Rosh Hashanah, Chai Elul preparation begins with depth & :) Lchaim!

Shana tova u’mesuka Make it sweet for others too thanks 🙂 Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, is a month devoted to stocktaking and introspection. A Chassidic tradition holds that the last twelve days of the year — Elul 18 to 29 — are specifically devoted to the twelve months of the closing year: on each of these twelve days, one should review the deeds and achievements of its corresponding month.  Chai Elul Chiusdik  🙂 Hachanaos! (Tonight begins the 12 day preparations , lift your self up and say Lchaim)!

Rosh Hashanah

 Editor’s Note:

Dear friends,

What’s with that $18 check you got from your aunt for your birthday? Why do Jews love the number 18?

Each Hebrew letter stands for a number, and the word for “life” (chai) is spelledchet-yud, which are 8 and 10. Thus 18 is the number of life.

Hold on to that idea for a minute.

There are twelve months in a year, and the twelfth and final one, Elul, is used for taking stock of the outgoing year, casting out what doesn’t work and improving what does.

Now, let’s go back to the previous concept. If 18 is life, and Elul is about self-improvement, then what is the 18th day of Elul? It’s the day that infuses life into the task of self-improvement.

It is no coincidence that the 18th of Elul is the birth date (47 years apart) of the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, in 1698, and of the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, in 1745. These two fathers of the Chassidic movement taught us that self-improvement isn’t a schlep. It is what life is all about.

Enjoy Elul!

Rabbi Shais Taub,
on behalf of the Editorial Team

 Dedicate an email
Elul 16, 5772 · September 3, 2012
Today’s Tanya Lesson
Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 14

וזהו שכתוב: תמיד עיני ה׳ אלקיך בה

And this is the meaning of the above-quoted verse, “Forever are the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d upon it,”

שהעינים הם כינוים להמשכת והארת אור החכמה

for “eyes” is an epithet for the efflux and radiation of the light ofChochmah,

שלכן נקראו חכמים: עיני העדה

for which reason sages are referred to as1 “the eyes of the congregation,” for they are illumined by the light of Chochmah which is known by the epithet “eyes”.

ואוירא דארץ ישראל מחכים

And [this, too, is the meaning of the teaching],2 “The atmosphere of the Land of Israel makes one wise” — for the Land of Israel, too, is illumined byChochmah.

As was stated above, “Forever are the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d upon it” refers to a constant illumination by Chochmah.

והארה והמשכה זו, אף שהיא תמידית

Now, this radiation and efflux, though it is continuous,

אף על פי כן אינה בבחינה ומדריגה אחת לבדה מימי עולם

nevertheless, it is not only on one and the same plane and level since the beginning of the world.

אלא שבכל שנה ושנה הוא אור חדש עליון

Rather, every year there is a new and superior light,

כי האור שנתחדש והאיר בראש השנה זה, מסתלק בערב ראש השנה הבאה, לשרשו

because the light which was generated and which shone on this Rosh HaShanah withdraws to its source on the eve of the next Rosh HaShanah.

וזהו שכתוב: מרשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה לבדה

This enables us to understand the verse that says that “the eyes of G‑d” are upon the Land “from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” only.

The verse does not state that they are there “everlastingly”, for the efflux that descends on Rosh HaShanah lasts only to the end of the year, at which time it withdraws and makes way for the descent of a new and more sublime light.

ולכן כתיב: מרשית, חסר א׳

And that is why meireishit (“from the beginning”) is written without analef:

רומז על הסתלקות האור

it alludes to the withdrawal of the light, signified by the alef,3

שמסתלק בליל ראש השנה

which withdraws on the night of Rosh HaShanah

At that time the innermost element of the world’s vitality is in a state of withdrawal due to the “ascent of Malchut”; i.e., the innermost core of Malchut is then in a state of elevation and withdrawal,

עד אחר התקיעות

until after the sounding of the Shofar,

שיורד אור חדש, עליון יותר, שלא היה מאיר עדיין מימי עולם

when there descends a new and more sublime light that has never yet shone since the beginning of the world.

