Retroactive Revelations

By: Jonah James  |  April 21, 2023

By Jonah James, Staff Writer

Chassidus illuminates, and as a luminary, Chassidus permeates Gemara, Halacha, Midrash, and Kabbalah. It is the Torah’s unifying essence, and the Rebbe’s discourses on the parshios reflect this theme. This discourse from Va’era 5735 is no exception, as it explains how concealment and revelation do not necessarily contradict each other, and how concealment can actually reflect the greatest revelation. 

The Rebbe references the Gemara in Chagiga, “When Hashem created the world, (the Divine name) Kel told His World, ‘Enough!’ (Dai!) Stop expanding and let your oceans not spread any further.” From this, we see that Hashem’s name Kel Shakkai, which He used to commune with the forefathers, was already in the world for thousands of years. Being so, Kel Shakkai’s appearance to the forefathers seemingly lacks true revelation. The Rebbe resolves this with a Midrash that shows there are two levels of Kel Shakkai. The first one, which was present at the creation of the world, is the Kel Shakkai which told the universe to stop expanding; the second, higher Kel Shakkai which Hashem revealed to the forefathers, is the G-dliness which is “Dai” (enough) for every created being (Bereishis Rabbah). It is an infinite level of G-dliness that fills all lack, as compared to G-dliness that limits the world’s boundaries. From here, the Rebbe unearths Chassidus Chabad from the depths of the Baal Shem Tov’s wellsprings, in a way that the mind grasps and the flesh sees.

In this maamar, the Rebbe draws parallels between different Divine names and different types of miracles. Primarily, the function of miracles is to reveal G-dliness in the world. There are open miracles that appear as obviously supernatural, and there are concealed miracles that are enclothed in the patterns we are used to seeing. 

Havaya (YKVK) openly causes supernatural miracles, while Kel Shakkai causes miracles enclothed in nature. On the one hand, revealed miracles, such as the splitting of the sea, reflect a higher level of Hashem because we easily see these miracles. On the other hand, one can make the mistake of thinking that Hashem’s supernatural miracles can not change nature itself, so Hashem must negate nature in order to bypass it. Thus, there is a special advantage in the natural miracles of Kel Shakkai because they are woven into the very fabric of this lowly physical plane. 

However, natural miracles are more concealed, and we may overlook them. Thus, supernatural miracles show that the “natural” miracles are also miraculous and that nature actually manifests infinity. Natural miracles do not need to break nature in order to govern it, but this only becomes known through supernatural miracles. 

With this, we can better apprehend the Kel Shakkai revealed to the forefathers and the Havaya concealed from them. In the Kel Shakkai they accessed, Havaya also shined unbeknownst to them. This corresponds to how we do not realize the infinity in nature until supernatural miracles retroactively remind us that nature is G-dly. 

This deepens our understanding of the two Kel Shakkai’s described in the Gemara and Midrash. The Kel Shakkai that limits the world’s expansion expresses the infinity of the higher Kel Shakkai which radiates endlessly downward. The Rebbe explains that the real novelty in the Kel Shakkai that reaches “every created being” is not in the higher spiritual entities it reaches, but rather in the lowest creatures it reaches. Similarly, the Ramban held that G-d was enclothed in the Beis HaMikdash, a physical building, just as intellect is enclothed in the mind and the mind grasps the intellect. But the Rambam held that G-dliness in the Beis Hamikdash was like a hand that the mind “passes through” in order for the hand to write. Chassidus resolves this contradiction between Kabbalah and philosophy by showing that both approaches allow for physicality to touch infinity. However, Chassidus takes this one step further by stating that Havaya is openly shining in this world now. It only shines in a way that has no relationship whatsoever with this world, and thus we do not sense it. 

In the Messianic era, however, everything will perceive Havaya because finitude will no longer conceal infinity and it will be impossible to think that miracles enclothed in nature are finite. Parshas Va’era is the beginning of Havaya overtly illuminating the physical world, and Chassidus gives us the lenses to start perceiving this reality. Now that it has been over 30 years since the Rebbe announced that Dovid Malka Meshicha has been appointed and “the time for your geula has arrived,” all that is left is to welcome Moshiach.