Teachings of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson

[This scholarly thesis by Max Ariel Kohanzad, originally posted at www.xlubi.com/x5pnewtora.htm (now at Kohanzad's www.atzmus.com website), crucially reveals the amazingly nondual, radical spirituality to be found in the deepest, "secret" teachings of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-94), the hugely acclaimed leader of the Habad or Lubavitch lineage of Hasidic Jewish mysticism, the largest group of Hasidim in the world. Other highly recommended articles on the Rebbe and his teaching by Kohanzad are posted at his www.atzmus.com website. I regard this particular thesis as so important that I include it here at www.enlightened-spirituality.org with special emphasis given in italics.]

Atzmuss and the Status of the Torah in the Messianic Era: On a New Torah. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s (1902-1994) Mystical Theology

By Max Ariel Kohanzad

M.A Jewish Studies final Dissertation (Summer 2000) (Supervisor Professor Philip Alexander)

Abstract: In Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s view of redemption, the normative duality and distinctions between God and the world are swept away by a revelation of God, which is beyond traditional definitions. This new and monistic aspect of God is called Atzmuss. In the revelation of Atzmuss these apparently divergent realms become indistinguishable; Man, God and the world become one thing, and the role of the commandments therefore become questionable, if not unnecessary. It is the function of both the Messiah and the new Torah to reveal Atzmuss and therefore transform Judaism into its ultimate eschatological conclusion from a ‘doing’ religion, which attempts to fix a broken world, into a ‘being’ non-religion which accepts the world as it is as being perfect.

Contents: Introduction / Introduction to Sources / A New Theology for a New Torah / Exile and Duality / The Torah of Duality / Redemption by the mystical One / An explanation of Atzmuss / Definitions of infinity / The New Torah as the Revelation of Atzmuss / From the 'Me' - the Messiah -as revealed by the Rebbe in the New Torah / Atzmuss and the Individual / Mitzvoth in a Divine World / Appendix 1 / Atzmuss as Equanimity—the story of the great battle / Bibliography

Introduction: Rabbi M.M. Schneerson (also known as ‘The Lubavitcher Rebbe’ or just ‘the Rebbe’) was born in Nikolayev, Russia, 1902[1], the son of a well respected but controversial Kabbalistic Rabbi, who was for some time the Chief Rabbi of the city of Yekaterinoslav, in the former USSR. Rabbi M.M. Schneerson married a daughter of Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Schneerson,[2] (the sixth leader of the Habad Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty) and turned out to be even more controversial than his father. He went against his father-in-law’s wishes, and traditional Hassidic values, and enrolled in the University of Berlin where he studied the Natural Sciences, Neo-Kantanism and the Classics. This is where he met Abraham J. Heschel and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchick, and later transferred to the Sorbonne where he studied physics.

He, with most of the Schneerson family narrowly escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto [and the Nazi horror] and moved to America in the 1940’s, where he soon inherited leadership of the small but overly intellectual Hasidic group.

In the 44 years of his leadership he helped to shape and reinvent the face of post-war Jewry by spearheading one of the most radical assaults against assimilation ever seen. His now worldwide movement and philosophy has fundamentally shaped the way Judaism sees and understands itself. However, it is his last and overly messianic message (the late 1980s and early 1990s) that has been his most radical and controversial and as yet unexplored contribution to post-war Jewish philosophy, and in my opinion possibly contains the most profound and radical modern Hasidic thought ever. He died in Brooklyn, New York, June 12th 1994 (3rd of Tamuz) after an epic series of minor heart attacks, strokes, and other major internal organ failures, leaving no obvious successor, and his followers in a whirl of confused Messianic frenzy.

Introduction to Sources—The almost incongruous relationship between the radical spirit of the Rebbe’s work and his almost prudish religious conservatism could be described as a Freudian reaction where the level of religious commitment corresponds to an equivalently powerful antinomian desire. The Jewish mystic’s difficult relationship towards traditional religious values has been more clearly spelled out in Scholem’s introduction to his Major Trends, where he describes the general characteristics of the Jewish mystic.

The subtlety of Rabbi M.M. Schneerson’s antinomianism, and the purposefully ambiguous circular logic employed, fits well into the traditional character of Jewish mysticism in general and Hassidism in particular which attempts to remain within the confines and borders of traditional religious values. Rabbi M.M. Schneerson is very aware of not appearing in the same light as other more outspoken antinomian historical characters and purposefully disguises his antinomian leanings using and adapting the traditional Kabbalistic and Hasidic vocabulary in a complex and ambiguous circular logic that only those initiated would have access to, therefore protecting his outwardly Ultra-orthodox persona.

Many of the quotes found in this paper are specifically from the aforementioned messianic period, and were originally said in either Yiddish or Hebrew. Some of the discourses were then translated into Hebrew, proofread, and edited by the Rebbe. Other quotes whether in Yiddish or Aramaic were also ultimately edited by the Rebbe in some form and therefore are valuable and legitimate primary source material, although the majority of translations into English are my own. In doing so I have attempted to be as authentic and often as literal as possible to the original Hebrew or Yiddish, but this sometimes pushes the English syntax beyond what would normally be considered acceptable. This is in someway a reaction to the majority of texts and quotes published in the Rebbe’s name by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement which are often so inextricably estranged from the original that it is often difficult to see the connection between the Rebbe’s original discourse and the ‘translator’ or author’s version, some examples of which I have included.

The purpose of this paper will be chiefly to examine the theological structure which underlies not just the status of the Torah in the messianic era, but also the nature of the Jewish people, reality, existence and the world at large as these, seemingly, distinct realms become confused and boundaries blurred in the messianic philosophy of Rabbi M.M. Schneerson, and in his vision of the world to come.

Here is not the place to question the legitimacy of Rabbi Schneerson’s opinion on the subject, or discuss whether Habad Lubavitch, or Kabbalah for that matter are authentic expressions of Judaism or whether they are heretical, or argue about definitions of what constitutes Judaism. Rather, accepting that Habad Lubavitch and Rabbi M.M. Schneerson represent an expression of an orthodox praxis as legitimate as any other, I will explore, discuss and attempt to understand a view, which in my mind represents the abolition of the Torah in the Messianic Era.

This discussion would again just be an exercise in academic rigmarole, and only of interest to a handful of individuals, if it were not for the fact that the Rebbe believed, at least to some extent,[3] that the Messianic Era had already actually arrived.[4] In addition, he openly encouraged his followers to start living in, and with, the messianic ‘reality’ as if it were already present and realised, which in theory opens the unopenable door to the traditionally unthinkable, the abnegation of orthopraxis in the present! Again, I do not wish to discuss the legitimacy of the claim that the Messianic Era has arrived, or how the Rebbe understands this. Nor am I interested in discussing whether we are witnessing the birth of a new Christianity, or just the inevitable fate of Judaism’s acceptance of its own mystical tradition. This I believe has been previously spelled out by [Gershom] Scholem in his Major Trends [in Jewish Mysticism], where he explains the inevitable scenario with regards to the Torah d’Azilut, that the ultimate spiritualization of the Torah leads to the abnegation of its physical commandments. I feel that anything more than a brief mention of the Torah of Azilut here would be an unnecessary detour and could confuse an already complicated picture.

Also any comparisons with early Christianity[5] would, however interesting, also provide a distraction from the main aim of this paper which is to understand what Rabbi M.M. Schneerson actually said, at least as I understand it. I will quote and summarise major themes and ideas relevant to the subject, and explain how I understand them, their context, and eventually even the possible social, philosophical and theological as well as halachic ramifications.

A New Theology for a New Torah: The examination of the status of the Torah in the messianic era is based on the Midrashic interpretation of the verse ‘Torah Hadasha Meitty Tetza’[6] – ‘A New Torah will come from Me!’ – in Isaiah 51:4 and will be the primary scriptural focus with which we are concerned.

Here I have compiled what I see as three of the Rebbe’s alternate interpretations of the verse, which move the point of origin of this new Torah to three seemingly different and distinct places.

The first interpretation as the verse seems to imply, is that the new Torah will come from God; that is a new Torah will come from Me! (from God.) The second and still following a logical sequence is that these innovations will be revealed by God through the Messiah and as the Rebbe believed he was the Messiah it has a double-entendre that ‘the New Torah will come from Me!’ now means from Me i.e. the Rebbe/ Messiah. The third interpretation needs some explanation as it does not appear in the original version of the discourse and was said several years later, that the New Torah will come from each and every individual, that is the new Torah will come from [each and every] Me! Its relevance to our subject maybe purely imagined on my part, but I feel there are enough textual and philosophical grounds for proposing it as a third and alternate interpretation. This is based on the belief and/or principle that the Messiah,[7] and in this case the Rebbe, is the collective soul of the Jewish people.[8] Moreover, the contrary is also true: not only does the Rebbe contain a spark of every Jew, but it is that spark of the Messiah/Rebbe that is their very core. The ‘Me’ of the Messiah so to speak can be found in every single ‘Me.’[9] The following compiled quotes represents the three uses and interpretations of the ‘from Me,’ as expressed by the Rebbe in his later years.

“… There are a number of different ways in which one can anticipate the fulfilment of the promise of the Midrash, regarding the new dimensions within the Torah which will become manifest in the days of Moshiach, [that is] –‘A New Torah will come forth from Me!’ a) From God Himself (‘from Me’) ; b) From Moshiach… (‘from Me’) ”[10] c) From the Individual “… each and every [individual] Jew (‘from Me’ i.e. the individual ‘Me’) will reveal their unique insight and innovation in the [New] Torah…”[11]

The ‘Me’ of the verse now represents the following as they express themselves through the New Torah: 1) God (Atzmuss -this term will be explained in due course); 2) The Messiah (the Rebbe); 3) The Jew (the individual).

The relationship of these three to one another is pivotal and intrinsic. By understanding each separately, we can build a picture of how these three interact and then understand the nature of this divine triptych. However, we must first examine the traditional presuppositions of the role of the Torah and its commandments as it has evolved in exile in contrast to any mystical and messianic theology. As it is the very nature of the world and the Jews’ relationship toward it, that shapes and defines the role and importance of the Torah.

Exile and Duality—‘You're people will be made distinct from every people on the face of the earth!’ ‘Behold I drive out before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite… be vigilant lest you seal a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, stray after their gods, slaughter to their gods, and he invites you, and you to eat from his slaughter. And you take their daughters for your sons, and their daughters stray after their gods and entice your sons to stray after their gods!’ Exodus 34: 10-17.

