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Publisher's Foreword

The Significance of a Bar Mitzvah

Preparations for the Bar Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah Customs


The Maamar

Sichos Kodesh

Reshimos of Bar Mitzvah

Letters From The Rebbe

The Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbeim


Yalkut Bar Mitzvah
An Anthology of Laws and Customs of a Bar Mitzvah in the Chabad Tradition

Chapter 7
Reshimos of Bar Mitzvah

by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov

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  Sichos KodeshLetters From The Rebbe  

Reshimos No. 5. Monday 26 Sivan, 5691

Details of the Previous Rebbe's Bar Mitzvah / The Gartel / Four Pairs of Tefillin / Details of the Rebbe Rashab's younger years / The davening of the Rebbe Rashab
(The contents of the Reshimah make it clear that these are notes that the Rebbe took of the words of the Previous Rebbe.)

I[1] have a handwritten script from my father (the Rebbe Rashab) of the Maamar "It says in Midrash Tehillim"[2] which I said on my Bar Mitzvah, and which my father gave me as a present. It is the very same Maamar that my father said on the day of his Bar Mitzvah.[3] I also have a handwritten script of the Maamar that my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, gave my father as a present for his Bar Mitzvah.[4]

The Rebbe Maharash also wrote a Maamar intended for Reb Zalman Aharon (the Raza - brother of the Rebbe Rashab) to say on his Bar Mitzvah. However, he later took it back, and it is bound together with the handwritten booklet of Maamarim for that year. The Maamar which was given to the Rashab, however, remained with the Rashab.

From both the Maamarim it is evident that these Maamarim were written for Bar Mitzvah boys to say on the occasion of their Bar Mitzvah. Nevertheless, now some sixty years later, with hindsight of the life history of the Rebbe Rashab and the Raza one sees how clearly the life of each one is reflected in the Maamarim.

In addition to the Maamar that was said by the Bar Mitzvah boys, the Rebbe Maharash also said Chassidus at each Bar Mitzvah.[5] The Maamar for the Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbe Rashab began with the words, "He used to say: At five years of age..."[6]

The Rebbe Rashab and the Raza wore silk kapotes (frock coats) and hats for their Bar Mitzvah. The sons of the Tzemach Tzedek wore round hats. The Tzemach Tzedek himself wore a shtreimel - the Maharash too, (apparently once he accepted the leadership and became Rebbe - the writer[7])

I wore a gartel in the year 5651 [8] but in such a way that it could not be seen. In the month of Iyar 5653, when I started to wear tefillin publicly, I began to wear the gartel in a way that it could be seen.

I started to wear tefillin in the month of Tammuz 5652,[9] initially, for the first few days, for the purpose of chinuch and then, on the 12th of Tammuz 5652, with a blessing. I put them on in my father's room so that nobody should know of it.

Initially, when wearing tefillin, I only read the Shema, and not the Shemonah Esreh. However, in the month of Elul 5652, I wore the tefillin throughout the prayers. I still used to attend the Beis HaMidrash,[10] kiss the tzitzis, stand for Shemonah Esreh etc. However, in that time I was actually saying pesukei d'zimra, Tehillim and Mishnayos by heart.[11] In the month of Iyar 5753, I started to wear the tefillin openly.[12]

My grandmother - the Rabbonis Rivkah, of blessed memory - called me and gave me a gartel as a present. She said to me, "I am giving you a gartel like the one that was given to your father. Ask your father what his father said to him when he gave it to him."

(- For the Bar Mitzvah (or for the first time of putting on tefillin? - the writer) of the Rebbe Maharash, the Tzemach Tzedek said to the Rabbonis Moussia: "I am considering giving him a gartel just as my grandfather (the Alter Rebbe) gave one to me." The Rabbonis asked the Tzemach Tzedek why he had not also given their other sons a gartel, and the Tzemach Tzedek answered, "By us we do not ask any questions, and nobody asks any questions on us." The Rabbonis Rivkah related that before the Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbe Rashab she went to the Rebbe Maharash and asked him about giving a gartel to the Rebbe Rashab, to which the Rebbe Maharash replied, "It is very appropriate.")

I immediately ran to ask my father but while I was running my excitement abated and I no longer had the courage to enter and ask. I went to the man who was teaching me at that time - his name was Reb Nissan and he was a good teacher indeed. He would learn two different tractates with me, one in depth, with the entire commentary of Tosafos, and the other, quickly, omitting some of the Tosafos. I told my teacher everything my grandmother told me. He advised me to tell nobody of the matter and to ask the Rebbe Rashab.

Reb Nissan further related to me, in the name of his father-in-law, Reb Pesach, a teacher who taught the sons of the Tzemach Tzedek and, later, the sons of the Maharash, to read - that on the occasion of every Bar Mitzvah he was given a gift of ten roubles (it appears that this was also the case with the sons of the Tzemach Tzedek - the writer). On the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbe Rashab, Reb Pesach went to the Rebbe Maharash and received the ten roubles. The Rabbonis also came in, and he was given a gartel, (or the Maharash only told Reb Pesach that he gave a gartel etc., but it wasn't done in front of him - the writer). Reb Pesach then said to the Rebbe Maharash, "Just as your father did with you, as far as I remember, when he gave you a gartel for the Bar Mitzvah and said,[13] "She girds her loins with strength", the girdle is on the loins, at this moment we don't need to think into this.. but with time... girdle his education, girdle his education.[14]

(Reb Pesach continued) - At the Bar Mitzvah of the Raza, I did not want to ask (why he was not given a gartel) but now... why the change? "Pesach - (I remember that when Reb Nissan told me this story, I was amazed that the Rebbe Maharash simply called him Pesach and not Reb Pesach even though he was his teacher - parenthetical comment by the Previous Rebbe) - as for us, we don't ask any questions and about us one does not ask any questions, whoever understands, understands, and whoever does not understand, does not understand.

(From the Bar Mitzvah and on, the Rebbe Maharash was particular to call his sons and his son-in-law by their abbreviated names, such as Raza etc.[15] He himself used the expressions "go to the Raza, or to Ramal[16] etc. Once the Rebbe Maharash was standing by the window of his room when he heard Radatz Chein[17] say that he was going to the Rebbe Rashab to review something he had learned,[18] and he actually called him with his name adding "Reb" before the name. The Rebbe Maharash called him and said, "Come, I would like to see who you are that you should call him etc.! The Radatz burst out crying, etc., - parenthetical comment of the Previous Rebbe)

Reb Nissan told me how beautifully the Bar Mitzvah of the Raza was celebrated. It was the 19th of Tammuz and the Bar Mitzvah celebrations started a few days before the 17th of Tammuz. The festive meal was in the garden. etc.

I considered asking my father (the Rebbe Rashab) that night. I did not eat lunch with him, except on Shabbos, for it did not fit in with my daily schedule. Neither did I eat supper with him, only we went home together from Maariv - for in the days of Sefirah he davened Maariv with the Tzibbur. The Rebbe Rashab said the blessing over the Sefirah and the Sefirah itself at great length. I had in mind that as we were on our way home I would make a sign to show I would like to ask something and when he asked me "Yosef, what do you want?" I would ask him. (- He used to call me Yoshef, as if Yosef were written with the letter "shin" and sometimes, when he was in a jovial mood, and because of something that had happened, he would call me Reb Itzel - what does Reb Itzel say? - and the like). However, that evening a number of baalei batim came with a Din Torah which needed his adjudication, so that I did not manage to ask him. The next morning, when he saw me deliberately waiting at the door to his room, I asked him, and I told him about the giving of the gartel. He became very emotional, and immediately tears sprung to his eyes and he kissed me on my forehead.

Even before I was thirteen, I received two gifts from my father - two handwritten manuscripts of chassidus: the maamar "How numerous are Your works," a maamar in the handwriting of my father, written with a pencil, and the maamar "The Rabbis have learned, the Chanukah candle..." a maamar in the handwriting of Reb Shmuel Sofer[19] with notes by the Rebbe Rashab.[20]

The maamar "How numerous are Your works" he gave me in the year 5652, saying, "This is a chassidisher kiss, and in time I will tell you what I mean."

