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Publisher’s Foreword

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai
17th Day of Iyar, 5744

Lag B’Omer, 5744
— Address To Parade —

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar
24th Day of Iyar, 5744

Pirkei Avos
Chapter 5 Mishnah 12

Convention of N’shei Ubnos Chabad
25th Day of Iyar, 5744

Tzivos Hashem
27th Day of Iyar, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Nasso
2nd Day of Sivan, 5744

Erev Shavuos, 5744

2nd Day of Shavuos, 5744

Yechidus
Eve of 11th of Sivan, 5744

Yechidus to Bar Mitzvah Boys & Their Parents

Yechidus to Chassanim & Kallos

Eve of 12th of Sivan, 5744

Graduates of Bais Rivka,
20th Day of Sivan, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Korach,
23rd Day of Sivan, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Chukas
1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Balak
7th Day of Tammuz, 5744

Pirkei Avos,
Chapter 5 Mishnah 9

12th Day of Tammuz, 5744

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 21 — Iyar-Tammuz, 5744


12th Day of Tammuz, 5744

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  Pirkei Avos,
Chapter 5 Mishnah 9
 

1. Although the event for which we are gathered together is celebrated every year, this year it must be celebrated with a totally new enthusiasm. Parallels to this may be found in halachah: Although a Jew may perform the same mitzvos from time to time or even every day, Torah instructs that “every day they should be new in your eyes.”

The mitzvah of tzedakah, which is equal to all the mitzvos and hastens the redemption, is an example. When a Jew performs this mitzvah for the very first time, he does so with the greatest -of enthusiasm and excitement knowing that G-d has chosen him as His agent to feed the poor person and his family. Torah’s directive, “Every day they should be new in your eyes,” means that although a Jew may have performed the mitzvah of tzedakah many times, every day before praying, he must- do so again today with the same enthusiasm and excitement as the first time.

But, one may ask, why should one be required to fulfill a mitzvah with the same enthusiasm as the first time? It is not a new mitzvah: It was commanded in the past, and he has fulfilled it many times in the past.

Categories such as “old” and “young” do not apply to G-d, however. As even the simplest Jew knows, it is absurd to talk of G-d as being young, or middle-aged, or old. So also concerning G-d’s commandments: We cannot say that when G-d first commanded the mitzvos He did so amidst lightning and voices and atop a smoking mountain, and the following year the commandments are “old.” For just as time is a concept inapplicable to G-d, so G-d’s commandments are immune to changes wrought by time. G-d commands the mitzvos every day anew, just as at the time of the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Therefore, “Every day they shall be new in your eyes as though on that very day you were commanded regarding them.”

Not all is clear, however: Granted that from G-d’s perspective a mitzvah is today new, as the first time it was commanded. But it is required of man that he view the mitzvah as totally new and perform it accordingly. And since it is a Jew’s duty to not only observe mitzvos though he doesn’t know their rationale, but to also understand them (those which are capable of being understood — s*t*4 as the mitzvah of tzedakah — not statutes), it- is necessary to understand how one can do the some-thing many times-with an enthusiasm matching the original time. Surely it is only natural that soF which has been repeated time and again thing cannot inspire any special excitement.

Upon awakening in the morning a Jew says, “I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me.” In other words, every day a person is a new creation. Physically, every day he needs to eat and drink to keep himself alive, although he had satisfied his physical needs yesterday and in the preceding days and years. For when a person is truly ravenous and thirsty, he is burningly impatient to still his hunger and quench his thirst. It makes no difference that eating and drinking are it old” things, done for many years. He is as eager to eat and drink now as the first time he realized that food stills hunger and drink quenches thirst!

If the above applies to a person’s bodily life, it certainly applies to one’s spiritual life, to one’s soul: One must be burningly impatient and eager to fulfill Torah and mitzvos, although one has fulfilled them in the past.

Though one feels physical hunger and does not feel spiritual hunger, the absence of feeling does not change the fact. Food and drink, for example, assuages hunger and quenches thirst. If a person is ill, he sometimes may not feel the necessity to eat or drink. Similarly, a small child, because he is not intellectually mature, does not realize that food is necessary for life. But the absence of feeling on the part of a sick person and the absence of understanding on the part of a child does not change the fact that food assuages hunger aait-drink quenches thirst.

The soul needs food just as the body; but the body’s food is physical, whereas the soul’s ‘is spiritual. To know what is the spiritual food necessary to sustain the soul, one must ask “experts in such matters, such as one’s father- or teacher who have studied the matter. They have plumbed its depths and have acted accordingly, with zeal and enthusiasm — knowing that it affects the soul’s life. Thus, even if due to his paucity of knowledge a person doesn’t understand it now, he should rely on them (father, teacher, etc.) and follow their directives. When he matures, he will himself realize the vital necessity of it.

