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The Precariousness of Ascent: Why At Times We Must Fail

A series on the Chassidic discourses of Samach Vav -- The cornerstone of Chassidus, by Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Schneerson. Class 1 of 6

1 hr 3 min

Class Summary:

A series on the Chassidic discourses of Samach Vav -- The cornerstone of Chassidus, by Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Schneerson. Class 1 of 6



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  • C

    Chayale -13 years ago

    My notes on this class
    Man in meah sharim who never left yerushlayim. For 65 yrs he would go into a shul in meah shearim and he would sit everyday in the same exact same spot... And he would learn there a whole day. After 65yrs one of his grandchildren asked him to take a change of scenery.

    He said "yes you are right" he stood up and moved to a different bench and had his "change his scenery"

    Most of us cant really live that life style: Some of us wish we could. Students ask: "rabbi, leaving Israel tell us something that we will never fall?"

    Convert came to ask tell me the whole Judaism on one foot, Shamai said ‘Get out of here’ and Hillel answered. R' Nachman: what does this mean on one foot? He is saying I want to be on one foot- stability not going up and down Shamai said its not possible and Hillel said there is one mitzvah that can be stable...

    Q: why do we need this wobble , to go up and down why cant we be stable in our avodah? If hashem is unlimited it should be possible?

    Rebbe Rashab

    2nd mamar

    Hemshech samech vov: ze hayom techilas masecha(mamar of rh)

    Beginning of the hemshech (1st mamar): purpose of creating the world: is revealing Hashem in the world which will happen when Moshaich comes, until then connecting to g-d we can never reach his essence only levels of his light

    This mamar: differentiates between gan eden -garden of eden and eden (essence) itself= moshiach

    More beautiful the palace is nicer the garden (what precedes it) so garden is revelation of G-d's light that we can perceive now before Moshiach comes

    Bazeh: in this light (revelation of G-ds light) that is all the ascents of the souls in gan eden : every single day the souls in gan eden ascend three times and also on shabbos and yom tov have their ascent (like says in tanya) all these ascents are all a glimmer of the level called eden (essence) (they ascend thru the garden) there are millions of levels in gan eden.

    [there are neshamaos in gan eden for millions of years and still going up three times every day that’s how many levels there are... ]

    Razal: going up every day is explaining what chazal says at end of brachos : tzadikim dont have rest in this world and not in the next world also like it says in Tehilim: yelchu mchyil el chayil (also in the next world)

    Why is this necessary (even in a world without the limitedness of our world already reached spiritual bliss? Why need this change?)

    Because all these revelations are only a ray of G-ds light therefore there are many levels

    As its known: in future when G-ds essence will be revealed then there will be no change!

    Bc then it will be pleasure in G-ds essence and in essence there are no levels

    But now that there are many levels -bc its only a ray of G-ds light- why does ray of G-ds light make a necessity for ascent and descend?

    Any aspect of light by definition it has an above and below and beginning and end!!

    Mashal: when a person is closer to source of light it’s much more light and when it is far away the light is less like light of candle you can’t compare the light near candle or farther away in the house from the candle. So too with light of torch, and sun closer to sun the light is very powerful further down form sun light is less, etc

    Chassidus: what’s light? Light = revelation - any time something is revealed - by definition there will be levels of perception of the thing

    Ex: getting to know a person: there are many dif ways of knowing them- closer u are to someone the more about them u know! Also physically closer u see more details

    When u hug someone : (doesn't matter how well u know them) its all the same by everyone because youre getting to the essence there are no levels!!

    Line 13: so too by Hashem - when it comes to G-dly light (all worlds are Hashem's light) when u are close to the luminary (Hashem) its very powerful and this is with all light , cant u compare closer to source to further away...since every light has a begining and end- therefore there are going be a lot of different levels!!

    Line 16: (can daven on this line for hrs) but with essence of G-d is in every palace exactly equal and there is no beginning and end therefore there is no levels!

    Here the mashal is not like nimshal : hugging u can only hug them in a certain place but G-ds essence is everywhere (its only explaining the idea of equal at all levels)

    This the avodah of neshamos of gan eden, just like neshamos down here do avodah also up there they serve: but toil is pleasure there (of ascending form one level to another) like marriage its is also toil but its abt pleasure labor gettting deeper and deeper: avodah of neshamo to go form one level to the next!

    What is this avodah in order to go up? Line 19: every time to go up you have to toil in order to become nullified - nullify previous level and only after that can u go higher and become included in higher level

    (alter rebbe's siddur) avoda of ascending is to leave previous level - person u were to go up and become included in the next level)

    Rest of mamar explains this:

    Line 20: only by first nullifying previous level from lower level until u totally forget the pleasure of that level , as if it didnt exist - only then could u come and reach higher level which is much greater than the previous.