והוא מתלבש ומסתתר בארץ החיים שלמעלה ושלמטה

It vests itself and conceals itself in the Eretz HaChayim which is above —i.e., in Malchut of Atzilut, the source of all worlds and created beings — and in theEretz HaChayim which is below, in the Land of Israel,

For the light that animates this world first passes through the Holy Land, and from there it is diffused throughout the world at large.

להחיות את כל העולמות כל משך שנה זו

in order to animate all the worlds for the duration of that year.

אך גילויו מההסתר הזה

Its manifestation, however,

For the light became concealed in the Eretz HaChayim above and below, so that its further descent and the revelation of its creative life-force to the world and to all its created beings:

תלוי במעשה התחתונים, וזכותם ותשובתם בעשרת ימי תשובה

depends on the actions of those below, and on their merits and penitence during the Ten Days of Penitence.

ודי למבין

This will suffice for the initiated.

In summary: The Divine light issuing from the Sefirah of Chochmah in the World ofAtzilut that radiates within the Land of Israel throughout the year, increases yearly both in quantity and in quality. Similarly, the tzedakah given for the Holy Land should be increased every year both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The conclusion of the above letter makes it clear that this mortal initiative makes an impact on the revelation of this light: the ever-increasing revelation of the light that descends in a concealed form is dependent on the ever-increasing contributions oftzedakah given for the Land of Israel.

1. See Bamidbar 15:24; Taanit 24a.
2. Bava Batra 158b.
3. Cf. Zohar II, 34a; ibid., 123a.
Elul 15, 5772 · September 2, 2012
Today’s Tanya Lesson
Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 14

Many of the letters that together constitute Iggeret HaKodesh were written in order to rouse Jewry to contribute generously to tzedakah in general and in particular for the Holy Land. More specifically, the Alter Rebbe strongly encouraged the support of Rabbi Mendele Horodoker and Rabbi Avraham Kalisker and their followers, who had settled there, through the Kollel Chabad Fund that he had founded.

In the present letter the Alter Rebbe places singular emphasis on the merit oftzedakah for the Holy Land. Every year, he declares, it should be given with more vitality and in greater volume, thus echoing the rhythm of the annually-renewed life-force that emanates from On High to the Holy Land, as he explains in this letter.

The Alter Rebbe begins here by stating that his purpose is “to arouse the old love and fondness for our Holy Land….” It would seem that “the old love” refers to the ardent enthusiasm which his chassidim had originally felt for the fund when it was freshly founded, and which had faded somewhat with the passage of years. It was this “old love” that the Alter Rebbe sought here to reawaken.

לעורר את האהבה הישנה וחבת ארץ הקודש

[This letter is written] to arouse the old love and fondness for the Holy Land,

להיות בוערת כרשפי אש מקרב איש ולב עמוק

so that it burn like fiery flames from the inwardness of man and from the depths of his heart,

כאלו היום ממש נתן ה׳ רוחו עלינו, רוח נדיבה

as if this very day G‑d had set His spirit upon us, a spirit of generosity,

בהתנדב עם למלאות ידם לה׳, ביד מלאה ורחבה

so that people volunteer to consecrate themselves to G‑d with a full and generous hand,

בריבוי אחר ריבוי, מדי שנה בשנה

with one increase after another, from year to year,

הולך ועולה למעלה ראש

continually rising and excelling themselves,

כמדת קדש העליון

in keeping with the measure of [the level of Divinity called] Kodesh HaElyon (“Supreme Holiness”), another name for the attribute of Chochmah,

המאיר לארץ הקודש, המתחדש ומתרבה תמיד

which radiates to the Holy Land and is constantly renewed (qualitatively)and increased (quantitatively),

כדכתיב: תמיד עיני ה׳ אלקיך בה, מרשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה

as it is written,1 “Forever are the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d upon it (i.e., upon the Land of Israel), from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”

As the Alter Rebbe will soon say, the term “eyes” alludes to the Divine attribute ofChochmah, or Kodesh HaElyon, which irradiates the Land of Israel constantly, from the beginning of the year to its end.

