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Eternal Life of a Soul in a Body

The Refined Physical Body of the Messianic Era

 The Rebbe once told a story1 of the Rebbe Maharash taking his son on a tour of the heavenly realms.  Among the “sights” they saw was a chossid sitting in a brightly lit heavenly chamber with his eyes closed.  The great light in his chamber was generated by the many chapters of Tanya this chossid had learned b’al peh. But, despite all that light, his eyes were closed: he lacked understanding.  The lesson for us, explains the Rebbe, is that we need to open our eyes; not just to repeat b’al peh, but to understand what we are talking about.

We find many instances where the Rebbe declares that  the histalkus of the Previous Rebbe on Yud Shevat 5710 is only a test — in truth, nothing has changed.  To quote the gemara, “Yaakov Avinu did not die” (even though the Torah itself testifies to his embalming and burial) and hu bachayim”—he is alive. “Just as his children are alive, so, too, he is alive.”

What about those who attempt to offer gentle interpretations that Previous Rebbe left  us a legacy and “it is as if he is alive”?  The Rebbe rejects them as trying to cool things off when the fact is: He is alive! He merely exchanged his garments.2

Sixty five years ago, the Rebbe instructed that one who questions the claim that the Moshe of the generation did not die, he was to be answered with the response: “When you grow up you’ll understand”3because, in truth, the chossid making the claim didn’t understand this himself!  But now, after 40 years of the Rebbe’s teaching, we now have “eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to know”—the time has come to open our eyes and understand.

The Rebbe’s directive is that the “straight path” to opening our eyes to the Geulah lies in learning about Moshiach and Geulah.  The goal of this booklet is to present the explanations of Torah (in particular, pnimiyus Hatorah) to assist in “opening our eyes” to understand how Yaakov Avinu, Rabbeinu Hakadosh and the Previous Rebbe are in fact alive, and also Moshe Rabbeinu—the first redeemer—when he ascended Har Sinai, and also to Moshiach—the final redeemer—who remains chai v’kayamduring the period of concealment which follows his initial revelation.


 

1) Sicha, parshas Mishpatim, 5714.

2) Sicha of Yud Shevat, 5726.

3) Sicha of Leil Simchas Torah, 5711.,  ch. 2.

MAN BEFORE THE SIN OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

The Previous Rebbe writes: “[at] the time of the coming of Moshiach and the revelation of the future, the physical will be more refined, which means that the physicality of the future will be as it was at the beginning of Creation, before the sin of Adam Harishon…”1  This begins with Moshiach himself who, in the words of the Rebbe Maharash, “will be the perfected aspect of Adam…completely rectified like before the sin.”2

What is implied by physicality being refined is that “all will be in a state of the ultimate refinement of materiality because there will be the refinement of all [forms of life,] in Yemos Hamoshiach in the present earthly Gan Eden…”3 All elements of creation will be elevated to the level of refined physicality that existed in Gan Eden prior to the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.  In order to understand the absolute immensity of this elevation of physicality, we must have some conception of what physicality was like before the sin, when Adam dwelled in Gan Eden.

Although the earthly Gan Eden is indeed in this physical world, it is not visible to us (after the Sin) because it remains the pure dimension of “ruchniyus sh’b’gashmiyus”,4 meaning the “spiritual within the physical” that is “completely separate from this world [after the sin]”.5  It is physical, but it is similar (from our perspective) to the spiritual.  To help understand the concept of the “spiritual within the physical”, the Rebbe Rashab explains:

We need to understand the subject of the earthly Gan Eden, for it states “Hashem Elokim planted a Gan in Eden to the East” and according to the simple understanding it means that there is a special place in this physical world which is the place of this Gan, as explained in the Zohar. And this place, even though it is in this physical world, nevertheless it is on the level of Divine spirituality. It can be said that this is the level of spirituality that is in the physicality of the earth.4

This describes the world in which Adam Harishon lived after being placed in Gan Eden.  For us, the level of Gan Eden is an elevation—the place that the neshoma is elevated to after it departs the body—whereas for Adam Harishon it was “this world”—“olam hazeh”.  The Rebbe explains:

The lowest level of Gan Eden is the Gan Eden spoken about plainly in the beginning of the Torah, which is in our world, for the text does not go out from its simple meaning, and it speaks there about fruits which relevant to bodily eating… This Gan Eden was created together with the entire world, as stated in the verses, only that according to the words of the Rambam it vanished and later on it will be revealed in the time to come.4*

What sort of body did Adam possess that was able to be placed in Gan Eden?  The Rebbe Rashab continues, Adam Harishon’s physical body was refined and purified from all impurity and waste and, quite the opposite, he was glowing and luminescent, and the midrash says his heel darkened the sphere of the sun, etc.

This level of refined physicality is so removed from our reality that we would not even recognize it as physical, yet this is the level we will return to in Yemos HamoshiachIn truth, before [Adam and Chava] transgressed the command of the Holy One, their bodies were also completely spiritual, like our physical bodies shall be after complete refinement […] This is what Adam’s body was before the sin […] that his heel was brighter than the sun.”6  This original, refined body is the original form, the Tzelem Elokim (“Divine Image”), in which man was created and to which man shall return.