The explanation, then, of why mitzvos should be observed such that “every day they should be new in your eyes,” is simple: A person acts daily in such a manner in regard to his body, and therefore it can be understood that so he must act in regard to his soul, especially since bodily life depends on the soul’s life.

In our case, although we held farbrengens on the 12th of Tammuz last year and the years before that, and undertook and implemented good resolutions at those times — the farbrengen of the 12th of Tammuz of this year, 5744, must be not only with great fervor and enthusiasm, but in a loftier manner than ever before (“ascending in sanctity”). For since one has grown in years, one must certainly grow in wisdom, and therefore increase in the zeal and eagerness in celebrating the 12th of Tammuz.

In practical terms, we learn from this that this farbrengen should cause us to increase, quantitatively and qualitatively, in all matters of Judaism, Torah and mitzvos, which in general are t4w---three areas of, Torah, prayer and deeds -of laying kindness. And we are assured that G-d helps us to carry out the resolutions undertaken, both new resolutions and renewed resolutions — i.e., to i se new zeal into the resolutions undertaken in the past.

2. The above serves as the introduction to the farbrengen; then comes the “opening” — in the words of our Sages, “Open with a blessing.” And indeed, it is the custom when two Jews meet to open with the blessing, “Shalom Aleichem” — “Peace unto you,” for peace encompasses all blessings (“Peace is equal to everything” — Rashi, Vayikra 26:6).

When opening with a blessing, preference is given to the blessing found in Scripture (Tehillim 118:26): “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the L-rd; we bless you from the House of the L-rd.” We noted on another occasion that this verse begins with singular tense (“Blessed is he who comes”) and concludes with plural tense (“We bless you” — the plural “you” in Hebrew).

A person “who comes” to join a community may think that he thereby loses his identity as a unique individual. This verse teaches otherwise: “Blessed is he who comes” — although an individual is in the presence of a community, he not only retains his identity (“he”) but a special blessing is bestowed upon him (“Blessed is he”).

A similar concept is expressed by our Sages’ saying (Sanhedrin 37a), “Man was created single to teach you that ... he is a complete world.” Every living being created in the six days of creation was created as a pair, male and female. Man alone was created single to teach every person in every generation that he is a “complete world,” similar to Adam the first man.-

When a person sees how dwarfed he is by the inexepible variety and number of creations in the w”, of the inanimate, plant, animal and human kingdoms, he may become despondent thinking, “What am I? What is my life?” The creation of man alone teaches that each person is a “complete world,” replete with everything necessary to make the world a decent, productive place.

When, therefore, an individual comes to a community, his identity is not lost: he is a “complete world.” Moreover, a special blessing is bestowed upon him (“Blessed is he who comes”), meaning that when he does his utmost, he not only sees success in his work but he sees a blessing in it.

The conclusion of the verse is, “We bless you” 11you,” plural tense. When an individual joins the community, he also assumes the qualities, merits and blessings pertaining to a community: He not only carries out his mission as an individual, but also as a member of the community. This not only makes his individual mission easier to fulfill, but an extra mission, unique to a community, comes into being. For although comprised of individuals, a community is nevertheless a new entity.

The verse, “Blessed is he who comes ... we bless you” means, then, that the identity and status of the individual remains in full force, while simultaneously he acquires also the blessings pertaining to a community.

Whence the certainty and assurance that an individual both retains his identity and acquires t4aa-blessings pertaining to a community? From the verse itself: “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of-- the L-rd; we bless you from the House of the L-rd.” This blessing, uttered upon meeting a Jew, does not originate from the person; he is saying words, Who commanded that one utter them meeting a Jew, especially when the meeting-is for the purpose of undertaking good resolutions in fulfilling G-d’s will.

Moreover, G-d’s Name used here, “L-rd,” refers to He to whom the past, present and future are one, He who alone is capable of, and does create, everything in the world ex nihilo. Thus the fact that the blessing “Blessed be he” stems from the “L-rd,” indicates the lofty quality of the blessing.

Further, the verse says, “we bless you from the House of the L-rd.” What does this teach us? The purpose of gathering together at a farbrengen to undertake good resolutions is that those resolutions actually be implemented; they must not remain as thoughts alone. One may ask: Of the body and soul, the soul is the primary component of a Jew — and from the soul’s perspective a resolution is enough. What need that they be carried out in actual deed? Moreover, since “G-d wants the heart,” it should be sufficient that a person has a Jewish heart, a heart that is warm and alive regarding G-d’s matters. It is therefore not so important that one’s resolution be actually carried out.

