I just want to begin this shiur with by speaking about the significance of the month of Cheshvan; it’s a special month and I want to point that out why.
Before I begin, this shiur should be a merit for the health and success of the families of Regina bas Yosef Reuven, Yeshaia ben Yisrael, and Binyamin Wolf ben Zvi Hersch and Baruch ben Binyamin Wolf. Also, it should be for a refuah shlema for David Zvi ben Sara; he should have a refuah shlema. Rena bas Soul, she too should have a refuah shlema.
Cheshvanis a very special, interesting month. In fact, Cheshvan is a messianic month. One indicative sign of that is that, of all the months of the year, Cheshvan is the only month that has no yom kadosh, noholiday of any sort, whether it be a regular holiday, a fast day, no day considered to be some type of a holy day. Therefore, it’s referred to as “mar Cheshvan,”—bitter Cheshvan. The question is, at the End of Time, how is Cheshvan going to be consoled? Consider the entire history of the Jewish people and there's not one important day that occurs during Cheshvan. That's why we refer to it as “bitter.” How will it be consoled?—by being a messianic month. In some way, Cheshvan may be the start of the turn-around. It may be the start of the release of Mashiach ben Yosef, in terms of Cheshvan. There's something of a messianic occurrence that happens in Cheshvan. That's why, in the End of Time, it will be the greatest month of all because, whatever stage of the Redemption we’re in, we anticipate progress in Cheshvan.
The second thing is yud-aleph Cheshvan—the eleventh day of Cheshvan; it’s the yahrtzeit of Rachel Imenu. She died on yud aleph Cheshvan, as can easily be attested to by the fact that so many people in Eretz Yisrael go to her kever—tomb. We know that Rachel Imenu was responsible for the Redemption. She's the one who prayed; they stopped at her grave on the way to Babylon during the exile of Bavil. Enroute to Babylon, the Jewish captives stopped at her grave site to pray for her intercession and, lo and behold—I once spoke about this on yud aleph Cheshvan in a shiur on Tisha Be'Av—she was successful. Therefore, G-D said: originally, I was going to exile them until the messianic era but now I'll only exile them to Babylon for sevently years. Rachel actually turned around the exile and, as a result, she is known as the “mother of Redemption.” In fact, an haftorah which is dedicated to her, Yirmiyahu, lamed aleph—31, talks about her. G-D says to her “Dry your tears; I will yet bring back the Jewish people to their land.” She died on yud aleph Cheshvan to be buried in that place where the Jews would pass by to ask her to intercede and she would.
The day of her death, 11th of Cheshvan, is a very important day, a propitious day for some type of messianic situation. That's a second idea.
A third idea is—I once gave a shiur on this—that yud aleph Cheshvan is the day that the ohr rishon—First Light or messianic light, was supposed to come down to the world but it didn't. Instead, its physical analog, water, resulted in the mabul—Flood. That happened, not on the 11th, but on the 17th and 18th of Cheshvan because, on yud-aleph Cheshvan, Methuselah, the oldest person who ever lived—969 years—died on that date and the Ribono Shel Olam did not want to intercede or distract from that day to bring the mabul; it would take seven days for the shiva. That ended on the 17th - 18th day so, what should have been the ohr rishon became the mabul and destroyed the world. I’ve spoken about that in terms of Noach and in terms of yud aleph Cheshvan, both. Therefore, yud-aleph Cheshvan is really a day that the ohr rishon, the ohr mashiach, the ohr ha’ganuz—concealed Light, seems to happen. That's a third concept as to why Cheshvan is so important.
Cheshvan is not an ordinary month and what's also interesting is that on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan there was a solar eclipse, on that very day. We know that an eclipse can only happen on Rosh Chodesh because the moon goes in front of the sun. Most of the times the moon is above the sun or below the sun. But sometimes it goes right across the sun and blocks the sun's light. That is called a “solar eclipse” which can occur only on Rosh Chodesh.
Well, guess what? It happened on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. A solar eclipse is a very bad sign for the goyim. For there to be a solar eclipse on Cheshvan, a messianic month, is a very good sign for the Jews. You never know; maybe this month is it. Maybe this month will be the turn-around. If you recall, I predicted also that, in Teves, the month of Hanukkah—I I gave an entire shiur on this—there was a solar eclipse on Rosh Chodesh Teves coinciding with the month of Esav I predicted that Esav will have a terrible time and, soon after that, would come the collapse of Russia, Europe and the United States, and they're all collapsing. Hopefully, this will happen, that this month will be the beginning of the turn-around and the initiation of the messianic process. Anyway, I think this worthy of mentioning for those people who have hope for the mashiach to come.
Torah Portion “Lech Lecha”
I want now to speak about parashas—Torah portion ”Lech Lecha,” a very, very interesting one. We know the basic storyline of Avraham Avinu being commanded by G-D to leave Charan which is, by the way, assumed to be modern-day southeast Turkey, not far from Syria. He was commanded to leave and to go to Eretz Yisrael where, subsequently, there was a famine which compelled him to go to Egypt.