In the year 5656 he told me that in the year 5644 - at which time my father lived in two rooms, a bedroom, and another room where my father sat and learned with Reb Yaakov Mordechai Bezfolov.[21] My bed was also in that room, and they learned at night as I was sleeping in my bed. They say that I was a beautiful and a lichtiger child. Reb Yaakov Mordechai saw me as I slept and they began to discuss the subject of Bnei Temura[22] in its simple meaning, and then in more subtle terms with explanations of Chassidus. Reb Yaakov Mordechai said that my appearance and facial complexion showed purity of thought. At that moment my father was aroused to kiss me, but the thought occurred to him that not only were sacrifices offered in the Temple, but silver and gold were also brought to the Temple coffers. He then decided to exchange this kiss with Chassidus, after which he wrote the Maamar "How numerous are Your works," which he subsequently gave to me in the year 5652.[23]

In that year I also received the Maamar "The Rabbis have learned, the Chanukah light." This took place after the wedding of my aunt Mushka.[24] He said to me, smiling, "You are a shkotz! How come a child of twelve can stay up an entire night for chassidus, when older Yidden were not there at all!" and he gave me the Maamar as a gift.

He learned "How numerous are Your works" with me one and a half months before my Bar Mitzvah; first, the whole Maamar, and then a little at a time until I knew it well enough to repeat.

Aside from this, he instructed me to learn for the Bar Mitzvah the very Maamar that he said (for his Bar Mitzvah - see above) and the Maamar "He used to say."

My Bar Mitzvah was on a Monday, and then I had my Aliyah. When I accompanied my father to the Ohel, he instructed me to say there the Maamar "He used to say" and another Maamar (it appears to be the Maamar "How numerous" - the writer).

On the following Shabbos, I repeated in his room the Maamar: "He used to say," and another maamar (it appears to be the maamar for the Bar Mitzvah - the writer). I was standing at the time of repetition, and he was too, wearing the round hat. I stood facing the place where he usually sat and he stood to one side. The repetition was difficult for me, as it was a long maamar and in certain places I still did not understand the content.[25]

I also learned a "Lomdus"[26] deep Talmudic discussion by heart, although I did not say it.

The Raza only put on Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam's tefillin. There were certain times, when the Rebbe Maharash put on tefillin of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam at the same time, davening the entire prayers with them. These tefillin were very small, less than two fingers, etc.[27] The Rebbe Rashab also wore them for some time, however it was difficult for him, since they were so small - less than two fingers, etc. He had the intention to remove his mind from the tefillin, take them off, also the tallis, and later put on the Rashi tefillin again with a berachah. And I asked him (these are words of the Previous Rebbe) - "...and how should one conduct oneself? and he replied, "I went to my father and asked him."

Later, however, the Rebbe Rashab conducted himself in the following way: [28]

First he put on Rashi tefillin and davened the entire prayers until after Aleinu. He then took off the shel rosh of Rashi and put on the shel rosh of the Shimusha Rabbah tefillin. He then recited the Shema and learned a chapter of Mishnayos. He took the tefillin off and put on the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam. He first said the Shema, and then Vayedaber, and then Tehillim, as divided for each day of the month. He then learned one page of Gemara, (it appears that he learned the Gemara wearing the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam - the writer). He then took off the shel rosh of Rabbeinu Tam and put on the shel rosh of Raavad tefillin, said the Shema, and learned Talmud Yerushalmi. The amount of Yerushalmi that he learned varied. He learned three pages of Gemara every day, one after Shacharis, one after Minchah and one after Maariv. Mishnayos he only studied in the morning. He also said a chapter from Torah, Neviim and Kesuvim.[29] Although the Tanach was open in front of him, he actually said it by heart.

Even in his youth, he was a "frummer Yid."[30] The Raza used to give him a hard time, although he kept the obligation of honoring an older brother. The Raza used to fight with Devorah Leah (his sister) and pull her hair, however the Rebbe Rashab was even careful not to touch her and the like. Once they played Rebbe and Chassid. The Rebbe Rashab said, "I do not want to be a Rebbe, I want to be a chassid. There is only one G-d and one Rebbe, but a lot of chassidim."[31] Because he was still a child he pronounced the word Rebbe with a yud instead of a raish, so that it sounded like Yebbe.

Every day they would visit the Tzemach Tzedek.[32] They said Shema and Boruch Shem and he would give them a Tzvayer.[33] Once, at a time of Yechidus - and this was after the passing of the Rabbonis, when they were living with the Tzemach Tzedek - the Rebbe Rashab, who was then between three and a half and four, also wanted to enter the room, claiming that he too should be allowed into Yechidus. The Raza did not want to allow him in. When permission was refused, he started to cry. The Tzemach Tzedek heard him cry and asked, "Why is he crying?" and he said they should allow him in. At that time, the Rebbe Rashab had a nurse, Nyanke, a non-Jew, and she was the reason that the Rebbe spoke Russian. The Rebbe Rashab did not want to leave her outside and insisted that she too enter, pushing her between the oven and the wall. He went over to the Tzemach Tzedek and asked, "What should one ask you, Zaide?" The Tzemach Tzedek took him in his arms and placed his, (the Rebbe Rashab's) hand on his beard and said, "Straighten out my beard, straighten out my beard." He concluded, "I think it is straight." The Rebbe Rashab recounted this story many times with great satisfaction.[34] He asked him if he wanted money and he replied in the negative. But he gave him a few coins to give to chassidim for mashke, whereupon he went out, saying to the chassidim, "The Zaide, the Yebbe, gave this for mashke."

Many years later, he used to stay up the entire night Thursday night, and the entire night after Shabbos.[35] On Friday he washed in hot water, (although not his entire body).[36] On Friday afternoon he slept for two to three hours.[37] He would cut his nails[38] together with the loose skin around them.

He reviewed the Sedra on Friday afternoon verse by verse.[39] In general he did not go to the Mikvah on Friday but he went on Shabbos morning, at 3-4 in the morning.

Between Minchah and Maariv on Shabbos every minute was precious.

On Shabbos day, he came to daven at 8:30 a.m. and sometimes earlier. He would finish davening at 3:30-4:00 in the afternoon. At first, he began davening at 6:30 in the morning since it was his mother's wish that everybody wait for him for the meal - and he didn't want to keep everybody waiting so he started very early. However, his early start upset his mother even more, so he returned to start davening at 8:30 as before.

During the week, he would finish davening at 2:30-3:00 in the afternoon. However, there were times that he finished with the minyan, or some twenty minutes after that, and sometimes he did not finish until 5:30 in the afternoon.

Reshimos No. 17 - 22 Sivan 5702

Bar Mitzvah of Kazarnovsky[40]

The Bar Mitzvah Avraham made for Yitzchak and the challenge of Og
(See also letter to my cousin, Menachem Mendel Schneerson)

This is the occasion when the Bar Mitzvah enters the Camp of Israel accepting upon himself the yoke of Torah and mitzvos, and when he and his friends and relatives rejoice.

However, from where are we to draw the energy for this in such troubled times, when our brethren are persecuted and oppressed?[41]

"The actions of the Fathers are a sign to the children."[42]

In the thousands of years of Jewish history, there were times when "each man sat under his vine,"[43] and there were times of immense troubles, when "because of our sins we were exiled from our land."[44] History teaches us a lesson both for the future and the present.[45]

The Torah relates to us the story of the first Bar Mitzvah, the Bar Mitzvah of Yitzchak in the home of the first Jew, Avraham.[46]

"The child grew and was weaned. Avraham made a great feast on the day Yitzchak was weaned."[47] The Midrash[48] comments that the particular significance of "weaning" is that on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, Yitzchak was weaned off the evil inclination, since on that day the good inclination enters.[49] Avraham made a great feast - that is to say, a feast for the great, for he invited to this feast all the great personalities of the time, including the giant, Og.

The Midrash continues: [50] "They said to Og, "Did you not say that Avraham was a sterile mule and is incapable of having a child?" Og replied, "What was his present? A small and lowly being - I could lift my finger against him and crush him." Hashem said to Og: "Why are you making fun of this gift? By your life, you will live to see thousands and tens of thousands of his descendents, and you will eventually fall by his hand, as it states,[51] "And G-d said to Moshe, do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand."

What is difficult to understand in the discussion with Og is their preoccupation with the birth of Yitzchak, when they are here sitting at the Bar Mitzvah celebration. There are other views in the Midrash that the feast took place at the time of weaning itself, when Yitzchak was weaned from his mothers milk,[52] and even others suggest that the feast was the feast of circumcision.[53] It would seem that the simple meaning of Og's claim is more consonant with their views. However, one may suggest that Og was not so much wondering about the physical birth of Yitzchak as that he was questioning the ability of Avraham to rear a child that would follow in his, Avraham's, footsteps.

What Og was really getting at was that the way of Avraham may have been fine for him but it would not attract the youth! When Og claimed that Avraham could not rear a child, he was not so much referring to the physical ability to rear children as to his ability to rear a generation that would continue in his spiritual path.

