and adaptation of a discourse by
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Chanukah 5714 (1953)
This maamer elaborates a discourse
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dov Baer Schneerson
by Rabbi David Rothschild
Part 2 (of 2)
Bowing to the sun finds expression even today. A person's
mind can be totally consumed in making a living. His head, so to speak, bows before
the sun - a spiritual form of sun worship.
Pagans worship the sun because
they consider it to be the source of their well being. Therefore it becomes them
to honor the sun. In truth, their life-force comes from G-d. It's just that G-d
relegated the planets and constellations as intermediaries -- an ax in the hands
of someone felling a tree. Just as it is ludicrous to praise an ax, so too to
ascribe power to the planets. But non-Jews consider the planets as their provider;
so they worship them.
A person sunk in business affairs puts his whole mind
to his work. He considers his business to be the cause of his livelihood. In truth,
though, "G-d nourishes the world in His Goodness, Kindness, and Mercy."
Business is but a vessel in which to receive G-d's sustenance. It is unnecessary
to submerge his intellect into business; if he does, it is modern day sun worship.
The way to correct this problem is through soul searching.
Then a person won't even desire unneeded possessions. This is because when he
recognizes his spiritual inadequacy, how could he possibly consider he deserves
How does one reach this self-awareness? In order to be a receptacle
for G-d's blessings a person has to refine his character until he becomes devoid
of extraneous desires. He must make himself into "an empty vessel."
For a "full vessel" [already loaded with desires and pride] has no room
A person has to nourish his body with food and drink. Only
with a healthy body can one serve G-d. But the well being of his body isn't dependent
on pleasure and desire in food. When a person contemplates his preoccupation in
satiating unnecessary desires, he realizes his unworthiness. Now he is an empty
Liberation from spiritual sun
worship can also be accomplished by strengthening one's faith. G-d, after all,
provides sustenance for the entire universe. G-d is likewise capable of providing
his particular livelihood. His anxiety concerning his livelihood is unnecessary.
For G-d can sustain him in an altogether different manner. Although he may not
understand from where this alternative source of income will materialize, nevertheless
he must strengthen his faith that this is truly the case.
A person's insufficient comprehension about G-d's ways needn't
weaken his faith. The Zohar writes, "No thought can grasp G-d." This
"thought" refers to the primordial mind of Adam. In Kabbala, this thought
is the first manifestation of creation, albeit in potential. At the initial point
of creation, G-d created a vision which encompassed the totality of space and
time. Everything that would ever exist was contained in this first thought.
that even this highest of all possible thoughts can't understand G-d, it isn't
at all surprising that an individual, possessing but meager human intelligence,
fails to understand G-d's ways. He should rather strengthen his faith in the realization
that G-d can provide his needs in some other manner. In doing so he'll escape
the tribulations of falling head over into business - modern sun worship.
The Greeks waged spiritual war against the Jews.
Their aim was to force the abandonment of Torah and mitzvahs. The Greeks, who
worshiped the sun shield, wished to eliminate G-d's presence from the world. Victory
was attained due to the Hashmanites' strengthened faith. Likewise in the battle
against spiritual sun worship - excessive reliance on one's success in business
-- the solution is increased faith in
King Solomon says in Proverbs, "The lips of the wise adorn
knowledge; but the hearts of the foolish do not" (15:7). The Midrash identifies
"the lips of the wise" as Israel [who embody the truth of the holy Torah].
The [secular members of the] world's nations are "fools" because they
consider the world to be abtumtous. This Greek term translates as self-moving,
self-growing and spontaneous.
The Midrash explains the end of Proverb's
verse, "do not." Jews look upon every creature and declare "It
is thus." G-d does create the world! [At the end of each of the six days
of Creation G-d said, "It is thus."] But when non-Jews view creation
they posit, "It is not. Rather, the world is abtumtous." They regard
the universe as separate from G-d.
[Even though G-d may have originally
created the universe, He is no longer involved. The world operates independent
of G-d, i.e. Nature.]
"Foolishness" refers to the wisdom of the
secular, non-Jewish world. When the Greeks (the embodiment of this wisdom) entered
the Temple they deliberately defiled ritual olive oil. On a spiritual level, this
act implies the contamination of wisdom, which oil symbolizes. They Greeks designed
to replace Torah wisdom with their own. They and their successors do possess wisdom.
But Proverbs call it foolishness.
King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastics,
"I saw an advantage of wisdom over nonsense." The Zohar depicts this
"nonsense" as the Greek-type wisdom of the nations.
