1. The word Torah is derived from the word “Horaoh” which means lesson. Torah is also called “Toras Chaim” which means the “living Torah”. Just as life is continuous and cannot be interrupted even for an instant, so, too, the lessons and teachings of the “living Torah” encompass every minute detail of life, be it the daily life of a person or the duration of the existence of an inanimate object. There is a lesson in Torah to teach us the proper function of every object from the very first moment that it is created.
This is related to the well-known teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that the Hebrew name of an object creates, vivifies and sustains that object. G-d creates and sustains an object through its Hebrew name and if this “creative force” would be interrupted even for one second the object would cease to exist.
The connection between the two concepts: since the very existence of an object depends on its Hebrew name as it is found in the Torah, (i.e., Torah is its life source), every moment of its existence must be permeated with a lesson from the “living Torah”.
In application of the above: Before a person takes up the time of other people, especially that of other Jews, he must find a justification for it. This justification is valid only if the people involved are content with it. Their contentment will in turn gratify the person taking up their time.
We have on numerous occasions quoted the teachings of the Rebbes that every farbrengen (whether between Rebbe and Chassidim or among Chassidim themselves) must result in the practice of an additional deed of Torah and Mitzvos, as it says, “The most important thing is the deed”. (1) This is justification, and more. Those concerned are more than thankful to have been encouraged, indeed stimulated to increase their adherence to the precepts of the Torah especially in these last days of Galus (exile) when the act of fulfilling a mitzvah is even more important.
It is self-understood, that this “addition” must be related to Torah and Mitzvos. However, Torah contains infinite concepts and thus this addition can be in an infinite number of ways. Nevertheless, Torah as our “guide in life” guides and tells us which concepts have precedence. This refers not only in spiritual or holy matters; even the physical and mundane actions of a person are governed by the Torah.
2. On one occasion we spoke at length that one of the foundations upon which the Torah is built is the concept of showing appreciation for a favor.
This is one of the reasons for the Mitzvah of “Honor your father and mother”. One must show his appreciation to those responsible for his very life and those who sustain him.
Understandably, one must also show his appreciation to Hashem, the third partner in his creation. However, his gratitude to Hashem must far surpass his appreciation to his parents. His parents brought him into this world. Immediately upon birth, however, he is separated from them and becomes a separate entity. However, his entire existence is constantly dependent upon Hashem’s creative force, (as we mentioned earlier — through his Hebrew name). Hence, a person’s appreciation of Hashem must permeate his very being, causing every moment of his life to be conducted in a manner of “In all your ways you shall know Him”. (2)
Every Jew is paralleled with G-d. The “Shaloh” states (3) that a Jew is called “Adam”, implying the phrase “Adameh LaElyon” — similar to the One Above. Therefore, just as one is obliged to show his appreciation to Hashem, so, too, must he show his appreciation to another Jew, for a favor he has rendered him.
Practically speaking, many Jews have assembled to offer felicitations on a day directly connected with one who has merit to partake in the dissemination of Torah and Mitzvos. This was accomplished through those assembled here and through others, with the inspiration received from the place where the Previous Rebbe davened, learned and fulfilled Mitzvos for 10 years. There is a basic obligation to thank all the well-wishers, who have expressed their participation and encouragement in the task of disseminating Torah and Mitzvos. This task comes as a continuation of the work of the Previous Rebbe of blessed memory, and it will surely bear fruit until its influence will be apparent in the actual fulfillment of Mitzvos.
Moreover it is a sweet and most pleasurable obligation to express my thanks to all those offering their best wishes now and also those who will hear about this farbrengen and would have wished to extend their wishes retroactively.
We shall all merit to have a good life and to “repeat this in the coming year” and continue with additional strength the dissemination of Torah, through which we may transform the natural into physical and make the physical a vessel for G-dliness through “In all your ways you shall know Him”.
There is Hashem’s promise that “I will bless those who bless you” (4) i.e. G-d will bless with His blessing anyone who blesses a Jew. We shall merit the fulfillment of the most important blessing (which is the hope of every Jew), the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash speedily in our days, as it says, “In (the month of) Nissan they were redeemed (from Egypt) and in Nissan they shall be redeemed” (5) — it should occur in this Nissan with the coming of Mashiach.
3. We mentioned earlier the accomplishments and activities of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. They were not only undertaken then, but are ongoing now, too. The reason for this quality of eternity is because they were done by a Tzaddik, and regarding Tzaddikim our Torah tells us that “the ‘words’ of Tzaddikim stand forever”.
This concept of immortality in the works of the Previous Rebbe stands out when we analyze what he wrote about his father, the Rebbe Rashab, after his demise. The Baal Shem Tov taught that the judgment a Jew, and how much more so a Tzaddik and Nasi (leader) makes regarding the conduct of another is later applied to him when he will find himself in circumstances similar to those in which he had judged his friend. (6) Thus, the quality of eternity ascribed by the Previous Rebbe to his father that “He will not forsake (depart from) the flocks that he tends” (7) most certainly could be applied to him himself when he assumed the esteemed position of his father.
