The portion of Savo is always read in proximity to the 18th of Elul (Chai Elul), the birthday of the two great luminaries, the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe.
In the esoteric teachings of the Torah we learn that the holidays of the year are hinted at in the Torah portion of the week in which they occur. The Alter Rebbe also taught that we must live with the times, meaning the timely and eternal message of the weekly Torah portion.
Let us therefore seek out the connection between the 18th of Elul and the portion Savo, and how it will apply in our practical Divine service; for action is most essential.
The message of Savo is represented and encapsulated by its name, "Savo":
When you will come to the land.... (Devorim 26:1)
This narration is clearly an introduction to the ordinances that follow, which must be fulfilled upon entering into Eretz Yisroel. The sequence of the verses seems to say -- "After you will enter the land, then:
You shall take the first of every fruit of the ground produced by the land...and go to the site that G-d will choose.... (Ibid.:2)
In a like manner, we find further on in the portion:
A. On the day that you cross the Jordan to the land...you must erect large stones.... You shall write on them all the words of this Torah in a clear language (in all 70 languages). (Ibid. 27:2-8)
B. When you cross the Jordan, these are the ones who shall stand on Mount Gerizim for the people's blessing....
The sequence of these verses clearly indicates that we are not dealing with the direct commandment to conquer and enter the land. That was commanded earlier. Here the Torah is dealing with the ordinances which will be incumbent on the Jewish people when they will have entered the land.
Consequently, this textual context confers on the verse, "When you will come to the land," the meaning of a simple signpost.
In other words: "You are hereby guaranteed that you will enter the land. Now that you know this, you must begin making preparations to carry out the mitzvos which you will be responsible for, after you will cross the Jordan."
Now that we see that the focus of the portion is really on the subsequent mitzvos, it becomes crystally clear that the first verse, "When you will come to the land," serves only as an introduction. And yet, the name the portion takes is from that verse, "Ki Savo" -- "When you will come."
What do we learn from this strange paradox? In the name of the portion the guarantee and promise are proclaimed, and with this assurance the person is certain that he will soon enter Eretz Yisroel; consequently he begins to prepare for all the mitzvos of the land with enthusiasm and zealousness.
From this unusual construct we may garner the following lessons. The true "coming to the land" will take place only when our righteous Moshiach reveals himself with the ultimate redemption. Then we will reach a level of perfect observance of mitzvos. Our contemporary Divine service and observance of Torah and mitzvos, in the period of the diaspora, and especially at the close of the golus, serves as a preparation for that glorious time. As the Sifri says:
Although you are in golus, continue to observe the mitzvos very carefully so that when you return to the land they will not be unfamiliar for you.... (Sifri, Eikev 11:17)
The Ramban explains that the mitzvos were given mainly for those who dwell in Eretz Yisroel. By observing mitzvos in the diaspora epoch, they will serve as "signs," and we will merit to observe them in their full glory when Moshiach comes and we enter the land.
In order for the preparation to be proper and good, the individual must know in advance -- positively and absolutely -- that he will, "come to the land" very soon, and "inherit" and "settle the land."
He may then easily overcome all concealment and obstacles caused by the dark golus and serve G-d with joy and a glad heart -- knowing that the diaspora is only temporary, and very soon,
you will come to the land...you will occupy...and settle it.
Here the association to Chai Elul emerges. Being the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, Chai Elul represents the revelation and dissemination of the teachings of Chassidus: general Chassidus and Chabad Chassidus.
The birthday of a tzaddik is a time of "ascending fortune" (Yerushalmi, Rosh Hashanah 3:8), and the revelation and dissemination of Chassidic philosophy is greatly enhanced on this day.
Spreading Chassidus constitutes a preparation for Moshiach. As the Baal Shem Tov related that once he rose to the "Hall of Moshiach" and posed to Moshiach the question, "When will the Master come?" To which the reply came: "When your teachings will be revealed and become known in the world, and the wellsprings of your teachings will spread to the outside."
The main thrust of the required dissemination of Chassidic doctrine is accomplished by Chabad Chassidus when it is spread and studied in a manner of "progress," through understanding and perception of the intellectual powers of the soul.
With the spreading of the fountains of Chassidus, the imminence of Moshiach's coming becomes more evident and we see that very soon we will be entering the land. Since the fountains have been spread out -- the path is paved and the Master (Moshiach) can come and our preparations will become perfect. This connects the theme of Chai Elul with the theme of Savo.
