Vayishlach – Yud Tes Kilsev 5767 & 5776
In honor of the upcoming Holiday Yud-Tes (Yat/19th) Kislev called the Rosh Hashonah
of Chassidus, when Chassidim and Fellow Jewish Brothers and Sisters across the world
celebrate the establishment of Chabad/Lubavitch Chassidism in 1772 and the liberation
from prison in 1798 of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of
Chabad, I share some thoughts on the meaning and contribution of Chassidus.
What did Chassidus add to the existing body of Torah knowledge and how did it
enhance the already stringent demands of Jewish living and behavior?
This very limited space can by no means give a full dissertation on this very important
subject nor share the vast information transmitted by the Lineage of Rebbes up to our
Rebbe in answering these questions. This is a mere attempt to highlight some of the
most obvious and relevant aspects of Chabad Lubavitch.
“My grandfather (Rabbi Shmuel, 4th Rebbe) asked the Tzemach Tzedek (third Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem Mendel) what did Grandfather (the Alter Rebbe) intend with the “ways
of Chassidus” and what did he intend with “Chassidus”? The Tzemach Tzedek
answered: The “ways of Chassidus are that all Chassidim should be like one Family
with love according to the Torah”. “Chassidus” is a life-force/vitality to infuse everything
with vitality and illumination/light. To illuminate even that which is not good in order to
become aware of one’s own negativity as it is and correct it. (Hayom Yom Tevet 24)
“The Alter Rebbe set forth the way for Chassidim to strive with effort to intellectually
seek truth; To examine every behavior carefully that it should conform to truth and be
achieved utilizing effort, This effort does not mean, as some erroneously think, that you
need to uproot mountainous barriers and shatter imposing rocks to transform the world.
The absolute truth is that every effort and act, whatever it is, with proper/true intention is
effective and adequate. Saying a Bracha (blessing) with proper devotion; davening /
praying properly with feeling (heart) and knowing “to whom you are praying (G-d)”;
studying a passage in Chumash (Torah) and knowing that it is the word of G-d; reciting a
verse of Tehillim (Psalms); and utilizing fine characteristics to draw a friend closer with
love and affection” (Hayom Yom, 2 Adar 1).
“The objective of Chassidus is to change one’s natural traits (behavior)” (Previous
Chassidus did not add or abrogate any of the 613 Torah and 7 Rabbinic laws
commanded by Hashem. Chassidus did not come to diminish or aggrandize any group,
ideology or person. Chassidus’ objective was not to create a group or class unto itself
nor in any way bring any separation or fragmentation within the Jewish People.
Chassidus did not invent nor discover Moshiach. Chassidus is not defined by a mode of
dress, culture of eating nor language.
The Talmud states various descriptions of a Chasid. Who is a Chasid – one who does
kindness with his Maker (creator): who is a Chasid – one who does beyond the letter of
the law: who is a Chasid – one who burns his nails so as not to cause harm to an
A Chasid is filled with life and love for Hashem and for every single Jew. A Chasid will
deny benefits to himself so as not to hurt another. A Chasid is a lamplighter who walks
through dark and treacherous places to kindle lamps so others will walk in light and
safety. A Chasid is humble and demands more of himself than of others. A Chasid
does mitzvahs with commitment, learns Torah with exultation and prays with devotion,
emotion and intellect. A Chasid has and loves his Rebbe with complete devotion and
subservience. A Chasid believes in G-d yet strives to understand Him. A Chasid
accepts all of G-d’s acts with unconditional faith yet can ask G-d why? A Chasid always
sees the good in others even when the bad is more obvious. A Chasid can sing, dance
and cry simultaneously – rejoice with trembling. A Chasid accepts well meaning critique
with love and praise with reservation.
For a Chasid, no mission is impossible and life is a process of “L’chatchila Ariber” – over
the top with faith, love and joy. We can all be Chassidim for when Moshiach comes that
is what will be expected of us.
Join us for the celebration of this Holiday this Shabbos and Monday evening for a great
program and dinner and experience a Farbrengen like a Chasid.
Have a good Shabbos and a great week.
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar