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Vol 17.01 - Vayikra 1                   Spanish French Audio  Video

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Summary:

(5740) Explanation of the Torah of the Alter Rebbe in the reason that the letter "Alef" in the word "Vayikra" is a small alef; "recognizing one's qualities" together with "recognizing one's deficiencies (Shiflut)"
 

Translation:

1.The Rebbe (Rayatz) once told (at a Pesach farbrengen), the order of  the Alter Rebbe  enrolling his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek, in Cheder. Among the things that the Rebbe then told is, that the Alter Rebbe instructed the melamed (teacher) that he should learn with the child the first Parsha of Vayikra. After the melamed learned the parsha with the child, the child asked the Alter Rebbe: Why is the word “Vayikra” spelled with a small Alef?

The Rebbe meditated (farDeveiked) a long time, and afterwards said:
 
Adam HaRishon was the handiwork of G-d and G-d testified that his wisdom was greater than the ministering angels. He - Adam HaRishon – was aware of his qualities and became so sure about himself that he succumbed to the mistake of eating from the Tree of Knowledge (eitz hada’as.)
 
Moshe Rabbeinu was also aware of his qualities. Yet not only did Moshe Rabbeinu not grow egotistical with this knowledge, on the contrary, it caused him to be crushed and broken-hearted and he was low in his own eyes. This was because he reasoned that if another Yid, someone who was not Amram’s son and not the seventh generation from Avraham Avinu, would posses the same lofty soul and merit from his forefathers as he had, that person would certainly be better than the way he is.
 
And that is why G-d stated in the Torah that “the man Moshe was humbler than any man on the face of the Earth. Humbler than any man that existed, however small or simple minded he might be. Because Moshe Rabbeinu calculated that any other person, who possessed the same given - not earned by his own efforts – qualities of the soul and merit from his forefathers as Moshe, would certainly be better than him.
 
There are three forms of the letters which G-d gave at Sinai – large letters, normal-sized letters (Benoni) and small letters. The Torah is written with normal-sized letters. The intent is that man should be a Benoni , And through Torah man can achieve the level of a Benoni.
 
Adam HaRishon, through being aware of is qualities, succumbed to the mistake of the Tree of Knowledge, Therefore his name- Adam is written with a large Alef..
 
Moshe Rabbeinu, through the Avodah of recognizing his lowliness,  reached the pinnacle of humility This is symbolized in the word Vayikra written with a small Alef..
 
2, The story, seemingly, requires an explanation.
 
Why did the Alter Rebbe need to say (and even more so, preface) the whole lengthy story of Adam HaRishon and the reason his name is spelled with a large Alef?
 
All this just to answer why the Alef of Vayikra is a small Alef?
 
For, seemingly, the large Alef of Adam HaRishon is irrelevant. It would have sufficed, to explain that the small Alef of Vayikra is a hint to the great humility of Moshe Rabbeinu?
 
Moreover, the previous explanation, that the small Alef of Vayikra – is a hint to the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu – is mentioned by many of the Torah commentators. Yet they do not mention the large Alef of Adam HaRishon;
 
Therefore, how much more so, in our case,
–        when the Tzemach Tzedek had not yet learned about the large Alef of Adam HaRishon (which is first mentioned in Chronicles) since he just started learning Chumash -
it was, seemingly, not the place to discuss and certainly not to elaborate on the large Alef of Adam HaRishon .
 
[and specifically since the explanation of the Alter Rebbe about the large Alef of Adam HaRishon, emphasizes – the opposite of praise of Adam HaRishon.
 
For if, “The Torah goes out of its way not to mention the deficiencies of an unclean animal”, how much more so, [should the Alter Rebbe not have said it]. For the Alter Rebbe himself says that Adam HaRishon was the handiwork of G-d, (unless there is a necessity for it)
 
3. We also need to understand the lengthy portrayal of the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu – For, seemingly it would have been sufficient to state briefly that Moshe Rabbeinu was a great humble person. Just like G-d testified in Torah that “The man Moshe was very humble etc”
 
Even if one wishes to say, that the Alter Rebbe wanted to clarify to the Tzemach Tzedek how Moshe Rabbeinu could be so “humble in his own eyes”, and at the same time, “cognizant of his own qualities” (so much so that none could compare to Moshe)
 
 - Because he thought that if another, who possessed his given - not earned by his own efforts – qualities of the soul and merit from his forefathers, would certainly be better than him –
 
it is still not understood. Because:
 
a)      This itself requires a reason – What difference does it make here in emphasizing that Moshe (also) recognized his own qualities (and, therefore, it is necessary to explain how this is not a contradiction to his humility)?
 
b)      Why must it be explained that Moshe Rabbeinu did not become absorbed with his own qualities - not like Adam HaRishon – who was aware of his qualities and became sure about himself. It would have sufficed just to say,  that it is because Moshe Rabbeinu thought that his qualities we not “due to his own efforts”, but only because of his given talents and forebear’s merit
 
Also, why does he also elaborate how Moshe Rabbeinu compared himself with all Yiden, thinking that if another person would have had the same talents as he etc , that, that person would be better than him?
 
4., Learning the explanation of the Alter Rebbe, at first glance, reveals that the large Alef of Adam HaRishon is a hint of a negative trait, of his being absorbed with himself ( the opposite of the small Alef of Vayikra, which shows of the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu)
 
But in truth, one cannot say this.
 
Because, it is a simple rule, that the large letters that are in the Torah are higher even than the middle letters and certainly over the small letters. And even a child understands this. For when Torah uses a big letter, it is because that according to the Torah of Truth, there is greatness, an importance.
 