Another point. The fountains of Chassidic philosophy (the theme of Chai Elul) have been spread to the most distant points, as accentuated in Savo:
[On the stones], you shall write all the words of this Torah in a clear language (the 70 languages).
(Devorim 27:8 and Rashi, loc. cit.)
It was the Previous Rebbe who, through his untiring efforts, effected the ultimate dissemination of Chassidus into many languages.
The need for a "Sefer Torah" that reveals the esoteric teachings of Torah in the "70 languages" is most appropriate when we stand on the threshold of Savo, ready to enter the land.
A. This is necessary for the gentile nations of the world. Since in the future:
And the strangers shall stand and feed your flocks...;
or, as we read in this week's Haftorah:
And the sons of strangers shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you. (Yeshayahu 60:10)
But most importantly:
For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language (the Holy Tongue) that they may all call upon the Name of the L-rd to serve Him with one consent. (Tzephaniah 3:9)
So, there must be preparation for that Messianic goal during the present era. How? The gentile nations must study the segments of Torah which apply to them. These include belief in G-d, as developed in Chassidic philosophy, etc. By translating these concepts into languages which they can understand they will be able to attain this knowledge.
B. For the Jewish people, in anticipation of the redemption; which will be in a manner of "I...will hasten it." We cannot wait for the masses of the Jews to study and understand Chassidus in the original Hebrew -- since the vast majority of the Jewish people are not fluent in the Holy Tongue they must be taught, without delay, in their native tongues.
Thus, the translation of Chassidus to many languages is a sign of the approaching entrance into Eretz Yisroel.
There is another important date juxtaposed this year to Chai Elul and Shabbos Savo; the 15th of Elul, which was last Friday, Erev Shabbos Savo. The 15th of Elul is the day that Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim was founded 89 years ago.
The Previous Rebbe, among his many roles and responsibilities, was also the executive director of Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim. He was appointed to this position (by his father the Rashab) for perpetuity.
In fact, the founding of the Yeshivah took place in conjunction with the previous Rebbe's wedding, which occurred on the 13th of Elul, 5657, and was certainly a most significant and important period in the life of the Previous Rebbe.
With the founding of Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim, the study of Chassidus entered a new stage; it was now studied in the regular curriculum of the Yeshivah and in an organized and systematic way. The same mental concentration and keen dialectical, analytical approach, which traditionally applied to Talmud, commentary and codes, would now be directed toward Chassidic philosophy; another step in bringing Moshiach closer.
At the time that Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim was established the Rebbe Rashab spoke in one of his discourses:
With this beginning...I kindle the torches which the Baal Shem Tov and our Rebbe'im have bequeathed to us, so that the promise that "your wellsprings will spread to the outside" may be realized and speed the coming of Moshiach. (Sefer HaSichos 5702, p. 133)
Several years later the Rashab elaborated on the purpose and goals of Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim, when he compared the students to "soldiers" of the "wars of the House of Dovid." Their job: to wage war against those who "taunt the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach)" (Tehillim 89:52).
The Midrash says that since this verse is immediately followed by the verse:
Blessed be the L-rd forevermore. Amen and amen,
this indicates that when we see a generation which blasphemes and imprecates, we must (counteract their efforts) and hope for Moshiach even more strongly, for certainly, the redemption will come, through the revelation of Chassidus and the strengthened faith in the advent of Moshiach.
So the theme of the 15th of Elul is also the increased efforts which will bring us closer to our goal of entering the land, swiftly and soon.
This year, 5746, we begin the 90th year of the existence of Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim.
In conformance with the custom of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe that we recite a chapter of Tehillim to correspond to a person's age, in this case, too, we may understand that the close of the 89th year is associated with the end of Psalm 89:
For they that taunt, they are Your enemies, O L-rd. That they taunt the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach). Blessed be the L-rd forevermore. Amen and Amen.
Consequently, it becomes apparent that at this propitious time the soldiers of the House of Dovid can complete and perfect their victory on the "battlefield" against those who taunt the footsteps of Moshiach. The potential is there for true hegemony and continuous success, as suggested by the phrase "Amen and amen." So that we will see the redeemer. As the commentaries explain on these verses, that Dovid saw the advent of the Moshiach and therefore expressed his praise for G-d.
