[The children recited the twelve verses of the Torah and sayings of our sages.]
1. We will begin with a portion of the Torah that is especially connected with today. We are taught by the Alter Rebbe, that one should learn a daily section of the weekly portion. The section of today — Tuesday — is the third section of the weekly portion of “Ki Sovo.” The section (26:16) opens with the words: “This day the L-rd your G-d commands you to do these statutes...” G-d tells Moses, and through him all subsequent generations, the Jews should learn Torah and fulfill the Mitzvos.
On the words “This day the L-rd your G-d commands you,” Rashi comments: “Every day they should be new in your eyes as though on that very day you were commanded regarding them.” It is important to note that Rashi uses the Hebrew word “Chadoshim” — “new” — rather than “Kachadoshim” — “seem as new” — indicating that on this very day G-d comes to each Jew, young and old, asking him and giving him strength to keep the Torah. Each Jew is asked to fulfill the Torah and apply it to his daily life, knowing that on this very day he has received the Torah anew.
The section (17-18) continues: “You have set apart the L-rd this day to be your G-d, and to walk in His ways,... and the L-rd has set you apart this day to be a people of His own possession.” The term used is, once again, “this day,” again indicating (in light of Rashi’s comment above) that on this very qRZ every Jew again chooses G-d as our Master (“and to walk in His ways”) anew for all the days of the years to come. “...And G-d has set you apart this day to be a people of His own possession” similarly means: On this very day, G-d chooses every member of the Jewish people anew, to be His choice from amongst all the nations.
The Torah continues (19): “[He has chosen you to make you] in praise and in name, and in glory, and that you may be holy people to the L-rd your G-d.” G-d sets us apart as a beautiful thing that one is proud of. G-d Himself says that every Jew is “the work of My hands in which to take pride” (one of the twelve passages).
All of these abovementioned concepts are the more significant during the current month of Elul, when the portion of “Ki Sovo” is read.
The Alter Rebbe teaches that in the month of Elul, G-d is like a “King in the fields.” During this month “everyone is allowed — and in the words of the Previous Rebbe is able — to approach Him.” No special effort is needed during this time to meet with and coronate the King. He is not secluded in His “Capital city,” but accessible to all in the fields. The Alter Rebbe continues the analogy and emphasizes that G-d “receives everyone with a cheerful countenance,” waiting to fulfill any request that might be asked of Him.
In light of the above analogy, we can better understand the significance of the abovementioned concepts in the month of Elul. The “King in the fields” selects us this very day to be His own nation. His cherished treasure. He gives us strength to fulfill the Torah in a way that enables Him to take pride in us. And in response to the King’s mood — a joyous countenance — the Jews accept their task happily and with joy, ensuring their success in everything.
The above is also connected with the custom of sounding the Shofar every weekday of Elul. One of the reasons for the sounding of the Shofar is mentioned in the book of Amos (3:6): “Shall a Shofar be sounded in the city, and the people not be afraid?” The Shofar brings about a feeling of awe of G-d, causing, in turn, a strengthening in the learning of Torah and performance of Mitzvos. Since the Shofar is blown every day of Elul, it awakens a renewed awe of the “King in the fields” each day.
Another thought: The RaSaG mentions another reason for the Shofar. It is customary to herald the coronation of a King with the blowing of trumpets, symbolizing the joy of the King’s subjects. In a similar view, one can say that the blowing of the Shofar every day of Elul is associated with the coronation of the King.
The two abovementioned concepts are actually combined as one. Fear of G-d leads to the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos, which is, in effect, the Mitzvah of “You have set apart the L-rd this day to be your G-d” — accepting upon ourselves G-d’s sovereignty this very day.
It is the custom that the King distributes gifts at the time of his coronation. Since we have accepted G-d’s sovereignty upon us today, we receive presents from Him. And, since the children assembled here presented gifts in the form of Torah Passages and various Mitzvos, this serves to increase the gifts which the King of Kings Himself distributes. These gifts include blessings for a good and sweet year in the simple sense including everyone’s particular needs; it also includes the most basic blessing — the true and total redemption through Mashiach, speedily in our days.
2. The selection of the Jewish people as the treasured possession of G-d, was for the express purpose of illuminating the world with the light of Torah and Mitzvos. No Jew should therefore have any feelings of self-importance, G-d forbid, as a result of his selection; but rather go about his mission of learning Torah and performing Mitzvos. This should obviously be done in a spirit of “Love your fellowman as yourself” — every boy and girl influencing those around them to conduct themselves in accordance with the Torah. In this way they demonstrate that they are deserving of being designated as the “treasured possession” of G-d, “a son of Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov” and a daughter of Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah.”
There is also another way to demonstrate our being a treasured possession of G-d. Today we presented G-d with yet another gift, that of assembling for the purpose of learning Torah passages, praying, and giving charity. These are the three pillars upon which the entire world rests. And, by fulfilling these three things on “this day,” we thereby coronate G-d as our King with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm. G-d then responds by presenting us with gifts, also on this very day, beginning with blessing for both spiritual and physical health. This is especially significant now, at the end of the summer camp sessions which are devoted to physical health and — through it — the health of the soul.