Therefore, many commentators say that the large Alef of Adam HaRishon is a hint that “there was no greater man than him Adam . .or because of his great wisdom so much so that he as able to name the creatures”
 
Moreover, the Alter Rebbe himself, comments in Likkutei Torah on the difference between the “small Alef of Vayikra” and that of “Chronicles, where Adam is written with a large Alef”,
 
And he explains how Adam HaRishon is higher than Moshe.
 
The large Alef of Adam HaRishon is “the level of Adam HaRishon before the Sin, for he was on an extremely high level” (And therefore he could receive from the large Alef which refers to “the level of Keter (crown) as it is in its essence and existence (Atzmus u'mehus)”.
 
However regarding Moshe it states that:”Moshe was not able to enter because the Cloud rested on it”
 
–        which also represents an effluence “from a very high and awesome place (Keter)” -
 
Therefore, regarding Moshe, the word Vayikra it is written with a small Alef. Because the calling (and effluence) to Moshe (from the Cloud) was only “through Tzimzum” (contraction)
 
According to this, the added words of the Alter Rebbe’, that the large Alef that is stated by Adam HaRishon represents a negative trait, is seemingly a complete contradiction.
Because from Likkutei Torah it is proven that Adam HaRishon is higher than Moshe Rabbeinu.
 
And moreover – it is a hint
(not to his succumbing (to the mistake of eating from the Tree of Knowledge) but, on the contrary )
to the level of Adam HaRishon , as he was, before the Sin.
 
5. One could say that explanation briefly in this is:
 
By telling the Tzemach Tzedek the above explanation, the Alter Rebbe not only gave an answer to his question in the verse, but also (and most importantly, gave), a lesson in Chinuch to the Tzemach Tzedek , by explaining to the Tzemach Tzedek the lesson in Avodat HaShem which one must learn bring out from small Alef of Vayikra
 
[And this comes in conjunction to that which the Rebbe [Rayatz] said in a previous farbrengen, that the Alter Rebbe himself, occupied himself with the education and upbringing of the Tzemach Tzedek – which is why he himself brought him to Cheder etc]
 
And in order to make the lesson of the small Alef complete – one requires the entire preface about Adam HaRishon.
 
With the elaboration concerning the qualities of Adam HaRishon and how he Adam “recognized his talents”, the Alter Rebbe is not attempting to negate the conduct of Adam HaRishon , but on the contrary, - to show that one must have this characteristic (which comes from the level of the spark of Adam HaRishon that is within him, as will be explained in Paragraph 7))
 
This is analogous to the famous saying: “Just as one must know his deficiencies, so too one must know his qualities”
 
And from this itself, i.e knowing one’s qualities one learns the difference regarding “the awareness of one’s lowliness”
 
 – that it must be in a manner (that does not negate “the recognition of one’s talents” but rather)
 
that even though he knows his qualities, he nevertheless does not become self-absorbed, since he knows that his qualities are due to his “given - not earned by his own efforts – qualities of the soul and merit from his forefathers” (like the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu – for everyone possesses a spark of Moshe)
   
[And more so: Since he has this “awareness of one’s qualities” it causes within him a mannerism of humility – [so much so] that it brings one to the opposite extreme - “humbler than any man etc. as explained in Paragraph nine]
 
And therefore, there is no contradiction from the large Alef of Adam HaRishon representing “awareness of one’s qualities” and, at the same time , knowing one's great talents (as above Paragraph 4)
 
–  because the aspect of “being aware of oneself” is a step in Avodah according to Torah. And, on the contrary, this is specifically connected with the Avodah of Tzaddikim (c.f. Paragraph 7)
 
And with this, he brings out, how strongly one should be careful of being “aware of one’s qualities”.
 
For even one who truly possesses great qualities, to such an extent that Torat Emes writes concerning him a large Alef, he must still be wary of the possibility of unwanted negative outcomes that stem from this awareness (of one’s qualities). For even Adam HaRishon succumbed, because of this, to the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, the source of all the sins
 
6. Since Adam HaRishon (including his body) is the “handiwork of G-d”, it is understood that he (from the aspect of creation) did not have any connection to aspects of evil,
 
(Like the verse “And by the command of the Most High, neither good nor evil come”)

even from the world around. For it is known, that before the Sin there was no admixture of good and evil. Because Klipot were separate, below the world.
 
And even though, through the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, there was a diminishing in Adam’s stature (and in the stature of the entire world) – however, since the works of G-d’s hands are everlasting, it is understood that the qualities of Adam HaRishon are an eternal aspect which remained by him (at least in concealment) also after the Sin.
 
[And this aspect is also hinted to in the wording of the Alter Rebbe: – “Adam HaRishon through being aware of himself succumbed to the sin eating from the Tree of Knowledge [has his name] written with a large Alef “ –
 
For seemingly, if the large Alef of Adam HaRishon is “the level of Adam HaRishon , as he was, before the Sin (Above Paragraph 4), he the Alter Rebbe, should have said the words in an opposite order: –
 
“Adam HaRishon who has his name written with a large Alef through being aware of himself (afterward) succumbed to the sin eating from the Tree of Knowledge”?
 