When considering the story of “Lech Lech”a and Avraham Avinu and how he was designated by G-D to begin the whole process of rectification of Creation, it's really very strange. I'd like to talk about that; it conveys many lessons, messages, for us, the Jewish people. I'd like to comment on these ideas.
It's a strange start. Avraham Avinu is 75 years old. Even in those days when people lived to an older age—not anymore to 900 but, let’s say, to 105—they were considered to be old men. A 75-year-old, even at that time, was an old man, not a young guy. The Ribono Shel Olam—Master of the Universe could have appeared to Avraham Avinu when he was thirty; what a difference! Then he’d have had all the youth and energy, the dynamism, of a young guy. I would imagine it would have been a lot easier for him to do whatever he was charged with doing. Why, then, would the Ribono Shel Olam appear to an old man of seventy-five years? How much energy does he really have? Obviously, we find the same thing by Moshe Rabbeinu who was 80-years-old. That’s an old man. Why would He do that? That's the first strange idea about this story.
The second strange aspect is G-D telling Avraham Avinu: you have to leave your birthplace, leave beis avicha—your father’s house, leave your whole family. Do you know how difficult it is? You're 75 years of age, obviously thinking of retirement when, all of a sudden, you’re given the edict to leave everybody, everything, that you know—very difficult! Yet, we find that the Ribono Shel Olam told him “Lech lecha me'artz'cha u'me'moladet'cha u'me'beis avicha”—take yourself from your land, the land of your birth, and the house of your father which means from your whole family, your friends, and everybody that you're close to. Again, that's a strange request to make of an old man.
Then G-D tells him: you're going el ha’aretz asher ar’echa”—to a land that I will show you. He doesn't tell him exactly where, right? It's important for somebody that's going to travel to the unknown to have some idea of where he's going because, usually, you want to feel secure about that, to be prepared. As he was informed, he had no idea where he would be going. The Ribono Shel Olam subjected Avraham to much insecurity. Why did He do that? Besides, he's not going for a vacation. He's going to live there. Do you know how difficult it is for an older person to adjust to a new place? Leaving all familiarity behind, he must adjust to a completely new environment. How would he do that? What about parnassa--livelihood? It's not clear how Avraham Avinu earned his. He probably was a shepherd because that's what he did later. How to make parnassah in a new place without knowing a destination? These ideas are very strange. The uncertainty increased enormously the difficulty of what the Ribono Shel Olam was asking him to do.
Then what happens? He finally gets to Eretz Yisrael and, lo and behold, there's a terrible famine, one of the worst in human history. All of a sudden, there's a famine. He gets to the land—I would imagine you could call it the “Promised Land” because the Ribono Shel Olam was telling him to go there—and when he gets there, there's a famine and everybody's starving. He would have had to say to himself: what do I do? I can't stay here. There's no food!
Obviously, the One who orchestrated the famine is G-D, right? This didn't happen by itself. It's amazing that the Ribono Shel Olam arranged a famine to coincide with Avraham’s arrival. What a hardship! Where does he have to go?—to Egypt, where apparently there was food. But Egypt is a place of gross immorality, tremendous promiscuity. It's a real tumah place. I'm sure he had been incredibly spiritual where he was, but now he's not only leaving Haran which, at least, was a place where he would be protected from immorality, he’s going to one of the most immoral places on the planet! How difficult that is for a tzadik that has to go to a makom tumah—place of defilement like Egypt! This certainly increases the difficulties.
Besides that, Avraham Avinu realizes that his wife is a very beautiful woman and he knows what the Egyptians will do. Pharaoh is always looking for new pastures and Sara is to be one of them. He realizes that, if it’s known that he is her husband, guess what! They're not going to hesitate to kill him and bring her to Pharaoh. The whole jouney to Egypt, if you think about, is life-threatening. To go to Egypt, in his situation, is life-threatening yet that's what he has to do.
He's got to travel to Egypt. Do you know how difficult it was to travel in those days?—no cars, trains, buses, planes. We're talking about camels. How do people go from Charan all the way to Eretz Yisrael, then all the way to Egypt? They probably traveled by camel. Could you imagine sitting on a camel for a protracted period? Not only did he have to travel from Charan to Israel, he now had to go to Egypt and schlep across the wilderness of Sinai; imagine what that is!
Then what happens? Paroh--Pharoah kidnaps her. So, Sara says: he's my brother so we can let him live. Meanwhile, they take her. That's called “kidnapping” and that's exactly what paroh did, kidnapped her. Now, Avraham Avinu doesn't have his wife, but the real kicker is that he will never have her again. Why?—because the rule is that any kind of consort to a king can never return to being the partner of a commoner; it would be a bizon--affront to the melech—king. So, even after paroh tires of her, she can't go back to Avraham Avinu because that's the rule, so that's the end of his marriage.