In fact Og had a view on youth in general. The verse[54] says of Og, "For only Og king of the Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaim; behold! his bed was an iron bed..." The Rashbam explains that this refers to his cot - his cot was an iron cot. The most important thing to Og was the strength and health of the body, with complete disregard of spirituality. When it came to keeping the commandments of G-d, Og claimed that one ought only to keep those mitzvos that the intellect can comprehend. Furthermore, the motivation for keeping them was not because they were a Divine command, but because common sense demanded it.[55]

This was why he told Avraham to go and save Lot, his nephew.[56] (However, one could suggest the opposite. It could be that the reason that Og advised Avraham to save Lot was precisely because it was irrational, and because he knew that Avraham, being a man of faith, above and beyond reason, would do the irrational and go and fight the Kings. In this way, Og figured that Avraham would be killed and that he would then marry Sarah. This approach explains the juxtaposition of stories in the Midrash, "Og came and found Avraham engaged in mitzvos - the mitzvah of eating matzah. He said - this Avraham is zealous, if I tell him that his nephew has been captured, he will go out to war, and get himself killed. Then I'll be able to marry his wife, Sarah." What prompted Og was that he saw Avraham engaged in the mitzvah of matzah, which is the bread of faith,[57] the opposite of the rationality of chametz.[58] It was then he reasoned that this Avraham was zealous, that is, unlimited by intellect, and that, by telling him that Lot was captured, even though, rationally speaking, there would be no point to chasing after the Kings, Avraham would nevertheless practice irrational self-sacrifice, chase after the Kings, and be killed.[59]

From here we can see that a person who only follows his intellect can deceive another into thinking that he is doing a mitzvah when in truth he has the opposite intention: in this case, not to save Lot-on the contrary, he wanted Avraham to be killed, so that he could marry Sarah.

The verse describing Og continues: " Rabbah of the children of Ammon." This was the capital city. Og wanted his iron cot to set an example in the city that, as far as the education of youth was concerned, the main point to be stressed was the physical prowess of the body without any regard for spirituality.

Now we will understand why Og felt himself challenged at the Bar Mitzvah of Yitzchak. Og had always maintained that Avraham would never be able to rear children in his faith, and, as mentioned above, himself made the health of the body the priority when educating youth. At Yitzchak's Bar Mitzvah, it was clear to all that Avraham had in fact succeeded in rearing Yitzchak to follow in his spiritual path, and Og was therefore challenged.

Og replied: "This is a present," that is to say, the education of Yitzchak until this age had been a present from Above, and had no place below. He argued that it would not grow and would never be established - for with his little finger, he could destroy it.

Hashem responded, "Are you making fun of this present? You will have longevity of years[60] and you will fall into the hands of the thousands of his children." Physical strength and health can only stand on the firm foundation of faith and spirituality, for when there is no spirituality, why shouldn't the child sin and chase after superfluous things? This proved to be the case in the end, when eventually Og fell into the hands of the descendants of Yitzchak. Their physical strength rested on solid spiritual foundations.

This is why the war with Og was a physical war[61] - a war with the sword,[62] unlike the war of Yericho and the war with Sancherev, both of which were fought by supernatural means. Victory in this war with Og showed that physical prowess and victory in battle are dependent on the health of the soul, which only comes with perfect faith - to the point of self-sacrifice - in G-d.

Reshimos No. 19

The difference between the Bar Mitzvah Avraham made for Yitzchak and the Bar Mitzvah Yitzchak made for Yaakov. Avraham - a test from without, Yitzchak - a test from within.

The Jews consider someone to have become a grown-up at the age of 13 (except in a few instances where one needs to be 18, 20 [63] or 40 [64]) whereas with other nations, one is only considered to be a grown-up at the age of 20, 21, etc.

The reason for this age difference:

The way in which a non-Jewish nation is constituted is that after a period during which they are nomads and shepherds, they settle on a piece of land, choose a king, and then decide on a constitution. The constitution of the Jewish nation was somewhat different. Immediately after the exodus from Egypt, while they were in a desolate land,[65] they started keeping Torah and mitzvos, beginning with the commandment, "I am the L-rd your G-d"[66] and that this G-d is not a graven image,[67] all of which was an act of faith, beyond reason and rationale, and not necessarily perceived by the five senses. It was this faith that served as the basis for their constitution as a people.

A non-Jew comes of age at twenty, etc., for then he is of age to go out to war and establish for himself a land to live - the basis of his constitution as a people. However, a Jew is considered to be a grown-up at the age of thirteen, for it is then that he fully comprehends the great merit and responsibility that he has as a member of the People of Israel.

Among the Jewish people themselves, there are those who are the "sons of Avraham" and there are those who are the "sons of Yitzchak,[68] their avodah and way of life different, and consequently each exposed to different categories of trials and tribulations in the course of their lives.

Avraham's 'lifestyle' was one of travelling through different countries, striving greatly so that even the Arabs should say, "Blessed is He who said, and the world came into existence,"[69] and arguing with Nimrod about idol worship.[70] It therefore follows that at the Bar Mitzvah that Avraham made for his son Yitzchak, his challenge and test came from those to whom Avraham's way of life was something alien. As recounted in the Midrash, Og claimed that Avraham would not be able to pass on his spiritual heritage to the next generation, and that G-dly service beyond rationality did not go down well with the young. The rebuttal came in the fact that, in the end, Og fell to the descendants of Yitzchak.[71]

Yitzchak however was a "perfect sacrifice," who could not leave the Land of Israel,[72] nor marry a maidservant,[73] nor even look upon idol worship, as the Sages[74] comment on the verse,[75] "and his eyes were dimmed;"[76] and therefore Yitzchak did not engage in polemics with idol worshipers. At the Bar Mitzvah of the sons of Yitzchak, the test came not from those distant, but from within, from Esav, Yaakov's brother, as the Sages[77] point out, on the verse,[78] "And the lads grew up" that is, became Bar Mitzvah - although the two boys went to school together, after Bar Mitzvah they went their separate ways. Esav became a hunter, in the manner of kings, like Nimrod, who was a hunter,[79] mingling and assimilating with the creations etc., whereas Yaakov sat in the study-halls of Shem and Ever, who at that time were many hundreds of years old. Yaakov sat and learned from those sages who were many years his senior, whereas, Esav preferred to mix with people his own age.

(The concept of Shem and Ever in Chassidus is explained in Or HaTorah,[80] that Shem refers to the Written law and Ever to the Oral tradition.)

We can take this concept a step further by explaining the main difference between Yaakov and Esav. We find in the Midrash[81] that Esav asked how one may tithe straw. Straw is secondary to the seed, and it is animal fodder, which is analogous to the animal soul and the body.

Although the animal side of man requires food and drink, and the like, this should only be secondary to the spiritual seed within - which is the way of Yaakov. Esav, however, desired to tithe, that is, to draw holiness into straw,[82] which for him was the essence. (Esav had a connection with holiness; as mentioned above, he had learned Torah until the age of Bar Mitzvah, unlike Og, for example, who had no connection, and also opposed such a connection. However, Esav wanted his connection with holiness to be drawn only to the physical side of things.)

In the end, he (Esav) despised the birthright,[83] rejected any notion of Divinity and transgressed five prohibitions on the very day of his Bar Mitzvah.[84] In comparison, Yaakov, holding the view that the material world (straw) is secondary to the spiritual, merited the promise,[85] "And the house of Yaakov shall be like fire and the house of Esav straw." He became one with Torah, of which is said,[86] "Are My words not like fire" which can burn the house of Esav (straw).

I wish to bless the Bar Mitzvah, his parents and teachers, thanks to whom he knows that the learning until now is only the beginning, and that, like Yaakov, he needs to continue in the study-halls of Shem and Eber, and that with his Torah and mitzvos he will hasten the removal of all concealments, until there will come the time when, "And your teacher will no longer hide from you"[87] with immediate redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

Reshimos No. 21 - Age 13 for Mitzvos

The proof that Levi was exactly thirteen on the day he killed the inhabitants of Shchem - the source of the age for Bar Mitzvah.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos 5:21 states: "At the age of 13 one becomes obligated to keep the mitzvos."

The Bartenura comments: that the age of thirteen is the age of Bar Mitzvah is derived Biblically from the verse,[88] "And it was on the third day... and (Shimon and Levi) each man took his sword..." At that time, Levi was thirteen and he is referred to as Ish,[89] a man. From this we may see that the Scripture regards a thirteen year old as a man.

There is much debate regarding the actual age of Levi at this time.

