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Preface

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim, 5738
Erev Rosh Hashanah

Second Day Of Rosh Hashanah

Motzoei Shabbos, Parshas Vayeilech, “Vav” Tishrei,
Shabbos Shuvah

Delivered On Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Ha’Azinu
13th Day Of Tishrei 5739

Preliminary Remarks To The Hakofos
Shemini Atzeres, 5739

Simchas Torah, 5739

Day Of Simchas Torah, 5739

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Bereishis
Mevorchim Chodesh Marcheshvan

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Kislev, 5739
Parshas Chaya Sarah

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayaytzei
9th Day Of Kislev, 5739

14th of Kislev, 5739

19th of Kislev, 5739

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Va’Yashev
Mevorchim Chodesh Teves

Motzoi Shabbos Miketz
Shabbos Chanukah

Sunday, 2nd Day Of Rosh Chodesh Teves, After Mincha
Preceding The 8th Day Of Chanukah, 5739

Zos Chanukah, 5739

10th OF TEVES, 5739

24th OF TEVES, 5739

Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Shvat, 5739
Parshav Vo-Eiro

Yud-Shvat (10th Of Shvat), 5739

13th OF SHVAT, 5739

Tu B’Shvat — 15th Of Shvat, 5739

Siyum For The Tractate Of Avos, 5739

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Adar;
Parshas Mishpatim — Shekalim

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Tetzaveh And “Parshas Zachor”

Sunday, After Mincha, The 12th Day Of Adar, 5739

Purim 5739

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki-Sissa
And “Parshas Porah” 5739

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayakhel-Pekuday
And “Parshas Hachodesh”

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 2 — Tishrei-Adar 5739


Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Bereishis
Mevorchim Chodesh Marcheshvan


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  Day Of Simchas Torah, 5739Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Kislev, 5739
Parshas Chaya Sarah
 

1. The year begins with the day of. Rosh Hashanah. Yet the service to be performed in the year — a service of toil and labor[86] in making they world a dwelling place for G-d[87] — commences rot immediately after Rosh Hashanah, but only after the month of Tishrei. Thus the entire month of Tishrei is considered the beginning and “head” of the year.

This is readily apparent from the word “Tishrei” itself. The letters can be rearranged to form the word “reshis” meaning “beginning”. (3) Likewise, the name “Shabbos Bereishis” (with which this Farbrengen is connected), denotes its import — the beginning of the year.

This status of Tishrei is no mere abstract concept, but expresses itself in practical, concrete fashion.

The days of Tishrei are filled with prayer, Teshuvah, Mitzvos. Teshuvah and prayer: the Ten Days of Repentance. Mitzvos, actual deeds: the intervening days between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, when Jews are busily occupied with the Mitzvos of Lulav and Sukkah[88]

But Tishrei’s uniqueness extends further. Even ordinary, everyday acts of work in Tishrei are different, special. In the rest of the year (beginning from the month of Cheshvan), a person. devotes his entire energies to his business, straining himself to the utmost — “the toil of your hands” (6). Not so in Tishrei. All of Tishrei, even mundane work performed, is permeated with the effects of the service of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Ten Days of Repentance, Sukkos, etc. (These effects are also felt later, when the general lessons of Tishrei are examined for their particular significance for the rest of the year.)

2. Proof that the actual service of the year first begins in Cheshvan is readily adduced from the time of tire Beis HaMikdash,[89] when Jews came to Jerusalem, to the Beis HaMikdash, for the festival of Sukkos.[90] They departed from there on the 23rd of Tishrei, and those who lived furthermost reached their homes only by the end of Tishrei (7). Thus we see that service itself begins only in the following month, Cheshvan.

Changes caused by exile from our land are physical only. Spiritual matters remain exactly the same, indestructible and untouchable by anything a non-Jew may do.[91] Thus, that which was physically apparent in the times of the Beis HaMikdash, is present in our times too, in our spiritual service. And to such a degree, that, as explained above, it expresses itself in a concrete manner. Even ordinary work in Tishrei is performed differently than at other times of the year.

This can be observed in the custom of Chabad of not saying Tachanun[92] the entire month of Tishrei, the reason being “because of the plentitude of festivals that are contained in it”(91, meaning that even those days on which work is permitted are so permeated with the effects of the festivals that Tachanun is not said. Indeed, such work is not to be considered as true “workday” work at all.

