehikdimu
– 5672, 3 vol; Sefer Hamaamarim: 5672-76; 5677; 5678;
5679; 5680; Sefer Hamaamarim Likut vol. 1 (5644-5680); vol.
2 (5645-5678); Sefer Hasichot – Torat Shalom; Kuntres
Hat’filla; Kuntres U’ma’ayan; Kuntres Eitz
Hachayim; Kuntres B’inyanei Kolel Chabad; Kuntres Ha’avoda;
Chanoch Lana’ar; Haga’ot Al HaTanya; Haga’ot
Al Torah Or; Haga’ot Al HaLikutei Torah; Haga’ot
Al HaSiddur; Haga’ot L’Patach Eliyahu –
5658; Igrot Kodesh (Responsa), 5 vol.
Kuntres Uma’ayon. Translated by Zalmon I Posner, 1991
With Light and with Might (Tonu Rabbanan Ner Chanukah, 5643
and Kol Hayotzei LeMilchemet Beit David, 5661). Translated
by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger and Uri Kaploun.
Tract on Prayer (Kuntres Hat’filla). Translated by Eliezer
To Know G-d (VeYadaata, 5657). Translated by Eliezer Danziger,
On Ahavas Yisroel (Heichaltzu)
Chanoch Lenaar. Translated by Eliezer Danziger, 1999.
Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah 5659. Translated by Rabbi Yosef
(All published by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn, NY.
Some Concurrent Events in History:
1860-69: Abraham Lincoln elected president of the
United States - American Civil War begins - Austro-Prussian
War begins – Karl Marx publishes Das Kapital.
1870-79: French Impressionists, Manet, Cezanne, Degas, Monet
et al, hold their first show - Alexander Graham Bell invents
first telephone - Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.
1880-89: Alexander III vows to kill one-third of Russia's
Jews, drive out one-third, and convert the remaining third
– George Eastman invents the Kodak camera - Vincent
van Gogh paints; Johannes Brahms and Petr Tchaikovsky compose;
Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde write.
1880-89: French court martial incorrectly convicts Jewish
army captain Alfred Dreyfus of passing military information
to Germany - Theodor Herzl founds the Zionist movement - The
X-ray is discovered
1900-09: Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of
Dreams – Physicist Max Planck lays groundwork for
quantum theory – Wright brothers make their first flight
- Russo Japanese War rages - Revolution breaks out in Russia
after czarist troops fire on marchers in St. Petersburg -
Albert Einstein publishes his Special Theory of Relativity
based on the recognition that light always travels at a constant
speed - Henry Ford develops the first Model T automobile.
1910-20: World War I is fought in Europe - Lenin leads a Bolshevik
revolution; Bolsheviks execute Russia’s royal Romanov
Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah - Tof Reish Samech Vov
(Rough translation of an excerpt of maamar one)
…It is known that the reason for the creation and the
sustenance of the worlds, and the purpose of the soul descending
in a body, is in order to draw down the revelation of the
Infinite Light (Or En Sof) into this world through Torah and
Mitzvot. And this is the concept of the unification of the
transcendence of G-d (sovev kol almin) and the immanence of
G-d (mimalei kol almin). As we say before every mitzvah, “For
the sake of the union of the Holy One, blessed be He, with
His Shechinah,” which is the aspect of the integration
of the sovev kol almin and the mimalei kol almin. This is
the drawing down of the revelation of the Essence of the Infinite
Light (Atzmus Or En Sof) which is the ultimate purpose of
the existence of the worlds and the descent of the soul.
As it says [Midrash Tanchumah Naso 16], “G-d had a
desire to have a home in the lower world.” And like the home of a person, by way of an analogy,
the essence of a person lives in his home. The same thing is above so to speak, the Essence of the Infinite
Light of G-d is revealed below.
As it says in the beginning of Eimek HaMelech
(The Depth of the King), “The creation of the worlds
happened through the first tzimtzum
that took place in the Infinite Light. And it left a hole
(chalal) and a space (makom panoi), and this [vacuum or space
that was created] is the source of the coming into being of
the containers (kelim) and the existence of all the worlds.”
And after the tzimtzum, the revelation of the line (kav)
is drawn down - this is the revelation of the light that will
illuminate the containers and the worlds.
(And through this [ie. the kav], creation was actualized,
as it is known that the formation of the containers as well
as the formation of the worlds in general, is through the
kav and the power of the residue (reshimu). Like a potential state (hiyuli) that gives power, as is discussed at length
in another place.)
