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Preface

Shabbos Parshas Re'eh, Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5737

Kuntres Motzei Simchas Torah, 5738

Kuntres Motzei Simchas Torah — 5738

Kuntres Motzei Shabbos Breishis — 5738

Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Noach — 5738

Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Lech L’Cho 5738

Excerpts From Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sarah

Yud-Tes Kislev, 5738

The Second Day Of Chanuka, 5738

Asora B’Teves (10th Of Teves), 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Shvat, Parshas Va’Era, 5738

Yud Shvat, 5738

15th OF SHVAT 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Tzav

Motzoai Shabbos Parshas Shmini And Parah, Shabbos Mevorchim Nissan, 5738

Yud-Alef Nissan, 5738

Last Day Of Pesach, 5738

Parshas Acherei Shabbos Mevorchim Iyar

Parshas Emor, 5738

Lag B’Omer, 5738

Motzoei Shavuos, 5738

Graduating Class Of Beis Rivka And To
The Staff Members Of The Girls’ Summer Camps
On The 13th Of Sivan, 5738

Parsha Shelach — Shabbos Mivorcim Tammuz

3rd OF TAMMUZ, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 10th Of Tammuz, 5738

Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Balak, 17 Tammuz 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Pinchas,
Mevorchim Hachodesh Menachem Av, 5738

15th OF AV, 5738

20th OF AV, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, 5738

Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5738

Supplement

Notes

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 1 — 5738


Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5738

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  Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, 5738Supplement  

Hundreds of hours of audio lectures, on 9 CD-ROMs!

1. The Tur writes that Rosh Chodesh Elul begins the “days of good will”. On Rosh Chodesh Elul, G-d commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to ascend Mt. Sinai and receive the second tablets. The service of Teshuvah carried out by Moshe Rabbeinu at that time established a precedent, differentiating Elul from the other months of the year, setting it aside as a month of Teshuvah and prayer.435

Therefore, from Rosh Chodesh Elul on, Torah scholars sacrifice portions of time usually devoted to Torah study and occupy themselves in the service of Teshuvah. Such behavior raises a question. The period from Elul to Yom Kippur was also connected to the preparation for receiving the second tablets. The second tablets had an advantage over the first tablets, as the Midrash relates, “Moshe felt remorse for having broken the tablets. G-d comforted him, explaining that the first tablets contained only the ten commandments, but the second tablets contained Halachah, Midrash, Agados, etc. as well.”

In view of this, it would appear that an increase rather than a reduction in the study of Torah would be appropriate in the month of Elul.

However, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Both services, Torah and Teshuvah, are necessary during the month of Elul. The importance of both is emphasized by the Torah’s allusion to the month of Elul, “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi Li”436 — “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”). The continuation of that verse reads, “HaRoeh BaShoshanim” — “He who shepherds his flock among the lilies”: Our sages have commented, “Just as a lily has 13 petals, G-d has 13 attributes437 of mercy”, emphasizing the connection of the verse to Teshuvah, the service which awakens G-d’s mercy.

The Zohar connects the same phrase with Torah study. It comments “Don’t read Shoshanim — the lilies, but Sheshonim — those who study Torah”. Similarly, our sages have explained that the 13 petals of the lily refer to the 13 principles of Torah study.

In the month of Elul, a Jew is obliged to involve himself completely in both services. This two-fold obligation is particularly emphasized by the interpretation of the Maggid of Mezritch, who explains how the two services are interrelated. Commenting on Moshe’s prayer to G-d to heal his sister Miriam, he notes that Moshe used the phrase “Kal Na” (please G-d). Kal is the first of the 13 attributes of mercy. G-d responded with the statement, “If her father had but spit in her face...” described by the commentaries as a Kal v’Chomer (inference from a strict premise to a more lenient one), the first of the 13 qualities of Torah study. Based on this connection, the Maggid explained that Teshuvah and Torah are complementary, each service enhancing the other.

The question arises: How can one increase one’s activity in both services simultaneously? In fact, the above-mentioned custom of reducing one’s hours of Torah study seem to accentuate the paradox.

A discussion of the Gemara concerning the normal measure of a meal provides an answer to that query. One sage had stated that a very large quantity of food could still be considered a normal meal. When questioned by his colleagues on this seemingly excessive measure, he replied, “the desire for the food creates room for it”. Even though a person would rarely eat that much, his desire can stimulate his appetite and enable him to consume a portion which would otherwise seem excessive.