He's in an alien country and, he's sitting in a “motel” in Egypt. He’s broke, lonely, Sara's been kidnapped. Could you imagine what he must have been feeling after being addressed by G-D to do this? He probably felt that the Ribono Shel Olam had abandoned him because, when the Ribono Shel Olam told him, “I will make your name great and the whole world will be blessed through you,” G-D conveyed a substantial promise. Meanwhile, everything seemed in a state diametrically opposed to what G-D promised. Avraham must have thought: what do You mean ‘everybody will bless through me’? They just stole my wife and I can’t ever have her back. Not only that, what do You mean by saying ‘my name is great’? My name is mud! If I ever say that she's my wife, they'll kill me, right?
So, it comes out that everything that the Ribono Shel Olam promised, the exact opposite happened. Take a look at all the things I just mentioned. Instead of a glorious trip, it became a nightmare. Why would the Ribono Shel Olam do that?
The answer is a very important concept. There are certain necessities, three prerequisites that the Ribono Shel Olam had to carry out. In essence, that's really what the story is about and which answers the questions as to why all of these nightmarish calamities happened.
He Who Rectifies
The first imperative was a mesaken—he who rectifies Creation.The second thing the Ribono Shel Olam needed to do was to establish a guarantee, called “hanhagos hayichud,” which I’ve spoken about, a guarantee that covers, specifically—not in general, but specifically—whoever is going to be the mesaken, the one to rectify Creation. The third exaction is that they proceed to rectify Creation. These are the specifications G-D would enact at this point in time.
Who was the mesaken? I’ve mentioned many times in the past that, in the beginning, the original idea was not for the Jews to be the mesaken, rather it should be mankind. That's why Adam Ha’Rishon was not Jewish; he was human. The original intent of G-D was for Adam Ha’Rishon to do the tikkun, he and all his descendants. The concept of the job of tikkun was given to mankind, not the Jewish people. The problem was that mankind sinned for two thousand years, the mabul—Flood in the generation of Noach, then the dor haflagah—generation of dispersion when G-D spread mankind throughout the planet and fragmented their societies and language. The Ribono Shel Olam needed somebody to do the job of tikkun because mankind was not doing it. G-D imposed a very important test, one which has tremendous repercussions for the history of man.
G-D decided to empower and bring to eminence two people, Nimrod and Avraham Avinu. Avraham defied Nimrod by smashing his father’s, Terach’s, idols. Nimrod decided to throw Avraham Avinu into a kivshan ha'esh—fiery furnace but from which Avraham Avinu was saved.
The setting for the test is given at the end of parashas—Torah portion “Noach.” We’re told that the Earth was of one language and one nation. There were not seventy nations, only one—Bavil, in Babylon. They're in the land of Shinar and the leader was Nimrod. That's where Avraham Avinu came from.
The test was as follows; if the people of Shinar would follow Nimrod, then the Ribono Shel Olam would rescind mankind’s ability to do the tikkun. He’d diminish their neshamos—souls. Though a goy has a neshama elyonaa—holy soul that G-D allowed them to keep, they were stripped of the neshama that can do the tikkun on the entirety of Creation. Only in Avraham and his descendants would the original soul be retained. So, if the nation followed Avraham, especially after the nes—miracle—imagine a guy gets thrown into a fiery, scorching hot furnace yet walks out—then G-D would not revoke mankind’s ability to continue to do the tikkun. It's up to them. This was the great test by the dor haflaga.
What did they decide? They decided to follow Nimrod and rebel against G-D. Therefore, the Ribono Shel Olam scattered them throughout the world, but the most profound result was the loss of their ability to do the tikkun. The only individual to retain that ability, with the neshama to do it, was Avraham Avinu; that's pivotal. That is why the Ribono Shel Olam appeared to Avraham Avinu to make an agreement, a covenant, to do the tikkun, he and his descendants.
That is a very important event. Why?—because, as long as all mankind can do the tikkun, either they do it or they don't. Once the Ribono Shel Olam took it away from all mankind and left it to Avraham Avinu, his descendants would require time to do the tikkun. Meanwhile, the rest of the mankind who used to be able to do tikkun, will sense the greatness of Avraham Avinu and the Jewish people. Their unconscious resultant envy and resentment would, inevitably, result in their desire to kill Avraham Avinu and his descendants—anti-Semitism. I'm not going to go into the entirety of anti-Semitism’s origins, but this is the beginning of it, the distinction in neshama between a Jew and a goy.
What does that mean? It means that you're going to have the nations of the world compelled to be against Avraham Avinu. Avraham Avinu is only one person, regardless of his descendants. Meanwhile, the rest of mankind will try to interfere with Avraham and kill him. To ensure the survival of Avraham’s descendants and the tikkun project that was theirs, the RIbono Shel Olam split the nations up; that's the story of the dor haflaga and their rebellion against G-D. He created a multiplicity of languages and spread them throughout the world. The nations number seventy, plus the nation called “Avraham Avinu.”
