Vol 19.33 - Tavo - Chai Elul          Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5736) Revelation of the Torah of Chassidut and its connection to "Tavo"  


The Birthday of the Two Great Luminaries

The Eighteenth of the month of Elul is “the birthday of the two great luminaries”1 — the Baal Shem Tov (R. Yisrael ben R. Eliezer, born 1698), founder of the chassidic move­ment, and the Alter Rebbe (R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, born 1745), founder of the trend within Chassidism known as Chabad.

Eighteen is the numerical equivalent of the letters י"ח, which when inverted form the Hebrew word chai (“alive”). Thus the Eighteenth of Elul is commonly referred to as Chai Elul.

The Rebbe Rayatz relates2 that there are two versions of a traditional chassidic aphorism: “Chai Elul breathes vitality into Elul,” and “Chai Elul breathes vitality into the service of ‘I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”3

The two versions of this aphorism parallel the two di­mensions of Chai Elul. The first version reflects the contribu­tion of the Baal Shem Tov, and the second version, the con­tribution of the Alter Rebbe.

With the advent of the month of Elul, our divine service as a whole is intensified. “I am my Beloved’s...” represents one dimension of this intensification.4

By revealing the formerly hidden teachings of Chassidism, the Baal Shem Tov introduced new vitality into every aspect of Jewish life. With the teachings of Chabad Chassidism, the Alter Rebbe (as will presently be explained) gave expression to a particular thrust of divine service.

Life — A Quality that Defies Definition

Injecting vitality does not involve a simple quantitative increase. The difference between a living organism and a dead one cannot be measured in the number of limbs in the living organism or by any other material measure. Life is not a tan­gible ingredient that can be added to an entity’s mass: it is an expression of the being’s soul, a spiritual dimension that can­not be calculated in material terms. This spiritual quality, however, transforms the nature of the organism in which it is enclothed. A living body is identified with its soul so entirely that it takes on the soul’s qualities. Every aspect of the body becomes infused with the vitality of the soul.5

Vitality can, however, be described at different levels. When we speak about feeling more alive, for example, we mean that a greater dimension of the soul is manifest in the body. And since the soul is “truly a part of G‑d,”6 its life-force is infinite. There is thus an unbounded potential for an indi­vidual to increase the intensity of his life experience.

Living By Faith

The infinite potential of the soul is mirrored by the in­fi­nite nature of faith. Although our souls find expression in our thoughts and feelings, this revelation is checked by the limi­tations of both intellect and emotion. The power of intellect is limited by one’s range of ideas, and the power of emotion, by one’s range of feelings. Faith, by contrast, is undefinable and infinite, just as the soul is. It therefore has the power to give unlimited expression to the potential of the soul, thereby in­fusing our lives with an immeasurable vitality.

The Hebrew word for faith, emunah, is semanti­cally related to the Hebrew word imunmeaning “developing a skill.” I.e., faith requires practice in training one’s thinking habits, until it reflects the limitless divine po­tential at the core of every man’s being.7

The Baal Shem Tov imparted the vitality of emunah (“faith”) to every dimension of our lives, revealing every in­dividual’s potential for an ongoing dynamic bond with G‑d. He taught a way of life that enables us to express the infinite spiritual power of our beings in our observance of the Torah and in every aspect of our experience.8 His teachings gave tangible expression to the verse, “A righteous man shall live by his faith,”9 because these teachings make faith a vibrant force which encompasses every dimension of our conduct, infusing it with the vitality that stems from the soul’s essential power.

Understanding That Which Transcends Comprehension

The unique quality of faith is that it permits a connection with G‑d which transcends the bounds of intellect. This ad­vantage is, however, potentially problematic, because the spiritual plane on which a person operates through faith is far higher than his level of personal awareness. Since faith taps into a dimension of soul which transcends the limits of the individual’s identity, a gap is created between the infinite po­tential made possible by faith and one’s finite mind.

The teachings of the Alter Rebbe enable us to bridge this gap, because the Alter Rebbe explained how to bring our spiritual potentials that transcend intellect into the realm of understanding. To borrow from chassidic terminology, the Alter Rebbe showed us how to introduce emunah (which transcends intellectual categories) into the intellectual proc­ess called Chabad. (This word is an acronym formed by the initials of the Hebrew words, Chochmah, Binah, and Daas; lit., “wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.”) Through the teachings of Chabad, the functioning of our minds is shaped by the essential G‑dly power of our soul.

