Vol 28.16 - Gimel Tammuz     Spanish French Audio  Video

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The self-sacrifice of the Rebbe Rayatz in not travelling to the city of detention on Shabbat Kodesh
and that he remained in prison;
The hint to this self-sacrifice in Parshat Chukat



1. Gimmel Tammuz, the day that the Rebbe Rayatz was freed from prison, occurs (in many years) close to Parshat Chukat (sometimes in the week of Parshat Chukat and sometimes in the days following Parshat Chukat, which are blessed from it).

And as is known from the saying of the Shaloh (Rabbi Isaiah Halevi Horowitz) that all the holidays of the year – also including the holidays that are Rabbinic – are alluded to in the Parshiot of the Torah which are read in the Shabbat of the week that they occur – it is understood that there is a hint in Parshat Chukat concerning the redemption of Gimmel Tammuz.

2. In the Geulah of the Rebbe there were two (general) steps:

  • He was freed on Gimmel Tammuz from prison. However, they decreed that he be sent into exile for three years.
  • And only afterwards, on Yud-Beis, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz was he completely freed, even from the exile and was allowed to return to his home.

It comes out that Gimmel Tammuz was the beginning of the Geulah and Yud-Beis Tammuz was the completeness of the Geulah.

And because of this there is a virtue in Gimmel Tammuz versus that of Yud-Beis, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.

Although the holiday of the Geulah was specifically established on Yud-Beis, Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, this was because the aspect of a “Chag/holiday” (and open happiness) is established when the Geulah is complete.

(This is similar to the HaGomel blessing which the Rebbe recited only after the Geulah of Yud-Beis Tammuz , since one cannot recite a blessing until “he until he has completely gone out of danger .. until he has returned to complete health”).

However, in the essential aspect of the Geulah there is a virtue in the beginning of the Geulah versus the completeness of the Geulah. Since

(In addition to that which in the beginning, there is a virtue of breaking through the difficulty of “all beginnings are hard” (כל התחלות קשות), since then)

in the beginning of the Geulah there is accomplished the change (and so much so - to the overturning) of the condition of Galut (exiled) to Geulah.

(And especially in our case, where the change of condition that was plainly accomplished through the Geulah of Gimmel Tammuz –

The freeing from prison (and especially in the circumstances (אומשטענדן) of that country in those days) and reverting (even) to a condition of exile in a distant city –

was (in many details) greater than the change and difference from being in exile and then going out free to his home. (And especially since even when he was afterward in his home, he was under the “watch” (השגחה) of that government).

It is known that the entire thing is included in its beginning. This is like we see in the aspect of a Roshei Teivot (mnemonic) – an aspect that is according to Torah and also in the Torah: The first letter of a word alludes to the entire word, for example.

Similarly is it in our case:

The entire Geulah of the Rebbe is alluded to and “included” (כלול) in the beginning of the Geulah of Gimmel Tammuz.

3. The general topic of the imprisonment and the Geulah of the Rebbe is connected with the Avodah of spreading Torah and the strengthening of Judaism, and their dissemination in that country. And as is known, the Avodah in those days demanded actual Mesirat Nefesh.


As has been spoken of many times, this was not just a plain Mesirat Nefesh, but a Mesirat Nefesh without limitations and calculations. For if one allowed a calculation whether there are outlooks (אויסזיכטן), according to nature, to succeed in the Avodah (and so forth), there would have been no room to continue with the work. And certainly not to incur Mesirat Nefesh for this (and most certainly (ומכ״ש וק״ו) not to place (איינשטעלן) his students and emissary’s lives in danger for this Avodah).

And this manner of Mesirat Nefesh without any calculations, was visibly seen in the Rebbe, in his aforementioned conduct in general, and especially with regard to his Geulah on Gimmel Tammuz. So much so that the actual “date” (תאריך) of Gimmel Tammuz (in connection to the Geulah) depicts his Mesirat Nefesh, as will be discussed.

And one could say that reason that the Geulah of Gimmel Tammuz was connected with this level of Mesirat Nefesh - without any limitations of “calculation” – was because in the beginning of the Geulah, the general topic of the imprisonment and the Geulah, had to be emphasized.

4. The Rebbe, the Baal HaGeulah and simcha, tells that Thursday morning, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz they told him of the news that they are freeing him from prison and are sending him into exile for three years, in the city of Kostroma. In the meantime they let him know that in the afternoon they would free him from imprisonment. They allowed him to spend six hours with his family, and told him that in the evening, he would have to leave the city and travel to Kostrama.

Since this was Thursday, the Previous Rebbe inquired: “When will I arrive in Kostrama?” They said: “You will arrive there on Shabbat” he was told. The Rebbe firmly declared that he would not travel on Shabbat, under any condition. After a special effort in the circles of the government, they accomplished that the Rebbe should be allowed to travel on Sunday, Gimmel Tammuz (and until then he remained in prison (טורמע)).

