Thursday, December 22, 2005

CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: "Binding Bundles" (Vayeishev)


Kislev 21, 5766 * December 22, 2005


Parsht Vayeishev

"Binding Bundles"
- - - - - - - - -

At the beginning of the Torah portion Vayeishev, we are told that, in relating the beginning of his dream to his brothers, Yosef said: "We were binding sheaves in the field." Rashi explains the words "binding sheaves" according to the Targum - that the phrase means "binding bundles, i.e., sheaves of grain."

In terms of our spiritual service, the verse and Rashi's comment imply that the spiritual service of "binding sheaves" involves gathering disparate sparks of holiness and uniting them, just as separate stalks of grain are brought together and bound into a bundle.

This manner of service also applies to each individual's soul; he is to gather the disparate elements of his personality and unite them with the Divine.

Herein lies the lesson of Yosef's dream: in addition to tying together and elevating the holy sparks found within each of us and uniting them through the service of Torah and mitzvos, we must also "go out in the field" and occupy ourselves in uniting the elements of holiness scattered throughout the world.

We do so in order to bring others back to G-d and the observance of Torah and mitzvos, and to the light of Torah - its inner dimension - the "Tree of Life."

Rashi elaborates on this theme when he explains that "tying sheaves" means "binding bundles," i.e., that the purification and elevation of the sparks of holiness is to be done in a way that binds them permanently to their source, similar to something that is tied and bound. This will guarantee that the binder will have a lasting effect on the one who is bound, so much so that all the ill winds in the world will be unable to sever his bond with G-d and Torah.

Rashi then goes on to explain that, in order for this to be accomplished, we must learn a lesson from "sheaves of grain." Just as kernels of grain yield future crops, so too, when one betters another, it is to be done in a manner such that the beneficiary will in turn have a positive impact on others.

Shabbos is connected to the previous days of the week, for "He who toils before Shabbos gets to eat on Shabbos." Similarly, Shabbos is linked to the days that follow it, for "Shabbos is the day from whence all the coming days of the week are blessed." Shabbos is thus a day that unites the days before it with the days that follow it.

During many years (and this year as well), the Shabbos of the portion Vayeishev falls between the festival of the Alter Rebbe's liberation on the 19th of Kislev and the days of Chanukah. Since the Torah portions are related to the time during which they are read, it follows that the above-mentioned lesson applies equally to the festival of the 19th of Kislev and to the festival of Chanukah.

One of the pillars of the Alter Rebbe's service was getting Jews to return to Judaism. In fact, the Alter Rebbe related that, upon hearing a particular Torah message from his teacher the Maggid of Mezritch, he decided that it was incumbent on himself to draw all Jews closer to Judaism. He thereafter spent five years traveling from place to place in order to bring Jews on the "outside" closer to Torah and mitzvos. Moreover, it was after the festival of the 19th of Kislev that there began the service of "spreading the wellsprings outside."

The Chanukah lights are to be lit as well in the entrance of one's home. For they also serve to illuminate and purify the "outside," bringing it back into the domain of holiness.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, p. 115-121)


Chanukah is just around the corner!

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