In conjunction with Shavuos and the days of tashlumin, everyone has certainly made good resolutions regarding increasing in Torah and mitzvos, and has begun carrying them out in everyday life. A gathering of this sort must obviously result in each individual making additional positive resolutions. These resolutions must include reaching out to others – to be a "lamplighter" for one's surrounding by being a living example.
This applies especially in the field of education, beginning with even the youngest children. One must reach out to them in every possible way: verbally, in writing, by telephone, etc.
The present year is a Sabbatical year, and therefore all Shabbosdik matters – i.e. Torah and mitzvos – receive special emphasis. Shabbos is the time for oneg (delight), and therefore this year is blessed with an extra measure of oneg. This includes all types – from G-d's delight in the creation to the delight of the individual in the everyday life of himself and his family.
This all begins when the individual's service of G-d is imbued with oneg, including that aspect of G-dly service which relates to the realm of action. Although physical action is much cruder than spiritual pursuits, nevertheless "action is the main thing," because only when a person changes his actions is it sure that he is completely imbued with holiness.
It is almost evening, a time which seems to convey the spiritual message that the world is dark and difficult to illuminate. However, this realization itself gives a Jew additional enthusiasm and drive. The fact that he has been placed in such a situation shows that G-d must have given him the ability to light up the entire world.
He must begin with his immediate environment, by transforming his house into a miniature sanctuary. Even a small child must do so, thereby proclaiming to all that "This is the room of a Jewish child!"
There is a well-known statement of the Alter Rebbe that "One must live with the times," i.e. the weekly parshah. The reason for this is that the true life of a Jew is connected with Torah. Through learning Torah, in particular the section associated with that time, he draws down additional life and energy from the Torah, and through it, from G-d Himself.
Today's portion is the fourth section of parshas Behaalos'cha. This passage deals with the journeys of the Jewish people in the desert, a subject particularly appropriate to our gathering, where each individual is preparing to travel back to his particular land.
The Torah tells us (Num. 9:18) that, "The Jewish people travelled by the word of G-d." This means that whenever a Jew travels from one place to another, his journey must be connected with "the word of G-d" – i.e. His command to make every part of the world into a dwelling place for His presence.
One might imagine that this lesson applies only when one travels; when encamped, however – for example, when one sleeps – one is separated from G-d's word. The Torah says (ibid. 9:21) that this is not the case, because, "By the word of G-d they encamped." Even resting is part of one's mission, for during that time both his body and soul are strengthened and refreshed, enabling one to better carry out one's mission. Therefore, even when a person sleeps he carries out G-d's will, and is able to transform the darkness of the world into light. Through this we will be able to carry out our travel in the plain sense of the word, by coming out of exile speedily in our days.
The daily portion of Rambam deals with the laws of kilayim, forbidden mixtures. These laws are in force primarily in Eretz Yisrael, providing us with a ready lesson in how to better serve G-d.
The Tzemach Tzedek said, "make here Eretz Yisrael." This gives strength and capability to all subsequent generations to transform their environment and imbue it with the holiness of Eretz Yisrael.
As is customary, we will conclude with the distribution of one dollar to each individual as shlichus mitzvah. Our Sages say that charity brings the redemption closer; and when it is given joyously, this joy shatters all boundaries, including those of the exile, with the immediate revelation of Moshiach.
It is self-understood that you are all included in everything mentioned above. It actually is even more closely connected with you, for the revelation at Mt. Sinai served as the Bar and Bas Mitzvah of the entire Jewish people.
At that time, G-d gave the Torah, and did so in a way that we would translate into the realm of action. This is the main point of reaching Bar Mitzvah, for then one can begin actually fulfilling mitzvos, thereby transforming the world and everything in it into an object of holiness.
Certainly every Bar Mitzvah boy and Bas Mitzvah girl and their families will make a resolution to fulfill everything mentioned above, and to do more than is merely required. One must be a living example to others, spreading Judaism with the enthusiasm, strength, and light of a Chassid, speaking words which come from the heart. This will result in additional light entering one's own life, and the lives of their relatives.