One of those that actually conspired to arrest the Rebbe furiously told him that if he did not agree to travel on Thursday night and arrive in Kostrama on Shabbat that he would not be released from prison (at all)! The Rebbe answered that he is prepared to stay in prison, however long it be, but that he would not travel on Shabbat under any condition!

5. Such a conduct, to stand with such steadfast resolve, not to travel on Shabbat, requires explanation:

By stating that he would not follow the order (באפעל) to immediately travel to Kostroma (when they had already prepared to free him from prison) and that he would remain in prison – the Rebbe immediately placed himself in a condition of certain danger:

From the very onset, a death (the opposite of life) penalty was placed upon him, G-d forbid. Yet through great effort, they nullified the decree and switched it for the lighter sentence and punishment of (ten years, and then) three years of exile. And even after this, those who had initially given the first aforementioned verdict, did not change their minds. They were compelled (געצוואונגע) (from a higher government circle), while remaining in their position and in their power to, nevertheless nullify this detail (ruling/ אורטייל) and free the Rebbe from prison. Therefore it is understood, that in this context, his remaining under their domain in prison, was an actual life-threatening danger (סכנת נפשות ממש).

And especially that this itself, namely that the Rebbe refused to travel on Shabbat, evoked within them a great and additional anger. It was a rebellion against their command, publicizing in their prison, the keeping of Shabbat. And such a great publicizing (to the guards and inmates), that they could not carry out their scheme to cause that the Rebbe should travel on Shabbat.

On the other hand, since leaving the prison had to be Thursday day, the aspect of desecrating Shabbat (חילול שבת) was

  1. Not in that time, at all. And
  2. Just in the realm of doubt – and many doubts.

For, after the release on Thursday, there was still a great possibility of intervention and in the conduct of the Rebbe – that he would not need to immediately travel when it became night. And even if they could not have immediately known how to accomplish this, there was an entire day (of travelling) until the arrival of Shabbat. And in that time there was the possibility of further great intervention that he be allowed to stopover in the middle of the way until after Shabbat.

(And even if he was compelled (געצוואונגען) to remain in the train car (באן־וואגאן) on Shabbat – it is an unavoidable circumstance (Onais) and just a Rabbinic prohibition – the prohibition of Techum.

(Note: Techum Shabbat is the prohibition of walking 2000 Amot beyond one's immediate 4 Amot area on Shabbat, in an uninhabited area).

For finding oneself in a (moving) train is not the performance of a Melacha of Shabbat).

Therefore it is seemingly, extremely puzzling:

Why did the Rebbe steadfastly stand against travelling and thereby placing himself in a dangerous condition?

Seemingly, the first thing would have been to immediately remove himself from (the danger of) the prison, and then later, seek ways to avoid travelling on Shabbat?

6. Such a conduct of Mesirat Nefesh was seen by the Rebbe in the entire approach to the Avodah of spreading Torah and strengthening Yiddishkeit in that country. As has been spoken of many times, the Rebbe’s Mesirat Nefesh encompassed (not just aspects of which one is required to have Mesirat Nefesh, but) also aspects that are in the realm of “the matter is in your hand” (הרשות בידו).


As has been spoken about at length, his Mesirat Nefesh was also on such aspects that many great and wise Jewish Sages held that one must not have Mesirat Nefesh for.

When one speaks of the general Avodah of the Rebbe in that country, one can begin to understand why his conduct was in this manner. For since the condition of the Yidden in that country was such that the very existence of Yidden and Judaism stood in great danger - that the light of Yisroel not be extinguished, G-d forbid. And knowing his mission as a leader of the Jewish people, who must concern (זארגן) himself with the existence of the Jewish people – the Rebbe, in his Mesirat Nefesh for Yidden, did not concern himself with any calculations or boundaries.

In our case however, since it is speaking of something that does not affect, at least, the “good” of the public and community, but just regarding a question (seemingly) that concerns the conduct in a particular manner – namely whether he should travel at that time to Kostroma, or not- why did the Rebbe stand with such Mesirat Nefesh, even in this case?

And on the contrary: through this conduct, he placed his entire work of disseminating of Torah and strengthening of Judaism in danger!

7. One could say that the explanation of this is:

The gist of this issue is not that it entailed whether one should or should not have Mesirat Nefesh for Shabbat, but rather the issue entailed a question of sanctifying G-d’s name (Kiddush HaShem) or desecrating G-d’s name (Chillul HaShem):

The goal of those who arrested the Rebbe was in order to stifle the work of the Rebbe in strengthening Judaism. If it would have been that the Rebbe did not immediately oppose (קעגנגעשטעלט) the command to immediately travel after his release, like their desire (that the Rebbe should travel on Shabbat) – it would have been a victory for them. The Rebbe “agreed” to travel on Shabbat.

All those who heard of this agreement – would not have known, all the aforementioned accountings (involving quietly trying and certainly being successful to accomplish that the Rebbe would not need to travel on Shabbat).