Non-Jewish secular wisdom produces division whereas Torah wisdom
engenders nullification. The Torah informs us how everything in the universe is
continuously recreated. Not only does a spiritual light from G-d first bring objects
into existence, their continued state of existence is also animated by this light.
Should the light be withdrawn for only an instant, the object would vanish into
thin air. The very existence of the object is in fact the light.
why the wisdom of Torah induces nullification. The object knows it is completely
dependent on G-d for its very existence. This realization not only informs and
subsequently humbles the intellect, it acts on emotions as well. Emotions usually
feel themselves as independent powers. A person who experiences love would say,
"I love." Nevertheless, Torah wisdom also refines and nullifies one's
The exact opposite is
true for secular non-Jewish wisdom. Their knowledge examines a creation devoid
of a sustaining spiritual light. The world is seen as a separate existence not
dependent on G-d. They just see the world. Its components are broken down and
analyzed into smaller and smaller parts. The subject of their wisdom is a self-existing
existence. The greater their wisdom, greater is their own self-existence.
methodology influences their already self-feeling emotions to become utterly narcissistic
and ultimately evil. Many intellectual giants of the non-Jewish world were not
only immoral, but also wicked. Their vast knowledge couldn't help them. The explanation
is that non-Jewish wisdom increases ego and separation from spirituality.
Solomon quotes their approach in his Proverbs. When beholding the world, they
declare "It is not!" There is no G-d who sustains creation. It is their
very thought process which forces this conclusion. That's why Solomon called them
In constant, Torah wisdom beholds the spiritual light continuously
recreating the world. It effects a humbling self-nullification toward G-d. The
unity of G-d and all of creation is understood.
intellectual appreciation of G-d, though, is insufficient. One can comprehend
G-d's constant presence in the world. But spirituality isn't actually seen. It
can't be. In the Future Era this light will be revealed for all to behold. For
the time being, though, it can't possibly be perceived by finite beings. That's
why Solomon said, "The lips of the wise crown knowledge."
encompasses the head from above. Wisdom resides in the brain. Crown refers to
the spiritual capacity which operates above intellect. Jewish souls possess an
innate faculty whose boundlessness forestalls its entering the body. This trait,
distinct to Jews, is called faith.
[Jewish souls originate from the vessels
of the World of Emanation. This world is above the source of creation. Souls descend
from there to enter physical bodies. Only the "finite" properties of
the soul make the plunge. The "infinite" properties, so to speak, stay
behind. They influence the body from above. As this aspect of the soul remains
in its original position - a place above the source of creation - it observes
the continuous act of recreation taking place below it. This perception is above
finite letters of thought. It is cognizant, though, as faith.]
One can become
muddled in private affairs to the extent that G-d disappears from the picture.
A person could deduce his success or failings are the consequence of his personal
ability, shortcomings or luck. He'll forget the fact G-d directs everything that
happens to him.
Solomon advises, "adorn knowledge": strengthen
your faith. Meditate on the process of continuous re-creation. Faith then is both
a necessity in general and a remedy for those befuddled by the Greek outlook.
[The Hebrew word for faith translates as "practice"; that is, repeat
the meditation. Gradually, the crown of the soul above will succeed in its task.
Its direct perception of G-d will sparkle below into the person's consciousness.]
why Chanukah candles are lit after sunset. The lights strengthen one's faith in
G-d. Faith, in turn, causes "the setting of the sun:" the abandonment
of the erroneous Greek tenet that the universe exists independent of G-d. For
eight days the menorah radiates light. This is identical to the holiday of Succot,
which also lasts eight days.
A succah isn't kosher if more sunlight penetrates
the roof than shade. Elimination of sunlight is analogous to the spiritual effect
The roof's branches, though, must be sufficiently thin to allow
starlight to shine between them. Stars are embedded in the eighth firmament, illustrating
a level which transcends the world. [The seven days of the week correspond to
the seven seferahs which enact creation.] In a Jewish soul, this eighth level
is the crown of faith. Faith causes the sun to set. That's why both Succoth and
Chanukah last eight days.
these mitzvahs which embody the transcendence of reality, the ultimate transcendence
of G-d's Essence is revealed. In the merit of strengthening one's faith, the Messiah
will arrive. The Messiah himself is called the "unique one" in relation
to the Eight Shepherds of Israel. Then he will consummate G-d's desire to be revealed
in this world.