But through this the Alter Rebbe is hinting that even after he succumbed to the sin eating from the Tree of Knowledge, his name is written with a large Alef ( which is “the level of Adam HaRishon , as he was, before the Sin (as Above)],
 
7.The eternality of the qualities of Adam HaRishon is not only in that they remained with him (at least in concealment) also after the Sin, but, rather, that, they are inherited from him to every Yid to the end of all generations
 
As is known, that Yidden are called after Adam – “You are called man (Adam)”. For in every “Soul and spark of Yisroel”, there is a “portion of the soul of Adam HaRishon “. And therefore (a similarity to) the qualities of Adam HaRishon are given to every Yid.
 
[So much so that even that which “his wisdom was greater than the ministering angels” and therefore he was able to “name” all created beings according to their “vital soul (nefesh)” of the created beings – this is reflected in all Yidden.
 
As it is stated in the books [of the Arizal etc] that the names that parents give to their children are given with ( a part of Divine spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). From Above they are given the insight to call the name that fits with the “vital soul” of the child]
 
And therefore every Yid, no matter what his station, possesses a level of Adam HaRishon, as he was, before the Sin.
 
The difference is that by Adam HaRishon, this also pertained to his body (since his body was (also) the handiwork of G-d).
 
Whereas, in every Yisroel, this is (revealed) only in the soul, “a portion of G-d above, mamosh).
 
This is why the soul has no relevance to the aspect of sin, as it states in Zohar on the verse: “if a soul sins”- “The Torah and G-d wonder how it could be that a soul sins? (with a question mark);  For even when a Yid stumbles (G-d forbid) in a sin, the soul “even during the sin” is together with Him”
 
And this is the inner meaning in the verse: “and Your people are all Tzaddikim”. For from the level of Adam HaRishon (as he was before the Sin), which is inherit in every Yid, one’s Avodah is the level of Tzaddikim, even when he was previously occupied with matters that are opposite etc”
 
And when he does things related to Torah and Mitzvot, this is (from the pnimiyut of his Neshama, the level of Adam HaRishon that is within him – not a motion of Teshuva, someone distant who becomes close. But rather, an Avodah like a Tzaddik, from the beginning, which, from the very onset, has no relevance to evil and sin
 
And from this greatness which resides in every Yid, there can arise an “awareness of one’s qualities”. Because the existence of a Tzaddik is not his own, G-d forbid, but rather an existence of holiness, in which there is no attachment to the Other Side
 
 (not like that of a Baal Teshuva, where even after the Teshuva, requires a “constant vigilance that he not return to his former ways”)
 
And on the contrary, there must be an awareness of one’s qualities. So much so, that sometimes it is the only way
 
(Through “raising his heart in the ways of G-d”)
 
to avert the cloakings and concealments of this world
 
His Avodah is with a holy strength (tokef d’kedusha), similar to the Avodah of Tzaddikim
 
8. On this comes the warning, that together with “recognizing one’s qualities” there must be “recognizing one’s lowliness”. For without this, the “recognition of one’s qualities” could lead, G-d forbid, to a descent and downfall.etc
 
The simple matter is, that if one is not a Tzaddik, evil remains with him in its power and strength. He must be completely careful about the manner of “recognizing one’s qualities”. For he could, by this, grab coarse ego from the Yetzer Hara etc
 
When the Alter Rebbe wanted to educate the Tzemach Tzedek,
 
– a Tzaddik, who would grow up to be a Nasi b’Yisroel  (leader of Yisroel)
 
he wanted to avert this characteristic even more.
 
For, even Adam HaRishon, a Tzaddik and the handiwork of G-d, also had no connection to sin and there was no hint of a grasp to the Other Side.
 
Yet, nevertheless he too, through the recognition of his qualities, caused him to succumb to the Sin of Tree of Knowledge
 
therefore it is certain that every Tzaddik must be vigilant in the recognition of his own qualities
 
9. We can now also understand why the Alter Rebbe told this lengthy explanation about Moshe
 
(in addition to his being a humble person because of his reasoning that his qualities were due to his given nature)
 
that he thought that another person that possessed the same qualities would certainly be better than the way he is.
 
Since one must be vigilant, that
while standing in a position of Holy strength ( Tokef d’kedusha) and awareness one’s qualities,
he not become enmeshed in ego etc,
 
- It is not sufficient that he have a plain recognition of one’s lowliness, but -
 
he must employ the opposite extreme – humility and complete Bittul.
 
And the indication of true humility (shiflut) is not when we look at what we are “not” the “not” within us but when we look at the qualities that are in another.
 
And we see this in reality. There are those that can effect within themselves the aspect of Bittul. He can even handle it when a person belittles him.
 
- But a thought crosses his mind: “I truly am not an entity (metzius), but that other person is less of an entity than me . . .”
 
To achieve on his own, that he alone is nothing, yet that the other person is something (a metzius), – is a completely different Avodah, which requires a higher level of Bittul
 
And the great humility of Moshe is also reflected in this. For Moshe rectified the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.
 
 
He was
(not just a humble person but rather the complete opposite of self - )
 
“very humble from any man of the face of the Earth”
 
He compared himself with every Yid, thinking that “if any other person, possessed . . . his . . . qualities . . . that person would certainly be better than him.”
 
10. This is also one of the actual lessons which one must derive from this story:
 
On one hand,
One must realize that every Yid has, by inheritance, enormous qualities. And he must consequently recognize his own qualities.
 