Since we are still in the first half of the month of Nissan (and even in the first 12 days in which the leaders of the 12 tribes dedicated the altar in the Midbar (wilderness) (8) ), we are still in close proximity to 2 Nissan, the date of the demise of the Rebbe Rashab.
The Rebbe Rashab’s son was his only child. In the tractate Horios, regarding the law of crowning Kings, it states that when a King has an only son, the son does not require the oil of anointing to assume the throne after the demise of his father. (9) It is obvious, without any dissention and argument, that the only son is the one to fill the place of his father. Therefore, at the very same moment that “the sun goes down”, immediately “the new sun shines”. (10) The 2nd of Nissan which was the day of the demise of the Rebbe Rashab, was also the beginning of the leadership of the Previous Rebbe.
The fist 12 days of Nissan are not just a composition of 12 individual segments, they are indeed one unit, as the Alter Rebbe explains in Likkutei Torah (Naso). (11). The verse states: “This is the dedication of the tabernacle on the day it was anointed”. (12)
The Alter Rebbe explains that at first glance, this Posuk is not understood. Each of the 12 princes dedicated the altar with his sacrifices on a consecutive day, beginning with the first day of Nissan, the day of anointing. Yet, the Posuk apparently says that on the day of anointing, the tabernacle was then fully dedicated! The explanation is, however, that all the 12 days were “contained” in the first day. And further, the achievements and accomplishments of the first day did not stop then, but continued for all the 11 days that followed, so much so that the Torah says concerning all the 12 days “on the day (singular) it (the altar) was anointed.”
With the above explanation, one readily sees the unity of the first 12 .days of Nissan in which we now find ourselves, and which also includes 2 Nissan, the beginning of the leadership of the Previous Rebbe.
All the above points encourage us even more to meditate, to whatever degree people of our caliber are capable, on what the main activity and accomplishment of the Previous Rebbe was.
4. The Previous Rebbe’s central activities were in the area of education — this means education not only in the broad sense (inclusive of all the Torah and its Mitzvos) as will be explained later, but also in its simple sense — making classrooms such as Chadorim, Talmud Torahs, and Yeshivos. The work he did was a continuation of the work of the Rebbeim whose place he filled.
As it is told (13) in connection with the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad Chassidus, even before he became Rebbe (in the broad sense) he already established classes of students which he taught himself, and he called them (not Yeshivos but) Chadorim. This name is significant, particularly since it is given by a Tzaddik, a Rebbe, a leader in Israel, to be handed down to the generations after him.
According to the custom of Jews, we call the place where a child begins to learn Torah when he is 3 years old a Cheder (plural — Chadorim). Even though the students had to be thoroughly versed in the entire Talmud, Poskim, Books of Chakira, etc. in order to be admitted, nevertheless, the Alter Rebbe called his classes Chadorim! The explanation for this is that the students had to meet one further requirement in addition to their scholarship: they had to realize that they were now beginning to go to “Cheder”.
This last requirement does not really contradict reason, because one’s own logic tells him that no matter how wise he may be, he is still limited. The Torah, however, is “longer than the land and wider than the sea” (14), completely unlimited and above estimation, as the Alter Rebbe explains that in comparison to a true infinity, the numbers one and “a thousand thousands” have the same relation and significance. (15) And so, attending the Alter Rebbe’s classes was just like going to Cheder for even a most learned scholar.
It was obvious to all the Previous Rebbe literally sacrificed himself for the Torah education of children. He did this in spite of the fact that at the time it was forbidden by the law to teach Torah to small children. Adults were permitted to study Torah. This emphasis on the education of children was also a continuation of the principles of the Rebbeim before him, beginning with the founder of Chassidus, the Baal Shem Tov.
The Previous Rebbe writes in his memoirs regarding the Baal Shem Tov that before he revealed himself to the world, he was a teacher’s helper — not a teacher, but a helper whose job it was to teach the children to say Amen, Yehai Shemai Rabba, blessings, Boruch Hashem, etc. His accomplishments began with helping to indoctrinate and educate Jewish children in the Torah that binds them with their Father in heaven. And this work was the beginning, preface, and preparation to his revelation as Baal Shem Tov.
And so it was with the Rebbeim that followed him including the Leader of our generation, the Previous Rebbe. In addition to all their accomplishments and activities, however, the Previous Rebbe assigned a very special significance to the concept of Chinuch — education, especially of a very young child when he is just learning to talk (about 2 years of age), and also later, when he becomes 3 years old and is brought to Cheder, and afterwards, and 5 when he begins to learn Scripture, and then at 10 — Mishnayos, and at 15 — Gemara, etc. (16)
The fact that the main emphasis of the Rebbeim was the education of children is quite understandable. Concerning all Jews, even a leader of the generation, we are commanded that as soon as a child begins to speak, his father is obligated to teach him, “Torah that Moses commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob”. (17) Thus when a Rebbe reminds himself that the beginning of his education, which led to his becoming Leader of the generation began when he was yet small in years with this teaching by his father, his first action in recognition of this kindness and favor is to educate enthusiastically a child who, for whatever reason, does not yet know that “Torah that Moses commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob”. (17) And that this inheritance belongs in its entirety even to a child of but one day old.
