Torah Reading: Chukat (Numbers 19:1 - 22:1) 
Haftorah (special for Rosh Chodesh): Isaiah 66:1 - 24      
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 4 
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 8:13 PM 
Shabbat ends: 9:22 PM 
Humanizing for our Self-Esteem
At the end of the Jewish people’s journey in the desert we read that Moses and Aaron were not destined to take the Jewish nation into the Promised Land with their people. The reason for this denial is stated in this week’s parsha, Chukas, in a rather ambiguous fashion.  Despite the Torah’s devoting a large section to this story, the real cause of G‑d’s “anger” with the two greatest leaders is not really clear. Indeed, Or Hachaim cites 10 different explanations for this matter! If one single explanation were obvious there would be no need to search for other reasons. One may suggest that the Torah was deliberately vague about the “sin” so that we should never impute any real transgression to these holy people.  Otherwise, it would be difficult to resist the “temptation” to diminish these spiritual titans by viewing them as ordinary humans.
One can discern two reasons why people might want to humanize even the greatest tzadikkim. One simple reason is that we wish to preserve our own self-esteem. If Moses and other greats could transgress without it detracting from our high regard for them, then we too can sustain our own self-respect notwithstanding our many all-too-human flaws.
In truth, this rationale hardly justifies our ascribing outright transgressions to people who were so close to G‑d, so totally devoid of egos and self-interests and whose entire beings were devoted to G‑d and His people.
When one studies Chassidus, one discovers that a true tzadik neither transgresses nor harbors a desire to go astray. The perfect tzadikkim—such as the Patriarch Abraham—have completely transformed their evil impulses into holy impulses. How can we then suggest that they consciously rebelled against G‑d or even were negligent in their responsibilities to G‑d?
Moreover, the Midrash uses the metaphor of a “chariot” to describe the Patriarchs dedication to G‑d’s will. Just as a vehicle can only go in the direction toward which its driver steers, so too the Patriarchs had conditioned their bodies to “automatically” act consonant with G‑d’s will. How can we then say that people of this caliber were guilty of sins, let alone to be openly rebellious towards G‑d?
Temporary Lapses
Chassidic thought teaches that true tzadikkim have risen above sin. Nevertheless they too are “human” in that G‑d causes them to experience temporary lapses. In order for one to truly grow and advance spiritually, one must falter and experience a setback from which one can leap to an exponentially higher level. This is the underlying sentiment in Proverbs when it states: “For a tzadik falls seven times and rises up again.” While the tzadik’s fall is not, G‑d forbid, intentional or due to neglect, it is nevertheless, a diminution of his spiritual stature.  The stumbling tzadik feels an emptiness which, in turn, ignites an intense passion for G‑d and the Torah.
When a person sins, he or she is distanced from G‑d and it creates a spiritual vacuum. Likewise the tzadik, in a period of G‑d induced decline, experiences an inner sense of emptiness. In this respect, the tzadik shares an experience of “sin” with all others which enables him or her to relate to and empathize with those who stand on a much lower plane of righteousness.
The void created by sin and the consequent distancing from G‑d is the deeper meaning of the term Chilul Hashem. This term is translated as “desecration of G‑d’s name.” However, a more literal rendition of the term chilul is a void. Transgressions create that void. In truth, even before one transgresses, the world we inhabit already conceals its G‑dly essence from us. The Hebrew word for world, olam, is closely related  to helem, which means concealment. When one transgresses it increases the world’s degree of helem. Whatever spiritual energy that enters the world thereafter is lost; it “drains out” through the “hole” one creates as a result of sinning.  This dynamic is true both for tzadikkim and the less spiritually advanced.  It sets back G‑d’s desire to be fully revealed in this physical world.
Moses experienced a spiritual decline when he got angry (Maimonides’ interpretation of Moses’ “sin”) and struck the rock (Rashi’s interpretation of Moses’ “sin”). Although it wasn’t a deliberate or conscious attempt to subvert G‑d’s desire that he speak softly to the rock, it nevertheless stimulated a spiritual vacuum within him.  It is in our parsha this week that G‑d tells Moses that he would not enter the Promised Land because he didn’t sanctify G‑d’s name. The Hebrew term Kiddush Hashem-Sanctification of G‑d’s name is the opposite of Chilul Hashem-desecration of G‑d’s name. Hence, if chilul implies a void, kiddush implies filling in that void so that G‑d’s holiness is not lost to the world.
Kaddish Prayer: Filling in the Void
Incidentally, the above understanding of the terms chilul and Kiddush respectively as a void and a filling in of the void provides a rationale for our recitation of the kaddish prayer upon the loss of a loved one.