Scripture says, however, that the blessing of “Blessed is he who comes ...” is connected with the “House of the L-rd.” This refers to the Bais HaMikdash, and, after the destruction, also to synagogues and study-halls which are termed “miniature Sanctuaries.” The Bais HaMikdash (and a synagogue and study-hall) was a physical edifice, made of actual stone and wood, gold, silver and copper. Only in this physical edifice did the Divine Presence dwell.

When King Shlomo built the Bais HaMikdash he said “The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain You.” Although the heavens existed before the Bais HaMikdash, only the Bais HaMikdash — in this physical world — was the place where the Divine Presence dwelt. From it the light of holiness spread to the whole world. The function of a synagogue and study-hall, too, which is a “miniature Sanctuary,” is to be the source and center for everything holy: From it a Jew draws Torah, prayer and deeds of loving kindness (Torah — from the study-hall; prayer — from the synagogue; deeds of loving kindness (tzedakah) — by giving tzedakah before prayers) to his home, family and environment (when he deals with the world in making a living), until he has an effect on the whole world, making it a place fit for G-d’s dwelling.

“We bless you from the House of the L-rd” means, then, that a Jew must transform his home into a “House of the L-rd,” a house that absorbs holiness from the synagogue and study-hall which are an extension of the Bais HaMikdash. Then G-d’s words, “I shall dwell within them” apply to his house: The Divine Presence rests upon the house, and from there the sanctity extends to its surroundings and eventually to the entire world.

It is thus clear that not only must Judaism be expressed in concrete deed (i.e., good resolutions are insufficient), similar to the Bais HaMikdash, but a Jew must ensure that besides his personal fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, the light of holiness reach also the rest of the world. The whole world should be transformed into the “House of the L-rd,” a fit dwelling place for G-d.

All of the above has a special connection with the 12th-13th of Tammuz, the days when the previous Rebbe was liberated from imprisonment in ‘Soviet Russia. These days show that not only is it possible to engage in Torah study and observance of mitzvos in such a country, but also that one can send an envoy (“shaliach”) whose appearance testifies to his Jewish identity (beard and 11peyos”) to a remote place in that country to there found a “cheder” (school) in which children should learn the aleph-bais.

We are assured that efforts in such a direction will be in the manner of “liberation” — i.e., those envoys will eventually defeat the “darkness which covers the earth” in that country. As indeed we see the fruits of the work of the previous Rebbe’s envoys — children and children’s children in all parts of the world observant of Torah and mitzvos. Among those present at this farbrengen there are many who are the outcome of the self-sacrifice of the Jews in that country, the results of the mission placed upon them by the previous Rebbe.

It follows that the theme of the 12th-13th of Tammuz is that personal service in Torah study and observance of mitzvos is insufficient, but one must also disseminate Torah and Judaism everywhere, even in the most remote places — even if it is very difficult, even if self-sacrifice is needed. In the words of mishnah (Pirkei Avos 1:1), “Raise up many disciples.” It is not enough to personally receive the Torah and its dictates; one should follow Moshe Rabbeinu’s example, who “received the Torah from Sinai and passed it on” to all generations, together with the directive “Raise up many disciples.”

“Many it implies the greatest number possible, for no matter the number of disciples one has, as long as it is possible to have more, the number one does have is still not “many.” Thus, the true implication of “Raise up many disciples” is that t4p” isn’t a single Jew who shouldn’t be a disciple. Simply put, one should convince each and every Jew to keep Torah and mitzvos.

In the words of the previous Rebbe concerning his liberation on the 12th-13th of Tammuz: “G-d did not redeem only me on the 12th of Tammuz, but also all those who hold our holy Torah dear, observers of mitzvos, and also those who are a Jew only in name.” All Jews, including those Jewish only in name, were liberated at the same time as the previous Rebbe, in the same liberation.

“A Jew but in name” means that to such a person the name “Jew” is only a nickname, unrevealing of his real self. If one were to ask such a Jew why he doesn’t use his Jewish name when one can 11see on his nose” that he is Jewish, he would reply that although he has a Jewish name its only a It nickname.” When in his home, together with old Jews of the previous generation, he doesn’t mind being called by his Jewish name. But in the street, he says, its unnecessary to proclaim his Jewishness and there is no reason not to be called by his secular name — for Jews are a minority and one should follow the majority! Likewise, instead of his true occupation being to transform the world into a fit abode for G-d, to bear witness to G-dliness, he thinks that his occupation is in worldly matters.

The liberation of the 12th-13th of Tammuz was on behalf of even such a person, one who is “a Jew only in name.” One need but find the right way to re,vw,al it and translate the potential into actuality.-One will surely be successful in this endeavor-for, as noted above, we see the fruits of the previous Rebbe’s work in that generation, fruits whi.Q4 will continue for all time.

