Vol 35.15 - Toledot 1                        Spanish French Audio  Video

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Midbar Kedemot        Sefer Chasidim    


(5752) Explanation of the words of R' Yehuda HaChasid (cited in the beginning of Midbar Kedemot of the Chida ( Chaim Yosef David Azulai)) that for fifteen years the patriarchs learned Torah together fifteen hours every day.

and in Sefer Chasidim (165) that they toiled in Avodat HaShem twenty-four hours a day.

The connection betwen the Chida that they learned Torah together fifteen hours every day and they occupied nine hours in Tefilah. The similarity of this gathering with the three fathers of Chassidut - The Baal Shem Tov, the Rav HaMagid of Mezeritch and the Alter Rebbe  



1. The Chidah (R’ Chaim Yosef David Azulai 5484-5566 (1724-1806) in the sefer Midbar Kedemot writes (in the name of R’ Yehuda HaChasid) that:

“The Patriarchs of the world, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov saw each other, and for fifteen years they studied Torah (together) each day and each night for fifteen hours (a day). And (it states) ‘fifteen years (old) for Talmud’”. (In addition, he mentions many aspects that have the number fifteen).

The Chidah explains there the (specific) number “fifteen hours“. For

“There are nine hours for sleeping and eating and to perform one’s needs, and fifteen (hours) for Torah and prayer”.

And he cites a hint to this in the verse

“Let every soul praise G-d” (כל הנשמה תהלל י״ה). Namely, that a person should learn and pray. . (as it states) “praise G-d“ in the fifteen hours”. (The first two letters of G-d’s Name Yud-Hei having the numerical value fifteen).

In the Sefer Chasidim, it states:

“Why did G-d love the Avot, because every day and each night their hearts were not free from thinking about the needs of Heaven (חפצי שמים) . . (as it states) “Yaakov awoke from his sleep“ and the Sages state that “Yaakov awoke from his sleep“ (means that even during sleep, he was occupied and studied Torah). There are Twenty–four verses where ‘Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov’ are mentioned in one verse, in their correct order . . for they spent the entire twenty–four hours at one task (בסדר אחד - in one order). For they did not have respite from the needs of Heaven even in a dream”.

The Chidah explains in his commentary to Sefer Chasidim there, that according to this, it is impossible to say that the reason that R’ Yehuda HaChasid states that “They studied Torah (just) fifteen hours“ is because that for the other nine hours they were occupied with physical needs (as it states in the Midbar Kedemot there) for:

“The Rabbi himself states that all twenty–four hours, they occupied themselves with the needs of Heaven, even while dreaming”.

The Chidah continues:

However, “it means that for fifteen hours they studied Torah and nine hours they directed their hearts to the Omnipresent, to contemplate His Awe and Greatness and His Love and Connection” (in other words the occupation of prayer, as the Sages state that the early Chassidim would occupy themselves with prayer and its meditation nine hours a day”).

One could add:

This explanation (namely, that the number “fifteen hours” refers just to Torah study) is seemingly necessary according to R’ Yehuda HaChasid’s words themselves (that the Chidah cites)

For he writes:

“For fifteen years they studied Torah . . fifteen hours (a day). And (it states) ‘fifteen years (old) for Talmud’”.

 From this, it appears that the hours of the Avodah of prayer are not in this calculation.

One must understand:

From this that the Avot “saw each other“ just fifteen years, as R’ Yehuda HaChasid writes that “For fifteen years they studied . fifteen hours a day“

(For the birth of Yitzchak was when Avraham was 100 years old, and Yaakov was born when Yitzchak was sixty years old. For then Avraham was 160 years old. And since Avraham’s lifetime was 175 years, therefore the Avot lived together for just fifteen years (at the end of Avraham’s life).

Therfore, is understood that there is a special quality to these fifteen hours that they studied Torah together (corresponding to the fifteen years that they saw each other) as opposed to the other hours of the day.

According to the explanation of the Chidah in Midbar Kedemot, that the fifteen hours were hours of Torah and prayer and the remaining nine hours were for personal needs, it is understood the virtue of these fifteen hours. For even though it is simple that even the physical needs of the Avot were conducted for the sake of Heaven, with the epitome of completeness

(As the Alter Rebbe states in Tanya that “The Avot . . throughout their lives, they did not cease even momentarily from binding their mind and soul to the Master of the universe”. And in another place he delineates and explains that they were “the level of the Merkava ( a vehicle for G-dliness) in all their deeds even while they were asleep“. Nevertheless, this does not compare to the virtue of Torah study and prayer itself.