How does this fragmentation protect the Jews? The various gentile nations are far more likely to war against each other and, therefore, less likely to threaten Avraham Avinu and his descendants from their task of tikkun. Of course, they will still hate Avraham Avinu. Look how much anti-Semitism results from this. So, this is the reason G-D scattered the worlds population around the world because that would be necessary in order for Avraham Avinu to do the tikkun, especially since the Ribono Shel Olam did not want to destroy mankind. But, if He left them exist as one unified nation, they, ultimately, would annihilate Avraham Avinu and his descendants. This severance and creation of multiplicity is the only way the Jewish people can survive.
Now, what is interesting about this particular idea is that when the nations are together, Jews will not survive. There'll be an unbelievable amount of anti-Semitism. And that's the reason why G-D split them, so the Avraham Avinu and his descendants can do the tikkun. Therefore, we conclude that, when the nations are united, they will destroy the Jews. When united, their inherent proclivity, tendency to hate spirituality and to hate the ones who can mesaken arises along with heir desire to counter it.
Therefore, in the End of Time, when the tikkun is almost complete, 98% of the tikkun is complete, then G-D does not need the nations to be fragmented. Instead, He wants to reunite mankind in order to make obvious who Avraham Avinu and the Jews are. And they, together, will war against the Jewish people, because that's always what happens when the nations are united. The natural tendency of anti-semitism will again rise. So guess what? G-D puts in the mind of man that all the nations should unite and, lo and behold, in 1948, there is an institution called the “United Nations.” Why was the U.N created? What we now understand is the U.N. is an undoing of the generation of dispersion, because at that time, four thousand years ago, you needed to split the nations, so Avraham Avinu and his descendants could do the tikkun, notwithstanding all the anti-semitism, because now the nations fight with one another and they paid less attention to the Jewish people.
Re-unification and Bris Bein Ha’Bsarim—Covenant Between the Pieces
As we approach the messianic era, G-D doesn't “need” that fragmentation anymore because the tikkun is 98% complete. It’s okay for all the world to come together. All of them, single-handedly, as one nation, will soon realize who the Jews really are but, in order to do that, G-D has to put in the mind of man something we see manifest in current events,a United Nations. What does the U.N. do? It unites the nations. But, wait a minute; we know that when the nations are united, what happens? They will hate the Jews. They'll use that as a platform to kill the Jews. That's exactly what happens.
If you look at the U.N., we know there's a double standard. There are so many member nation that are murderers, criminals, tyrannts, and the U.N does nothing about them. On the contrary, the nations with the most heinous civil rights abuses head up the various committees whereas, in terms of the Jews, the U.N., almost unanimously, opposes Israel. There's resolution after resolution. I remember reading an article in an old, respected publication called “Reader's Digest.” They published an article on the U.N. inquiring as to why it is that 93% of all the resolutions of the General Assembly, the main body of the U.N., are anti-Israel. We now know why. That's what happens when the nations unite. The natural tendency of anti-Semitism rises. The fact that there exists a U.N. is one of the proofs that we are at the End of Time. It's one of the proofs that the tikkun process is almost complete. That happened in 1948 so you can imagine how much closer we are now. That's a very interesting historical concept—isn't it?—as to why there's a U.N. The inception of this phenomenon dates back four thousand years, why the Ribono Shel Olam chose Avraham Avinu, singling him out as the progenitor of the tikkun.
All That Was Needed
Its inception was the first spiritual requirement, that the Ribono Shel Olam sought a mesaken and, therefore, He instituted the test between Avraham Avinu and Nimrod.
The second event was Avraham Avinu saying to the Ribono Shel Olam in the brit bein ha’besarim—conventant between the pieces something like: I understand that You want me to do the tikkun but what happens if the Jews sin? You're going to destroy them like you destroyed the nations of the world in the Flood so what's the point? What's the guarantee? I'm sure that my descendants will sin.
G-D’s response? I have a hanhagah—conduct, behavior, called “yichud,” that I exhibit to guarantee that the world must continue. It applies to mankind in general but not any specific nation. Now that you're the mesaken and nobody else is, I will guarantee the existence and survival of the Jewish people to do the tikkun.
That, by the way, is why it is impossible to kill the Jewish people en masse. Jews must survive somewhere to continue the tikkun. Yes, they can be punished on a national level, but they cannot be destroyed.
The last one who could have destroyed the Jewish people en masse was Achashverosh; that was the last time in history that the entire Jewish people was under the control, the sovereignty, of one king. That's why Haman was so dangerous, because he could have wiped out every Jew but, obviously, he didn't because they were protected by the hanhagos ha’yichud. This was the second requirement. Not only does He appoint Avraham Avinu to be a mesaken, He added the attribute of “guarantee,” that would cover, specifically. the Jewish people.