The previous Rebbe’s approach is a path that has -proven itself; the results leave no room for debate. In the words of Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim, I, chapter 71): “Fact does not follow theory; true theory follows the fact.”

When a certain approach to treatment is seen to heal the sick, for example, it is clear, irrefutable proof that this approach is correct, irregardless if it conforms to medical theory. A sincere physician, whose sole interest is the healing of his patients and not the success of his theories, will prescribe treatment that has been proven by results — even if it does not fit in with his theory.

As with bodily health, so with spiritual health: The “litmus test” for a school of thought or doctrine is the results. Thus, if a person sets aside his own personal beliefs to follow a path that has proven itself to be correct, eventually he will receive the reward for such “self-sacrifice”: he will also understand why this path is correct, and therefore will follow it that much more readily and easily.

In the light of all the above, it follows that when gathered together at the farbrengen of the 12th-13th of Tammuz, it behooves us to ponder the events of those days and as a result, to increase in the dissemination of Torah and Judaism in all places.

This, then, is the special connection between ukAs farbrengen and the idea of “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the L-rd; we bless you from the House of the L-rd.” The goal of this farbrengen is to strengthen the dissemination of Torah and Judaism everywhere, and to have all Jews participate in this. In other words, that each individual (“Blessed- is he who -comes” — singular tense) should join with the community, such that the community’s merit aid him in his tasks (“we bless you” — plural tense). Through this, a dwelling place for G-d is made in this world — the world is transformed into the “House of the L-rd.”

For the blessing of “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the L-rd; we bless you from the House of the L-rd” to be as complete as possible, all antagonistic influences must first be removed. In the words of Scripture, “I shall remove the spirit of impurity from the earth” — and then the blessing will be complete, as Rambam rules: “At that time there will be no hunger and no war and no jealousy and rivalry; the whole world will be occupied only in knowing the L-rd ... as it is written, ‘For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the L-rd as the waters cover the sea.’”

But G-d desires that Jews should first do their part. Before the promise “I shall remove the spirit of impurity from the earth” will be fulfilled by G-d, Jews’ efforts are necessary in this area. They must strive to remove evil and impurity, and introduce sanctity not just in the synagogue, study-hall, home and surroundings, but in the whole world.

Thus efforts to transform the world into the “House of the L-rd” include the endeavor to convince the nations of the world to act justly and righteously by keeping the Seven Noachide Laws. Foremost, to abolish any trace of idolatry, as written (Yeshayahu 56:7.)., “My House shall be called a-house of prayer for all the nations.” This entails implanting in_ all people cognition of and faith in the Creator and Ruler of the world. In general, efforts must be made to achieve that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the L-rd” -true knowledge means that one’s actions ere consonant with what he knows.

The only way to ensure that people behave justly and righteously, living decent, productive lives, is to make sure that the world is permeated with the “knowledge of the L-rd,” with faith in the Creator and Ruler of the world. For a person to forego his pride, to overcome jealousy and intemperate desires, to avoid encroaching on another’s rights, or even not to speak slightingly of another, requires that a person base his behavior on fulfilling G-d’s will.

If there was ever any doubt whether just and righteous behavior is possible only when based on the realization that such is G-d’s desire, or it is also possible when based on mortal considerations, on human wisdom and doctrines and behavior codes — all doubts have been resolved in this generation. The same people that prided itself on its scientific and philosophic accomplishments, that prided itself on its sons who devoted decades to intellectual inquiry and research and who authored books on these subjects, that had so many students pursuing knowledge — that people wrought the most horrific and evil of deeds.

The holocaust was not the result of one mentally unbalanced individual who coerced others into helping him. Everyone who was there, I amongst them, saw how enthusiastically that folk accepted him, expressing the hope that he would bring to realization their heartfelt longing to slew “Deutschland uber alles” (“Germany above all’7).

The only way, then, to ensure that people behave decently and morally, is a code of conduct nQ.r--of human invention but based on the fulfill Wat of G-d’s will. In the words of Rambam: “They 4~ inhabitants-of the world)-should accept them (the Seven Noachide Laws) and do them [not because they may be logically appealing but] because G-d commanded them in the Torah and let us know through Moshe Rabbeinu.”

May it be G-d’s will that everyone increase his efforts in both the dissemination of Torah and Judaism amongst Jews and the dissemination of the Seven Noachide Laws among the world’s inhabitants. Through this we achieve that “The world will be full of the knowledge of the L-rd” as much as it is possible in the time of exile, and thereby hasten the complete fulfillment of the promise, with the coming of our righteous Mashiach.