These days are "propitious days" to accomplish great success in spreading Yiddishkeit and the fountains of Chassidus to the outside -- and thereby to speed up the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
It is therefore right and proper to gather for public assemblies and farbrengens in all places. And there is no place in the world which has not been influenced to some degree by an alumnus of Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim, the soldier of the House of Dovid.
At the assemblies you should encourage the increase and strengthening of all areas of Torah and mitzvos, in a manner that will introduce the excitement of innovation.
Of course the themes of Elul must be stressed: Torah, prayer, acts of lovingkindness, on the foundation of teshuvah and redemption. Emphasize the importance of unswerving faith in the advent of Moshiach. Publicize that "all the predestined times have passed" (Sanhedrin 97b), so that we should all stand ready to enter the land: "When you enter the land" and you will "inherit and settle."
This will all be immediate, after purifying a few last aspects of the golus; polish the buttons of our uniforms to greet our righteous Moshiach (see Sicha, Simchas Torah 5689). These convocations should be held before Chai Elul or as soon after as possible.
May G-d grant that by accepting these positive and beneficial resolutions we will immediately merit the reward -- the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach. And then:
You will come to the land...You will occupy and settle it, the complete land.
And as expressed in the Haftorah which concludes the portion:
They are all gathered together, and coming to you, your sons came from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. (Yeshayahu 60:4)
This implies the complete nation.
They will inherit the full land of the ten nations, as Eretz Yisroel will be expanded in the time of Moshiach.
And may they bring:
...their silver and gold with them.... (Ibid.:9)
This means actual material riches, as well as spiritual silver and gold: love of G-d and fear of G-d, which encompass the 248 positive commandments and the 365 negative commandments -- the complete Torah and mitzvos.
May this all be quickly and speedily:
Come with the clouds of Heaven. (Daniel 7:13)
Again in the Haftorah:
Who are these who fly like the clouds.... I the L-rd will hasten it in its time. (Yeshayahu 60:8,22)
On the verse, "Keep every commandment" (Devorim 27:1), Rashi comments:
Keep every commandment -- the word "keep" (shamor) is a frequentative present tense, gardant in Old French, (keeping in English). (Rashi, loc. cit.)
A question has been raised on this Rashi. Since Rashi apparently is explaining only the word "shamor" why is it necessary for Rashi to cite the entire clause, "Keep every commandment?"
In addition to this standard query, another difficulty comes to mind. What was unclear in this verse that made it necessary for Rashi to comment that the word "shamor" is in present tense?
The annotators on Rashi raise this question and propose that the vowelling of the word is out of the ordinary. Whereas usually in such cases it would say "shemor," the imperative, here it says "shamor," the declarative, frequentative present tense.
However, this solution is shockingly incorrect, as the five-year-old Chumash student immediately senses. How can you say that "shamor" is not imperative when the Torah clearly states:
"Zachor, (remember) the Shabbos day to keep it holy"; and "Shamor -- (observe) the Shabbos to keep it holy."
(Shemos 20:8, Devorim 5:12)
Both of these expressions are certainly imperative, yet the vowelling is shamor, etc. The five-year-old Chumash student will also soon learn the verse: "Lokoach -- take this book of the Torah ..." (Devorim 31:26), where Rashi clearly states that lokoach is the same grammatical form and the same structural meaning as zochor and shamor. All are imperative!
If so, the problem is not solved. Why does Rashi deem it especially necessary to interpret the command, "Keep every commandment" in the present tense? Why is this particular case different from similar words in Scripture?
Let us likewise consider a verse which Rashi chose to ignore.
At the close of this week's portion the Torah tells us:
Moshe summoned all Israel, and said to them: You have seen all that G-d did in Egypt before your very eyes, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land. Your own eyes saw the great miracles, signs and wonders. But until this day, G-d did not give you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear. (Devorim 29:1-3)
A fundamental question begs to be asked:
Moshe spoke this soliloquy at the conclusion of forty years in the wilderness, after "all the men of war (ages 20-60) among the people finished dying" (Devorim 2:6). At this point there was no one alive who had been included in the death decree issued after the sin of the spies. How could Moshe have reminded them of all that "G-d did in Egypt before your very eyes" when these people were not of that generation that left Egypt. They never saw the miracles in Egypt?
Could Moshe have referred to Yehoshua, Calev and others who were not yet twenty at the time of the Exodus, but did in fact leave Egypt? Highly unlikely, since they comprised a small minority of the assembled Jews, and "Torah speaks of the majority." In this case the vast majority were never in Egypt!
