Whenever Jews meet together, they should "begin with blessing." In particular, this applies when this meeting is being held in a holy place, the Previous Rebbe's synagogue and house of study.
At the outset, we must bless G-d for giving us the opportunity to meet together and thus, reinforce each other's efforts in Torah and mitzvos. Indeed, the very fact that Jews who are "scattered and dispersed among the nations," and are a minority in the world at large come together for the purpose of Torah and mitzvos, is itself a powerful reinforcement leading to the increase of Torah and mitzvos.
This is associated with the increase in Torah study which women have accepted upon themselves in the later generations regarding Torah study and in particular, the halachos which they are obligated to fulfill.
The Hebrew word halachah is also related to the Hebrew halichah meaning "walking." This implies that Torah study is intended to allow every Jewish man, woman, or child to proceed further, "going from strength to strength" until as the above verse concludes, we "appear before G-d in Zion."
Zion -- and Jerusalem with which it is associated -- is connected with the Messianic redemption. The Hebrew for Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, is a combination of two words, yirah shaleim, "complete fear." In the Messianic age, the revelation of G-dliness will permeate the totality of existence and, therefore, we will be able to reach complete fear of G-d.
This is possible because, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, each creation is constantly being brought into existence by a G-dly life-force. This also applies at present. The knowledge that at every moment the existence of each creation depends on G-d should bring us to complete fear of Him. Furthermore, this is not only a matter of belief, but can be openly perceived by "the eye of the mind." The very nature of physical existence indicates that there is a spiritual force which brings it into being. This awareness will cause life within the material world to enhance -- and not detract from our fear of G-d.
Developing this awareness is the core of a Jew's service throughout the entire day, beginning from the first moment with the declaration Modeh Ani. This declaration influences one's behavior throughout the day which follows; even at night, one sleeps in a Jewish manner.
This relates to the concepts explained in the previous farbrengens in regard to the kindling of the Menorah. "The soul of man is the candle of G-d." This flame must be lit in a manner that "the flame ascends by itself." Even the present age, the time of exile, when we are involved with material concerns does not weaken a Jew's faith. On the contrary, the awareness of his soul causes it to burn with a fire even in such a situation.
On the other hand, this does not weaken a Jew's involvement in the material world. This is evident from the revelation of G-dliness in the burning bush. The Torah relates that although the bush burned with Divine Fire, "the bush was not consumed." Similarly, in a person's individual world, the burning of the candle of his soul will not hurt his involvement in material things. On the contrary, it will lead to healthy life within the context of our physical existence.
The fusion of the material and the spiritual is reflected in this week's Torah portion, Parshas Shelach which relates how Moshe sent spies to explore Eretz Yisrael. Although Moshe represented the ultimate of spirituality, he instructed the spies to investigate the material aspects of Eretz Yisrael, indicating how the ultimate goal is the fusion of the material and the spiritual.
The above is relevant to women who have merited to be educated in Torah institutions. These women are each trained to become an akeres habayis, "the mainstay of the home." They determine the atmosphere in the house as is evident from their kindling of the Shabbos candles which bring the light and holiness of the Shabbos into their homes.
This must be the goal of educating Jewish children, not only to provide them with information, but primarily to train them to internalize this knowledge and express it in their everyday lives. The resolution to live in this manner will hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption, causing Moshiach to come immediately, so that our summers will not be spent in camp in the diaspora.
If, however, Moshiach's coming is delayed, this time should be used to spread Jewish education in Torah camps, camps which merit the name Gan Yisrael, "the garden of Yisrael," named for Ya'akov our Patriarch, who was given this name because "he fought with angels and men and was successful." This legacy is perpetuated in these camps which teach how one should elevate the material aspects of the world rather than be intimidated by them. This will make the camps into gardens for G-d," a place which gives G-d pleasure as explained in regard to the ma'amar, Basi LeGani.
May this cause us to be inscribed for a good and sweet year. (It is after Shavuos that the preparations for this begin.) And may you have a healthy summer, a happy summer, a summer of Torah and mitzvos which will prepare us for the Messianic redemption. May it be in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) Modeh Ani is recited "before You," before G-d's essence, not as G-d exists in the spiritual realms, but how He manifests Himself here on this earthly plane.
- (Back to text) Here also, we emphasize our direct relation with G-d. Accordingly, before retiring, a Jew declares, "In Your hand, I entrust my soul." This causes that while sleeping, "the soul ascends and derives life-energy," becoming "a new creation."
- (Back to text) This union of spiritual and material is reflected in the mitzvos which although they involve material entities, they are the ultimate of spirituality.
- (Back to text) This concept is further developed in the Haftorah which relates the story of Yehoshua's sending of spies to Jericho and their -- in contrast to the spies sent by Moshe -- successful execution of their mission.
- (Back to text) This is reflected by the Torah's comment after the conclusion of Moshe's instructions, "And it was the season of the ripening of grapes," i.e., the blossoming of material entities. In particular, grapes reflect the fusion of spirituality and physicality because the peel of the grapes reveals, rather than conceals the content of the fruit.
- (Back to text) These Shabbos candles are lit before the father or husband recites kiddush, indicating that it is the girls and women who initiate the Shabbos atmosphere in the home.
The Shabbos candles are also related to the fusion of spirituality and materiality mentioned above for it is a material and not a spiritual candle which is lit (for the purpose of lighting Shabbos candles is to prevent tripping over objects in the darkness). Nevertheless, this light is holy in nature.
Metaphorically, this symbolizes how kindling the light of a Jew's soul will prevent him from "tripping" over material entities in the darkness of exile.