Rashi, in his commentary on Avos, calculates that Levi was eleven years old when Yaakov left the house of Lavan. When we add the six months of the journey, and the eighteen months of the stay at Sukkos, Levi turns out to be exactly thirteen at the time of the episode with Shchem. Based on this comment of Rashi in Avos,[90] the Tosafos Yom Tov queries the comment of Rashi in Chumash, where Rashi explains that Yaakov was punished for the twenty-two years that, on account of his absence, he did not honor his father; twenty years in the house of Lavan and two years on the way... eighteen months in Sukkos and six months in Beis El.[91] The Tosafos Yom Tov asks that it is clear from Chumash[92] that the settlement in Beis El was after the episode of Shchem. Therefore, according to Rashi in Chumash, we are missing the six months that would bring the age of Levi up to thirteen. We must say that, before Yaakov came to Sukkos, he spent six months on the journey, which, together with the eighteen months in Sukkos, makes Levi exactly thirteen at the time of the Shchem episode.

R. Akiva Eiger in his glossary notes on Avos is surprised with this question of the Tosafos Yom Tov, for the Talmud in Megillah 17a, states clearly that after Yaakov left the house of Lavan, he spent eighteen months at Sukkos and six months at Beis El. The difficulty, claims R. Akiva Eiger, is not with the comment of Rashi in Chumash (which is consonant with what the Talmud states in Megillah) but with Rashi's comment in Avos, that claims that six months were spent on the way.

However, this only strengthens the question as to the exact calculation of Levi's age, for if we say that Yaakov did not spend six months on the way, we are forced to conclude that Levi was only twelve and a half at the time of the Shchem episode?

Furthermore, the Tosafos Yom Tov writes: "If you reckon the thirteen years that Yaakov stayed with Lavan after he married Leah, and take into consideration the approximately two years that it took for Reuven, Shimon and Levi to be born - based on the calculation that each of them was born at the end of seven months - it comes out that Levi was eleven when they left. Add on another six months for the way and eighteen months in Sukkos, and the result is that Levi was thirteen at the time of the story of Shchem."

This calculation is only approximate, for it is only a rough estimate that two years were taken for three births, each pregnancy lasting seven months,[93] but he is not exact in his calculation.[94]

In the commentary that is attributed to Rashi on Tractate Nazir 29b, Rashi comments, "the title ish is reserved for a thirteen year old and no less, and we have a tradition that Shimon and Levi at that time were thirteen, and whoever wishes to calculate this may go and calculate."

Thirteen To The Day

It is possible to calculate this in such a way that the age of Levi was exactly thirteen, and the calculation is exact to the day. How?

  1. As soon as Yaakov married Leah, she conceived.[95]

  2. He waited until after the seven days of the marriage feast, and then worked a further seven years for Rachel.

  3. He worked six years for the sheep.

  4. He escaped from Lavan for seven days.

  5. He stayed one day at Maavar Yabok.

  6. He stayed eighteen months at Sukkos.

  7. He arrived at Shchem on Erev Shabbos, and that is why he encamped outside the city. He obviously stayed there for Shabbos, and it was on Sunday that Dinah went out.

  8. Add another two days, because it was on the third day, "when they were hurting" that Shimon and Levi each man took his sword, and on that day Levi became Bar Mitzvah.

All this may be deduced from Bereishis 29-34, Megillah 17a, Bereishis Rabbah ch. 79.

(The reason why the Chumash does not reckon the extra days over and above the twenty-two years mentioned in the Talmud Megillah, and the twenty years mentioned in the verse 31:41, is because these days do not even add up to a month. That is obvious.)

It comes out that, in total, the period after the marriage of Leah until the episode of Shchem was exactly thirteen years eighteen months and 20 [96] (or 21 [97]) days.

Leah gave birth after seven months - as stated by Pirkei D.R'Eliezer,[98] quoted in Yalkut Shimoni.[99] The Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 11a, states that "one who gives birth in seven months may also give birth after six months and two days."[100]

Therefore, Levi was born eighteen months[101] and twenty days after the marriage of Yaakov to Leah, taking into account three pregnancies, each of which was six months and two days - which equals eighteen months and six days - and adding fourteen days on account of the "Tumas Laidah" - impurity contracted by a woman who has given birth - of Reuven and Shimon.[102]

According to the above calculation - that the episode of Shchem took place thirteen years, eighteen months and twenty days after the wedding of Yaakov to Leah - it follows that Levi was exactly thirteen years old on the day of the episode of Shchem.[103]

One could possibly bring a proof that the Matriarchs gave birth after six months and two days from the fact that over the course of seven years, there were born to Yaakov eleven sons and one daughter.[104] It appears from the story as it is related in Chumash that they were born one after the other, that is, that it never happened that the Matriarchs gave birth at the same time. Rather, it was only after Leah had four sons that Rachel gave Bilhah to Yaakov and she had two sons, and then Zilpah had two sons, and only after this did Leah have another two sons and a daughter. This also appears to be the case, based on their order as they are engraved on the Ephod, attested to by the verse[105] as "in order of their birth". See Seforno, Bereishis 30:8.

If all the pregnancies had been for a full seven months, twelve pregnancies of seven months = 84 months = 7 years. This gives no time, however, for keeping the "Tumas Laidah," the seven days of impurity. (This is obviously only a difficulty according to the opinion that holds that even in the Diaspora the Patriarchs kept the entire Torah.[106]) One must therefore say that they gave birth in less than seven months (the minimum being six months and two days). Using this reckoning, 12 pregnancies at 6 months 2 days = 6 years and 24 days. To this, one must add the weeks of impurity due to childbirth.[107]

This is not, however, a conclusive proof, for one may say that only their births were one after the other but not their conception, that is, there is no reason to say that only after one gave birth did the other conceive. Rather, it could have been that another one was already pregnant, only the births were consecutive. It may therefore also be posited that in fact they were all born at a full seven months.

It should be noted that, according to the Targum of Yonasan Ben Uziel, it is clear that their mothers were pregnant with Dinah and Yosef at the same time.[108] From this the possibility may be deduced that in the case of the other tribes, born from two different Matriarchs, they were actually pregnant at the same time, but gave birth one after the other.[109]

Yalkut Shimoni[110] states that Reuven was born on the 14th of Kislev... Shimon on the 28th of Teves... Levi on the 16th Nissan... Yehuda on the 15th of Sivan... Dan on the 9th of Elul... Naftali on the 5th of Tishrei... Gad on the 10th of Cheshvan... Asher on the 20th of Shvat... Yissachar on the 10th of Av and Zevulun on the 7th of Tishrei.

It is a mitzvah to explain this Yalkut, for, according to the calculation of the Yalkut - and following the opinion of all the commentaries that the order of their births was Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Dan, Naftali, Gad, Asher, Yissachar, Zevulun, Yosef - Yosef was born at least fifteen years and three months after Yaakov came to dwell with Lavan.[111] How does this fit in with what is explicit in the verses: that when Rachel gave birth to Yosef, there was completed the fourteen years which Yaakov had served Lavan for his two daughters?[112]

On all that has been said, one may further note:

  1. Tosafos in Sanhedrin[113] states that in previous generations, they were capable of conceiving at the age of eight. Accordingly, they must have matured much earlier, and what proof, therefore, do we have from the sons of Yaakov that the time of Bar Mitzvah is thirteen, as derived from the age of Levi - when in their generations it was possible they matured much earlier and were therefore an ish much earlier?[114]

  2. The Rosh writes in Responsum 16 that the age of thirteen for mitzvos is an age that has been received as a tradition from Moshe on Sinai.[115]

  3. On the verse,[116] "And the lads grew," Rashi comments that at that time they were thirteen. However, Rashi on a later verse[117] comments that on that day Avraham died, so that he should not see Esav falling into bad company. All the commentaries[118] ask, that when Avraham died, Yaakov and Esav were fifteen.[119] It may be that full maturity was reached only when they showed signs of puberty, and that they only showed such signs when they were fifteen, and that Avraham did not pay that much attention to the conduct of Esav (to the extent that it should disturb him enough for Hashem to shorten his years, in order to spare him the sight of Esav forsaking the path of righteousness) until the age of fifteen. Whereas, other people (who did not know about the signs) reckoned from the age of thirteen, for they presumed that signs of puberty were showing at this age.[120] This would help explain the contradiction between the two comments of Rashi.

Reshimos No. 59 - 28 Elul 5689

A Bar Mitzvah letter written to the Rebbe's cousin, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Entry in diary on 28 Elul 5689 - a Bar Mitzvah letter written to the Rebbe's cousin, Menachem Mendel (both on his father's side, his father being R. Shmuel Schneerson - the brother of R. Levi Yitzchak, the Rebbe's father, and on his mother's side, his mother being Miriam Gittel, the sister of Rebbetzin Chanah, the Rebbe's mother, who were both the daughters of R. Meir Shlomo Halevi Yanovski).