    Explanation: the higher level is such a greater pleasure that you can’t contain previous pleasure in order to receive the higher pleasure

    Ex: steak vs potato peel in Auschwitz

    Mamar of Mittiler Rebbe explains this idea of forgetting previous level in order to reach higher level: brings example: pleasure of physical labor vs emotional pleasure -you can’t compare the two pleasures- while playing basket ball u can also enjoy ice cream because same type of pleasure but to feel happy or love u can’t do at the same time cause dif type pleasure of intellect cant be enjoyed by emotions.

    A person sees in himself when we are serving hashem with our heart and mind in davening : when a person reaches a great sate of mental (mochin) awareness of G-d that’s very deep one has to completely nullify an forget his pleasure that he felt in love and fear of G-d

    First- that pleasure in emotions shouldn’t disturbed your intellectual bliss in G-d.

    Rebbe Rashab:

    Line 23: therefore going from one level to another u have to forget the previous bc these levels of gan eden is a revelation of the supernal pleasure for g-d which comes from which is above all the worlds therefore all levels of emanations of his light is incomparable one to another- because u can’t compare the lower level to the higher level bc of this u need complete batul of previous level only then could u come to higher level -which is incomparable.


    1) learning Torah: when a person is studying wisdom and wants to come to higher level of understanding which isnt comparable to the previous level of understanding u must leave the previous knowledge : like Rav zeira fasted over 120 days in order to forget talmud bavli in order to receive the talmud yerushalmio

    Q: usually form lower level of understanding one can go to a higher level of understanding- why does he have to forget his previous knowledge?

    A: this is true when levels are in the same range but when levels are incomparable then u have to forget previous knowledge , even though rav zeira's learning is with complete love and fear nevertheless in order to get to talmud yerushalmi he had to forget everything he knew which is complete bittul only then was he able to come to the higher -incomparable level

    So too: with a specific idea - a deep idea (that u never learnt before) it comes thru toil/concentration gemara: "only thru toiling do u come to higher level" to come to an incomparable level a deep idea only comes thru toiling

    Toil/concentrate= the refining and the nullification of the intellectual faculties (to allow idea to come thru to u)

    An even deeper idea - concentrate isn’t even enough!! He needs ‘confound-ment’ no revelation of intellect in ur mind only then youll come to the really deeper level

    Mittiler Rebbe (b) : all the ascents of angels is thru songs specifically - singing allows person to leave previous state - prophets would play music to receive prophecy so too malachim are always singing to leave previous state.

    Rebbe Rashab: when a seed decomposes in earth only then will power of growth will make something come form nothing - it will grow!

    This is what Chazal teaches: "to really acquire Torah is to kill yourself over torah " " he has to die in place of study"

    Learning torah on your level isn’t toil, but to acquire torah is to really toil!

    Line 44: also receiving form a teacher - any students who is not drooling form teacher wont be a keli only thru nullifying ur being can u receive!

    2) tefillah: so too with the ascent of soul by davening, this new level can only be attained through the meriros and shiflus (bitterness and lowliness that precedes it) skip to line 47: like mishne says in brochos:" cant daven without having a heavy head which is submission and lowliness" - not being content with who we are- by being bitter of distance from g-d and makes accounting of his deeds and soul of how he is really far that allows person to come to a lowliness state and thru this will a person allow his soul to shine by davening to allow G-dly light to shine in his soul to come to closeness and burning fire and closeness to Hashem.

    The more bitter a person feels about his distance the more he will have G-ds light and joy in G-d in tefillah aand the gemara: "according the suffering is the reward"

    3) teshuvah (of r’h and y’k): the more deep the teshuvah is, the distance from G-d hurts him more deep in the soul and he cries with bitterness of the soul until his whole form is completely lost to be state of nothingness -thats the broken sounds of the shevarim and teshura the more light will be revealed thru his teshuvah

    Like we say before shofar " from the straights I call out to u G-d, G-d answer me with expansiveness"

    A complete dire straight -state of nothingness and nullification that specifically will bring about Hashem answering us with an expansiveness- with even greater amount of revelation!

    Rebbe: Mamar tof shin lamed vov

    Points out that only by Torah is there made a differentiation between

    By torah : rebbe rashab explains that there are some times that learning is from easy to dif in an order then the previous level of understanding helps to the next level but only when ur trying to reach a level which is not comparable then u need to nulify previouis level

    Also by daeving and teshuvah: there are two types levels which are comparable and incomparable

    Tefillah: simple daveing- doesnt seem like it needs this whole hachana!! Any time a person feel he needs something, its a mitzvha to daven to hashem - he doesnt need to have all this bitterness before- its mitzvah but not avodas hatfillah its not bringing u to whole new level of ur relationship u need this tefillah but its not making this change in u

    Also with teshuvah : there are 2 types: when someone is faced with a test: turning away form that evil is also a type of teshuvah! Its the mitzvah of teshiuvah but not the ultimate level of teshuvah of becoming included in G-ds light thats is with losing oneself first!