5. The reason for a particular emphasis on this is: It is now exactly a year since we first declared a “Year of Torah Education”. We must now make an honest account regarding our accomplishments in education during the past year. This account is not just for accounting purposes, but rather is for the purpose of continuing, and accomplishing at once that which is not yet finished.
And even if everything was accomplished, that itself has to awaken a person to do even more. Our sages explain that the nature of a person is that when he has 100, he wants 200, and when he reaches 200 he wants 400. (18) This is even more true with a Jew. Thus, the previous year’s accomplishments should encourage him to increase many times over those of the past year. And this increased effort should be made with joy and gladness of heart — because “,joy breaks through all limitations”. (19)
Everything in the world is governed by Divine providence. Similarly, the fact that today has been established as a “Day of Education”240 by the ruling government (which the Torah recognizes as valid law), — and that this proclamation of Education is heralded through America, this, too, is surely Divine providence.
The above point stresses the extent to which a topic of Torah (called Torah of Truth and Torah of Life), encompasses every individual and does so in the Torah fashion, i.e., the fulfillment of an action (as opposed to thought or speech). The proclamation was announced openly that Education is basic and all-important to the extent that a day be fixed to arouse, strengthen and boost the ideals of Education.
Everyone who is connected with the American government, be it a citizen, or one who receives assistance from the government, the latter currently being the entire world (as the A-mighty has deemed fit), hears the resounding proclamation that this day is specified for the ideals of Education, with the intention that from it there should be continued application throughout the entire year and that throughout the days of the year one will be able to recognize the effect of that day.
6. With the ideals of Education, we can view a point regarding “actual deed”. Every educator pedagogue stresses, that the greatest effect on a child is obtained not merely through speech, and certainly not through thought alone for the child’s welfare. Even if the “speech” was an oration emanating from the heart, in which case the child would definitely be affected, nonetheless, this would be to a very limited extent.
A child can learn the greatest lesson from seeing his teacher set an example and conduct himself in the proper manner. This point needs no clarification.
Similarly, the prime point regarding the day of education is the actual deed. Even though firm and true decisions have already been made, their completion is manifested only through adhering to them, as the Talmud points out that anything connected to the true Wisdom, i.e., Torah, is followed by an action. Indeed, the Torah also serves as guide to the gentile, particularly as he has 7 commandments and their manifestations, one of which is the correct, and righteous, upbringing and ‘Education’ of his children.
In view of the above we can see how we are drawing closer to the coming of Mashiach, when there will be a universal service of the A-mighty and all will speak the same language — to reach the same goal of fulfilling G-d’s will. The beginning and indeed main aspect of one of the paths to reach the above-mentioned goal has already been stepped upon in as much as it has been proclaimed to all, the immeasurable importance of education, through the specification of one day in the year, beginning “today” — the day which completes the “Year of Education” (the latter having been established a year prior). Clearly the day of Education should lend her ideals to all the days of the year.
7. Everything has a source in Torah. In view of the aforementioned, where does one find in Torah that one should specify a particular day to an albeit important ideal? The question is most applicable to the education system, where the child’s education is administered without interruption from the moment of birth onwards. Indeed, educators insist that parents’ behavior, incidents that occur in his presence, indeed even the child’s room, make an impression on him even before he is able to speak. Certainly when the infant can distinguish between words, light and darkness, sweet and bitter, etc., the behavior of his parents and teachers affects him more than speech. He unwittingly scrutinizes every action of his parents and teachers. Therefore, since education is continual, how can one single out a particular day from the whole year?
In truth, the present situation is not only not a contradiction to the way of Torah, on the contrary, the same situation is found in Torah itself, and in connection with Education!
The education of the Jewish people began at the time of the Giving of the Torah, when all Jews were like “children in school”. Afterwards, came the command regarding the study of Torah day and night in every spare moment. Nevertheless, together with the command of Torah study came a special day, the festival of Shavuos (the anniversary of the Giving of the Torah), in which we become aroused with a new enthusiasm in the Giving of the Torah which we express through extra study of Torah. Just as this is the case with all Jews as one, so it is with each Jew individually. The above-mentioned can be understood more clearly by noting that when a child is taken to cheder for the first time to begin his classroom instruction, we conduct a whole ceremony (like giving candies, etc. trans. note) and from the following morning the child goes to “cheder” daily; nevertheless, the liveliness and interest of the child was implanted in his first day.
Another parallel to the above-mentioned points is the manner in which we thank G-d for good and attribute it to him. This we do by means of our daily prayers, Grace after meals, etc.; however, there is also a particular day set aside for this, i.e., the day of bringing First Fruits, which is only once a year.
