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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


Yud-Shvat (10th Of Shvat), 5739

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  Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Shvat, 5739
Parshav Vo-Eiro
13th OF SHVAT, 5739  

1. This farbrengen must generate practical advice in the service of G-d. This is true of all matters of Jewish life, but is particularly relevant concerning a farbrengen that is connected with a “Nasi,” a leader of Israel. A Nasi is often referred to as the head[257] of a generation. The use of the term “head” is not incidental. As the head of the human body controls and directs the function of all the other limbs, similarly; we, the limbs, must follow the head. That is, we must[258] involve ourselves in the activities and projects which were important to the Previous Rebbe.

Although life of the Previous Rebbe included many important lessons, those aspects of his behavior which were most obvious have more relevance to us now than the other lessons which can be derived from his life.[259] The Previous Rebbe’s activities in the realm of education stand out in comparison to his efforts in other fields. Besides devoting effort into the general field of education[260] he was particularly involved with the education of younger children. His dedication to elementary Jewish education was so great that he risked his life and ,jeopardized the continuation of all his activities in the education of adults for the sake of educating children. The Russians did not oppose (to the same degree) his educational activities with adults. It was the Previous Rebbe’s efforts on behalf of the education of younger children which brought about his arrest and imprisonment.

This provides us with a practical lesson. We must intensify our efforts in the field of education. A proper education insures that even upon growing and maturing, a child will not depart from his teachings. This applies to learning both information and behavior. Whatever you learn as a child always stays with you (in the Talmud’s words—it is like writing on “fresh paper”), while what you learn as an adult, must frequently be re-learned to be remembered. Also in regard to behavior, the life style and attitudes which a child is taught becomes an inseparable facet of his personality. Therefore, a minor improvement in a child’s education can affect his entire life.

A simple example will illustrate this concept. A small change in the growing conditions of a seed, produces noticeable effects as the seed becomes a plant. Its fruit (and the plants and their seed which are produced by the fruit) are affected by that original activity.

The same example explains the Previous Rebbe’s dedication to the Jewish education of young children, even at the expense of adult education. Even though adults are obligated by Torah law to perform mitzvos and children do not have that obligation, he devoted more of his energy to children. This choice is supported by the Talmud’s statement “if there are no kids (young children), there will be no goats (.mature scholars). Furthermore, Psalms explains “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings is established the strength to destroy the enemies and seekers of revenge.” Wherever it is necessary to destroy the enemies of the Jews, it in necessary to stress the Jewish education of young children. If the Previous Rebbe worked to increase Jewish education in Russia, despite the decrees and difficulties present, here in the USA, where those problems do not exists, we must step up our activities.

This stress on education relates to the Torah portion of today—the Song of Moses at the Red Sea. The Talmud explains that even infants in their mothers’ wombs sang. Their song begins, “This is my G-d and I will glorify Him.” The commentators take notice of the phrase, “this is,” and write that “they pointed with their fingers’ and said ‘this is my G-d.’” Our Sages explain that the children made that statement and that “they recognized Him first.” Because their mothers had trained them to know G-d, and because their entire Jewish education had been charged with “mesirus nefesh,”—self-sacrifice—for Judaism,[261] “they recognized Him first,” at the Red Sea.

May the merit of our activities in Torah and Mitzvos, particularly in the field of Jewish education, bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy recited daily in connection with the Song of the Red Sea, “Delivers will go up to Mt. Zion and the Kingship will be the L-rd’s with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.”

2. The last Mishnah in Kiddushin states, “the world was created to serve me.” The Mishnah continues and explains that the statement only applies to one who corrects his behavior.” If a Jew decides to advance in Yiddishkeit, then the whole world becomes subjugated to him and assists him in carrying out his desires.[262] This particularly applies in “Ikvos HaMashiach” (the time directly preceding Mashiach’s arrival). Because of the increased darkness of Galus, it in necessary to influence the surrounding environment, the government and controlling powers to aid the cause of Yiddishkeit. This applies especially to the USA “the country of kindness.” Last year at this time, I appealed to the government to take added steps in the area of education. The government complied and declared a “Day of Education.” This year, the pattern continued. In the State of the Union Address,[263] the President put a special stress on education. The Address sets the tone for the upcoming Congressional year, and has been printed and publicized all over the USA. In the Address, the President suggested that Education be considered an independent cabinet-level ministry. Previously, Education was included in the same ministry as Health and Welfare. Although the change will involve additional expense, the importance of education today nevertheless warrants such a change.

In the same Address, the President proposed federal aid to private schools. Yeshivos and Hebrew Day Schools fall within the category of private schools. The assistance will only be financial, since American law prevents governmental interference in religious observances. The only ones who will have a say in running a Jewish school will be those who know and practice Torah law. There is no room for objection to receiving such aid. There is no question about the preservation of religious tradition. There will be no interferences in religious observance by the government.

May it be G-d’s will that we take advantage of the stress the USA has placed on education. It is important to note that education is more than dust providing information. Rather, it must bring about a change of behavior and elevate and refine one as a person. It must influence him to act according to the truth and to recognize the source of truth—G-d, Himself.

As for Jews, this type of education must focus on following the Shulchan Aruch. Jewish law is eternally relevant and applicable in every time and place. It needs-no change, alteration, or modernization. May we use the aid the government gives for good things. Thus, we will be able to receive more and use those funds for more Torah education.