 

AFTER THE SIN: A PHYSICALIZED WORLD MIXED WITH EVIL

When Adam and his wife sinned, they mixed evil into everything and were expelled from Gan Eden.  The verse says that Hashem garbed them in “garments of skin”,7 and this skin covers up and obscures what were the original “garments of light”.  As stated in the Zohar, “Because of the sin…he needed a different body…as the verse states ‘He garbed them in garments of skin’”.8  The Tzemach Tzedek explains the subject as follows:

…the meaning of “He garbed them in garments of skin” is the body, meaning that after the sin it became a material body, unlike before the sin when it was a holy, refined, clean body, and called “garments of light”.  The body was light, illuminating light like the neshoma.  The neshoma inside a body of light [and both of them are now] inside a body of flesh.9

Preparing ourselves for Yemos Hamoshiach requires us to recognize a reality which challenges our physicalized and materialized conception of physical existence.  This means that we must refine our perception in accordance with Torah; to recognize that what appears to be our physical body is merely the garment of this material world, a temporary garment of klipa (impurity) which was acquired after the sin.  It is explained that this garment is what we see with eyes of flesh:

’He garbed them in garments of skin’ means that He garbed them in what will appear to the eye as the body of man, this is the new garment which was previously the garments of light and so it shall be in the future….10

This lifeless material body, which falsely appears to us as if it is actually our physical body, is only an external, temporary garment.  Because “in the time to come human beings will undress from this coarse body and will ascend to the body that Adam Harishon had before the sin.”11  Not only did Adam’s body became garbed in a shell of obscuring materiality, but also the entire world.  Following the sin, our entire perception of reality is the false reality of this “shell”.  In the words of the Rebbe Rashab:

What we see as physical is not physical.  What we see as physical is something attached, which we need to separate…what we see is the result of the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.12

We can hear this description of a false perception of reality echoed in the words of the Zohar:

At the time they descend below they are garbed in the garment of this world…. There is a garment that is visible to all, and the fools see man in a garment which appears beautiful, yet they don’t look any further—they think that this garment is a body and they think that the body is a soul.12*

The sin brought into being this world that we know: “a world which is a lie”, which conceals the truth.  The Previous Rebbe expresses it as follows:

This world is called alma d’shikra (“a world which is a lie”).  The physical is a lie, for the true existence is the spiritual life force, not the existence of physicality, and the existence of physicality covers up the spiritual life force.13

The world that we see, ,and the bodies which are part of this world, are not the true physical world; rather, it is the lie of klipah, which obscures and conceals the physical beneath a covering of materiality.  Within it is the real physicality—a physicality so lofty that it reveals G-dliness rather than conceals it.

The Rebbe addresses this same subject in explaining  the seeming contradiction of laboring to refine our physical body when, in the end, it will cease to exist.  The fact is, what “ceases to exist” is only external, but the internal aspect of the Jewish body has eternal existence:

[Since] “You have chosen us” refers specifically to the physical body of the Jew, it follows that the body is in fact a true existence with no possibility of ceasing to exist.  Furthermore, “you shall return to dust” (which is a consequence of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge) is only in the externality of the body (“b’chitzoniyus”), but not in its essential being…  Being that “You have chosen us” refers to the entire body, it is understood that in the inner dimension (“b’pnimiyus”), it is not possible for it to cease to exist. 13*

 

DAYS OF MOSHIACH: A RETURN TO THE BODY BEFORE THE SIN

As stated above, in Yemos Hamoshiach the body will achieve complete refinement and return to the pristine level it held before the sin.  This means that the material aspect which covers and conceals will be removed and man will once again be on the level of Tzelem Elokim.  Man will shed the “garments of flesh” which conceal the light of the neshoma14, and the “garments of light” beneath will be revealed once again.  In the Rebbe’s words:

We could say that this will be one of the novelties of the Time to Come, that even souls in bodies will be able to be in “Gan Eden”…For before the sin of the tree of knowledge Adam Harishon was in “Gan Eden”, and only due to the sin of the tree of knowledge was he expelled from Gan Eden… According to this—in the Time to Come, when “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the world”, and the sin of the tree of knowledge will be completely rectified, then there is no reason the man will not be able to be found in Gan Eden, as he was before the sin.15

As stated in Chapter 36 of Tanya, there was already a sampling of this future revelation at Matan Torah.  At Matan Torah, G-dliness was revealed and the impure klipos were nullified (paska zuhamason) and the Bnei Yisroel divested from their material bodies and stood in the pure, original state of man.  The Rebbe Maharash describes it “like before the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge.”16  The Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh comments that “the impurity ceased…because the Tzelem Elokim that Hashem formed man in His image returned to its original state.”  The Tzemach Tzedek writes: at the time of maamad Har Sinai all the neshomas were there with their aspect of the spiritual body which is the Tzelem,”17  this is the lofty refined state of Yemos Hamoshiach.