28 Elul 5689, Riga
My Dear Menachem,

In celebration of your thirteenth birthday, the day of your Bar Mitzvah, I wanted to talk with you face-to-face, but until we actually meet in person, I must make do with putting my words into writing, hoping that, in time, after you have read thoroughly all I have written, you will reply, either in writing or verbally, telling me, your thoughts and reflections on what I have written.

One would have thought that on the day of a Bar Mitzvah - when the boy becomes obligated to keep the mitzvos like a grown-up - the day he is considered an Adam - the day that his yetzer tov enters and he becomes a fully-fledged member of klal Yisrael - that tachanun should not be recited, and the day distinguished by desisting from work, like a Yom Tov.

However, tachanun is recited and a normal learning schedule is kept.

The reason for this is that none of us were created to spend life as during a festival, rather, man was born to toil.[121] The world is not a wedding-feast,[122] and man is not to don his Shabbos clothes and indulge in festivities all his days like a Yom Tov or Shabbos. Rather, this world is a world of action and work. "Today we must do them,"[123] "The work is great,"[124] and man was created to serve,[125] guard and toil,[126] and he is not free to desist from the work.[127]

The first Bar Mitzvah mentioned in the Torah is that of Yitzchak. The Sages tell us that Avraham was a king.[128] He was very wealthy and had many servants, he was laden with livestock, silver and gold.[129] He also benefited from a treaty with the neighboring kings.[130] Despite his position, many mocked Avraham for the path he followed.[131] However, with an uplifted arm did he publicize his faith and belief to all passers-by,[132] thereby converting many a soul.[133]

On the day of Yitzchak's Bar Mitzvah, he made a great feast[134] and invited many kings and princes to participate. During the feast, some of those invited laughed at Avraham and scoffed at the simchah saying: "We are the powerful ones, we have the might - with one finger we can humble him!"[135] However Avraham was not deterred or moved by them but continued in his path, in the way of the L-rd, and he guarded it, doing righteousness and justice.[136]

As time passed, those who scoffed at Avraham fell into the hands of Avraham's many thousands of descendants.[137]

Regarding the second Bar Mitzvah (mentioned in the Torah) we are told that Yitzchak gave birth to two sons, Esav and Yaakov. Both went to school[138] and up to the age of Bar Mitzvah both were educated by Avraham and Yitzchak. Immediately after the age of Bar Mitzvah,[139] Esav began to visit houses of idol-worship; he mingled well with people and found favor in their eyes. Sorcery was on his lips and trickery in his mouth.[140] He wore expensive clothes,[141] indulged in good food and was counted among the leading hunters and warriors of the time.

Yaakov his younger brother, although witnessing the success of his brother, and notwithstanding the scorn heaped upon him, was not moved from his path. From the day of Bar Mitzvah, he separated himself from his brother, and became an Ish Tam[142] studying diligently in the study-halls of the elders Shem and Ever[143] all the days of his life, and he "went in the way of life."

And let it be said of Yaakov - do not fear Yaakov[144] - the L-rd will bless you and multiply you - many peoples will serve you and nations will bow down unto you for you will be the master of your brother[145] and kings will go forth from your loins.[146] And it shall be in the end of days that there will be no remnant of the house of Esav,[147] I will send fire into Teman and it will consume the palaces of Bozrah.[148] And the remnant of Yaakov will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the animals of the forest... and there will be no rescuer.[149] For G-d has restored the pride of Yaakov.[150] For the day of G-d upon all the nations is close![151]

One generation passed and Yaakov, also, celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of his two sons, Shimon and Levi. It was at that time that they were coerced with strength and force to change their ways and succumb to the will of others.

And it[152] happened that when Yaakov traveled from Lavan his uncle to see his father Yitzchak - and Yaakov had a large family and[153] retinue - they rested on the way in Shchem.[154] Yaakov, his sons and daughters and the entire household numbered but a few[155] compared to the numerous and powerful Canaanites, Perizites and Hivites surrounding them. The sons of Yaakov wished neither to mix with their neighbors nor to learn their ways. They acquired a field, pitched their tents and served G-d.[156] However, the Hivites inquired of them and requested that they become united as a nation,[157] a nation that no longer stood alone.[158] They promised that the land extending before them would be for them a wide and bountiful land to inhabit and inherit.[159] The Hivites then abducted the daughter of Yaakov, and she was in the house of Shchem and Chamor, chieftains in the land. The sons of Yaakov were incensed by the disgraceful conduct of their neighbor. They were not afraid, they knew that right was on their side and they cut down Shchem with the sword.

When they were challenged with the question[160] - "Were you not afraid of the Hivites and the Perizites?" they replied, "We will not rest, for a disgrace has happened in Israel, it shall never happen again." It was precisely at that time that Shimon and Levi celebrated their Bar Mitzvah. Precisely at that moment they fought against any injustice and disgrace and defended with all their might their religion and customs.

May G-d grant that from the day of Bar Mitzvah you should continually grow to be faithful to all that is holy to us and guard and defend all that is precious to us. You should be an example in your way of life and conduct for a "name and beauty" among us and a source of pride to our family.

Reshimos No. 130

Entry For Shabbos Bereishis, 27 Tishrei, 5702

The meaning of the names Shmuel and Pinchas. / Three questions answered by three Bar Mitzvahs.

Bar Mitzvah (of Shmuel Pinchas Halevi Eber) Shabbos Parshas Bereishis 27 Tishrei, 5702.

The name of the Bar Mitzvah is Shmuel Pinchas. The Baal Shem Tov said[161] that one must learn a lesson in avodas Hashem from everything that one sees and hears. This is certainly the case regarding a name, for it is stated in many holy books[162] that parents are Divinely inspired in their choice of a name for the child, and the life-energy is drawn from the soul to the body through the name.[163]

A person's name also reflects his avodah, as we find in the case of Yehoshua, of whom it is said, ohkdrn ,mgn lghauh vWh - "may Hashem save you from the counsel of the spies,"[164] and reflects his character, as we find in the case of Rabbi Meir, who could tell the character of a person by his name.[165]

The name of this Bar Mitzvah is Shmuel Pinchas.

The source for the name Shmuel is, "I requested him from Hashem"[166] - the word Shmuel having its root in the word sh'elah "request." Sh'elah also has the connotation, "borrowed." Therefore, the verse may also be translated as "borrowed from Hashem." An object that is borrowed must be returned to its owner in its original state.[167] The borrower only has permission to use the borrowed item for its conventional purpose.

The implication for one's service of G-d is the following: G-d does not make unreasonable demands of His creatures[168] for "according to the camel is the load."[169] Therefore, in order to allow him to be victorious in the battle with the body and the animal soul, the G-dly soul - with all its inherent powers which will allow it to be victorious - is "lent" to a person.

This is what the Sages mean when they say,[170] "Mashbi'im" - (that the G-dly soul is made to take an oath that, when it descends into the body, it will be righteous), and this has two meanings; a) the expression of a "shvuah" (oath), the oath penetrating to and arousing the quintessential point of Jewishness[171] [this being the reason why (after much debate[172] among the Sages) it was decided that one who is doubted in fiscal matters is not doubted when taking an oath[173]], b) being an expression of "sova" (being satiated) - that the soul is satiated with the power necessary to fulfil its mission. In fact, both senses correspond: since G-d does not make unreasonable demands of His creatures, if He requires that the soul take an oath to be righteous, He must also give the ability to fulfil the oath.

It is necessary at all times for a person to remember that his G-dly soul and its powers are only leased to him, and that the soul must be returned intact, as the Sages say[174] "Would that a person's exit from the world resemble his coming into the world." This is also the meaning of Chanah's words,[175] "and also I lent him to G-d."

Now, a borrower is liable for all types of damages,[176] even those caused by accidents, except in the case where "an animal dies in the normal course of working" in which case the borrower is exempt.[177] In avodas Hashem this refers to self-sacrifice, a type of avodah where a person would even "die," that is, give up his soul in order to gain victory over the body. However - who could possibly survive in such circumstances - where he is liable for all the damage done to the G-dly soul?

There is, however, one other situation in which a borrower is exempt - and this is the advice to be given to the borrower - and that is, that the borrowing should only be undertaken with the owner present. As the Talmud[178] states, "If one who wants to borrow something from his friend and (at the same time be exempted from all liability should say to the friend before actually taking possession of the item, "Give me some water to drink," for this is also a case of borrowing with the owner in the borrower's service - for which he is exempt. This exemption is on condition that that the involvement of the owner must be at the time of borrowing and not at the time of the accident.[179]

In avodas Hashem, this means that the borrowing of the G-dly soul must be "with the owner in service at the time of borrowing," that is, the owner must request - in prayer - water to drink - bodily needs at the time of borrowing - and not later - at the time of the accident.

