Rebbe’s Vision – Original Soul – Neshama Chadasha – (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson – Chabad-Lubavitch)
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Rabbi Alti Bukiet: This is going to be at least five, six weeks, if not more, and I don’t promise you to even at the end of five, six weeks to come to some kind of, you know, total picture. It’s impossible, but what I want to do is it’s been on my head for over — I mean for those who have listened to me and have heard me speak from the pulpit, I mean what bothers me about the whole impression that the world has of the Rebbe is that he’s a phenomenal activist.
One man has figured out how to galvanize a community that didn’t become just local, it became national, it became international and a man who simply is great — has this phenomenal charisma and just simply draws people in.
Don’t understand that that was an outer surface of who he was. That was just a result and when you analyze the Rebbe, simply, from the outer expressions of what happened due to him and you just look at the outer shell, yeah, there was a lot going on. The Rebbe was this great thinker and in that whole thought process, which for 50 years he spoke and revisited every single piece of Talmud, every single piece of Zohar, every single Midrash.
I mean, I don’t want to upset the video camera, but I have in the back of my — in my bookcase a book that’s not — 1,000 pages that is just going through footnotes of say where the Rebbe spoke about this piece of Talmud. It’s a fat book that every single Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, Biblical verses he visited. It wasn’t just that he visited. He went into it and he tried his best to project an idea and a whole way of thinking which the outcome of that is 5,000 centers. The outcome of that is, like, you know, there was a great rabbi that said most probably in the history of humanity there wasn’t one Jew that spoke to the whole Jewish People in one shot.
The last one to do it was Moses at Mount Sinai. That was the last one that had that A; the opportunity and B; the ability, et cetera to communicate.
We speak of Maimonides. There was a whole part of the world that had no idea who Maimonides was while he was alive. It was impossible. It’s not their fault; it was impossible for them. There were great Commentaries that said, after they wrote their commentaries, along came R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki’s interpretation on the Talmud and when all of a sudden they saw it after they wrote their commentaries they wrote uh, had we seen this before we wrote our commentary we would have wrote it differently. We had no idea that this man was writing an interpretation, but by then their book was printed and their interpretation was printed and they realized we made a mistake here. But they didn’t have the opportunity. There was no communication.
So R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki sat in France, Maimonides sat in Egypt and Israel, Nachmanides sat in Spain and in Israel and the world was totally fragmented in the (inaudible 00:03:21) and there were parts of the world that had no connection to each other and were totally unaware. Customs, ideas it just didn’t exist. There was no connection between societies. No one spoke to the entire Jewish community at any given time.
The Rebbe spoke to a Jewish community and at the end of the day he used it. he used it very well, but it started not from his ability to communicate in the outreach; it started by his ability to begin to think and how he thought.
This is what I want to do over the next six weeks. What I would like to do is tackle an idea and tackle that idea and identify it and show you how it works its way through the traditional interpretation, the mystical interpretation in it. How the Rebbe approaches it and all of a sudden you begin to realize where he was coming from and where he was going. All of sudden you say oh, that’s the switch that went off in the Rebbe’s theological head to redefine a Talmud, or a Midrash, or a verse in the Torah and through that redefinition, all of a sudden, it goes a different — it goes down a different path. And out of that path grows a whole different identity.
This week, what I want to do is I want to introduce you to a great theological piece of mysticism which might seem a little bit out there, but it’s a big idea and it’s not about the Rebbe’s vision it’s about, what I believe, who he was on a very deep level in principle. I’m going to introduce you to the idea which is — it walks its way through history. You’re going to have to follow me. The language will change up because it’s not all mystical. You’re going to see Midrashic language, but you’re going to have to follow the weaving of the language. I’m going to walk you into three personalities and then I’ll let you decide if the Rebbe fits that agenda or not.
The term for the first time we ever heard about souls was neshama chadashah, a new soul. I never heard that term. The concept of souls was in the Bible. G-d created Adam and imbued him with a soul. The Zohar turns around and says that soul which G-d created is like the original soul and all souls stem from that. Not as if every moment G-d is creating new souls. No. He created at one moment a soul. That’s what the Zohar says. And when He created that soul, that’s the soul of humanity, forever and what happens over the course of time from that soul which embodied Adam comes the soul of the universe. Every single person that exists comes from that soul. It’s not as if G-d is revisiting. That was a moment.
It’s like when G-d created the animals, He created the animals. It’s not as if oh, He’s revisiting the animals and recreating a new animal all of a sudden in the year 2,000. He didn’t do that. He created the concept of an animal that exists and now humanity takes it and expands it, though the world, society. He created the concept of a person and it’s been going on, it evolves. He created the concept of a soul and He brought it into the world in Adam and that soul is the soul of the universe forever.
That spiritual energy that’s connected to the body, G-d did it once and off that one time doing it, in Creation, it flows forever. Therefore, the Talmud hints to the fact that Adam was the soul of humanity forever.
The Zohar expands upon it big time and the Zohar will walk you through Adam’s body. In a very interesting way, the Zohar will speak to you about different generations, in Jewish history, were different parts of Adam’s body to the degree that our generation is the — the Zohar calls it — the heels. The heels of Adam’s body and that’s where our souls come from. That element of the lowest dimension of Adam’s soul is this generation’s soul. That’s the Zohar’s language about this sixth thousandth year of creation. It’s the lowest part of Adam’s body.
