This farbrengen is being held in connection with the Yartzeit of the Tzemach Tzedek, the third of the Chabad Rebbeim.
In general, the Yartzeit of a Tzaddik represents a unique level. In Iggeres HaKodesh, the Alter Rebbe writes that on the day of a Tzaddik's passing the totality of the service which he carried out throughout his entire life is revealed and "effects salvation in the midst of the earth."
In particular, the Yartzeit of the Tzemach Tzedek represents a special quality as will be explained:
The number three has a special significance as explained in regard to Ya'akov (the third of the forefathers) and the evening service (the third of the daily prayers). Ya'akov is referred to as the "chosen of the forefathers." Similarly, the evening service possesses a quality which is not present in the other services.
Though there is no obligation to recite the evening prayers, the Tzemach Tzedek explains that in no way should one infer that the evening prayers are of secondary importance. Rather, the evening prayers represent a high level that cannot be attained were it to be instituted as an obligation. Though at present our sages have obligated us to recite the evening prayers, by doing so, they did not detract from the previous level.
Similarly, the Tzemach Tzedek, the third of the Rebbeim, possessed unique qualities beyond those possessed by the previous Rebbeim. The above statement is not intended to compare one tzaddik to another, but rather, to give us the potential to appreciate the special aspects of today, the Tzemach Tzedek's Yartzeit.
On one hand, on a tzaddik's Yartzeit, uniquely transcendent levels of G-dliness are revealed. Conversely, these revelations are drawn down "in the midst of the earth," as mentioned above. One factor is dependent on the other for, as explained in Chassidic thought, the higher a quality is, the lower its influence can be drawn down.
In addition, the Yartzeit of a Nassi, a leader of the Jewish people, possesses an additional quality. The Kabbalah explains that the word "Nassi" is an acronym for the phrase "a spark of Ya'akov, our forefather." Our sages declared: "the beauty of Ya'akov resembled that of Adam, the first man." Tanya explains that just as the souls of the entire world were included within Adam, so, too, they were contained within our forefather, Ya'akov.
A Nassi continues to serve in his capacity even after his passing. Thus, on his Yartzeit, there is a unique potential to carry out the service mentioned above, expressing the elevated spiritual qualities within "the midst of the earth." Furthermore, the above must be expressed in action for, as implied by the Mishnah, "deed is most essential."
As explained above, the revelations of a Yartzeit are drawn down "in the midst of the earth," thus attaching a unique importance to the material substance of the world. To put the concept in simple terms: A tzaddik's yartzeit draws down material blessings from G-d. A Jew takes those blessings and uses them for a proper intent without becoming even slightly attracted to their material aspects.
Thus, we will reach a level which is "a microcosm of the world to come." The Rambam describes the latter era as follows: "Delights will be abundant as dust"; implying two points:
- that there will be an abundance of delights;
- that they will be considered as dust, i.e. no importance will be attached to them.
Among the blessings mentioned by our sages is the wish: "May you appreciate the world to come in your lifetime"; i.e. within the context of our present existence, we can appreciate and approach the level of awareness that will be reached in the world to come. "On Shabbos eve, it is a mitzvah to taste from the foods prepared for the Shabbos." Similarly, in our generation which directly proceeds the coming Messianic era, we will be granted "a microcosm" of the blessings of that era.
Furthermore, by using those blessings and simultaneously, not becoming overly engrossed in material affairs, we hasten the coming of that era. Though "delights will be abundant as dust"; "the occupation of will only be to know G-d." Even before these ultimate revelations, Moshiach will unite the entire world the entire world in the service of G-d.
May the expression of these concepts as they exist in the realm of Torah hasten their revelation as actual fact within the world. May we witness the fulfillment of our sages' words: "In Nissan, they were redeemed and in Nissan, they will be redeemed" with the coming of the Messianic redemption, speedily in our days.
As mentioned above, each of the Rebbeim possessed a unique quality that was not emphasized to the same degree by any of the other Rebbeim.
Heaven forbid that we should compare the Rebbeim and point out qualities which appear different to us. However, we can allow ourselves a certain license in this area if our intent is to derive a lesson in the service of G-d.
In that context, it must be noted that the Tzemach Tzedek displayed a unique quality even in regard to his predecessors, the Alter Rebbe and the Mitteler Rebbe. That quality can be appreciated from the story related below.
Parenthetically, it must be emphasized that a story involving the Rebbeim is relevant to each and every one of us. In relation to Moses, the first Nassi, our sages taught us: "the Nassi is the entire people." As explained in Tanya, Moshe was "a shepherd of faith." He drew down the quality of faith to every one of the Jewish people. Furthermore, he conveyed even the elevated qualities of Torah study, Pilpula D'Oraisah, to the entire people.
In particular, he communicated the qualities which he possessed as a Nassi to the entire people for they were originally granted to him in their merit. His influence as a Nassi was not confined to his generation alone, but rather continued to the future generations; for every aspect of holiness never ends.
Based on the above, it follows that one of the major areas in which a Nassi must involve himself is the area of education. In this field of activity, we can openly perceive the timeless aspect of a Nassi's contributions. The qualities which a child acquires throughout his education have an enduring effect on him and his descendants forever.
To relate the above to the Tzemach Tzedek: Even though all the qualities he possessed are relevant to each of us, the story chosen to exemplify his unique quality concerns the field of education. The story is as follows:
In the Tzemach Tzedek's time, the Russian government conscribed Jewish children into the army at a very young age for a period of over 25 years. Their intent was to separate them from all possible Jewish influence. These children were called the "cantonists."