May it be G-d’s will that the influence of Tishrei should radiate throughout the rest of the year, affecting one’s actions to the degree that a Jew feels “Yom-tov-dik” even when employed in mundane matters. This will then bring more success in one’s endeavors with less strain and effort. And from all the blessing of the festivals, may we soon have the greatest of all festivals the complete and true Redemption.

3) The transition from Tishrei to ordinary work in the rest of the year requires preparation. That preparation is when we begin the Torah anew on Shabbos Bereishis — which is the Shabbos on which the month of Cheshvan (when service in the world first starts) is blessed. The Zohar (10) states: G-d “looked searchingly into the Torah and created the world”. A Jew, whose service is in the form of “Imitatio Dei”,[93] must also “look searchingly into the Torah” before dealing with the world. Simply speaking, this means consulting the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) to know that which is forbidden and that which is permitted.

But there is a deeper, more profound meaning. All things have a spark of G-dliness in them which is their inner life-force; they have their source and root in spirituality. Also, the Torah contains within its teachings all things as they stand spiritually. we can now understand the meaning of a Jew’s searching in Torah before dealing with worldly matters. He first learns how these matters are stated in the Torah — and only then does he deal with their physical counterpart. His spiritual root, his soul, is cognizant of this,(13) and automatically the task lightens; success becomes easier.[94]

To “look into the Torah”, then, is the indispensable prelude to involvement with the temporal. And so, immediately before Cheshvan, the month in which service in the world begins, we start the Torah anew.

4. But we do not start reading and learning in the Torah about just ordinary matters. We start anew learning specifically about creation ex Nihilo. From absolute nothing, the words of creation[95] brought existence of the something.

When a Jewish person learns the verses describing Creation ex Nihilo, G-d “reads and learn opposite him” (19) the very same verses. G-d reading the “Ten Utterances with which the world was created” (20) creates the world anew. Thus a Jew learns Torah and the world is newly created (21).

This learning about the creation takes place at the end of Tishrei., after he has rendered the service of the entire month, and previously just completed the entire Torah. “In matters of Kedushah (holiness) one only ascends” (22) — and so his new learning will certainly be on a higher plane than his old. Consequently, the new world created through his new learning is also on a higher plane.[96]

5. The practical lesson in all of the above: the world is large, full of many complex entities, and potentially intimidating. But the Jew is armed with the knowledge that the whole world was created through him, .through his Torah learning. To him is due the respect of the world, and with the might of his Creator behind him, he can make the world a dwelling place for G-d.

Possession of such knowledge allows him to be secure and at peace in both body and soul, since “G-d is your Guardian, G-d is your shade by your right hand” (24). With only the minimum of physical effort[97] he will be rewarded with “the L-rd your G-d will bless you in all that you will do.”

6. Rashi is the supreme commentary. If something in the Chumash is unclear and needs clarification — he will comment. If a matter is seemingly unclear and Rashi makes no comment, this indicates that the explanation is self-evident. We need but seek the interpretation.

On the very first verse in the Torah Rashi quotes as follows: “Rabbi Yitzchok said, ‘G-d could have begun the Torah from the verse “This month will be to you...”[98] Why then did he begin with Bereishis? Because “the might of his deeds he has told to his people to give to them the inheritance of the nations”. (25) Meaning that if the gentile nations will accuse Israel of being brigands in that they conquered the lands of the seven nations, then they (Israel) will answer them thus: ‘The whole land belongs to G-d, He created it and gave it to whomever was upstanding in His eyes. With His will He gave it to them (the seven gentile nations) and with His will He took it from them and gave it to us’(the people of Israel)’ “.

Every word in Torah is exact and precious. In this case, the entire book of Bereishis and part of Shemos are seemingly wrongly placed in the Torah, simply to refute the accusation of the gentiles that Israel are robbers. The five year old[99] w oaders: The land of Israel belongs to the Jews. Why did not G-d simply give it to the Jews from the outset, thus avoiding all possibility of charges of robbery, and thereby also avoiding the necessity of inserting extra portions in the Torah? One cannot, of course, question G-d’s actions. Nevertheless, there are many things in Torah that can be explained rationally, without having recourse to the inscrutability of G-d’s will. Similarly in this case, the whole situation begs clarification.