Every soul is that way? No, but, in general, that’s how the Zohar analyzes the soul of our generation by analyzing Adam’s body and attaching an actual dimension of Adam’s body to this generation. Because that creation of G-d and attaching a soul to a body happened once and off that original happening it’s what the whole history of humanity is made up of.
Then comes along a new term introduced by R’ Isaac Luria’s most famous disciple, R’ Chaim Vital. R’ Chaim Vital turns around and introduces a term. He says there is neshama chadashot. There’s such a thing as new souls and the mystics jumped on it.
Now, in its literal terminology what does it mean? A simple thing. You have this in the Midrash at frequent times. You have this definitely in the Chassidic masters. They would say that I remember that my soul was in the time of King David a soldier or I remember my soul sat at the Ba’al Shem Tov’s table. Because souls gilgulim, they return. They come to this world and they come back and there’s great writings that say they come back because they didn’t fulfill their mission. Your soul might be here. You might be the forty-fifth on the line of your soul’s identity.
Who knows? We’re not new souls. We’re regurgitated souls. Therefore, in many ways people said I — there was a famous Chassidic master who said I think I was the donkey in the times of Bil’am. That’s my memories. I have some kind of memories and that’s where my memory stems from.
Regurgitated souls. In Talmud language, the Talmud says “Pinchas zeh Eliyahu.” Aaron’s grandson, Pinchas is the soul of Elijah or vice versa it should be, Elijah is the soul — and all the Commentaries speak about it. The Talmud should have said it the other way around, but the reality is the Talmud says these two souls are connected and 1,000 years later. Not 1,000 years, I shouldn’t say that; 500 years later, 550 years later, after Pinchas existed Elijah came to this world. He was Pinchas’s soul.
So this concept of souls returning, it’s something which is deeply seeded in the tradition of Judaism. It’s not just mystical. This is the Talmud uses this language. And in walks R’ Chaim Vital and says that you should know there’s such a thing as a new soul. It never came to the world before. It comes from Adam, but it never came to the world before and this is the first time it originates in the world.
So I want to read to you and we’ll read it together, on my pages. You know, you have under A, Page 1. The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe’s father-in-law — the Rebbe’s father-in-law was a great historian, in addition to a great mystic he knew the Chassidic history and he recorded it and he retold the Chassidic history in beautiful words. He was very poetic in his writing. Much different than the Rebbe. The Rebbe was a very logistic writer, very much a writer with no poetry. It was to the point, ideas, spoke ideas.
The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, his father-in-law, wrote beautifully and he wrote stories and had the ability to record the Chassidic history and became a very big authoritative person in Chassidic history. So listen, this is in the year 1945. Listen to his writing.
Three years before the birth of the Alter Rebbe — the founder of the Chabad Movement — the Ba’al Shem Tov — who was the founder of the Chassidic Movement — knew that a new soul was to be sent to This World. Here goes his term. This new soul was going to descend to This World, but who would be privileged to host it he did not know, so he searched for it in the heavenly palaces.
He goes on to explain that this is — he finally figured out that this new soul that was going to be sent into the world was the Alter Rebbe, was the founder of the Chabad Movement. And for the first time, this language of a new — which we hear of — in the Chabad world that there’s the concept of this new soul descending into creation took place. The Ba’al Shem Tov doesn’t say it about himself. The Ba’al Shem Tov speaks about someone else.
Okay. I want to push this a little further; this new soul concept and I want to give — because if we push it a little further you’ll then open this up to a wider spectrum of people who you’ll realize changed the world and this new soul concept was attached to that.
The Alter Rebbe, in a writing on the portions of the week, quoting the original person who mentions the concept of a new soul, R’ Chaim Vital, says as follows. What’s the concept of a new soul? I only have it in Hebrew, it’s right beneath that English writing, so forgive me. He writes in Likutei Torah, in Shir Hashirim — I’m going to say it in Hebrew and I’ll do the translation.
“Da ki yeish shnei mini neshamos,” you should know that there are two forms of souls, “osam shenichlilu ba’Adam Harishon,” there are those that were part of Adam, which are the basic concept of a soul. It starts from Adam. “Beis,” the second kind, “osam shelo nichlilu b’Adam Harishon,” they really weren’t part of Adam. And he goes on to say these are unbelievable lofty souls that they are messianic souls. These are souls that Adam didn’t affect because the principle identity of Adam, as a whole the way we identify Adam, is Adam after he sinned. There is no real identity. We don’t have Adam’s personality expressed before the sin. G-d doesn’t speak about Adam as a person who did something, behaved in a certain way before he sinned.
The first time we’re introduced to Adam is sin. His whole personality is sin and then he redoes himself after the sin. But in the context of Adam that we know and the Talmud actually says that Adam sinned three hours after Creation. It wasn’t as if oh, the guy lived a long life and all of a sudden decided at the end of 90 years let me sin. He, from the moment he was created, said I want to be independent. I don’t want to live in this non-sin existence. This non-dependent existence.
