A talk given in preparation for the journey to Uman for Rosh Hashanah
By HaRav Nosson Liebermensh, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
In the Midrash Rabbah on Parshas Chukas, the sages discuss the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, which the Torah refers to as a “chok” – a law without explanation. They explain that “The Satan and the nations of the world agitate Klal Yisroel by asking, ‘What’s this mitzvah all about? What rationale is behind it?’ The Torah therefore calls it a ‘chok’, as if to say, I have decreed this mitzvah, and you don’t have permission to wonder about it.”
This Midrash needs clarification. Don’t we perform all the mitzvos only because Hashem so decreed? If that’s the case, what’s the novelty of the mitzvah of Parah Adumah relative to all the other mitzvos in the Torah?
It would appear than the explanation is as follows: all the other mitzvos have at least an amount of reason and understanding which we are capable of grasping. The reasoning behind Parah Adumah, however, is totally hidden from us, and no human mind can grasp its meaning.
The nations of the world therefore harass and pain Klal Yisroel with their words, “what is this burning of the Parah and grinding of its ashes and spraying the water etc.” But we know that the answer is that Hashem has decreed it and we have no permission to wonder about it.
But it’s the Parah Adumah – about which we have no understanding – that has the ability to cleanse the most severe form of impurity, Tumaas Mes, defilement from a corpse. The only way to be purified from it is with the ashes of the Parah.
We find a similar concept in regard to the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah. While in the Rebbe’s general advice, although their key effectiveness comes from our faith in each of them, at the same time we see that the Rebbe presented them together with a variety of reasons and explanations, by which someone who needs them explained can be satisfied and convinced of their truth. We are actually expected to look deeply into them and to understand them. Even though, of course we must remember that with all of our understanding, however great it may be, it’s nothing in comparison to their true greatness, as the Rebbe truly grasped them.
The exception to the rule is the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah. It’s akin to the mitzvah of Parah Adumah. It’s as if the Rebbe also said, “I have decreed a chok, and you have no permission to ponder it.” Concerning his Rosh Hashanah, the Rebbe didn’t give any reason or explanations as he usually does. Even those lessons in Likutei Moharan where the Rebbe discusses the greatness of spending Rosh Hashanah by the Tzaddik, are lofty ideas, far from our understanding.
An expression of this idea is that we don’t find that concerning any other advice which the Rebbe gives. An expression such as, “all who believe in me and heed my call should come to me for Rosh Hashanah.” When trying to convince somebody of an idea in a way that it should take hold of him, we don’t employ faith and belief. We try to explain the thought every possible way. But when it comes to Rosh Hashanah, the Rebbe uses this unique expression, “Whoever believes in me.” This is because we have no idea what the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah is. Everything depends on what the Rebbe said, “If you believe in me- come to me for Rosh Hashanah…”
In this context, we find Reb Nosson in Likutei Halachos discussing the well-known Zohar that no Teshuvah helps with the blemishing of the Holy Covenant (Pgam Habris) for which the Rebbe insisted that Teshuvah does in fact help and that no one understands that Zohar besides him. Reb Nosson explains how the rectification of that blemish, and the true repentance for the sin, is through believing in Tzaddikim. He explains this in light of Likutei Moharan 29, that all the 365 spiritual “tendons” in a person correspond to the 365 negative commandments in the Torah, and when someone does a specific sin, he causes a blemish in the tendons which corresponds to it.
Concerning this, the Rebbe says that we must always try to purify ourselves by drawing purity and “whiteness” from our minds to our “tendons”. But what should somebody who has blemished his mind through Pgam Habris do?
Reb Nosson explains that the only solution is to nullify his mind to the mind of the Tzaddik. Then the Tzaddik can give him “whiteness” from his own mind in order to purify him from all his blemishes.
In this light, we can understand the following Midrash: “Said R’ Yehoshuah D’Sachnin in the name of R’ Levi: Concerning everything which the Holy One, Blessed be He, told Moshe, he explained to him its impurity and its purification. When they reached the portion of the Kohanim being defiled by a corpse, Moshe asked, ‘Master of the World, if one is defiled is such a way, how will he be purified?’ and He did not answer him… When they reached the portion about Parah Adumah, Hashem told him, ‘At the time I told you about Tumaas Mes, and you asked me what is its purification, this is its purification.’”
The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan 2 that Pgam Habris is also referred to as Tumaas Mes.
Together with what we just saw from Reb Nosson, we can understand that this is what Hashem was telling Moshe. The rectification for Tumaas Mes, which is Pgam Habris, is through a “chok”. Putting aside the mind and nullifying oneself before the Tzaddik, through belief in him, is what purifies and renews the mind.
This is what is alluded to in the Midrash that Hashem told Moshe, “To you I am revealing the reason behind Parah Adumah, and for everyone else it’s a chok.” The explanation was given to Moshe, the true Tzaddik. The same way the Rebbe said that only he understands the aforementioned Zohar. For the mind of the Tzaddik is the Tikkun. But we must approach it as a Chok, by totally giving ourselves over to the Tzaddik.
Therefore, concerning all the obstacles and doubts which we all have, there seems to be a simple solution. Let us all imagine the Rebbe alive, living in Uman, and calling out to us, “Come to me for Rosh Hashanah!” People ask the question, there are people who would rather come a different time, and the Rebbe answers them all, “Whether you eat or not, whether you sleep or not, whether you daven or not, just be by me for Rosh Hashanah, there’s nothing greater than this.”
And then he adds, “The Tikkunim which I accomplish on Rosh Hashanah, I can’t do throughout the whole year.”
Everybody should think about how much he has sacrificed himself to get close to the Rebbe and to Breslov, and to all the advice which he has given. Here we are discussing an awesome thing, such an incredible Tikkun, incomparable to anything else, something which the Rebbe himself told us that there is nothing greater than it. Of course, it’s impossible to demand sacrifice from someone else, but at least let everybody know what we’re talking about. Maybe this will help people to try harder to overcome their obstacles.
Hashem should help us all draw upon ourselves the holiness of Rosh Hashanah, and alleviate all harshness for the coming year, for the entire world.