Rashi makes no comment to answer this seemingly obvious question. True, Rashi is really not obliged to answer the question at this point, since we have not yet learnt in the Torah how the land was given to us. But later (26) when the Torah tells us explicitly that it was given to us from the seven gentile nations, Rashi there should have answered the question. But he does not.

7. As previously noted, if Rashi offers no comment on an apparent difficulty, it indicates that the answer is to be found in the plain meaning of the Chumash itself. Further on, the Torah describes the method of acquiring the land. “I will not drive them (the gentile nations)out before-you in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the wild beasts will multiply against you”. (27) The explanation is now clear. Had G-d given the land initially to Avraham, a single person, Eretz Yisrael would become rapidly desolate. And even Yaakov, with seventy people, would have been of little use in preventing the land being overrun by wild beasts. G-d does not desire the land to lie waste, desolate, a desert full of snakes and scorpions. Giving the land of Israel to the gentile nations first, until such time as the Jews were ready to occupy it, was necessary. The land would not be desolate, nor would the wild beasts overrun it.

The above explanation assigns no positive benefits to the necessity for prior occupation. It is merely a negative measure, designed to prevent deterioration of the land. There is, however, another explanation which is more positive in its approach.

In Devarim, G-d promises the Jews that upon entering Eretz Yisrael they will find “great and good cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant”. (28) G-d wanted the Jewish people to have all good things ready and waiting for them. Therefore, it was necessary to first give the land to the seven nations. When the Jews entered the Promised Land, there needed no work, no labor, no toil, but instead “everything is prepared for the banquet”.

This explanation counters those who, while admitting that G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jews, claim that it is unjust to now deprive the non-Jewish nations of the land. Proclaims the Torah: the only reason they were allowed to be in Eretz Yisrael at all was to benefit the Jews. Once the Jews have taken possession, the gentiles’ raison d’etre for being there ceases to exist. Claims of injustice are absurd.

However, the five year old still remains perplexed. True, the land of Israel itself belongs to the Jewish people. What, however, of the houses, wells, vineyards, etc., developed previously by the non-Jews? Surely they rightfully belong to them. Regarding these things, isn’t the charge of robbery justified?

The answer is simple. G-d has given the land of Israel to the Jewish nation, and the entire time that non-Jews were in Israel was simply to benefit the Jews. The land was not theirs — they were merely tenants; and tenants pay rent to the owner of the premises. The rent due for the hundreds of years of tenancy by the gentile nations in Eretz Yisrael is much, much more than the worth of all the houses, wells, vineyards, etc. They are the debtors; we are the creditors.[100]

8. It was discussed in the previous farbrengen[101] that even though the custom among Jews is to blow the shofar on every day in the month of Elul (except Shabbos), we do not blow it on Erev Rosh Hashanah (the day preceding Rosh Hashanah). One of the reasons advanced for this (30) is to confuse the Soton into not knowing which day is Rosh Hashanah.[102]

Similar reasoning applies to the ending and starting anew of the Torah on Simchas Torah. Logically, the Torah should be started and ended on Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year. But if we do not start the Torah on Rosh Hashanah, then the Soton will not know that the day is in fact Rosh Hashanah.

The question was posed: does not then the Soton know that the above changes were instituted solely to confuse him? And if so, surely he will not be deceived. The answer given was as follows. In Judaism, “the deed is the main thing”.[103] (31). It is irrelevant what is the intention behind omitting blowing the shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah itself; the actual deed has remained undone. And thus the Soton, seeing that the Jew’s service is deficient, believes that no extra exertion is needed on his part.[104]

This explanation was questioned. The actual language used (33) to describe the Soton’s bewilderment is that the Soton will be confused into thinking “that Rosh Hashanah has already passed”. This implies that the Soton is indeed actually deceived, and really believes that it is already past Rosh Hashanah.[105]

The answer is this. Rosh Hashanah is the day on which the heavenly verdicts are inscribed.[106] Through proper service, however, one can achieve the same effect also during the year. And so much so, that even during the year, a verdict can be effected to receive benefit for many years in the future.

Such was the case with Chizkiyohu.[107] Because of his prayers and Teshuvah, G-d promised him that “I will add fifteen years to your life”. (35) From the terminology of the verses, this did not necessarily take place on Rosh Hashanah, and yet through the proper service, he effected a verdict for fifteen years.