However, according to his explanation in Sefer Chasidim, namely that the remaining nine hours was a time for the occupation of prayer, it is not understood. Why should he change and write here fifteen hours of Torah study from the nine hours of prayer. So much so that therefore “they saw each other“ just fifteen years (like the number fifteen hours of the day and night that they studied Torah together)?

2. One could say that the explanation of this is, (according to Chassidut) is:

It is known, that the three Avot Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov correspond to the three pillars upon which the world stands: Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Chassadim.

The main Avodah of Avraham was Gemilut Chassadim, Yitzchak - Avodah (like the Sages state that Yitzchak was a “a perfect sacrifice“) and Yaakov‘s aspect was Torah as it states “Yaakov was a man without fault, living in tents (of Torah) “.

So too, they were different in the Avodah of Middot:

  • Avraham’s characteristic is the Midah of Chesed and love
  • The Midah of Yitzchak – is Gevurah and fear
  • And Yaakov – is Tifferet and mercy

According to this, the Avot “seeing each other” and being together for fifteen years, depicts the joining (חיבור) of all of them together. For although each one of these three manners of Avodah is different from the other, the three Avot joined together to serve G-d. For this was not just a physical joining, but a joining of the manners of Avodah together.

Therefore, their joining just concerned Torah study. For this joining of the three different Avodah’s together, is just in the level of Torah study, as the aspects and the Avodah’s are in the level of Torah. For in Torah “both of them are words of the living G-d”. Whereas in actual Avodah, the Avodah of Middot, and certainly and how much more so, in actual deed, it is impossible that there be equality in all categories and manners of these services.

This is also the reason for the difference.

  • For the Torah study of the Avot together for fifteen hours each day, comes into expression in the physical lives of the Avot, namely, that they lived together fifteen years.
  • Whereas, their service of G-d for all the twenty–four hours of the day is alluded to in the “twenty–four verses where ‘Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov’ are mentioned in one verse, in their correct order“.

For the aspect of joining (the Avodah) of the three Avot together in the level of Torah study was, in actuality.

Whereas the joining together in their Avodat HaShem during the twenty–four hours of the day, was just as it is in the Torah

(“twenty–four verses where ‘Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov’ are mentioned in one verse, in their correct order“).

However, in actual deed, in their service to G-d, in the twenty–four hours of the day, the Avodah of one of them was not similar to the other etc.

3. The reasoning of the matter is:

Torah, even as it is given below, in this world, is G-d’s Wisdom as it is Above. Therefore, just as with regard to G-d, all the Middot dwell together in complete unity, for all of them are a part of the revelation of G-d’s completeness, as it states: “He includes them together”. Similarly, it is so with regard to G-d’s Torah. There is no contradiction between all the categories of Avodah. For G-d’s wisdom demands them all (מחייבת את כולם) (“both of them are words of the Living G-d”). Whereas in actual deed, from man’s perspective, where each person is a being, any different Avodah (and Midah) opposes the other. Therefore, there is a contradiction between the types of Avodah.

The same applies to the person himself. In the intellect of a person, there is not so much division as it is with the Middot of the heart. As we see, it is hard for a person to feel closeness (love) and distance (fear) of a thing at the same time. Whereas with intellect, it is possible that one person could think, at one time, opposing theories regarding one matter, both obligatory reasons as well as meritorious reasons.

The same is in Avodah. When a person is occupied with the understanding of the different types of Avodah, it is possible he can “accept” (מונח) intellectually, the understanding of these total opposing Avodah’s. Yet, when it comes to deed, he is limited specifically to one path.

More sublimely:

It is known that intellect is called “Ayin” (nothing) compared to Middot which are “Yesh” (something). This is because the aspect of intellect is – the grasping and comprehension of the thought as it truly is, without the intermingling of the being and condition of the person who is doing the thinking. Whereas the essence of the aspect of Middot is the opposite – the relation to the thing that is external to him. In other words, the effect of the thing on the person who feels it, whether to draw near to it (love) or to distance oneself from it (fear).

The same is with regard to Avodat HaShem:

The Avodah of Middot is – the feeling of the person, namely that he loves G-d because “G-d's nearness is my good“. Therefore, he wants to draw near to Him (and similarly to fear Him, and so forth).

Whereas the Avodah of intellect is that which one “goes out” (יוצא) from the confines of his being and grasps and contemplates G-d’s wisdom, as it is.

Therefore, in a person’s Middot which are connected with his “being”, the aspect of the difference (ההתחלקות) is strong. Whereas in intellect, where a person thinks according to that which G-d’s wisdom dictates, it impossible to have a joining of all the types of the Avodah together.