All of this involves removing the garment of coarse materiality. The revelation that occurred at Har Sinai caused the neshomas to leave the bodies (“with every word Hashem spoke, their neshoma flew out”), which the Rebbe describes as “something which testifies to the fact that they arrived at the completion of the avodah as a neshoma in a body (and therefore, ‘their neshoma flew out’).”18  The Mitteler Rebbe describes it that “the neshoma of Israel completely disrobed from their physical evil,”19 and it is only because of the sin of the Golden Calf that we again became physicalized (נתגשמו), as explained in chapter 36 of Tanya.

 

GARMENTS OF SKIN AND THE TWO BODIES WITHIN

The effect of the sin—which resulted in the covering and concealment of the “garments of light” beneath “garments of flesh”—allow us perhaps to glimpse some understand of what the Arizal states in Eitz Chayim.  There he explains that contained within the material (external) body there are two other dimensions of “body”:

The material body of man is from the evil in klipas noga and it is the waste…and within this material substance there are two other bodies: one is the refined and pure body…and the second is from klipas noga…and it is called the Animal Soul…and this is the true body which is from klipas noga and it is a garment…which is called garments of skin…20

This means that the material, fleshly body which we perceive with our eyes, which is merely the external “garment” of this world, contains two other bodies: a pure and holy body, and a body of intermingled good and evil (the Animal Soul, which stays attached to the body of flesh, even after the neshoma departs21).  The Tzelem is described as “the intermediary between the soul and the body”,22  and while it is relatively spiritual (indeed, it is the Intellectual Soul of man22*), we will see below that the Rebbe learns that it actually comes into the category of physical.

We find this hinted at in the Torah, when Moshe Rabbeinu approaches the burning bush, Hashem instructs him to “remove your shoes from your feet”.23  Rabbeinu Bachya on this verse describes that “He warned him to remove from himself the materiality that is likened to shoes, because the material clings to the body like the shoe clings to the foot.”  The Tikkunei Zohar24 states that this command “is a hint that he disrobed from his body, which is a shoe compared to the other body in which he enclothed when he came close.”  “…they showed him that the body of the man in this world is tzara’as from the skin of the snake.”25.  In the words of the sefer Avodas Hakodesh:

Regarding the subject of the original garment, in the [Zohar] of Rashbi (II, 150a) it states “he is in this garment in this world and he doesn’t remove it until the Angel of Death removes the garment of this body.” This is hinting at shedding the materiality which is filthy garments”.26

As a result of the sin and the venom of the primordial snake, the elevated body that existed before the sin—the garments of light—were covered by the coarse, material body—the “filthy garments” of skin—which obscure and conceal.  But these “filthy garments” are not the man himself, nor are they his body—they are merely a casing in which he is garbed while he is in this world, like shoes which cover the feet completely.  As is known, the “foot” of the soul is the nefesh, and the “shoe” of leather which covers it refers to the material body, as explained by Rabbeinu Bachya on the verse.  As stated in the Tikkunei Zohar:

The body of Moshe of which it is said that “his eye had not dimmed, nor had he lost its moisture”.  And because he would request mercy that he won’t die and leave it.  This is not speaking about the body of this world, which is like a sandal compared to it, about which is said “remove the sandal from your feet. 26*

We will now turn our attention to the real, inner body of man as it relates to three individuals mentioned in the gemora, who are described as having a bodily existence after their passing: Yaakov Avinu, Rabbeinu Hakadosh (R’ Yehudah Hanasi), and R’ Achai bar Yoshiyah.  We will see that their being alive after their passing refers to their existence in this “second body”, their refined Tzelem Elokim.

 

YAAKOV AVINU DID NOT DIE

The Torah states that Yaakov Avinu passed away, was eulogized, and that his body was embalmed, and buried.  Nonetheless, the gemora in Taanis27 asserts that Yaakov Avinu didn’t die.  One could suggest that the gemora is referring to his neshoma, for the neshoma is spiritual and eternal.  But all tzaddikim (and all Jews, for that matter) have a holy neshoma which continues to live on after their passing.  Yet , since Yaakov Avinu is one of the very few of whom it is said that he “did not die”, we are forced to say that it must be something other than the eternality of the soul that prompts the gemora to single out Yaakov Avinu like this.  And at the same time, it cannot be something which contradicts the testimony of the Torah itself that Yaakov’s body was embalmed and buried.

The Rebbe clarifies that the meaning of “did not die” is that, indeed, Yaakov Avinu’s body did not die, which is why he merits special mention.  Not only that, but that this is no contradiction to the verse in Torah that tells us that the Egyptians saw that he died and actually “performed these activities with the body of Yaakov”28.  How can there be no contradiction between the burial of Yaakov Avinu’s body and the assertion that he (meaning his body) did not die?  A clear answer is given by R’ Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin:

[Yaakov’s] passing was merely like removing this garment and dressing in another garment of the Supernal world, and this garment was buried but this has nothing to do with death…what does it concern me that as far as this world is concerned there was a burial of the body, in any event according to the truth he didn’t die at all…29

The material garment of this world was buried, but it has nothing to do with the life of Yaakov.  As we saw by Moshe Rabbeinu, the material aspect is like a shoe relative to the body—something separate which must be removed after its usefulness has expired.  In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbeinu Bachya goes into greater detail about these two bodies:

Yaakov Avinu didn’t die, but he remains existing in body and soul.  This body is the second body, the ethereal body in which the soul is garbed in the form of a body.  It has tangibility, but it is exceedingly ethereal [דק]…and the first, coarse body was embalmed and buried…and this is the same as what occurred with Rabbeinu Hakadosh in Kesuvos and the diggers in maseches Shabbos.30

We will see that the “second, ethereal body” mentioned by Rabbeinu Bachya is also referred to as the Tzelem Elokim.  To emphasize just how very much alive this is, a soul in a body, the Tzemach Tzedek says that the state of Yaakov Avinu is “in the way of the resurrection of the dead,”31 which of course means resurrection of the body.