G-D sums it up and adds a third aspect. He could say to Avraham Avinu: they must do the tikkun, so there is a mesaken, namely you and the Jews. The hanhagos ha’yichud now exists and that is manifest in the agreement itself in which I went “through the pieces” of the covenant. That's what signified the covenant, the cutting in half of an animal and G-D “going through” it. He went through as a torch and as a furnace. The torch signifies the Jews doing the tikkun in the correct way and G-D “going through” as light. If they don't do it in the correct way, then the hanhagos ha’yichud will protect them and I will go through as a furnace. Rashi says that this furnace represents gehenom—purgatory, a prescriptive suffering, in order to earn a kapara—atonement guaranteeing their survival to conclude their task.
Either way, they will do the tikkun but, if they can do tikkun, they can also do kilkul—damage. In other words, if you could rectify Creation, you could also damage Creation. So, what the Ribono Shel Olam offered was the means for Avraham Avinu and his descendants to undo all the damage that mankind did while they had the ability of tikkun, but inflicted damage instead. This had to be undone. To undo that, they’d enter into a nation that represents the satanic evil yet remain righteous. That was the whole point of Egypt, the way the Jews could do the tikkun by undoing all the damage that mankind did for two thousand years. The Jews would have to undo that by remaining righteous in a land, a form of evil, called “Egypt.” If they didn't do the tikkun, they would have to suffer and achieve tikkun through the suffering.
G-D required all three things. He required a mesaken, which I just explained, appropriated hanhagos ha’yichud to guarantee the survival of the Jews, and ascribed to Avraham Avinu and his descendants the job to undo the kilkul, the damage of 2000 years because—remember!—if you could do the tikkun, you could also damage Creation. Since everybody, until Avraham Avinu, could do the tikkun, their kilkul had to be undone.
The SIgnificance of “Lech Lecha”—the Lessons
This is the significance of “Lech Lecha.” You begin to realize this is fundamental to the whole mission of the Jew who took over the job that mankind should have done. G-D could say: they have to do the tikkun so now I have to send them lessons. They have to learn the lessons in order to be able to do this.
G-D needed to test the loyalty of Avraham Avinu, beginning this sense of mission as an old man, not a young man, for two reasons. As an old man, were he to accept and carry out this mission, it would demonstrate Avraham Avinu's loyalty, that even as an old man he will do what G-D wants. This is a loyalty test.
The second reason why He initiated tests to an old man was to avoid the misunderstanding that could arise from regarding Avraham Avinu’s efforts as the product of an incredibly dynamic leader due to youth and vigor, attributing his success to youthful energy and vitality. G-D wanted Avraham’s actions to be shown to be attributable to G-D who could say: it was because of Me. G-D would prove that all of this would be because of G-D's assistance and not because of Avraham’s own character.
In fact, that's one of the reasons why Moshe stuttered. Otherwise, one could say, “Well, Moshe was an incredible orator,“ but the truth is that he wasn't because he stuttered. The Ribono Shel Olam wanted to show that the One commanding him is G-D. It’s not Moshe’s own prowess or oratory skills. Same thing with Avraham Avinu. Obviously, Avraham couldn't have done it himself; the guy is an old man. It must be the Ribono Shel Olam’s assistance. It's a very important concept and, certainly, G-D wanted the loyalty.
The Ribono Shel Olam showed Avraham Avinu that this is not going to be a picnic; it would be very hard. The path to tikkun is a very difficult path. You think: well, now that he's going to go to the promised land, everything will be, as they say in English, hunky-dory. No way!
G-D could warn: you're going to come to a place that makes no sense, in Eretz Yisrael in the middle of a famine, and you're going to then have to go to Egypt in the middle of the tumah, right?
Avraham would echo our thoughts with: Do you mean this is what I have to do to accomplish the tikkun?
Yes, this is a very hard job; it's like a warning: don't think this is going to be a picnic; no! It's going to be a very hard, arduous job.
Then the Ribono Shel Olam issues another warning. Do you think that I'm going to always look consistent? No! I'm going to present you with constant contradictions. Will you say, 'I don't believe what's happening! You tell me to go to Eretz Yisrael, and, when I get there, it's not the promised land; it's filled with the worst kind of famine.’ Is that what you’ll say?
What a contradiction in terms of what the Ribono Shel Olam commanded! What the Ribono Shel Olam was telling Avraham was: this is what it's all about; it's going to look like I'm contradicting Myself but, really, it's part of My hanhaga, my conduct. This the way it has to go. Try to understand the need to have bitachon—trust. You need to trust Me that, even when everything looks contradictory, it's not contradictory really; it only looks contradictory to you but, ultimately, it'll all work out.
That's the next lesson, to have bitachon; there are no contradictions. That's one of the ideas of the akeidah—binding of Yitzchak which I once spoke about; there's an entire shiur on that. The akeidah looks like an absurd contradiction, but it wasn't. All these lessons had to be learned because Avraham was designated as the “parent” of the tikkun project.