And the general worlds that are structured in a form of light
and vessels (orot ve kelim)
are within the chalal and makom panoi that remains after the
 However, it says, “And He placed them in the
Garden of Eden to serve (l’avdah) and to guard (l’shamrah)”
[Bereishit 2:15]. L’avdah are the 248 positive mitzvahs
and l’shamrah are the 365 negative mitzvahs. This means
to draw down additional light through the kav from the Infinite
Light before the tzimtzum, until Moshiach comes [when] there will be the revelation of
the Infinite Light in the space of the chalal as it was before
And seemingly it’s not understood: What is new about this:
also before the tzimtzum the light filled the entire space!
The simple answer is that in the beginning when the Infinite
Light filled the empty vacuum, there was no potential for
the existence of the worlds. And if so, then the revelation
would not have been in the worlds. However, after the creation
of the worlds, when the Infinite Light that is before the
tzimtzum is drawn down, then the revelation is in the worlds. And if so, before the creation,
it was not possible for the light before the tzimtzum to be
contained [by the worlds]. Nevertheless, after the creation,
they were able to receive this light as well.
One can say that this idea is as it states in Eitz Chayim
[on another topic]: Regarding the idea of the revelation of
the kav, if the kav would have remained in the beginning,
there would have been no potential for the existence of containers.
After the creation, the light of the kav can shine in them
without them being overwhelmed. Similarly, regarding the general
light before the tzimtzum, after the creation of the worlds,
they [the containers] are able to receive this light.
And one can say that an example for this is like the transmission
of intelligence or knowledge from a teacher to a student.
If in the beginning the teacher were to give over to the student
the inner depths of his wisdom, the student would not be able
to receive it. The teacher has to give over a limited light
that is proportionate to the capacity of the student. After
the student receives this diminished light and contains and
integrates it in his mind, then afterwards he can come to
the depth and innermost aspect of the intellect of the teacher
(the sages say that [at forty] the student comes to the knowledge
(daas) of the teacher) and he can receive it etc.
And one has to say that this is also because of the fixing
(tikkun) of the keli. When a person begins to understand,
the vessels of the mind begin to be repaired and refined.
As it is known that when a teacher teaches a student with
a lot of influence, the skills of the student become like
those of the teacher.
And this example can be used to understand that after the
creation of the worlds the light of the kav shines into them.
It’s also known that the permeating light [of the kav]
polishes the keli from within, and the surrounding or transcendent
light polishes the keli from without.
And that’s why afterwards the kelim are able to receive light
that is even higher than the revelation of the kav.
And the main thing is that this flow is through the Torah
as it is written, “G-d gives strength [to His People]”
and “There is no strength except Torah,” because
through Torah the tzadikim are able to receive the Infinite
Light that is higher and transcends the world without annihilating
their existence. And the same with the worlds, they are able
to receive the light through this, as it says in Tanya chapter
So we see from this, that even though this light [that enters
into existence] is the same light that filled the challal
before the tzimtzum, however, the innovation is that the light
is revealed in the worlds.
And another explanation [regarding the innovation that is
accomplished] is that there will be a revelation of light
that is greater than the light that was there before. And
these are the additional lights that are drawn down [and revealed]
through Torah and Mitzvot. And these [lights] are of the innermost
aspect and essence of the Infinite Light, which are even higher
than the light that filled the challal [before the tzimtzum],
as will be explained later.
And generally speaking, this [new dimension of light] is
the revelation of the Infinite Light, sovev kol almin. And
this was the purpose for the creation of the worlds.
* * *
A running summary of the 61 discourses
that comprise Hemshech Samech Vov:
The purpose of existence is to draw down infinite
Divine energy into this universe the through our work in Torah
and Mitzvot, thus creating a “home” for the Divine
in the lowest of worlds. In addition to drawing down infinite
energy into finite existence and fully integrating matter
and spirit, we introduce a new dimension of the Divine that
did not exist even before the Tzimtzum. (Maamar 1)
All experiences, both in this world and in the
higher cosmic ones, are finite reflections and revelations
of pleasure. Only through our labor in the material world
do we generate the essence – the new dimension of the
supra-conscious state of pleasure (Eden). (Maamar 2-3)
Our virtue and ethics in the marketplace manifests
Divine finite energy, the dimension invested in existence,
which is called “external will” (the outer dimension
of Keter, crown), the will that defines and shapes all matter.
