1. Only a short while ago, on Sukkos, and before that, in the Ten Days of Repentance, gatherings were held. What, then, is the necessity for holding another gathering now? This question is reinforced by the fact that the other gatherings were held on special days — in the Ten Days of Repentance and on Sukkos, the “Season of our Rejoicing.” Today’s gathering, however, is on a regular weekday.
We must conclude that although everyone surely remembers that spoken in the previous gatherings, it is nevertheless important to repeat the 12 verses and sayings of our Sages, and to speak inspiring words which will strengthen us in carrying out G-d’s mission. That mission is to “make a dwelling place for G-d in this world” — to change the whole world, particularly the place where one resides, to a place where it is recognizable that G-d is found there (His “dwelling place”) — by conducting oneself according to the Torah’s directives.
This mission includes the responsibility to influence other children (boys influencing boys, and girls influencing girls) that they too should follow the Torah, and with the same enthusiasm that you fulfill the Torah’s mitzvos. As our Sages have said: “You shall love your fellow as yourself — Rabbi Akiva says, this is a great principle in Torah.” One’s influence on his fellow must be “as yourself” — with the same enthusiasm as you fulfill Torah and miztvos. This directive was uttered by Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest of Israel’s Sages and educators, who thereby blazed the path for all Jews in all following generations.
What, then, is the reason for this extra gathering? Chassidus explains that now, the period after Tishrei, begins the fulfillment of the above-mentioned mission of making this world a dwelling place for G-d. Before beginning a task, appropriate preparation is needed. Because the service in the coming months is especially difficult, a gathering to inspire people in their task is the appropriate preparation for such a service. This gathering will provide the necessary strength to overcome these difficulties, and the mission will be carried out with the requisite enthusiasm and seriousness — which assures success.
What is the difficulty in carrying out the mission in the coming months? When you assembled together last Nissan, there would be a seven week period until the next festival, Shavuos. Therefore you knew you had to gird yourself with strength until then in order to carry out the mission of the Commander-In-Chief (G-d). When Shavuos would come, you would then receive the special strength that G-d bestows on each festival. Likewise, when you assembled on Shavuos, and afterwards heard the reading of the Ten Commandments, you received strength to carry out G-d’s mission for the coming three months until Tishrei, with its festivals.
Tishrei, however, is different. We came girded with strength from Sukkos, and the two preceding gatherings in Sukkos and the Ten Days of Repentance. And this strength must suffice until the next festival, Pesach, in six months time! Thus the Yetzer (Evil Inclination) can come and make a Jewish child depressed by telling him: You have to summon up enough strength to carry out your task for six months! And this year, it is even more difficult, for since it is a leap-year, there are seven months until Pesach!
This gathering thus serves as the means to become stronger and stronger, in preparation to fulfilling one’s task in the coming seven months.
In practical terms: At this time, at the conclusion of Tishrei, a Jew must remember that he has been given the necessary powers to carry out his mission. Likewise, a member of Tzivos Hashem has also been given the necessary strength and training to go forth to the “battlefield” where the Yetzer is, and to carry out his mission joyfully and with a good heart.
Then the saying of our Sages, that “if you search, you will find” will certainly be fulfilled, and in the manner that “the thing is very near to you in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” It will be done with great success, and the Commander-In-Chief will be very pleased with you, and will bestow upon you further blessings and success to rise yet higher in the ranks of Tzivos Hashem.
2. As in every gathering, it is fitting to derive a lesson and directive from portions of Torah learned on the day of the gathering. The Torah is our “instruction manual,” from which we derive all things associated with Tzivos Hashem, and it also contains the “daily directive” appropriate for each day — the lesson derived from the daily portion of the weekly parshah.
Today is Tuesday of parshas Noach, and therefore the daily portion of Torah is the third section of parshas Noach. We learn in it of how Noach and his family were saved from the flood by being in the ark built according to G-d’s command.
The Yetzer comes and says: The Torah itself says that these occurrences happened thousands of years ago. What, then, can you learn from it especially in regard to the battle against the Yetzer in the United States (or any other country) in 5744?
The Baal Shem Tov provides the ammunition against this “attack” by the Yetzer. The Torah is eternal, with eternal lessons, illuminating the life of every Jew in all generations. The Yetzer is a fool, and doesn’t know what he is talking about! The Baal Shem Tov taught that the story of Noach parallels that of every Jew. “Ark” in Hebrew is “teivah” which also means “word.” Noach was saved because G-d commanded him to enter the ark. Similarly, G-d gives every Jew a “teivah” — the “words” of prayer and Torah. Through prayer and Torah study with enthusiasm and life — to the extent that a Jew totally enters the words of Torah, and in prayer turns to G-d with all his heart — he is safe and protected despite everything around him — just as Noach left the ark safely despite the fact that the world around him was devastated. Even if it is winter time, and rain or snow or a strong wind rages outside, it does not affect a Jew, for he continues in his prayers and Torah study — and also continues to influence his friends in the same direction, consonant to the great principle of “You shall love your fellow as yourself.”
Through such service — entering the words of Torah and prayer — that which happened to Noach happens to a Jew: He goes through the flood safely and peacefully, to the extent that “the earth dried out” — the flood ends, and the earth returns to normal. Then one goes forth freely and rules over the whole world (as Noach did) in G-d’s mission to make the world a dwelling place for G-d.
You will surely carry out this mission in the best way, succeeding with flying colors; and will receive all G-d’s blessings. These blessings will be for you; and for all those who helped you and educated you and brought you into Tzivos Hashem parents, teachers and counselors — that they may derive true “nachas” (satisfaction and pleasure) from you.
Then all of us will prepare for the redemption, and we will tell G-d that since our sins which was the cause of the exile — have been eradicated, He must, and surely will, eradicate the exile, and bring the redemption. We will then return to our Holy Land, to Yerushalayim the Holy City — to the Bais Hamikdosh, speedily in our times.