The fundamental character of Judaism as it has evolved in exile is primarily one of duality. Whether as a theological duality or a more sociological one, it finds expression in every aspect of the ‘exile narrative;’ which by definition implies the estrangement of the individual or people in this case, from their previous homeland and even God. Exile itself is not just a social, geographical or political phenomenon but in the case of the Jewish people, is primarily a period in time.

In exile, there is a memory or myth, an idyllic dream of what was before, and the utopian hope for what will be after. The present, although the resting point between these to realms of past and future, is never whole or ever called ‘home’; it is imperfect. In this state there is always something lacking. Whether the relationship be between man and God, man and his fellow or man and the world, it is almost always one of alienation. The exiled individual or community is ‘a stranger in a strange land,’ and its identity is fashioned in contradistinction[12] to the native peoples and/or culture. In a no-man’s-land between hope and dreams, exile is an unwelcoming transient dwelling where the ‘public domain’ or the ‘real world’ of the ‘other nations’ is threatening, not just culturally but, as in the case of most ethnic minorities, also physically. (Other peoples induce fear; the world is then also a ‘challenge,’ life is ‘difficult,’ the world ‘covers and conceals Divinity.’) Therefore, as a result, there are realms of safety, the ‘good,’ and realms that induce fear, the ‘bad,’ and the world is thus broken into these two categories.

The observant Jew identifies ‘good’ with the community, the cultural and social norms of religious practise that connect him to it, and distinguish him from Others, and rejects the surrounding culture as bad, and therefore by definition he finds himself in a world of duality. This sense of duality and fear of the Other expresses itself not just in a separatist and elitist society but also in their relationship to God. Many orthodox Jews even call themselves ‘Haredim’ meaning those who shake [in fear], which means to imply those that fear God. This fear is not limited to the realm of God but also to every aspect of their religious life; collectively they fear ‘Gehenum’ and the afterlife, fear speaking ‘Loshan HaRah’ (gossip), fear the ‘evil eye’ and ‘Maris Ayin’, fear the scorn of the community.

This primary fear of the Other and the subsequent sense of duality or theological duality, sends God into a strange anthropomorphic transcendence and the world into an unredeemed realm of the corporeal, of chaos and spiritual darkness. The Torah and its commandments become the only candle and the flame of the Jewish soul helping to illuminate its small world, but this again only compounds this distinction and duality. Very relevant and disturbing examples of this belief that ‘everyone else [the Other] is an enemy’ are ironically reflected in the longstanding political situation in the land of Israel, where Israel is at war with almost all its neighbours. Similar themes are prevalent but on a much smaller scale in the Jewish ghettos (communities) of Northern England, Stamford Hill, Brooklyn and other parts of Northern America.[13]

The Torah of Duality—The status of the Torah in exile is in theory based on a general monotheistic theology, which presupposes God’s transcendence in contradistinction to the mundane and physical world. The infinite separation between man and God and therefore God and the world, can only be bridged by the Torah via its study, commandments and possibly prayer. (Each of these becomes a place and time of solace and refuge from the confusions and worries of the ‘real world’, an opportunity to commune and participate in, and have some kind of relationship with ‘transcendence’ and the ‘eternal.’)[14] From this perspective, the binding of one’s thought, speech and action to the eternal, and to the will of a supreme wisdom, gives one’s life meaning and purpose.

Steven T. Katz[15] defines ten cultural and social characteristics unique to Jewish mysticism, one of which is that God’s being and the mystic’s being are ontologically distinct. And that ‘the Jew is taught that such experiences of unity do not happen for reasons flowing out of the Jewish theological tradition, he does not in fact have such experiences.’

The relationship between man and God, God and man, through the Torah, its commandments and/or prayer[16], never stops being a ‘relationship,’ that is between two separate entities, whether described as one between husband and wife,[17] king and devoted subject,[18] or father and son. Nevertheless, the two realms remain distinct ultimately separating the Creator from the created. In each of these scenarios, there is an attempt by the two to reach out to each other, God to man through the Torah, and man to God through man’s fulfilment of its commandments and prayer. Nevertheless, the duality of subject/object, between man and God is sustained and compounded and ultimately reinforces the ontological distance between the Jew and his God.

Redemption by the mystical One—‘Spinoza held a dual attributed theory also called the dual-aspect theory—according to which the mental and physical are distinct modes of a single substance/space, God. The mental and physical are only two of infinitely many modes of this one substance. Some philosophers, however, opt for a thoroughgoing monism, according to which all of reality is really of one kind.’ --Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Robert Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

The character of redemption, in contrast to exile, is that of Oneness and Unity, as in the verse; ‘On that day [meaning the Messianic Era] the Lord will be One and His Name will be One.’ Herein lies the theological distinction between the old and new Torah, where this eschatological Oneness undermines the very dualism that constitutes the relationship between God and the Jewish people as expressed through the normative Torah and its commandments.

Although many of the quotes below that talk of the unique quality of Oneness that permeates the era of redemption are spoken of in the future tense, to some extent they are also to be anticipated in the present, and it is this anticipation that sows the seeds for a possible form of mystical antinomianism. In the next example, the Rebbe explains how there is no fundamental difference between this world and the next except in the awareness of ‘The One.’ Exile becomes and is transformed into redemption by the realisation of the mystical One.[19]

‘When Moshiach comes, exile (golah) will be transformed into redemption (geulah) by the insertion of the letter Alef. [20]’

This realisation whether anticipated by the individual in the present era or realised collectively by mankind in the future redemption, is induced by the teachings of the Messiah and the revelation of Atzmuss (God’s Essence), in and through the New Torah. As the Rebbe believed that he was the Messiah, it was his belief therefore, that aspects of the New Torah (the teachings of the Messiah) were already available in Hassidic philosophy in general and particularly in his own teachings,[21] especially in those that deal with issues pertaining to redemption.

In confronting and inviting the eschatological unity of the redemption into the here and now of an apparent exile many elements that we would normally associate with exile become altered and transfigured into magically divine and redemptive motifs. The Rebbe develops the idea further by connecting the revelation of ‘Alef’ with both God’s Essence/Atzmuss and the divinity of the ego, incorporating and transforming both the world and the ego, arguably the very cause of exile, into the ultimate revelation of God’s Essence, and therefore also transforming the individual in his everyday existence into an innately divine being.

‘…In the revelation of Divinity [that will take place] in the true and complete redemption; in addition to there being the revelation of the [primary] cause (God), in the effect (the world), and the revelation of Divinity that transcends creation; which is the revelation of His Blessed Essence (Atzmuss) below [i.e. in the world]. … There will be the revelation of the Essential power/potential (koach ha-Atzmuss) specifically in, the created self [the ego].’[22]

The discussion of the divinity of the ego will be dealt with in the chapter titled ‘Atzmuss and the individual’. However, for our current purposes we need to first understand the character of the redemptive Oneness as a prelude both to understanding ‘Atzmuss’ and the innately divine nature of the ego in the messianic era. Closely connected to this theme of the divinity of the world and the individual, is the plight of the ‘multiple,’ and by understanding its fate we may be given some clue as to the character of the relationship between the individual and God’s Essence or Atzmuss. The next quote deals with the Rebbe’s attempt to reconcile the multiple and diverse aspects of the world with his messianic and monistic philosophy. He explains paradoxically that it is precisely within the recognition of the ‘multiple’ that the Oneness and unity of God/Atzmuss must be seen and experienced.

The ‘multiple’ must first be acknowledged[23] before it is incorporated into the whole. This therefore expresses the unique strength and power of the Oneness (Atzmuss) that is able to recognise the multiple but its Oneness is not only not affected by it, but is strengthened by it.

‘…The advantage of the Oneness which transcends differentiation…[but also at the same time recognises it and] includes and unifies it like one thing literally… reveals the true idea of Oneness, that is, that the multiple does not conceal its unity.’ [24]

This discussion of the quality of Oneness and unity that is available in the mystical experience even in exile compared to the Messianic era has traditionally been explained as the difference between ‘One’ and ‘Only.’ Although as we will shortly discover this is not as clear as it sounds, as the Rebbe adds his own paradoxical innovation to the equation and turns the whole thing on its head, but for now a brief explanation of the traditional Hassidic view point as it stands will suffice before we graduate to the Rebbe’s ideas on the subject.

‘One’ semantically represents the One God, the mystical One and Monism. However, in its detailed examination of the term ‘One,’ Hassidic philosophy finds that this term lacks a certain resilience and is not as watertight as the formulators of Hassidic thought would like. In their attempt to describe a higher and more consummate Oneness that they feel is the particular nature of the unio-mystica and also of Redemption. Moreover, as the idea of the ‘One God’ is the basis for ‘Monotheism,’ it is understandably a term, that although from a mystical perspective is interpreted as being beyond division, the mystical tradition feels that the idea has been misused and/or misunderstood as a description of the ‘One God of the world’ as opposed to the Monistic and mystical realisation of the Oneness of all Existence. Therefore, the term ‘Only’ is generally used in an attempt to describe the type of Oneness that expresses the mystical reality of there ‘Only’ being God.

In the next brief quotation, the Rebbe attempts to explain that even retrospectively Judaism, from its very conception, was not a dualistic religion or theology but rather a monistic one. This will help us to understand the mystical and monistic interpretation of ‘the One God,’ in contrast to the normative, monotheistic understanding, as well as helping us to see the Rebbe as a mystic struggling with tradition as he attempts to express what he sees as a more authentic form of Judaism. This interpretation helps to reinforce the legitimacy of the Rebbe’s mystical, messianic and monistic theology, as well as laying the foundations for a return to a more monistic form of Judaism in the present as well as in the soon to be messianic era.

“…as it is written ‘and he (Abraham) called there, in the name of God, El-Olam…’[25] specifically…[God-World[26]] El-Olam, and not El-ha-Olam [God of the World]; this means to imply, that neither God or the world are independent entities, nor that God rules over the world, but [rather that] the world and God are all One, and that ‘there is nothing else!’”[27]

Continuing with this traditionally mystical interpretation of ‘One’ and ‘Only’ the following quote is based on the idea that ‘One,’ although being of a singular nature, is nevertheless still the first of the many other numbers that follows it. Therefore, the term ‘One’ is the potential source for the ‘many’ and is consequently an unsuitable term if used to describe a Oneness that in essence transcends any association with multiplicity, whereas ‘Only’ as a theological term here affirms that there is ‘Only’ God, which implies a unity that transcends the multiple and therefore also the world.