The same concept can be applied to the service of G-d. When one’s service to G-d is charged with desire, then it becomes possible to accomplish both services within the month of Elul.

May it be G-d’s will that we succeed in both services, and through our efforts bring about “selachti kidevarecha” — “I will forgive you according to your wishes”, to the point where one’s sins become transformed into merits.438 This, in turn, will bring about the greatest blessing, the coming of Mashiach439 speedily in our days.

2. Rashi in his commentary on the Torah states that the days of Elul are “days of good will”. The sages of the Kabbalah described the mystic energies which create that climate of good will as G-d’s 13 attributes of mercy. The Alter Rebbe provides us with a parable to clarify this concept.

G-d’s activity in the month of Elul is compared to that of a king who leaves his palace. While he is still in the field, outside of his city, all of his subjects come to receive him. No attention is paid to the formalities and protocol that govern court behavior. There is no need for someone wishing to see the king to pass through the different stages of inspection which are necessary at his palace. Everyone is permitted and has the opportunity to approach the king. The king receives them all with joy.

Even though majesty is a fundamental necessity for royalty, i.e., the king’s nature must be uplifted beyond the level of his subjects and his subjects must regard him with fear, however, while in the field, he breaches the gap separating him from his people, receiving them all, as they are,440 with joy.

Even though each Jew has the promise that G-d, his King, is in the field and is willing to accept him as he is, nevertheless, it is understood that the more acceptable he makes himself to G-d, the more appreciatively he will be received. Similarly, his requests will be answered in a bountiful manner.

In these days, therefore, when we are together with the king in the field, there must be an intensification of the services of Torah study and of Tefillah441 and Teshuvah.442 Then we will be assured of a blessing for a Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah — a good and healthy new year.

3. The above is particularly relevant to the issue of Chinuch. In general, it is proper to undergo an educational process of preparation before engaging in any activity. Since the month of Elul involves a drastic change in attitude (a Jew has to learn how to approach the king in the field), it is obvious that he must pass through a process of education to prepare himself. As soon as the month of Elul arrives, the king who goes out into the field, is found at his side, even when he is involved in his own personal affairs. To react properly in such a situation, a person must appreciate the circumstances and devote time and training to internalize that knowledge until it becomes part of his operative consciousness.

The Tanach pronounces, “He who girds himself for battle cannot boast like he who takes off his armor”. Coming face to face with the practicalities and realities, even if the situation had previously been appreciated intellectually, requires a higher level of awareness. Similarly, the movement from an abstract appreciation of the concept of the King in the Field to an actual living expression of it within his everyday realities demands added effort.

This process of internalization can be accomplished even though we neither see or feel the King’s presence (to the point where the acceptance of the parable itself requires faith). The Book of Daniel relates how Daniel received an intense spiritual revelation. The men who accompanied him did not experience the revelation yet “tremendous awe fell upon them”. Why did they react with awe if they did not see anything? The Talmud explains, “Even though they did not see, their souls saw”.

The Talmud uses the term their souls ‘saw’. Sight is a powerful experience, in this case intense enough to influence the behavior of the soul not only in the spiritual realm but also here on this earth.

If such an experience could influence one’s behavior, surely the revelation of G-d’s 13 attributes of mercy will also affect the soul. Through the explanation given by Kabbalah and Chassidus on the subject, we can become more aware of the nature of these energies and help them shape our behavior.

Every individual needs G-d’s blessing to succeed in this process of self-education. G-d’s blessings work in a pattern described by our sages as ‘measure for measure’. Therefore, if one will work in the education of others, G-d will bless him with success in his personal endeavors. That concept further emphasizes the necessity of intensifying the campaign of education at the present time.

The world awaits the coming of Mashiach and the fulfillment of the prophecy, “that he will bring the entire world to serve G-d”. Given the principle of “measure for measure” described above, it is understandable that our efforts to educate the non-Jews will hasten the fulfillment of that prophecy, which will come during the final redemption led by Mashiach, speedily in our days.

4. In the last Farbrengen, in addition to the stress laid on the concept of self-education and the educating of others, a special request was made to attempt to influence the heads of states, cities, and regions to start education campaigns.