This is the reason why the Sages prohibited eating before prayer[180] and it is also prohibited to attend to one's business before prayer,[181] rather one should pray immediately upon rising from bed,[182] even before learning Torah.[183]

If a person would start using his daily borrowed G-dly soul before prayer - which is the time for requesting his needs (from the owner), the fact that the owner is with him afterwards will not help - for the owner was not there at the time of borrowing. However if he prayed immediately upon rising, then the borrowing of the G-dly soul took place at a time when the owner was present - during prayer - in such circumstances the halachah for all guardians is that if the owner is present at the time of borrowing, the guardian is exempt, even for neglect.[184]

And this is the meaning of the verse in Shmuel that "All his days he was on loan to the L-rd,"[185] and everywhere he went he had his own four cubits, as the Sages say, commenting on the verse[186] "for there was his house" - that wherever he went his house went with him.[187]

One can draw another lesson from the name Pinchas.

The way of serving Hashem, particularly in our times, must be in the manner of Pinchas, who demonstrated self-sacrifice. He was not afraid of the men of the tribe of Shimon, from whom he was only saved by a miracle.[188] Had Pinchas consulted the courts, they would not have ruled that he kill Zimri. Furthermore, had Zimri first separated and Pinchas subequently killed him, Pinchas would have been liable for capital punishment.[189] Even so, Pinchas demonstrated self-sacrifice, not only for his own benefit but to save others, and in the case of Pinchas - all Israel.

In addition to the lesson to be learned from the name of the Bar Mitzvah, there is a lesson to be learned from the fact that one gathers to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah, an occasion on which yet another Jew accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah and mitzvos.

By way of introduction:

Although in regard to all epochs the Sages[190] say that Israel is persecuted and oppressed, and although they are particularly so at this time,[191] nonetheless, the Sages have also said[192] "The actions of the Fathers are a sign to the children," that if we look into the past we can be strong in our faith in a brilliant future.

We find the very first Bar Mitzvah was made by the first Jew Avraham, Ha-Ivri,[193] on the day when Yitzchak was weaned from the evil inclination over to the good inclination[194] that is, the day of his Bar Mitzvah. It is from this event that we derive an answer to the main question posed by the nations of the world - how does it come about that Israel, the smallest nation both in power and quantity,[195] can rise to such heights, being so small?[196] This is exactly the question that Og the giant put at the Bar Mitzvah of Yitzchak. Yet, in the end, it was he who fell, (even physically), to the offspring of Yitzchak.[197]

A second question, not asked by the nations of the world, is asked among Jews themselves - why should a Jew be G-d-fearing, sitting in the tents of study? Surely, one must be adaptable and be able to mingle with others?

The answer to this lies in the second Bar Mitzvah hinted at in the Torah. "And the boys grew up (that is, became Bar Mitzvah) and Esav became a hunter"[198] - he hunted the creatures with his mouth[199] - and his end was to fall to the sword of the sons of Yaakov.[200]

A third question - surely it is enough that one should save oneself. Why should one make efforts on behalf of another, either in this world or the next?

The answer to this lies in the third Bar Mitzvah mentioned in the Torah. "And each man, Shimon and Levi, took his sword,"[201] and we have a tradition that at that time they were thirteen years old[202] - their souls incensed, as conveyed by their question, "should our sister be made like a harlot,"[203] even though Shchem had promised them and her everything good materially.

From these three Bar Mitzvahs we have the answers to these three questions. Only the way of Torah and mitzvos is the correct way.

* * *
Bar Mitzvah of Shaul Alexander Bistritzky, 23-25 Iyar 5703.

We are gathered to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah, an occasion on which another member has joined the ranks of Israel accepting upon himself the yoke of Torah and mitzvos.

About the Jewish people, it is stated, "One nation in the land."[204] that is, at all times and places they are one unit, and the simchah of an individual, and particularly a simchah connected with Torah and mitzvos is a simchah of the entire people and it affects them all.

On a broader scale, the unity of the people reflects itself in all phases of time, past, present and future. Conversely, because the simchah of an individual affects the entire nation, an individual cannot make do with a selfish mode of avodah, rather he must be prepared, even to the point of self-sacrifice to help another. This is also a true reflection of his own perfection.

This is hinted at by the fact that our source for Bar Mitzvah is the action of the sons of Yaakov, Shimon and Levi being thirteen when they fell on Shchem - from which we may learn that, from the time of Bar Mitzvah, a Jew must be willing to practice self-sacrifice for the sake of another.



  1. (Back to text) The Previous Rebbe.

  2. (Back to text) Printed in Sefer HaMaamarim, 5634, p. 53; 5653, p. 279; 5708, p. 271.

  3. (Back to text) See Kuntres Chanoch LeNaar, p. 9.

  4. (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos 5687, p. 174.

  5. (Back to text) See the list of maamarim printed in the Sefer HaToldos of the Rebbe Maharash for details of which maamarim were said.

  6. (Back to text) Avos 5:22.

  7. (Back to text) Although the Rebbe is noting the words of the Previous Rebbe, he adds pertinent information in brackets.

  8. (Back to text) When he was aged 11. This was two years before his Bar Mitzvah and therefore he wore it hidden from sight.

  9. (Back to text) See however Sefer HaSichos 5700, p. 152; 5711, p. 171, where it is related that the Previous Rebbe started to put tefillin on without a blessing on Friday 11 Tammuz 5651, and from Sunday 13 Tammuz with a blessing.

  10. (Back to text) That is, since he wore the tefillin in private in his fathers room, then he could not pray with the minyan in shul, however he still used to attend shul and when they were praying he made out as he was praying together with them but actually he was saying Tehillim etc.

  11. (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos, ibid.

  12. (Back to text) On Sunday of Parshas Acharei Mos, 11 Iyar 5653 - Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 107b. See also Igros Kodesh of the Rayatz, Vol. XX, p. 136.

  13. (Back to text) See Sefer Toldos Maharash, p. 12.

  14. (Back to text) The word used in Hebrew is chalatzav or chalotzaim meaning education - said in parenthesis by the Previous Rebbe.

  15. (Back to text) See Sefer Toldos Maharash, p. 22.

  16. (Back to text) His son-in-law Reb Moshe Aryeh Leib Ginsburg from Vitebsk - the husband of Devorah Leah.

  17. (Back to text) Reb Dovid Zvi Chein, son of Reb Peretz Chein. The Radatz was a Rav in Tchernikov and was one of the chassidim of the Rebbe Maharash and Rashab. See about him in Sefer HaSichos 5699, p. 298.

  18. (Back to text) Usually of a chassidic discourse of the Rebbe.

  19. (Back to text) One of the leading transcribers of chassidus in Lubavitch for many years. See introduction of maamar Vehecharim 5631.

  20. (Back to text) Printed in Sefer HaMaamarim 5643, p. 35. On this maamar, the Previous Rebbe noted, "The maamar is in the handwriting of Reb Shmuel Sofer, and the notes are those of my saintly father. This maamar I received as a gift on Chanukah 5653 (see however Sefer HaSichos, p. 29 where it states that on Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha 5651, my father tested me and gave me the maamar Ner Chanukah 5643) and he reviewed it with me three times.

  21. (Back to text) A Rav of Poltava. He was a chassid of the Rebbe Maharash and then of the Rebbe Rashab. About him, see Sefer HaSichos 5697, p. 179 note 42.

  22. (Back to text) See Nedarim 20b, Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 240:3.

  23. (Back to text) This story was also recounted by the Rebbe during the Shivah of the Previous Rebbe - See Toras Menachem, Hisvaadiyos 5710, p. 4, and Sichah of 10 Shvat 5722.

  24. (Back to text) To her husband Reb Moshe HaKohen Horenstein on Friday of Parshas Teitzei 10th Elul 5652.

  25. (Back to text) For more information regarding the maamarim said at the Bar Mitzvah see - Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 104a; Sefer HaSichos 5687, p. 174; 5703, p. 137.

  26. (Back to text) A deep Talmudic discussion.

  27. (Back to text) See Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. XI, p. 306, 366; Vol. XV, p. 437.

  28. (Back to text) See HaYom Yom, entry 19 Av.

  29. (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos 5696, p. 54; 5704, p. 25.

  30. (Back to text) See Kuntres Chanoch LeNaar, p. 9.

  31. (Back to text) See Toras Menachem, Hisvaadiyos 5711, Vol. 1 p. 27.

  32. (Back to text) See Kuntres Chanoch LeNaar, p. 8.