Similarly, Sukkos is the time when we recognize Hashem’s benevolence in particular relation-to vineyards, fields, etc., although praise is due the whole year round since the A-mighty’s blessing is prevalent the whole year.
The difference between the First Fruits (Bikurim) and the Thanksgiving of Sukkos, is that the former is an offering of an individual. Since, however, the individual is also a part of the united Congregation of Israel, he also joins in with the obligations of Sukkos, which applies to Jewish people as one unit. The Thanksgiving of Sukkos, is to praise the A-mighty for His kindness, both material (“when you gather from the corn and your wine”) and spiritual (since Sukkos comes immediately after Rosh Hashanah, Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur, which all signify the forgiving of one’s sins and the eternal rejoicing of the Jewish People in the service of G-d).
We also find a parallel drawn between the festival of the Giving of the Torah (Shavuos) to Pesach (Holiday of Freedom). Why do we have a specific holiday of Pesach commemorating the freedom of the Jewish people when we are obligated to remember the exodus from Egypt each day and night? The question is strengthened when we observe the statement “One is obligated to view himself as if he himself was redeemed from Egypt ‘today’”.
The explanation is as above, that Pesach is the special day in which it is praiseworthy to relate the story about the Jews’ deliverance from Egyptian bondage, that day giving momentum and boost to the remaining days of the year.
8. Regarding the above-mentioned, even if the establishment of a particular day for Education would not have a basic foundation in the Law of Torah, we would nonetheless accept it in the line of Torah law “the law of the country is (applicable) law”, (20) the latter statement being valid when the country’s law is not in contradiction to the Torah. In this instance, the proclamation is a benefit for non-Jews and indeed Jews also.
May it be that we should use all our capabilities which the A-mighty has given to Jews through the four corners of the world, to their fullest potential. We should also, having reached this far, continue and even double our efforts for education and indeed double them again! and this should be achieved by providing an education and set of values for all children in the 7 major commandments of the nations (Sons of Noah). Jewish people in particular, who are commanded to teach and follow in-the ways of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs should strengthen their ties to the Torah which was “commanded to us (each and every one of us) through Moshe” and will exist “until the last day”. Through efforts in the above we will establish an Army of G-d and will be redeemed “with our children, elders, sons, daughters, etc...”.
The proclamation regarding Education was made in the days of the commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt, regarding which is said: “and the children of Israel went out with a High hand”, which came about when children were told to pronounce immediately after “This is my G-d and I will exalt Him”.
We should merit to host the countenance of our righteous and wondrous Mashiach, with rejoicing, and speedily in our time.
9. We mentioned earlier that the importance of education is so great that the Midrash compares the event of the Giving of the Torah to the time that a child is at school. This importance is clearly expressed in the name “Torah” which is derived from the world “Horaah”, meaning “to show or teach”. This is the idea of education — “to show” the one being instructed the correct way in which to live.
Torah further stresses the importance of education in that the way in which one educates a child when he is still young affects him long after he grows up. This is true even though a child’s education begins long before he is able to understand his actions, and before he begins to talk. Even the way the parents sanctify themselves at the time of conception has an effect on the child’s development, and can be considered education.
The Torah Tells us, “Each day consider the Torah as a novelty”. (21) This applies to every aspect in Torah to which a person becomes accustomed. The Torah tells him to consider every aspect of Torah as if it had just been commanded, for the nature of a person is to be stimulated by something new. This is similar to the way in which Rosh Hashanah is one day in the year set aside for the acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke of obedience to G-d even though this commandment is so fundamental that the “Chinuch” lists it as one of the six most basic Mitzvos. (22)
Even a Mitzvah so basic as the acceptance of the Divine Yoke expressed in the first of the Ten Commandments, “I am the L-rd your G-d”, and which is the foundation of the entire Torah, has a specific day dedicated to it. On this day we reach the epitome of our acceptance of the Divine Yoke in the previous year and renew our observance of this commandment during the following year ensuring that it will be with even more enthusiasm and vigor.
This is true with respect to education as well. There must be one day each year set aside to give further encouragement in the area of education. This is particularly so when this day is established by a law of this country. Although it is a secular declaration (within the boundaries of the Torah), it also becomes a law of the Torah. How much more so where the law of the land reinforces the observance of a duty and privilege of the Torah which in itself lays such stress on the education of boys and girls.
We also see this in the conduct of the Previous Rebbe as well as all the Rebbeim he succeeded, (the first of these being the Baal Shem Tov who began his work as a helper in a school teaching the youngest children to say “Thank G-d” and to answer “Amen, etc.” to the Kaddish).
This day will certainly benefit all citizens of this country especially Jews who are commanded to study Torah at all times. Not only should it teach us to help our neighbor, but also to help ourselves increase our own efforts in education to an extent completely disproportionate to our present standing. Such an accomplishment is certainly within everyone’s grasp. Since it is G-d’s will„ He gives us the strength to carry it out.