When one is approached with a Mitzvah etc, and he is fully aware of his spiritual standing and position, he could claim:
“Who am I and what am I, that I should take on this holy endeavor?” Yet we must answer him that, right now, he possesses the level of Adam HaRishon, as he was before the Sin. And therefore, whatever he has accomplished with you thus far – “now, you must act exactly as you would when entirely higher from the aspect of Sin”
 
On the other hand,
One must realize that all these enormous qualities are G-d given. And it is true that if another possessed all the qualities, that, he would be better than you.
-Therefore this recognition of one’s qualities does not cause him either depression or haughtiness etc. On the contrary, it makes him a “low person in his own eyes”
 
 And through this Bittul , may he merit the true greatness – as it states: “whoever is small is great” – and may he merit the “And G-d called to Moshe” a calling of endearment to the level of Moshe in his soul. And this gives strength to the Avodah of the Korbanot, how they will realized in the epitome of completeness, in the Third Beis HaMikdash , “And there we will offer before You our obligatory offerings .. like the command of Your will”, speedily Mamosh.
 
(M’Sichas 13 Nisan 5727)

Translation2:
I.

(At a Pesach farbrengen,1 ) the Previous Rebbe related the manner in which the Alter Rebbe brought his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek, to cheder for the first time. Among the points the Rebbe mentioned is that the Alter Rebbe instructed the teacher to study the first passage of Parshas Vayikra with the child.2 After the teacher had studied the passage with the child, the child asked the Alter Rebbe: “Why is the alef in the word Vayikra small?”3

The Alter Rebbe entered a state of dveikus for a long time and then replied:

Adam, the first man, was G‑d’s handiwork4 and G‑d testified that his wisdom surpassed that of the ministering angels.5 But Adam knew his own greatness and was overcome by his awareness of this. Therefore he blundered and committed the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.6

Moshe our teacher... also knew his own greatness. But not only was Moshe not overcome by his awareness of this, instead, it gave him a broken and contrite heart, making him very humble in his own eyes.7 He thought: Were another person who was not Amram’s son, or the seventh generation in descent from Avraham, to have been given such a lofty soul and such ancestral merit, that person would certainly have been better than he.8

G‑d states in the Torah:9 “The man, Moshe, was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth.” No matter how low a person’s stature and how simple he was, Moshe would measure himself against him, thinking that if that person had possessed the positive spiritual qualities with which Moshe had been endowed — and had not earned through his own work — and his ancestral merit, that person would certainly have been better than he.10

There are three types of forms for the letters which the Holy One, blessed be He, gave at Mount Sinai: oversized letters, average-sized letters, and miniature letters. The Torah is written in average-sized (beinonim) letters. For the intent is that a person should be a beinoni (an intermediate).11 Through the Torah, one reaches the level of a beinoni. With regard to Adam, the first man, whose recognition of his own greatness caused him to commit the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, an oversized alef is used. With regard to Moshe our teacher, whose Divine service of recognizing his own humility brought him to the highest level of humility, Parshas Vayikra uses a miniature alef.

II.

In this story, there is, on the surface, a point that requires clarification: Why was it necessary for the Alter Rebbe to mention (and indeed, state first) the lengthy description of Adam the first man and the explanation of why an oversized alef is used with regard to his name? This is seemingly unrelated to the explanation of why a miniature alef is used in Parshas Vayikra. On the surface, it would appear sufficient to say that the miniature alef in Parshas Vayikra is an allusion to Moshe’s great humility.

Furthermore, the explanation that the miniature alef in Parshas Va­yikra alludes to Moshe’s humility is stated in several of the commentaries to the Torah.12 They,13 however, do not mention the oversized alef used with regard to Adam. Now, the Tzemach Tzedek had not yet learned about the oversized alef used with regard to Adam (for it is used first in Divrei HaYamim). Indeed, he was just beginning to study Chumash. Thus on the surface, it does not seem appropriate to mention, and at such great length, the concept of the oversized alef used with regard to Adam the first man.

{In particular, this is true because the explanation given by the Alter Rebbe concerning the oversized alef used with regard to Adam speaks unfavorably about him.14 The Torah does not speak pejoratively even about a non-kosher animal.15 Certainly, it would not be appropriate to speak about Adam — G‑d’s handiwork, as the Alter Rebbe stated — in such a manner (unless there is a necessity to do so).16 }

III.

It is also necessary to understand the lengthy explanation the Alter Rebbe gives with regard to the humility of Moshe. Seemingly, it would have been sufficient to state in short (as the other commentar­ies do) that Moshe was exceedingly humble, as the Torah states.

It is possible to say that the Alter Rebbe wanted to clarify to the Tzemach Tzedek how it was possible for Moshe to be “humble in his own eyes” although he was aware of his own greatness (which is so extraordinary that no one can compare himself to Moshe).17 For Moshe thought that if another person had been granted the same positive qualities with which Moshe had been endowed, i.e., his lofty soul and ancestral merit — as opposed to those he earned through his own efforts — that other person would certainly have been better than he.

Nevertheless, there are points that require clarification:

a) This concept itself requires explanation: Why is it necessary to emphasize that Moshe also recognized his own greatness (and thus create a need to explain that this recognition is not a contradiction to humility)?

b) Seemingly, it was unnecessary for the Alter Rebbe to elaborate in the explanation that Moshe was not overcome by the awareness of his own greatness — in contrast to Adam who was. It would have been sufficient to say that this came as a result of Moshe thinking that his greatness was not earned through his own Divine service, but instead was the result of his ancestral merit and the positive qualities that he was granted from Above. Why did he go into the details of Moshe’s comparison of himself to every other person and Moshe’s thought that if the other person had been endowed with the qualities that he had been granted, that person would have been better than he?

IV.