Those campaigns would aim at making all parents and children aware of the necessity and the importance of education. In that way every Jewish parent, even those who are presently outside of Torah’s sphere of influence, will become conscious of the need for education.

The importance of education is not confined to Jews alone. The non-Jew must be taught to observe the seven Mitzvos given to him.

All of these activities should be carried out with fervor and then they will be successful. As the Torah promises, “Vihayeh Akev Tishmayon” (literally, “after you have hearkened”, but) interpreted by our Sages to mean “in the time Akev, Ikvos HaMashiach, then Tishmayon, you shall surely hearken”.

I would like to thank all those who have been involved with the education campaigns until now and to encourage others to become involved. In the previous farbrengen it was mentioned that all those who had taken part in the campaign should write me about their activities.

It has been suggested that the reason some people have not written is out of a sense of humility. They don’t want to boast about their achievements.

The intent beyond this rationalization is positive; however, observation shows that an opposite course of behavior is more productive. If a person knows that he has to give an account of his actions, he is spurred on to work harder. The Midrash explains that if Reuven had known that the Torah would write about his actions concerning Yosef, he would have taken his brother and carried him back to his father on his shoulders. If Reuven, whose spiritual level is much above ours, would be influenced by public knowledge of his actions, surely we will be similarly affected.

Since writing about one’s activities motivates an increase in effort, one should write even if he becomes proud. The individual’s pride is not important. What is important is that one more Jewish child (or even gentile child) receives a proper education. The intent behind an individual’s activities is of no importance when compared to the fruits of those efforts.443

5. Each week it is customary to discuss a question which results from the study of Rashi’s commentary of the Torah.

In structuring his commentary, Rashi intended to ask (and to answer when possible) every question a five year old child would ask concerning the text. If Rashi appreciates the question but cannot provide an answer he will state so in his commentary. No question is left untouched. If a question seems apparent, yet Rashi ignores it, that is a sign that the question can be answered without need of commentary.

In this week’s portion a seemingly obvious question arises, yet Rashi ignores it completely. Our portion lists the signs which designate an animal as pure or impure and the designating signs for pure or impure fish. Why doesn’t the Torah give the signs that designate a bird as pure or impure?444

A possible answer is that there are no signs of purity or impurity for a bird; however, that answer is seemingly unacceptable since the Mishnah in Chulin lists 4 signs for birds: “All birds of prey are impure. If a bird has an extra claw, a crop, or a gizzard, it is pure”.

From a Halachic perspective, it does not matter if a law is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah. Many concepts learned through the oral tradition have as equal a weight as a Torah law. A child, though, who is first being introduced to Torah study, would be curious to know why the Torah differentiates between birds, animals and fish.

Rashi’s commentary (or the lack of it in this case) can be defended by the following argument. The Gemara explains that though the Mishnah states four signs, to be kosher, a bird need possess only one. With the exception of the species of eagles, all birds have at least one kosher sign. Even those which the Torah declared as impure (with the same exception) have at least one kosher sign. (The reason why they are classified as impure despite their one sign of purity is because of a ‘Gezeras HaKasuv’, a divine decree which defies logic’s penetration.)

Therefore it is unnecessary for Rashi to list the distinguishing signs of the bird kingdom as there is no practical difference. Furthermore, it would only confuse the student since he realizes those birds which the Torah declares impure also possess a sign.

Even regarding sacrifices, in which case the bird is required to possess all four signs, it would be useless for the Torah to mention them. Many birds, e.g., chickens, which possess all four signs are declared unfit for sacrifices. The only birds which can be sacrificed are pigeons and turtle-doves, and they are mentioned explicitly in the Torah. Therefore, Rashi omits the question of signs for a bird entirely.

6. The fifth Mishnah of the fifth Perek of Pirkei Avos reads, “Ten miracles were wrought for our forefathers in the Beis HaMikdash: No women miscarried because of the aroma of the meat of the sacrifices, the meat of the sacrifices never became putrid ...when the people stood they were crowded together, when they prostrated themselves they had ample room; no snake or scorpion ever caused harm in Jerusalem, nor did any man say to his fellow, The place is too crowded for me to lodge in Jerusalem.”