10. There is another point that should be added here. We are coming closer to the times of Mashiach, a period in which “all (the people of the world) will call upon the name of Hashem” (23). Now that the nation which has influence throughout the world has passed such a law it should be possible to influence the entire world in this respect. For when one has an ability to influence the entire world, it should not be restricted merely to matters of money. Rather, one must take the opportunity to influence the world to follow a correct mode of living, in order to allow continued existence of mankind on earth.
This existence can only be achieved by adhering to the will of Hashem who wishes that every nation should observe the seven commandments given to Noah, these being the basis for life on earth.
We now have the opportunity to use our influence to that end, for it is natural that one who receives a favor from another should feel indebted. This is in fact clear to all. When one asks something of a recipient of one’s favors, even though it may be a completely unrelated matter, the recipient listens intently because the request comes from his benefactor, from whom he not only has received in the past, but, more important, hopes to receive in the future.
We have on a previous occasion discussed a remarkable point with regard to the method in which this influence can be achieved. The greatest weakness in human character is the tendency to believe that his own ability gave him what he has. This belief is the root of all bad, for from this, one can stoop even lower in the same way that Pharaoh did. He believed that he was the owner and creator of the Nile river. The greatest danger of falling prey to this weakness is in matters of money and livelihood. The Talmud tells us that one thing upon which a person is dependent, apart from his own limbs, is money. (24) So it is clear that the most likely situation to bring a person to feel that his belongings are the result of his own ability is the possession of riches, whether it be money or any other form of security.
11. A safeguard is found in this country. It has been inscribed on the money that our belief, hope and “trust” is in G-d. This inscription is not only to be found in ink on paper as it is on the bills, but also on the coins on which it is engraved out of the metal of the coin itself. Also — coins are of course actual money, whereas bills are merely an acknowledgement of the country’s obligation to their holder.
This expression of trust in G-d finds a place even in the law-passing bodies of this country. Both the State governments and the Capitol begin their sessions with a prayer to G-d. (This is well known to some of the audience here who have said this prayer in the Government.) Thereafter they begin the lawmaking process, text of the laws, etc.
This concept (“In G-d we trust”) eventually reaches and influences the people of the nation, because it is engraved on the money which is used to obtain the necessities of life. In this way people come in constant contact with this motto.
We hope that by applying ourselves we will be able to take advantage of our influence on the rest of the world not yet acquainted with this concept of education. Meanwhile, I thank the Congress, the Government, and the President for bringing to the public eye the uniqueness of education, by appointing a specific day of the year as “Day of Education”. It should in turn affect the entire year, as it is mentioned in the opening prayer of every session of Congress, that all of their forthcoming decisions should be in a righteous and straight-forward manner.
It is most essential that when we influence other countries, we should direct our efforts to establishing in each country a righteous and proper system of education. This will automatically nullify the undesirable elements which society fights against so bitterly.
It is beyond doubt that we should stress the point of a proper education in the Seven Commandments of the Children of Noah. Our influence should be in diplomatic form, but the content suitably stressed — that there should be an increase and improvement in the educational system of each country.
Then we will certainly be successful, and we will have satisfied all countries, avoiding the hardships that can result from helping one country while in turn slighting another. Education brings each nation closer to the proper path, to brotherhood as it will be when the world reaches perfection.
12. It follows from the above that we must also conduct ourselves in a manner that does not contradict the policy of emphasizing righteousness and honesty in education. When arms are sent abroad it is self-understood that they should only be sent to a country for the need of defense when it is in danger. We do not with that that country should fall, G-d forbid. We not only wish that that country should not fall, but rather express that wish verbally and publicly, and furthermore show an expression of that wish by sending arms all the while hoping that they will not have to be used.
Such actions are well justified. We find ourselves in the darkness before the days of worldly brotherhood, thus we must assure those who are being threatened that they can rest peacefully without fear, knowing that they are secure and well-armed. We must make certain not to give our arms to those people whose intention it is to threaten and terrorize others, either verbally or physically. This presumption is based on three previous occasions on which they used weapons to do quite the opposite of good .... There is no question here of not being fair, giving one and not the other. Aid must be given to all those whose existence is endangered, but to those who have proven in the past, and on at least three occasions as we mentioned earlier .... Now is not the time however to expound on this subject. Therefore, this remains a straight-forward “policy” for everyone.
13. In consequence of what we have said’: Since part of the aid which is sent is money, a silver dollar should also be included. Engraved upon it is our belief in G-d and our trust in G-d. The silver dollar conveys this message by itself and being that it is a silver coin we can be sure of its durability and the durability of its message.
It will surely increase the strength and power of the country to use its influence for the said purposes beginning with the declaration of Education Day, which emphasizes the importance of education.
In addition we should not be satisfied to send an ambassador, as we have done until now, who voices his opinion on many issues but is careful not to touch on the issue of education with the excuse that education is an “internal affair”. This excuse is not valid. When a child in a far corner of the world is given a proper education he can become a righteous person, a foundation capable of holding up the entire world.