Also, note that in Igeres Hakodesh32 the Alter Rebbe brings down that Yaakov Avinu rectified the sin of Adam, and thus resembles him, and the Mitteler Rebbe states that this resemblance refers to their Tzelem Elokim.33  This expressly shows that the connection between Adam Harishon and  Yaakov Avinu is the Tzelem Elokim.

 

RABBEINU HAKADOSH: Halachically Alive

In the writings of R’ Chayim Vital it states that Rabbeinu Hakadosh is Yaakov Avinu himself”34.  This fits with what we saw above in the name of Rabbeinu Bachya, stating that “Yaakov Avinu did not die” is the same phenomenon as what occurred with Rabbeinu Hakadosh in Kesuvos 103a.  That gemora describes how Rabbeinu Hakadosh returned to his home every Friday night, even though he had already passed away and been buried.  (Sefer Chassidim adds: to make kiddush for his family, thereby fulfilling for them their halachic obligation.)  The gemora reports that once the neighbors came by on Erev Shabbos and the maidservant told them “be quiet, Rebbi is here”.34*

We can understand this better in light of the way the Arizal explains the way malachim (angels) can be seen.35  Explains the Arizal: Although malachim cannot be seen by ordinary people,  those possessing a refined soul (nefesh) can see them, because a refined Intellectual Soul is able to perceive the nefesh (the form and extremely refined substance) of the malach.  This phenomenon, continues the Arizal, is the same as those who see Eliyahu Hanavi and Rabbeinu Hakadosh—seeing these tzaddikim is the same as seeing malachim.

The Arizal proceeds to explains that what they are seeing is not a created being of this lower world (i.e., a material entity), but rather the “chaluka d’Rabbanan”, the refined “garment” that they wear.  (See where the Rebbe Maharash states that “the bodies of malachim are called chaluka d’Rabbanan36).  This garment is of the same refined nature as the “second body” of tzaddikim, their Tzelem Elokim.

Thus far, it would seem that we are discussing some sort of spiritual body, a body which exists in higher spiritual worlds but which is removed from this world.  In fact, however, this is not completely correct.  Discussing the case of Rabbeinu Hakadosh recorded in the gemora in Kesuvos, the Rebbe raises the following question:

[Since Rabbeinu Hakadosh was] a neshoma from the world of truth [i.e., he had passed away], how could it be possible that he will make kiddush on physical wine, and not only that, but that he will make others hear kiddush and will satisfy their obligation?! 37

Since our sages tell us that the dead are not obligated in mitzvos, we are left with a question about the status of Rabbeinu Hakadosh: not being obligated in mitzvos means that one who is dead cannot perform mitzvos on behalf of others.  Yet we find that Rabbeinu Hakadosh did perform the commandment on behalf of others.  The Rebbe resolves this paradox quite simply:

Since he came to his home in a way that the members of his household saw him, and as emphasized in Sefer Chassidim that he would appear in Shabbos clothes, etc., it is understood that at that same time his neshoma descended and enclothed in a physical body and was seen to eyes of flesh, consequently, he is in the category of a soul in a body. [Emphasis in the original printed sicha] 38

As we saw previously, the body of Rabbeinu Hakadosh after his passing was his “second body”, the inner body (since only the externality of the body ceases to exist, as explained in section 2).  Such a body, which is “close to the level of the nefesh39, is learned out by the Rebbe to be in the category of a physical body!

 

R’ ACHAI BAR YOSHIAH: Tangibly Alive

What is the degree of physicality of this refined garment, the second body?  This can be learned from an incident which is recounted in Shabbos, 152b.  There it describes how some diggers were working on Rav Nachman’s land.  They came to report to him that a man was disturbing them.  Rav Nachman went to investigate and asked the man who he is, and he replied that he is Achai bar Yoshiyah, a sage of an earlier generation who had long since passed away.  The gemora tells us that Rav Nachman felt him and indeed he felt that he possessed substance.