‘… The idea of “God [is] One,” the explanation of “One” here is [really] “Only,” and this that we [actually] say “One” and not “Only” is alluding to… the Tetragrammaton and Elohim…[being] One…’[28]

—meaning that the term ‘One’ implies the union of two, the two names of God: in dealing with these two divine names, as separate entities, we unite them when we say ‘They [plural] are One.’ However, as concepts these two names of God describe the union of singularity and multiplicity (as the linguistic form of the names implies, the Tetragrammaton is singular and Elohim plural). The intention then would be that these seemingly two distinct realms are not just joined together as one, but that in the union of these two is meant a Oneness that absolutely transcends both of these categories, and expresses the reality that there is nothing but God, that is, there is ‘Only’ God.

However even this term ‘Only’ as one of ‘ultimate transcendence’ in both the mystical experience and messianic era, falls into difficulties when coming into contact with the Rebbe’s understanding of both the nature of reality in the present and also in the era of redemption, as the following quote proves:

The true idea of the Oneness of God, is that this Oneness should also include the world. But, the reason that it is written “God is One,” is because that if it was written “God is Only,” the explanation would be that His Blessed unity was in the Ohr En Sof [infinite light] (and not in the world). Therefore, in order that the world would be able to feel this Blessed unity…[29] it says “God is One”[30] so that the seven heavens and the one earth, and the four directions of the world will be nullified to the One [Only] unity of the world… This appears in the revelation of the power of Atzmuss that includes and joins the idea of “One” and “Only.”’[31]

The conclusion is that although one may be saying ‘One’ one’s intention or ‘kavana’ is that of ‘Only’ and therefore in so doing one unites both of these terms in one act of saying one thing and thinking another. This approach of interpreting the present day actions or prayers as the ultimate revelation of Atzmuss mystically transforms these acts into an anticipation of the realisation of the messianic era in the present. But, nevertheless, despite there being an anticipation accessible in the present, the metaphors of the future and the era of redemption are still used to facilitate the belief that this realisation will be openly revealed and experienced by all only in the messianic era. The following quotation is an adaptation[32] of an address of the Rebbe,[33] expresses this unique sense of oneness and unity that is a distinct character of the era of redemption:

“The Jewish people, and indeed, the world at large [including goyim, contra Rabbi Schneur Zalman’s anti-gentile teachings], will join together in bonds of love and unity. An awareness of God's transcendental Oneness will pervade all existence and this will produce a higher and more inclusive conception[34] of unity than is possible at the present. In the present era, unity involves people of differing natures joining together. As the diverse limbs of the body functioning as part of one single organism, so too unity can be established between different individuals.[35] Nevertheless, such bonds do not raise a person out of his individual identity entirely. On the contrary, his very awareness of self has to be employed to unite with others. In contrast, the transcendental unity of the era of redemption will raise every individual above the limited horizons of his personal identity, ‘For the world will be filled with the knowledge of God as the water covers the ocean bed.[36]’ The verse employs this simile to express the following concept: vast multitudes of creatures inhabit the ocean. Nevertheless, what we see is the ocean as a whole and not the particular entities, which it contains. Similarly, in the Era of Redemption, individual, created beings will lose consciousness of their separate identities,[37] for they will be suffused with an awe-inspiring knowledge[38] of God. The unity that will be established between individual entities will be of a higher and more consummate nature.”[39]

The ‘transcendental oneness and unity’ mentioned is a direct product of the revelation of the Messianic spark within each individual through the collective Messiah and is interconnected to, and dependent on, the revelation of the new Torah.

‘…the true and complete redemption is connected with the point of Oneness which transcends division [God’s transcendental oneness/unity?] that is felt in the unity of Israel, because of the aspect of the Yechida[40] [quintessential soul] that is in all of Israel equally, the spark of the soul of Moshiach, [which is] the general [collective] Yechida.[41]

The text goes on to explain that the Rebbe encourages his followers to fulfil the famous injunction to be ‘disciples of Aaron, lovers of peace and pursuers of peace, loving the creatures and bringing them close to the Torah’[42]:

‘According to this we can understand also in the explanation of “and bring them close to the Torah”—that the intention of this is to bring them close to the learning of the Torah in the Future Redemption, “A New Torah shall go forth from Me!”’[43]

Since the Jewish people have this aspect of the Yechida of their soul (which is now synonymous with their messianic spark) revealed, who is it then, that desperately needs to be brought close to the Torah, and particularly the New Torah? The answer seems to be ‘Even those whose only advantage is that they are creatures.’[44] I would suggest a possible but speculative interpretation. Those that still consider themselves part of the ‘creation,’ that is, as separate and distinct from the ‘creator,’ are those that need to be brought close to the new Torah, which reveals and is revealed by ‘Atzmuss’ which transcends the myth of the duality between creator/creation. Which brings us back to the subject at hand which is the Rebbe’s first interpretation of the verse, ‘A New Torah will come from Me!’, that is the new Torah will come from God/Atzmuss.

An explanation of Atzmuss—‘…From this point of view, the logical consequence of monotheistic thought is the negation of all ‘theology’, of all ‘knowledge about God’.[45] --Eric Fromm, The Art of Loving. chapter 2:3e. p.56.

At the heart of his philosophy and particularly concerning our subject, lies the idea of Atzmuss. Its foundational position in the Rebbe’s understanding of the messianic reality as he saw it cannot be overestimated. The word itself originally comes from the word ‘Etzem,’ meaning bone, or core, and therefore Atzmuss[46] is core-ness or essence. It is at times used in conjunction with ‘Mahus’ meaning being or thing-ness, and/or ‘Or En Sof[47] (a more familiar term.)

Even within the many schools of translators of Hassidic philosophy this term seems to be hotly debated, each translation expressing a slight but radical shift in emphasis, and differing in use of the words: Essence, Being, Reality and Existence, and variations of these depending on the context. Here is not the place to investigate the intricate and interesting history of the term, as plotting its development and evolution would require a separate paper in itself or rather this word and the terms associated with it will be for the purposes of our discussion understood and its meaning explained in the relatively contemporary context of the Rebbe’s discourses.

It is, as I understand it, purposefully elusive and intrinsically attempts to defy definition. The term intentionally avoids categorisations, limitations and definitions of any sort; in this sense, the use of this word could be said to be an attempt to undermine the very use of language. Atzmuss, as in the above-mentioned example of ‘The New Torah will come from Me!,’ describes the ultimate Selfhood/ Ego of God, literally the ‘Me-ness’ of God. In the next quote Atzmuss is explained as being the meaning of ‘I am’ of God:

‘…The… explanation of God is One is according to the verse I am God that I am is Atzmuss ‘Or En Sof, [and ‘I am God’ is the union of Atzmuss] with the name of God [Tetragrammaton, so they become] inclusively One literally.’[48]

Moreover, it is literally beyond any definitions or theological/philosophical constructs. ‘… even the highest of transcendences are a only a reflection.’[49]

Even if we are tempted to use the term to describe God’s ‘ultimate transcendence,’ which I feel in some examples could be correct we will come across major difficulties. As the Rebbe quite clearly states: ‘… the blessed Mahusso and Atzmusso… it is impossible to say about it that it is the aspect of transcendence, also not even the aspect of distant transcendence[50] and other such terms. Because the blessed Mahusso and Atzmusso isn't within the boundaries of ideas at all…’ [51], that is, it is beyond any definition and cognitive characterisations even those of ‘transcendence.’ It could possibly be said that even the term ‘radical Otherness’ does not do it justice. This distinction might possibly be compared to that of an abstract thought to actual experience and/or that of a symbol compared to reality, if arguably there where such distinctions. On an individual level it could possibly be describing the actual mystical experience itself, but without it necessarily meaning that there is an individual who is ‘experiencing.’

Atzmuss as a theological term in comparison to the multitude of invented Kabbalistic terms or even biblical divine names which traditionally, symbolically express attributes and characters of God. Atzmuss expresses nothing of the divine, but would be/is the divine itself.

Definitions of infinity—‘The end is joined to the beginning and the beginning to the end’ —The Zohar

Even the term ‘En Sof’ or ‘infinity’ (for the purposes of our discussion) when associated with Atzmuss, needs to be understood in a different light as the Hassidic thought process that defines it as in the example below, leads ultimately toward the idea of ‘Atzmuss’ and therefore consequentially, eventually to the finite and physical world. The Hassidic logic that is employed is quite simple and is fundamental to our understanding of the logic behind the theological idea of Atzmuss and why it is strangely more tied up in the physical world than any one of the spiritual worlds.

‘... The idea of En Sof is the highest level in Divinity, and more than this, it is beyond the idea of levels/boundaries, that the true idea of En Sof is in His Blessed Essence/Atzmuss…’[52]

If ‘infinity’ is truly infinite, then it must by definition not be limited to the realm of the ‘infinite,’ rather it must be able to, and is in fact chiefly expressed in, its ability to be finite! Therefore, the finite, namely the material substance of the world, is seen as an expression of, if not the expression, of the ultimate power of the infinite, (Koach Ha Atzmuss.)

The ‘real world’ is intrinsically tied up with the ultimate mystical reality; this is a ‘truth’ now but is expressed more openly in the messianic era, when it is thought that the physical world itself will express the most authentic revelation of God. Nevertheless, it is the natural and mundane physical world as it is, ‘warts and all,’ that is paradoxically the most divine.

This idea goes one step further, in the description of, or in our attempt to define or at least catalogue a definition of Atzmuss. In some descriptions, Atzmuss paradoxically does not, nor is it, a revelation of anything, and one can even go as far as to say that Atzmuss could even be a revelation of nothing, and therefore is not a ‘revelation’ at all, in the conventional sense, or paradoxically possibly the highest revelation of all. This reference to the revelation of nothing is not a mystical No-Thing, or even the Kabbalistic ‘Void’ that preceded creation. Rather it means that it is an awareness (or revelation) that in the apparent reality of there being ‘no openly revealed Divinity,’ is proof of the greatest revelation of God’s power to limit Himself, and therefore the greatest revelation of all.

One example of this is were the Rebbe explains that the latter half of the moon’s eclipse, from it being full to its disappearance, is in fact a greater revelation of God’s Essence, than the first half when it becomes full. The subject that concerns us is that of light and revelation which are traditionally synonymous. The full moon corresponds to the highest revelation of God’s affection towards the Jewish people, and is understood to be a forerunner to the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning the moon that ‘in the future the light of the moon will be like that of the sun.’ The Rebbe eventually turns this traditional parallel on its head, explaining that the latter half of the moon’s cycle, that is, when it becomes darker is in fact a greater revelation of God and in this case Atzmuss. This corresponds to the revelation of God, which is beyond ‘revelation,’ Atzmuss therefore represents, a revelation which is not a revelation (in the traditional sense).

