Gimmel Tammuz: The Sun Stands Still
Reaching a Higher Level of Connection
The Rebbe teaches that an event can be understood by examining previous events that occurred previously on the same day of the year.
How do we understand Gimmel Tammuz? A chossid’s hergesh is that it is not the same as Yud Shevat, but how do we know?
The Rebbe has given us the tools to see Gimmel Tammuz for what it is: the beginning of a deeper and higher degree of hiskashrus between Chosid and Rebbe, a higher level of revelation that demands a higher level of avodah.
Gimmel Tammuz demands that we maintain a strong connection even when the external aspect is not revealed. This an avodah that transcends the intellect, the realm of “revelations”, and reaches to the essence.
We will attempt in this small booklet to take a deeper look at what the Rebbe wants us to understand about this day. It is the day that Yehoshua bin Nun performed the miracle of making the sun stand still, allowing the Yidden to be victorious by their own efforts.
It is also the day that proved to be the beginning of the redemption of the Friedicker Rebbe, even though Chassidim at the time were uncertain whether to dance or cry.
From the sichos we will see that the Rebbe prepared the way for us not to be confused or weakened by Gimmel Tammuz, and instead to reach a greater level of hiskashrus, and to bring the Geulah!
Our sages teach the principle that a worthy event is brought about on a worthy date. This is because the date itself is a fitting occasion for the event to occur –the date itself has a special quality. This is called by our sages a “yom zakai”, a meritorious day.
The Rebbe explains that the Previous Rebbe was released from Soviet prison on the 3rd day of Tammuz because this was a “yom zakai”. Almost 3,000 years earlier, Gimmel Tammuz was the day when Yehoshua bin Nun miraculously caused the Sun to stand still so that the children of Israel would have sufficient time to defeat their enemies (which would not be possible after the setting of the Sun). From the nature of this miracle (which the Rebbe explains in depth), we can learn about the miracle that occurred to the Previous Rebbe on the same day.
Similarly, we can gain insight into Gimmel Tammuz, 5754 by examining the events of the day as explained by the Rebbe. The focus is on the miracle of Yehoshua bin Nun as explained by the Rebbe in the sichos, but it will helpful to preface with another point about the day of Gimmel Tammuz, 5687, which is brought out by the Rebbe.
From Prison to Exile—The Stages of Moshiach
The third of Tammuz 5687 was the day that the Previous Rebbe was notified that he would be released from prison and transferred to a place of exile. In the sicha of Gimmel Tammuz, 5745, the Rebbe explains that there is a basis according to Torah that prison is worse than exile—the complete subjugation of life in a cell being considered greater suffering than the relative freedom of dwelling in a city of exile. On the other hand, in exile he is still prevented from fulfilling his mission as Nosi. Gimmel Tammuz, explains the Rebbe1, was only a personal Redemption for the Previous Rebbe. From these descriptions, we can find parallels to the occurrence of 3 Tammuz 5754, and stages in the revelation of Moshiach.
Rashi and others2 explain that that Moshiach will be concealed. The soul Moshiach will be revealed to the one who will be the redeemer, followed by a period where he is hidden from the world:
Like we found by Moshe that he went up to the firmament as body and soul…so to it will be with the Moshiach after he merits to that neshoma…and afterwards the Moshiach will be concealed in body and soul in that pillar in the same way that Moshe came into the cloud…and then he will be removed to the firmament in the way that Moshe went up to the firmament. Afterwards the Moshiach will be revealed completely and all of Israel will recognize him and will accept him.3
This corresponds to the way the Rebbe describes the Previous Rebbe’s situation on Gimmel Tammuz, going from prison to exile. What is the “prison” of Moshiach? As explained in Tanya, the neshoma being forced to inhabit the lowly body of this world (called the “skin of the snake”) is a form of prison. In Tanya the Alter Rebbe describes the great desire of the neshoma to escape the “prison of the body”, and the Previous Rebbe himself makes an explicit connection between his sitting in prison and the “prison of the body”:
If imprisonment of the body in a building of wood and stone is affliction, then how much greater is the suffering of the G-dly soul imprisoned in the body and animal soul.4
There is, however, an advantage of being in this “prison of the body”: it enables the soul to communicate in a revealed way with others who are also in bodies, to teach and give instruction. Moshiach undergoes an elevation to the firmament, in effect “leaving prison”.