Rav Nachman, recognizing the holiness of one whose body was still intact after his passing, invited him to come to his house.  R’ Achai replied with the verse that states that it is Hashem who opens the graves, meaning that he is not free to leave the gravesite.39*

As we learned from Rabbeinu Bachya, this is the same phenomenon as by Yaakov Avinu and Rabbeinu Hakadosh—the second body.  As stated in Avodas Hakodesh:

Rav Nachman felt him and he had substance…all this is because the neshoma is enclothed in an ethereal spiritual body [גוף דק] which can be seen by those possessing a refined eye, and those whom he will favor.40

Although these are a very lofty level of supernal garments, suitable for the World to Come, we nonetheless see from these stories that they give the neshoma a tangible presence in this world.41

 

THE PREVIOUS REBBE ONLY CHANGED GARMENTS

We now have a basis to understand the Rebbe’s explanation of what occurred (and what didn’t occur) on Yud Shevat, 5710, the day of the passing of the Previous Rebbe.  The Rebbe spoke at that time that the Previous Rebbe “stands and serves” “without any change from his perspective”.  “It is not how it appears to eyes of flesh (physical, and even more so material) that there was, G-d-forbid, an interruption [of life]—but rather here, too, he stands and serves.”42  The Rebbe provides an explanation as to why there was no change from the Previous Rebbe’s perspective: “what was taken from him was only the external garment—and as far as the aspect of garment—he was given a better garment.”42

What was “taken” was merely the external garment, the “skin of the snake” which covers over the pure and refined physicality beneath.43  From this it is possible to understand how, after Yud Shevat, the Rebbe can speak of the Previous Rebbe having long life, meaning “life in the simple sense, physically” even though “we are speaking about a situation which to eyes of flesh it appears that an interruption occurred.”44

Our coarse eyes of flesh see only the coarse, external body which, like Yaakov Avinu’s external body, was buried in the manner of the world; but the essential part, the inner dimension of physicality does not change—like Yaakov Avinu (“and the Leader of our generation—Yosef in our generation—who did not die, like Yaakov Avinu”44*) and Rabbeinu Hakadosh, who live on in their bodies.  The only thing that changes is how it appears to those who view things through eyes of flesh alone, as the Rebbe said “he [the Previous Rebbe] went up, and we stayed in our places, so we can’t see him with eyes of flesh.”45

 

MOSHIACH AND THE PERFECTED STATE OF MAN

We know from the Rambam46 that Moshiach is a flesh and blood human being, a Jewish leader descended from King David.  We also know from sources in all parts of Torah (Tanach, Rashi, Midrash, Kabbalah) that Moshiach is revealed and then undergoes a state of concealment, before being revealed again in the fullest sense.  Rashi on Daniel 12:12 states our King Moshiach is destined to be hidden after he is revealed and to be revealed again. So we find in Midrash Ruth…  The Chasam Sofer,  Rabbeinu Bachya, as well as the Zohar, all mention a stage of concealment of Moshiach47.  But what exactly is the nature of this period of concealment?  The sefer Ohr Hachama states:

Like we found by Moshe that he went up to the firmament as body and soul, and remained there for 40 days, so to it will be with the Moshiach after he merits to that neshoma and recognizes himself that he is Moshiach, as it states Moshiach will be revealed but he still won’t be recognized by the rest of the people, and afterwards the Moshiach will be concealed in body and soul in the same way that Moshe entered into the cloud…48

In order to see what makes this relevant to our discussion, we must first understand what occurred when Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Mount Sinai in the midst of the cloud.  It is explained elsewhere in Ohr Hachama49 that “[the verse] ’Moshe entered into the cloud’ means that he separated from the material body”.  The Shach al Hatorah informs us that “Moshe went up and merited what no one else merited, which is that his material physical limbs became spiritual…“  In Ohr Torah from the Maggid of Mezritch it explains that “Moshe’s materiality was refined and he became a G-dly man (Ish HaElokim), as it says ‘remove your shoes’, which is the material garment.50.  The Rebbe devotes an entire Sicha to what happened when Moshe entered the cloud on Har Sinai, and brings out that “Moshe’s body [when he went into the cloud] was refined to be like that of a malach.51

Based on what was explained above, we can understand that that “separating from the material body”, the garments of flesh, is a prerequisite for revealing the garments of light beneath, which are inherently made from the same lofty and refined material of which malachim are made.  This is the ultimate completion of the process which Chassidus describes as taking the physical and transforming it into the spiritual (“the Almighty gives us gashmiyus, and we make from it ruchniyus51*).  As the Rebbe explains: “a neshoma descends to this world and is enclothed in a physical body and makes spirituality from the physical—it is through this that they make a dira b’tachtonim for His Essence.”

Moshiach, during his time of concealment, is like Moshe Rabbeinu on the mountain: his physical body is transformed to literally the body of a malach.  Yet we have also learned that there are indeed those who can see this level of refined matter, and that this brings it into the category of a physical body (pure and refined physicality to be sure).  Thus, when Rabbeinu Hakadosh would appear in the world in this refined form, he was obligated in the mitzvos52, and he could be seen by  members of his household.  Indeed, according to the Rebbe he was fully “chay v’kayam”—alive in a physical sense.  It only requires that our understanding of “physical” should reflect the true meaning of the word according to Torah (particularly pnimiyus Hatorah, the “neshoma” of Torah).  As it was by Rabbeinu Hakadosh, so too it was by Moshe and so too it is by Moshiach.

It becomes clear from these sources that Moshiach, during his period of concealment, is alive in a physical body yet it is on a greatly refined level of the physical that has little in common with our coarse materiality.  Refined physicality as it was before the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, which is the level of physicality to which the entire world is destined to return.