This belief that Atzmuss is not a ‘revelation’ could arguably be explained (as opposed to any claim of externally revealed empiricism) as a personal and ‘internal realisation.’ That the ‘darkness of the world,’ represented by the second half of the moon’s cycle, is only an apparent darkness, but is in fact a more authentic revelation of God than the first. Atzmuss is therefore a revelation that is beyond the need for ‘revelation,’ and is possibly linked to the arguably fatalistic acceptance of the mystical God-World reality.[53] The Rebbe explains the issue of the corresponding decrease in light with the continued revelation of God’s Essence or Atzmuss, as follows:

‘…The decreasing light of the moon, is only a reduction on the level of [perceived] ‘light’ (which is merely a reflection of the Sun) [this reduction in light, is] because of [an increasing]… proximity to the Essence (Etzem) which transcends the source of light; however, it is therefore not a reduction in revelation, since… there continues additionally… the revelation of the Essence’ [which is beyond light!].[54]

Another example of a similar theme is where the Rebbe explains at length differing levels in miracles, those that are revealed to every one, and those that are only recognised as miracles after they have happened. In conclusion, although I am not doing it justice, he explains that it is the natural world, which respects the laws of nature, that is most miraculous. “… ‘He alone’ makes great miracles[55] and our sages say[56] that even the beneficiary of the miracle isn’t aware of it.’ … The Tzemach Tzedek explains, that the source of miracles dressed up in nature, are from a higher place than those which transcend nature… so that the source of miracles that are completely dressed up in nature, so much so that even the beneficiary isn’t aware [that a miracle is taking place,] are from this aspect of ‘alone.’[That is, known to God ‘alone’ that they are miracles]…And [therefore] the main innovation [in the messianic era] is not that there will be miracles, but that the Holy One Blessed Be He, will show us these miracles, because [these] miracles already exist now.’[57]

The fundamental and miraculous change that takes place in the world is not necessarily a radical change in the nature of the world but one that takes place in the perception of it. An awareness of the miraculous nature of the natural world, the miracles of modern science and technology, these are the miracles of the ‘future to come,’ it is these miracles that we would normally take for granted, that the Rebbe is attempting to awaken the reader to. The following fragmented quote represents the continuation of this theme, which continues from the previous quote.

‘…These miracles are not wondrous at all and the intellect comprehends them… they are constant and everlasting…and dressed up in nature… and more than this their source is from, concealment that transcends revelation…just as his Essence (Atzmusso) isn’t in the boundary of revelation.’[58]

It is this revelation in awareness, of the fundamentally miraculous nature of reality, which is brought about through the teachings of the Messiah, more specifically through the revelation of the new Torah. It is even possible to go one step further and say that the revelation of the new Torah is in fact the awareness and revelation of Atzmuss itself.

The New Torah as the Revelation of Atzmuss—The unique nature of the new Torah, is the fact that it will both be a revelation of and revealed by Atzmuss, and seems at first glance to imply that the present Torah is and was, in some way not such a revelation. This is not as simple or clear as it sounds, as Hassidic philosophy also leaves room for understanding that at Mount Sinai (and therefore in the present day Torah) there was/is a revelation of this Divine Essence, but nonetheless this was but for a brief moment, or is in a more limited way, compared to the New Torah.[59] The Rebbe believes that the new Torah is the authentic essence of the original Torah, and that this essence had remained ultimately hidden[60] until the Messianic Era. However, the new Torah is not a regular innovation that could be invented by a normal Torah Scholar, through using the traditional tools of exegesis, since if this were the case, there would be no need for a Messiah to reveal it, and could not in truth be called ‘new’ or have the term ‘Chidush’ innovation, applied to it.

‘At the time of the giving of the Torah, because the main part of the Torah (which will be revealed in the future to come [the new Torah]) was concealed, there was likewise a corresponding [lack of] revelation of Divinity in the world. This was to such an extent, that the main part –[which is the] power of Atzmuss, through which [uniquely] is made possible the bringing [of the world] into existence ex-nihilo, - was left in concealment.’[61]

It is this correspondence between the revelation of Torah and the revelation of the innate divinity of the world that is significant. It is almost as if it is the fault of the Torah that the world remained in a state of divine concealment, as the Rebbe explains elsewhere that if the Jewish People had said, ‘On this day God is One and His Name is One,[62]’ instead of ‘On that day God will be…[63]’, The joining of Heaven and Earth would have taken place and the Messianic Era would have arrived. But, the joining of Heaven and earth did take place at the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, but was only for a limited time as the Rebbe continues to explain: ‘And even though, at the time of the giving of the Torah, the decree [that separated the higher (spiritual) and lower (physical) worlds] was annulled, and the joining of higher [worlds] and lower [worlds] took place so that the higher descended to the lower, and the lower ascended to the higher. Nevertheless even after their joining, there still remained the difference and distinction between higher and lower.’[64]

Whereas if the revelation of Atzmuss had been complete as in the Messianic Era, the distinction between higher and lower, physical and spiritual, God and world would have fallen away. But they did not as he goes on to explain:

‘This means that the categorisation of the world still remained as lower levels... with regards to the issue of the concealment of God's light, because its main element (the power of Atzmuss) remained in concealment.’[65]

The Rebbe further elaborates on this theme explaining that unlike the current Torah, the New Torah will not conceal or hide Divinity at all, but on the contrary will reveal the divinity and Oneness inherent in the physical world.

‘In the future to come…“a New Torah will come forth from Me.” At that time there will also be the revelation of Divinity in the world, in ultimate completion and without any concealment at all, as it says, “the glory of God shall be revealed and all flesh shall see together for the mouth of God has spoken.” For it will be seen in a revealed fashion that the existence of “all flesh” [that is, physicality] is the Godly power that brings it into being ex-nihilo [out of no-thing], the power of Atzmuss, and consequently there is no difference between higher and lower, since they are One…’ [66]

Therefore the present Torah and its commandments represent a limited revelation of this Divine Essence, and it is thus called by one of the aspects of the divine emanations, that is ‘the will and/ or wisdom of God,’ whereas the new Torah is the revelation of God itself. The comparison between the Torah of Exile and revelation of the New Torah is likened to that of the Patriarch’s fulfilment of the commandments before the giving of the Torah and the fulfilment of the commandments after the giving of the Torah. And, this is in line with the Talmudic statement that ‘The Torah one learns now is nothing/vanity compared to the Torah of the Messiah.’

‘...The unique innovation, of the giving of the Torah in comparison to the “Torah and commandments” that existed before the giving of the Torah, was that the commandments of the patriarchs were only spiritual… and did not affect the physical thing with which they did the commandment.’ [67]

It is understood that the Patriarchs were unable to transform the physical into a permanent state of holiness whereas, at the giving of the Torah, the individual was given through the commandments the opportunity to endow a physical object with spiritual holiness, and to traverse this separation of spiritual and physical. However, this ability to unite opposites in general and specifically in our case to unite spiritual and physical could only be brought about through that which transcends them both equally, this being Atzmuss. It is Atzmuss, which is at the very heart of the current Torah, and the Messiah through the New Torah, who will reveal that all physicality is actually holy and divine. This unity of God and the world, is brought about by the Messiah revealing the unity of God and the Torah, and God and the Jewish people, as the Rebbe goes on to explain:

‘That since ‘the Torah and the Holy One are all One,’ and even more than this, that it is One with the Atzmuss, as our sages say, that ‘Anoichi’ (I am) is an acronym for “In this book I put my soul:” My (soul) this is blessed Atzmuss… That the Torah is the connection between Israel and the Holy One, because “Torah and the Holy One are One.” [68]’

From the ‘Me’—the Messiah—as revealed by the Rebbe in the New Torah—Again the issue of the ‘One,’ comes into play as the advantage of the New Torah over the Old is expressed numerically, as the Messiah is equal to Moses plus ‘One,’ and thereby reiterates the idea of the Messiah’s unique innovation in the mystical ‘One’ in the Torah here represented by Moses.

‘The letters of the name Moses, plus the letters of the word One/Echud (alluding to the all-encompassing unity of God), are numerically equal to the letters of the word Moshiach [Messiah].’[69]

It could almost be interpreted as meaning that the Messiah has both the qualities of leadership, scholarship and prophecy of Moses and that of the One, which is God. Moshiach therefore is not only a Godly-man, as in the case of Moses, ‘Ish Elohim’, but rather God-Man, that is the embodiment of God.

This new (aspect of[70]) Torah that will be revealed from God will be a revelation from the Essence of God, the “Me” of God as expressed through the Messiah. It is also interpreted as being the teachings of the Messiah Himself[71] (i.e. his own [72]). Therefore, both the Essence of God and the essence of Torah are within the Messiah and therefore also and mainly within the Rebbe. He did on occasions, even refer to himself[73] as ‘Atzmuss Mahuss dressed up in a physical body,’ or ‘Atzmuss Mahuss with a prayer shawl on his head.[74]’ This flirtation with divination should not come as a surprise; as in the messianic era it is the World, the individual, the Messiah, and the New Torah, that are attributed with the same quality of Atzmuss. Therefore, the Messiah merely acts as a channel for the divine influx that flows through him, as Atzmuss reveals itself through him and expresses itself in the Messiah’s innovations of the New Torah. The Messiah’s abilities as a channel are connected to his humility and are partly expressed in his ability to teach simple people.

‘… and so too with the King Moshiach, that he, as well as being in the ultimate state of greatness, as it says ‘and the spirit of God will rest upon him,’ etc.. And he will teach Torah to the Patriarchs and to Moses our teacher; nevertheless he will also be in the ultimate state of humility and nullification, and therefore also able to teach, simple people.’[75]

However, what is it that the Messiah will be able to teach Moses and the Patriarchs that they do not already know and is equally interesting to the more simple people? The Rebbe explains that what the Messiah will teach are the secrets of the Torah. ‘The spirit of… wisdom and understanding shall rest on him,’ and he will teach the innermost, mystical dimensions of the Torah to the entire Jewish people.’[76] This claim is legitimised by a teaching of the Alter Rebbe[77] who said:

‘Moshiach will teach all of Israel the mystical depths of the Torah and the reasons hidden within the Torah which will be revealed in future time. This is alluded to in the verse, “Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth,” on which Rashi writes ‘There is a promise from God that he will again appear to [the Jewish people] to explain them its secrets reasons and hidden mysteries.’… Thus it is clear that the level of the Torah that will be the studied at that time is its innermost and mystical dimension…’[78]

Once again, this perception is not limited to the future redemption; on the contrary, it must be strived for and even attained in the present, as the end of this quote demonstrates: ‘The main issue (and the underlying unifying oneness of all ideas of the Torah) is the coming of Moshiach. He will teach all the people together the entire Torah completely. [That] also [includes] the hidden Torah, and the hidden of the hidden, as it says ‘Let him kiss me with kisses of the lips.’ Rashi explains, that “in the future to come the foundational reasons (of the Torah) and hidden secrets will be revealed” and all of this will be apparent in a way of seeing…[this] is also possible and must be now.’[79]

Once again, we are left with the question, what does this have to do with the revelation of Atzmuss and what exactly is it that the Messiah will teach? And here I feel I have found an answer. In short, Moshiach will teach that ‘One man will no longer teach his neighbour!’ This paradoxical teaching radically changes the religious hierarchical structure and teacher-student relationship, granting equality and ultimate independence to all.

