Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Personal Reflection on the Rebbe's "VaYishlach" Teaching in 1991

I just studied a very lively teaching that the Lubavitcher Rebbe delivered during December 1991 on the Torah portion of "VaYishlach". The usage of rich imagery on the dynamics of cosmic male/female interplay made reading this teaching feel like reading an old fashioned romance novel. I also felt a faint emotional echo of the teaching's musical quality. The more I read, the more I got the sense that this teaching should have been set to music or better yet, inspired a composition of it's own. My mind began to envision a period when people will become so spiritually advanced that music will replace words as the primary means of human communication. Whereas language is culturally specific, music is universal - just like body language or gestures. If tuned in enough, people can understand each other's musical communication innately.

To me the true musical beauty of the Rebbe's teaching is the way he builds up the cosmic female. No longer is she a mere dimmed reflection of her cosmic male. She's matured into a unique being in her own right. She can now view her cosmic male "face to face", at equal height. She brings into the relationship something entirely new, not merely a reprocessing of what her cosmic male already brought. Shifting to the human level, in the old model, a husband brings home money or raw materials and his wife reprocesses these valuable resources into a fully functioning household.  The man provides her with seed and she reprocesses the seed into a baby. Of course, her reprocessing has her own touch and style. This is part of why kings or great personages of humanity's past often had multiple wives. Just like anyone needs a mirror to see his/her face, a male only sees a certain part of himself when it's reflected back to him in a female. The broad scope of a king or great personage's expansive personality often required multiple woman to reflect back for him a fuller image of his inner subconscious spectrum. 

This makes sense in a period when the function of female was to process and reflect what's male. However, when the female is built up and matures into her true role, polygamy is no longer necessary - as each gender plays both roles, shining and reflecting. However, there must still be some difference between male and female. Otherwise, what sets off the basic attraction between the two? What makes one male and the other female? Why should they interact at all?

I admit that while I understand that the ultimate source of cosmic maleness is the "line of light" and the ultimate source of cosmic femininity is the "afterglow" of the Infinite Light, I still don't have a good handle on how they interact in their ultimate state. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto clarifies in "138 Openings of Wisdom" the role of each in the early cosmos, which is a classically male/female paradigm. However, their true interaction in the later cosmos, like during the messianic or near-messianic period, I have yet to learn about.

Another feature of the Rebbe's teaching is that during this period the Rebbe was strongly pushing messianic awareness. Part of my reaction to this teaching is that I don't know quite how to take it. I certainly enjoyed both the depth and breadth of the Rebbe's Torah scholarship, as well as, his skillful interplay between cosmic male and female.

However, what left me baffled here is the Rebbe portrayal the Messiah's imminence. The Rebbe employs phrases that give the impression that the world is really ready for the messiah and the messiah himself is also really ready to reveal himself.  Yet, look at the world some 20 years later and it still seems eons away from this very sublime image that the Rebbe presents. How? Why?

It's quite possible that under ordinary circumstances I would have shrugged at these questions and simply moved onto to the next available Torah teaching, accepting that if I remain stuck in every difficult detail, I won't be able to accomplish the cumulative knowledge that I might eventually need to answer that very question. The Talmud cautions, "The Torah is lacking in one place and yet, abundant is another place". So sometimes the answer for a problem in topic A is found in topic B. This means that I'd have to study topic B to arrive at the answer which arose in topic A.  Spending too time stuck in topic A won't help.

However, in this case there are a couple of people who are waiting in the wings for my comments and insights. One of them is my Torah study partner, who asked me to study this teaching with him. Another, is an member of the community I belonged to some 13 years ago, whom I just became reacquainted with on facebook.

So before discussing this teaching with anyone, it might be helpful for me to formulate an understanding of how the Rebbe was so "Messiah-like" in the years of 1990-1992 and yet, the world that continued over the next 20 years had seen too many events which don't fit into a messianic era;  specifically, those events  which are clearly not in the spirit of the prophet Isaiah's promise, "No nation shall lift a sword to each other and they will no longer train for war."