Ability to Take the Initiative

When a person develops a conscious relationship with G‑d, he gains mastery of his spiritual experience. As long as his divine service is centered on faith alone, it is dependent upon inspiration, a state in which the soul is aroused.10 If in­spiration is lacking, the fervor of commitment is reduced. However, because we have control over our thought proc­esses and can use our minds as we desire,11 when faith is internalized and drawn into the realm of intellect, a person can take the initiative in his spiritual growth.

The Previous Rebbe expressed these ideas succinctly:12 “The Baal Shem Tov revealed that we must serve G‑d, and the Alter Rebbe revealed how we can serve G‑d.” This statement was obviously not intended to disparage the divine service of those who do not follow the Chabad approach, but rather to emphasize the distinctive potential generated by Chabad, namely, the potential to equip every individual with the inner life-energy revealed by the Baal Shem Tov. Although this spiritual potential is fundamentally beyond human reach, the Chabad approach enables every individual to be in control of it, by internalizing it and making it part of his thought proc­esses.

Adding Vigor to Our Divine Service in Elul

In light of this, we can appreciate the connection between the birthdays of these chassidic masters and the month of Elul. Because the heavenly source of a person’s soul radiates powerfully on his birthday,13 the contributions of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe to our divine service are espe­cially potent on Chai Elul.

The vitality generated by the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings energizes the intensified divine service which characterizes the whole of Elul.14 Now unique to Elul is the concept re­flected in the verse, “I am my Beloved’s” — that man, rather than G‑d, takes the initiative in heightening the love relation­ship we share with Him.15 This aspect of Elul requires that man be capable of proceeding in his divine service on his own initiative. And this ability was granted us by the Alter Rebbe’s teachings.

The vitality which Chai Elul imparts to our divine service increases the blessings we will receive in the coming new year, assuring us all of a kesivah vachasimah tovah, with every Jew inscribed for a good and sweet year. May this include the greatest blessing — the coming of Mashiach,16 and may this take place in the immediate future.

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, Ki Savo/Chai Elul, and Chai Elul


1.    The Previous Rebbe (Sefer HaSichos 5703, p. 142), quoting his father, the Rebbe Rashab.

2.    Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. III, p. 946 (and in English translation: Vol. III, p. 235).

3.    Shir HaShirim 6:3. As explained above (see the essays “A Time to Take Stock” and “The King in the Field”), the initial letters of the Hebrew words of this phrase,Ani VeDodi VeDodi Li, spell out the name Elul.

4.    See the essay above entitled, “The King in the Field.”

5.    See the maamar entitled Ki Imcha 5700, ch. 2, where this concept is explained at length.

6.    Cf. Tanya, beginning of ch. 2, based on Iyov 31:2.

7.    See Tanya, conclusion of ch. 42.

8.    The Baal Shem Tov (see Tzavaas HaRivash, sec. 2) expresses this principle through a non-literal interpretation of the verse (Tehillim 16:8), “I have placed G‑d before me at all times.” Noting that the word h,hua, which literally means “I have placed,” is related semantically to the word vua meaning “equal”, the Baal Shem Tov explained: “When G‑d is before me, everything is equal; it is possible to maintain a connection with Him in all circumstances.”

9.    Chavakuk 2:4. In Makkos 24b, our Sages state that the prophet Chavakuk under­stood this verse as the motivating principle of the entire Torah.

10.    In this context, note the well-known non-literal interpretation of the above phrase of Chavakuk, by chassidic masters other than those of the Chabad school. A homi­letic change in vocalization transforms the Hebrew verb into causative mood, so that it reads not yichyeh (“A righteous man lives by his faith”), but yechayeh (“A righteous man imparts life by his faith”): through his own spiritual attainments, a tzaddik inspires the divine service of those who cleave to him.
The Alter Rebbe, however, opposed this approach. He required that the divine service of each of his chassidim be generated by his own hardwon efforts. See Likkutei Dibburim (English translation), Vol. I, p. 311.

11.    See Tanya, ch. 12.

12.    Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, p. 292.

13.   Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 3:8.

14.    The vitality imparted by Chai Elul and its total effect on our divine service is also reflected by the fact that this date is the first of the final twelve days of the year. The Rebbe Rayatz explains (in Sefer HaSichos 5703, pp. 177, 179) that these days are uniquely significant because on each of these twelve days, we are able to com­pensate for any deficiency in our divine service during the corresponding month of the year. Chai Elul enables us to compensate for deficiencies in the divine service of Tishrei, a month of comprehensive importance, as is seen from its various holi­days.