  33. (Back to text) A small Russian coin (half a kopke).

  34. (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos Kayitz 5700, p. 99; 5704, p. 95.

  35. (Back to text) See Kuntres Chanoch LeNaar, p. 10. In those times he used to learn, write and focus his thoughts on concepts in Nigleh and chassidus.

  36. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chaim, 260.

  37. (Back to text) See Toras Shalom, p. 13.

  38. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch, ibid.

  39. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 285:6.

  40. (Back to text) The son of R. Shlomo Aharon Kazarnovsky.

  41. (Back to text) This Reshimah was written at the height of the Holocaust.

  42. (Back to text) Midrash Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 9; Bereishis Rabbah 40:6; Ramban Lech Lecha 12:6.

  43. (Back to text) I Melachim 5:5.

  44. (Back to text) Text of Mussaf for Yom Tov.

  45. (Back to text) See Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 85b.

  46. (Back to text) "Avraham was one" - Yechezkel 33:24 - meaning he was the first Jew.

  47. (Back to text) Vayeira 21:8.

  48. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 53:10.

  49. (Back to text) See Matnos Kehunah, ibid. See also commentary of Maharzav, ibid.

  50. (Back to text) See the commentaries on the midrash who explain the midrash as it is presented here.

  51. (Back to text) Chukas 21:34.

  52. (Back to text) The view of the Rabbis, and the view taken by Rashi on the verse.

  53. (Back to text) Devarim Rabbah, ch. 81.

  54. (Back to text) Devarim 3:11.

  55. (Back to text) The opposite of the truth, for even mitzvos which may be rationalized must be kept not because one understands them, but because they are a Divine command, as the Rambam rules, in the Laws of Melachim Ch. 8, in reference to the seven Noachide laws, that they must be kept because G-d commanded them in the Torah, and one who keeps them only because his intellect requires it is not counted among the righteous gentiles.

  56. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 42:8; Niddah 61a.

  57. (Back to text) Zohar, Vol. II, p. 183b; See Likkutei Torah, Tzav, p. 13d.

  58. (Back to text) See Torah Or, Vayakhel, p. 89c; Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim, p. 14d.

  59. (Back to text) Although saving Lot made sense, chasing after the Kings was irrational.

  60. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah, 42:8.

  61. (Back to text) And although the Talmud Berachos 54a relates that miracles happened in this war, the miracle was only that Hashem prevented Og from throwing a mountain on the Bnai Yisrael, however the actual killing of Og was done by Moshe who jumped and struck his ankles - a physical action.

  62. (Back to text) As the verse states - Chukas 21:24 - Israel smote him with the edge of the sword.

  63. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Ch. 53:6-8, in reference the appointment of a Shliach Tzibbur that he should have a beard. Yoreh Deah 1:5 in reference to the Shechitah of a child, that one should not give a license to a Shochet under the age of 18. Choshen Mishpat 7:3 in reference to the age of being appointed a Judge.

  64. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 242:31 in the note, based on Rashi, Avodah Zarah 19b, in reference to the age a person is deemed fit to render halachic decisions. See also Tosafos, Sotah 22b that these 40 years start from the age he started learning and not from birth.

  65. (Back to text) Yirmeyahu 2:2; see Rashi Bo 12:39.

  66. (Back to text) Yisro 20:2.

  67. (Back to text) See Nitzutzei Zohar on Zohar, Vol. III, p. 128a.

  68. (Back to text) An expression of the Zohar, Vol. III, p. 219a.

  69. (Back to text) See Sotah 10b; Rashi, Vayeira 21:33.

  70. (Back to text) See Bereishis Rabbah 38:13.

  71. (Back to text) See at length Reshimos No. 17.

  72. (Back to text) See Bereishis Rabbah 64:3; Rashi, Toldos 26:2.

  73. (Back to text) Rashi, ibid. 25:26.

  74. (Back to text) Midrash Tanchuma, Toldos 8, mentioned in Rashi on the verse.

  75. (Back to text) Toldos 27:1.

  76. (Back to text) By the smoke of the wives of Esav who offered incense to idols. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 140.

  77. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 63:10; Rashi on verse.

  78. (Back to text) Toldos 25:27.

  79. (Back to text) Noach 10:9.

  80. (Back to text) Toldos, p. 145b.

  81. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 63:10.

  82. (Back to text) For a full explanation see additions to Torah Or, Megillas Esther, p. 119c.

  83. (Back to text) Toldos 25:34.

  84. (Back to text) Bava Basra 16b.

  85. (Back to text) Ovadiah 1:18; see Rashi, Vayeitzei 30:25.

  86. (Back to text) Yirmeyahu 23:29; see Berachos 22a.

  87. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 30:20; see Tanya, Ch. 36.

  88. (Back to text) Bereishis 34:25.

  89. (Back to text) See Tosafos Yom Tov at the beginning of the second chapter of tractate Zavim.

  90. (Back to text) The exact wording of Rashi in Avos is: "And then Levi was 13. If you reckon the two years that Yaakov spent at Beis El." Tosafos Yom Tov interprets this Rashi to mean, the two years that Yaakov spent on the way until he reached Beis El, which suggests that in addition to the 18 months at Sukkos, he spent 6 months on the way.

  91. (Back to text) See also Midrash Lekach Tov on the verse.

  92. (Back to text) See Vayishlach 35:1-3 and commentary of Rashi.

  93. (Back to text) See also Machzor Vitri in his commentary on Avos (ibid.) where he also approximates 18 months or 2 years for the three pregnancies of Reuven, Shimon and Levi.

  94. (Back to text) Rabbeinu Bachaye writes (Vayishlach, ibid.): "Leah gave birth to Reuven in 7 months, and then to Shimon in 7 months. It therefore follows that when Yaakov left the house of Lavan at the end of 20 years, Shimon was 12 less two months. Yaakov stayed at Sukkos for 18 months and then came to Shchem. At that time, Shimon was 13 years and 4 months, and Levi was 12 and 9 months, and the verse calls him an ish. See also the commentary of Maharzav on Bereishis Rabbah 80:10.

    Zayis Raanan on Yalkut Shimoni, Vayishlach, Remez 135 comments: "When Yaakov left the house of Lavan he (Levi) was 11, for Yaakov was 13 years in the house of Lavan after he married Leah, and he was 18 months in Sukkos as the Talmud states in Megillah, therefore Levi was twelve and a half at the time of Shchem. It is therefore surprising that the verse calls him Ish for he was not yet 13. Possibly, since he was called an ish for he was a mufla samuch l'ish - that is, nearly a man (a halachic status conferred on a boy nearly 13 as regards his vows - See Nazir 29b.)

  95. (Back to text) For Reuven was conceived on the wedding night, as Yaakov attests in Bereishis 49:3, Raishis Oni. See at length the Reshimos Hebrew edition for lengthy footnotes on this subject. We shall present them here in brief. See Bereishis Rabbah 45:4; Yevamos 34a/b; Tosafos Yevamos 76a; Nodah BiYehudah Mahadura Kammah, Even HaEzer, Responsa No. 22; Ran, Kiddushin 10a; Heoros and Chiddushim of R. Zalman of Zhitomir (a grandson of the Tzemach Tzedek) who refutes the opinion of the Nodah BiYehudah based on Responsa of Rif No. 38.

    For this concept in Kabbalah - see Likkutei Torah of AriZal, Parshas Vayeira; and Etz Chayim 16:5 (end).

  96. (Back to text) 7 days of the feast, 7 days running from Lavan, 1 day at Maavar Yabok, 5 days from Erev Shabbos arrival at Shchem until the third day after the circumcision = 20 days.

  97. (Back to text) It appears that the Rebbe debated if he should add another day because of the journey from Maavar Yabok until Sukkos (or from Sukkos to Shchem) - something not mentioned in the Chumash. According to this calculation, Levi would have been 13 years and one day.

  98. (Back to text) Ch. 36.

  99. (Back to text) Vayeitze, Remez 125 (end).

  100. (Back to text) See Tosafos ibid. - in reference to the birth of Yitzchak and the calculation of 6 months and 2 days.

  101. (Back to text) See also Vilna Gaon on Avos, ibid., who also reckons only 18 months for the three pregnancies, each being 6 months only. He does not include however the days of impurity due to birth, nor the 20 days as calculated above.

  102. (Back to text) Each period of impurity being a week - see Tazria (beginning).

  103. (Back to text) See Midrash Sechel Tov, Vayishlach ibid., who is also exact in the calculation, however he enters into the question as to whether the months of the years were solar or lunar, and he arrives at the conclusion that they were lunar months.

