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Publisher’s Foreword

Shabbos Parshas Pinchus
14th Day of Tammuz, 5744

16th Day of Tammuz, 5744

Yechidus to Bar Mitzvah Boys & Their Parents
16th Day of Tammuz, 5744

Yechidus to Chassanim & Kallos
16th Day of Tammuz, 5744

17th Day of Tammuz, 5744
— After Minchah —

Shabbos Parshas Massai
28th Day of Tammuz, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Devorim
6th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

15th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Day Camps
16th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Eikev
20th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

21st Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Kollel Tiferes Zekainim Levi Yitzchok
23rd Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Re’ey
27th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Gan Yisroel & Emunah Camps
1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5744

The Letter sent out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
18th Day of Elul, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sovo
18th Day of Elul, 5744

Tzivos Hashem
21st Day of Elul, 5744

The Letter Sent Out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
25th Day of Elul, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech
25th Day of Elul, 5744

N’shei Ubnos Chabad
27th Day of Elul, 5744

Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5745

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 22 — Tammuz-Elul, 5744

N’shei Ubnos Chabad
27th Day of Elul, 5744

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  Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech
25th Day of Elul, 5744
Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5745  

1. In recent years, the community has adopted the traditional custom of gathering together (men and women on different occasions) in the days before Rosh Hashanah to strengthen their observance of Torah and mitzvos and thus prepare for the new year to come. An allusion to this custom can be found in the portion of the week read on Shabbos which begins: “You are all standing together today ... to pass through the covenant of the L-rd your G-d” — i.e. it is explained that the word “today” refers to Rosh Hashanah, and as a preparation for today (Rosh Hashanah) Jews should gather together with the intent of carrying out the mission with which they were charged by G-d.

The essential aspect of a Jew’s service is accepting the yoke of G-d’s Kingship. This is the primary element of the service of Rosh Hashanah. The Jews must, in the Talmud’s words (Rosh Hashanah 16a), make G-d a king over them. On that day, we accept G-d as King and accept the yoke of His Kingship for the entire year to come. The effect of Rosh Hashanah (1). A Jew begins — is felt throughout the entire year — before washing his hands or involving himself in any other activity — each day by reciting Modeh Ani: “I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King” thus, reaffirming the acceptance of G-d’s Kingship that was made on Rosh Hashanah.

The above concept has ramifications both within the realm of our personal service and in regard to our relations with others. Even though we have a variety of different powers and potentials, through the love of G-d: “... with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might,” these different potentials can be united. Similarly, though the Jewish people are marked by different qualities and characteristics, they may all unite together as one nation. Even through we are in exile “scattered and spread out among the nations,” we are one nation. Through the fact that “their faith is different from that of other nations,” we are lifted up above the other peoples and become one with G-d.

The above is related to the inscription for a good and sweet year we each desire to receive on Rosh Hashanah. The Book of Proverbs declares: “In the radiance of the countenance of the King, there is life.” Indeed, we see within the context of human experience, that being in the king’s presence, particularly “when the king’s face is radiant,” brings about life. Similarly, in a spiritual sense, when a Jew begins the year by accepting G-d as King (and similarly, begins the day with Modeh Ani), then, “In the radiance of the countenance of the King, there is life,” and he merits a good life in all matters regarding children, health and prosperity.

In order for the above to be carried out in a proper manner, it is necessary to prepare oneself. Therefore, an entire month, the month of Elul, is set aside to prepare oneself for the service of Rosh Hashanah. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, particularly in the week during which Rosh Hashanah is celebrated, those preparations must intensify. Thus, now is an appropriate time to conclude with strength, sincerity, and joy, the preparations for Rosh Hashanah. When we make an effort towards that goal, G-d will add His blessings and grant us a greater degree of success than we could expect.

Thus, one can understand the importance of this gathering: For each individual, it is an appropriate time to complete his/her preparations for Rosh Hashanah. Furthermore, the fact that many join together adds a greater aspect of blessing. This is particularly true when the gathering is held in a synagogue, a place where Jews join together in communal prayer, rising above their individual entities and becoming fused into one single entity.