3. We noted above that the litmus test of a school of opinion or doctrine is the actual results, for “deed is paramount.” The litmus test to know if the resolutions of the 12th of Tammuz were undertaken sincerely is if the resolutions are implemented into actuality. The farbrengen of the 12th of Tammuz is associated with the previous Rebbe’s incredible self-sacrifice, and the subject of the farbrengen is the previous Rebbe’s request that all Jews fulfill their mission of making this world a dwelling place for G-d — including the idea that “the world shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd.” This is achieved by convincing the nations of the world to keep the Seven Noachide Laws, thereby ensuring that the world be not a jungle but a decent, productive place in which to 14*e.. Because the important thing (the “litmus t-e-st2’) is concrete results, it is imperative that the -above be translated into the realm of deed; thinking and resolving about it is not enough. We shall therefore now concentrate on one particular matter that has important repercussion for actual

We discussed previously that the only way to ensure that people behave righteously and decently is to inculcate them with recognition of and belief in the Creator and Ruler of the world. It is the way to prevent what happened in Germany, whose ethics were built solely on human intellect.

It is therefore imperative that the youth be instilled with belief in G-d, through the public school system which is responsible for the proper education of the country’s children. In this country, parents have neither the time (or patience) to devote themselves to their children’s education. Parents consider it sufficient to send their children to public school, with a tasty sandwich or two, and with pocket money to buy anything else they may desire. They consider that they have certainly carried out their duties if they provide many nice clothes for their children — most importantly, that they be nicer than their daughter’s friends’ clothes! — and do not stint on the financial expense this entails. But they do not worry about their children’s education — that is the school’s function.

For various illogical reasons, no mention of G-d is permitted in these schools. G-d is not allowed to enter, as it were, the school premises!

True, “the whole world is full of His glory,” and “there is no place free of Him.” But everyone must know of the Creator and Ruler of the world, know that there is an “Eye that sees and an Ear that hears.” Only then is there hope that a person wi-11-behave correspondingly. Yet, no mention of G-d is allowed in school.

The bitter result is that there are hundreds thousands of Jewish children, and millions -of non-Jewish children, who attend public schools and thus know nothing about the Creator and Ruler of the world.

Children grow up in an atmosphere that everything a person gains is through his own prowess (“My strength and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (Devarim 8:17)). Such an attitude is extremely prevalent in this country, where everyone knows he can transform a wilderness into a civilized place — as evidenced by this nation’s history. As such, a child believes there is no one better than him, and being a smart boy, should use his brains and education to obtain whatever he desires. This holds true even if evil is involved: He desires his friends’ sandwich? He will steal it — and, being smart, is unafraid of the authorities, using his brains to conceal his theft. No one can tell him what to do! In such an environment this child may easily sink to the lowest depths.

Now is neither the time nor place to investigate the causes of such a situation. When faced with danger, the foremost priority must be to rescue people from that danger; there is thus no time to think about the cause, only about correcting the situation.

The only way to correct the present situation is to institute a “moment of silence” in every public school. At the beginning of the school day, before studies begin, while the student is still fAre-sh, a “moment of silence” should be devoted -to thinking about the Creator and Ruler of the world. Starting the school-day in such a fashion will have a beneficial effect on the rest of the day’s qQpApct, teaching a student to utilize his studies kr- worthy purposes, justice and righteousness, bQ14--on his own behalf and that of the public- -indeed, that the public good outweighs his personal good.

It is important to stress that this should be a 11moment of silence,” not spoken prayer. Should a spoken prayer be instituted, it is impossible that students will not talk about it with their teacher — and who knows what the teacher will say, especially if she or he belongs to a religion different than that of the student. A teacher cannot tell students that he cannot answer them because they belong to a different religion. Thus a spoken prayer will lead to all types of trouble, even things contrary to faith.

A “moment of silence,11 in contrast, has the advantage that nothing will be spoken; only thought is involved. Each student will think about what his parents and grandparents tell him, avoiding any friction in the school; no one will know what the other is thinking.

Furthermore, one must reckon with reality when trying to get a particular law passed. The only possibility of passing a law in this area is if it is a “moment of silence.” When an attempt was made to pass a law concerning verbal prayer in school, arguments and even hatred erupted.

There is another advantage to having a “moment of silence” specifically. In thousands of families throughout this country parents have forgotten their duty to be concerned about their children’s e4”cation. They have — abandoned this duty to the schools, the Rabbi, etc. But even in the best possible scenario, when the school provides a good education, the parents are not absolved of the ,Qkpd mission given to them — “You shall teach them to your children.” No matter how involved parents may be in their business affairs or whatever, they are duty-bound to dedicate some time to their children’s education. For regardless of how good an education the school provides a child, hearing the same thing both at school and at home carries more weight than hearing it only at school.

By instituting a “moment of silence” in school, causing children to ask their parents what they should think about during that moment, parents will be reminded and inspired about their principal function to raise “a blessed generation of the upright” and will therefore dedicate time to their children’s upbringing.