We will conclude with the distribution of one dollar to each individual as a shlichus mitzvah, to which you will all certainly add on to with your own money. As a result, G-d will certainly add on in His blessings to each individual, and to the entire Jewish people, including the ultimate blessing, that of the complete redemption.
May the Holy One, blessed be He, who is the source of all blessings, bless each of you and all of you together with all the earlier mentioned blessings and with all the blessings enumerated in Torah, for Torah includes all benedictions.
May these blessings bestow their benevolence from now and until the wedding, so that all the preparations for the wedding shall be in the true Jewish manner, permeated with Chassidic enthusiasm and illumination.
This will add much to the wedding itself so that right from the outset it will be "an everlasting edifice" with all of G-d's blessings.
Subsequently, may all the benedictions continue for many long and good years, beginning with the blessing of sons and daughters who will be involved in Torah and mitzvos.
It is important that the parents of the groom and bride help their children to create an everlasting edifice by setting a proper example for them during the period of preparation and at the wedding itself.
The Holy One, blessed be He has commanded us: "Make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among them." We carry out this command at all times by making ourselves a vessel for the Shechinah.
This is further enhanced at the time of a wedding. When husband and wife are united there is an increase in the indwelling of the Shechinah as our sages tell us that when the wedding is "according to the law of Moshe and Israel," then "Man and woman...the Shechinah dwells with them." (Sota 17a) This engenders more blessing from the Shechinah, and blessing from G-d, as manifest in the "seven benedictions."
The Sheva Berachos (seven benedictions) of the marriage have a special connection with the portion of Behaalos'cha, which speaks of the Menorah.
Esoterically, the seven branched Menorah represents the collective souls of the Jewish people and the seven lamps represent seven levels in Divine service. Thus, the Jewish people may be divided into seven groups alluded to by the seven branches in the Menorah.
Now, this diversity is overshadowed by the overriding unity of the Menorah as the verse declares: "I saw that it was a complete Menorah of gold" (Zechariah 4:2), all united as one.
In this manner we can illuminate the whole world – just as the Menorahs in the Tabernacle and the Temples brightened the world. So, too, will it be in the Third Bais HaMikdash at the time of the complete redemption.
When the preparations for the wedding are pursued in a true Jewish way according to Torah and illuminated with Chassidic brightness – then the redemption will be speeded up. Similarly, when the wedding takes place "according to the law of Moshe and Israel."
Each groom and bride becomes a precursor to speed up the blessings of the future, starting with the blessing "Who sanctifies His people Israel through Chuppah and Kiddushin" that is recited at the marriage. This is followed by the seven benedictions – which include all the blessings.
Specifically, the last:
Let there speedily be heard in the cities of Yehudah and the streets of Yerushalayim...the sound of the groom and the sound of the bride.
The groom and the bride themselves bring that time closer.
"Charity is great for it brings the redemption closer" and "Tzedakah is compared to all the mitzvos," therefore, Tzedakah speeds up the redemption and it is a custom that the groom, bride, parents and all who wish to increase blessings, increase their donation to charity on the day of the marriage in a joyous and glad way.
By increased involvement in good activities you will engender even more blessing, especially in increased Torah study. As we are just a few days past Shavuos it is most appropriate that we have absorbed greater strength to increase our Torah study with new vigor.
This also has a connection to marriage. For Torah teaches us that Mattan Torah was the "engagement" and "wedding" of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Jewish people and that it formed an everlasting abode, forever.
So may it be for you, each of you, and all of you together among all the Jewish people, your marriages shall be everlasting abodes and should be blessed with all the benedictions, starting with the blessing of children who will be involved in Torah and mitzvos, with much abundance, and may you see in them and in yourself true Yiddishe nachas.
May this be especially so as I will appoint each of you an agent of the mitzvah of Tzedakah to donate this money to charity in addition to the sums which you will donate on your own.
May this good action increase the blessing of the seven benedictions and the increase shall be greater than the initial amount.
May this all lead to the blessing: "Speedily there shall be heard in the cities of Yehudah and the streets of Yerushalayim...the sound of the groom and the sound of the bride."
May it be with joy and glad hearts, ever increasing and illuminating – may it be a year of light and may we hear brilliant, good tidings materially and spiritually.