Avraham Avinu realizes something else; He's an old man. How in the world can he change the world? Not only that; he has no kids! Sara is 90-years-old and he's 100. How in the world can he possibly have kids? That's another lesson that the Ribono Shel Olam is teaching him. The Jewish people exist only through miracles. The origin of the Jewish people—that’s Sara—at 90, had a child. It’s a nes niglah—apparent miracle. it's “impossible,” in fact. When Yitzhak was born, everybody thought that paroh was the father. G-D made Yitzhak look just like Avraham Avinu to afford the realization that paroh wasn't, but how in the world can a 90-year-old woman have a child? Impossible, right? Like Sara herself said, “it’s impossible.” But the Jews exist because of a miracle. The whole hanhagah, the behavior, of the Jewish people is miraculous, from their birth to their survival and their ability to do tikkun.
All of these are lessons that the Ribono Shel Olam had to teach Avraham Avinu to foster basic beliefs that Avraham could surmount all the obstacles awaiting him and his descendants. This is why G-D told him, in essence: you have to get away from Haran and your entire family because, in order to do the tikkun, you need to leave the tumah--impurity. We know that the father of Avraham Avinu and the whole family were steeped in avodah zarah—idol worship.
An imperative for doing tikkun is to be impervious evil, to mingling with evil, with tumah. One must separate oneself and have bitachon. Inspiring bitachon was one G-D’s lessons to Avraham. By introducing a famine to Eretz Yisrael, the Ribono Shel Olam was imparting: your life, the history of the Jewish people, is going to be fraught with what appear to be contradictions, seeming that I promised one thing while delivering something else. This is only to teach that the way I act is beyond your comprehension. In the end, all the fragments will conjoin and it will all make sense. You need bitachon, trust, that everything I'm doing is ‘gam zu le tova’—all for the good, is only to ensure you do thetikkun and, therefore, get Olam Ha’ba—Future World.
Even though Egypt is life-threatening, that's the sacrifice that G-D requires of Jews in the doing of tikkun even though it could be, as I said, life-threatening. That the Pharaoh took Sara must have been overwhelming, the end of the marriage. There’s no turning back because she would become consort to the king. So, imagine Avraham Avinu, an old man, his wife is gone, sitting in some motel in Thebes which was Luxor in those days, being utterly alone. There's nothing there. Imagine the feeling that the Ribono Shel Olam abandoned him. Imagine such a test! Were you in Avraham’s shoes, what would you make of your plight, after having been visited and promised incredible glory, that the whole world will be blessed through you, and everything seems to turn into its opposite. It's a nightmare and you must maintain trust in G-D.
We understand that G-D had three critical requirements; this is what “Lech Lecha” is about.
1: G-D “needs” somebody to do the tikkun and He subjects that person to the last test for mankind, one which has repercussions in current events.
2: G-D creates and establishes hanhagos h’ayichud which guarantees that there will be a nation in Olam Ha’ba, one that now devolves upon the Jewish people.
3: Avraham and the Jewish people have to undo all the kilkul, the damage, caused by mankind's sinning for two thousand years. That why they had to go to Egypt and try to remain righteous.
What are the lessons?
1: Loyalty to G-D is imperative no matter what happens, demonstrated by doing His Will.
2: Tikkun is going to be very hard. Be prepared to accept that immense difficulty. It's not always easy to do a mitzvah, especially in a place of tremendous temptations.
3: G-D will appear, in many ways, as contradictory. The inclination to say “this doesn't make any sense” will be prevalent. A Jew is apt to ask, “Why would the Ribono Shel Olam do this?” That's exactly what's happening. We learn to accept the contradictions and realize that its purpose is known only to G-D and that, in the end, it all serves to accomplish the tikkun so one must have bitachon.
4: Tikkun can only happen through miracles. The Jews can only do the tikkun, only survive, through nissim, miraculous ideas and occurrences. Because it’s miraculous, they will get the job done. That is a very important idea.
Here’s an interesting irony; Avraham Avinu became very wealthy. Do you know who made him wealthy?—paroh. When the Ribono Shel Olam appeared and He shut down every orifice of every body in the palace, and every excretory function ceased making it quite plain that no one could survive more than a day or two, they realized who Avraham Avinu was. This is not an ordinary man. This is what paroh, the great power of Egypt, the king of Egypt, realized. In the eyes of G-D, this man was a zero, he and his entire nation! It made clear too that G-D will do the bidding of Avraham to help him and save him. This realization by Pharoah resulted in his giving Avraham cattle, sheep, gold, jewelry, whatever. It was the icon of Egypt’s splendor who gave Avraham Avinu his wealth. Another feature of Avraham’ exalted reputation was that Hagar, who was a princess of Egypt, left paroh and joined Avraham Avinu preferring her status as a maid, a servant in the house of Avraham, such an incredibly holy man, than to be a princess of Egypt.
What emerges is a paradox. The very nightmarish situation that he pondered sitting in this “motel” in the middle of the night, his plight of a terminated marriage, the end of his Divine mission—how could he ever get out of this mess? It's impossible—became the very situation that made him fabulously wealthy. Go figure how the Ribono Shel Olam can pull this off, that He can use the nightmare itself to become a vehicle for your salvation. Amazing, isn't it? That's what Avraham Avinu realized.