‘Moreover and this is the main thing: …In the true and final redemption, (through our righteous redeemer) … we will learn the inner dimensions of Torah (the knowledge of God) in total completion, as it is written: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of the mouth...” Which will be [in a way of] speaking with him mouth to mouth since “a New Torah will issue forth from Me,” “From Me” literally. The learning will be in a way that, “One man will no longer teach his friend... because ALL WILL KNOW ME!”[80] More than this, in a way of seeing, “And God appeared to him,”... “and our eyes will see our teacher,” [81] a New Creation.’[82]

Atzmuss and the Individual—‘The New Torah will come from Me!’—(the individual)

Atzmuss, also describes the ultimate Selfhood/ Ego of God, literally the ‘Me-ness’ of God, as such it is literally beyond any definitions or theological/philosophical constructs. This seems to correspond to a unique insight and radical innovation of the Rebbe about the nature of the Ego. Whereas other spiritual leaders and religious philosophies see the World, the Ego, the Self as an illusion, negative or even evil, the Rebbe sees them as essential expressions of the (Big) divine Ego and/or Divine Self. He sees the world as a revelation of Atzmuss and the individual as a reflection of the big Ego/ Atzmuss and therefore ultimately good and/or divine, although this is only fully revealed in the Messianic Era.

The Rebbe identifies the very separateness of sense of self that is identified with the ego with the divine ego. It is almost as if the separateness of the individual is a reflection, or a fractal expression in microcosm, of the divine ego. The verse ‘He alone He is’[83] is now, retrospectively both talking of the divine and of the individual. The individual’s experience, even in the midst of being completely alone (and therefore also psychologically ‘alienated’), is an experience that is shared by that of the divine. (The ‘I am’ is a shared experience that both God and the individual have and express.) It is the sense of ‘I am’ and therefore, for our discussion, the ego, that is the common denominator between the divine and man. Moreover the individual’s experience of self is in fact identified with the experience of the divine self. This idea seems to be the basis of, and the foundation and catalyst from which, the individual can possibly then attempt to experience a selfless sense of ‘All’ when one experiences the divine self.

‘In order that there is the union of transcendence and immanence there has to be the drawing out of Atzmuss, Or En Sof which transcends transcendence and immanence. It is likewise with the soul: the union of the soul above and the soul in the body is through the drawing out of the essence of the soul, which generally is the Yechidah.’[84]

A similar idea is found in the western mystical tradition, where the mystic’s self is ultimately retained when he unites with the divine and when he becomes God. In so doing his individual self becomes an expression if not the expression of the divine self, but the sense of self is never lost. In the next example the Rebbe expresses the idea of the I am more clearly:

‘… The existence of the created self is the existence of the true Self.’[85]

It seems that it is precisely those that previously would have been considered outside the realm of spiritual salvation, that believe that they have no ‘creator,’ that are closest to the divine reality of Atzmuss and therefore paradoxically God. Because the body and the self’s source of being (and the entire world for that matter), comes from Atzmuss, therefore the very sense of self is connected to Atzmuss, as the following quote attempts to clarify:

‘The reason the created being/self feels himself as if he has no reason or cause which preceded him, God forbid, is because he is brought into being from Atzmuss, which [because] the self/beingness of Atzmuss has no reason or cause which preceded Him…[because] there is only Him alone. …So too in the future to come; the true and inner [reality] of all things will be revealed; … that the true source of the created self/being is that of the true Self [God’s] and that [it] has no reason or cause… and this is also true now.’[86]

The ego or self is equated to that of the divine Ego or Self but to some extent even this is sabotaged by the following quote that hints at the individual being from a higher source than even the ‘I am’ of God. The quote talks of the source of Israel in Atzmuss and explains that the source of Israel transcends the source of Torah; therefore the Jew is to some extent, or maybe in Essence beyond not just the normative Torah of Exile, but even the Torah as it exists in Atzmuss.

‘Through the opening verse of the giving of the Torah (on Mt Sinai) which was ‘I am,’ the anagram of which is ‘I put my soul in this book.’ He placed His Atzmuss/Essence in the Torah. Through this, it makes [possible] ‘I am Lord your God’ (singular tense) [to be experienced] in each and everyone of Israel. Through the individual working with his [portion of the] Torah efficiently, he draws this into a state of revelation… In addition, the idea that ‘I am your God’ (of Israel), is above the aspect of ‘I am’ that is in the Torah, and it is also known that as the source of Torah and Israel are in Atzmuss, the source of Israel transcends the source of the Torah. That Torah is for Israel, only that the revelation of ‘I am your God’ (of Israel) is drawn out through [the] ‘I am’ in the Torah.’[87]

This theme continues, as the Rebbe attempts to cryptically explain that in Essence every Jew is beyond repentance. Contradicting the previous explanation and now explaining that the individual’s ‘I am’ transcends that of the ‘I am the Lord your God.’ However, the common denominator that is found within each of these explanations is the emphasis on the advantage of the Jew over the Torah. ‘…At the giving of the Torah, through the saying of ‘I am the Lord your God’ [the potential] was made in each and everyone of Israel, for [the] ‘I am’[88] to be your [personal] God, [moreover] your power and your life [force]… It is known that in the saying of ‘I am’ is included all of the commandments, even the commandments of return/repentance. We can [therefore] say, that in [the] ‘I am the Lord your God’ (at the giving of the Torah) was included also the aspect of ‘I am’ just as it is in his Essence/Atzmusso, above the drawing down into the Lord [through Torah].’[89]

Within the Torah also exists the potential for that with transcends the Torah. The ‘I am’ of God is precisely that, and this ‘I am’ is that which is revealed by the Messiah in the New Torah, and consequentially ‘… no longer shall a man teach his neighbour, for all shall know Me!’ It is in this knowledge or experience of ‘Me,’ whether the ‘Me’ be of the individual or of God, there is an equality in the knowledge (experience) of Me!

Though there are differences between great and small, yet when it comes to ‘knowing Me’—knowing Atzmuss, the very essence of God—all will be equal.[90]

However, this ‘knowledge’ of God is not knowledge, as you would expect, but experience as the following quote explains that ‘Me!’ is actually Me! and not knowledge of Me. ‘For they shall know Me,’…This refers to the actual revelation of Me, no less; it does not refer to the knowledge and comprehension of the Torah which includes the knowledge of divinity.[91]

The awareness of the divine and unified nature of existence, of the everyday, is brought about through the process of the individual delving into the Torah, and making personal insights and innovations, particularly within Hassidic philosophy and more obviously within those areas that deal with the messianic era redemption and the like. The aim is to realise this awareness within the individual and therefore also (eventually) in the world at large.

Mitzvoth in a Divine World—‘Nobody needs to go anywhere else. We are all, if we only knew it, already there.’ --Aldous Huxley, Island, ‘Notes on What's What,’- by the Old Raja (Grafton Books, 1986) p.42.

In conclusion our discussion of the nature of reality in the messianic era according to the new theology of the Lubavitcher Rebbe reveals a more holistic and unified reality, that might even be called hedonistic: this world it seems is the aim and ultimate focus of all existence. ‘… When Moshiach comes, the divine light will be revealed in this material world just as is now in the world of Atzilut. Physical space will be actual Divinity, not clothed in any the garments of physicality, for the true face of physicality will then be discernible—the fact that it is actual Atzmuss, the very Essence of God Himself.’[92]

The divine is no longer banished to the heavens but is found to be the very stuff of the world, the ego just a revelation of the divine ego, the world an expression of God’s Essence, the previous sense of duality, between God and World, God and Man, falls away. The physical world and body is seen as the ultimate and more authentic revelation of God’s true reality than any spiritual realm or world. This is also pointed to by the statement that in the Era of Redemption:

‘At that time… “The very Essence of Infinite Existence (Atzmuss En Sof) will be manifest, within the corporeal.” As well as the assertion that "The true standing of Physicality will become apparent, that the source of Physicality is higher than the source of the Spiritual,”[93] and on a personal plane "The Soul (spiritual) will be nourished by the Body (physical).”[94]’

Continuing on this theme of the unity of God, Torah and the Jewish People, we find what would be considered quite shocking contemporary advice concerning prayer and repentance, although this is quite understandable from a mystical point of view. These directives, point towards, if not flirt with, the antinomian aspect of this mystical union. If these adaptations of the Rebbe’s discourses by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, are legitimate or at least follow a general train of thought within the Rebbe’s philosophy, which I feel they do, then it is here that we find the seeds of the antinomian influence of the idea of Atzmuss. Moreover, the beginnings of the end of the normative dualistic approach to the practice of Judaism.

Do not pray. Prayer means one and the petitioning to a higher one. Instead, connect. Become One with your Maker, so that divine energy will come through you and into our world to heal the sick and cause the rain to fall. This we call Tefilla.’[95]

This plea for individual divination, reflects firstly the Rebbe’s belief in his own Messianic divinity, but also his belief in the ability of every individual to attain this level of Kabbalistic/messianic divination and/or divine union. This is further stressed in the next text where the individual is encouraged not to repent but, in short, to become one with either the Divine Self or realise that he is the divine self:

Do not repent. Repentance means to stop being bad and to become good. Instead, return. Return to Essential Self… This we call Teshuva.’[96]

In the next quote the Rebbe explains that even the realm of commandment is undermined if not totally useless in the messianic era, as a commandment implies a duality between man and God and since there is no such duality, as man and God are One, there is no need for commandments.