Initially, when looking at the Alter Rebbe’s explanation, it appears that the oversized alef used with regard to Adam is an allusion to an unde­sirable quality: i.e., that he was overcome with his greatness (in contrast to the miniature alef inParshas Vayikra which alludes to the humility of Moshe).

In truth, however, this cannot be said. For it is an obvious general principle that the oversized letters in the Torah surpass the average-sized letters, and certainly, the miniature letters.18 Even a child can understand that the Torah uses an oversized letter to indicate greatness and importance as judged by the scales of the Torah of truth.

For this reason, commentaries19 explain that the oversized alef used with regard to Adam alludes to the fact “that there was never a man as great as he... or to the profuse wisdom that he possessed as indicated by his naming of the created beings.”

Furthermore, in Likkutei Torah,20 the Alter Rebbe himself discusses the difference between the miniature alef and the oversized alef with which the name Adam is written in Divrei HaYamim and explains that it indicates that Adam was greater than Moshe.

There he explains that the oversized alef refers to Adam as he existed “before the sin, when he was on a very high level.”21 (On that level, it was possible for him to receive influence from the oversized alef, i.e., “the attribute of Kesser, as it exists in its essence.”) With regard to Moshe, by contrast, the Torah states:22 “And Moshe could not enter... because the cloud had rested upon it.” The cloud reflects influence from “a very sublime and awesome level”23 (i.e., Kesser). For this reason, with regard to Moshe, Vayikra is written with a miniature alef. For calling (i.e., drawing down influence) to Moshe (from the sublime level of the cloud) was possible only through a tzimtzum, a contraction which is alluded to by the miniature letter.24

Thus the Alter Rebbe’s addition — the discussion of the oversized alef used with regard to Adam — seemingly defeats his purpose. For it appears to indicate that Adam was on a higher level than Moshe. Moreover, it alludes {not to Adam’s stumbling (through the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge), but on the contrary,} to his level before the sin.

V.

It is possible to offer the following resolution: By offering this explanation to the Tzemach Tzedek, the Alter Rebbe was not merely answering the question the child had asked concerning the verse. Instead, he was primarily concerned with educating the Tzemach Tzedek and explaining to him the lesson in our Divine service that can be derived from the miniature alef in Parshas Vayikra.25

{This explains the connection between this story and statements the Previous Rebbe made (at an earlier farbrengen)26 that the Alter Rebbe personally devoted himself to the education and the training of the Tzemach Tzedek. That was the reason that he took him to cheder for the first time himself.}

In order for the lesson from the miniature alef to be complete, it was necessary for him to preface his explanation with the critique of Adam’s conduct.

By elaborating on the qualities possessed by Adam and the fact that he appreciated his own greatness, the Alter Rebbe’s intent went beyond explaining the unfavorable aspects of Adam’s conduct. For, on the contrary, from a certain perspective, every Jew (— due to the spark of Adam he possesses, as will be explained in sec. VII —) must emulate Adam’s conduct. To refer to the well-known adage:27 “Just as a person must recognize his own shortcomings, so, too, he must recognize his own positive qualities.”

This teaches us how we must approach “recognizing our own humility.” That awareness should not negate the recognition of one’s positive qualities.28 Instead, the two can coexist. For one will not be overcome by the recognition of his positive qualities, for he realizes that they were granted him from Above. They were not earned through his own efforts, but instead came as a result of his inherent spiritual gifts and his ancestral merit. (The paradigm for this is the humility of Moshe.29 This relates to every person, for everyone possesses a spark from the soul of Moshe.)30

{Furthermore, since the person recognizes his positive qualities, it is necessary that his thrust toward humility be extreme, like Moshe who was “exceedingly humble, more than any person,” as will be explained in sec. IX.}

Therefore there is no contradiction. The oversized alef used with regard to Adam alludes to the fact that he recognized his own greatness, together with the fact that it alludes to the genuinely great powers that he possessed. For the recognition of one’s own greatness is a path in Divine service as mandated by the Torah. Indeed, this is associated with the Divine service of the righteous (as will be explained in sec. VII).

With this explanation, the Alter Rebbe underscores how a person must take care with regard to the recognition of his positive qualities. Even one who truly possesses very great virtues — to the extent that the Torah of Truth refers to him with an oversized alef — must guard against the possibility of undesirable results stemming from the recognition of his positive qualities. For this caused even Adam to stumble and commit the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, the source of all sins.

VI.

Since (even) Adam’s (body) was G‑d’s handiwork, it is self-evident that (as he was created) he had no connection to evil.31 (To cite a parallel: “From the mouth of the Sublime One, evil will not emerge”32 ). Similarly, with regard to his surrounding environment, as is well known,33 there was no intermingling of good and bad before the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge. For kelipas nogah was a separate realm, lower than the world at large.

Thus the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge brought about a descent for mankind (and for the world at large). Nevertheless, since G‑d’s handiwork is eternal, it is evident that the above-mentioned advantage possessed by Adam is of eternal relevance and remains within his nature (at least in a hidden manner) after the sin.

{This concept is also alluded to in the wording of the Alter Rebbe: “Adam, the first man, whose recognition of his own greatness caused him to commit the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, an oversized alef is used....” On the surface, since the oversized alef used with regard to Adam reflects his level before the sin (as stated in sec. IV), seemingly, it would have been appropriate for the Alter Rebbe to have worded his statement in the opposite order: “Adam, the first man, is referred to with an oversized alef. Throughrecognizing his own greatness, he stumbled and committed the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.”

