We are approaching the 10th day of Shevat marking both the yahrzeit of the Previous Rebbe and the first day of the Rebbe’s leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch. The last maamor (Chassidic discourse) written by the Previous Rebbe before his passing on 10 Shevat 5710 (1950), began with the posuk from Shir Hashirim (5:1): “Basi l’gani achosi kallah – I have come into My garden, My sister, the bride.”
On 10 Shevat in 1951, the Rebbe officially accepted the mantle of leadership, and delivered a maamor that began with the same posuk, expounding upon his father-in-law’s discourse. Each year thereafter on the yahrzeit, the Rebbe explained another one of the maamor’s chapters in depth. Over the years, the Rebbe went through two cycles of explaining each of its twenty chapters. Chassidim and those who study the teachings of Chassidus begin learning a maamor in this cycle as a preparation for Yud Shevat.
The following is an excerpt adapted from the maamor that the Rebbe delivered on Yud Shevat 5730 (1970):
“I have come into My garden (Basi l’gani), My sister, the bride” (Shir Hashirim 5:1). In the maamor that he released for the day of his passing, my father-in-law, the Rebbe, quotes the Midrash Rabbah (on this verse). The Midrash observes that the word used in the posuk is not l’gan—which would mean “to the garden” – but l’gani, which means “to My garden.” This implies l’gnuni, “to My bridal chamber.” The Divine Presence is thus saying: “I have come into My bridal chamber, into the place in which My essence was originally revealed.
The Midrash continues that the essence of the Shechinah was originally manifested in this lowly world. However, due to negative conduct in the world (beginning with the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge), the Shechinah was “driven away” to the heavens, and ascended all the way to the seventh heaven.
Afterwards, seven tzaddikim arose (beginning with Avrohom Avinu) and they brought the Shechinah closer and closer to the world. Moshe, who was the seventh one – and “all sevenths are cherished” – brought the Shechinah all the way down to the world. This was primarily accomplished through Moshe’s construction of the Mishkan, as the posuk says (Shemos 25:8), “They should make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within them.”
The [Previous] Rebbe explains in the maamor that “the essence of the Shechinah was originally manifested in this lowly world” because G-d’s ultimate purpose in creating the world is because He desired to have a dwelling place in this lowly realm (as stated in Midrash Tanchuma, Naso, ch. 16).
It could be suggested that just as the descent of the G-dly creative energy to create and energize the beings of the lowly worlds is for the purpose of the ascent that follows, the same is true with regard to the descents that occur in the world itself. The downward motion set in place by the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and the ensuing sins were all so that the subsequent drawing forth of the Shechinah should be even greater than it was at the beginning of creation.
The [Previous] Rebbe continues in the maamor that G-d’s desire for a dwelling place down here is specifically that this should be accomplished through our efforts in repressing (iskafyo) and transforming (is’hapcho) the darkness to light. One: that the manifestation of G-dliness in the lowly realm should not be on G-d’s initiative but earned through our service. Two: should be accomplished through the unique efforts of both repressing and transforming the darkness.
This explains the advantage of this revelation of G-dliness that was present in the world at the beginning of creation. It is not only because an ascent following a descent must be greater than the original state; and not only because it is earned through our efforts – since even at the beginning of creation, Adam HaRishon drew forth the Divine presence through “working and guarding” Gan Eden. The advantage lies specifically in that the current service in drawing forth the Divine presence consists of repressing and transforming darkness into light.
The construction of the Mishkan took place after the sin of the Golden Calf, and the descent caused by this sin enabled the Mishkan’s construction to include repressing and transforming the darkness into light. Namely, taking the folly and lies of the world – “shitim” (acacia wood), which is related to and consists of the same Hebrew letters as “shetus” and “sheker” – foolishness and lies – and transforming them to holiness. “Sheker” is inverted to “keresh” – beams of the Mishkan, thus transforming negative to positive.
Thus, even in the Mishkan, the Shechinah was revealed in a greater way than at the beginning of creation. And the revelation in the times of Moshiach, brought about through our service now in the time of golus, will be greater yet.