Upon consideration of the Mishnah, an obvious question immediately results. The Mishnah says “Ten miracles were wrought in the Beis HaMikdash”, yet the last two miracles mentioned occurred in Jerusalem outside of the Beis HaMikdash. The Gemara asks that same question and answers that two other miracles not mentioned in the Mishnah occurred in the Beis HaMikdash.

The Gemara’s answer, though, is not quoted by any of the major commentaries on the Mishnah. Therefore, we are forced to acknowledge that another answer to the question exists.

The Mishnah is an entirely different discipline than the Gemara. They vary in their fundamental governing principles and approach to concepts. If the commentaries do not explain the Mishnah according to the explanation of the Gemara, it follows that in the discipline of Mishnah, a different answer exists.445

Moreover, even from the perspective of the Gemara, a further question can be asked, “If two other miracles occurred in the Beis HaMikdash, why weren’t they mentioned in place of those which occurred in Jerusalem”?

A possible answer to these question could be found according to the explanation of the Rambam that not only the Beis HaMikdash, but in fact the entire city of Jerusalem was referred to as “Mikdash”. However, this answer is unacceptable since most renditions of the text (including the Alter Rebbe’s) read “Ten miracles were wrought for our forefather in the Beis HaMikdash”. Even the Rambam would agree that the term Beis HaMikdash refers exclusively to the Temple and not to Jerusalem.

The questions can be answered by a closer look at the first two miracles mentioned by the Mishnah. The first-;statement “a woman never miscarried from the aroma of the sacrifices” did not apply only within the grounds of the Beis Hamikdosh7 even if she was outside of them (in Jerusalem) she did not miscarry. Similarly, the second miracle, “the meat did not become putrid” even applied to sacrifices like “Todas” and “Shelomim” which were eaten in Jerusalem outside the confines of the Beis HaMikdash. The purpose of the Mishnah was to demonstrate that the power of the Beis HaMikdash was so great that not only did it surpass the limitations of nature within its own walls, but its effects could be seen outside as well. Similarly, the last two miracles mentioned occurred by virtue of the influence of the Beis HaMikdash. The intensity of its influence was powerful enough to ensure “no snake or scorpion to cause harm in Jerusalem” and “no one to say to his friend, the place is too crowded for me to lodge in Jerusalem”.

How were these miracles the effect of the Beis HaMikdash?

The snake is the symbol of hatred and argument. From its first appearance in the Torah, it has served to describe animosity (particularly that resulting from Lashon Hara).

(The scorpion similarly serves as a symbol of hatred and discord between people. However, it possesses a tendency opposite to that of a snake. A snake’s venom causes heat; a scorpion’s causes coldness. Similarly, animosity between individuals result in either heated arguments or cold hatred).

Jerusalem is called “Ir SheChubrah LaYachdov”, literally, “built a city that is compact together”, but interpreted by the Midrash to mean — the city that makes all Jews Chaverim.446 Jerusalem was able to affect the Jewish people in this manner because of the power of the Beis HaMikdash, where the true concept of oneness was revealed.

In a like manner, the second miracle — ‘a person never said to his friend...’ was also a result of its influence. This concept can be understood by the preface of another question. The miracle “no one ever said to his friend...” is a limited miracle. Why didn’t G-d effect an even greater miracle, namely that Jerusalem not be crowded?

The answer is that G-d never makes unnecessary miracles. (That principle is expressed-within the Mishnah itself. Commentaries explain that though G-d had demonstrated that He was willing to destroy the limitations of space when the Jews bowed down (i.e., then they had ample room) He did not do so when they stood (then they were crowded). When the Jews bowed down they needed ample space between themselves so that one would not hear the Vidui (confessional prayer) of his neighbor, but there was no reason for added space while they were standing, therefore no miracle was performed. They stood crowded.

The same principle applies in the case at hand. It was crowded in Jerusalem. Millions of people, men, women, and children came for the pilgrimage holidays. Yet despite the crowded conditions, the dearness and love the people felt for Jerusalem (which resulted from the presence of the Temple) caused them never to say a negative word about it.

The Rambam writes that the holiness of Jerusalem never departed. May it be G-d’s will to reveal that holiness, with the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash speedily in our days.


  Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, 5738Supplement  
  
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