(And as has been spoken of many times, that when one speaks of Kiddush HaShem, and Chillul HaShem, it does not matter that the thing that is spoken of, is connected with the severest or lightest prohibition – one is only concerned whether the people around, are bound to interpret this in an opposite manner).

8. And this is also the connection of Gimmel Tammuz to Parshat Chukat:

In Parshat Chukat, it tells of the sin of the “waters of strife” (מי מריבה), because of which Moshe and Aharon were punished that “therefore, you will not bring this congregation into the land etc.“.

This is seemingly not understood:

Why was the sin so harsh, because of which Moshe was not able to enter Eretz Yisroel?

And especially since the Torah tells of other aspect concerning Moshe, that he was punished for – yet nevertheless, he was not punished with such a harsh punishment. However, specifically this sin – the change to strike the rock as opposed to speaking to it – brought the severe decree of not being allowed to enter Eretz Yisroel?!

However, the reason for this is emphasized in the verse: “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the presence of Bnei Yisroel“ and as Rashi explains, that the reason why this sin is more severe than Moshe’s claim of “Will sheep and cattle be slaughtered for them” – that there it is because “since he said it privately, Scripture spared him and did not punish him; yet here, it was in front of all Yisroel e was public---Scripture, therefore, did not spare him because of the Sanctification of His Name”.

This means that when it speaks of an aspect of Kiddush HaShem or the opposite, the only concern is how others will interpret this.

9. One could say a deeper aspect in this:

The manner of the aforementioned conduct of the Rebbe – in which he opposed the order of those who had arrested him – was not just when it (visibly) affected an aspect of Yiddishkeit. But rather it is like the Rebbe told us – namely that he had made a firm resolution, that he would entirely not be affected (נתפעל) by them. He would not deal with them, not just in matters that (visibly) concerned the fear of Heaven.

And because of this conduct, they punished (באשטראפט) him with physical afflictions, G-d forbid. They beat him etc.

In such conduct, the aforementioned calculations of Kiddush HaShem or whether it will disturb the work of spreading Torah, are not applicable. Therefore what is the reason for this manner of conduct of the Rebbe?

Also the explanation of this conduct is alluded to in Parshat Chukat, immediately in the name of the Sidra: “Chukat”:

10. The Alter Rebbe explains that “Chukat” is from the word “to engrave” (חקיקה).

The advantage of engraving versus writing is:

  • With writing, the letters are an additional thing to the parchment, on which they are written. Through writing, the letters are indeed united with the parchment. However it is in a manner of two things becoming united. Therefore there can be a change, so much so that it can be nullified – one can remove (erase) the letters from the parchment.
  • Whereas with engraving, the letters are not a separate entity from the material on which they are engraved. But rather they are one with it (מיני׳ ובי׳). They are a part of the entity of the (precious) stone on which they are engraved. Therefore it is impossible to remove the letters from the stone – for by removing the letters, one removes the (precious) stone.

The same thing is in spirituality. When the Avodat HaShem is just an additional thing to the person’s being, it is possible to have changes in it. There can be a condition where one does not fulfill an aspect of Avodat HaShem (for whatever reason, also including when one is an Onais). And his being, is not “affected” (אנגערירט) by this.

However, when one’s Avodat HaShem is engraved in his being – meaning that the Avodat HaShem is a part of the person himself – then it is not applicable to separate him from his Avodat HaShem. Taking from him an aspect of Avodat HaShem means taking (affecting) his being (similar to one who wants to alter the form of the letters in the precious stone, where he must break the precious stone).

Therefore, regarding a Yid, whose Avodat HaShem is carved in his soul, he will have Mesirat Nefesh on each and every detail of Yiddishkeit, without calculation, since it is impossible to distinguish between him (פאנאנדערטיילן) and any aspect that concerns Avodat HaShem.

11. Similarly, this was the conduct of the Rebbe:

Since the aspects of Torah and Mitzvot were by him in a manner of engraving, therefore his Mesirat Nefesh was not connected with any calculations (whether in the case of Halacha, one needed to have Mesirat Nefesh, or whether it depends etc., and so forth).

His Mesirat Nefesh was not due to another reason (outside of him), in which it is applicable to have a calculation whether one should have Mesirat Nefesh. But rather this came about as if automatically. Since Avodat HaShem was a part of his actual being, so much so that it was impossible to distinguish between them, therefore all aspects of Avodat HaShem were for him automatic, even to the point of Mesirat Nefesh.

And for this reason, his Mesirat Nefesh was not just on things that visibly affected his Avodah, but rather he had Mesirat Nefesh not to be “subjugated” (נכנע) (from those that arrested him) in whatever manner.

His not dealing with them was not just an aspect of calculation etc.. But rather he, essentially, could not be subdued in any manner – for those that impeded the work of spreading Torah etc. since this Avodah was, for him, a manner of “Chukat”, engraved within it entirely.

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Chukat 5741, 5743




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