This will enhance the acceptance of G-d’s kingship on Rosh Hashanah, as the Book of Proverbs teaches: “... among the multitude of the people the splendor of the king.” By increasing and adding to the multitude of the people, by even causing one other Jew to join, how much more so if many Jews join together, is “the splendor of the king” increased.

2. The above is particularly related to Jewish women. The Jewish woman is referred to as “Akeres Habayis — the foundation of the household.” The word akeres is also related to the work “iker” — evening essence. The Jewish woman is the essence of the home, she controls the atmosphere of the home, causing it to be permeated by Torah and Yiddishkeit and making it fit for the Divine Presence to rest upon it. The above also applies to Jewish women and girls who are as yet unmarried, for they are being educated and trained with this goal in mind. In a greater sense, the world is considered G-d’s dwelling and the role of Akeres Habayis is played by the Jewish people. Thus, there is an interrelation between the role of the Jewish people as a whole and that of the Jewish woman.

The intention of the creation of the world was in order for the world to become a dwelling for G-d, that it should be openly perceived as G-d’s dwelling and home. This intent will be brought into fruition by the Jewish people by following the directives of G-d as revealed in the Torah. This service brings about the crowning of G-d as King of the world: through the service of Rosh Hashanah and, in microcosm, through the recitation of Modeh Ani in the morning. In a practical sense, the service is expressed by “carrying out all your deeds for the sake of heaven.” Thus, the existence of the Jewish people and their activities proclaim how G-d is the Master and Creator of the entire world. These activities make the world a dwelling for G-d and place fit for His Presence to rest. His Presence will be revealed in the spiritual sanctuary within every Jew’s heart, from there to each Jew’s home, until eventually the entire world will be revealed as G-d’s dwelling.

Since the revelation of the world as G-d’s dwelling is dependent on the service of the Jews, it can be understood that the Jews perform a function similar to that of the Akeres Habayis, taking care of directing G-d’s dwelling according to His will. In this way, the Jews became G-d’s partner in creation as each husband and wife are partners in building their individual households.

On the basis of the above, we can understand the interrelation between Rosh Hashanah and the service of Jewish women. On Rosh Hashanah, the entire creation is renewed, as we say in our prayers: “Today the world was conceived.” Thus, on Rosh Hashanah, an emphasis is placed on the ultimate purpose of the creation, the revelation of the world as G-d’s dwelling, and hence, the role of the Jewish people as Akeres Habayis, in revealing G-dliness throughout the world.

This revelation is brought about, first and foremost, through the efforts of the Jewish women who serve as Akeres Habayis of their particular homes, making sure that their homes are run in the spirit of Torah and Judaism to the point where the house is fit for the Divine Presence to rest upon it. These efforts in making the individual home of every Jew a sanctuary and dwelling for G-d will lead to the revelation of the entire, world as G-d’s dwelling, this being accomplished by the Jewish people, G-d’s Akeres Habayis. Thus, on Rosh Hashanah, an emphasis is placed on the role of the Jewish people as the Akeres Habayis of the world and therefore, there is an emphasis on the service of the Jewish women and their role as Akeres Habayis within their individual homes.

Furthermore, the importance of the service of the Jewish woman is emphasized at the very beginning of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, for that holiday is ushered in by the kindling of candles by each Jewish woman and girl. The essence of that mitzvah is taking a physical candle, lighting it with a holy light, and thus, illuminating the entire home. Furthermore, two blessings are cited over this kindling. The berachah blessing the candles and the berachah “Shehecheyanu,” thanking G-d for maintaining each and every one of the Jewish women and bringing them to the time in which they can fulfill another mitzvah (in addition to all the mitzvos which they fulfilled in the previous year) and kindle the candles of Rosh Hashanah, illuminating their entire homes and the entire year to come.