Torah and mitzvot access the “inner will” (the
inner dimension of Keter), the mission and purpose that drives
existence – the objective to integrate matter and spirit,
and transform the mundane world into a Divine home. (Maamar
Existence consists of space and time. Time –
past and future – is rooted in the dual tug of tension
and resolution. The source of these two forces is in the outer
dimension of Keter, however there the two forces are within
the source. The inner dimension of Keter is beyond even the
source of time, and being utterly infinite and beyond any
defined states it has the power to permeate time and space;
to transform time and space to that which is beyond time and
space. (Maamar 6)
This is the power of a mitzvah: Finite infinity.
A mitzvah too has finite parameters. Yet, it is fundamentally
different than the finite nature of the universe. The universe
is defined by its parameters; a mitzvah is not.
A mitzvah is essentially a finite form of infinity, infinite
energy in a finite discipline. Thus a mitzvah has the power
to bridge the infinite and the finite and redeem and free
us from our finite confines. (Maamar 7)
WILL AND PLEASURE
Question: A Mitzvah is the Divine will. What
connection does it have to pleasure?
Supra-conscious pleasure and will are not two
distinct faculties, but one. They both stem from the same
source in the essence of the soul, with the only difference
being that pleasure is the internal dimension and will the
external one, which expresses the inner pleasure. Supra-conscious
pleasure is who you are – your essential identity; Will
is how your identity expresses itself, seeking and reaching
outside of itself to fulfill and realize your inner self (pleasure).
Thus, the Divine will of a mitzvah is rooted in the essence
of Divine pleasure. (Maamar 8-9)
EXERTION IN TORAH
But how does one reach and access this supra-conscious
state? (Maamar 10-11)
 From “HaYom Yom” by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn,
compiled by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Kehas, Brooklyn,
 See Tanya Ch.36 and beginning of 37
 At home you are comfortable to be yourself without
defenses, masks, mechanisms etc. Your whole being is expressed
there. The home you build in the physical world is meant
to be a microcosm and reflection of the home for G-d and
vice-versa. Truly understanding what a home is, is really
understanding the purpose of existence.
 Why can G-d not be at home in the upper worlds?
In the upper worlds, His revelation is present, not His
 Written by students of students of the Arizal.
 Tzimtzum – quantum leap - a conceptual vacuum
in the light and revelation of the Divine - not a literal
space like a hole in a bagel.
 Or (light) is the transmission and
energy, and kelim are the containers or receptacles
for the transmission.
 Not ‘after’ in time - conceptually
‘after’ ie. cause and effect.
 A vacuum is created – light has been withdrawn;
then a thin subtle line enters into the vacuum that will
be the source for everything in the vacuum. The tzimtzum
allows the space and the kav illuminates.
 Reshimu - a residue or mark that is left over
after the tzimtzum. The tzimtzum was not an absolute darkness,
it contained a residue because the purpose of the tzimtzum
is not to make darkness but to create existence –
the only way to do so was to withdraw, but not completely.
For the kav to illuminate the dark place and create existence,
it also needs the power of the reshimu.
 Hiyuli - nucleus in potential state that gives
power. The reshimu is a state of being, but it cannot activate
itself eg. In chemistry, something lies dormant in a substance
and needs something else to be a catalyst for it to emerge.
Eg electricity that needs a spark to be revealed. Why do
you need the reshimu and the kav? We want to have fusion
between darkness and light; don’t just want to have
a foreign kav piercing darkness – the darkness (existence)
would reject it as not being part of it if it did not have
some aspect of G-dliness in it.
 Form & function; body & soul; internal
& external. Everything has two dimensions. See Toward
a Meaningful Life, chapter on “Body & Soul”
 Up till now has given brief description of creation
- now addresses our role/avodah in creation.
 Like a wire attached to a generator, through
the wire we can draw additional energy.
 Before it was just light, now after the tzimtzum
existence perceives light; light permeates the kelim whereas
before it wouldn’t allow the kelim to be.
 The Arizal’s teachings recorded by Reb
 So when the teacher is absent, the student can
still utilize this knowledge. He can not only quantitatively
but qualitatively accept more light.
 Like making a clay pot.
 This is an innovation only from our perspective.
We could say that the student can now teach – but
this answer is not really sufficient.
 Where was this light if not before the tzimtzum?
We draw out a light from G-d that was never revealed. G-d
emanates a new light.