    Alter Rebbe: (chinuch katan)

    There a dif levels of ahavs hashem- why do we need to know the dif levels? Bc we cant always stay at same level

    Its known the reason of posuk in mishlei " 7 times will a righteous person fall and gets up"

    Only from the fact that he falls and gets up allows him to go to higher level- ppl are mehalchim they are going form one level to another in order to go onto next level u have to have a draw back in order to move on to a completely new level!

    Only by falling from previous level can we reach next level!

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  • ASFS

    A student form seminary -13 years ago

    Thank you!
    Rabbi Braun THANK YOU so much for these classes! each one gives so much chayus to my avodah ! thnak you!

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    • A

      Anonymous -13 years ago

      Re: Thank you!
      Your very welcome. Feedback like yours gives ME chayus to continue in my avodah...

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  • A

    avner -13 years ago

    moshiach now
    nice to hear from you again, regards from miami beach

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    • A

      Anonymous -13 years ago

      Re: moshiach now
      Hi Avner!! So happy you're still immersed in chassidus!!

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  • A

    Anonymous -13 years ago

    An Email from a Student
    A student of mine sent the following questions by email:

    "I listened to the shiur you gave on YeshivaNet from hemshech samech vov and i had a few questions.

    1. On the video shiur it was taught that by moshiach there will be a revelation of Atzmus Hashem and mimeila there will not be any levels, so therefore there will be no ascent nor descent. but we learn that by moshiach we will be only growing and getting closer and closer to Hashem but it will all be at the same pace. how do these two ideas fit together?

    2. What is the concept of learning something incomparably greater? What does that mean?

    3. I don't understand what it means to have a fall/bitul in order to learn something incomparably greater. If one is learning there has to be self involved because it is the mind that is understanding. and if there is no mind involved and the student is just taking in all the information with 'kabalos ol' it is not really learning, it is gathering information. So what does it mean to have a fall/bittul to learn, and why is it necessary? (I understand where it fits in with davening and teshuvah[maybe beacuse they are both a movement of needing Hashem to come down on to you- you need isirusa diliayla but learning you do yourself and Torah in it of itself has Hashem within it there is no need for Hashem to come and reveal Himself -He is already built in so to speak].

    I hope you can get back to me. (whether email or in person.)



    My response--

    1)By the Ultimate Revelation of Moshiach, not ONLY will G-d's Essence be revealed, but also--in the language of Chassidus--his "Giluyim", meaning all the levels of His Light that right now make up Seder Hishtalshelus, the Downchaining of Worlds. This section of Samech Vov is stressing the revelation of Atzmus/the Essence of G-d, as will be even more explained in Shiur 6, and contrasting it to the fact that until Moshiach we only have a ray of His Light which is why now there needs to be ascents and descents. But certainly there will be ascensions in His Light then also.

    2&3)The example given in the maamar is reaching to grasp the Talmud Yerushalmi after Talmud Bavli. Now seemingly, both Talmuds deal with the same subjects, are based on the same Mishnayos, and are at first glance quite similar in basic style. But that's the whole idea! We're not just talking about two different BODIES OF INFORMATION. It would truly be difficult to understand how just facts could be incomparably greater to each other, and then also your question 3 is truly problematic. Rather the example of the two Talmuds is conveying TWO DIFFERENT WAYS/MODES OF THINKING. My Grandmother Channa A"H used to often repeat the famous Yiddish saying, A Jew who could learn a page of gemarra could learn anything. The meaning of that is that the gemarra opens up the head and trains it to think, analyze, and question in such a radical way, that after that any other school of thought seems calm...I've had in the past young men and women from Ivy league schools that have had quite a difficulty in understanding gemarra, because for all universities' claims of being "open minded," they very often end up being information providers and fail to teach students HOW to think, how to truly analyze. And then, I've seen some of those students become so frustrated, so upset, to the point of tears, feeling that they know NOTHING at all...DESCENT...and that itself allows the mind to become open to now receive a whole new way of thinking....

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    • C

      CM" -13 years ago

      Re: An Email from a Student
      Thank You Rabbi Braun for taking the time to answer.

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  • A

    Anonymous -13 years ago

    Re:Geshmak and Gevaldig!
    To Morah Rochel and Deborah,

    Thank you so much for your kind words.

    The Alter Rebbe said many times that Chassidus is not supposed to belong to any particular "party" or "group" of Jews, ch"v G-d forbid, but rather must be and is destined to become the light and vitality of all Jews. May we all merit to make that a reality soon!!

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Shmuel Braun

  • May 8, 2011
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  • 4 Iyyar 5771
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Dedicated by Reb Yaakov and Karen Cohen
Potomac, Maryland

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