On the other hand, when a child is improperly educated, it is possible for him to develop into an insane person as we saw with our own eyes in our generation. One person, half insane, destroyed a large portion of the world. Millions of souls were lost, and everyone bore witness to his mentality and ability to destroy.
We were saved from him by a miracle which we saw with our own eyes. The Rambam says that when we rely on witnesses there always remains room for doubt; but seeing with our own eyes and hearing with our own ears can leave no doubt.
To say that education is an internal affair is perhaps only officially speaking. We must think of the ends in terms of existence. Another like him (may his name be erased) must not come into power, G-d forbid, to do as he did with millions of people, Jews and non-Jews. One must refrain from lengthy discussion of a painful subject.
Therefore, every child must be given a proper education, both Jew and non-Jew. At a time that a government sees that it has received powers and influence that ten years ago were never dreamt of, it must use this influence first and foremost to establish the kingdom of G-d and His commandments to all people the Seven Commandments of the Children of Noah. We must be a living example of the execution of these ideas. Then we will certainly be able to influence others as well. This country will receive great merit for its fulfillment of what I have outlined. (I say this in accordance with the commandment to pray for the peace and the security of the country in which one dwells. And as the prophet Yirmiyahu said, with regards to praying for the peace of one’s country, “for in its peace, shall you have peace.”(25) )
It will hasten the revelation of G-d’s Kingdom for all the nations, with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.
14. Education deserves special emphasis in our times because we live in an especially dark period of the Galus (exile).
The Talmud tells us that in the days before the coming of Mashiach, each day will bring greater curses than the day before. (26) It is difficult to understand the intention of this Gemara (Talmud). It would seem sufficient to restrict a curse to its allotted time. Why does the Gemara trouble us by prophesizing it now? Furthermore, we are obligated to serve Hashem out of joy and contentedness, whereas the knowledge of this Talmudic phrase will be a hindrance to our serving Hashem with joy.
The explanation is as follows: There will indeed be a time that the darkness of the Galus will grow day by day. And that in itself makes it necessary for the Talmud to warn us a thousand years earlier — so that we might be able to make the necessary preparations in order to cope with such difficult times.
We must realize that each day we must strive towards greater perfection in our service of Hashem, greater holiness, in order to neutralize the effects of ever-increasing “Kelipos” — evil.
This concept is readily seen in our fulfillment of the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles. Each day we increase the number of candles by one. The candles lit on the previous night were sufficient to fulfill the mitzvah on that night, indeed to fulfill the mitzvah in the best possible way. Nonetheless, on the consecutive night the same number of candles no longer suffices. We are required to add yet another one.
The area in which we should first attempt to increase in perfection and holiness day after day is the area of education.
We mentioned earlier that a child does not only receive education in “school”. Rather, everything he sees, influences him, whether he is at school, at home, or in the street.
It is obvious from this that those places where children receive their “official education”, should not have limited and restricted hours. For as long as it is feasible schools should be open so that the children can come there to study.
If they are not interested in coming to learn on their own time, that in itself shows that they need more hours of education. The hours they have received have not sufficed — or they would surely be willing to come to learn on their own will.
Similarly there is an obligation to continually increase one’s own knowledge and understanding. One must not only accumulate more knowledge, but he must consider it relevant to himself until it ultimately affects his actions.
This is always a requirement of the Torah, and its importance is all the greater in this dark Galus when “the Hands of Esau” are becoming stronger. It is at this time when we must make a special effort to counter by strengthening the “Voice of Jacob” (i.e., Torah learning and praying).
This again underscores the necessity of emphasizing Torah study as much as possible and in every way possible. It applies to even a three year old beginning Cheder, and even before that to the efforts made by his parents to educate him and to teach him Torah.
15. It has always been the custom in the households of Israel that a child should see around him pictures depicting artifacts of holiness, i.e., related to Yiddishkeit, not, Heaven forbid, impure animals or weapons. Indeed it should be best if an adult would not be exposed to such things either; how much more so a child, who is compared to a new sheet of paper upon which ink makes the greatest impression.
There is also a heritage of Jewish lullabies with which to sing a child to sleep (even though the child does not yet understand their meaning). Their content revolves on the subject of “Torah is the best merchandise”.
Later in life a child enrolls in school founded on Torah ideals. Here, too, we: must attempt to increase the hours of Torah study.
The obligation to educate the children of Israel falls not only on the individual but also upon the leaders of each community. There must be schools available in which parents can enroll their children. Therefore the obligation to reach continually to greater heights in perfection and holiness applies to the leaders of the community as well.
They must see to it that improvements are made in the schools and that necessary measures are taken.
This is the way to counter the “Hands of Esau”. The Midrash tells us that in the Torah, the phrase the “Voice of Jacob” precedes the phrase “the Hands of Esau”. This is in accord with the rule that G-d precedes the antidote to the illness. Here, too, the “Voice of Jacob” is the antidote for the Hands of Esau.
16. Today a new “Beis HaMidrash” (House of Study) was dedicated in Kfar Chabad, Israel. May it be the will of G-d that this should be the first step in the founding of many more Botei Midrashim wherever it is possible.