It is thus clear that through fitting service, one can accomplish the object of Rosh Hashanah also during the year. And since the verdict will have thus already been decreed for good, the judgment on Rosh Hashanah itself has been avoided.

Applying the above to our case. We blow Shofar day after day (except Shabbos), and yet on the very day before Rosh Hashanah, we cease blowing. When the Soton sees this, he reckons that “Rosh Hashanah has already passed”, meaning that the service of Rosh Hashanah has already been done.

This, then is the answer to our question. The phrase “Rosh Hashanah has already passed” does not refer to passage in time; but rather it refers to passage of service, the service of Rosh Hashanah. The Soton thinks that we have already accomplished the task of Rosh Hashanah before Rosh Hashanah.[108]

True, the Soton also knows of this. (Trans. i.e., that the cessation of blowing may be a trick, to deceive him into thinking that the service of Rosh Hashanah has already been attained.) Nevertheless, he remains in a quandary, a dilemma. Is it just a ruse to confuse him; or has the service of Rosh Hashanah indeed been accomplished already? He does not know and, consequentially, his efforts at prosecuting the Jews are based on uncertainty. Such efforts are bound to be half-hearted and weak, deprived of the force and strength they would have possessed had he been completely certain.

Sources

1. Eyov (Job 5:7.

2. Reeh 15:18. See Sifri there.

3. Or HaTorah, Sukkos, pg. 1,756.

4. Vayikra Rabbah 30:7.

5. Or HaTorah, Sukkos, p. 1,756. Berachos, p. 1,867.

6. Tehillim (Psalms) 128:2.

7. See Tractate Taanis, p. l0a (Mishnah).

8. Tractate Berachos, p. 26b.

9. Mogen Avraham, ch. 669. Divrei Nechemiah on Shulchan Aruch Harav Orech Chayim, ch. 131, par. 8.

10. Section 2, p. 161b.

11. Bereishis Rabbah, ch. 67, p.8.

12. Yeshayahu 60:21.

13. Paraphrase of Tractate Megillah, p. 3a.

14. Iggeres Hakodesh, ch. 7 (p. 111b).

15. On Vayishlach 32:25.

16. Bereishis Rabbah, ch. 77, 3.

17. See Rashi on Vayishlach 33:10.

18. On Bereishis 1:1.

19. See Yalkut Shimoni, Eichah (Lamentations), Section 1,034.

20. Tractate Avos, ch. 5, Mishnah 1.

21. See Address by Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita, Yom Simchas Torah.

22. Tractate Berachos, p.28a.

23. See maamar “Samach Tesamach”, 5657, p.49.

24. Tehillim (Psalms) 121:5.

25. Ibid. 111:6.

26. Vaes’chanan 7:1.

27. Mishpotim 23:29,30.

28. Vaes’chanan 6:10,11.

29. Sanhedrin, p. 91a.

30. Levush, beg. of ch. 581, 669.

31. Tractate Avos, ch. 1, Mishnah 17.

32. See Tanya, beginning of chs. 37, 38.

33. Levush, beginning of ch. 581, 669.

34. See Tractate Rosh Hashanah, p. 166.

35. Melachim 11 20: 6.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) As seen from the verses, “Man is born to work” (1) and “The L-rd your G-d will bless you in all that you will do”. (2)

  2. (Back to text) This is accomplished through the world conducting itself in a righteous and holy manner.

  3. (Back to text) Since Tishrei is a general all-encompassing month, (5) the Mitzvos contained within it are also general and all-encompassing for the entire year.

  4. (Back to text) This is in addition to the principal proof — that so has been the tradition and usage in the behavior of each and every Jew.

  5. (Back to text) Trans. note — The Jewish people were commanded to “ascend” to Jerusalem three times a year — Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos.

  6. (Back to text) For example: Daily prayers were instituted as a replacement for the daily sacrifices in the Beis HaMikdash. (8) The physical sacrifices may have ceased, but the spiritual intent behind them exists also today, in the form of our prayers.

  7. (Back to text) Trans. note — Tachanun is a prayer said twice a day (in Shacharis and Minchah) on weekdays only. It literally means a ‘prayer of supplication’, and includes confession of sins. It is not said on Shabbos, Yom Tov, or semi-holidays such as Rosh Chodesh or Chol HaMoed.

  8. (Back to text) “Righteous men are comparable to their Creator”(11), which includes all Jews, since “Your people are all righteous” (12).