It's possible that the answer lies in a comment I heard last week from an elder follower of the Rebbe. He taught me that no matter what the world's spiritual level is, a person should not lose heart. The Rebbe valued individuals being ready for the Messiah's arrival, even if the rest of humanity isn't. The Rebbe took his cue from our patriarch Jacob, who moved back to the Holy Land, even though his brother Esau neglected to prepare himself for the redemption. Some possible reasons for the Rebbe's position might be ...

A) The more people are prepared for the Messiah's arrival, the more likely it is to happen. The Maimonides teaches that in the Creator's eyes the world often hangs in balance and one slight good deed can tip the scales of justice in favor of blessing the world with divine kindness and abundance.

B) Even before the official redemption, select individuals can already taste the spiritual light of the redemption. The flavor of this spiritual light can inform all their devotional activities: their Torah study, their prayer/meditation and their acts of kindness. When filled with this light their devotions reach a much higher quality and possibly quantity as well. The way to become a vessel to receive and contain this light is to truly prepare oneself for the redemption. Also, since light's contagious, these people can possibly wake up others.

C) Life is rarely "black and white". Some people drawing down the light of redemption is much better than nobody drawing down this light. So even in a pre-redemption era there can be a lot of positive changes ensuing from the efforts of those preparing themselves for the Messiah's arrivals. The presence of even some of this light affects the thoughts and ideas that the whole humanity is exposed to and must grapple with.

The Rebbe modeled for us what it means to be a person filled with this light, as he was certainly perfectly ready for the redemption and inspired the masses to do the same. He demonstrated for us what a person filled with such a light thinks about, speaks about and most importantly, acts! In the spirit of this light, the Rebbe spoke with seemingly unbridled optimism - hoping to light the spiritual fires of the multitudes - sometimes, even 20 years later.



  1. Choni,

    Why do people think the new earth won't have a separation first? The Rebbe taught the new heaven and earth will have a separation from this one, of 7000 years, while souls are stored. Over these last several thousand years, God has been making His Bride ready. Only a fraction of a percentage make it into understanding in a given lifetime/age. After His Bride is chosen, He'll continue making them ready in the messianic era. Then His Bride--and others--will be kept in a holding place until souls begin to emerge into the new heaven and earth, which will, of course, be right here where the old earth is now (for many). That's when the prophet Isaiah's words will be fulfilled.

    On the topic male/female, a million things could be said, so I don't know where to begin, and I won't! One thing is every female must become male. Male = spiritual. Female = unlightened. But there is so so so much more to discuss your text.

    Individually we have to arrive. To discuss this topic would require for all of us to sit at a table in person when we have hours to spare! But the best way to learn is step-by-step, and you certainly give us food for thought.

  2. Choni Responded to Angela:

    Thank you Angela. I'm overbrimming with joy that I provide you with delicious food for thought. In this particular teaching the Rebbe was not referring to the seventh millenium. He was talking about what can even occur before the seventh millenium arrives and Isaiah's new heaven and earth manifest. We believe that the messianic era and even the resurrection, as a later stage of that era, will occur before the year 6,000. Right now, our calendar is in the year 5,772. So there's another 228 years left before 6,000. In general, I agree with what you're saying about male = spiritual and female = unenlightened. However, the Rebbe here is groping towards a new male/female paradigm. This is because true Oneness is blind to any sense of levels. To the Creator, in His Glory and Oneness, the highest and lowest levels are equal. They're all merely revelations of one sort or another. In ultimate truth, they are all equally and seamlessly absorbed into His Essence without a trace. Therefore, ultimately one is not any closer to the Creator than the other. Now that the divine playing field has been understood as "gender equal" my question is, "What is the new spiritual gender paradigm that the Rebbe is working from?"