* * *
3. The above is relevant to the general concept of holding a gathering of women before Rosh Hashanah. In addition, there is a particular lesson to be learned from the day on which that gathering is being held for, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, every thing which a Jew sees or hears must serve as a lesson in the service of G-d. If this is true regarding material things, surely, it applies in regard to aspects of Torah and mitzvos. This concept can be logically understood. Every Jew believes that G-d is the Master of the world and hence, would surely not allow anything to happen without His supervision. Thus, every event that happens in the world is controlled by Divine Providence, as our sages taught: “All that the Holy One blessed be He created in His world He created solely for His Glory.”

This intention is fulfilled by the Jewish people. Every action performed by a Jew emanates from a divine life-force, for a Jew is “a part of G-d from above,” then, by his very existence he reveals G-dliness in the world. This is surely true when the Jew intends to serve G-d in his deeds and reveal how everything in the world was created by G-d. Thus, everything we see is created “for G-d’s honor” and hence, should produce, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, a lesson in His service.

Hence, we must learn lessons from the fact that this gathering is being held

    1) in the week of Parshas Haazinu and

    2) on the second day of that week.

The following lesson can be learned from Parshas Haazinu.

Parshas Haazinu begins: “Give ear O heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth listen to the words of my mouth.” This, clearly emphasizes that a Jew’s mission is to make the heavens and the earth hear his work, i.e. he is charged with revealing G-dliness throughout the creation, in the heavens and the earth. Furthermore, our sages have taught us that the expression “Give ear” refers to communication when the speaker and listener are close to each other and the expression “Listen” is used when they are more distantly separated. Thus, a Jew must be “close to the heavens” — to the study of Torah, to the fulfillment of mitzvos, and to the spreading of Yiddishkeit, and “distant from the earth” from eating, sleeping, and his other physical needs.

To put the concept in simple words, a Jew may think that his physical needs are essential to his being and his spiritual needs need not necessarily be fulfilled. Parshas Haazinu teaches that the direct opposite is true. The essence of a Jew’s existence is that he is “a part of G-d” and that “the heavens are close to him.” All that is necessary is for him to firmly decide to fulfill the mission with which he was charged by G-d. Then, G-d will help him and he will regard spiritual matters as “close.”

Similarly, he can view physical things as being distant from him. Though on the surface that is difficult to conceive, because even though he is “a part of G-d,” he requires food and drink to maintain his existence However, the concept must be understood as follows: By nature, material things are distant from a Jew. Nevertheless, G-d enclothed the Jew’s soul in a body, creating the body in a way that it would require material things in order that a Jew lift up these material things and reveal G-dliness within them.

The lesson that can be derived from the second Aliyah of Parshas Haazinu is connected with the opening verse of the passage: “Remember the days of old, ponder the years of each generation. Ask your father and he will recount it to you, your elders and they will tell you.”

Thus, when a Jew is asked to recall his source, he immediately recalls the Patriarch Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah. Furthermore, as implied by the words: “ponder the years of each generation,” he does not look upon them as distant ancestors. but rather as his father and his mother, and the fathers and mothers of the entire Jewish people. Thus, it is understood that just as a father and mother are constantly willing to do whatever possible to meet their children’s needs, offering whatever and assistance necessary and doing so with joy and pleasure, similarly, the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs will stand by each one of their “children” and assist them in all their needs. The awareness of their existence will surely encourage each Jew to proceed further in his service of Torah and mitzvos.

The passage continues mentioning the verse (32:10): “He found them in a desert land and in the desolate wasteland. He encompassed them. He gave them understanding....” Rashi explains that this verse refers to the giving of the Torah. When G-d found them in a desert land” and they accepted the Torah and its yoke, G-d “encompassed them,” placing the Sanctuary tent in the center of the camp and four standards in each of the four directions.

This concept relates to the service of the Jewish women. On the verse “Make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within,” our sages noted that a plural form of the word “within” was used implying that G-d would dwell not only within the Sanctuary, but within every Jew. Thus, every Jew must place his inner sanctuary for G-d at the center of his life and all his other activities should revolve around it; thus, they will be illuminated and influenced by that inner sanctuary. Within the Sanctuary was the Ark containing the ten commandments, thus teaching us how the lives of the Jewish people must be illuminated by the light of Torah and from them, the light of Torah will go forth to the entire world.