It goes without saying that dwelling in the firmament is immeasurably preferable to the foul prison of the “skin of the snake”. On the other hand, the situation of being concealed resembles a state of exile. (The Rebbe notes in the sicha that exile is “almost equivalent to the suffering of death”.5) From this concealment—unlike when he is found in a body made “from the dust” of this world—Moshiach cannot so easily communicate to the people of his generation, and his leadership becomes much more difficult in this state of concealment.6 Nonetheless, this transition from “prison” to “exile” can indeed be viewed as a stage in the process of Redemption and of Moshiach’s complete revelation.
Gimmel Tammuz: A Day of Uncertainty
The release of the Previous Rebbe from Soviet prison, from the threat of a death sentence, G-d-forbid, should have caused jubilation and celebration amongst the Chassidim. However, since the Rebbe was being sent to exile in the distant city of Kostroma, it was not clear if the release from prison was a Redemption or not—uncertainty confused the minds of many Chassidim. On 3 Tammuz, 5687 it was not clear whether the Chassidim should be celebrating the Redemption or if the situation was actually worse than before. It was a day of doubt and uncertainty, even according to Torah and holiness (as the Rebbe explains).
Only later, after the final Redemption of the Previous Rebbe on 12-13 Tammuz, “it was revealed afterward how 3 Tammuz was the beginning of the Redemption.”7 Only retroactively would it become clear to Chassidim that Gimmel Tammuz was already the beginning of the Geulah of the Previous Rebbe. Despite that at the time it was a day of doubt and uncertainty, the Rebbe explains that for us it is a day of celebration—not for how it seemed at the time, but for how it would turn out to be in the end. It is easy to recognize in this a hint for how Chassidim should relate to the events of Gimmel Tammuz, 5754.
III. “Shemesh b’Givon dom”: Silencing the Sun’s Song
In the sicha of Gimmel Tammuz, 5745, the Rebbe describes at length the deeper meaning of Yehoshua’s miracle of causing the Sun to stand still. The way that he stopped the Sun was by instructing “shemesh b’Givon dom”, which means he instructed the Sun in Givon to “be silent”. In the sicha, the Rebbe asks why Yehoshua said “be silent” rather than “stand still”, and proceeds to explain that matter according to the explanations of Chassidus. Briefly, the matter is explained as follows:
There are two aspects to the Sun: chamah (the sun itself) and galgal chamah (the physical orb of the Sun). The orb of the Sun is the aspect of the Sun which is visible to the eyes of flesh, the body of the sun. The Sun itself refers to the spiritual aspect which cannot be seen, the soul of the Sun (as the Rambam writes, the celestial bodies are sentient beings with souls). The orb of the Sun is physical and inanimate, and the only reason that it orbits the Earth at great speed is due to the soul within it, just as our physical body—like a garment, it only moves due to the soul within that causes it to move.
The soul of the Sun, like all spiritual entities, is constantly praising Hashem with its “song”. It is this praise of Hashem, the “song” of the Sun, which causes the body of the Sun to fly through space around the Earth. When the Sun (the soul of the Sun) will be silent, ceasing its song, the body of the Sun automatically becomes motionless. Thus, Yehoshua bin Nun instructed the Sun to be silent with the result that the visible body of the Sun became motionless and inanimate, providing the children of Israel with additional time to defeat the enemy.
This, however, is only the “technical” explanation of why Yehoshua commanded the Sun to “be silent”. The Rebbe offers deeper explanation to the matter, which provides added insight into 3 Tammuz, 5754, as will be explained, G-d willing.
IV. Cutting Off Sustenance to the Idolaters
It is explained further in the sicha that the Sun (the soul of the Sun) is the source of the flow of sustenance (“hashpa’a”) to the physical world. But the soul of the Sun is, of course, not something visible. The body (orb) of the Sun, on the other hand, is something that has no inherent life of its own, but it is the aspect of the Sun which is visible. Since the body of the Sun is visible to fleshly eyes, when the idolaters seek to draw down the flow of sustenance from the Sun, they focus on the body of the Sun as the object of worship. In other words, the body of the Sun obscures and conceals the real source of the flow of sustenance (which is the nullification of the soul of the Sun to the Creator).