As a result, the parents themselves will be drawn closer to Judaism. When the children will ask their parents to tell them about the Creator and Ruler of the world, the parents will remember that they are Jews, and what is a Jew and what is Judaism — and this will have an effect also on deed. In the words of Scripture (Malachi 3:24):

“He shall return the heart of the fathers through the sons.”

Some people claim, however, that a “moment of silence” may be illegal, for some judges are of the opinion that a “moment of silence” is contrary to the Constitution of the United States.

In answer, it must first be noted that there are other judges who are of the opinion that a moment of silence is not contrary to the Constitution, for it concerns a child only thinking about G-d,- without the principal or teacher participating — and no one will argue that parents are prohibited from telling their children what to t1liak!

More importantly, even if-it was against-the Constitution of the United States, there is a “Constitution” that takes precedence over all other constitutions — that given at Mt. Sinai to all the world’s inhabitants. And plainly, a constitution enacted by mortals (“by the people”) cannot compare to that enacted by the Creator and Ruler of the world.”

The Constitution of the United States was enacted by mortals with the announced intention that it was for the people’s good (“for the people”). Thus, when it was seen that changes in the times warranted it, amendments to the Constitution were occasionally passed.

In our case, all the inhabitants of this country in times past, Jews and non-Jews, believed in the existence of the Creator and Ruler of the world. In most homes, they even recited a blessing before eating. There was therefore no need to open the school day with a “moment of silence” in which to think of G-d, since the student’s parents taught him to thank G-d for his food before he went to school.

In the last few decades — years of turmoil and upheaval — this custom has stopped, and a child now hears in his home nothing about the Creator and Ruler of the world. The same situation unfortunately exists in many Jewish homes, to the extent that if a child were to ask his parents what is a “mezuzah,” they would be unable to tell him that on it is written, “Hear, 0 Israel, the L-rd 1&,-Dur G-d, the L-rd is One” (faith), and “You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul” (emotions), and “You shall bind them as a sign upon your head ... and you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates” (deeds). When the child keeps oZ~_Wessingfor an answer (as children are wont to do) -the parents tell him that a mezuzah is a good-luck charm that acts as a protective device for the house! True, the Talmud says (Avodah Zarah) that the mitzvah of mezuzah affords protection -but this is because on it is written, “Hear, 0 Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One” -and this the parents do not know to tell their children. Further, many houses do not even have a mezuzah.

Because, then, the situation has changed, the institution of a “moment of silence” in schools is for the good of the country’s citizens, affording their children the opportunity to think about G-d.

That this does not contradict the Constitution may be seen from the fact that engraved on the country’s currency are the words, “In G-d We Trust.”

Now is also the time to clarify another issue which, besides its own difficulties, may also cause problems to the effort to institute a “moment of silence.” Some people have proposed a law allowing students to hold gatherings of a religious nature on the premises of public schools. A superficial look at what might result from this shows that no good can come of it.

A religious gathering in a school, a public place to which everyone has access, including those of opposing ideologies and faiths, cannot be run properly. In such a public format speakers, f”---fear of insulting people of differing faiths who may be at the gathering, will not state their convictions clearly — -and the listeners may end up thinking that what they hear is everything that can be said about that religion.

Moreover, religious gatherings in a school will — lead naturally to vociferous debates between proponents of different faiths, which may well lead, particularly in the case of youth, to arguments waged purely with the view of being victorious — and who can then predict where that will lead ? ...

In general, Jews were never happy about debates between different faiths. They never participated unless forced to with threats of punishment or imprisonment. They were not afraid of the questions or claims put forward, for the Jewish religion is the true one, and as for the questions, there are clear answers in tens of books (Kuzari, Guide for the Perplexed, Duties of the Heart, etc.) which show how the questions aren’t valid in the first place! They didn’t like participating in debates only because they saw no useful purpose in doing so.

There is no law that instructs that Jews should try to convert non-Jews to Judaism. The reverse is true: Jewish law says that when a non-Jew expresses a desire to convert, one should try to dissuade him from taking this step. Certainly it is prohibited to deceive him about the severity of being a Jew by concealing the fact that there are 613 mitzvos obligatory upon a Jew, or that when he once converts according to the halachah, it is forever, with no way of changing his status.

It should thus be clear that the proposal to allow religious gatherings on public school premLa”_is totally out of-place. Such gatherings will not be able to be properly run, and will lead ‘to strife and controversy,

This proposal is unnecessary since every city li;s--places designated for religious activities, 9A;tL as synagogues and study-halls, where gatherings can be held privately. Moreover, a synagogue or study-hall has on its premises “professors” in Jewish studies — the Rabbi or Rosh Yeshivah — who, having dedicated their whole life to the study of Torah, are able to resolve any religious questions that may arise at the gathering. Also, the sanctity of the place will aid in the success of the gathering.