So the Torah doesn’t even give you an identity prior to it. It’s as if he was part of G-d’s energy. He didn’t have any independency. His whole being becomes tied in.
Therefore, the Alter Rebbe says the idea of a new soul, it’s not just simply that the soul isn’t regurgitating itself, it’s as if the soul takes itself before Adam sinned. These new souls they’re identity is not a soul that is bound into Adam as a person who has the ability to do bad. These types of souls that are new is a soul that doesn’t have any definition of bad in them. Never experienced it.
Therefore, they’re, to a certain degree, souls that are like in the messianic era type of souls where there’s no bad. It’s perfection. These souls never were affected by Adam’s reality of creating a human being that is connected to evil and good. No. These souls never had that experience. That’s the Alter Rebbe’s interpretation to a new soul. That not simply it never came down before. In the simplistic meaning, okay, we souls regurgitate ourselves. This soul never was here before, but it comes from Adam. No. To a certain degree, this is Adam prior to being Adam. This is the soul prior to Adam stamping his identity in it.
That’s the Alter Rebbe’s interpretation to a new soul. That a new soul is a soul, all based on R’ Chaim Vital, all based on the AR”I, Z”L, R’ Isaac Luria’s student, that the concept of a new soul is the idea of a soul that’s not bound into diaspora. That’s not bound into exile where you struggle with good and evil. There are certain souls that rise above it.
Audience Member: He doesn’t have free choice? He doesn’t have freedom of choice?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: Somehow or another in the human body and somehow or another our functioning in this word, but are, to a certain degree, unattached to it and therefore have the ability, to a certain degree, stand outside of it.
Audience Member: The tzaddikim?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: Well, tzaddikim could be — it could go both ways. A tzaddik can be — he could be tempted and overcome it. This is a soul that what — I think this is what is important to here is there are souls that can change the world because they’re not attached to it. So it’s like the Talmud says “ein chavish matir atzmi,” a prisoner can’t release himself from prison. You’re limited by your circumstances and therefore if you’re bound into the circumstantial reality you can’t get beyond it.
Along comes a soul that, to a certain degree, and this is the language, it’s these original souls that stand outside of Creation to a degree. They exist prior to Adam’s sinning. This is how the Alter Rebbe interprets a new soul.
Let me walk you into a couple of personalities so we’ll get a better picture of this. We will be challenged by it by the time we’re done because the question will always be, you know, what happened to them? One of the symptoms to such new souls is the cleaving for messianic era in them. They wanted things to be perfect because that’s how they were living and they wanted to drag society into that perfection with them. Don’t think it started — it started from day one. There were those souls that simply want — and I’ll start you out with Jacob.
Jacob. So we had three forefathers; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We highlight tremendously Abraham. A kind man, the father of monotheism. It’s a big guy in our storyline. There were two things that we never hear about Abraham. A; that he wanted the messianic era. He didn’t talk of it. We don’t have any Midrashic term and B; that he lived forever. When he died, he died and the Talmud doesn’t say one second, did he die? No, he died.
The same thing with Isaac. A great man of discipline. I never hear Isaac speaking about a messianic era and we never hear anybody say that you ask the question oh, did Isaac die? No, he died and it’s he died.
It comes to our third forefather and all of a sudden in our third forefather we get introduced to two new ideas. Idea number one is messianic era. Idea number two is he didn’t die. They buried him, he didn’t die. The Talmud is stuck in this dilemma of him dying. I say, no, no theologically it doesn’t make sense he died.
Why is he different than Abraham and Isaac that the Talmud doesn’t struggle with their death? They died. Okay. So we get introduced to Jacob and all of a sudden we realize that Jacob was, from all these Talmuds, we realize he was a different type of a person. In a way that he changed Judaism for the first — after Abraham and Isaac — he really changed Judaism. Why? Listen. Abraham and Isaac had major followings. G-d changed Abraham’s name, a father amongst the nations, he died and what happened?
What happened to the nations? They died with him. Somehow or another the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people that were following him that believed in monotheism and G-d renamed him, we don’t know where they are. They don’t exist. He wasn’t able to take the monotheism, which he personally was experiencing and, although it was very attractive to a lot of people, to create out of it a nation. Isaac had the same problem. He couldn’t create a nation.
Along comes Jacob, and all of sudden, has the ability, not just to be a monotheistic Jew; to have 12 children, to create tribes, to create an identity within them that he turned it around and simply a personal experience into a movement. In that movement, G-d turned around and said you created a nation. Not Abraham and Isaac, you created a nation. A revolutionary idea that all of a sudden a person who has a personal experience has the ability to move it beyond the personal experience into a movement. That was, to a certain degree, Jacob believing he could change the world, different than his forefathers.
Now, we’re going to learn a Talmud together. Are you ready? We’ll quickly learn this Talmud. This is one of the amazing Talmud and the only way to understand it is to begin to understand this new soul concept. Okay. Are you ready for this?