4. One could say that the reason that the joining of the Avodah of the three Avot together is just in their Torah study (intellect) is because they lived before Matan Torah. Namely, before the decree between the “upper worlds” (Elyonim) and “lower worlds”  (Tachtonim) as is explained in the Midrash.

For before Matan Torah there was a decree that “The heavens are heavens of the L-rd, but the earth He gave to the children of men“. Namely, that the upper worlds (Elyonim) not descend to the lower worlds (Tachtonim) (עליונים לא ירדו לתתתונים); and conversely that the lower worlds (Tachtonim) not ascend to the upper worlds (Elyonim) (תחתונים לא יעלו לעליונים,). However, at the time of Matan Torah this decree was nullified and the possibility of joining the “upper” and the “lower” was given – joining G-dliness with physical of the world.

Just as there is an aspect of the nullification of the “decree” in the general world, so too it is also with man himself. In addition, this is not just between his soul and his body (the spirituality and the physicality within it) but also in the soul of the person itself.

  • The Avodah of intellect, understanding and comprehension, where the truth shines as it is from G-d’s perspective, is the level of “Elyonim” in the person.
  • The Avodah of Middot, the person’s feeling, that is connected with his being, is the level of “Tachtonim” (in the soul itself).

This is the aspect of the “nullification of the decree” in a person’s soul. Before Matan Torah it was not possible for there to be a true joining between “intellect” and “Middot”. Namely, that the “bitul” that is from the side of Avodah of intellect, should be drawn down and also felt in the person’s Middot.

Only after the nullification of the decree that occurred on Matan Torah was the power given. Namely, that the bitul of intellect,

Because of which it is possible to have the joining and inclusion of opposite Avodah’s (as aforementioned),

should also be drawn down into Middot, in a manner that even in actual Avodah, one is able to serve G-d with all types of Avodah’s

(As it states in the Sifri on the verse “And you shall love the L-rd your G-d“, that love as well as fear is demanded from a person. This is so, even though “you cannot have love in the place of fear and fear in the place of love, except in G-d’s Middot alone” (במדת הקב״ה בלבד).In other words, the person was given the power to join the two opposites of love and fear together. “love in the place of fear and fear in the place of love”).

5. According to this, one can explanation on a deeper level the different between the two explanations of the Chidah

Whether nine hours are hours for performing one’s needs, or that they are hours for Torah and prayer. For they are two manners in Avodat HaAdam, whether it be in their general Avodah (both in the body as well as the soul) or whether it is just in their spiritual Avodah (the Avodah of the soul itself).

  • The first explanation that the nine hours are hours for one’s physical needs, refers to the general Avodah of the Avot. For the reason that the Avodah of the Avot (together) was just fifteen hours a day, was because since it was before Matan Torah, therefore their primary Avodah was just in spirituality and not in physicality (as is explained in many places).

For even though it is simple (as aforementioned) that even their physical needs were performed with the epitome of completeness,

(so much so that it was a type of bitul like a Merkava (chariot)),

nevertheless, this has no comparison to the level of their Avodah due to their spirituality. For their tremendous attachment to G-d, from the side of spirituality, was not able to be visibly and actually drawn down into their physicality. And this is why it states that “they studied Torah each day . . (just) for fifteen hours“.

For according to this explanation, it was Torah and prayer (as aforementioned Par. 1), which was the spiritual Avodah of the Avot “fear and love of the mind and heart“, (and as is known that they are the level of Yud-Hei (fifteen) of G-d’s name).

  • Whereas, according to the second explanation, namely that the remaining nine hours were hours for the Avodah of prayer, this refers to the spiritual Avodah itself of the Avot. In other words that the difference between Upper and Lower is “mind” and “heart” - Torah and prayer, and the joining of all the Avot together was just in the level of intellect and not in Middot of the heart, as aforementioned at length.

6. Parshat Toldot

(Where it speaks of the beginning of Yaakov’s life, which is the time where Avot “saw each other”),

occurs in the beginning of the month of Kislev or in Shabbat Mevarchim of the month of Kislev – the month that is (especially) related to the revelation of the Torat HaChassidut.

As is known, the month of Sivan, the ‘third month’ of the summer months is the time for the revelation of the revealed Torah (niglah) and the month of Kislev, the ‘third month’ of the winter months is related to the revelation of Torat HaChassidut.

(So much so, that in this month there are many special days in the history of Chassidut.

  • The Hilulah of the Maggid (Yud-Tes Kislev),
  • The Chag HaGeulah of the Alter Rebbe (Yud-Tes Kislev) and the Mitteler Rebbe (Yud Kislev).
  • The birthday and Hilulah of the Mitteler Rebbe (Tes Kislev) and others.