The explanation: Why does Rashi ignore this blatant paradox?
When Rashi informs us that shamor is the present tense his intention is not to say that it is not imperative, rather it is imperative but it is also frequentatively present. Should you say that this observation is obvious and self-evident since we find the same word form used in several other places in Torah, there could however be a distinction. In the case of the word shamor or Zachor which do indicate both the imperative form as well as continual present tense, we will find that the context in which they are used is very limited. For example, "Remember (zachor) this day in which you went out of Egypt." This verse teaches us that we must remember the Exodus every day. "Remember the Shabbos day to keep it holy." Pay attention always to remember Shabbos. If during the week you come across some special item put it aside for Shabbos. In all of these cases we find the term shamor (or zachor) used to command a very specific and easily delineated mitzvah. Here the word shamor commands you to keep the whole Torah, "every commandment." This is beyond the realm of normal possibility.
You can remember Shabbos every day, and you can remember the Exodus every day (and act accordingly). But you cannot remember every mitzvah every day! Can you observe the Laws of Pesach on Sukkos, or the laws of Rosh Hashanah on Shavuos?
"Observing" a particular mitzvah could apply only at the set times for that mitzvah. You cannot observe all the commandments all the time! For this reason one who encounters this case of shamor would be moved to interpret this mitzvah of remembering in a noncontinuous way. Therefore Rashi warns us that here, too, in referring to "every commandment" the word shamor means -- "keep" or "observe" in the continuous present tense -- every day! But, how? Why does Rashi leave us in suspense? The answer is elementary, and right in front of us.
In the following verse, and connected by the conecting "vav," the Torah says:
And on the day that you cross the Jordan ...you must erect large stones and plaster them...you shall write on them all the words of this Torah. (Ibid. 27:2-3)
What is the meaning of this sequence: why does the commandment of the stone pillars directly follow the directive to "Keep every commandment"?
When we remember that continual observance of every mitzvah is virtually impossible, we realize that the purpose and goal of the pillars which had the Torah written on them was in effect to perpetuate the observance (remembrance) of "every commandment." They will always be there on the pillars and anyone who passes will see the laws and remember the rules. Since this juxtaposition should really be obvious, Rashi finds no need to include it in his commentary. He just tells us that here the shamor also means always in the present and we will then understand that the pillars will satisfy the Torah need for continuous remembrance -- observance. All of our difficulties are now answered. Rashi must include the words "every commandment," as that is the gist of the clause and leads us on to the next verse which speaks of the writing on the pillars -- the implementation of the continual observance of mitzvos.
Regarding the verse, "You have seen...before your very eyes," the commentaries explain that the gist of Moshe's admonishment was to point out that the Jewish people did not yet attain the perception:
To understand the lovingkindness of the Omnipresent and to cleave unto Him. (See Rashi, Devorim 29:3)
Thus, if Moshe's emphasis was on the lack of a resultant emotion of love, and further nonimplementation and actualization in practice, then it mattered not whether he spoke to those who had personally experienced the Exodus or those who had merely heard the stories from their parents. In both cases, if they were sensitive they would be motivated to action, and if they lacked the sensitivity there would be no positive results, to "cleave to G-d."
This concept becomes clearer when Rashi suggests an alternative explanation:
For no one can fathom the depths of his teacher's mind nor the wisdom of his teachings until after forty years (study under him), etc.
Clearly this illustration emphasizes the point of oral transmis-sion of tradition, the same way you learn from a teacher, by listening and not by seeing. Thus Moshe chastised them for their insensitivity to those facts that they knew to be true. He was not emphasizing that they had personally lived through it.We might also say that Moshe's words of admonishment were mainly addressed to Yehoshua, Calev and the elders, as well as the tribe of Levi who were exempted from the decree of death in the wilderness and therefore still had many individuals who had seen the wonders in Egypt. In this scenario Moshe addressed them and chastised them for having been there and seen (not just heard) and experienced and yet, despite all this, they had not influenced their brethren (which was their responsibility to do so) to hear about G-d's miracles and consequently to love, fear and cleave to G-d.
Following this interpretation his emphasis is not only on the resulting action but also on the personal experience these pious people had lived through. They should have influenced the others and since they had not, the leaders and sages bear the onus of responsibility.