  9. (Back to text) As we find regarding Yaakov (the source of all souls(14) ), when he fought with and adversary on his journey from Lavan’s house. Rashi (15) (based on the Medrash (16) ) explains that he struggled spiritually with an angel, of which the person with whom he fought was the physical, temporal counterpart. And his success in the spiritual struggle caused success in his physical battle. (17)

  10. (Back to text) The Ramban (18) (Nachmanides) explains that the Hebrew word for creation ex Nihilo is “Boroh” — the term used in the Torah to describe the creation of the world.

  11. (Back to text) Especially since we begin reading the Torah anew even earlier, on Simchas Torah. On Simchas Torah, the mode of approach to the Torah is one of joy. And since “joy breaks all barriers” (23), the learning of a Jew about creation causes the world to be lifted to an immeasurably high level.

  12. (Back to text) His peace of mind is so great that even when there _is great physical effort involved in earning his bread, it does not affect him. Only his body labors; his mind and heart are in spiritual matters, refusing to acknowledge that mere toil is of any consequence.

  13. (Back to text) Trans. note — i.e., the first Mitzvah that was given to the Jewish people. This is written in the book of Shemos, thus omitting the entire book of Bereishis (the account of the Creation, Noach, our forefathers, etc-) and part of Shemos. In other words, the entire narrative preceding the emergence of the Jewish nation and its observance of Mitzvos could have been omitted.

  14. (Back to text) Trans. note — Rashi’s purpose is to explain the “Peshutah Shel Mikrah” –the plain interpretation of the Chumash (as opposed, for example, to esoteric interpretations). The explanation is to be such that even a five year old (the age at which a child begins to learn Chumash) will comprehend.

  15. (Back to text) We find a similar argument in the Gemorah (Talmud). (29) When the Egyptians came and accused the Jews of taking their valuables (in the Exodus from Egypt), one of our Sages answered thus: let us reckon up how much wages are due Jews for their four hundred and thirty years hard labor in Egypt. The Egyptians, upon hearing this, left in a hurry.

  16. (Back to text) Address given on Yom Simchas Torah (the day of Simchas Torah.)

  17. (Back to text) Trans. note — The Soton is the “prosecutor” against the Jews in the Heavenly Court. On Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, he naturally will exert himself to the utmost to prove his case. But, if he can be tricked into thinking that Rosh Hashanah has already come and gone, then, thinking that it is already too late to do anything, he will not make any extra special efforts to blacken the case against the Jews. The way this is done, is, as stated, to omit the blowing of the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Knowing that blowing the Shofar is connected with Rosh Hashanah, he will think that the cessation of blowing indicates that Rosh Hashanah has already passed. He will thus desist from all efforts at denunciation.

  18. (Back to text) Trans. note — In every Mitzvah of Jewish custom that a Jew does, there are two aspects, the actual deed, and the meaning and devotion in the deed. It is a fundamental of Jewish Law that no matter how sublime or lofty the intent, if the actual deed is lacking, then the whole Mitzvah is lacking. (32)

  19. (Back to text) Trans. note — See address given on the day of Simchas Torah re answer to this seemingly legitimate claim of the Soton. In brief, the Soton exists due to man’s imperfections. When a Jew realizes that he has been prevented from blowing the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah and beginning the Torah anew on Rosh Hashanah itself; and the realizes that this is due to the existence of a Soton, and thus due to imperfections in himself, a profound feeling of Teshuvah will then awaken within him. And this awakening, due to its coming from within him, is more deep than that which could have been aroused by the Shofar-blowing or Torah-reading that he has foregone.

  20. (Back to text) Trans. note — And not as the above interpretation, which was that the Soton is _not deceived, and knows which day is Rosh Hashanah. Only that he doesn’t care, since he thinks the Jews are fore-doomed in any case, due to the “actual deed” being missing.

  21. (Back to text) Concerning completely righteous people (“and all your people are righteous”), the verdicts are also sealed on Rosh Hashanah. (34)

  22. (Back to text) Trans. note — One of the kings of Judah.

  23. (Back to text) Trans. note — i.e., we have already received a favorable verdict for the year even before Rosh Hashanah, through our service in the preceding year. There is nothing the Soton can now do.


  Day Of Simchas Torah, 5739Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Kislev, 5739
Parshas Chaya Sarah
 
  
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