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Attaining Torah In Impure Places

Likutei Halachos on Parshas Bamidbar

Translated by Dov Grant 

Possuk 1:1 "Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai wilderness, in the ohel mo’ed…" 

The Torah was given in the midbar (wilderness) for good reason.  

Yisrael (the Jewish people) wandered in the midbar for forty years. The Mishkan (Tabernacle) accompanied them for that entire period of forty years in the midbar. It was there that Hashem spoke to Moshe and that Yisrael received the Torah from him.  

The Torah is telling us the following: Before we can attain some revelation in Torah or avodah (spiritual work) – which is an aspect of our original receiving the Torah – we need to first undergo confusion, doubts, impeding forces, improper desires, disturbances and the like. All this is drawn from an aspect of the places of the chitzonim/impure forces, which receive their vitality from the power of the disappearance of the ma’amar satum/ “closed statement”, corresponding to ayei/ “where” (see Likutei Moharan II 12).  

Thus, when the impeding forces and confusion become stronger – and we have no way out of them, to find Hashem’s honor – and we fortify ourselves, and search, request and beseech, even there, “Ayei/where is the place of his honor?”…then the “descent is for the purpose of ascent”. For then we merit to ascend to an aspect of the ma’amar satum at its root, which is the root of all the ma’amros/statements and the entire Torah – and hence merit to draw Torah from there.  

This corresponds to the receipt of the Torah right there in the midbar, after the power of the Egyptian exile. For the power of the subjugation of the Egyptian exile, the exile of the body and soul, caused “Yisrael cried out to Hashem”. They had no plan of action how to escape. They just “grabbed on to the art of their forefathers” and cried out to Hashem, yearning and beseeching to find Hashem’s honor. Through this they attained redemption. Then they wandered in the midbar, “a place of snakes, serpents and scorpions and thirst, etc.”, corresponding to the places of the chitzonim, far from Hashem’s honor. It was in that place that they requested and sought Hashem – until they merited receiving the Torah. That is the meaning of “descent for the purpose of ascent”. For it is specifically when we are in the midbar, the places of chitzonim, requesting and seeking after His honor, that we merit to receive there the Torah that is drawn from an aspect of ayei – through that merit of the request and search specifically in the places of chitzonim, that correspond to the midbar.  

Choshen Mishpat Hilchos G’vias Chov M’ha’yesomim 3:8 (see also 9-11 according to the Otzar Ha’Yirah – Yirah Ve’avodah 116)