By phrasing his statements as he did — mentioning the oversized alef last — the Alter Rebbe alludes to the fact that even after Adam committed the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, he is still referred to as Adam with an oversized alef (which, as above, alludes to his level before the sin).}

VII.

The eternal dimension of Adam’s positive qualities is not only that they remained (at least in a hidden manner) after the sin, but also that they are shared with every Jew until the end of time.

As is well known,34 the Jews are referred to with the name, Adam, “man,” as it is written:35 “You are called man.” For every soul and spark within the Jewish people is a portion of the soul of Adam, the first man. Therefore, every Jew is endowed with (— at least in microcosm —) Adam’s positive qualities.

{Every Jew possesses a resemblance even to Adam’s quality of having “wisdom that surpasses that of the ministering angels.” This quality was manifest in his ability to name all the created beings by recognizing “the living soul”36 that every being possessed.37 Simi­larly, as explained in holy texts,38 the names that parents give their children is, in diminutive, an expression of the spirit of prophecy. They are granted from Above the inspiration tocall the child with a name that reflects the child’s “living soul.”}

Therefore, every Jew — regardless of the situation in which he is found — possesses a reflection of the level of Adam as he existed before the sin.39 The difference is that with regard to Adam, this quality was also manifest from the standpoint of his body (for his body was also G‑d’s handiwork). For all others, by contrast, this G‑dly dimension of their being is manifest in a revealed manner40 only from the standpoint of their souls, which are an “actual part of G‑d from Above.”41

For this reason, a soul has no connection to sin. (As the Zohar42 comments on the verse:43 “When a soul sins...,” stating: “The Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, ask in wonderment: ‘Could a soul sin?’”44 Even when a Jew stumbles in sin, “his soul remains faithful to Him, even at the time of sin.”45

This is the inner meaning of the verse:46 “Your people are all righteous.” Since there is a dimension of Adam (as he existed before the sin) within every Jew, each person’s Divine service parallels that of the righteous, despite the fact that previously he was involved in the direct opposite of that service. When he observes the Torah and its mitzvos (from the inner dimension of his soul — the attribute of Adam within him), he is not turning to G‑d in teshuvah. He is not “one who was distant, but who was drawn close,”47 even though in actual fact, he was distant. Instead, his Divine service resembles that of one who was righteous48 from the outset, who never had any connection to evil and sin.

Since every Jew possesses this positive quality, the possibility exists for every Jew to recognize his own positive virtues. For we are not speaking about a person with an ego-centered outlook. On the contrary, a righteous man does not have a self-oriented identity. Instead, he is identified with holiness that does not allow evil a foothold. (In contrast, a baal teshuvah, even after he turns to G‑d, must be continually on guard lest he return to his previous conduct.49 )

A person need not worry when making the awareness of this potential a fundamental element of his Divine service. On the contrary, a person must know his positive qualities. At times, this is the way (— through “lifting up his heart in the paths of G‑d”50 —) to overcome the hiddenness and concealment of G‑d in this world. For this infuses one’s Divine service with the power of holiness in a manner similar to the Divine service of the righteous.

VIII.

For this reason, precaution is necessary. The awareness of one’s positive qualities must be coupled with an awareness of one’s fundamental humility. Otherwise, the recognition of one’s positive qualities can cause one to descend and stumble.

It is obvious that a person who is not righteous, whose evil is “in its power and strength,”51 must be careful with regard to recognizing his own positive qualities. Otherwise, it is possible for him to fall prey to the elemental yeshus (self-concern) that stems from the yetzer hara.

The Alter Rebbe, however, was endeavoring to educate the Tzemach Tzedek, who was inherently righteous52 and would grow up to be a nasi (leader)53 among the Jewish people. Accordingly, he felt that even greater caution was necessary. For Adam was a righteous man and G‑d’s handiwork, and seemingly he had no connection to sin, nor was there even a foothold for the powers of evil. Nevertheless, even with regard to him, the awareness of his own positive qualities caused him to blunder and commit the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge. Certainly, every other righteous man must take precautions with regard to the recognition of his positive qualities.54

IX.

On this basis, we can also understand why the Alter Rebbe elaborated in explanation of Moshe’s humility. (Not only did he explain that he was humble because he thought that his positive qualities had been endowed to him from Above,) the Alter Rebbe also emphasized that Moshe compared himself to others. He thought that if that other person had been granted these positive qualities, he would have been better than he.

This is necessary, because a person must take precautions. Since he adopts a stance that reflects the power within holiness and involves the recognition of his positive qualities, it is possible that self-centeredness will arise. Hence, the ordinary recognition of his own humility is not sufficient. Instead, he must go to the opposite extreme55 of pride and manifest absolute humility and bittul.

Genuine humility is not demonstrated by emphasizing one’s own negative qualities, but instead, seeking to highlight the positive qualities that another person possesses.

We see this in our own lives. There are people who are able to bring about bittul within themselves. Moreover, they can even bear criticism and listen when another person reduces their self-image to nothingness. Even so, this does not necessarily obliterate their ego entirely. They may think: “It’s true that I’m nothing, but the other person is more of a nothing than I am.”

Bringing oneself to the level that he thinks about himself as nothing and looks at the other person as something requires a very different approach to Divine service and demands a higher level of bittul.

In this, we can see the great humility of Moshe who was able to make amends for the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge. {As is well known, when “Moshe received the Torah at Sinai,”56 the contamination from the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge ceased.57 } Not only was Moshe humble, he was the direct opposite of self-concern; “exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth.”58 He compared himself with every Jew, and by doing so, came to respect every one of them, thinking that “had that person been given his positive qualities, he would certainly have achieved more than he.”