 

TZELEM ELOKIM: REFINED PHYSICALITY

We can now distinguish three distinct aspects of the person: the neshoma which is spiritual; the “garments of light” which clothe the neshoma; and the body of flesh, which is the external “garment” of this world.  In a state of exile our eyes see only the body of flesh.  Note the story of the Maggid of Kozhnitz who said to his son shortly before his own histalkus “I have no body at all”.  His son grasped his father’s hand and said to him “Father, I can feel that indeed you do have a body!”  His father answered him: “Because you are feeling with a body—therefore you feel a body.”53

One who possesses a refined Intellectual Soul is capable, with Hashem’s help, of seeing Eliyahu Hanovi and Rabbeinu Hakadosh, meaning that he can perceive the Tzelem Elokim (also known as the supernal garments called the chaluka d’Rabbanan54).  This is the clean and holy body which remains after the evil of the sin has been completely refined, and its physicality is restored to the state of refinement of Adam Harishon.

The Tzelem has a loftier source than the neshoma, and the primary task of refinement is for the sake of this “inner body”.55  Chassidus explains that the Tzelem is the Atzmus, the essence and source of the neshoma.56  This is the body of Yemos Hamoshiach, as the Previous Rebbe says:

In Yemos Hamoshiach there will be the aspect of man in its perfection, namely that all the evil will be eliminated and it will be only the aspect of Tzelem Elokim.57

Man will once again be as he was before the sin—enclothed in the original garments of light.  Yet, as explained above, a neshoma which is enclothed in this Tzelem Elokim and appears to others in the world, it is in the category of physical and thus even able to render halachic decisions.58

 

OPENING THE EYES: WHY AND HOW

The Rebbe stressed the need “to learn the subject of Redemption, in a way that this will open up the heart and the eyes and the ears—and that they will understand, see, and feel as simple reality within the physicality of the world—the true and complete Redemption in actuality.”59  Numerous times the Rebbe spoke of the need to “open the eyes”, and the question arises: which “eyes” are we talking about?  We can find a hint in the following words of the Rebbe:

The spiritual eyes of the Jewish people already see the Redemption; now we only need to open up the physical eyes, that they too should see the Redemption the way it is revealed to eyes of flesh at this time. 60

Paying close attention to the Rebbe’s words, we can identify three different eyes: Spiritual eyes; Physical eyes; Eyes of flesh.  The Rebbe states that the eyes of flesh are open, and the Redemption is already revealed to them.  So, too, the spiritual eyes of the neshoma.  What remains is to open the physical eyes and see with those physical eyes what the eyes of flesh see.  This echoes what the Alter Rebbe says about the need for the Tzelem to see what the eyes of flesh see:

Since the Tzelem is physicalized it must be refined by recognizing with fleshly eyes to see with the sense of physical sight, because the physical Tzelem will not be affected by what is seen with eyes of spiritual intellect, but only by seeing with fleshly eyes… 61

Meaning to actually see with our sense of sight, not a remote “spiritual” comprehension.  The Mitteler Rebbe (who employs the term “Natural Soul” here) explains that this seeing of the physical eye “comes about through the seeing of the eye of the Natural Soul which [sees now] in physicality, except that now the bodily materiality of the human intellect and the heart is not refined”.62  It is not the fleshly eyes which see—they are merely conduits that transmit signals to the fleshly brain.   As explained in Chassidus, our senses reside in the Natural Soul and it is this dimension which experiences what occurs to the fleshly body.  As Rabbeinu Bachya explains in connection with “Yaakov didn’t die”:

…it is known that the term ‘feeling’ does not apply to the body that was embalmed and buried but rather [only] to the ethereal body which is tangible and capable of sense perception.30

In other words, the opening of the physical eyes refers to the sight of the Intellectual (Natural) Soul (which, as we learned, is also called the “ethereal body” or the Tzelem Elokim), which relates to and comprehends the physicality of the world (i.e., it sees and understands physicality through the fleshly eyes).  Also note what was quoted from the Arizal above, that “the Intellectual Soul sees the nefesh of the malach; so, too, those who see Eliyahu Hanavi and Rabbeinu Hakadosh.”35

 

MOSHIACH CONCEALED

When Moshe entered into the cloud on Mount Sinai and “separated from the material body” to be “transformed to the level of malachim”, there were those among the Jewish people who were unable to recognize that Moshe was indeed fully alive (not only spiritually Above, but also physically here below).  However, in this last generation of exile, the first generation of redemption, every Jew is capable of recognizing this!

On Gimmel Tammuz 5754, the concealment of Moshiach began.  Following the initial phase of Moshiach’s revelation, the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation “entered into the cloud”.  As explained by the Ohr Hachama:   Moshiach will be concealed in body and soul in the same way that Moshe entered into the cloud….49  We saw that “entering into the cloud” means disrobing from coarse materiality and elevating true physicality (the Tzelem Elokim) to the ultimate state of purity and refinement.

Moshiach is now concealed, but only from our eyes of flesh.  And after so many generations of divine service, this is within our grasp: to perceive the refined and elevated physicality of the Tzelem Elokim, even while still enclothed in our coarse material bodies.  In this way, our generation will transition to chayim nitzchim—eternal life—without any interruption (as stated by the Rebbe on numerous occasions).