In order to explain how we derive from this verse that the level of Chochmah that radiates to the Holy Land is constantly renewed and increased, the Alter Rebbe first raises the following query:

דהאי ועד אחרית גו׳ אינו מובן לכאורה

Now, this phrase “to the end…” appears to be problematic,

שהרי באחרית שנה זו, מתחלת שנה שניה

for at the end of one year begins another year.

ואם כן, הוה ליה למימר: לעולם ועד

Thus it should surely have said [that the eyes of G‑d are upon the Land of Israel] “everlastingly”.

אך הענין יובן על פי מה שכתוב: ה׳ בחכמה יסד ארץ

However, this matter will be understood by considering the verse,2 “G‑d by Chochmah established the earth.”

שיסוד הארץ העליונה, היא בחינת ממלא כל עלמין

That is, the foundation of Eretz HaElyonah (lit., “the Higher Earth” or “the Higher Land”; i.e., the heavenly model of the terrestial Holy Land), which is the mode of [creative Divine influence which is immanent and therefore called]memaleh kol almin (lit., “filling all worlds”),

This refers to the Sefirah of Malchut of the World of Atzilut, called “land” for it is the last and (so to speak) lowest of the Supernal Sefirot, and it vests itself in created worlds and beings so as to vitalize them.

והתחתונה, היא ארץ חפץ, המכוונת כנגדה ממש

and [likewise the foundation] of the nether [land], which is [the Land of Israel which is known as] Eretz Chefetz (“the land of [G‑d’s] desire”), which truly corresponds to it[s heavenly counterpart], viz., Eretz HaElyonah,

ונקראת על שמה: ארץ החיים

and is called by its name, Eretz HaChayim (“the land of life”), —

הנה הוא נמשך מהמשכת והארת חכמה עילאה, מקור החיים העליונים

[the foundation, then, of the higher and the lower lands] issues from the downward flow and radiation from the Supreme Chochmah which is the source of Supernal life;

כדכתיב: החכמה תחיה בעליה וגו׳

as it is written,3 “Chochmah animates those who possess it….”

“G‑d by Chochmah established the earth” thus means, that the Sefirah ofChochmah diffuses its creative light upon Eretz HaElyonah (“the Higher Land,” i.e.,Malchut of Atzilut), as well as upon its terrestial counterpart, the Land of Israel.

והארה והמשכה זו, היא מתחדשת באור חדש ממש בכל שנה ושנה

This radiation and efflux from Supreme Chochmah, that irradiates the “land” at both these levels, is renewed annually by a truly new light.

כי הוא יתברך וחכמתו אחד בתכלית היחוד

For G‑d (blessed be He) and His Chochmah are one, in an absolute unity

ונקרא בשם אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

which is called “the [infinite] Ein Sof-light,”

שאין סוף ואין קץ למעלת וגדולת האור והחיות הנמשך ממנו יתברך ומחכמתו

because there is no limit nor end to the quality and greatness of the light and vitality that issues forth from Him and from His Chochmah,

בעילוי אחר עילוי, עד אין קץ ותכלית, לרום המעלות למעלה מעלה

in elevation upon elevation, to no end or limit, to the peak of the loftiest levels.

Since the life-giving light that issues from Supreme Chochmah is infinite, it follows that whatever the intensity of the light drawn down in the previous year, it is still possible that a greater degree of light be drawn down in the new year.

ובכל שנה ושנה יורד ומאיר מחכמה עילאה אור חדש ומחודש שלא היה מאיר עדיין מעולם, לארץ העליונה

And every year there descends and radiates a new and renewed light which has never yet shone, from the Supreme Chochmah4 to the Eretz HaElyonah.

The light that reaches down to this level is here described as “new and renewed,” for in the first instance a new light radiates into Chochmah from the Ein Sof that transcends it, and then a new light issues from Chochmah and irradiates the Eretz HaElyonah.

כי אור כל שנה ושנה מסתלק לשרשו בכל ערב ראש השנה

For the light of every year withdraws to its source in the Essence of theEin Sof on the eve of every Rosh HaShanah,

כשהחדש מתכסה בו

“when the moon is covered.”

Rosh HaShanah is known as5 “the holiday when the new moon is covered,” and is not seen. In a spiritual context this means that the Sefirah of Malchut (represented in the Kabbalah by the moon), the light that animates the worlds and created beings, is concealed and withdraws to its source.