  3. Ok, I understand now. This is the way I see it. God is calling His Bride starting about 1988 and this will continue until around 2028 (saw this in a vision). From now, there is 228 years left for those who will enter into the Resurrection and can achieve Bride status. (Only a small minority enter in a given lifetime/age). The messianic era will never be on this old earth. This will be going on in the upper/eternal world while this earth continues here in turmoil. I strongly see 1000 years being added to give the wedding guest time to overcome and achieve "wedding guest" status. I haven't entirely studied what the Rebbe says about this, but I'm almost certain from this point we have about 1228 years(can't know exactly because an overlapping always occurs). There is no way the wedding guest could be ready in 228 years, but His Bride will be made ready/purified to this status. The door will close for some, and it will be many years before another reopens. We need to prepare and obey our hearts now. Those destined will be the over comers.

  4. Choni Responded to Angela:

    Hi Angela, There are several variant Jewish understandings regarding the sequencing of phases of the messianic era. The convential Jewish understanding is that the messianic era begins sometime before the year 6,000. The resurrection is a later stage of the messianic era. It also occurs before the year 6,000. Then there's 1,000 of universal Sabbath. After this, there's a new heaven and earth.

  5. The messianic era will start soon: before the year 6000. The only thing I see a little differently is the messianic age will last a 1000 years (universal Sabbath), but I say it can not happen on this old earth. I'm quite sure it will happen with those souls in the upper world. This world (here) will continue for 1000 years. These souls here won't have entered the messianic age. They'll be overcoming. We'll eventually see. I've learned a lot from you, and if I'm incorrect I'll be the firs to point it out.

  6. Choni Responded to Angela:

    Hi Angela,

    As you noted there are some differences between my tradition and your tradition on the sequencing of the messianic events and even what they are. However, I'm with you! Like you, I'm looking forward to the messianic era. And like you, ultimately it's far more important to me that humanity enters this spiritually informed era than whether I had the right handle on understanding it today.

    ~ Blessings,

  7. Hellow Choni and Angela,

    It is refreshing to read other point of views about the topics of male and female and the messianic age. My understanding on these topics have some similarities to what both of you describe and some twists to them.
    It is true that giver and recipient(male and female)become equals. But women in chassidus contrary to what I understood you write are anything but less spiritual and aware. In this world all what appears one way is actually the opposite. From the sicha of Chaye Sara 1992 the Rebbe M'H explains that The union of Yitzchok and Rivkah represented union of soul(man)and body(woman). We see spiritual or the soul as being higher but in actuality it is the light reflecting off from the "essence"(source of light). The body is in actuality the source of where the essence lies. The men are chochma, they have the knowledge, but women see the knowledge from its source with depth and width. They are bina, understanding. This quality affects one to actually make a change or grow. Only when one understands the knowledge does he awaken his emotions to cause in him to make a move. That is why Judaism leaves it in the hands of the women to build a home. She encircles her groom 7x under the chupah. 7 representing the emotions in him that she produces. A woman of valor is her husbands will. She moves him to build a home and join her to reproduce "new" offspring in the categories of children, worlds, dimentions or universes. It takes much patients on the part of the woman to allow these changes to come when her work is "ripe". Timing is the critical factor. On that subject about Moshiach. When Moshe came and told the Jewish people that they would be redeemed from Egypt, the men did not believe him. The Rebbe M'h explains that it was in the merit of the righteous Jewish women that there was a redemption and so to in the ultimate true and complete redemption. The year we are in is the end of the 6th day of creation. Accordingly this means Shabbos has already begun. Shabbos is synonymous with Moshiach. We are in the "days"of Moshiach. Days plural meaning there are many levels in this time. When one come to the table (shulchan aruch)to eat from the Shor Habor(Torah Nigle)actual halachot and the livyasan(Torah nistar)esoteric level of Torah, then ones eyes is opened and he "sees"that he is in the true and complete redemption. You become Gods bride. One then goes through a process of absorbing the "combination" of this food going higher and higher. All the worlds are actually here. There are many dimentions and universes co existing on one world. It is just that as one goes higher and higher he expierinces that same world as the guy next to him in a totaly different reality. His perception wider and deeper. That individual creates a ripple affect around him with ever greater frequency and intensity. No Jew is left behind! All Jews are said to become Kohanim while gentiles elevate to the level of being a Yisroel. Each one does come in his time and recieves enlightment according to what he earned in galus (the previous world).

