Why We Travel to Tzaddikim for Rosh Hashanah
By HaRav Shmuel Moshe Kramer, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
We have no idea what the actual secret of the power of the Rebbe’s Tziyun is. It is something beyond our imagination. But there are a few thoughts which we can understand from the general picture which arises from the words of the Rebbe and R’ Nosson.
The Rebbe wanted to be buried specifically in Uman, between the martyrs of the Uman massacre. He receives strength that from this, and it gives him the ability to then lower himself to the lowest places, to where the worst people in the world have fallen, in order to take them out.
The Rebbe discussed this idea on the last Rosh Hashanah before he passed away, in the discourse recorded in Likutei Moharan II #8, entitled “Tiku- Rebuke”. This lesson is viewed as a sort of will that the Rebbe left us, instructions how we should conduct ourselves after he passes on.
In that lesson the Rebbe explains at length the obligation to come to him for Rosh Hashanah. He discusses how the Tzaddik must sometimes pray with an aspect of “din”, harshness. “Din”, judgment, is the underlying theme of Rosh Hashanah, it being the day the entire world is judged. The Rebbe explains that the Sitra Achara is always trying to swallow up the kedushah of Klal Yisroel, by preventing us from Avodas Hashem and doing Mitzvos properly. Throughout Rosh Hashanah, when the Tzaddik prays with the aspect of din-harshness, he is able to go into the Sitra Achara, into its neck, and to force it to vomit out all the holiness which it has swallowed up.
We can now understand, albeit from afar, what the Rebbe meant when he said, “My thing is Rosh Hashanah.” We know that the Rebbe’s main dealing was with Tikkun, rectifying souls. And we can understand a little why the Rebbe wanted to lie there; in order to pull souls out of the Sitra Achara.
The Significance of Having Many People Participate in the Kibbutz
In the aforementioned Rosh Hashanah lesson, the Rebbe also speaks about the concept of the connecting of souls who come to participate in the Tzaddik’s Kibbutz, in light of an idea discussed in the early Kabalistic classic, Sefer Yetzirah.
When putting together letters in order to form a word, every new letter added to the mix multiplies the possible combinations by incredible amounts. For example, with two letters, there are two possible combinations, i.e. AB and BA. When we would add just one more letter, we already have six possibilities, ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, and CBA.
With a fourth letter, the potential combinations are multiplied by four to 24. With five letters, we have 120. By the time you reach 13, you already have 6,227,020,800 combinations. By 17 you have over 355 trillion!
The Rebbe explains that every individual in the Kibbutz is like a letter in a word, which the Sefer Yetzirah calls stones which build a house. All of the participants of the Kibbutz together have the potential to form words, to build buildings. The amount of word-buildings which they can build is dependent upon how many people have joined in the Kibbutz.
As we have just explained, the more people band together, the greater their potential. But if G-d forbid, the letters would not join together, the potential number of combinations is severely diminished. The same way the addition of just one letter-stone can sometimes increase the possibilities by the trillions; the subtraction of just one can decrease it the same way. If a ten-letter word would be split into two five letter words, the amount of combinations is barely a fraction ( ) of what it was before, and who can imagine bigger numbers being split.
All this teaches us an invaluable lesson, about the harmony and unity which Breslover Chassidim must feel between each other, at all times, and especially by the Kibbutz. Every one of us is another stone, and every individual who joins increases the potential of the others amazing amounts. We must therefore be extremely careful to preserve the unity between all the participants and to feel the camaraderie between all of us.
In fact, this is what we have seen by Breslover Chassidim throughout the generations. With this in mind, they had a special Avodah of trying to bring more people to the Tziyun for Rosh Hashanah. The Rebbe himself remarked before his last Rosh Hashanah, that he misses the presence of Reb Ahron, the Rav of Breslov, as well as Bereleh, a simple Chassid who couldn’t make it for Rosh Hashanah. It would seem that the Rebbe had some Tikkun which he has wished to accomplish, but was unable to because just these two were absent.
The same thing is in every generation. These Tikkunim take place every year. Not only that, they become greater and greater from year to year.
From the Weekly Class in Likutei Moharan by R’ Moshe Kramer
The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan I #211, “The reason behind traveling to Tzaddikim for Rosh Hashanah is because the main way to sweeten judgment is through the holiness and purity of thought, which is their source. This is brought in the Zohar, “Everything is purified through thought”. It is impossible to come to a pure mind without attachment to Tzaddikim as we find written, “And Moshe took the bones of Yosef.” Moshe is the aspect of the mind and Yosef is the aspect of Tzaddik. This means to say that there is no way to perfect the mind without attachment to the Tzaddikim. Rosh Hashanah is the source of all the judgments for the whole year and we must then purify the mind in order to sweeten them. For this reason we travel to Tzaddikim, in order to merit holiness of thought.”