So it’s on the bottom of Page 1. It’s a Tractate of Bava Basra. Here goes the Talmud. Here, the left-hand side first. The left- hand side in middle of the column. “R’ Bana’ah hava kah m’tzayein ma’arasa,” R’ Bana’ah would mark the boundaries of burial crypts. This is what he did. He walked around the hills of Tzefat, he walked around Mt. Olives, in Jerusalem and people didn’t know who was buried where. They, you know, there were very few tombstones back then — who’s buried where? So he walked around marking the crypts. The reason why he did it was because for the priestly families that they shouldn’t walk on graves to contaminate themselves.
“Ashkichah l’Eliezer eved Avraham,” he’s in Chevron and he’s walking around Chevron marking crypts and all of a sudden who does he bump into? Eliezer, Abraham’s famous shamash. Abraham’s famous gabbai. He says to Eliezer what is Abraham doing? Could you tell me what Abraham’s doing right now? “Amar lei,” Eliezer replies to R’ Bana’ah, “gani b’chanfei d’Sarah v’kah m’aiyena lei b’reishah,” he’s lying in the arms of Sarah and she’s paring at his head.
Now, I’m not going to do right now translation to that imagery because the amount of interpretation to that imagery is amazing. To understand that imagery of Abraham’s head in Sarah’s lap and her paring into his eyes. This is a whole conversation of its own, which is not for today’s subject, to what exactly that imagery represents.
Just remember, “Eishes chayil ateres ba’alah.” There’s a famous line of King Solomon. “Eishes chayil,” the woman of valor, “ateres ba’alah,” is the crown of her husband’s head. Meaning, that the true inner relationship of feminine and masculine is not masculine above feminine. It’s feminine above masculine and in the final episode of this man’s life, Abraham, he’s in Sarah’s lap. Just remember that imagery to know that maybe during life it seemed like he was, you know, he was the louder, more aggressive, what do we call it? The alpha — in reality of their ultimate positioning for eternity was Sarah in a sitting position and Abraham in a lying position. Which is a story of its own to understand, but I don’t want to go there because if I go there I’ll never get out of there.
So “Amar lei” R’ Bannah said to Eliezer, “zil ama lei Bana’ah ka abava,” can you please go to Abraham and say that Bana’ah is standing at the entrance. Can I come and say hello to you? “Amar lei lei’ol,” Abraham announced to Bana’ah and said let him enter. Because he won’t have the wrong impression of me lying in wife’s lap because of human desires. This is the world of ultimate truth so therefore he won’t get the wrong impression of what he’s going to see. Let him come up and see.
So “ayil ayin v’nafeik,” he entered the crypt, surveyed its dimension and departed. So he did what he had to do. He saw exactly where they’re buried, he marked it and he walked out. And Abraham and Sarah were very comfortable with Bana’ah in their presence.
This is a Talmud. You can look it up on your own. I’m not telling you any fairy tales. This is a Talmud. The Talmud recorded this. This is the part that I want to bring it to you. “Ki mata l’ma’arasa d’Adam Harishon.” When Bana’ah comes to Adam’s crypt, before he can even get near it, “yatzesah bas kol v’amrah,” a Heavenly voice came out forth and decreed, “nistalkah b’demusa d’yukni,” you have gazed at the likeness of my image at the form of Jacob, you don’t have to gaze at mine. I’m here, but you don’t have to look at me because once you’ve seen Jacob you don’t have to look at me anymore.
So Bana’ah knew where Adam was, but he wasn’t given permission to look at him. On the other hand, why wasn’t he given — why didn’t Adam want him to look at him? Because it says you see Jacob. If you see Jacob you don’t have to see me.
Can someone explain me the logic here?
Audience Member: Well, when did he see Jacob?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: The Talmud is taking a leap of faith here that he saw him already. My only question is whose image is better? Jacob is the image of Adam. So it’s like someone saying look, if you see me you saw my dad. No, you didn’t see my dad. (Laughter.)
Audience Member: He didn’t.
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: You know, my dad’s image is a lot better than mine and I’m only a reflection of it. I want to see the original. It’s like almost saying you see a sketched image of a painting and you don’t have to see the original. What do you mean you don’t have to see the original? I want to see the original. Jacob is only a sketching of that. R’ Bana’ah wants to see the original, but R’ Bana’ah accepted it and didn’t argue back. It was as if this is a good argument.
That Jacob was an image of Adam, but even better. And once you’ve seen Jacob, Adam’s saying, I don’t want you to see me because to a certain degree you’re going to go down in your visual of what this experience is about. You’ve already seen the better version of who I am so why go to a lesser version. That’s what Adam was saying to Bana’ah. Once you’ve seen Jacob, you’ve gotten the better version.
Audience Member: So it’s not like you would be overwhelmed?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: No that wasn’t the issue. No. His issue was you’ve seen Jacob already. What does that mean? Here we go. Go back with me a little bit. Jacob was a soul that was before. He was the soul which was in Adam before he sinned. So Adam turned to Bana’ah and said a very simple thing. You’re going to look at me, I am a makeup of a soul that’s the reality fundamentally I am part of the sin.