3. The Jewish people have been spread throughout the entire world. Their dispersion has had many purposes. Among them is the fulfillment of their responsibility to teach the Gentiles the Seven Mitzvos which they have been commanded. These Seven Mitzvos have a greater scope than is immediately apparent. The Talmud explains that these Seven Commandments produces thirty more particular directives. Furthermore, all seven bring out the general principle, “the world’s creation is directed toward balance and stability.”

With that principle in mind, I asked the American government to make a change in their foreign policy last year. In addition to providing help and assistance to needy countries throughout the world, America should ask and aid those countries to develop their educational systems. These nations would respond if America made such a request. After receiving help from the USA, they should be willing to listen to American suggestions. As the Talmud says, “a debtor will not act defiantly to his creditor.” Even a small sum serves as a bribe. By nature, anyone would like to find favor with his benefactors. Furthermore, since, as the Talmud says, “Everyone is dependent upon the owner of wheat;”-in this case the USA (every nation, even Russia , America’s competitor, needs American wheat)-America is in a position to demand a stress on education. Since all other nations need American aid, they would probably accept such a suggestion.

Such a change will be to the benefit of the USA as well. Presently, America spends large amounts of money in order to prevent wars, revolts, etc. By encouraging and assisting these countries to develop their educational systems, there will be less necessity to use funds to counteract these negative forces.

4. Earlier it was mentioned that the Previous Rebbe placed an emphasis on the education of younger children. Nevertheless, that stress did not exclude activities to educate adults. On the contrary, the Previous Rebbe recognized that no matter how much one has already learned, he must progress further. The very fact that G-d has given him additional moments of life is itself a sign that he has an additional opportunity to grow and to learn. This concept is expressed by the maxim of the Mishnah, “Who is the wise man?[264] He who learns from every man.” and the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, “Everything a person sees or hears contains a lesson for him in his service to G-d.”

The Previous Rebbe was well aware of the importance of adult education. He spread the wellsprings of Chassidus-the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe-to every Jew, including those who needed translations into a foreign languages and those who were outside the sphere of Jewish involvement. He taught both the Aleph-Bais of Yiddishkeit (Judaism’s basic fundamental concepts) and also Torah’s deepest secrets.

5. The ‘Talmud interprets the verse “Do not touch my ‘Moshichay’” (lit. anointed ones) as “Do not disturb the Torah study of young children.” Each child who studies Torah is referred to as “Mashiach.” Mashiach represents the ultimate height of humanity. He is a ‘general” soul, containing sparks of every Jewish soul.[265] Furthermore, the Talmud emphasizes that the above statement is a directive not to interrupt the Torah study of young children even to use their help in building the Bais HaMikdash. The Torah study of young children is so important that it takes precedence even over building the Holy of Holies, the place where the Divine Presence was revealed.

6. It is customary at Yud-Shvat farbrengen to collect donations for Keren Torah. This fund was established to support those individuals who study Torah without any ulterior motives (such as learning to become a Rabbi, a teacher, etc.). They learn Torah for Torah’s sake alone. This fund helps alleviate their financial burden.

When contributing to this fund,, you can make it a condition of your donation that you receive a portion of the reward that they-achieve through their Torah studies. If that condition is made, Hashem will reward you not only for giving charity but for studying Torah as well. This is explained in the Talmud in connection with the two tribes, Yissacher and Zevulun. The tribe of Yissacher dedicated its time to Torah study. The men of Yissacher were supported by the tribe of Zevulun. Zevulun in return received an equal share of Yissacher’s merit.

7. TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: The Rebbe gave a long dissertation on the concluding statements of the Tractate of Avos. He continued that dissertation in the following two farbrengens. We are intending to collect his remarks on all three occasions and print them as a separate unit.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Rashi comments, “the leader is the entire nation.” His statement can be explained by a quote of the Rambam, “the king is the heart of all Israel.” The heart brings life and energy to all the other limbs of the body. The king (and also Nasi) has a similar function in relation to the entire Jewish people.

  2. (Back to text) The Talmud uses the expression “the body follows after the head.” The word it uses for follow, “azil,” also implies progress. Through following the directive of the leader of the generation, the Jewish people progress in all of their affairs.

  3. (Back to text) Last year, in this context, I emphasized the Previous Rebbe’s stress on practical action (to the point that wherever possible he performed the required action himself).

  4. (Back to text) The Previous Rebbe was very involved in adult education. Furthermore, as a leader, he consistently gave directives for action. Even a directive can be considered education. It taught a new aspect of behavior to his followers.

  5. (Back to text) Not only their education, but their very birth was connected with mesirus nefesh. At that time, Pharaoh had ordered that all newborn Jewish boys be killed.

  6. (Back to text) The above clarifies the Rambam’s statement “each person is obligated to say `the world was created for me.”‘ His dedication to Torah and Mitzvos transforms the world from an opposing force to an assist that helps him carry out his mission.

  7. (Back to text) The Address was delivered in the interval between the 24th of Teves and Yud-Shvat.

  8. (Back to text) Since the Jewish people are “a wise and understanding nation,” this statement applies to every Jew.

  9. (Back to text) As mentioned in the beginning of the farbrengen, the Rambam writes that the king is “the heart of all Israel” and Rashi comments, “the leader is the entire nation.”


  Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Shvat, 5739
Parshav Vo-Eiro
13th OF SHVAT, 5739  
  
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