ואחר כך, על ידי תקיעת שופר והתפלות, נמשך אור חדש עליון

Afterwards, by means of the sounding of the Shofar and by means of the prayers, a new and superior light is elicited,

מבחינה עליונה יותר שבמדריגת חכמה עילאה

[a light] of a yet higher rank in the sphere of the Supreme Chochmah,

להאיר לארץ עליונה ולדרים עליה

to radiate to the Eretz Elyonah and those who dwell upon it,

הם כל העולמות, העליונים והתחתונים, המקבלים חיותם ממנה

i.e., to all the higher and lower worlds that receive their vitality from it

דהיינו, מן האור אין סוף ברוך הוא וחכמתו המלובש בה

i.e., from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, and from [G‑d’s] Chochmah which is vested in it, i.e., in “the Higher Land”;

כדכתיב: כי עמך מקור חיים, באורך נראה אור

as it is written,6 “For with You is the source of life; in Your light shall we see light.”

Supreme Chochmah, which is the source of life, is “with You,” i.e., nullified and unified with the Ein Sof; “in Your light” (i.e., in the light that radiates from Chochmah to “the Higher Land”) “we shall see light” (i.e., the light that descends from “the Higher Land” and illumines all the created beings which receive their vitality from it).

דהיינו אור המאיר מחכמה עילאה, מקור החיים

This refers to the light that radiates from Supreme Chochmah, the source of life.

וכנודע ליודעי חן, שבכל ראש השנה היא הנסירה, ומקבלת מוחין חדשים, עליונים יותר כו׳

(7And, as is known to the scholars of the Hidden Wisdom, i.e., the Kabbalists, every Rosh HaShanah the nesirah takes place, and [the Sefirahof Malchut] receives new, more sublime Mochin, and so on.)

This is a Kabbalistic theme regarding the “rebuilding” of the Sefirah of Malchut that takes place every Rosh HaShanah. The paradigm of this sequence is the slumber that G‑d brought upon Adam8 on the day of his creation, which took place on the day of Rosh HaShanah, and the subsequent excision (nesirah) of the rib from which Eve was then formed.

The Kabbalah explains that Adam is a terrestial echo of Supernal Man, i.e., the bracket of Sefirot known collectively as Za (ז״א, acronym for זעיר אנפין) of the World ofAtzilut. “Slumber” alludes to the withdrawal of the Supernal intellectual attributes, orMochin, from Za (just as man’s intellect withdraws during sleep). The new and more sublime Mochin which are then drawn down into Malchut are far superior to the Mochinthat Malchut had previously received from Za.

ובפרטי פרטיות, כן הוא בכל יום ויום

In a very specific way, this takes place every day.

נמשכים מוחין עליונים יותר בכל תפלת השחר

More sublime Mochin are elicited by every morning-prayer,

ואינן מוחין הראשונים שנסתלקו אחר התפלה, רק גבוהין יותר

which are not the original Mochin that withdrew after the prayer [of the previous day], but more sublime ones.

ודרך כלל, בכללות העולם בשית אלפי שנין, כן הוא בכל ראש השנה וראש השנה

In general terms, with respect to the world as a whole — and not only with regard to the daily elicitation of new Mochin during prayer as experienced by an individual man — during the six thousand years [of the world’s existence],9this occurs every Rosh HaShanah.

1. Devarim 11:12.
2. Mishlei 3:19.
3. Kohelet 7:12.
4. Note of the Rebbe: “Cf. Likkutei Torah (Shir HaShirim 50b): ‘Surely in SupremeChochmah too this new light is drawn down from Above….”’
5. Rosh HaShanah 8a.
6. Tehillim 36:10.
7. Parentheses are in the original text.
8. Bereishit 2:21.
9. Rosh HaShanah 31a.
By Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Chassidism (Free Translation)    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Rosh Hashanah, Chai Elul preparation begins with depth & :) Lchaim!

