Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Two; The Possuk, Its Meaning, Hashem’s Relationship “With” Us
Conceptual Background to Part Two:
I. Elokeinu means, “our G-d.” In Chassidus, “Elokeinu” also is the type of relationship G-d has with us. He chooses to relate to the world as a king, i.e., Melech Ha’Olam (King of the universe), He chooses to relate to us as a father as well. As a general principle, in Chassidus, “Elokeinu” means “our strength and our vitality.” In Hebrew it’s “kocheinu v’chayuseinu,” which connotes our physical life itself, our energy, enthusiasm, life dedication, etc., as explained at length throughout Chassidus.
II. Will transcends the body. The proof is, that as soon as a person wants to put their foot in fire, for example, or jump in cold water, the body obeys the decision despite its nature. Will comes from above intellect (higher will) and/or as a result of intellect (lower will or da’as). The first kind of will stands firm in the face of adversity. The second kind of will can be changed if the logic changes.
“Higher will” comes from contemplating the unknown. For example, thinking about, “no thought can grasp Him at all,” where, as much as a person thinks they understand G-d’s greatness, they realize they don’t. As a result, the person’s will reaches that idea, in our case G-d. In a way, the person’s willpower becomes larger than life.
“Lower will” comes as a result of contemplating G-d’s greatness as it is expressed within nature, which is merely an echo of His being. In this mode, one contemplates G-d’s humility as well, in allowing created beings to exist and experience a smidgeon of His greatness.
IV. Love and fear are the two extremes in the emotional spectrum. By nature, when something goes according to one’s will, one loves it. When something goes contrary to our will we dislike it.
V. G-d needs our mitzvos because He wants them. G-d is infinite, beyond understanding and even the term “infinite” doesn’t do. However, He decided to have home in the Lower Worlds. G-d expresses this desire in Torah. When a Jew does a mitzvah or learns Torah, the G-dly soul within him, which is an extension of G-d Himself is doing the mitzvah and the body is a mere vehicle. G-d expresses Himself through the body of a Jew.
VI. “Fear” or “awe” of G-d can make people cringe. “Fear” in Chassidus is the fear of damaging the relationship we are in (Tanya, beginning of Chapter 41, and other places). This definition means that the fear is really just a defense to protect the love.
Included within this definition is the “lower fear,” which is the fear of sin itself or the punishment thereof and the “higher fear” which is a shyness to be in the presence of such a great being (“y’rei boshes,” Siddur Torah Ohr, Intro. to Tikkun Chatzos).
VII. Inspiration that comes from On High is energy. That energy trickles down and is filtered through Hishtalshelus until it “thickens” and becomes the inspiration in your surroundings. ( Siddur Torah Ohr,Hakdama. V’Hinei Perach, [Korach] Likkutei Torah ).
The Possuk, Its Meaning, Hashem’s Relationship “With” Us
ב)וְהִנֵה נוֹסֵף לְהַדִיוּקִים שֶׁבְּהַשִֹיחָה צָרִיךְ בִּיאוּר בְּהַלָשׁוֹן ״יְהִי הַוַיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ עִמָּנוּ״ (שֶׁבְּהַכָּתוּב עֲצְמוֹ)
In addition to the above-mentioned details in trying to understand the Frierdiker Rebbe’s sicha, we need to understand the verse itself.
לְאַחֲרֵי שֶׁאוֹמְרִים ״הַוַיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ,״ שֶׁהוּא אֱלוֹקַה שֶׁלָנוּ וּבְּפְרַט לְהַמְבוּאָר בְּחֲסִידוּת, שֶׁאֱלֹקֵינוּ פִּירוּשׁ כֹּחֵינוּ וְחַיוּתֵינוּ, מַה צוֹרֵךְ לְבַּקָשָׁה שֶׁיִהְיֶה עִמָּנוּ
The verse itself states, “May Havaye (G-d) Elokeinu (our G-d) be with us just as He was with our forefathers; may he not abandon us nor forsake us.”
“Elokeinu” means “Eloka (G-d) shelonu (of ours),” and furthermore, in Chassidus, “Elokeinu” means “our strength / power and our vitality / enthusiasm.”
That being said, why are we asking for what we already have? Why are we saying, “…Be with us…just as He was with our forefathers…” ?
More Elements In the Word, “Im”
דְלְכְאוֹרָה, גַּם צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין, אוֹמְרוּ ״עִמָּנוּ״ גּוֹמֵר, ״עִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,״ דְּלְשׁוֹן ״עִם״ נוֹפֵל עֲל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא טָפֶל לְהַדָבָר שֶׁהוּא ״עִמּוֹ״ [כְּמּוֹ ״יַחְלוֹקוּ יוֹרְשֵׁי הַבַּעֲל ׳עִם׳ יוֹרְשֵׁי הָאֳב, שֶׁיוֹרְשֵׁי הַבַּעֲל הֵם טְפֵלִים לְיוֹרְשֵׁי הָאֳבי],
Furthermore, the wording, “With us…with our forefathers,”—implies that G-d is secondary to us and secondary to our fathers. The word “with,” or “im,” refers to something which is “with” or secondary to something else (as in the case in the Gemara, Yevomos regarding the division of inheritance among heirs).
For example: if Reuven went to shul with Shimon, then Shimon is the primary goer and Reuven is, so to speak, “tagging along.”