Today's study section in the Rambam deals with the state of tumah (ritual impurity) imposed on the gentile lands and conversely emphasizes the superior quality, purity and holiness of Eretz Yisroel.
Concerning heathen land, it was first decreed that its soil alone counted as a grave area.... Afterwards, it was decreed that its airspace conveyed tumah....
(Laws of Corpse Tumah 11:1)
Here we see a clear connection to the portion Savo: "When you will come to the land."
At the close of the same section the Rambam teaches:
Moreover, the presumption is that the roads used by the returnees (pilgrims) from Babylon are tahor (ritually pure), although they are included within heathen land. (Ibid.:12)
Although these roads pass through the gentile lands, since the exiles who returned to Eretz Yisroel from Babylon travelled on these roads they are certainly tahor (ritually pure) beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The returnees from Babylonian exile comprised but a small segment of Babylonian Jewry. None of the ten (lost) tribes came back, and but a small percentage of the tribes of Yehudah and Binyamin returned to Eretz Yisroel (see Ezra 1:5, ff.).
Furthermore, the ascent of the Babylonian exiles occurred many years ago, and yet, when we will establish the identity of the roads they used -- no matter what may have happened in the ensuing years -- the roads were still presumed tahor, till this very day!
Can you appreciate this astounding and mind-boggling fact: the great and amazing preciousness of the march of exiles returning to their homeland reached the degree that the roads they travelled remain holy and tahor for eternity!
How much more so when we will return from this final golus. Then all the Jews will return from Babylon and the rest of the diaspora to Eretz Yisroel, and then, too, all the paths will be tahor. In fact we will follow the old trodden paths.
Not only will the roads be pure but the gold and silver which we will receive from the nations of the world (see Haftorah) will also be uplifted and carried up to Eretz Yisroel, and thereby be refined, purified and sanctified.
Today we study chapters three and four of Pirkei Avos and we will find a connection to the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, whose birthdays we celebrate on Chai Elul (the 18th of Elul).
In chapter three the Mishnah teaches:
"Know from where (me'ayin) you come" (Avos 3:1). This adage may also be translated: "Know that you come from Ayin (nothing)."
Chassidus explains that true spirituality is the state of Ayin (metaphysical or supraphysical) which gives life to the world. The state of Ayin refers to the level of "crown" which hovers above the order and system of "devolution of the spiritual worlds." This level is hinted at by the phrase, "The soul which you have given within me," as the soul still hovers in the level which transcends the subsequent stages of "created...formed...and breathed it into me" (Siddur).
Esoterically speaking, all created beings and things are created by the ayin -- the amorphous, G-dly force which creates ex nihilo and, as the Baal Shem Tov and Alter Rebbe explain, this creative process from naught into existence is continuous.
However, the creative Ayin only creates all beings, but it does not descend to constitute their essence, -- for that, there are the individual spiritual entities, constellations, heavenly host and spiritual ministers, as referred to in Midrashic literature:
There is not a single herb which does not have a (mazal) constellation (spiritual root or counterpart) which strikes it and says "grow." (Bereishis Rabbah 10:6)
This "mazal" is the individual "soul" of each created thing.
In the case of the Jewish people, their essential being and existence is the Ayin -- G-dliness, which is above Mazal -- above supernal wisdom, and above the order of the spiritual worlds.
The Mishnah advises us:
Reflect upon three things and you will not come to sin: know that you come from the Ayin....
With the realization of your personal intrinisic existence in the general context of all creation, you will be so inspired that you will not even come close to a sin.
Chassidic tradition symbolically attributes the Sefirah (level) of the "inner Kesser" (crown) to the Baal Shem Tov; this is the level of Ayin -- G-dliness.
In this chapter we find another mishnah associated to the philosophy of the Baal Shem Tov: "Everything is foreseen" (Avos 3:15).
This dictum encapsulates the Baal Shem Tov's opinion regarding Divine Providence -- that it applies to every single and individual created thing. "Everything is foreseen."
We know that the Rambam was of the opinion that individual Divine Providence applied only to members of the human race, while in all other realms -- Divine Providence is only general, as pertaining to a complete family, order or species.
The Baal Shem Tov, however, taught the doctrine of individual and detailed Divine Providence, including the individual members of the animal kingdom, as well as the world of vegetable and the inanimate. Even a dead leaf is controlled by Divine Providence; will it be blown by the wind or will it be kicked by a person?