And since a “Bais HaMidrash” is called a “Small Temple”, may this be a preparation to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Temple carries the title the Great Temple, as it says, “Greater will be the honor of the last temple in comparison with the first”. (27) The verse refers to the relationship of the Second Temple to the First Temple. How much more so does it apply to the Third Temple in relation to the first two.
The first two Temples come as a preparation to the Third Temple which far exceeds them in both holiness and permanence. In our days of Galus the Beis HaMidrash plays the role of the Temple. That is why it is called a “Small Temple”. And it, too, is a preparation that will hasten the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash — the Third Temple.
Another factor that will hasten the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash is the increasing intensity of the “Voice of Jacob” in the already standing synagogues and “Botei Midrashim” (Houses of Study).
In one respect this is even more basic than the building of now Botei Midrashim, for the simple reason that generally one tackles easier tasks, before undertaking more difficult ones. Since we are still restricted by the limitations of the world, it is simply easier to improve the efficiency of existing synagogues than to build new ones. We must attempt to increase the hours that the synagogues and Botei Midrashim are open, and also expand the curricular of lectures available, thus improving both the “quality” of lessons given in the synagogue, as well as the “quantity” of hours that the synagogue is open.
17. Essentially, the concepts of “quantity” and “quality” are dependent on one another. As we see in several cases where an increase in quantity results automatically in an increase in quality, and vice versa.
We mentioned on many occasions that every concept expresses itself in a law in the Torah. That is also true here. There is a law that the honor of the King increases proportionally with the number of people paying homage to him. For example, Purim, which we recently celebrated, has a Mitzvah which entails publicizing the miracle which took place then. This is the case, even when there are several tens of people already present. If it is possible to inform still others, the Mitzvah is still in effect. This is the precept that the King’s honor is increased with numbers, etc. Even though the increase is in terms of quantity (of people), nevertheless, the Torah, which is perfectly Truthful, declares that the quality is likewise improved.
Similarly the Mishnah shows that there is a difference between 10 studying Torah together and, for example, 5 or less. (28) We also find that although 10 reflects the idea of completion, nevertheless, more than 10 men studying Torah together draw down, or reveal, more holiness, to the extent that upon seeing a Rabbi who has 600,000 students, one should recite a special Blessing, “Blessed is He ....the Understander of Secrets.” (29) This illustrates, that despite the fact that there are 10 learning Torah, or, for that matter, 100, or even 10,000, it does not reach the level of Torah which is termed “secrets”. This is only achieved when it is apparent that the Torah which he learns reaches and unites 600,000 Jews. It is a Halachah (Law) in Torah, that 10 is the ultimate required number in certain laws. But there are higher levels, as illustrated by the law pertaining to the Blessing made for the Understander of Secrets, when 600,000 are present.
Further illustrating this idea is the Giving of the Torah. There was a condition that, as related in Midrash, all the 600,000 Jews who came out of Egypt, without exception had to be present. If any individual had been missing, despite the fact that Moses and Aaron, and the 70 elders, etc. were all prepared to receive the Torah, it would G-d forbid, not have been given. There had to be that ultimate unity which only the 600,000 who had brought about the exodus from Egypt, multiplying and ever-strengthening themselves, of which we tell the story at length when saying the Haggadah, can achieve. Thereafter, they camped together as one unit, comprised of 600,000 individuals to receive the Torah. Had one been missing, this would have affected the unity of the whole group.
It is, of course, understood that there are intermediary levels, not one jump from 10 to 600,000. This is also expressed in an opinion of Torah. This particular opinion is not in accordance with the Halachah; nevertheless, each opinion mentioned in the Torah, our Torah of Life, is given from G-d, the G-d of Life.
There is an opinion that when saying the Grace after Meals, different introductions should be said when 100, as opposed to 10, are taking part. A further prayer is added when 10,000 are reciting Grace, as explained in the Mishnah. (30)
From this we can conclude that an increase in quantity affects and increases the quality. But in truth, it is not necessary for the Torah to state it specifically; it is something we see in practice. The pleasure and sense of achievement a person attains from learning alone is far inferior to that which he gains from learning with 2 or 3 or 5 people and so on. Furthermore, the numbers add to the unity. This is similar to the aforementioned, that the unity of no less than 600,000 people yield that he alone becomes the true Comprehender, as it was when 600,000 Jews were present at the time of the Giving of the Torah.
19. From the above we gain insight of the suggestion that the hours during which the Shuls and Houses of Study are open, should be extended. One of the principle objectives this would achieve is that it would enable people, who otherwise would not be able to, to Study Torah at night. The law on reference to the learning of Torah is quite clear. Even someone who is in the category of having little knowledge of the Torah, must study at least one portion of Torah during the day and at least one portion at night. This is the bare minimum, and it can only be catered to if the Shuls are open. Through the strengthening of the
“Voice of Jacob”, the prayer and Torah Studies of the Jewish people, the aggressive hands of our enemies, Esau, are weakened.