Look at a version of me that stems from before I sinned. Jacob. Not Abraham, not Isaac; Jacob. Jacob was a soul that stemmed from a part of Adam which wasn’t part of sin. It’s as almost like the Alter Rebbe writes, the concept of a new soul. A soul that hasn’t been affected by sin. And all of a sudden that type of a soul has the ability to stand up and say it’s different than Abraham and Isaac. I want to change the whole movement of what Judaism is until now. It’s beautiful to see Abraham create a nation, it’s beautiful to see my dad create a nation, but it went nowhere. Let me do it. When he did it, it took hold and when it took hold, it was obvious that he had that vision that was greater than his forefathers.
Now, I want to read you one simple Rashi, R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki. In the beginning of the portion of Vayechi, at the end of Genesis, when Jacob is dying and he starts to bless his children. You know what the first Rashi says? Turn the page. You see 49? He says gather around me “v’agidah lachem,” and I want to talk to you. “Bikeish l’galos es hakeitz,” he wished to reveal the end to them. He wanted to reveal the messianic era. Jacob’s drive in life, at the end of the day, was to bring completion, a perfection to Judaism. That’s what his soul was.
So different than Abraham and Isaac that never was it mentioned that they wanted to bring the messianic era. Comes along Jacob and says I’m gathering you around my bed. It’s not about blessing you and talking to you about what you’re going to have your problems. His original intent when he gathered them around his bed was to bring the messianic era.
Then G-d turns around and says I’m not letting it happen and he changes his whole mode. He goes into a mode of speaking to each child individually about what their trials and tribulations in exile’s going to be, but that wasn’t his original intent. You want to talk about what Jacob intended? That G-d pushed him to do. Jacob intended messianic era. A soul that is purely unaffected by the world and had the ability to exist in a level that was purely messianic. Therefore, he had that drive in him.
Therefore, the Talmud comes out and says so why did he die? The Talmud says he didn’t die. You figure it out. He didn’t die. Yaakov Avinu lo met, he didn’t die. Of course, he died, but on a theological level, the Talmud says, there’s a part of Jacob that can’t die. This is a soul that was unaffected by evil that death should be attached to it, which doesn’t work. One personality.
Let me introduce you to a second personality. Moshe, Moses. The same concept. This is a man who took it after Jacob — picked up the ball from Jacob and he really did it. He all of a sudden took it from a people that didn’t have a guidance and a direction and gave them a systemized way of living and that was revolutionary. He changed it. It’s Toras Moshe.
G-d initially intended that only one person should have the Torah, it was Moses. He shared it. He said this is going to come a system of the whole humanity — the whole Jewish People and I’m going to change them. Moshe dreamt of going into the Land of Israel. That was his dream because Moshe’s belief the moment he enters the Land of Israel, messianic era.
The Midrash speaks about it in great length. Had Moses gone into the Land of Israel, the whole concept of thousands of years of exile wouldn’t have existed. This was Moses.
I want to just show you language. Again, what kind of soul this man was and we go back to that new soul language. Are you ready for it? This is by my C. Forgive me I was making these copies the last second. I didn’t put names on it or anything. This is the Ohr Hachaim. The Ohr Hachaim is R’ Chaim ben Atar. He wrote a commentary. He lived the same time as the Ba’al Shem Tov. He wrote this beautiful — I’ve said this to people — they gave it out in English. A condensed interpretation. It’s not, you know, they play a little bit around, but it’s all worthwhile to read it. They tried their best. He wrote mystical, but he wrote it very simple and beautiful language.
When Moses is born so the Torah says they saw that it’s good, “ki tov.” So what do you mean they saw it’s good? You have a baby lying in front of you, what makes it good? Every baby’s good. What do you mean ki tov, they saw this child is good?
So let me just read it to you. “Kavanas RZ”L,” he says this is what the rabbis interpreted, “shedarshu tov,” what does it mean he was good? “Hu mahul,” he was circumcised. He was born circumcised. “Kvar gilu da’atam b’makom acher,” and it’s as explained in other places, “ki Adam Harishon” — here is where we go — that Adam, “kodem shechata,” before he sinned, “hayah tov,” he was good, “muchlat u’b’ma’asah hara’a,” but then he became identified by his choice that he made, “mashach ha’arlah m’vechinas hara,” all of a sudden his whole — he changed his situation physically that now you need to have a circumcision.
The original Adam was circumcised and Moses is the original Adam before he sinned. Here comes the Ohr Hachaim and throws this whole idea about Moses. This is a soul that is identified not from Adam after he sinned. He’s the tov, he’s the good, of Adam before he sinned. This is where Moses comes from. Moses comes from Adam before he sinned. This idea of a new soul. That all of a sudden this type of person who had this new soul enters the world and what does he want to do? Change it and then believes that he’s part of the messianic era and he wants to enter the Land of Israel.
So one day — you can do this on your own, you should do it on your own — open up the Midrash, it’s around six pages of Midrash. One of the saddest six pages you’ll ever read or one of the greatest. It’s the end of the Midrash on the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses’s death and the Midrash walks you through Moses’s death. It’s very sad. Nobody wanted to take this man’s soul from the earth. Everybody struggled. G-d was looking for somebody to go down and bring his soul back. Nobody wanted to take his soul back.