15.    See the above essay entitled, “A King in the Field.”

16.    The coming of Mashiach is a direct outgrowth of the spiritual import of Chai Elul, for it is the spreading of the wellsprings of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings that will hasten the coming of Mashiach. See the Baal Shem Tov’s letter to his brother-in-law, R. Gershon Kitover (Keser Shem Tov, sec. 1).


1. Chai Elul, the birthday of the “two great luminaries” – the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of general Torat Chassidut) and the Alter Rebbe (the founder of Torat Chassidut Chabad) – always occurs close to (or on the day itself of) Shabbat Parshat Tavo.

And since all the holidays (from the word “special/meyuad” (מיועד), meaning a time with a special import) of the year are alluded to in the Parshiot of Torah which are read in the times when they occur – one must therefore say that in Parshat Tavo, even the subject of Chai Elul (and especially since it is called a “Yom Tov” and “holiday/mo’ed, as is known) is also alluded to.

2. The name of our Sidra (which, as is known, depicts the nature of the entire Parsha) is (Ki) Tavo. The translation of “Tovo el HaAretz” – (when) you come into the land – is “after the inheritance and settling”.

And this is not just in our Parsha, where the verse explicitly states “and you possess it and settle in it“, but, as the Sages state, that wherever it states “Ki Tavo” (and so forth) it means after inheritance and settling.

And since this is the meaning of “Ki Tavo”, in all places, it is understood that even though we derive this from that which “Since Scripture specified with one of them that it is only after inheriting and settling “, nevertheless this is inherent in the subject of the word “Tavo” itself.


“Inheritance and settling” does not mean the “inheritance and settling” of an individual (meaning that after he receives his portion in Eretz Yisroel, he must bring the First Fruits) but – it means after the fourteen years that they conquered and divided the entire Eretz Yisroel

(And as has already been explained, that with Rashi’s precise wording, in the beginning of our Parsha, that:

“This (verse) teaches us that they were not obligated (to bring) “first fruits” until they conquered the Land and divided it” (where he does not state the actual words of the verse: “after inheriting and settling”),

he means to emphasize that “possess it and settle in it” – here - means the conquering and the dividing of the land – of the entire land ( which took fourteen years (to accomplish)).

Therefore, also this aspect in “inheriting and settling it” is found in the nature of the word “Tavo”.

3. The explanation of this is:

The correct translation of the word “come into” (ביאה) is – entering completely (אריינקונזען אינגאנצן) as the Sages stated that “entry by part (of the person) is not called entry” (ביאה במקצת לא שמה ביאה). For if there lacks even a little of the entry – it is not the true completeness of “entering”. This is similar to entering into water for purification (וטהר) – Tevilah - where even a hair must be immersed.

Therefore the word “Tavo” specifically means “after inheritance and settling”, for only then has one completely entered Eretz Yisroel, in a manner of settlement (התיישבות).


From the perspective of the unity of Yidden, as long as there was not the settling of all the Yidden (which must be there) in Eretz Yisroel, the “entering/Tavo” of each Yid - is also lacking, even though for him personally, it is already “after the inheritance and settling” of his portion. Therefore the true “entry”  (ביאה) in Eretz Yisroel is specifically after the conquering and the dividing of the entire Eretz Yisroel.

And this is the connection between Parshat Tavo and Chai Elul:

The innovation of Torat HaChassidut (which was revealed by the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe) is, that the Avodah of Torah and Mitzvot should be performed in a manner of “Tavo” – entering completely into the Avodah, so much so that there remains not even an iota in the person that is not infused (דורכגענומען) with Torah and Mitzvot, as will be explained.

And just as in the aspect of “Tavo” there are two aspects:

1.       The general aspect (כללות'דיקער) of “Tavo”

2.       The details and manner in the “Tavo” – “inheritance and settling”

so too, also in Chai Elul these two related (ענלעכע) aspects are found:

1.       The birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the general discipline of Chassidut (תורת החסידות הכללית)

2.       The birthday of the Alter Rebbe the founder of the Chabad discipline of Chassidut (Torat Chassidut Chabad/ תורת התסידות חב״ד).