Besides the above difficulties, the very attempt to have it passed in Congress will cause the attempt to have a “moment of silence” in schools also to fail. It will arouse the ire of everyone and they will then no longer be willing to hear anything about religion, even if it concerns but silence.

We can assume that those who made this proposal had good intentions, especially since some of them were involved in endeavors to obtain governmental assistance for parochial schools, and likewise assisted in disseminating the idea of keeping the Seven Noachide Laws. But every man can err. In our case, it seems that they did not consider the harmful effects of their proposal, both in itself and on the proposal for a “moment of silence.”

It is therefore proper to remove this subject from consideration, explaining the true reason for doing so: that for such gatherings to be held properly and without strife, it is better to hold them in places designated for religious matters. When this subject is dropped, all energies can t4ma be directed to passing the law for instituting-a “moment of silence” in schools.

In is worth noting that prospects for passing this law (for a “moment of silence”) are good right now, before the elections. Even if — there be consider-able difficulties, all efforts would still be called for, as we learn from the way the previous Rebbe acted in Soviet Russia. Certainly then, in a country where by the grace of G-d the government not only doesn’t oppose religion, but also provides assistance, it is possible to achieve a “moment of silence” peacefully and pleasantly. Indeed, some states have already instituted a “moment of silence” in their schools.

Before the elections the opportunity to have this law passed in Congress is greater still, for it is now easier to persuade even those who are generally opposed — for they too need each person’s vote.

“Deed is paramount”: Everyone should do everything in his power to ensure that a “moment of silence” be instituted in public schools as soon as possible. Also, that parents who send their children to parochial schools not be hit with a double tax: taxed for education from which they derive no benefit, and payment for parochial school fees. And, as above, to drop the proposal for religious gatherings on the premises of public schools.

4. All that we spoke above concerning the farbrengen of the 12th-13th of Tammuz applies every year. In addition, there are aspects which change from year to year — the parshah learned during the week of the 12th-13th of Tammuz, and in particu1ar the section of parshah learned on this day itself. Because everything happens by Divine Providence, we can derive a lesson for service to G-d from today’s section of this week’s parshah — the fifth section of parshah Pinchas.

The beginning-of the section states (Bamidbar 28:2-4): “My offering, My food-offering consumed by fire ... two yearly male lambs without blemish, every day, as a daily burnt-offering, You shall offer one lamb in the morning, and the other lamb toward evening.”

This section is talking of sacrifices, particularly the daily offering, which, as a “burnt-offering,” was offered totally to G-d. There are some types of offerings of which the priests partake, and others of which also the priests’ households could partake, and yet others of which the owners partake. The “burnt-offering” is special in that it was offered totally to G-d — and this offering was brought twice each day, in the morning and toward evening.

This has parallels in man’s service to G-d. Our Sages say (Berachos 26b), “The prayers were instituted corresponding to the daily offerings.” When the Bais HaMikdash no longer existed and it was therefore impossible and forbidden to offer sacrifices, the morning prayer was instituted corresponding to the daily offering brought in the morning, and the afternoon prayer was instituted corresponding to the daily offering brought toward evening.

It thus follows that there is a connection between the concepts of prayer and sacrifice. “Sacrifice,” in Hebrew “korban,” is cognate to the root “kiruv,” “nearness” meaning a sacrifice draws man near to G-d. Prayer, besides being the requesting of man’s needs from G-d, is the medium through which man draws near to G-d.

That the daily sacrifice was a burnt-offering, all of it to G-d, also has meaning in its parallel to prayer. One is truly near to G-d only when his EWD;x ice is performed “without the intent of -receiving a reward,” solely to draw near to Him — as the burnt-offering is solely to G-d. For example, when a person becomes close with another for the purpose of reaping some benefit from their friendship, that closeness is phony, for not only is there an ulterior motive but one uses his friend for his own purposes. True closeness is only when there is no other purpose except that one wants to be close, such as a father to his son, whom he loves as himself.

True nearness to G-d, then, is when the person does not consider the benefits he will gain by observing Torah and mitzvos, but he simply wants to be close to G-d as an end in itself.

The verse says, “You shall offer one lamb in the morning, and the other lamb toward evening.” A Jew may think that the spiritual equivalent of the burnt-offering, drawing near to G-d without ulterior motive, is possible only “in the morning” -11morning” referring to a situation that is full of “light.” That is, when his spiritual situation is satisfactory and his material position is also good. Only in such a situation, one may think, is a person able to resolve to come close to G-d without ulterior motives.

