Yud-Tes Kislev 5783

Holiday #5 (319) Yud-Tes Kislev 5783 Mon. nite-Wed. Dec. 12-14
From Ascent Quarterly (short) From the Chasidic Masters (long) Laws & Customs
Come to ASCENT for Shabbat and "Yud-Tes/Kuf Kislev"

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(short) - Yud-Tes Kislev


Yud-Tes Kislev, the “Rosh HaShanah of the Chassidic year,” falls this year on Mon. nite-Wed. Dec. 12-13. It is the yartzeit of Rabbi DovBer (c.1700-1772), the “Maggid” of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of the Chassidic movement; the anniversary of the miraculous release of the founder of the Chabad dynasty, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (1745-1812), from Russian prison in 1798 on charges of treason; and the publication date in 1796 of his famous book of Chassidism (and Kabbalah, psychology and ethics): Tanya.

> Some Laws and Customs - Yud-Tes Kislev

What to Do on Yud-Tes Kislev

At night:
* Go to your favorite Lubavitcher's house, or with him or her to the party he is attending. If you don't know one, get in touch with the nearest official Chabad person.
* Demand to hear the whole story.
* Say "l'chayim."
* Sing along.
* Make a good resolution in connection to Torah-and-mitzvot.

In the day:
* Start on your resolution.
* Check out Tanya and HaYom Yom (and GPS for the Soul).
* Give extra tzedakah ("charity")
* Try to help a fellow Jew.

English sources for the historical events of Yud-Tes Kislev
* Arrest and Liberation (Kehot)
* Philosophy of Chabad, vol 2 (Kehot)
* Treasury of Chassidic Tales on the Festivals (Artscroll)

(long) - Yud-Tes Kislev

"I have Become Small"

[This teaching is based on the letter that Rabbi Shneur Zalman rote and had circlulated immediately after his miraculous release from Soviet prison on Yud-Tes Kislev 5559 (1798).]

From Tanya IV:2

"I have become small from all the kindnesses and from all the truth that You have done for me…" [Gen. 32:11]

This means that with every single favor that G-d bestows upon a man, he ought to become very humble. For "Chesed is the right arm" and "His right arm embraces me" [Song 2:6], which refers to the state of G-d actually bringing him close to Himself, far more intensely than before. And whoever is brought very much closer to G-d, and elevated to great heights, must be ever more humble, to the lowliest plane, as it is written: "From afar the Lord has appeared to me" [Jer. 31:2]. And as known, "All that are before Him are esteemed as nothing." Hence, whoever is more "before Him" [closer to G-d] is that much more like nothing, naught, and non-existent.

The explanation in Lessons inTanya IV:2

Rashi comments that "I have become small" is a result of "all the favors and all the truth", i.e., "My merits have diminished because of the favors and truth you have done with me." Ramban argues that this comment is inconsistent with the "language of the verse," which states that "I have become small," not that the speaker's merits have become small; there is a diminution in quality rather than quantity.

Ramban therefore understands "I have become small" to mean: "I am unworthy of receiving all your kindness and truth." Thus, according to Ramban, "I have become small" is not a result of G-d's "kindness and truth," but rather an expression of the speaker's being unworthy of receiving G-d's "kindness and truth."

The Alter Rebbe, however, is going to explain this verse according to the commentary of Rashi: "from all the kindness" simply means that it was the kindness that made Jacob feel "small". At the same time, though, the Alter Rebbe will understand "I have become small" as referring to the speaker himself: it is he himself who has become diminished as a result of G-d's many kindnesses and His truth. (Thus, not only have the particular person's merits become lessened, which results in his diminishment, but he himself is directly affected as a result of the "kindness and truth.")

Although it is the person himself (and not the tally of his merits) that has become diminished, nonetheless this diminution is a result of the "kindness and truth."
This, then, is what the Alter Rebbe intends by saying "This means" -


Chag Samayach - Have a joyous holiday!

The ASCENT staff

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