  8. Choni's response to Batya Friedman:

    Hi Batya,

    Thank you very much for your participation. I really enjoyed reading your post. You obviously put a lot of thought and effort into it. Where exactly we're holding on the cosmic timeline is difficult for me to ascertain. My best possible answer is that we're probably in a transition period and as with all transitions, it's confusing as the past and present paradigms co-exist making it difficult to figure out which one really applies. This is what I think is behind many strained marriage and relationship situations. As Moshiach is on the horizon, the male/female roles shift in important ways. During the twilight of this shift many people are caught between the paradigms. This creates confusing questions like, "Is a man primarily a giver and woman primarily a receiver or is man and woman something else entirely?"

    Strangely, despite going through marital strains and divorce in my personal life, this question did not hit me so hard as it did when I studied this teaching of the Rebbe.

    Classical Kabbalah expresses the relationship between male and female, whether cosmic or earthly, with the giver/receiver paradigm. However, I get the sense that the paradigm of "sharing one crown" is something entirely different. I am still groping for the succinct core description of what that relationship is - something that I can say (almost) as easily as giver/receiver. I've so far spent hours meditating and praying over it. I've made some progress, but, haven't yet gotten to the real core. The most I see is that we're entering an age where the light of the "reshimu" (the afterglow of the withdrawn Infinite Light) is finally thawing out and opening up. Since women are more connected to the "reshimu" than men, they will now turn into givers of this particular light. This is a game changer in relationships, as this new source of cosmic feminine energy opens up. However, I just see this as a nice lead. Not as the real core understanding of this paradigm.

    If you know what this real core is, you'd be doing me a great favor by explaining it to me.

    Thank you so much,
    Chag Same'ach V'Shabbat Shalom,


  9. Batya,

    I also enjoyed reading and delighted in your enlightenment.

    According to the part we were made in the first earth age--or at the beginning, we can access up the ladder as much as we want if the desire and curiosity was placed there. All Esau s (represents ending of age) will become a Jacob (a new beginning). Every single one of us must become Hebrews, or else a Jew (there is a difference). Eventually all Muslims will climb up this ladder--some earlier/some later and definitely not in one lifetime, but over thousand and thousands of years. In fact, this goes on forever, and never stops, as new creation is being brought forth from within us (not actually new because God has finished all creation--but it will manifest at different intervals forever).

    I believe all Hebrews will become a Kohan while Jews/Gentiles can progress upward to an Israel. The Hebrews--again I say not necessarily Jewish--the ones who will become a Kohan are the Bride. Others won't have the desire/potential to reach this level. As in a body--as Choni once mentioned--we have our parts, and we make One. The Head are the Hebrews. The Heart will consists of those who became/will become Jews. The rest of the people make up the rest of the body. (Then members of this one Body brings forth what is within them).

    And all females must make themselves male to enter the messianic age.