The Rebbe explains that the key method for mitigating and sweetening the judgment for the coming year is through properly watching over our thoughts and keeping them pure and holy. What is the reasoning behind this? The cause of all dinim, harsh decrees, are sparks of holiness which have been trapped by the forces of “din”. When we want to rectify them, we must lift them back up to their origin, in the world of “thought”. There, the good, holy part is separated from the dinim and are elevated. Of course, these concepts are very deep Kabalistic ideas, but this is a simple explanation of what the Zohar means, that everything is separated in the mind.
This is what the Rebbe is teaching us regarding our practical obligation. Every one of us has the ability to mitigate stern and harsh decrees, by watching our thoughts and keeping them pure. The holy books all speak about how each person is a world unto himself, and by the way he conducts himself down here in this world, he influences the supernal worlds which he is intrinsically connected to. Chazal allude to this when they exhort us, “Know what is above you”, meaning know how you are affecting the worlds above you. Tzaddikim explain that this is what is meant by, “Man is created in the image of G-d”, that we all have G-d-like capabilities to influence the higher worlds. So when a person is careful with his thoughts, he causes the separation of the holy and good from the dinim to take place in the supernal world of “thought”, and thereby mitigating the harshness.
This is particularly done on Rosh Hashanah, which, in the dimension of time, the Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan I #61 is the source of dinim for the whole year. This day is unique, that the dinim attempt to take hold of it more than any other day of the year, and we must sweeten them. Therefore we must be extra careful to watch our minds on Rosh Hashanah, much more than the whole year.
The Rebbe discusses this also in Sichos HaRan, #21, that on Rosh Hashanah, it’s important to be smart and think only positive thoughts, how Hashem will be good to us throughout the coming year. This concept is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch as the reason why we wear festive clothing on Rosh Hashanah even though there is a fear of the impending judgment. When fulfill our obligations, of the special prayers of the day and the blowing of the Shofar, Hashem takes care of His part, to seal us in for a year of good life, and we don’t need to think about it or worry at all. Quite the opposite, we are commanded to rejoice, with awe, through positive thoughts, that everything will undoubtedly be good.
Besides this, the Rebbe in the Likutei Moharan which we are discussing speaks about the purity and holiness of the mind, which is a subject unto itself, as the Rebbe explains that purity of thought can only be achieved through holy power of the Tzaddikim, the mind of the Tzaddik.
We in particular need wholesomeness of thought on Rosh Hashanah, the time when we are being judged for the entire coming year. For certain, we need to come onto the aspect of judgment, for without it the world wouldn’t be able to exist. We must therefore cleanse and purify our minds, so that we can be vindicated by the judgment. This means that the decrees should be sweetened through everyone purifying his thoughts.
This is why we spend the entire day praying, as the Shulchan Aruch advises, that besides the set time for davening, everybody by himself should try saying Tehillim, etc., that the point of all this is in order to keep our minds focused on holiness, Torah, prayer, etc., which is the whole point of Rosh Hashanah.
In order to merit a clear mind, we must have special divine assistance. The Rebbe says that we must travel to Tzaddikim in order to achieve this holiness of thought. This is one of the reasons which the Rebbe revealed to us why we should come to him for Rosh Hashanah. We understand from his words, that although it’s possible to be attached to the Tzaddik wherever you are, it’s still something else to travel to the Tzaddik to be by him.
We must draw attention to the Rebbe’s explanation of this idea onto the verse, “And Moshe took the bones of Yosef…” that in order to merit the aspect of “Moshe”, clarity of mind, we must attach ourselves to “Yosef”vthe Tzaddik. The Tcheriner Rav points out that the verse is talking about the bones of Yosef. This alludes to the Rebbe’s will that we come to him even after he has passed away.
R’ Avrohom b’Rav Nachman in his book, Kochvey Ohr, explains that the same way our first redemption, from Egypt, was through the bones of Yosef, so too the complete and final redemption will be in the merit of us going to the resting of place of the Tzaddik. The fact that so many people merit to go is part of the beginning of the redemption.
This is especially true about Rosh Hashanah. Reb Nosson once said, that every trip of each one of us for Rosh Hashanah, will have a portion in the final redemption, may it be speedily in our days, Amen.