X.

This leads to one of the practical directives that we can derive from this story. On one hand, every Jew must realize that he possesses a heritage of awesome potentials and he must recognize his own posi­tive qualities. And that is extremely important lest he shy away when a mitzvah presents itself. For he knows his own spiritual level and will protest: “How can a person like me undertake this holy project?” He must realize that he possesses within himself an attribute that re­flects Adam as he existed before the sin. Accordingly, regardless of what he had done until now, at this moment, he must — and he has the potential to — conduct himself as if he is utterly above any con­nection to sin.

On the other hand, he must realize that all of these positive qualities are endowed to him from Above. Were they to have been given another person, that person would certainly have done better. Therefore, the recognition of his own positive qualities will not cause him to feel self-important. On the contrary, it will cause him to be humble in his own eyes.

This bittul will then enable him to reach true greatness, as it is said:59 “He who is small is great.” And this will lead to G‑d calling to Moshe — to the attribute of Moshe one possesses in his soul — with a solicitation of endearment.60 This in turn makes possible the Divine service of bringing sacrifices, rising upward from level to level until the consummate expression of this phase of Divine service in the Third Beis HaMikdash where “We will offer before You the sacrifices that we are obligated... in accordance with the command of Your will.”61 May this take place in the near future.

(https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/2295036/jewish/A-Knowing-Heart-Parshas-Vayikra.htm Adapted from Sichos 13 Nissan, 5726)