The only remaining task, as the Rebbe said, is to actually greet “pnei Moshiach”—the Pnimiyus of Moshiach—to “open our eyes” and see what is already here.  The “direct way” to accomplish this is by learning the subject of Moshiach and Geulah, which refines our Tzelem to the point that we will be able to perceive the “spiritual with the physical” with “eyes of flesh”, to see the Rebbe and the complete revelation of Moshiach in a way where the “spiritual” becomes “physical”, visible to our fleshly eyes!

FOOTNOTES


1)  Maamorim 5702, p.75.
2)  Hemshech V’Kacha 5637, ch. 19.
3)  Maamorim Admor Ha’Emtzo’i Bamidbar B, pp. 772-8.  Also, Maamorim of the Rebbe Rayatz, 5711, p.208; 5703, p.100; more.
4)  Maamorim 5662, p.299; Maamor parshas Pinchas 5711, p.90.
 4*) Igros Kodesh 17:206.  See also p. 156.
5)  Toras Chayim, V’Yakhel 410.__
6)  Ohr Hatorah, Bereishis vol. VII (page 2326 (1163a)).
7)  Bereishis 3:21.
8)  Zohar, Kedoshim 83b.
9)  Derech Emuna, p.68.
10)  Agra D’Kallah—by the tzaddik R’ Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin—Bereishis, ch. 21.  See reference in LS 5:86, to footnote #1 there.
11)  Chesed L’Avraham, 2:11.
12)  Toras Sholom p.211.
12*) Zohar, B’ha’aloscha, 152a.
13)  Likutei Dibburim (Hebrew), I:243.  On a related note, the Rebbe said in a Sicha of Pinchas 5710: “My father-in-law, the Rebbe [Raayatz] told that his father, the Rebbe Rashab, once expressed himself in this way regarding the wearing of tzitzis on bare skin: ‘I want your flesh?!  Flesh I can buy at the kosher butcher as much as I want’ ! —  These things were said about a living child, a child that would later grow up to be leader of the generation!”  Contrast this with the words of the Previous Rebbe, referring to the Rebbe Rashab ten years after his histalkus, that “one should kiss the physical remains of the body, even though by all other people it has no value (meaning the remains of the body) but by tzaddikim it is different.” (Sicha of the night of Simchas Torah, 5691.)  Perhaps the distinction is between “physical” and “material”, and tzorich iyun.
 13*) Likkutei Sichos vol. 6, p. 81 (Yud Shevat).
14)  Maamarei Admur Ha’Emtzo’i, Drushim L’Pesach p.55.
15)  Sicha, 15 Menachem Av 5743 (Hisvaduyos 5743, vol 4, p.1875).
16) Hemshech V’Kacha 5637, ch. 18.
17)  Tzemach Tzedek, Tehillim, p. 151.  See also LS 19:266-273, where the Rebbe shows that “according to the way Rashi learns, he proves that the simple meaning of the verses [‘those who are here today…those who are not here today’] means in the same way as with ‘those here today’, meaning with souls in bodies”.
18)  Lech Lecha, 5752, end of ch. B.
19)  Ohr Hatorah, Yisro, p.819.
20)  Eitz Chayim, Shaar 49, Perek 5.
21)  See Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Chibut HaKever.
22)  Tzemach Tzedek, Drushim l’Sukkos p.1729.
22*) Likutei Torah, B’chukosai, 47c; The intellectual soul is explained at length in the maamor “Chaviv Adam”,  Shavuos 5728.
23)  Shemos 3:5.
24)  Tikkun 12.
25)  Tikkun 21.
26)  Avodas Hakodesh, 2:25. The Rebbe refers to the author as “HaMekubal HaEloki Rabbeinu Meir Ibn Gabbai” (7 Kislev, 5748). 26*) Tikkun 31.
27)  Taanis 5a. See Zohar Teruma 141b: “Yaakov did not die, and his body has permanent existence.”
28)  Likutei Sichos v. 35, pp. 224-7.
29)  Resisei Lailah, ch. 56.  See LS 5:86, footnote 1, where the Rebbe quotes this sefer: Tzaddikim die on the day they were born, meaning that by them death is an elevation of the level of their mazal, that it disrobes from the bodily levush sak and enclothes in the spiritual chaluka d’Rabbanan to enter into supernal worlds.“
30)  Rabbeinu Bachya on Bereishis 49:33.
31)  Ohr Hatorah Bamidbar, p.  809.
32)  Tanya, p. 222.
33) Toras Chayim, Bereishis, p.23.
34) Likutei HaShas, Maseches Avos.
34*) This suggests that although the family was aware of the presence of Rabbeinu Hakadosh, these neighbors evidently could not see him.  (Note the Rebbe’s expression, below, that “the members of his household saw him”.)  (Regarding the maidservants of Rabbeinu Hakadosh, see Rosh Hashanah 26b, where his maidservant knew words in Loshon Kodesh that were unknown to the sages.)
35)  Eitz Chayim, 50:8.
36)  Toras Shmuel 5632 I, p.140.  Note also Igros Kodesh 11:404 and 17:156-7.
37) 19  Kislev 5711. “One day during the imprisonment of the Baal HaTanya in the Peter-Paul Fortress, he was visited by his mentor, the Maggid of Mezritch, together with, the Baal Shem Tov, from the World of Truth. (It should be added that they were garbed in bodies. Indeed, when my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], returned from a visit to this very spot, father, the Rebbe [Rashab], asked him if there was room in that cell for three people…)”.