Listen to what — I just — I selected one piece to show you this. There was one angel that was an evil angel. This is the Midrash imagery. The name of this angel was — you know, everybody struggles to know where he came from — his name was Sama’el. So after Gabriel, Michael, Refael rejects G-d’s request to bring Moses back, G-d turns to Samael, this evil angel and says go down to earth and get me Moses. It’s time for him to leave.
So look at the Midrash and let me skip over the first part and let me go to the right-hand part, the right-hand column, in middle. The Midrash describes Samael’s encounter with Moses. Here it goes. “V’terem sheher’eh Sama’el es atzmo l’Moshe Moshe yodei’a sheba Sama’el,” before Samael even approached Moses, Moses knew he’s coming. The moment that Samael saw Moses he trembled and the Midrash says, “v’lo matza pischon peh,” and he couldn’t begin to even talk to Moshe about leaving.
Moses looked at him and said what are you doing here? There’s no — you don’t belong here. Then Moses asks Samael who sent you? So Samael said who sent me? The Creator of the Universe.
“Amar lei,” so Samael says to Moses, “Amar lei kol ba’ei olam nishmasim mesurim l’yadi,” whoever comes down in creation, all the souls are handed over to me. So Samael looks at Moses and says I’m just doing my job. This is what — everybody that dies, in this world, goes through me. This is my job in the world; to bring souls back to G-d. This is the energy in creation that I represent; the demise of the human being.
Listen to what Moshe says to him. “Amar lei,” Moses counters him — we’re on the bottom of the page, the last five, six lines — I have more power than all who walk the earth. So Samael looks at him and says, “mah kochacha,” what’s your power? “Amar lei ani ben Amram,” I’m the son of Amram, “sheyatzisi m’me’ei imi mahul v’lo nitzrachti l’mohalani,” I left my mother’s womb circumcised.
First of all, Moses wasn’t the only human being born circumcised. It happened, by the way. It happens even in our days. It’s unique, it’s different, but it can happen. What is Moshe saying and so what that you were born circumcised? We’re talking about death. Everybody circumcised dies. What’s this argument?
Here we go back. Go back to this whole conversation. But what’s Moses saying, not just seeing that circumcision. He’s saying I am a part of Adam, prior to circumcision. I’m a part of Adam’s soul that evil never happened to and if evil never happened to it there’s no death.
The human race that you deal with deals with evil therefore there’s circumcision, removal of the skin. A representation of evil that conceals the truth. I’m not part of that experience. So the fact that the whole human race needs that as salvation that you bring their soul back to G-d, I never go through that process that you need to cleanse me. So why are you even bothering me?
This is Moshe’s argument and at the end he won the argument and he couldn’t take it. This is the Midrashic vision of what our conversation of what Moses saw of himself and therefore, at the end of the day, there’s a Gemara that says “Moshe lo meis,” Moses didn’t die. Finished. He’s not alive. Everybody knows he’s not alive, but “Moshe lo meis.”
On a theological level they can’t come to terms with a person’s soul that identified so deeply into the existence of original forms of souls that was never affected by sin in the world that it should lose its right to be and that’s messianic. Therefore, they believed in the messianic era and therefore Moses turned around and said I want to bring the messianic era because that was his experience. His experience was perfection.
Audience Member: (Inaudible 00:45:37).
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: No, no, no. Completely different.
Audience Member: So the circumcision is a cleansing and a removal of the evil?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: To a certain degree, that’s how the Talmud saw it. That it was the organ of the person that evil can be done with and you cut — you do a circumcision to remove that evil.
I’m just giving you a little bit of an insight of how the Midrash and the Talmud move between personalities, in Jewish history, that they saw them as these original souls. And in their originality they had a right to exist forever. Lo meis, the don’t die. In that originality they are messianic. Not in a bad way, in a way that they were personally experiencing something that is so perfect. They wanted the world to have it. They wanted to share it with the world. They didn’t understand why the world cannot be there with them until G-d says I need to remove you, end of conversation. I know you don’t want to be removed, I know.
By the way, this Midrash goes on for four more pages. Where G-d is trying to figure out how to remove Moses and basically it’s walking you through history. That there’s nothing in history that could stop a person of that nature until G-d kisses him and in that kiss he dies.
That’s the end of the whole Midrash. G-d kisses him and he dies. But up until that point there’s nothing in history, there’s nothing in Creation that can undo such a personality because this is a soul that was born circumcised; not in the literal sense, but A; in the literal sense, but beyond that in the theoretical sense. He wasn’t affected by sin.
Audience Member: Is this the same kiss that the Tanya talks about?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: Correct. Okay. I want to tell you a story that bantered around the Chassidic Movement by the Alter Rebbe, but before I go there — a major controversial Talmud. “David Hamelech lo chata,” King David didn’t sin. It’s a difficult Talmud to digest. What do you mean King David didn’t sin? He didn’t sin and the Talmud goes on further to say and if you believe he sinned, you have it wrong.
Why is the Talmud that set on saying David didn’t sin? Because here we go to another soul. “David Melech Yisrael chai v’kayam,” King David exists for eternity. The Talmud felt that King David’s soul was a soul — one of those original souls and therefore, he had a messianic vision. He changed Judaism. He changed the whole concept of the Land of Israel. He planted a capital city. He (inaudible 00:48:56) the location of the Temple. The Talmud saw him in these unbelievable terms. Therefore, it says “David Melech Yisrael chai v’kayam,” he lives forever.