When a person passes away, the soul—a part of G‑d—departs from this physical world and leaves a gaping hole behind. G‑dly energy and light that heretofore illuminated the world of even the lowliest Jew has gone missing. That vacuum must be filled in by the recitation of kaddish, which extols G‑d’s greatness and reintroduces the G‑dly light that was withdrawn with the passing of that soul.
The Tzadik Within Us
As stated above, there is another psychological reason why many try to humanize the tzadik. We will often feel that it is too difficult to emulate one who is so spiritual, G‑dly and other worldly. We need human down-to-earth role models, with all their flaws and foibles, with whom we can easily identify, to emulate.
To address this concern Chassidic literature furnishes two responses:
First, while it is indeed hard to imagine that the average person could attain the spiritual heights of the Patriarchs, Moses and contemporary spiritual giants such as our Rebbe, we can and must emulate their actions. Thus, the Midrash declares: “Each and every person can say, ‘when will my actions reach the actions of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’” The Rebbe explains: While it may not be possible to achieve the same spiritual level as the Patriarchs with whom G‑d communicated freely and frequently, we can reach, or at least touch, their level of action (the Hebrew word used here “ya’gi’u” can mean either reach or touch).
Ben Zoma (Avos 4:1) tells us: “Who is a wise person? One who learns from every person.” Simply put, this means there is something we can learn even from those who are inferior to us. The Rebbe added an interpretation that conveys a complementary lesson: We must also be able to learn from the most spiritual of people who are superior to us. We should never say, “That person is too holy for me.”
Second, Tanya teaches us that we inherited spiritual traits of kindness and compassion from our Patriarchs. Moreover, every Jew has the capacity to give his or her life to remain true to his or her belief in one G‑d.   Jews of all stripes and levels of observance or lack of observance have tragically demonstrated this fact over the ages: we inherited that trait of self-sacrifice from our Patriarchs, and it is deeply embedded in our souls.
Similarly, each and every Jewish soul possesses a spark of Moses’ soul. He bequeathed his knowledge of G‑d to every Jew, which gives us the potential to generate feelings of awe and reverence for G‑d.
The Ba’al Shem Tov, cited by Me’or Einayim of Rabbi Nochum of Chernobyl, taught that every Jew also possesses a spark of Moshiach. It is this spark, referred to as the Yechidah, the essence of the soul, that, when ignited, enables us to reveal the soul of Moshiach. As the Rebbe taught us, when we declare the words “Yechi Hamelech—May the King live” in reference to Moshiach, as well as other expressions of our heartfelt plea for Moshiach and Redemption, such as Ad Masai-How much longer, we empower Moshiach to usher in the Messianic Age.
Gimmel Tammuz
This Shabbos precedes Gimmel Tammuz. Since this day, 20 years ago, our physical ability to see and hear the Rebbe has been obstructed. Many have attempted to describe the Rebbe and his accomplishments by putting pen to paper.  Books have been written recently that tell of his incredible brilliance, love, leadership, compassion, wisdom, etc. Even so-called self-professed “outsiders” (in truth there is no such thing; to the Rebbe every Jew is an insider) have described the Rebbe as the most influential rabbi in modern times. However, there are also those who try to “humanize” the Rebbe by deemphasizing his spirituality, his closeness to G‑d, his prophetic predictions, the many miracles, etc., to make him more accessible to the common person.
While we can understand the basis for this misguided effort now, we should appreciate its fallacy; there is no need to minimize those lofty aspects of the Rebbe. We must not be afraid to look up to the true giants of Torah and allow their greatness to inspire and influence us.
A Synthesis
Every myth and misconception may have a kernel of truth in it.  The Rebbe, notwithstanding his position of transcendent spirituality, was/is equally present in and related with our “lowly” world. The Rebbe empathizes with each and every person on his or her own level. In the span of a few hours, the Rebbe could advise a Torah Sage, Prime Minister, scientist, business person and a host of “simple” people. The Rebbe’s lofty, loving soul penetrated the hearts and minds of every person.
This paradoxical quality, associated with Moses and Moshiach, of being simultaneously worldly and other-worldly, human and G‑dly, can be attained by every Jew. To do so requires only that we must seek to rise to higher spiritual levels without losing sight of the need to relate and empathize with people at all levels.
Moshiach Matters
Have mercy, L-rd our G‑d, upon Israel Your people, upon Jerusalem Your city, upon Zion the abode of Your glory, upon the kingship of the house of David Your anointed, and upon the great and holy House over which Your Name was proclaimed... And rebuild Jerusalem the holy city speedily in our days. Blessed are You L-rd, who in His mercy rebuilds Jerusalem. Amen
(From the Grace after Meals recited after partaking of bread)