2 Iyar: Leaping Over Obstacles

Birthday of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch - the Rebbe Maharash

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The fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn, known by the acronym “Maharash”, is the author of the famous chassidic saying:

“The world says that if you cannot crawl under an obstacle, try to leap over it. However, I say, leap over it in the first place!”

The phrase “leap over it in the first place” in the original Yiddish is “l’chatchila ariber.”  It can also be translated and understood differently: “just from the onset of every action – start from Above”.

What does it mean? The Rebbe says: the obstacles we face are a part of our perspective. To leap over them, start with changing your perspective. Have a bigger picture!

 

Here’s just one of the Rebbe’s explanations:

– The approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber implies that a Jew should not consider the obstacles or even the limitations of worldly existence.

Instead, he should realize that, because he is a Jew, he is not bound by these limitations.

He can and must, view his existence in a manner that his first impulse is to “climb over” those limitations, see them “from Above”.

In particular, there are two lessons included in this adage:

Climbing over implies rising above all limitations. Thus, it requires that we constantly rise above our previous state. Previously, one’s behavior could have been considered as “climbing over,” going beyond limitations. However, over the course of time, one has become accustomed to this level. In order to “climb over,” he need to reach a higher peak.

Though this process involves an unlimited process of growth, it serves as a directive for practical behavior within the context of our limited world. The approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber, though opposite to that of the world at large, should become one’s first impulse, followed without any second thoughts or reconsideration.

This directive exemplifies the service of the Rebbe Maharash and is also connected to his birthday, the second of Iyar. In the context of Sefirat HaOmer, the latter date corresponds to the attribute of “Tiferet Sheb’Tiferet” — “Beauty of Beauty”, or, in other words, the epitome of beauty.

In Chassidus, it is explained that Tiferet ascends to the highest levels — the level of Keter (“Crown”) — but also descends to the lowest depths. Therefore, it is compared to “The middle bar [of the Mishkan walls] which extends from one end to the other.” This is reflected in the Rebbe Maharash’s approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber, rising above all limitations (for Tiferet Sheb’Tiferet ascends to the highest of levels) and expressing these peaks in behavior within the context of the lowest levels of our physical world…

From the Rebbe’s talk on the Second Day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5749 (1989). Free translation.

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