This explains Yeshoshua’s actions: by silencing the Sun’s song, the flow of sustenance from the Sun stops, which is why the body of the Sun becomes motionless. The flow of sustenance from the body of the Sun is where the idolaters get their life force (chayus). When the Sun is silent the flow of sustenance to those who worship it ceases, and “automatically this brings about the defeat of the enemy”.
IV. Moshe Rabbeinu: The Face of the Sun
The Ramak writes “Tzaddikim are likened to the Sun…as Yehoshua said ‘Sun in Givon, be silent’…Tzaddikim are the source of sustenance, and all receive nurture from him…and he can nullify them like the matter of ‘Sun in Givon, be silent’”.8 Similarly, our sages tell us that Moshe Rabbeinu is likened to the face of the Sun, and Yehoshua is likened to the face of the moon. It is possible to see a connection between the Rebbe’s description of the silence of the Sun on the original Gimmel Tammuz and the “silence” of the Rebbe since 3 Tammuz, 5754.
While Chassidim and those connected to the Rebbe have no doubts that the Rebbe is continuing to lead us exactly as before, nonetheless we are being led without the benefit of visible and audible revelations. Like on the original Gimmel Tammuz, when the visible aspect of the Sun became motionless and inanimate because the soul of the Sun became “silent”, so too the visible dimension of the Rebbe seemed to stop moving on 3 Tammuz, 5754. But, as explained in the sicha, this occurs only in order to defeat the enemies and bring about the conquest of the land of Israel (“entering the land” means the true and complete Redemption, as explained in Chassidus).
The silencing of the Sun (and its cessation of motion) cuts off sustenance to the idolaters who received life force from the Sun. In our case, we have the concept that “Hashem apportioned the nations according to the number of the children of Israel”9, which means that the nations of the world have their fate decided in large part by the spiritual state of the Jewish people and our collective “goy asher b’kirbecha”—the “goy” within us.
VI. Overcoming the “Goy” Within Us
One aspect of the “goy within” is that it perceives the world exactly as the gentile does—a material, physical existence. Unlike the G-dly soul, which perceives only G-dliness, the “goy within” perceives only material existence. In the words of the Alter Rebbe: “The animal soul comprehends the physicality of this world and its materiality…the intellect which is enclothed in physical matters [and] which grasps physicality in accordance with human intellect is a lie and truly the opposite from G-dly wisdom which is the wisdom of Truth.”10 That is the “goy” within.
Through Torah, mitzvos, and nisyonos (tests) we have the ability to refine ourselves until we ultimately can see the G-dliness that underlies (and gives life to) the material covering11. What provides sustenance to the “goy within” is the fact that the G-dliness that is the true basis of Jewish existence comes to us enclothed in the material garb of nature. As the Rebbe says in the sicha:
Sustenance comes from the Holy One, blessed be He…but he [the Jew] knows he received his bread via his pay from his job that he worked together with the goy; both got the same paycheck, both brought bread, went to their homes to eat the bread…but it is all because the Holy One causes this sequence of events by Divine Providence. If he had greater merit, he would get directly from the Holy One, blessed be He, without the garments of nature…but on a lower level he only has merit to receive via the same garments of nature as the goy receives. Nonetheless, he knows that it comes from the Holy One, blessed be He.12
In other words, because the sustenance of the G-dly soul reaches the Jew through the garb of nature, it thus also sustains and nurtures the “goy within”. As long as the Divine sustenance comes in the way of nature, it is also encouraging the view of the “goy within” that that the physical, visible dimension of the world possesses some intrinsic importance.
However, when “the Sun stands still”, meaning that the external, visible dimension of the natural world ceases to appear to be an active partner in the flow of sustenance, then the “goy within” perceives this as death—the death of his source of sustenance. But the perspective of the G-dly soul—that everything is from Hashem—is not impacted by what happens to the body of the Sun, the external garment of nature.
VII. What This Means After Gimmel Tammuz 5754
How does this connect to Gimmel Tammuz 5754? To state the matter clearly: for over 40 years the Rebbe would give blessings, advice and instruction through the “garment of this world”, referring to what appeared to us as his physical body. The Rebbe’s hashpa’a was given via the garments of personal letters, sichos heard at farbrengens; dollars received in a person’s hand. The spiritual, G-dly flow of sustenance was enclothed in the garment of the natural world for all to see.
