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A History Of Deception

G-d called to him from within the bush, and said: Moses, Moses… Now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh. Bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt…

…Moses said to G-d: So I will go to the Israelites and say the G-d of your fathers sent me to you. They will immediately ask me what is His name? What shall I tell them?

G-d Replied to Moses: "I Will Be Who I Will Be. Tell the Israelites that 'I Will Be' ('EHeYeH') sent me to you."

…Moses pleaded with G-d. "I beg you, O G-d, I am not a man of words… I beg you O Lord, please, send someone more appropriate… (3:4-4-13)

On Simchat Torahthe entire town of Lubavitch would join the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel, for hakofos, the joyous dance with the Torah scrolls. After concluding the hakofosin their local synagogues, entire congregations would dance their way to the synagogue at the Rebbe's headquarters.

One year, the Atoh Horeisaverses1were being recited when a shul-full of chassidim arrived, merry with dancing and vodka and with their gabai2in their lead. The jolly group half led, half pushed the gabaithrough the crowd to the lectern, where he was given the honor to recite the verse: "May our words be for goodwill before the Master of All."

But Rabbi Shmuel insisted that the gabaialso explain the verse he is to recite. Exclaimed the gabai: "To also explain? Then first I need a l'chyaim." The Rebbe agreed that he had every right to insist on a l'chayim.

After downing his first l'chayim, the gabaimaintained that a single glass was not sufficient for the task at hand. More l'chayim's followed. Finally, the gabaiadmitted: "Rebbe, I cannot interpret the verse. I request that the Rebbe explain its meaning…"

The Rebbe explained: "May our words be" - may our speech consist of only that which is "satisfactory3to the Master of all."

After the Rebbe finished there was much commotion in the shul. Many were clamoring that the gabaiought to be taken to task - he had finagled an undeserved l'chayim! Rabbi Shmuel responded with the following story:

One year the one who usually blew the shofarat the High Holyday services in the synagogue of Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch, was not available. So the Rabbi DovBer asked his youngest disciple, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, to fill the role.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman agreed on condition that his master teach him the sublime meditations ('kavonos') associated with blowing the shofar. But after the Maggid had taught him all those lofty concepts, Rabbi Schneur Zalman admitted that he had never acquired the skill of sounding the shofar.

"Why have you deceived me?" demanded the Maggid. "I have transmitted to you teachings which are only revealed to a select few." Said Rabbi Schneur Zalman, "I merely followed the example of Moses…"

Rabbi Shmuel explained: when the Almighty appeared to Moses and dispatched him on his mission to free the Jewish people from exile, Moses said: First, I need to know the secret of your name. I cannot come to the Jewish people without the understanding of who You are and how You relate to our existence. So G-d revealed to Moses the sublime concept of 'I will be who I will be' - the Divine names and manifestations4by which the infinite and indefinable light of G-d sustains all of creation. And then Moses protested: But I am not qualified. Please, send someone else…


1. A collection of biblical verses recited prior to the hakafos dance.
2. Synagogue administrator.
3. The simple meaning of the verse is that our 'words' i.e. our prayers, be accepted in goodwill before G-d. In the Rebbe's interpretation, King David is expressing the wish that our everyday speech be free of anything undesirable.
4. Sefiros.


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