We now understand “Lech Lecha” as a narrative about the rules, principles, of doing the tikkun. It offers the basic understanding of the beliefs one needs to have in order to engage in the tikkun process.
Participant: In order for us to be redeemed, is it the same, as though we find ourselves in strange situations and, in these circumstances, we're waiting for that miracle?
R’Kessin: Right. Exactly what happened to Avraham Avinu happens to the Jews—same thing. It does not all happen to one person, obviously, but every Jew experiences mysteries during his life that he cannot understand. He’ll ask himself, “Why did this happen? How come I met that guy? Why did I lose my job? All of this happens to the Jewish people, different aspects of the lessons that I've ennumerated, the ones that the Ribnono Shel Olam had to show, teach, Avraham Avinu because the tikkun is not a simple job. It entails confronting many mysteries, not only what's obvious. Hanhagos ha’yichud demands bitachon as the way to get Jews into Olam Ha’ba, even though we don't understand it. In the End, the messianic era, all of this will be revealed, the logic of every act of G-D will be revealed. But this is what happens. This is all part of the tikkun process and it had to be demonstrated to Avraham Avinu.
Participant: The same thing happened to Moshe when he was chosen and then we had the decree of the straw. So, are we also expecting that with Mashiach ben Yosef?
R’Kessin: ...expecting what?
Participant: Are we also expecting that with Mashiach ben Yosef? Let's say you're right, G-D-willing, the eclipse in Cheshvan, he’s been released. Now, are we expecting it to get worse, because that’s the pattern?
R’Kessin: Yes, and I gave a whole shiur on that. That is why Trump who initiated the (teshuva of) Mashiach of Edom was dumped and why Biden took over. Evil must have its due because justice demands that both sides have free expression. Therefore, G-D could say: okay, I'm giving you (evil-doers) complete dominion which why you see these rashaim--evil doers, the media, Biden, the Democratic Party, the “progressives”....You can't believe what's going on, the immorality, the education all about perversions...It's hard to believe America has become this way. All of this means that evil has been given dominion. It’s the same thing in Eretz Yisrael. The government of the last couple years has been one of the worst governments, if not the worst government against Judaism, that Israel has ever seen in which the Eirev Rav has had complete shlita—dominion. That is the equivalent of the straw. Like I’ve often said, all of it has to satisfy justice.
Participant: So how do we know when the evil has gotten its fill? Now we have elections coming and…
R’Kessin: That is why the election in Israel on November 1st and the election in America on November 8th are critical. If the Democratic Party gets slaughtered, then that is the beginning of the end of the evil decree that they should have free reign. It's over! One of the things that they do, and how they control everybody, is via social media censorship; it's unbelievable! If you say the “wrong thing” that they don't like, something against the policies of the Democratic Party, they'll kick you off of Twitter or Facebook or whatever. Now that Elon Musk has now taken over Twitter and will make it an open platform. That’s is a tremendous blow to the Democratic Party. Even if the perpetrators all hide—that’s how they survive, how they dominate because the media doesn’t report any of the evil—Musk is damaging their conspiracy, their cover-up. That has to mean the End.
Participant: When you said this is a good month for the Jews, is that what you mean, that Ha’Shem is trying now to put things in place?
R’Kessin: Right, exactly. The fact that Musk has bought Twitter is a very good sign. The next very important sign, obviously, is the Israeli elections and also, obviously, November 8th. See what happens because, if the Democratic Party gets crushed, that is the beginning of the end of evil.
Participant: Most Republicans believe in G-D. Most of them are often invoking G-D so maybe it will be a turn-around.
R’Kessin: Maybe. We'll know in less than two weeks.
Participant: They say that there's to be a lunar eclipse on November 8th (which is an negative indicator for the Jewish people) so how do we explain that?
R’Kessin: The way I could explain it, although it is rather strange, is that there's a last attempt of the evil to dominate. The lunar eclipse is like the last resurgence of evil but I think it's been completely overshadowed by the solar eclipse. The fact that both of them happened in the same month, and that month happens to be the messianic month of Cheshvan, bodes tremendously well, I think, for the Jewish people. In other words, not withstanding the attempt of evil to dominate, the solar eclipse means they’ve lost because that is much more significant, I believe, the solar eclipse rather than the lunar eclipse. That's my feeling.
Participant: We know that there's going to be voter fraud and they're going to cheat their way through. We'll wake up in the morning and—like what happened with Trump who was winning when he went to sleep and awoke to find he'd lost—the outcome could be otherwise because Elon Musk bought Twitter and all their sneakiness could be uncovered, revealed.