The category of “commandments,” which are commanded to the person, are relevant only when the person is an existence unto himself [separate from the One], so that then the category of the commandments of the Holy One… falls upon him, and he should conduct himself according to the will of the Holy One. But, after the completion of one’s personal service in the fulfilment of the commandments, so all of his existence (every detail that exists) is permeated with the will of the Holy One. … This makes the [one who is]… ‘commanded’ joined with the Holy One, until they become one entity, ‘Israel (through the Torah) and the Holy One are all One.’ This will be revealed in the future to come- that the categorisation of commandment isn't relevant to man (since he is not an existence unto himself); this is because, his existence is [one with] the will of the Holy One…’[97]

It is true, and may be argued, that the above quote states that it is only the category of ‘command’ that is abolished and not necessarily the commandments themselves, since the individual will be ‘One with the Will of God.’ It may therefore, be argued that the Rebbe was suggesting nothing more than a ‘mystical redemption.’ In addition, this mystical redemption may not affect in any way the fulfilment of traditional Judaism. However, this is quite clearly a naive and simplistic oversight by those attempting to protect the Rebbe’s reputation, as a defender of the faith. This mystical and messianic Oneness, as I hope I have explained, ends the traditional subject/object distinction, and in so doing ends many if not all of the commandments we associate with traditional Judaism. Judaism’s eschatological fulfilment lies in its ultimate abnegation, since once it has done its task it has no use.

One example that I hope will help to clarify the status of the commandments in the messianic era, which again to some extent can be anticipated now, is the example of Shabbat [Sabbath], since Shabbat is said to be a taste of the Messianic era, when it will be ‘a day that is all Sabbath.’[98] On Shabbat, the Jewish male is not obliged to don phylacteries, which is a meditative aid to help the individual experience God’s Oneness and Unity,[99] since the day itself is a sign of God’s Oneness and unity. As is explained at length in Hassidic philosophy on Shabbat, the world returns to God, and doesn’t actually exist. On Shabbat, the law/Halachah of phylacteries, still exists, one can learn about it and discuss it, but the actual ‘mitzvah,’ the actually carrying out of the commandment, does not. So too, when the individual is ‘at One’ in the messianic era, many if not all of the commandments cease to apply. ‘The halacha always exists,’ but most of it is not relevant to a redeemed world in which the divine reality is openly revealed. In a singular existence there is ultimately no scope for a discussion of ‘God,’ or relationship with God, since we are one thing [Reality].

Appendix: Atzmuss as Equality—the story of the great battle

‘The truth is that we have simply never tried to develop any thinking tool for changing ideas. On the contrary, our thinking is based on the YES/NO system, which is an anti-change system. This is why the introduction of PO as a deliberate change tool is very necessary in our culture.’ --Edward De Bono, Po: beyond Yes and No. (Penguin Books, New York 1972), p.39

‘… For the Blessed Atzmuss Mahuss it is not possible to compare or to make the distinctions and difference between higher and lower.’[100]

This equality is unprecedented, because it now equates the higher and lower, the spiritual and the physical and corresponds to the Midrashic legend of Leviathan and Behemoth.

The Midrashic story[101] is of the “Great Battle” that is said to take place in the ‘End of Days,’[102] between the Leviathan[103] (a giant fish) and the Behemoth (a Huge Ox). They ‘…will battle with each other as a sport for the righteous in the time to come. The Behemoth will attack the Leviathan with it's horns and gore him, and the Leviathan will attack the Behemoth with his fins and rend him[104] and will pull the Behemoth down and slice through it's neck.’

These two mythical creatures fight to their deaths, and the flesh of both will be eaten, together with a special wine[105] (that is said to have been hidden by God in the first six days of creation, for the righteous in the world to come[106]). In the great festivities that will accompany the future redemption, as it says ‘In the future time, God will make a banquet for the righteous from the flesh of the Leviathan[107] where the flesh of both animals will be eaten together.’[108]

The Sages ask, concerning this method of slaughtering as to whether it is kosher or not?

“Haven't we previously learnt that.... killing an animal with a serrated edge [i.e. the fishes fin] (because of the pain that it inflicts on the animal) invalidates it from being kosher!”

To which Rabbi Abin son of Kahana replies, ‘that in the future ‘A New Torah will come from me,’[109] i.e. an exceptional (temporary) ruling will go forth from me, allowing this type of slaughtering to be considered kosher (in this instance).’[110]

The profound mystical significance of each of these animals and the battle is alluded to in the works of Hassidic thought in Sefer Ha-Likkutim[111], which explains that the Leviathan represents Spirituality and the Behemoth, coarse Physicality.[112] Their battle and their ultimate death signifies the death of both spirituality and physicality as two distinct and separate beings, and the ultimate revelation of that which transcends both equally, ‘Atzmuss.’ This allows for the slaughtering of both the physical and the spiritual, and the manifestation of Atzmuss’s true transcendence that kills the Spiritual and Physical, and creates an equality[113] between them. Ultimately there is no up and down, good and bad, but only the ultimate revelation and uninterrupted awareness of the divine nature of existence.

The Rebbe in conclusion sees neither Physicality nor Spirituality as an ultimate end in themselves, but both are interdependent or possibly even irrelevant, compared to the divine manifestation of ‘Essential Existence.’ Accordingly both the Messiah and the Messianic Era, are both attributed with this aspect of ‘Essentially Transcendent and yet Immanent Divinity.’[114]

The significance of the Leviathan’s killing of the Behemoth with it's serrated fin, is explained to represent, that the ‘slaying of the world,’[115] will be in a series of stages, (like that of the serrated knife) as opposed to one blow that would normally be with a kosher knife.

This is the New Torah and the Messiah's innovation. The Rebbe connects this with the three stages of the Messianic Era,[116] and explains that it can only happen in stages otherwise the world would become nullified, and overwhelmed in the light of ‘Atzmuss.’ The spiritual and physical worlds have been killed; all that remains is fragments of their corpses, which are divided and eaten by every individual at this banquet.

The remnants of both animals are dead, but they also still exist, and even provide joy and sustenance to the righteous. The spiritual does not exists as a separate entity from that of the physical and the physical is now spiritual, there is no longer a separation between the two, but this unity is not just a temporary revelation (as with the revelation at Mt Sinai) but a permanent reality, and is that of the world: the physical has been spiritualised and the spiritual is the physical. God and the world are One, there are no divisions, the world which is experienced becomes and therefore is divine.


Audi, Robert. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1995.

Bloom, William. The New Age, An Anthology of Essential Writings. London 1991.

Boteach, Shmuel. Wisdom Understanding and Knowledge, Basic Concepts of Hasidic Thought. NJ: Jason Aronson Inc. 1996.

Boteach, Rabbi Shmuel. The Wolf Shall Lie with the Lamb: The Messiah in Hasidic Thought. Penn: Jason Aronson Inc. 1993.

Branover, Herman. The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Science and Technology. New York: B'Or HaTorah. 1995.

Buber, Martin. Hasidism and Modern Man. Trans. Maurice Friedman. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc. 1966.

Calfin, Chaim. Conversations with the Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. LA: JEC Publishing company, Inc. 1996.

Cohen, Andrew. What is Ego? Published in; What is Enlightenment? Issue 17 Spring/Summer 2000.

Deutsch, Shaul Shimon. Larger than Life: The life and times of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, V1 and 2. New York: Chasidic Historical Productions, Ltd. 1997.

Freeman, Tzvi. Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, 365 Meditations, from the wisdom of the Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Vancouver, Canada/Berkeley, USA: Class One Press. 1996.

Fromm, Eric. The Sane Society. London: Routledge. 1991.

Fromm, Eric. The Art of Loving. London: Thorsons, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers: 1995.

Huxley, Aldous. Island. London: Grafton Books. 1986.

Idel, Moshe. Messianic Mystics. New Haven and London: Yale University press. 1998.

Idel, Moshe. Hasidism, Between Ecstasy and Magic. New York: State University of New York Press, Albany. 1995.

Jung, Carl G. Man and his Symbols. London: Aldus Books Ltd. 1979.

Kaplan, Aryeh. Meditation and Kabbalah. Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc. 1985.

Krishnamurti, J. The Impossible Question. London: Penguin Books. 1988.

Landau, David. Piety and Power: The world of Jewish Fundamentalism. London: Martin and Warburg Ltd. 1993.

Locks, Gutman. There is One. Jerusalem. Gutman Locks 24 Chabad St, Old City, Jeruslaem. 1998.

Loewenthal, Naftali. ‘Paradox of Redemption,’ in Perspectives on Jewish Thought and Mysticism. London. Harwood academic publishers. 1994.

Marcus, Joel, ‘Modern and Ancient Jewish Apocalypticism,’ Journal of Religion 76 (1996) 1-27.

Marcus, Joel, ‘The once and future Messiah in early Christianity and Chabad,’ In manuscript: Currently unpublished. (2000).

Mintz, Jerome R. Hasidic People, A Place in the New world, London: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Mindel, Nissan. The Philosophy of Habad. Kehot Publication Society. New York: 1973.

Passmore, John. 100 years of Philosophy. London: Duckworth.1966.

Posner, Abraham Baruch. Al Ha-Tzaddikim. The qualities of Tzaddikim in general and particularly how the Holy One dwells in them. (Hebrew) K’far Chabad. (5752/1992).

Rabinowics, Harry. A World Apart: The Story of the Chassidim in Britain. London: Vallentine Mitchell and Co. Ltd, 1997.

Ravitzky Aviezer. The Revealed End and the Jewish State. (Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism). Tel Aviv: Om Oved, 1993.

Rubinstein, Areyeh. Hasidism. Jerusalem, Keter Books (1975).

Schneerson, Menachem M. Letters from the Rebbe, Vol. 1-5. New York/Jerusalem: Otsar Sifrei Lubavitch, Inc. 1997.

Schneerson, Menachem M. Besuras HaGeulo: The Announcement of the Redemption. Trans. Rabbi Yisroel Heschel Greenburg and Rabbi Yisroel Ber Kaufman. New York. Vaad L’hafotzas Sichot. 1998.

Schneerson, Menachem M. Sefer Ha’Maamorim, Meluket, Vol. 1-6. New York: Kehot Publication Society. 1994.

Schneerson, Menachem M. Sefer HaSichot –5751+2, Vol. 1 and 2. New York: Kehot Publication Society. 1992-3.

Schneerson, Menachem M. From Exile to Redemption, Vol 1 and 2. Compiled by R. Alter Eliyahu Friedman. Trans. Uri Kaploun. New York: Kehot Publication Society. 1996.

Schneerson, Menachem M (1789-1866) Derech Mitzvosecho. New York: Kehot Publishing Society. 1993.

Schneerson, Joseph Isaac. (1880-1950) Sefer Hamaamorim- Kuntreisim, Vol 1+2. New York: Kehot Publishing Society. 1987.

Schneerson Shalom DovBer, (1860-1920) To Know G-d, Maamar VeYadaata. New York: Kehot Publishing Society. 1993.

Schochet, Jacob Immanuel. The Mystical Dimension, Vol 1–3. New York. Kehot Publications 1995.