  1. Tonight is Chai Elul, the eighteenth day of Elul, is the birthday of two great luminaries, the Baal Shem Tov (b. 1698 [5458]) and the Alter Rebbe (b. 1745 [5505]), the founders of the chassidic movement in general and Chabad Chassidism respectively.The Torah mentions repeatedly that the birthday of a tzaddik is a joyous time.Still, we don’t find that Jews customarily celebrated their birthdays as a Yom Tov and in a conspicuous manner.

    However, with regard to the birthdays of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe on Chai Elul, the Previous Rebbe revealed in the name of his father, the Rebbe Rashab, that it is a day of rejoicing, to such an extent that we wish one another “Gut Yom Tov.”
    Since all things relating to Torah are precise, it follows that the special joy and uniqueness of the birthday celebrations of Chai Elul are related not only to the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe themselves, but also to the chassidic teachings they revealed. What is the connection?

    Why are birthdays celebrated? Before a child is born it has all its needs effortlessly provided for and is protected from harm in its mother’s womb.At the moment of birth, all this changes – it needs to be fed, it loses its protection, and so on.

    Spiritually as well, the time of birth seems to involve a spiritual decline, for as our Sages say, “When the child is in its mother’s womb … it sees from one end of the world to the other and is taught the entire Torah. As soon as it is born … it forgets the entire Torah.”

    The day of birth, then, involves a tremendous descent for the child, both physically and spiritually. This being so, what reason is there for rejoicing on a birthday?

    But as long as the child is unborn, it is not yet a “nefesh,” a complete being composed of the unity of body and soul. Though it possesses all its limbs, moves, eats, etc., the child only becomes a nefesh when the soul entirely enters and unites with its body; as long as the child is unborn it receives its life-force from its mother. The joy of a birthday is precisely because it is only then that the child becomes a complete and independent living entity, a nefesh.

    This explains why the concept of celebrating a birthday is brought about by the birthdays of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, for the “birth” of Chassidus initiated a similar thrust in the world:

    Exile is likened to “pregnancy” and the Redemption through Mashiach to “birth.” Since Chassidus is a foretaste of and a preparation to the Redemption, and since spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus serves to bring about the Redemption, we understood that the innovation of Chassidus is similar to the revelation at the time of the Redemption, the aspect of “birth.”

    A Jew may approach Torah and mitzvos in one of two ways: It is possible to perform Torah and mitzvos in such a complete manner that Torah and mitzvos provide him with spiritual life and nurture. Nevertheless, there remains a distinction between the performer and the performance – the person feels himself as a separate and distinct entity from the Torah and mitzvos which he performs and which provide him with vitality and succor.

    This is similar to “pregnancy” in that despite the child possessing all its limbs and organs, its life and vitality is distinct from itself; it is its mother’s.

    The Baal Shem Tov revealed and emphasized the inner and true aspect of “there is nothing but Him,” that there exists no true entity other than G-d. Thus, there do not exist two realities – the person who performs Torah and mitzvos and Torah and mitzvos themselves – but one true reality: G-d and His Torah and mitzvos, which are one with Him.

    In this approach to Torah and mitzvos there is but one entity, for the person’s entire being is composed of his performance of Torah and mitzvos. Which is to say, this is similar to a “birth,” when body and soul cease to be two separate entities and become portions of the same being.

    Our Sages underscore this in their statement, “I was not created but to serve my Maker (i.e., man’s entire being and his sole purpose of creation is for the service of his Creator).”

    For in order for G-d’s will and wisdom – Torah and mitzvos – to be accomplished and realized, we must necessarily exist as well, and exist as physical beings.Consequently, nothing was created for itself; all was created exclusively to serve a specific function in accomplishing G-d’s Will.

    While man will be fully “born” and truly live his life entirely united with G-d only in the times of Moshiach, still Chassidus provides us with a “taste” of this life presently as well.

    We do so by living and promulgating the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, especially in the manner that these teachings are capable of being internalized and affecting all our soul powers, as explained in the teachings of the Alter Rebbe.

    Chai Elul, then, is truly a “birth day” to be joyously celebrated. Moshiach NOW!!!

  2. […] Rosh Hashanah, Chai Elul preparation begins with depth &  Lchaim!<- last years inspiration continues 5774 […]

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