(short) - Yud-Tes Kislev
Yud-Tes Kislev, the “Rosh HaShanah of the Chassidic year,”
falls this year on Sun. nite-Mon. Dec. 18-19. It is the yartzeit of Rabbi
DovBer (c.1700-1772), the “Maggid” of Mezritch, successor to the Baal
Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of the Chassidic movement; the anniversary
of the miraculous release of the founder of the Chabad dynasty, Rabbi
Shneur Zalman (1745-1812), from Russian prison in 1798 on charges of treason;
and the publication date in 1796 of his famous book of Chassidism (and
Kabbalah, psychology and ethics): Tanya.
> Some Laws and Customs - Yud-Tes Kislev
What to Do on Yud-Tes Kislev
* Go to your favorite Lubavitcher's house, or with him or her to the
party he is attending. If you don't know one, get in touch with the
nearest official Chabad person.
* Demand to hear the whole story.
* Say "l'chayim."
* Sing along.
* Make a good resolution in connection to Torah-and-mitzvot.
In the day:
* Start on your resolution.
* Check out Tanya
and HaYom Yom (and GPS
for the Soul).
* Give extra tzedakah ("charity")
* Try to help a fellow Jew.
English sources for the historical events of Yud-Tes
* Arrest and Liberation (Kehot)
* Philosophy of Chabad, vol 2 (Kehot)
* Treasury of Chassidic Tales on the Festivals (Artscroll)
(long) - Yud-Tes Kislev
"I have Become Small"
[This teaching is based on the letter that Rabbi Shneur Zalman rote and
had circlulated immediately after his miraculous release from Soviet prison
on Yud-Tes Kislev 5559 (1798).]
"I have become small from all the kindnesses and
from all the truth that You have done for me
" [Gen. 32:11]
This means that with every single favor that G-d bestows upon a man,
he ought to become very humble. For "Chesed is the right arm"
and "His right arm embraces me" [Song 2:6], which refers to
the state of G-d actually bringing him close to Himself, far more intensely
than before. And whoever is brought very much closer to G-d, and elevated
to great heights, must be ever more humble, to the lowliest plane, as
it is written: "From afar the Lord has appeared to me" [Jer.
31:2]. And as known, "All that are before Him are esteemed as nothing."
Hence, whoever is more "before Him" [closer to G-d] is that
much more like nothing, naught, and non-existent.
The explanation in Lessons
Rashi comments that "I have become small" is
a result of "all the favors and all the truth", i.e., "My merits
have diminished because of the favors and truth you have done with me." Ramban
argues that this comment is inconsistent with the "language of the verse,"
which states that "I have become small," not that the speaker's merits
have become small; there is a diminution in quality rather than quantity.
therefore understands "I have become small" to mean: "I am unworthy
of receiving all your kindness and truth." Thus, according to Ramban, "I
have become small" is not a result of G-d's "kindness and truth,"
but rather an expression of the speaker's being unworthy of receiving G-d's "kindness
The Alter Rebbe, however, is going to explain this verse
according to the commentary of Rashi: "from all the kindness" simply
means that it was the kindness that made Jacob feel "small". At the
same time, though, the Alter Rebbe will understand "I have become small"
as referring to the speaker himself: it is he himself who has become diminished
as a result of G-d's many kindnesses and His truth. (Thus, not only have the particular
person's merits become lessened, which results in his diminishment, but he himself
is directly affected as a result of the "kindness and truth.")
it is the person himself (and not the tally of his merits) that has become diminished,
nonetheless this diminution is a result of the "kindness and truth."
This, then, is what the Alter Rebbe intends by saying "This means" -
Chag Samayach - Have a joyous holiday!