  10. Once again thankyou for sharing your thoughts. The roles of man and women may begin with the femenine taking the leading role, for a woman of valor is her husbands crown. The question is first of all, what is a woman of valor? Today that answer was given to me. She is one that fights for the truth. Much like the daughters of Tzlafchad did. They persisted and insisted to inherit their fathers portion of land. We know what is truly valuable in this world and therefor persist and fight for it. Land represents the 7 emotional attributes plus 3 in the time of Moshiach that represents 3 intellectual attributes. When one truly loves someone they will conquer their entire land. Meaning what God has already given to you, you not only inherit but work to earn it. All is for the sake of serving our master. The more we persist the more we draw down our mates true existence into him which is Gods true being, his essence. Women have the role to give birth, she therefor draws in and gives birth to a supernal soul that comes to her and her soul mate. But she does it in a way that does not haveto kill or destroy a previous existence. She spins wool from sheep creating something "new" without destroying what is. We are living in a world where people are getting lost in what has real value. One chooses their mate or partner based on "external" features. Logical features of course. I believe that as we are in this time of transition, relationships even long term are falling apart because these external elements no longer nourish the relationship bettween two people. This is parallel to our relationship with God. One is "redeemed" when his relationship with God transcends external will that make us feel connected, to the internal will where we are not just connected but are ONE with him. On this level we do not question our beloved for we know he does all for our sake.

    Perhaps in the begining the feminine role is to bring this level to the male. Eventually they become one walking side by side going on an infinite journey to ever higher and higher levels of existence.

  11. Choni's Repsonse:

    Hi Angela and Batya,

    Thank you both for your wonderful insights. I enjoyed them. As I came to my computer very late tonight (after a "farbrengen" in Shul), I may need to await tomorrow night to contribute a real response.

    Shavuah Tov U'Mivorach,

    Sincerely Best Wishes,

  12. Choni's Continued Repsonse:

    Hi Angela and Batya,

    I love what Angela is saying that the whole system moves upward with the messianic enlightenment. Every detail of the creation is vibrating on a higher level. Therefore, today where on a higher state of consciousness than we were yesterday. It's the same pattern, just repeating on a higher vibrational level.

    I love what Batya is saying that a woman draws down to her man true Divine existence. In a sense, she births and nurtures his spirituality. I'm not sure that I've experienced this in my personal life, but, I believe Batya that this is the way it should be. I also love how you matched up the inner will of the Creator, as being identified with the Creator Himself. Simply, a Oneness. To my understanding the whole Chassidic movement is a movement designed to be in-tune with the inner will of the Creator. Therefore, every Mitzvah was performed with a sense of, "What does the Creator really desire deep down?".

    In the light of this past Shabbos, an insight on how the Lubatvitcher Rebbe probably meant for us to understand what it means that both genders will "share one crown" during the messianic era came to me and really resonated within. It does not contradict anything both of you so kindly shared. It's really just a different angle on the same notion. With the Creator's help, I hope to share it as a separate post within the next few days. I have a niece's wedding in the middle. So it might be a bit delayed. However, when it's posted to my satisfaction, I hope to notify both of you via FaceBook message.

    Best Wishes,

  13. Batya,

    I love how you put my thoughts in expressions. I agree with you sincerely and from the heart.

    Desire and persistence will lead us there. Real value we build up in our hearts while the world wants bigger house, bigger cars. Only a few have matured enough in a given lifetime to bring forth permanent spiritual treasures. We can't expect those who haven't yet arrived to understand, but like a woman can only brings forth one child at a time, we spiritually mature at intervals.

    I've learn to accept any situation and know it's all for the good, but it was a long time before I didn't react. Now I just surrender and am unmoved no matter--for the most part--no matter what happens.

    Choni, you have the potential to bring heaven to earth with you knowledge and understanding. This is a fun thing to do and has truth: Don't give up your secular birthday too quickly as it adds up to 33--a powerful life number. You have the potential to bring heaven to earth, and you are doing so! Your Hebrew birthday is also extremely important, so celebrate both! (11, 22, 33 are Master numbers as I'm sure you know). and 33 has triple the power of 11! Take this for what you will! You're proving it true.

  14. Choni's response to Angela:

    Thank you Angela for your words of joy. You just gave me a nice joyful laugh. I'm in middle of working the next essay, which I mentioned earlier. I think when it's posted (hopefully, while it's still Chanuka) you'll find that it's in the spirit of trying to "bring heaven down to earth". :)

  15. Everything you post is a tremendous learning experience, and I look forward to your next essay!