The difference between them is, as the saying of the Rebbe Rayatz, that the Baal Shem Tov showed how one must serve G-d – which is similar to the general aspects of “Tavo” -

And the Alter Rebbe showed how one can be a servant of G-d (קאן מען זיין אן עובד הוי׳) – meaning how to bring this into actuality, including and (primarily) in specifics, similar to “inheritance and settling”, as will be explained in paragraph 10.

4. One can understand this, by prefacing the known statement that the revelation of Torat Chassidut is a preparation to the coming of Moshiach, and as is known, the answer of Moshiach to the Baal Shem Tov that “when your wellsprings shall spread forth outwardly“  (לכשיפוצו מעינותיך חוצה)  then “the master (Moshiach) will come“  (אתי מר) – it states in the Sifrei Kabbalah that until the coming of Moshiach, all the “revelations” in the world are only from the “Chitzoniyut of Atik” (חיצוניות עתיק) and that Moshiach will accomplish the revelation of “Pnimiyut of Atik”

(Note: the Kabbalistic term “Atik” (“Atik Yomin” lit. “Ancient days”) refers to the inner dimension of Keter, a level which transcends the entire scheme of the ten Sefirot that is associated with Will and Desire; an elevated spiritual level that is in absolute oneness with G-d’s essence.  Chitzoniyut and Pnimiyut of Atik refer to the external and inner levels of Atik)  

 Since a preparation has within it a semblance (מעין) of the aspect in which he is preparing for – one must say that the innovation of Chassidut is the aspect of “Pnimiyut” in Avodat HaAdam in Torah and Mitzvot. Therefore Chassidut draws down the Pnimiyut of G-dliness – “Pnimiyut Atik”.

5. The difference between “Pnimiyut” and “Chitzoniyut”, plainly (in a person) is:

“Pnimiyut” refers to how the person is by himself, whereas “Chitzoniyut” - is when he is already relative to the outside (חוץ), to “another” (זולת) who is beside himself.

The difference between them in Avodat HaAdam is:

 When a person does something just with his “Chitzoniyut” (externality), he is not absorbed in the matter with his entire “essence” (עצם) and “Pnimiyut”, but rather just with his Chitzoniyut (and in this itself – only the “level” within him that has a relation to the matter that is “outside” of him) . Therefore “he” (ער) and the thing that he does – remain two separate things.

However, when a person does something with his Pnimiyut, he is absorbed in it, for since from the perspective of his Pnimiyut, there is no place for something that is “outside” (חוץ) of him, it therefore comes out that when he does something (even a detail) with his “Pnimiyut” and “essence” - the thing is united with him, as one entity.

6. This is also the innovation of the revelation of Chassidut:

Chassidut (and in general, Pnimiyut HaTorah which is called “the soul of Torah” (נשמתא דאורייתא) reveals the Essence of the Chayut/vitality (נקודת החיות) of a Yid in all aspects of Torah and Mitzvot. The nature of the “Chayut/vitality” is that it becomes united with the thing that it enlivens. “Chayut” does not add any new details in the thing that it enlivens (e.g.in a living body, there are not more organs than a dead body). Yet Chayut, in actuality, is not a separate thing from that which it enlivens. However this is the soul of the body of the living thing – every particle (נקודה) of the body is a living particle.

And the reason for this is, since “Chayut/vitality” is the soul and Pnimiyut of the person. Therefore, in a place where “Chayut” comes, it occupies the place entirely.

And this is the innovation of Chassidut in the aspect of Torah and Mitzvot:

Torah study and the performance of Mitzvot can be in a manner where the Yid, and the Torah and Mitzvot, are like two things. Even when studying Torah, because of which a person becomes (as explained in Tanya) a “most wonderful unity; in the physical realm there in no unity similar or parallel to it that they should actually become one and united etc.” with G-d – nevertheless it in relation to his power of intellect (כח השכל).

Chassidut, however, demands and shows the way in which everyone can reveal his “Pnimiyut” and “Chayut” – and from the perspective of Pnimiyut, a Yid is one thing with Torah and Mitzvot.

7. This is also the (possible) explanation why Chassidut is the preparation to the coming of Moshiach, when “Pnimiyut Atik” will be revealed:

All levels of Hishtalshelut, even that of “Chitzoniyut Atik”, allow room for an entity that is “outside” (חוץ) of G-d’s essence (עצמותו יתי). Therefore, even when they are revealed in the world, it is just in a manner that it does not completely negate the existence of the world.