This also serves as a preparation for the future when even the nations whom we fear now will help and serve the Jews together with all peoples of the world. The Midrash explains this idea, too. The nation responsible for the fourth exile (in which we find ourselves at present) is termed with the name “Chazir”, “returners”, i.e., they will revoke their previous actions and support all good and holy causes.
Through the increase of prayer and Study in the shuls we can experience the aforementioned even during the Galus. We saw that in the exile of Egypt, long before we were actually released, the shackles of servitude were broken from upon us. So it will be for us, in the coming days.
18. This is relevant to what we discussed earlier concerning a country’s influence on others. Here, too, we can mention America’s motto “E pluribus unum” — from many into one. As discussed earlier, this, too, must have a foundation in Torah. There is the significance of the individual — to the extent that we say the “Prince is All”, or in the Rambam’s terms, the “King’s heart is the heart of the whole Jewish Nation”. Nevertheless, to complete a minyan and to be able to say additional prayers and learn Torah in the most fulfilling way, a minimum of 10 is required. Further, the greater the number of people, the greater the honor of the King. Although the “Prince is All” and “his heart is the heart of all the people”, nevertheless, both elements are essential, the King and the people. In fact, the greatness of the “Comprehender of Secrets”, is only when he has 600,000 students.
The significance of unity is particularly applicable to the Jewish people, who are called “One Nation”, connected to the “One G-d”. The term “One G-d” is likewise significant. Instead of calling Him the “Only G-d”, which would clearly rule out the possibility of any further Power, G-d is described as the “One G-d”, which at first sight leaves room for the possibility of a second. We see that the first day of creation is called One Day. It was followed by a Second day, and so forth. Nevertheless, we use the term “One G-d”. It expresses a unique strength in G-d’s Kingdom. The Hebrew word for One, Echod, comprises 3 letters: “Alef,” “Ches,” and “baled”. The latter has the numerical value of 4, signifying the 4 directions of the world, and the middle letter “Ches” has a value 8, referring to the 7 heavens and Earth. Both these letters are preceded and governed by the first letter, the “Alef”, which connotes Hashem — “Alufo shel olam”, the master of the world, to show that G-d is One and His Name One.
This explanation gives us an insight to the purpose of creation. We may ask, “What was achieved through the creation of the world”? Even before the creation G-d and His Name were one, as described in Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer.
The answer is, in effect, that same idea as that discussed above. The creation of the world, was worthwhile in order that there should be the One G-d in such a fashion, that there exists a world with 4 directions, 7 heavens, etc., and nonetheless G-d is King of that world, a world which by definition of the Hebrew for world, “Olam”, means hidden, i.e., covers over G-dliness.
In other words, a new existence is brought about, similar to the new situation created when 10 Jews together make a Minyan, as opposed to their being separate as individuals. This is exemplified in the Understander of Secrets, who is an individual, one Rabbi, but his wisdom is attained only because he has 600,000 students, as discussed at length earlier.
20. Reverting back to the matter at hand, the Agudas Harabonim241 have publicly declared and called everyone’s attention to the importance of keeping Shuls open later, etc. It is unnecessary to add any further weight to the issue. However, there is a financial factor involved, for no doubt, it costs extra money for lighting, heating, and most important, a guard. Therefore, each individual is responsible to do whatever he can to see that the Shuls and Botei Midrash (which in are times are one and the same, since in the Shuls there are fixed lessons on Torah) should be open for longer hours, both in summer and winter, both night and day. This will automatically cause an increase in the quality of the learning, particularly when the improvement in the quality of the learning will be the aim and goal.
Furthermore, the improvement in Learning in the Shuls, which are called a Small Temple, will effect that even those Shuls outside Israel will be transported to the Holy Land, the Land over which G-d’s Eyes watch throughout each year, in the true and complete redemption, through our Righteous Mashiach.
1. Avos 1:17.
2. Mishlei 3:6.
3. Shaloh 20b.
4. Lech Lecha 12:3.
5. Shmos Rabba 15:11.
6. Keser Shem Tov, Hosofos no. 89.
7. letter printed in Sefer Chachmei Yisrael, p. 33a. 27. Chagi 2:9.
8. Rashi, Nasso 7:11. 28. Avos 3:6.
9. p. 11b. 29. Shulchan Aruch, chap. 224.
10. Tractate Yuma 31b. 30. Tractate Berachos 49b.
11. Nasso 29a.
12. Nasso 7:84
13. Likkutei Dibburim, book 1, p.29b.
14. Iyov 11:9.
15. Tanya, chap. 48.
16. Avos 5:22.
17. V’zos Habrocha 33:4.
18. Koheles Rabba 1:13.
19. Samach Tisamach p.49 and further.
20. Tractate Gittin 10b.
21. Rashi Voeschanan 6:6.
22. letter printed in beginning of Sefer Hachinuch.
23. Tzefania 3:9.
24. Tractate Sanhedrin 110a.
25. Yermiah 29:7.
26. Tractate Soteh 49a.