Although a Jew knows that the Rebbe’s blessing and prophetic insights come from the Rebbe’s inner, spiritual aspect, nonetheless at the same time the “goy within” sees that it was always garbed in nature—the Rebbe’s actions in the physical world. Seeing the Rebbe “in the flesh” nurtured the his false perspective that the natural world—what one could see of the Rebbe—is (even to some degree) the source of the sustenance.
However, when the “Sun stood still” on Gimmel Tammuz 5754, meaning that the external, visible aspect of the Nosi Hador ceased its movement and became “silent”, the “goy within” faces a crisis! He can no longer see a physical source for the blessings and guidance! Surely the flow of sustenance does continue, the blessings and advice and guidance do not cease, as attested to by the numerous ways the Rebbe continues to guide us today: via sichos and maamarim, seforim and videos, through answers received via Igros Kodesh, dreams, or other means. In this way, the perspective of the “goy within”—which claims that the material, external existence is significant—is defeated by the perspective of the G-dly soul, which recognizes that the material world and nature are simply garments, an external covering for the flow of sustenance which is really coming directly from Hashem via the Nosi.
VIII. The Sun Stands Still: Higher Levels of Influence
This explanation, however, leaves us with a question: the Sun is the source of the flow of sustenance not only for the gentiles, but also for Israel! How does Israel continue to receive a flow of sustenance when the Sun stands still? Although Jews are not idolaters—which means that Israel recognizes that the Sun is merely a “garment for G-dliness”—nevertheless, it would seem that the life of Jews in this world is also sustained by the flow of sustenance from the Sun. If so, when Yehoshua commanded the Sun to be silent he seemingly stopped the flow of sustenance not only for the idolaters, but for the children of Israel as well! How does this help the children of Israel win the war?
The answer to this is provided by the Tzemach Tzedek. He explains that idolaters are sustained by the body of the Sun in its orbit. Israel, however, draw sustenance from the Sun as it is when it is standing still.13 This means that the silencing of the Sun by Yehoshua does not leave a vacuum in the flow of sustenance— it reveals a higher level.
The Rebbe also addresses this in the sicha, saying that “the song of neshomas (Torah) is higher than the song of angels [the soul of the Sun being a form of angel]. Yehoshua showed them the Torah he learned…then it ceased saying its song and automatically stopped going.”14 The Mitteler Rebbe explains that “the nullification of the Essence (bittul ha’atzmus) that comes from the transcendent light (ohr makif) of Kesser causes inability to sing the song, still, like an inanimate object.”15 This means that the when Kesser is revealed, the result is silence, an “inability to sing the song”. As is known, the “ohr makif of Kesser” is associated with the revelations of Moshiach—alluding to the direct connection between the revelations of Moshiach and the Sun standing still, fitting with Gimmel Tammuz 5754.
To explain: the day of Gimmel Tammuz 5754 was both an elevation and simultaneously the concealment of Moshiach. On the first Gimmel Tammuz the body of the Sun ceased moving when Yehoshua revealed a higher level (Torah, atzmus) and silenced it’s “song”. Similarly, on our Gimmel Tammuz the revealed aspect—the part seen by eyes of flesh—of “the face of the Sun” (the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation) ceased its motion due to a great revelation of the light of Moshiach—bitul ha’atzmus.
IX. Why the Concealment of Gimmel Tammuz?
As mentioned, the first meritorious event that occurred on 3 Tammuz was Yehoshua bin Nun causing the Sun stand still. The Rebbe brings out two different aspects of this miracle in different sichos.
The first aspect is the underlying reason for the stopping of the Sun, as stated explicitly in Tanach: to allow the children of Israel more time to pursue the enemy and destroy them in battle. But the Rebbe points out that victory over the enemy did not require such a grand change in nature, something which effected the Sun, the moon, and all the constellations. In fact, the verses tell us that prior to this “Hashem cast upon them large stones from heaven…more died through the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.”16 Rather than altering the movement of the heavenly bodies, Yehoshua could simply have asked Hashem to rain down more hailstones to eliminate the enemy once and for all!
The Rebbe explains that the reason for the miracle was not simply for the purpose of defeating the enemies. Rather, it was to enable the children of Israel themselves to defeat the enemies in a natural way. The miracle of the Sun standing still in Givon did not relieve the Jews of having to fight the war in a natural way—on the contrary, it gave them more time in which to complete the battle.