In addition, there are the days of Chanukah at the end of the month, which also have a connection to Pnimiyut HaTorah. For the primary miracle of Chanukah was the cruse of oil, and “oil” in Torah are the sublime secrets (רזי רזין דאורייתא) of Torah).

We see a wondrous thing here:

For just as the Avot of the world, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov were together in this world for fifteen years – so too is it with the “Avot of Chassidut”, the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid and the Alter Rebbe. They were in this world together for fifteen years (for the Alter Rebbe was born in the year 5505 (1745) (Kehot) and the Histalkus of the Baal Shem Tov was in the year 5520 (1760).

In addition, there is another wonder:

It was mentioned previously that in the Avot were two aspects – the fifteen hours that they studied Torah (which is alluded to in the fifteen years that they saw each other). In addition, that they served G-d all twenty–four hours of the day (which is alluded to in the “Twenty–four verses where (it states that) ‘Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov’ are mentioned in one verse, in their correct order“.

We find this similarly with the “Avot of Chassidut“. For the Avot of general Chassidut (חסידות הכללית) were together in this world fifteen years (as aforementioned). Whereas the “Avot” of Torat Chassidut Chabad - the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek were together in this world for twenty–four years. (For the Tzemach Tzedek was born in the year 5549 (1789) and the Histalkus of the Alter Rebbe was in the year 5573 (1812))

According to what was said with regard to the aspect of the Avodah of the Avot (before Matan Torah), one can explain the essence of the matter, by prefacing the words of the Rebbe Rashab in his explanation to the order of the revelation of Torat HaChassidut:

For just as before Matan Torah there had to be the prefacing of the Avodah of the Avot, in spiritual Avodah.

However,“nevertheless, this is not the actual drawing down of Torah .. and afterward the Torah was given at Matan Torah, enclothed (בהתלבשות). With this was drawn down the level of Atzmut .. the Torah which was enclothed in aspects below had Atzmut drawn down into them”.

So too is it with regard to the revelation of Torat HaChassidut. For the beginning was the

“Revelation of the Baal Shem Tov (and the Maggid) . . the revelation of Pnimiyut HaTorah . . which was not in a manner of enclothment .. and the world was not able to receive it, and it was a lofty Avodah and very high. However this is not the revelation of the essence of Pnimiyut HaTorah, for this came through the Alter Rebbe, enclothed in intellect and with this the level of G-d’s Essence was drawn down.”

This matter is explained in many places. For this was the main innovation of Torat HaChassidut Chabad, namely that through explaining the aspects of Torat HaChassidut in (the style) of Torat HaChassidut Chabad, in a manner where they are comprehended in the person’s intellect and understanding. Through this, the light of Chassidut is drawn down into his Pnimiyut, by refining and polishing his animalistic soul and his portion in the world. So much so, that it permeates all of his aspects, even his physical dealings (similar to the innovation of Matan Torah – the joining of Upper and Lower).

This is alluded to in that which the Avot of general Chassidut were together fifteen years, whereas the Avot of Chassidut Chabad were together twenty–four years.

General Torat HaChassidut (תורת החסידות הכללית), which is the “revelation not in a manner of enclothment“ namely in a transcendental level (Makif) is mainly a spiritual Avodah (similar to the Avodah of the Avot before Matan Torah) -“fear and love of the mind and heart”, the level of Yud-Hei (fifteen) of the soul.

Whereas through Chassidut Chabad, the light of Chassidut was drawn down into all the parts of the person (like the saying of the Rebbe Rayatz that even the heel of the foot is a “Chassidishe heel” (א חסידישע פיאטע). So much so that it permeates all of his dealings, even his physical matters (as aforementioned). Through this, the power was given to live a Chassidishe life (לחיות חיי חסידות) for the course of all the twenty–four hours of the day, so much so that even during sleep, it was recognizable that “a chosid is sleeping” (אז עס שלאפט א חסיד).

The same is with regard to the general “stature” (ציור קומה) of the Klal Yisroel during all the generations. For through Torat Chassidut Chabad, the power was drawn down, that the light of Chassidut should permeate even the darkness of the generation of the heels of Moshiach (עקבתא דמשיחא), the level of the feet and heels, specifically.

Though this we merit the “In the future, as a consequence (Eikev) of your heeding. .that the L-rd, your G-d, will keep for you the covenant“ (והי׳ עקב תשמעון).

(Note: the word Eikev/consequence also means heel in Hebrew)

For when even the “heel” of the generation of the heels of Moshiach (עקבתא דמשיחא) possesses the “heeding“– G-d fulfills the “the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers“– the true and complete Geulah through our righteous Moshiach, immediately and now mamosh.

MSichas Yud-Tes Kislev 5722

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