When, however, a Jew is in a situation of 11toward evening” — meaning he considers his spiritual and material position to be gloomy — he may think that he cannot possibly pray to G-d without any ulterior motives. How can he concentrate on deowing close to G-d when he must first worry about his and his family’s needs?

That the daily sacrifice was offered twice a 4U.- once in the morning and once toward the evening, teaches that its spiritual equivalent must be a constant service, in every situation in a position of “darkness” as well as in “light.”

As a preface to the whole passage concerning the daily offering, Scripture states “My offering, My food-offering.” Sacrifice in general, and the daily offering in particular, is termed “My food-offering” — G-d’s food. What does food mean in relation to G-d Who has no body?

Torah, however, speaks in human terms. Food’s function is to keep a person alive, to keep the soul within the body. And, our Sages say (Midrash Shocher Tov, Tehillim 103:1), “As the soul fills the body so G-d fills His world.” Hence, just as food keeps body and soul together, so there is “food” which keeps G-d (“soul”) and the world (“body”) together — i.e., “food” to ensure that G-dliness is drawn down to and revealed in the world. That “food” is sacrifices, especially the daily offering — “My offering, My food-offering.” Today, when prayers take the place of the daily offering, it is prayer which unites G-dliness with the world openly, making the world whole and complete.

Because prayer unites G-dliness with the world, it also draws down blessings for things in this corporeal world — the requests made in prayer for health, sustenance and other matters. Thus, although the beginning and basis of prayer must be that one draws close to G-d without any thought of possible benefit that might accrue (similar to a burnt-offering all of which is to G-d) it also eli6aits blessings for success in the day’s activities, including those things from which one does have- personal benefit- (similar to an offering of which the owner partakes).

Emphasis is placed on the above by the fact fUpLt_tfie above lesson is derived from the section in this week’s parshah that is learned on a weekday — Thursday, the 12th of Tammuz. A farbrengen can be held on Shabbos, festivals, Chol HaMoed, Rosh Chodesh — and on a weekday. On a weekday a Jew is engaged in mundane work; on Shabbos and festivals a Jew is forbidden to do such work.

That a Jew should be close to G-d without thought of reward (similar to a burnt-offering which is all for G-d) is more startling on weekday than on Shabbos or a festival. On the one hand, weekday is a time when a Jew is permitted to work in mundane affairs. On the other, a Jew is told that the beginning of his day must be similar to the sacrifice of a burnt-offering, closeness with no thought of reward; and at the end of the day he must make an unbiased reckoning of the day’s activities to know what to rectify — similar to the burnt-offering brought toward evening.

To be close to G-d on Shabbos and the festivals when one does not engage in mundane work is understandable. The startling thing is that one should be totally dedicated to G-d on weekdays, when he is occupied with mundane matters!

This is what we learn from the fact that this year the 12th of Tammuz is on Thursday of parshas Pinchas. The service of every Jew must be in the manner of the daily burnt-offering — that every day he should devote himself totally to G-d.

One may think that such service is dependent on his own desire — if he wants to be a whole Jew 1~e_ — will devote himself totally to G-d, and if he doesn’t it’s his business, especially since he’s only harming himself, no one else.

The response to such an attitude is that Torah — 4- — ccW . _ nds,_ “A person is not permitted to wound himself.” Even the laws of this country, and normal mores, don’t permit such a thing: If a person would stand on Brooklyn Bridge and announce that he intends to jump, the police would be summoned and all efforts would be made to prevent it -despite the fact a person is his own master and he wants to jump!

Moreover, dedicating oneself totally to G-d is not a personal matter, for it concerns “My offering, My food-offering” — something which affects the whole world since one thereby unites G-dliness and the world. Every person is therefore obligated to fulfill his obligation in this matter.

When a Jew does act in the proper manner, he thereby merits G-d’s blessings for all things, and hastens the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

5. Now is the time to talk about the previous Rebbe’s enactment which he directed should be publicized until it is accepted the world over. He instructed that all Jews should learn Chitas -Chumash, Tehillim, and Tanya.

Chumash: To each day learn that day’s section of the weekly parshah as it is apportioned among the days of the week.

Tehillim: To each day recite the day’s portion of-Tehillim as it is, apportioned among the days.-of the-month.

Tanya: To each day learn the day’s portion of ,T=p as it is apportioned among the days of the

This includes all the mitzvah campaigns: Love and unity between Jews; education of oneself and others; Torah; tefillin; mezuzah; tzedakah; to possess Jewish books; Shabbos and Yom Tov candles; kashrus; family purity; a letter for each Jew in one of the general Sifrei Torah; the study of Rambam; and the printing of Tanya in every place.


  Pirkei Avos,
Chapter 5 Mishnah 9
 
  
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