It is possible to draw a parallel from here to our Gimmel Tammuz: the Rebbe notes that the Tzaddikim were able to bring about the Redemption a long time already. But this is not the will of Hashem that Moshiach should come from the Tzaddikim, from Above to below. On the contrary, it is understood that the Geulah is connected with the service of below to Above, which means in a natural way, the concept of a “dira b’tachtonim”, a dwelling place for Hashem down below.
According to this, our situation is similar to the situation of Yehoshua bin Nun, that on the day of Gimmel Tammuz he paused the entire cosmic process (a tremendous miracle, from Above to below) in order to allow the children of Israel to finish the war in a natural way (although with much assistance from Above in the form of hailstones, etc.). It is still dependent on us to bring about the revelation of Moshiach within the limits of human intellect, and this is brought about by the “Sun standing still”, referring to Moshe Rabbeinu, the face of the Sun.
X. GIMMEL TAMMUZ AND THE FINAL REDEMPTION
The Rebbe himself describes the day of 3 Tammuz as “the first stage in the Redemption”17 of the Previous Rebbe, and we have tried to show the connection between “Sun in Givon be silent” and the events of 5754, both of which are the result of higher revelations. Furthermore, it is stated in Ohr Hachama that “Moshiach will not be able to redeem Israel from below”18 — he must ascend as Moshe Rabbeinu did, to receive greater levels of spiritual and physical life in order to take Israel out of exile.
Seemingly, the conclusion to draw from all this is that 3 Tammuz 5754 was indeed the beginning of the Redemption! Despite that, we are forced admit that it doesn’t appear this way to our eyes of flesh. Thus, our situation is like Gimmel Tammuz 5687 when the beginning of the Redemption of the Previous Rebbe was still not clearly perceived. It only becomes revealed afterward.
This suits the Rebbe’s strong assertion that the Redemption will occur instantly: “the codifiers of Jewish law have already acknowledged that the true and complete Redemption via Moshiach Tzidkeinu needs to be instantaneous (תקף ומיד), and it will indeed occur that way in actuality…the beginning of the Redemption and its completion come immediately, ‘without the delay of the blink of an eye’.”19 According to the Rebbe there is no truth to the popular misconception that the Geulah is a gradually unfolding process, because “Those who say that the Geulah of Israel will come in a natural way and slowly…they are hiding from the reality and also the past…that in the blink of an eye the army of Hashem went out from Egypt…carried on wings of eagles…in this way will come the transformation of the entire Creation…”20
Note the caution in the Rebbe’s words in 5751 (1991) not to confuse the preparation for redemption with redemption itself: “We should clarify that these [recent] miracles and wonders are nothing but a preparation for the Redemption, but it is not the beginning of the Redemption and not even the beginning of the beginning of the Redemption.…”21 As long as we don’t have “The beginning of the Geulah…and immediately the middle and the completion of the Geulah”22 then we are not yet found in the true and complete Geulah as the Rebbe defines it!
If so, what are we to do with all our explanations trying to show that Gimmel Tammuz is (as it was in 5687) “beginning of the Redemption”? The conclusion then is that the situation is exactly as it was in 5687—when “it became revealed afterward that Gimmel Tammuz was the ‘beginning of the Redemption’”.23 So, too, now — when we do not see with certainty (with our eyes of flesh and our human intellect) that the events of on Gimmel Tammuz 5754 are the beginning of the Redemption; however, in the end it will be revealed retroactively that Gimmel Tammuz was (and is) indeed the “beginning of the Geulah” (as the Rebbe has defined this day).
Important to note that we have one major advantage over the chassidim of the Previous Rebbe who were in a fog of confusion on Gimmel Tammuz: in our case the Rebbe has already clarified for us that Gimmel Tammuz for us is indeed the beginning of the Redemption—even though at this stage it is still in a state of concealment and thus does not meet the Rebbe’s definition of Redemption.
May we already see the revelations of the true and complete Redemption—the beginning of the Redemption and its completion immediately, ‘without the delay of the blink of an eye’—showing that 3 Tammuz 5754 was indeed the beginning of the Redemption, the elevation of the Rebbe to redeem the entire Jewish people, when “the Sun stood still” as a result of revelations from a higher level, a level from which our “goy within” cannot receive sustenance, causing him—ultimately—to admit defeat.
May all of Israel merit on this meritorious day of Gimmel Tammuz the complete revelation of the Rebbe, Melech haMoshiach — v’hu yigaleinu.
|Footnotes in PDF|