“Lo chata,” he’s not part of sin. These are the original souls.
Audience Member: (Inaudible).
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: Well, “David Hamelech lo chata,” it’s a Tractate of Bava Basra. I’ll get you the exact page. It’s a beautiful Talmud of it. The Talmud goes — I didn’t — again, I was the last minute running and doing this. Please forgive me. I thought I had an additional hour. I would have put up the whole piece of King David in, but I just —
Those are, like, three major personalities in Jewish history that you see this running theme of personalities that are original souls.
I want to tell you a Chassidic story. A Chassidic story that it, on the surface, is so misinterpreted. I never tell this story because I always feel like how do I tell it and get out of the imagery that it’s all wrong.
The Alter Rebbe, the day that the Vilna Gaon, R’ Eliyahu Kramer of Vilna, a major adversary, a major conflicting view on how Judaism should go. The Alter Rebbe was taking Judaism down the mystical path; the Vilna Gaon, in the Lithuanian way of thinking, was taking it down the Talmudic path and steeped in law, steeped in knowledge, steeped in right and wrong versus soul-full spiritual ideas. Two different directions.
The day he passed away, the Alter Rebbe said like this. Today, they changed Gehinnom. They changed Hell. How did they change Hell? They took the old Gan Eden, they took the old heaven and that became Hell and they created a new Gan Eden.
Audience Member: Who’s they?
Rabbi Alti Bukiet: Up there. An imagery. It’s an imagery. The Alter Rebbe turned around and said. So when you say it it doesn’t sound good. Why doesn’t it sound good? It’s as if to say that the Vilna Gaon went to Hell. That’s what it sounds and therefore, it’s a controversial thing to say. The Alter Rebbe is just saying listen, the type of hell he went to it’s heaven and now there’s a new type of heaven.
It doesn’t sound good and therefore, I never tell this story because it never sounds good. It’s such a deep story. It’s such a deep imagery. What is the Alter Rebbe saying? He’s not saying something negative because, let’s not forget, who was in the old heaven? Everybody. Everybody in history, up to that moment, is in the old heaven. They’re all sitting there.
So if that’s where the Vilna Gaon is going he’s going where everybody is. He’s in tremendous company. They’re all in the old heaven. It’s an unbelievable place. So there’s nothing negative about that.
What the Alter Rebbe was saying is something entirely different. He’s saying that what’s starting today, in the world today, is a new heaven. What mysticism is going to do the world is introduce a new heaven. The concept of mysticism which is going to take hold in creation is going to change a person’s perception to what his relationship with G-d is and therefore, it’s a new heaven.
The Talmudic heaven is the old heaven. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I’m telling you that in mysticism — this is what the Alter Rebbe was saying — that I’m telling you that in mysticism there’s a whole revolution of everybody thinking that it’s going to change the reality of what heaven is about. Therefore, today starts the day where there’s a new heaven.
That’s what he was saying. He wasn’t being derogatory. On the surface, it sounds hard, but he wasn’t being derogatory. He was saying a very simple idea and he’s right. Two hundred and fifty years later mysticism changed the world. I always say this. I am so proud when six year ago I got a phone call from Lewis Glinert, his name is. He’s a professor in Dartmouth University, in New Hampshire. He says, Alti, I’m in Temple Isaiah for the next six weeks. I’m teaching Tanya.
He had 80 people, over a six-week period, teaching mysticism in Temple Isaiah. I’m so proud of him. That mysticism has become a basic tenet in how people approach Judaism. Irrelevant of background, irrelevant of what you — it’s a system in how to think as a Jew. It’s not that you would ever fathom that it will be detached from religious behavior.
It’s exactly what the Alter Rebbe was saying. It’s a new heaven. I’m introducing to you a whole new concept of heaven. The relationship with G-d will not go into the old standards. Those types of relationships is the old heaven and that old heaven exists with many good people.
Now, go back to the first paragraph we read. How the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe says that the Ba’al Shem Tov, three years before the Alter Rebbe was born said there’s a new soul coming down to this world that’s going to be one those souls that understood it’s a revolutionary process this whole mystical reality. It changed the world.
I’m going to tell you a beautiful story and I leave it by saying it to you — I’m going to go back to the Alter Rebbe. I’m not going to talk about the Rebbe. I leave that to your own imagination; to your own imagination of how you want to place the Rebbe in this conversation. I’m not going to — that’s up to you. I’m just putting it out, a concept of a new soul.
I want to just tell you a beautiful story of the Alter Rebbe. One of the fundamental teachings in mysticism is the original vision that the Ba’al Shem Tov had. What was the original vision that the Ba’al Shem Tov had? The original vision that the Ba’al Shem Tov had, he went up to heaven and he came into the messianic chamber and he asked the Messiah when are you coming? This is the famous song. “Mei’amasai kasi mar” (sings). This is famous. I’m not going to bang on the table, but, you know, it’s a famous Chassidic song. When are you going to come? “L’ch’sheyafutzu ma’ayanosecha chutzah,” (sings) wave your wellsprings of teaching mysticisms will go out to the world.