According to the theory of the Rambam we will interpret the word "everything" as referring to each species, while the Baal Shem Tov's approach will interpret this dictum in the plain meaning of the term: Divine Providence seems to include every individual being and particle.
Look further in the mishnah. The word everything is used again at the end of the mishnah: "...and everything is according to the preponderance of good deeds." In this case we clearly refer to the numbers -- how many mitzvos? So, too, in the context of "Everything is foreseen," it also means "many things"; all beings in existence are controlled by Divine Providence.
In chapter four we find a subject that relates to the Alter Rebbe: "Who is wise?" (Avos 4:1) clearly a reference to the Alter Rebbe who in Chassidic tradition symbolized the attribute of wisdom.
Let us study this mishnah within the context of one of the teachings of the Alter Rebbe.
Who is wise? He who learns from every person, as it is stated: "From all those who have taught me I have gained wisdom; indeed Your testimonies are my conversation."
It seems that the mishnah quotes the verse to show that wisdom comes from "all who have taught"; hence one should learn from every person. If so, why does the mishnah also quote the second part of the verse?
Moreover, if the latter part of the verse carries the meaning that the wisdom gained from all the teachers were the Testimonies which later became the conversations, then it would seem that the emphasis of the former part of the verse is that all the teachers taught the same principle and not that you can learn from everyone!
Another point. The commentaries paraphrase the mishnah and say: "Who is wise (and has the right to brag about his wisdom)?" (Bartenura, loc. cit.) or "Who is strong (and may be proud about his strength)?" etc. Can this projection be true? What about the verse:
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory.... (Yermiyahu 9:22)
The answer to this quandary may be found in a Chassidic discourse of the Alter Rebbe which explains that the subsequent verse:
But let him that glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, (Ibid.)
carries the answer. When one understands and knows the L-rd, then he may also glory in wisdom, might and riches, for they will all be focused on the goal of knowing G-d.
Here in the mishnah the same is true. When is someone wise and able to brag about his wisdom, when it leads to the fact that "Your testimonies are my conversation" -- this is the same as Yermiyahu's statement of first "knowing the L-rd," and then the wisdom and power and riches will all be dedicated to knowing G-d. Then, not only is he a true scholar, because he learns from every person, but he may also be proud of his wisdom, because it is dedicated to knowing G-d and to making His testimonies his conversation.
Another subject which accentuates the connection of chapter four with the Alter Rebbe is the closing words:
You are destined to give an accounting before the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.
Here, too, the subject of "accounting" involves details and particulars, once again associated with wisdom, in Chassidic philosophy and symbolized by the Alter Rebbe.
The mishnah states that the accounting (wisdom) is presented to the Holy One, Blessed be He (desire), an indication of the melding together of the spirit of the Alter Rebbe with the Baal Shem Tov, which is accomplished on this Shabbos when we study chapters three and four.
In introducing the study of Pirkei Avos we quote the mishnah:
All Israel have a share in the World to Come, as it is stated, "And Your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, they are the branch of My planting, the work of My hands in which to take pride."
Being that this verse "Your people are all righteous" is in this week's Haftorah there is a special connection between Pirkei Avos and this Torah portion -- the preciousness of the Jewish people expresses itself in the fact that G-d wants our action and desires the perfection which we effect in the world.
At the close of Pirkei Avos we say:
The Holy One, Blessed be He, wanted to make the people of Israel meritorious; therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvos in abundant measure. (Makkos 23b)
During the month of Elul -- the time of stock-taking -- there may be those who argue that since we have so many mitzvos to observe and we do not do enough, therefore we must be chastised and reprimanded. Here the mishnah comes to inform us that the only reason G-d gave us an abundant measure of Torah and mitzvos was to make us meritorious! You have no right to use this matter -- the multitudinousness of mitzvos -- for a negative purpose; only to make us meritorious!
I wish to once again urge and encourage everyone to carry out all the themes of the month of Elul and to give special attention to the needs of the less fortunate for Rosh Hashanah, of which it is stated:
Eat sumptuously, and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared.
May we merit that through increased tzedakah the redemption will be speeded up and we will merit,
...for righteousness is Yours, L-rd, (Daniel 9:7)
the true and fundamental tzedakah, that G-d will redeem us from the golus to the true and complete salvation. "With our youth and elders, sons and daughters, a great assembly," speedily and truly in our days.