Scholem, Gershom. Sabbatai Sevi, the Mystical Messiah. Trans. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky. New Jersey: Princeton U Press. 1973.

Scholem, Gershom. The Messianic Idea in Judaism, and other essays on Jewish Spirituality. NY: Schocken Books, Inc. 1995.

Scholem, Gershom. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. New York: Schocken Books, Inc. 1995.

Scholem, Gershom. On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism. Trans. Ralph Manheim. New York: Schcken Books. 1977.

Touger, Eliyahu and Malka. To know and To Care, An Anthology of Chassidic Stories about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. New York: Sichot in English. 1994.

Winkler, Gershon. The Place where you are standing is Holy, A Jewish Theology on Human Relationships. Northvale, New Jersey, London: Jason Aronson Inc. 1994.



[1] 18th of April (1lth of Nisan,)

[2] Born 1880/5640 USSR moved to NY in 1940’s Died 1950.

[3] The coming of Moshiach is divided into at least three main stages. 1)‘The days of Moshiach,’ ‘Yemot Ha Moshiach,’ where Moshiach fights the wars of God, bringing back the Jewish people to the fulfilment of Torah. 2)The building of the Temple in Jerusalem. (‘Binyan Beit Ha Mikdash’) which includes in it both the ingathering from the nations (‘Kibutz Galiut’) and a limited resurrection of some Righteous individuals who will help to build the Temple and do sacrifices. 3)The resurrection of the dead. ‘Techiyat Ha Metim.’ He also spoke of the possibility of there being the resurrection of the dead just before the building of the Temple, saying that apart from the righteous leaders, like Moses or David etc… who will be needed to help build the Temple, that all of Israel (possibly even the righteous gentiles) will be resurrected because of the verse, and ‘all your nation are righteous,’ and therefore inverting Maimonides and the Zohar’s seeming opinion that it will take place 40 years after the building of the Temple. The Rebbe believed he was the Messiah and declared that we have already entered first of these stages, which is ‘the Messianic Days’ or ‘Yemot Ha Moshiach’. (Any objections raised about this fundamental presupposition, that the Rebbe believed he was the actual Messiah, are not up for discussion, and is taken for granted throughout this brief outline. It is not the purpose of this paper to discuss this point but accept it as given.)

[4] in 1990/5750 the Rebbe quote in connection to the Gulf War, a verse from Yalkut Shemoni, which says . … ‘this is the year that the king Moshiach is/will be revealed.’

[5] Marcus, Joel, The once and future Messiah in early Christianity and Chabad, currently in manuscript, Boston U, 2000.

[6] It should be noted that the original text of Isaiah actually says ‘Torah Meitty Tetza’.

[7] Even during exile ‘the leader of the generation’ is compared to the head [and or heart in a different analogy] which contains all the body, as Rashi says ‘Nassi hoo ha koll’ –literally ‘the leader is the All.’

[8] Jacob Immanuel Schochet. ‘The Concept of the Rebbe-Tzadick,’ Chassidic Dimensions (second edition 1995.) pp.99-124.

[9] As in the adage, ‘who is the Me, saying the my?’ an explanation of which I heard from Gutman Locks of the Old City of Jerusalem who explained that ‘the Me saying the My is God.’

[10] Shabbat Parshat Tazria-Metzora, 5747 /1987.

[11] Erev Hag Ha Shevuot, 5750 /1990.

[12] the formation of the current Torah (that is the Torah of exile) and the rituals and customs associated with it, are all gleaned from, or because of the second commandment ‘thou shall not, have any other gods…’, that is, that you shall not be like other nations.

[13] Sartre captures this idea when he said ‘It is not the Jewish character that provokes anti-Semitism but, rather, that it is the anti-Semite who creates a Jew. The primary phenomena therefore, is anti-Semitism…’. Sartre, Jean-Paul, Anti-Semite and Jew, trans. George Becker, NY: Schocken 1970 (original 1948). More recently, an American sociologist, Gary Tobin, explains that modern Jewish identity comes from identification with anti-Semitism. ‘In the absence of religion as a set of symbols and guides for daily activity and thought, Judaism in America is reinforced and identified with external events and structures to help provide continuity, meaning, and cohesiveness for American Jewry. Anti-Semitism answers this need, playing each one of these roles... whether positively or negatively, in some common understanding and fear of what it means to be a Jew.’ Tobin Gary A. with Sharon L. Sassler, Jewish Perceptions of anti-Semitism, NY/London: Plenum Pr. (1988), chapter 3, ‘Living in Two Worlds: Jewish identity and external forces,’ p.81.

[14] ‘The Torah is the eternal, living monument of God's rendezvous with Israel, the nation’s raison d’etre, the soul that enables the nation to survive every trial to rise to undreamed of spiritual heights and realise the hope of its Creator.’- Preface to the Stone Edition of the Chumash, 5th ed, p.xiii, (published and distributed by Mesorah Publication NY)

[15] “Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism,” published in Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, 1978, Sheldon press.

[16] Prayer is a chance for the subjects to praise, request and petition from the King of all Kings for their needs and requirements.

[17] The Torah for example is traditionally seen as a marriage contract between God and Israel and spells out the terms and conditions of this relationship, what each partner will do for the other, Israel for God and God for Israel. So by Israel adhering to the rules and laws described they will be duly rewarded, and by breaking the terms of this agreed contract Israel will be punished.

[18] The commandments themselves are seen as directives of a supreme king who wishes to rule his kingdom and decrees issued must be fulfilled by his subjects.

[19] This excerpt concerns itself with three possible interpretations of the word ‘Alef’, that is the name of the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, which has the numerical value of one. The word itself is made up of three letters Alef, Lammed and Pey. It is my belief that the traditional Kabbalistic approach to the interpretation of the word was used as a basis as all three interpretations coincide with its numerical equivalents, these are for Alef (the first letter of the world alef) which is Echud meaning One, Lammed (the second) meaning –Lommed meaning to teach and Pey/Phey- meaning mouth but also very close to the word Pella meaning miracle.

[20] Shabbat Parashat Emor 5751. ‘The name of the letter Alef has three meanings, alluding to three kinds of divine revelation in the future,’ which also corresponds to the three letters of the word Alef, which are Alef, Lammed and Pey. The first example corresponds to the letter Alef itself, which has the numerical value of One, and therefore represents the One God. The word Alef is related to the word aluf (meaning ‘master’). The time the future redemption, it will become apparent that God is the ‘Alufo Shel Olam,’ the master of the world. At that time, ‘the activating force of the creator in the created will be revealed.’ In words of the prayer service, ‘everything that has been made will know that You have made it.’ The second interpretation correlates to the letter Lammed, which is connected to the idea of Limmud or learning and teaching in general and therefore represents the revelation of the Alef in Torah. The name Alef is also related to the verbal root alaf meaning ‘to teach’ as in the verse, (allafecha chochma…) ‘and I shall teach you wisdom.’ In the future time there will be a great revelation of the Torah, of which it is written, ‘the Torah precedes the world by 2000 years.’ [Precedes, of course refers to the spiritual precedents, and not chronological.] Indeed, the very root ve’alpayim meaning 2000,’ shares a root with the above verb ‘alaffecha’ meaning ‘and I shall teach.’ Finally, letters that comprise the word Alef, when rearranged spell wonder (pela). The time of the future redemption will witness a revelation of the wonders of the Torah, which until then had been wondrously inaccessible. Here, then, we have three levels of divine revelation: Alef in the sense of Master, alludes to a root level of divine revelation and transcends the world and worldly categories (Atzmuss). Alef in the sense of teaching alludes to a divine revelation that transcends the world, but standing in and set in relation to the world - and services its relation chiefly by means of the Torah, which precedes the world (which will chiefly be revealed in the redemption). While Alef in the sense of wonder is the ultimate revelation of the being and Essence of Divinity (Atzmuss) in the world, which will be revealed in the full and complete redemption. –Shabbat Parashat Emor 5751.

[21] Seeing that it was his belief that he was the Messiah.

[22] Shabbat Parshat Emor 5751. p.525 beginning of the second column in Sefer Ha Sichot 5751.

[23] This could possibly be compared to Rosenzweig’s belief in the birth of the individual ‘I’ before attempts are made to join the collective ‘We’ and be redeemed.

[24] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 5, p.59. Koontrass 20th Mar’Cheshvan, 5751 1991 (originally 5745 1985).

[25] Genesis Vayeira-21:33.

[26] The Stone Edition, translates the verse as ‘and there he claimed the name of Hashem, God of the Universe. The Jerusalem Bible, translates the verse as ‘and Abraham... called in their on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.’ Samson Raphael Hirsch translates it as ‘and there he proclaimed the name of God, the God of the future,’ but explains that Sages interpret ‘Olam’ to mean ‘the world’ and ‘the most concrete actual present.’

[27] 12th Tamuz 5737/1976 - Sefer Maamarim Meluket 1, p.187.

[28] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 2 pp.60-62. Koontrass 12th-13th of Tamuz 5747 1987.

[29] Even from the perspective of the world, as it is created from the name ‘Elohim’ which conceals and covers the Tetragrammaton.

[30] the Hebrew word for One is Echad, and is made up of three Hebrew characters which each have a numerical value the first is one (Alef),the second is eight (Het) and the third is four (Dalled).

[31] - Sefer Maamarim Meluket 2 pp.60-61. Koontrass 12th-13th of Tamuz 5747 1987.

[32] Which I feel is overly adapted, so much so that I feel it may have even lost its thread of authenticity, and may just be used as an example of generally held beliefs within Habad concerning the messianic era, and not necessarily those of the Rebbe himself.

[33] On Shabbat Parshat Mattos-Masei, 5751.

[34] Surely this should read ‘experience’ or perception, rather than ‘conception,’ and is possibly due to the authors overly intellectual and cerebral preoccupation.

[35] Likkutei Torah Parashat Nitzavim p.86a

[36] Isaiah 11:9.

[37] This authors emphasis on the loss of individual identities contrast strongly with how I understand the Rebbe’s attitude toward the individual self, but I feel this argument could merely be one of semantics and therefore ask the reader to ignore this assertion of loss of individuality within the redemptive union for the moment and rather read the statements about this subject that the Rebbe said and explained himself.

[38] Possibly ‘Awareness,’ again the adaptation which seems to be completely arbitrary, express the authors overly intellectual and cerebral preoccupation or maybe my disregard for the acquisition of knowledge as opposed to raw experience?

[39] see Sound the Great Shofar. p.68 (published by Kahot).