Despite the pressures they faced, many of these Jewish soldiers clung to their faith with mesirus nefesh. Even though they had not received any Jewish education, they refused to give up their Jewish tradition. At one point, the Tzemach Tzedek was near a camp of these cantonists and they requested that he be given the opportunity of addressing them. Permission was granted and the Tzemach Tzedek recited two ma'amarim for them. (These ma'amarim have been preserved and published in the text: The Tzemach Tzedek and the Haskalah Movement.)
This story illustrates the influence which the Tzemach Tzedek had in Russia at that time. Though that country was a world-power and virulently anti-Semitic, the Russian army sent an official messenger to the Tzemach Tzedek asking him to recite Chassidus for those under their command. Neither the Alter Rebbe or the Mitteler Rebbe enjoyed such a relationship with the Russian government. Though the Alter Rebbe received official government permission to spread Chassidus, that permission was only granted after many requests and after the Alter Rebbe suffered the privations of imprisonment. In contrast, the Tzemach Tzedek was asked to do so from the Russian government itself.
This story is relevant to us at present. Though we are living in a free country, there are still many Jews whose spiritual level resembles that of the cantonists. Indeed, their situation is far worse. The cantonists knew that they were being forcibly separated from their Jewish heritage. In contrast, these individuals do not appreciate the nature of their predicament; they do not realize how necessary it is for us to help them.
How great is the "rachmanus" on these people! Though they do not verbally express this desire, we must realize how their souls are begging us to teach them Torah, the entire Torah without any compromise; including even Chassidus, "the soul of the Torah." Every Jew is "a believer and the descendant of a believer." They have the potential to accept all aspects of Torah including even "the soul of Torah."
Just as we are required to know our own shortcomings, we are also obligated to appreciate the positive qualities which we possess. We must realize that we have been granted a great legacy of spiritual potential.
The previous Rebbe commented that "all that is necessary is to polish the buttons and then, Moshiach will come." Furthermore, that statement was made a few decades ago. In the interim, there has been much success in the spreading of Chasssidus outward and many baalei teshuvah have returned to Jewish practice. Hence, we must appreciate how ready each Jew is to accept the teachings of Torah and even of Chassidus.
The directive for our behavior that can be appreciated from the above is obvious. Though all that is necessary is "to polish the buttons," that service is required from each of us. We each must apply our "small fingers" to the task, speaking with words that emanate from the depths of our hearts. That will insure that the words will be received positively and have an effect upon the listeners.
The above describes a spiritual form of giving tzedakah, helping a Jew discover his spiritual welfare. Thus, it brings to mind the physical expression of tzedakah that is relevant at present, the custom of Maos Chittim, providing the poor with their Passover needs. Indeed, the two are inter-related. Whenever a person sees that another individual is genuinely concerned about his material welfare, he will be willing to receive guidance from him regarding his spiritual well-being.
Afterwards, "one mitzvah will lead to another mitzvah." From these activities, we will proceed to further positive efforts including activities in the ten mivtzoyim and also the mivtzoyim that were recently begun:
- printing the text, Tanya, in all Jewish communities;
- encouraging daily study of the Rambam's text, Mishnah Torah;
- stressing the importance of purchasing a letter in one of the general Torah scrolls composed to unite the Jewish people.
May these activities hasten the time when we will "proceed from strength to strength" and with happiness and freedom take part in the Messianic redemption.
On this occasion, I would like to convey my thanks to all those who sent blessings and good wishes in connection with Yud-Aleph Nissan. One of the fundamental principles of Torah is to recognize and show appreciation for the efforts of others. Hence, I want to acknowledge the blessings I have been given and reciprocate in kind. However, I am incapable of thanking each individual personally and therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to do so in a public manner.
There is an advantage to expressing reciprocation for those blessings in this manner rather than individually. In this manner, my blessings will be given:
- in a communal setting where many Jews are assembled;
- in a synagogue and house of study;
- in the place where the previous Rebbe spent the final ten years of his life.
May everyone be blessed with success and well-being regarding health, children, and prosperity and also, receive the ultimate blessing, the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.
At this same opportunity, I would like to express my thanks to the President of the United States for his blessings. His blessing has the added quality of fulfilling the adage: "You will be blessed from all the nations."
To him as well, I would like to reciprocate in blessing him with success in all of his activities; in particular, in his efforts to spread the fulfillment of the Seven Noachide Laws. Those activities are very fitting for a President of this country, a country founded on the belief in G-d, to the point that the words "in G-d we trust" are even printed on the currency of the country.
In this context, I would like to note two expressions of faith and belief which are characteristic of this country:
- Each sitting of Congress begins with a prayer to G-d.
- The army provides a chaplain whose task is to inspire every soldier with belief in G-d, teaching how He is, simultaneously, above all worldly matters and yet, present in every aspect of our existence.
Thus, we see how if a proper attitude and approach is taken, this country will provide assistance in spiritual and religious manners. Indeed, we see that the President has already made an effort to spread the belief in G-d and the observance of the Seven Noachide Laws. He has tried to provide Government aid to parochial schools and has aided legislation to enforce standards of Kashrus.
May he and his advisors be blessed for their efforts and may they continue these activities in the future. This, in turn, will bring about continued blessings including the ultimate blessing, the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.