FOOTNOTES
1.    Sichos Yom Shevi’i Shel Pesach, 5700 (Sefer HaSichos 5700, p. 68).
2.    The source for this custom is found in Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Tzav, sec. 14; Vayikra Rabbah 7:3. See also the commentary of the Kli Yakar at the beginning of this Torah reading; Sefer Chassidim, sec. 1140; Kolbo, sec. 74, as quoted by the Sifsei Cohen in his gloss to Yoreh Deah 245:8.
3.    Trans. Note: Throughout the Tanach, each of the letters of the alef-beis appears once in an oversized form and once in miniature (Encyclopedia Talmudis, Vol. I, p. 410). In the word Vayikra at the beginning of this Torah reading, the alef appears in miniature, and in the name Adam at the beginning of Divrei HaYamim, it is oversized.
4.    See Bereishis Rabbah 24:5; Koheles Rabbah 3:11 (2); Avos DeRabbi Nassan, the conclusion of ch. 1 (citing Tehillim 139:5).
5.    Bereishis Rabbah 17:4.
6.    See Torah Or, the conclusion of Parshas Mishpatim: “The fundamental point of the kelipah of haughtiness became part of the nature of man through the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.... It causes one to see himself and feel self-centeredness, realizing what he lacks and appreciating what is to his benefit.” As is well known (see the maamar entitled Lehavin Inyan Cheit Adam HaRishon in Sefer HaMaamarim Eshaleich, Liozna; the maamar entitled Padeh BeShalom, 5677, et al.) the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge was that Adam desired sensitivity to material things.
7.    See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 33, fn. 28 and the marginal note. Clarification is still required.
8.    See the Alter Rebbe’s maamar entitled Vayisufu HaAnavim (Sefer HaMaamarim 5562, p. 51). See also the sources mentioned in fn. 10.
9.    Bamidbar 12:3.
10.   
With regard to Moshe’s humility, see the lengthy explanation in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 30ff., p. 37 and the fns. there.
11.    See Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Deos 1:4; Commentary to the Mishnah, Introduction to Avos (Shemoneh Perakim, ch. 4). In these sources, Rambam speaks about the advantage of following the “middle path” and having one’s emotional characteristics evenly balanced.
12.    The commentary of Rabbeinu Asher to the Torah; Panei’ach Raza; Moshav Zekenim; Toldos Yitzchak (by R. Yitzchak Caro); Tzror HaMor; Kli Yakar; the commentary of Sifsei Cohen to the Torah.
13.  With the exception of Panei’ach Raza and Toldos Yitzchak. See also the following footnote.
14.    In contrast to the explanations given by the commentaries mentioned in the previous fn. who interpret the oversized alef as alluding to Adam’s positive qualities as explained in sec. IV.
15.    Bava Basra 123a.
16.    See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 281; Vol. X, p. 26ff. translated in this series.
17.    See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 242:36.
18.    This principle is also discussed in the Kabbalah: See the statements of the Zohar and Ramaz, et al. at the beginning of this Torah reading. See also Or HaTorah, Vayikra, Vol. III, p. 724ff.; the maamarim entitled Vayikra from Sefer HaMaamarim 5678, p. 234, and Sefer HaMaamarim 5705 (ch. 3 of that maamar); the second maamar entitled Vayidaber Elokim, 5699, et al.
19.  Panei’ach Raza, Toldos Yitzchak, loc. cit.; see Zohar I, 239a; III, 300a.
20.    At the beginning of our Torah reading. See also the maamarim entitled Vayikra and Vayidaber cited above.
21.    P. 1b. And the maamarim entitled Vayikra and Vayidaber cited above explain that the oversized alef refers to the consummate perfection that man will reach in the era of Redemption (which surpasses the level of Adam before the sin).
22.    Shmos 40:35.
23.    Likkutei Torah, loc. cit.1:1.
24.    See Or HaTorah, Parshas Vayikra, Vol. I, p. 119; Zohar, loc. cit., quoted in Or HaTorah, Vayikra, Vol. III, loc. cit.;the maamarim entitled Vayikra and Vayidaber, loc. cit.;the Likkutei Torah of the AriZal, Parshas Vayikra quoted in Or HaTorah, loc. cit., p. 726; and the maamar entitled Vayikra cited above. See also Panei’ach Raza, loc. cit.
25.    This also explains why, before giving this answer, the Alter Rebbe entered a state of dveikus for an extended time, despite the fact that the fundamental thrust of his reply is found in the Torah’s commentaries.
26.    Shabbos Chol HaMoed Pesach (Sefer HaSichos 5700, p.40).
27.    Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV, p. 581a; see HaYom Yom, p. 107.
28.    Ibid., Vol. III, p. 430a.
29.    The above can be connected with the fact that Moshe was “truly the embodiment of Chochmah of Atzilus” (as related in the above narrative). Chochmah also has a kli (vessel), but — in contrast to the other Sefiros whose kelim are characterized by yeshus, the awareness of their own existence — its kli is characterized by utter bittul. Indeed, it resembles the light and, like the light, can also be referred to as “chayeihu” (Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 87d; Or HaTorah, Parshas Va’eira, p. 150).
For this reason, it is alluded to by the letter yud. For the yud has the form of a letter (in contrast to its upper projection) which indicates that it relates to the realm of existence. Nevertheless, it is the smallest letter, “no more than a point” (Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch.4; see Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IX, p. 416ff.).
30.    Tanya, ch. 42.
31.    Torah Or, Bereishis, p. 6a; see Sefer HaArachim Chabad, erech Adam HaRishon (pp. 168-169), and the sources mentioned there.
32.    Cf. Eichah 3:38.
33.    Likkutei Torah of the AriZal, Parshas Bereishis, et al.
34.    Likkutei Torah, Devarim, p. 47b; see Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 7.
35.    Yevamos 61a.
36.    Bereishis 2:19.
37.    See Or Torah by the Maggid of Mezritch, Parshas Bereishis (p. 4b ff.); Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 13, note the sources mentioned there.
38.    The writings of the AriZal (Sefer HaGilgulim, Hakdamah 23; see Emek HaMelech, Shaar 1, ch. 4), quoted in Or Torah, loc. cit.
39.    Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 14.
40.    In a hidden manner, this also applies with regard to the body. For G‑d’s essential choice of the Jewish people is focused on a Jew’s body and not his soul. {See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, pp. 345-6. There the phrase (Yeshayahu 60:21): “The work of My hands in which to take pride” is interpreted as referring to the body.}
41.    Tanya, ch. 2.
42.    Zohar III, 16a; see also p. 13b.
43.    Vayikra 5:1.
44.   Trans. Note: For the Hebrew phrase could also be translated in that manner.
45.    Tanya, ch. 24.
46.    Yeshayahu, loc. cit.
47.    Cf. Berachos 34b.
48.    See similar concepts explained in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, pp. 245-246.
49.    Likkutei Torah, Devarim. See also Tanya, Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 11, which advises a baal teshuvah“not to lift up his heart,” i.e., become haughty,but instead to be humble in the presence of every person.”
50.  II Divrei HaYamim 17:6; Torah Or, pp. 91b; 119c ff.; Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 15c.
51.    Cf. Tanya, ch. 13.
52.    As our Sages comment (Bava Basra 16a): “You created righteous men.” As the Tikkunei Zohar (Introduction 1, 2) states: “Among the souls of the Jewish people are... righteous men.” Ultimately, through his life, such an individual reveals his initial potential. (See Tanya, ch. 14.)
53.    Who is obligated to conduct himself in a manner bespeaking prosperity, as Tehillim 119:45 states: “I will proceed with ease.”
54.    On this basis, we can explain the continuation of the story: that the Alter Rebbe recited a maamar of Chassidus on the verse (Vayikra 1:2): “When a man from among you will offer a sacrifice to G‑d.” It is possible to say that this alludes to the concept that even the attribute of Adam (the first man, see Rashi’s commentary to the verse; see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 13ff.) must be offered as a sacrifice to G‑d,” i.e., that one must sacrifice the soul of a person on an earthly plane to G‑d (Likkutei Torah, Vayikra, p. 2c).
55.    See Rambam’s statements in Shemoneh Perakim, ch. 4, and Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Deos 2:2. See also his statements there (2:3) with regard to humility and lowliness (that this is one of the areas where one’s conduct may be extreme. “Hence, with regard to Moshe our teacher, it is written that he was “extremely humble”). See the gloss of the Lechem Mishneh to ch. 1, halachah 4, and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 155:1, 156:3.
56.    Cf. Avos 1:1.
57.    Shabbos 146a. On this basis, we can appreciate why the humility of Moshe is alluded to in the miniature alef of the word Vayikra. For the indwelling of the Divine Presence within the Sanctuary was a sign that atonement had been granted for the Sin of the Golden Calf (Rashi, in his commentaryto Shmos 38:21; Vayikra 9:23; see also his commentary to Vayikra 9:2). And it was through the Sin of the Golden Calf that the contamination brought about by the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge returned (Zohar I, 52b; II, 193b).
58.    Not only was he humble and lowly in his own eyes, he had — to quote the Alter Rebbe’s wording in the story — “a broken and contrite heart.”
59.    Zohar I, 122b; III, 168a. See also the Panei’ach Raza, loc. cit., which states that the oversized alef used with regard to Adam refers to Moshe.
60.    See Toras Kohanim and Rashi to that verse.
61.  Mussaf liturgy, Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 195.

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