Pnimiyut Atik” means the essence of G-dliness from whose perspective there is no place for anything that is “outside” (חוץ) of Him. Therefore, when Pnimiyut Atik is revealed in the worlds, it is in a manner that the world (in its existence) with G-dliness become, as it were, one thing – “there is none beside Him” (ein od milvado/ אין עוד מלבדו).

8. In the vitality of a person, which is spread in the body, there are two levels:

1.       The “general vitality/Chayut Klali” (חיות כללי) which enlivens the entire body, with all of his limbs, equally. In this vitality there are no distinctions from one organ to another.

2.       The “individual vitality/ Chayut Prati” (חיות פרטי) which is measured (געמאפטן) in each organ according to its properties (from this level of vitality, the heel of the foot is called the “angel of death” of the person since, the vitality is not visibly revealed).

One could say that the difference between the “Chayut” of Chassidut which is drawn down and revealed through the Baal Shem Tov and the “Chayut” which is drawn down and revealed through the Alter Rebbe – is similar to the difference between the two types of vitality.

The Baal Shem Tov revealed a “general vitality/Chayut Klali” in Torah and Mitzvot, which in general, expressed itself (אויסגעדריקט) in the aspect of faith/Emunah. And although the power of faith permeates all the powers of the soul (כחות הנפש) and effects within them in a manner of Chayut, which infuses them completely (נעמט זיי דורך אינגאנצן), as it states: “but the righteous shall live by his faith” (וצדיק באמונתו יחי׳). It however, does not mean that the vitality of faith affects each power (יעדן כח) also due to its individual aspect, but rather just from general aspect of each power, which is connected with the essence of the faith (נקודת האמונה) of the soul.

And just as with the “general vitality/Chayut Klali”, which infuses all the limbs and becomes united with them – it is however not connected with the individual aspect of each limb, just with the common factor (נקודה כללית) of all the organs (which are a part of the body of the person).

The Alter Rebbe, however, drew down a vitality in each power of the soul (and in every Avodah in Torah and Mitzvot) also from the perspective of the individual property of the power. Just like the “individual vitality/ Chayut Prati” which is measured according to the specific aspect of each organ. Therefore it is connected with Chabad (intellect). For intellect (שכל) and the effect of intellect is by grasping the particulars (the extremities/קצוות) of the thought and in a manner where it is enclothed in the powers of the soul (כוחות הנפש) and effects them in an internal manner (אופן פנימי׳), also from the perspective of the individual property of the power.

9. Even though the Chayut Prati is, seemingly, a lower lever in vitality, than Chayut Klali - for:

1.       It is a limited vitality (באגרענעצטער תיות) (since it is measured according to the organ)

2.       The nullification/bitul of the limb to the vitality is not that much of a deeper bitul (since the vitality gives room for the individual aspect of the limb) –

Nevertheless, there is an advantage in the Chayut Prati over the Chayut Klalli (so much so that it accomplishes in it a new thing).

This itself, namely that the Chayut Klalli is not connected with the individual aspect of each limb, shows that within it, the real completeness of the vitality, is not expressed which is why it does not permeate also the individual aspect of the organ.

Specifically in the Chayut Prati, which permeates the organs due to their individual aspect – and in a manner of vitality, which permeates it completely – does the completeness of the real vitality, express itself.

Similarly, this is also in relation to Torat HaChassidut Chabad:

Specifically through that which the Alter Rebbe drew down the vitality of Chassidut in the individual powers of the soul according to their nature, did he draw down completely the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov (because of which, also the individual powers are permeated with the vitality of Chassidut).

10. And this is also the connection between Chai Elul and Parshat Tavo:

The Chayut Klalli of Torat Chassidut Haklalit is alluded to in the aspect of “Tavo” which means (as aforementioned paragraph 3) entering completely (אריינקומען אינגאנצן) (in the Avodah of Torah and Mitzvot), which is because of the essence of vitality (נקודת החיות) which Torat Chassidut gives in the Avodah of Torah and Mitzvot.

Afterwards one must draw down the Chayut Klalli in the individual powers themselves – which means “inheritance and settling in it” – one draws the Chayut Klalli of Chassidut into a settled aspect (התיישבות) - in the individual powers of the soul, which is through Torah Chassidut Chabad.

Msichas Shabbat Parshat Tavo, Chai Elul 5730, 5733


http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/91891/jewish/Savo.htm pp. 244-247
Gutnick Chumash pp. 245-247
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