G-d also helps you to influence all the Jewish children, wherever they may be found — as required by the Mitzvah of loving your fellow Jew — to conduct themselves in accordance with the Torah. This can be accomplished by being a living example and never forgetting to mention matters of Yiddishkeit in speech and writing. By associating in this way with other Jews, we become connected with all the Jews of past, present and future generations. This is the integrity and completeness of the Jewish nation in the true sense.
Knowing this,, the children are able to walk in the way shown to them by G-d undeterred by any difficulties, even in the face of the overwhelming numbers of non-Jews in their neighborhoods. They know that they are not alone, but united with all the Jewish children — and all Jews — of all generations. By accepting upon themselves the Torah in its entirety, they will receive another one of G-d’s gifts — that of the “Land of Israel in its entirety.” The Holy Land has been given as an eternal heritage to the Jews — the “Holy people” and on “this very day” this eternal possession is once again renewed in its entirety. This idea is connected with the beginning of the week’s portion: “And it shall be when you will come to the land which the L-rd your G-d gives you for an inheritance and you will possess it and dwell therein.” May we go to the “Land in its entirety,” and may G-d do as He has said in the Torah: “And I will give peace in the land”, an authentic peace — [as only] “I” (G-d) can bring about — in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch; speedily in our days.
[At this point, the Rebbe Shlita spoke about the situation in the Holy Land.]
3. In view of what was previously mentioned about the Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael, we will end this gathering with a firm declaration: ‘May all Jews be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year in the plain and obvious sense.’ This includes all Jews, from the “heads of the tribes” to the “woodchoppers and watercarriers.” Since Ahavas Yisrael is so basic in Torah, it is important to emphasize that no Jew is excluded and every Jew is blessed with a good year.
Those who speak disparagingly of Jews, should know that they are directing their remarks against an “only child” of the King, since G-d loves every Jew like an only child. The only way to help Jews onto the right path is to deal pleasantly with them.
G-d, in the words of the Tanya, “stands over him... and searches his mind and heart to see if he is serving him properly”: G-d analyzes the speech of anyone unkindly of Jews, to see if he is clean and perfect enough to be justified in permitting himself to speak severely about the only child of G-d!
With all of this in mind every Jew will be inspired with the proper fear of G-d, and he will do as G-d desires in judging every Jew favorably. G-d will then, correspondingly, judge him favorably, despite his shortcomings, taking into consideration his good intentions to rectify himself. G-d will help him “choose life” — the life of Torah in general and particularly the basic principle of the Torah dealing with every Jew in the spirit of “Love your fellowman as yourself.”
4. Today we have accepted G-d as our king anew “You have set aside the L-rd this day to be your G-d” — and G-d responds today with gifts of children, long life, and ample sustenance.
Then, we will go with joy “with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters,” indeed with the Jews of all generations to receive Mashiach. With Mashiach we will go to the Holy Land and fulfill the Mitzvah of “...when you come to the land which the L-rd your G-d gives you for an inheritance, and you will possess it and dwell therein.” We will settle for all times in the Holy Land, never to leave again on another exile. The third and eternal Bais HaMikdash will be built and we will, during the coming festival of Sukkos, fulfill the Mitzvah of “Assemble the nation, men, women, and children” and Mashiach will himself read those passages of the Torah which exhort the Jews to go in the way of G-d.
One of the ways of preparing for Mashiach is that each of you should, in unison, wish the entire Jewish nation a good and sweet New Year; and may we soon prepare to receive Mashiach. Amen, may it indeed be His will.
5. As mentioned before, we are told that G-d will set us aside “above all nations... in praise, in name and in glory.”
In recent weeks, we have been discussing institutions connected with “Tiferes” — Glory — among them: Tiferes Bachurim (the glory of young men), Tiferes Z’Keinim (the glory of the elders) and Tiferes Chachmos Nashim (the glory of wise women) — institutions of learning for young people, the elderly and for ladies. It is appropriate to mention now the importance of influencing all these categories of people to intensify their learning of Torah and realize that it is vital to their day-to-day life.
6. I would advise and request that, at least three times after this, assemblies be arranged for children. One should take place before Rosh Hashanah, the second during the auspicious time of the Ten Days of Repentance and the third during the joyous period of Sukkos. The assemblies should be devoted to the three pillars of the world — Torah, Prayer, and Charity. These should take place also in the Holy Land and especially by the holy places – the Western Wall, the Cave of Machpeilah and the Tomb of Rochel.
It is stated in the Torah that good resolutions bring immediate good results. We should all therefore, immediately resolve to arrange these assemblies, hoping that they will occur when Mashiach will already have arrived.
It is fitting to end off with everyone expressing their good wishes to the Jewish people for a good year. It would also be appropriate to repeat the verses of Shema Yisrael and Torah Tziva.
[Everyone present declared: “May we and all of Israel be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year in the plain sense.”
The Pesukim of Shema and Torah Tziva were repeated and the Rebbe Shlita distributed dimes to the camp leaders, for the subsequent distribution of two dimes to each child — one for charity and one for personal use.
Before leaving, the Rebbe Shlita asked that Uforatzto be sung.]