So the great-grandson of the Maggid, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s disciple, said — yeah, the one who inherited the Ba’al Shem Tov’s position said — all the Chassidic masters what happened as soon as the Ba’al Shem Tov heard this from Messiah he cried. The Ba’al Shem Tov cried. Why did he cry? There are a lot of the interpretations. One of the simple interpretations is he realized for the mysticism to go out to the world there will be a lot of sacrifice involved. You have to invest yourself in the world.
So the great-grandson of the Maggid said we, all Chassidic masters, got too caught up in the Ba’al Shem Tov’s tears. And we said why is he crying, we’d rather protect it, so we insulated ourselves. The one who stood up and said the Ba’al Shem Tov’s tears.
What did the Messiah say? He said get out there. It was the Alter Rebbe and he said I’m going to get out there. I don’t have time to worry about the Ba’al Shem Tov’s tears. I’m going to — I can’t go off message. The message is get out there and he got out there and taught mysticism in a way that you see today. This is an original soul. The entire mysticism could have been insulated.
Temple Isaiah would never have access to mysticism if the Alter Rebbe behaved like the Belz or Ger or Satmar or Vizhnitz. They don’t even know what this is. If you went into Temple Isaiah and said Ger, they wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. You go in and you say Chabad, mysticism it’s out there because the Alter Rebbe made that decision. He’s not going to worry about his grandfather crying and try to figure out how to protect him that he shouldn’t lose his grandchildren. He was worried about the line of Messiah. That when your wellsprings will be spread through the world that’s when I’m going to come. This messianic vision resonated within him and that was the new soul that the world produced and it hasn’t stopped. It has been growing since the day he came.
I, say this class and I put the Rebbe right there. I’m not going to interpret what I’m doing with the Rebbe right there, but I put him on the table and leave it up to your interpretation and your feelings about the concept of a new soul that has the ability to change the world. And the concept of a new soul that throughout history parked themselves on center stage and challenged the world to behave differently and to see themselves as better people.
I’m going to end with one little thing. There’s a council — a city councilman in New York City. I forgot his name, forgive me, but you could YouTube a clip of him. Again, I come in ill prepared today a little bit. It’s a city councilman that it just touched my heart. He created this organization, in addition to being city councilman, to help children in the poor neighborhoods not to get involved in crime and to do a good deed. He spoke at a dinner, at this organization’s dinner when he inaugurated it. He got up and said where do I come up with this? Well, his brother died in a shooting that’s why he did it. He did it in his brother’s memory.
He said where did I come up with this? He said, I’ll tell you. My brother and I lived on Eastern Parkway and when we were children playing, on a Saturday morning, there was this old rabbi that would walk down the street and walk by us and say good morning. Sometimes when he would walk by us we were fighting and he would stop and say the energy that you spend on fighting could be spent on something good. Why don’t you do something good with that energy and you’ll change the world because the world gets changed by one good deed at a time.
Then, one day he was walking down the street and it was a weekday, in the summer, and he came by us and he handed us a dollar. Each one. He said I’m giving it to you not for you; I’m giving it to you to help a third person. The Rebbe looked at them and said that third person becomes part of your life, becomes part of my life and one good deed and now three people are connected. Just keep on doing this, the Rebbe said, and overtime you’re going to change people. You will have changed lives.
He said I was an eight-year-old kid. I was so touched by this man that when over the years I said to myself one good deed can change this world and I became a politician through it.
The Rebbe’s view and the Rebbe’s vision of touching the soul and a soul touches another soul and it just doesn’t stop was a touch that was unbelievable and he had a vision of changing the world. He, to a certain degree, stood there and preached it. Preached it in a way that I don’t know of one person who has ever built an empire the way he built it and he didn’t even attempt to. He had no idea. He wanted no part of anybody’s organizations. He wanted no part of anybody’s — he just wanted to be able to do good for people and when I moved out here, he just looked at me and said just do good. He says you’ll buy property, you’ll buy; you won’t buy, you won’t buy. He wasn’t interested in the whole thing. He was just simply interested get out, into Lexington and do good and if I can be of help when you’re doing it, I will be a help, I will be supportive.
It wasn’t his intent that it’s somehow connected back to a central office that has the authority over anybody. It was independency, of just simply the idea of people doing good.
It’s for that reason, I open up this whole thing of original souls that had that ability to reshape the world in their simple message, but somehow or another they had the ability to touch people beyond the average. It’s a conversation to be had and the history will tell us, at the end of the day, like history tells us about the Alter Rebbe, 250 years later, that he was right. That this is revolutionized Judaism. It’s going to be a new heaven.
Or, like King David. That yeah, Jerusalem’s going to take hold. It’s going to become the capital. It’s real. Or, like Moses. That yeah, the ritualistic system in Judaism is going to take over. Or, like Jacob. That we’re not going to be a tribe. We’re going to be a nation.
These are original souls that changes history.
Next week, we’ll move on to another idea. Have a good day everybody.
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|Category||Judaic Studies, Religion|
|Tag||Adult Education, Informal Education|
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