R’Kessin: Right. Exactly. That was the problem because Trump did not have the media supporting him so it was really a one-way story but, if you have Twitter....Do you know that Facebook lost 20% of their stock value because everybody's going over to Twitter? Could you imagine? I think they have a billion subscribers? Could you imagine what a 20% loss is? And that's only now. It's because people don't want to be restricted and censored, so they're moving over to Twitter. These media giants cannot get away with anything that they want to do. It'll be exposed and that's the last thing they want, any kind of exposure. Until now, one of the problems that Trump had is that there's been nobody willing to reveal it so they got away with it. Not anymore. Besides, I think there will be a greater vigilance because everybody's aware of what these guys are probably planning. I'm sure they're going to take actions to try to prevent it because they're now aware what these guys are going to do.
Participant: They have a lot of poll-watchers.
Participant: Rabbi, can I ask you about what's happening with Kanye West and all of the balagon--confusion that he's creating, and that banner in California and all of these anti-Semitic…?
R’Kessin: Well, Kanye… Look, I don't really know much about this guy. What is he, a rapper of some sort? Anyway, who is he? He's basically a nobody, just a very wealthy guy, whatever. It’s the old anti-Semitic thing. I find it very interesting that he’s experienced a stunning backlash reaction. Do you know how many companies have dumped him? The guy has to have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. He had a contract with Adidas and that was worth a fortune! His own agent quit! I'm sure he's saying to himself: boy, am I stupid! Even if I felt this way, why did I say it openly and publicly? I'm sure that's what he's saying to himself: what do I need this for? He’s an idiot. Even if you feel this way, how do you publicize this? A great deal of the world doesn't want to appear to be anti-Semitic even though they commit anti-Semitic acts. A large part of the world won’t tolerate it. He made an incredible mistake and the aftermath is an onesh—punishment. I have no idea who he is or what he is, but he's going to suffer terribly because of this. He's still worth hundreds of millions of dollars, I understand, but that's how I see it.
Participant: Is Cheshvan the month of Esav or the month of Yaakov?
R’Kessin: It's the month of Yaakov.
Participant: So, what should we do, specifically, on the 11th Cheshvan, on Rachel Imenu's yahrtzeit?
R’Kessin: There are a lot of things going on during Rachel Imenu's yortzait. Actually, in her kever—tomb there are seven or eight kollelim—study groups in her kever. I don't know if you realize that. There's round-the-clock learning going on at her gravesite, so what could be interesting is to call them up and to make a donation to keep the Torah going in your name, request a tefilahshiduch, parnassa, whatever you need. Make a donation to kever Rachel before the 11th of Cheshvan. That would be very appropriate.
Participant: Do you have a number?
R’Kessin Do I have the number? I'm not sure, but you should be able to find it. Do you know what you do? Go on the internet, search for 'Rachel Imenu kever.’ I'm sure it's on the internet. I mean it's well known so it shouldn't pose a problem. They even advertise it, actually.
Participant: Do you want to hear something interesting? All of Avraham’s ten nisyonot--tribulations are nirzamim—alluded to, hinted, in his name “Avraham Avinu:”
א: אור כשדים
ב: ברית בין הבשרים
ר: רעב באררץ
ה: הגר (גרש את האמה)
מ: מלחמת המלכים
ב: ברית מלה
נ: נע ונד (לך לך)
ו: ותוקח האשה בית פרעה
R’Kessin: Very nice. Okay.
Participant: G-D-willing, with his merit and the merit of Rachel Imenu...and this is the month of Sara Imenu's yahrtzeit also, no?
Participant: When is that, rabbi?
Participant: Next week is “Lech Lecha,” then “Vayera,” then “Chayei Sara” so in two more weeks it's gonna be her yahrtzeit.
R’Kessin: Yes, right.
Participant: So this is the month of very powerful people to pray for Am Yisrael?
R’Kessin: Right. By the way, yud-aleph—11th Cheshvan is my birthday.
Participant: Oh, wow! Happy birthday!
Rabbi: Thank you. So, to me, the month has a special significance, because it's my
birthday, the 11th of Cheshvan.
Participant: Like Rachel Imenu.
Rabbi: That's the yahrtzeit of Rachel Imenu, correct.
Student: No, it's really the ohr rishon—First Light.
R’Kessin: It's all that—right? The yahrzeit of Rachel Imenu is yud-aleph Cheshvan and that was the day the mabul should have happened, which is the ohr rishon, right? It's all yud-aleph Cheshvan.
Participant: Rabbi, we need the mashiach. Do you think the Republicans are going to win?
R’Kessin: I'm hoping that it's going to be a crush, that they will crush the Democrats.
Student: But, at the end of the day, rabbi, if Ha’Shem wants it to be changed, it will be changed, right?
R’Kessin: Of course.
Participant: We have to do our part by voting.
R’Kessin: Oh yeah, you have to vote, of course. Whatever you do, don't vote for Hochul. She is destroying New York State. She's a very evil woman. Zeldin, hopefully, will be able to turn it around. What they've done to New York state is terrible.
Participant: And if, G-D forbid, we are losing, Hashem is trying to show us that we didn't do enough, we're not relying on Him enough?
R’Kessin: Well, it's hard to know, but the main idea is that it's not the time. There's still more to do.