  104. (Back to text) See Pirkei D.R'Eliezer, and Yalkut Shimoni, ibid., and commentary of Radal, ibid.

  105. (Back to text) Tetzaveh 28:10.

  106. (Back to text) As is the opinion of Rashi, Vayishlach 32:5, and not like the Ramban who is of the opinion that they only kept the Torah inside the Land of Israel. See at length Proshas Derachim and Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 142.

  107. (Back to text) Seven weeks altogether, 3 of Leah, between Reuven Shimon, Levi and Yehudah, one of Bilhah, one of Zilpah, and a further two of Leah between Yissachar Zevulun and Dinah.

  108. (Back to text) See Bereishis 30:21.

  109. (Back to text) It appears in the original Reshimah, that the Rebbe added the following note later.

    "In Seder Olam (2) it says that the tribes were born at 7 months. Ibn Ezra, Bereishis 30:23 and Shmos 2:2, explains that they were born after 9 months. See also Pirkei D.R'Eliezer Ch. 36 and commentary of Radal. Lekach Tov, Bereishis 29:32, Midrash Tadshei, Chizkuni and Ohel Yosef (on Ibn Ezra) Vayeitzei 30:25. Bachaye, Shmos 1:6, R. Epstein in his book The early history of the Jews."

  110. (Back to text) On the verse in Shmos, "And Yosef died".

  111. (Back to text) The calculation: after seven years of work, Yaakov married Leah. If so, Reuven who was born in Kislev was born in the ninth year, Shimon born in Teves in the 10th year, Levi born in Nissan, in the 11th year, Yehudah born in Sivan in the 12th year. Bilhah gave birth to Dan in Elul of that year, and to Naftali in Tishrei of the 14th year. Zilpah gave birth to Gad in Cheshvan of that year and to Asher in Shvat in the 15th year. Leah gave birth to Yissachar in Av of that year and to Zevulun in Tishrei of the 16th year - a passage of over 15 years. Rochel could not have given birth to Yosef less than three months after Leah gave birth to Zevulun, for Rashi, Vayeitze 30:21 explains that only after Leah saw she was again pregnant (which takes three months to be noticeable) did she pray that her new pregnancy should be a girl so that Rachel should not be any worse than the maidservants.

  112. (Back to text) See Seder HaDoros in regards to the birth of Yosef who asks a similar question as regards the 13 years of Levi.

  113. (Back to text) 69a, Beyadua.

  114. (Back to text) This question is also asked in Responsa of Maharil 51 - see Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 289 note 3.

  115. (Back to text) See Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 76, 326; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, p. 70; Vol. 15, p. 291.

  116. (Back to text) Toldos 25:27.

  117. (Back to text) Ibid. 30.

  118. (Back to text) See Daas Zekenim MiBaalei Tosafos, Mizrachi, Sifsei Chachamim. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, p. 49; Vol. V, p. 370; Vol. XX, p. 114 note 41.

  119. (Back to text) Avraham lived for 175 years, and when Yaakov and Esav were born, Yitzchak was 60 years old, making Avraham 160. It therefore follows that Yaakov and Esav were 15 when Avraham died.

  120. (Back to text) See Niddah 46a, Encyclopedia Talmudis entry for Gadol, p. 140.

  121. (Back to text) Iyov 5:7.

  122. (Back to text) See Eruvin 54a.

  123. (Back to text) Vaes'chanan (end).

  124. (Back to text) Avos 2:15.

  125. (Back to text) Kiddushin (end).

  126. (Back to text) See Bereishis 2:15; Zohar, Vol. I, p. 27a.

  127. (Back to text) Avos, Ch. 2 (end).

  128. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 42:5.

  129. (Back to text) Lech Lecha 13:2.

  130. (Back to text) Vayeira 22:27.

  131. (Back to text) See Midrash HaGadol, Lech Lecha 12:3.

  132. (Back to text) See Sotah 10b.

  133. (Back to text) See Lech Lecha 12:5, Rashi ibid. Rambam, Hilchos Avodah Zarah 1:3.

  134. (Back to text) See Bereishis Rabbah 53:10.

  135. (Back to text) Ibid., and commentary of Matnos Kehunah.

  136. (Back to text) Vayeira 18:19.

  137. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah, ibid.

  138. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 63:10; Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 4.

  139. (Back to text) See Rashi, Toldos 25:27.

  140. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah, ibid.

  141. (Back to text) See Toldos 27:15; Rashi, ibid.

  142. (Back to text) Toldos 25:27.

  143. (Back to text) Rashi, ibid.

  144. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 44:2.

  145. (Back to text) See Toldos 27:29.

  146. (Back to text) Vayishlach 35:11.

  147. (Back to text) Ovadiah 1:18.

  148. (Back to text) Amos 1:12.

  149. (Back to text) Michah 5:7.

  150. (Back to text) Nachum 2:3.

  151. (Back to text) Ovadiah 1:15.

  152. (Back to text) Vayeitzei 31:17,18.

  153. (Back to text) Toldos 26:14.

  154. (Back to text) Vayishlach 33:18.

  155. (Back to text) Ibid. 34:30.

  156. (Back to text) Ibid. 33:19.

  157. (Back to text) Ibid. 34:9.

  158. (Back to text) See Balak 23:9.

  159. (Back to text) Vayishlach, ibid., 10,21.

  160. (Back to text) Ibid. 30.

  161. (Back to text) See HaTamim, Vol. 8, p. 47; Igros Kodesh of the Previous Rebbe, Vol. III, p. 289, HaYom Yom, entry for 9 Iyar.

  162. (Back to text) See Shaar HaGilgulim intro. 23; Shaar Maamarei Razal (end); Emek HaMelech 1:4 (end).

  163. (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Behar, p. 41c.

  164. (Back to text) Sotah 34b.

  165. (Back to text) Yoma 83b - when R. Meir heard that a man was called Kidor, he understood from the name that this was a wicked man, basing himself on the verse - Haazinu 32:20 Ki Dor Tahapuchos - for they are a generation of reversals. See also Igros Kodesh, Vol. I, p. 288.

  166. (Back to text) I Shmuel 1:20.

  167. (Back to text) See beginning of Avodah Zarah, Rashi, ibid.

  168. (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 3a.

  169. (Back to text) Kesubos 67a.

  170. (Back to text) See Tanya, Ch. 1.

  171. (Back to text) See Reshimah, Shnayim Ochazin B'Tallis, p. 11.

  172. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 39.

  173. (Back to text) Bava Metzia 5b.

  174. (Back to text) Ibid., 107a.

  175. (Back to text) I Shmuel 1:28.

  176. (Back to text) Shavuos 49a.

  177. (Back to text) Bava Metzia 96b.

  178. (Back to text) Ibid., 97a.

  179. (Back to text) Ibid., 95b - if the owner was with the borrower that is, was in his service at the time of borrowing, he need not be with the borrower at the time the animal suffered a broken limb or died for the borrower to receive this exemption. It is sufficient that they were together when the cow was lent.

  180. (Back to text) Berachos 10b.

  181. (Back to text) Ibid. 14a.

  182. (Back to text) Ibid. 5b.

  183. (Back to text) See Rashi, ibid. And even according to Tosafos who permits learning before prayer, there is an advantage of learning after prayer over that learning before prayer - see Likkutei Torah, VeZos HaBerachah, p. 96b.

  184. (Back to text) See Rambam Laws of Secirus 1:3.

  185. (Back to text) That is, Shmuel constantly had Hashem with him in prayer - at the time of borrowing.

  186. (Back to text) I Shmuel 7:17.

  187. (Back to text) Berachos 10b.

  188. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 82b.

  189. (Back to text) Ibid.

  190. (Back to text) Yevamos 47a.

  191. (Back to text) This Reshimah was written at the height of the Holocaust.

  192. (Back to text) See Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 9; Bereishis Rabbah 40:6; Ramban, Lech Lecha 12:6.

  193. (Back to text) See Lech Lecha 14:13; Bereishis Rabbah 42:8 - the entire world being on one side and Avraham on the other.

  194. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 53:10 on the verse in Vayeira 21:8.

  195. (Back to text) Vaes'chanan 7:7.

  196. (Back to text) See Amos 7:2-5.

  197. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah, ibid.; see Reshimos No. 17.

  198. (Back to text) Toldos 26:27.

  199. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 63:10.

  200. (Back to text) See Yalkut Shimoni, Vayechi (end), that Esav was killed by Yehudah, and others say by Chushim the son of Dan.

  201. (Back to text) Vayishlach 34:25.

  202. (Back to text) Rashi, Nazir 29b.

  203. (Back to text) Vayishlach ibid. 31.

  204. (Back to text) II Shmuel 7:23; see Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 9.

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