38)  Shabbos Miketz 5746, Hisvaaduyos p. 206.
39)  Eitz Chayim, 40:4.
39*) The reason that Rabbeinu Hakadosh could come to his home can be accounted for by the uniqueness of tzaddikim who posses a neshoma klolis, collective soul.  See the Rebbe’s Sicha of Chai Elul, 5710.  The gemora itself states that Rebbi ceased coming to his home in order not to embarrass other tzaddikim who did not merit this.
40)  Avodas Hakodesh, ch. 26. See the questions the Rebbe raises on this in IK 22:95.
41)  Tangible, but yet not material.  Note the language of the gemora which says that Rav Nachman attempted to feel him and he saw that he had substance (חזייה דאית ביה מששא), which recalls the explanation of the Arizal (note #35) that seeing malachim and departed tzaddikim is via the Intellectual Soul.
42)  Sichos Kodesh, Yud Shevat 5726.
43)  Although the coarse physicality itself is the aspect of evil in Noga, the Nefesh remains with it after burial, which explains the holiness of graves of tzaddikim.  See Kuntres HaHishtatchus by the Mitteler Rebbe. Also, Zohar II 141b, 142a.
44)  12 Tammuz, 5710, ch. B.
44*) Sicha Vayechi, 5752, ois 12, “and through hiskashrus and bittul to the leader of the generation, this is drawn down to each and every member of the generation”.
45) 9  Tammuz, 5710, ch. D.
46)  Hilchos Melachim 11:1.
47)  Toras Moshe 9b; Rabbeinu Bachya on Shemos 4:9; Zohar II, 7a.
48)  Ohr Hachama on Zohar Shemos 7b, quoting R’ Chayim Vital, z”l.
49)  Ohr Hachama, Mishpatim 99a.
50)  Ohr Torah, Bechukosai, p. 123.  See also above, section V.  See also Etz Chayim 49:2: “…this is the secret of ‘remove your shoes’, meaning the evil that is in the ‘shoe’ and then it becomes completely good…he didn’t remove this entire garment, just that the good in it was completely refined and became connected with the Chashmal pnimi…”  This resolves a latent confusion between the terms body and garment, וד“ל.
51)  Likutei Sichos 36:178; Eitz Chayim, 50:5.    51*) Hayom Yom 27 Teves, 29 Adar II, 27 Elul.
52)  Perhaps in the manner of mitzvos ratzonecha, done without intent to receive the reward of refining sparks of holiness. See Hemshech V’Kacha 5637 ואכ”מ.
53)  Lessons in Tanya, end chapter 21; also Toras Sholom.
54)  The Rebbe described Chassidim seeing the Rebbe Maharash after his passing, adding: “If one desires, it is possible to see also today, except that the yetzer hara is clever and sly, a kluginker in the words of the [Previous] Rebbe, and he blinds the intellect.” (Sichos Kodesh 5713, p.228, new printing).
55)  Eitz Chayim, Shaar HaTzelem, referenced in Tanya, ch. 37.
56)  Maamarim 5670, p.149-50; Shaarei Teshuva, 6d-7c. See the references in Yahel Ohr, on Tehillim 39:7. Also the Alter Rebbe, maamorim 5564 p.170, explaining R’ Yochanan ben Zakkai’s statement “I don’t know which way they are leading me”—that he didn’t know if he had refined his Tzelem.
57)  Sefer Maamorim of the Rebbe Rayatz, 5711, p.208.
58)  See Sicha Va’era 5749 where the Rebbe says that although the Previous Rebbe is in the world of truth, his instructions have the strength of a psak since at the time of the prostrating at the tzion, instructions are heard from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, Nosi Doreinu, or it seems that they are heard”. (Hisvaduyos p. 215, miluim to footnote #62.)
59)  9 Kislev, 5752, the hillula of the Mitteler Rebbe.  Note the resemblance to the following explanation of the Mitteler Rebbe in Toras Chayim, Shemos B, 334a:_“The Redemption is called ‘birth’ like the birth of the baby, when it opens its eyes and sees and hears, because the light shine into the vessels.  So too in the future will be the seeing of the eye of the Divine Intellect in the neshoma and every neshoma will open its eyes . . . like with physical seeing, and like ‘all flesh will see’and so too the ear will hear and so too in the entire form of the limbs of the neshoma there will then be in the aspect of birth.  Like the difference between when a person is sleeping and when he awakens, that upon awakening his intellect in his brain shines and he will discern and know everything, and so too the midos of the heart and the seeing of the eye and the walking and the hearing, etc.”
60)  Hisvaduyos 5752 vol 1, p. 355.
61)  Maamorim on Maamarei Chazal, p.36.
62)  Ner Mitzvah v’Torah Ohr, Sha’ar Ha’Emunah, pp. 46a, 42b, 47a.
63)  Note that when asked if Moshiach’s identity should be publicized, on two occasions in Adar 5752 the Rebbe answered: “A judge can only decide based on what his eyes see”.
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