וְאַף-עֲל-פִּי-כֵן אוֹמֵר ״יְהִי הַוֲיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ עִמָּנוּ״ גּוֹמֵר ״עִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,״ שֶׁהַוֲיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ הוּא טֵפֶל אֵלֵינוּ וְלַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ
Nevertheless we ask, “May Havaye Elokeinu be with us…with our forefathers…” that G-d, our G-d should be accessory or secondary to us.
וְיֵשׁ לְבַאֵר זֶה עֲל-פִּי הַיְדוּעַ, דְּהַטַעֲם עֲל שֶׁבְּיִרְאַת שָׁמַיִם נֶאֱמַר לָשׁוֹן אוֹצָר, הוּא, כִּי כְּמּוֹ שֶׁאוֹצָר הַמֶלֶךְ, אֵין בְּיַד הַמֶלֶךְ לַעֲשֹוֹת אוֹצָר אִם לֹא יִקָבֵץ מֵאַחֵרִים, כֵּן הַיִרְאָה (אוֹצְרוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים הַקָדּוֹשׁ-בָּרוּךְ-הוּא) אֵינָהּ בִּידֵי שָׁמַים, כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵנוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, הַכֹּל בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם חוּץ מִיִרְאַת שָׁמַים
An answer finds itself in the reason for why the fear of Heaven is referred to as a treasure.
The analogy is, just as the treasure of a king is accumulated by collecting from others (taxes, tribute, spoils of war), the same is true about the fear (the treasure of the King of Kings, HaKodosh Boruch Hu), it doesn’t come from Above. As our rabbis tell us:
“Everything comes from Heaven except the fear thereof” —B’rochos, 32b.
וְיֵשׁ לְהוֹסִיף, דְהַטַעֲם עֲל שֶׁהַלָשׁוֹן ״אוֹצָר״ נֶאֱמַר בְּיִרְאָה דַוְּקָא, הַגַּם שֶׁעִנְיָן זֶה ( שֶׁהַקָדּוֹשׁ-בָּרוּךְ-הוּא צָרִיךְ כְּבַיָכוֹל לְהָאֳדָם) הוּא בּכָל הַמִצְווֹת
Furthermore, the reason why “fear” is referred to specifically as “treasure,” is because mitzvos happen when a person is motivated by love or fear (see Concepts above).
כִּי בִּכְדֵי שֶׁיִהְיֶה קִיוּם הַמִצְווֹת כְּדְבָּעִי הוּא עֲל-יְדֵי אַהֲבַת ה’ אוֹ עֲל-יְדֵי יִרְאַת ה׳ , וּמְהַחִילוּקִים בֵּין אַהֲבָה לְיִרְאָה הוּא, דְּאַהֲבַת ה’ בָּאֳה עֲל-יְדֵי גִּילוּי אוֹר מִלְמַעֲלָה, וְיִרְאַת ה’ בָּאָה (בְּעִיקָר)עֲל-יְדֵי עֲבוֹדַת הָאָדָם
Although every mitzvah can be referred to as a “treasure” (which means thereby, that G-d needs our mitzvos, so to speak [see Concepts above]), love and fear, i.e., emotions, need to be the motivation for doing mitzvos. One of the general differences between love and fear is; love is caused by a revelation from on high (see Inspiration in Concepts) and fear is cultivated by the individual’s effort.
וְעֲל-דֶרֶךְ יִרְאַת מֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וְדָם, דְּזֶה שֶׁאַנְשֵׁי הַמְדִינָה יִרָאִים מִפְּנֵי הַמֶלֶךְ הוּא לְּפִי שֶׁקִיבְּלוּ אוֹתוֹ לְהְיוֹת מֶלֶךְ עֲלֵיהֶם, דְּקַבָלַת הַמַלְכוּת הוּא עֲל-יְדֵי הָעָם, שׂוֹם תָּשִֹים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ
Similar to the awe experienced in the presence of a physical king, the awe is based on the fact that the citizens have taken his yoke upon themselves. The yoke of a king on a nation is accepted by the individuals, “You shall surely appoint a king.” (Shoftim, 17:15).
(The Rebbe adds in a footnote: the proof the acceptance of the yoke of a king has to be by the individuals is that people don’t have trepidation in the presence of a foreign king. Samach Vov p. 330).
וְעֲל-פִּי-זֶה יֵשׁ לְבַאֵר הַלָשׁוֹן ״יְהִי הַוַיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ עִמָּנוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר הָיָה עִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,״ כִּי בְּיִרְאַת ה’ (״שֱׁהִיא רֵאשִׁית הֳעֲבוֹדָה וְעִיקָרָהּ וְשָׁרְשָהּ״), הֳעִיקָר הוּא עַבוֹדַת הָאֳדָם, וְהַגִילוּי אוֹר מִלְמַעֲלָה (״הַוֲיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ״) הוּא רַק מְסַיֵיעַ לְהָאָדָם, עִמָּנוּ
Accordingly, we can explain the wording of the possuk, “May G-d, our G-d be with us just as He was with our forefathers.” When it comes to the fear of G-d (which is the beginning and root of really serving G-d, see Fear in Concepts), the point is personal effort, and the revelation of G-d from on High (that Havaye relates to us as Elokeinu) is just there to help us along the way, i.e., “With us.”