[40] The Yechida is considered the absolute essence of the soul but is also included in cosmic and comprehensive soul which is the soul of the Messiah/ Moshiach which comprises the soul to the entire Jewish people. The following is the Rebbe’s definition: ‘This is what enables the messiah to redeem all Israel from exile. Moshiach as is known, [Ramaz on Zohar II, 40b.] is the all embracing yechidah of the Jewish people. [For, unique among the five levels of every soul,] the yechidah within a soul is the sublime and innermost essence. To consider, there are at least five levels in ascending in order: King David was the all-embracing Nefesh/ enlivening soul of the Jewish people; the prophet Elijah was the Ruach/Spirit; Moses was the Neshumah/ Godly Soul; and was the chaya; and the yechidah will be bestowed upon Moshiach. And the same time, within every Jew there is a spark of Moshiach. This spark is the yechidah which redeems him, which is a spark of the comprehensive yechidah.’ –Likkutei Sichot, vol 10, p.522.

[41] Shabbat Parshat Mattos-Masei, 5751 p.718.

[42] Mishna Avot Chapter 1, section 12.

[43] Shabbat Parshat Mattos-Masei, 5751 p.718.

[44] It is my understanding that this is the interpretation of the Alter Rebbe, but I am as yet unable to qualify this assumption.

[45] My Italics.

[46] There is a current debate between translators of Hassidic Philosophy ( Uria Kaplun, and R.Yitzchak Ginsburg and Asher Crispe) as how to translate this word. As it is used in different contexts through out Hassidic thought the word itself comes from the root word "Etzem," meaning in modem Hebrew bone, and is originally used in Hassidic thought to descried the "Essence of God." It is usually found in this context used with the word "Atzmuss" or "Mahut" which means Being/Essence or Existence. So "Atzmuss Mahuss,/ Atzmut v’ Mahut" would be translated something close to ‘Essence of (All or God's) Existence,’ Existence being All that Is, or as I prefer to use "Essential Existence."

[47] Sometimes with ‘lifnay ha Tzim Tzum’ (preceding the Tzim Tzum) attached or at least implied.

[48] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 2 p.89, 18th (Chai ) Elul 5747 1987.

[49] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 3, p.133.

[50] Possibly similar to radical otherness?

[51] Sefer Maamorim Melukat 2 p.37, 11th of Nissan, 5747/ 1987 (original 5742/ 1982).

[52] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 1, p.429.

[53] See the top of p.19 here, “…as it is written ‘and he (Abraham) called there, in the name of God…”

[54] Sefer Ha Sichot 5752 p.160.

[55] Psalms 136:4.

[56] Nidda 31a.

[57] Sefer Ha Miamorrim 5 pp. 307-10, 28th Sivan 5751, originally said on Achron Shell Pesach 1978.

[58] ibid.

[59] Sefer Ha Sichot 5751, Shabbat Parashat Nosser, 12 Sivan 5751, p.588.

[60] Since according to the primary laws of Hassidic metaphysics ‘Essence cannot be revealed.’

[61] Sefer Ha Sichot 5751, Parashat Naso, p.588.

[62] Zechariah 14:9.

[63] The emphasis is on the word ‘HaHoo’ instead the Rebbe suggests that it should have been ‘b’ Yom HaHe…’

[64] My italics. Sefer HaSichot 5751, Parashat Naso, p.588.

[65] Sefer HaSichot 5751, Parashat Naso p.588 .

[66] My italics - Sefer HaSichot 5751, Parashat Naso p.588.

[67]Purim 1951/5711, Sefer Maamarim Meluket 2, p.70—72.

[68] Purim 1951/ 5711, Sefer Maamarim Meluket 2, p70—72.

[69] – Safe Ha Sichot 5696 [1936 p.330].

[70] The discussion of whether this is a completely new Torah or just a revelation of an inner dimension of the traditional Torah will be discussed at some point later in this paper.

[71] Likkutei Sichot, Parasha Vayigash, 5751/1990. It is discussed at length that from Me implies the very essence and being of God.

[72] Any objections to this fundamental premise that the Rebbe believed he was the Messiah, are laughable; it is very clear from countless Sichot, that he did. See Sefer Ha Sichot 5752, Mikdosh M'att.

[73] The first example taken from a talk where the Rebbe referred to his father-in-law, but inferred this applied to himself as Rebbe also. See Likkuttei Sichot vol. 16-17.

[74] I was given this information by Rabbi Yitzchak Broaner, formally of Bies Moshiach, Stamford Hill, approximately a week before Passover 2000.

[75] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 6, p.84, Koontrass 5th Tevet 5752/ 1992 (originally 5732/1972).

[76] Shabbat Parashat Emor, 5751.

[77] The Alter Rebbe, 1745-1812, the first Habad Rebbe and author of ‘Tanya.’

[78] - Likkutei Torah, Tzav, p.17a.

[79] -The light [night] of 13th of Tishray (the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab) 5743/1983. Sefer Maamarim Meluket 1, p. 446.

[80] Jeremiah 31:33.

[81] The Rebbe was probably talking of the Previous Rebbe, his father-in-law Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Schneerson, but has obviously been interpreted to mean that the Rebbe knew of his own eventual demise and was prophesising of his eventual return.

[82] Sefer Ha Sichot 5752 /1992, v. 1,p.93.

[83] ‘Hoo L’Vaado Hoo.’

[84] Koontrass 14th Shavat 5750/1990, Sefer Maamarim Meluket 1.

[85] Sefer HaSichot 5751, Parashat Naso p.588.

[86] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 1, p.66, Baisy L’ganni 5719 -1959.

[87] ‘day 2 of Hag ha Shavuot 5729 / 1969. Sefer Maamarim Meluket 4.

[88] (through the Lord – Tetragrammaton).

[89] ‘Tetragrammaton’ - Sefer Maamarim Meluket 4.p.49-50.

[90] Sefer HaSichot 5748 vol 1, p.220.

[91] Sefer HaSichot 5749 vol 1, p.159.

[92] Likkutei Dibburim, Vol.1, p 133 and in the English translation p.289.

[93] Likkutei Dibburim Vol. 1, p 153. From the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe.

[94] ibid.

[95] Bringing Heaven down to Earth: 365 meditations from the wisdom of the Rebbe… - acts of beauty number 244, compiled and interpreted by Tzvi Freeman.

[96] ibid.

[97] - Sefer Ha Sichot 5752, p.31.

[98] Grace after meals on Shabbat.

[99] See the introductionary meditations before putting phylacteries on in the Lubavitch Siddur ‘Tehillat HaShem.’

[100] Sefer Maamarim Meluket 1, p.250-255.

[101] Vayikra Rabbah 13.3.

[102] Throughout Judaic History the 'End of Days' has referred to the time just before or just after the final redemption which the Rebbe believed was happening now, or in the immediate future. The Apocalyptic Prophesy of the end of the world and Armageddon have previously fuelled messianic revivals, but the Rebbe ignored all the negative prophecies and said they were not needed, as with any negative prophecy they do not have to come true if the people repent, as explained by Maimonides in his treaty on Prophecy and brings the example of the story of Joanna to prove his point. But the Rebbe believed that these days are the prophesied 'End of Days.'

[103] The Leviathan is said to be so large that it fills all the oceans, and the Behemoth is measured approximately as tall and New York's Twin Towers.

[104] i.e. cut his neck with her fins. The Leviathan is female and the Behemoth is male. Talmud Bava Basra 75b.

[105] Talmud Brochot 34b.

[106] Traditionally Kabbalah compares itself to wine, as the Talmud states “In goes wine, out come the secrets.” Interestingly Hassidic thought refers to itself as ‘the resin of the resin,’ resin meaning ‘juice,’ ‘the secrets of the secrets,’ if you like the ‘Kabbalah of the Kabbalah.’ Using this connection between wine and secrets it has been said that the ‘hidden (secret) –wine’ is an elusion to the Teachings of Hasidic Philosophy and more precisely the teachings of the Messiah (who is obviously the main exponent of Hasidic Philosophy). This special wine could possibly be referring to the exuberant state of mind that is induced by the study and internalising of the philosophy of the Messiah. It was possibly this existential knowledge that was hidden (as a reward for the righteous) in the six days of creation and that will be drunk (i.e. enjoyed and possibly even used to get 'drunk' on i.e. to experience the falling away of all personal and universal boundaries in this experience of ultimate unity of heaven and earth), at the great banquet of the righteous.

[107] Talmud Bava Basra 75a.

[108] which is also a slight Halachic problem, as the majority of opinions forbid the eating of both fish and meat together for both religious and health reasons. See Shulchan Aruch Bassar v' Chalav, and Tarauvot.

[109] Isaiah 51:4 using a pun on the Hebrew word 'New' 'Chadash'-'Chidush.'

[110] Soncino Midrash Rabba, Lev. 167.

[111] An Encyclopidia of Hassidic Philosophy, called Sefer Ha Likutim - Da"ch “Tzemach Tzedek,” published by Kahot, New York (1984) p.646,1T.

[112] i.e. Leviathan, being a fish is continually dependant on it's source of life i.e. the water in which it lives. Water itself has enormous meaning as it is the source of all life and both God and the Torah are referred to as water. Just as water comes from a high place and descends to a low place, traditionally the righteous are said to re-incarnated as fish, the fish never closes it's eyes, and therefore is compared to God who's eyes are always open. It is openly one with (God) its source of life. The Behemoth on the other hand, gets its life from the grass that it stands on, and is separate from it, and in the parable is separate from God, but has great strength that if used properly can be harnessed for good. [113] equality and unity. The same idea is found concerning the two names of God that of YHVH and Elohim Which represents the concept of unity and Multiplicity exclusively, and represents the spiritual and Physical. In the Messianic Era, the two names will be united, revealing this aspect of God that transcends both. Also Sovev (Transcenense) and Mimaleh (Immanence).

[114] "Niimoo nitnoss," the impossibilities of impossibilities, the fusion of opposites.

[115] World in Hebrew is Olam, but throughout Hassidic literature, this has been associated with ‘Hellem,’ which means covering or concealment, implying the concealment of God's infinite light. Thus the slaying of 'Concealment,' of the One-ness and Unity of All existence.

[116] which the Rebbe understands from the writings of Maimonides concerning the final redemption: I. The Messianic Days or 'Yemot Ha Moshiach', 2. The building of the 3rd Temple; and 3. The Resurrection of the dead, The Rebbe also explains that even before the building of the Temple some people will be resurrected, namely Moses, Aaron, David, Habad leaders and also and including the Messiah himself, and all of the other righteous leaders of Israel (possibly even all of Israel and even the righteous gentiles.)