4. The concept described above concerning the Sanctuary is related to the daily portion of the Rambam studied today, which also is related, for that portion deals with the laws concerning the construction of the Temple, chapters 5-7.

(The study of the Rambam is uniquely appropriate to the time of exile. The Rambam served as a “Guide to the Perplexed.” He led those who, due to the darkness of exile had difficulty appreciating the proper path of life for a Jew to tread, back to Torah observance by giving them a text. A text which, in a clear and concise manner, gave them directives regarding their behavior to the point that, in the Rambam’s words, “one can study the Written Law first, and then proceed to this without having to study another text.”)

There is a lesson to be learned in the service of: from each of these chapters. The first of those chapters contains the expression: “The Temple mount which is Mt. Moriah.” Thus, we see that the Temple was constructed on a mountain, teaching us that holiness and Judaism should be given the highest and most prominent place in one’s life.

Furthermore, one should follow the path of Judaism, fulfilling Torah and mitzvos as a mountain, i.e. with pride and without shame, doing so in the presence of gentile nations. So too, the Messianic prophecies relate that “in the end of days, the Mount of the House of the L-rd on the head of the mountains ... and all the nations will stream to it.”

The following lesson can be derived from the second chapter studied today. That chapter includes the law: “The Temple was not built on a plateau, but rather on the incline of the mount. Furthermore, as one proceeded further in levels of holiness, from the Temple mount, to the women’s courtyard, to the court of Israelites, to the courtyard of the priests, one had to ascend higher in a physical sense as well. Thus, we see how a Jew must continually strive to rise higher, level after level. A Jew (and in particular, a Jewish woman, an Akeres Habayis) cannot remain in the same state as he or she was yesterday; rather, he or she must constantly proceed forward, advancing in the service of G-d.

The third chapter also contains a law which provides us with a fundamental lesson in behavior: “It is a positive command to fear the Sanctuary, as it is written: “... and you shall fear My Sanctuary.” [However,] one should not fear the Sanctuary [the mere physical entity], but rather, the One who commanded its fear.”

The lesson to be derived from the above is as follows: When a Jew knows the wondrous nature of the mission with which he was charged, that G-d charged him with becoming a “partner in creation” and building a sanctuary within the world, it is possible that he will derive a sense of satisfaction, knowing that he is after all a partner, and thus, relax the intensity of his service. Hence, he is told “to fear the Sanctuary,” and hence, he will feel a prod to carry out his service in the fullest sense.

The above is particularly relevant to the mission of Jewish women. The fundamental mitzvah with which women are entrusted is “Be fruitful and multiply and fill up the earth.” Though someone may ask, “Why is it important to have children at a young age, when a woman has her full youthful energies? Why not postpone that and let her spend her energies developing the family’s base, preparing to purchase a house, etc. Furthermore, Torah teaches that there are three partners in the creation of a child. The father, the mother, and G-d. Hence the parents’ ideas should also be considered.

These questions are answered by the above passage of the Rambam. A Jew’s house is a sanctuary. It follows that everything in the house should be carried out in a manner similar to the Sanctuary. Therefore, when a man and a women marry — “according to the faith of Moshe and Israel” — with the intent of creating “an eternal building,” they should first and foremost carry out the first mitzvah in the Torah — having children. Let them rely on G-d, the major partner of the three. He will surely bless them with sons and daughters, long life, health and prosperity. He will give them all the blessings necessary, provided they give birth to children in holiness and purity following the directives of the Torah. When a Jew thinks that because he is a partner, his own personal existence should also be considered, then he must be taught to fear the Sanctuary, and G-d, who ordered it to be constructed. When he accepts G-d as King and fulfills His directives with fear, then, “in the light of the countenance of the King, there is life.” He will receive abundant blessings from G-d.

Through fulfillment of the above, we will merit the blessing in the conclusion of the Torah portion: “G-d alone will guide them, there will be no foreign god with Him.” Our sages explained that this prophecy refers to the Messianic age when “the glory of G-d will be revealed and all flesh will see together that it is the mouth of G-d that has spoken.

5. It is customary to conclude this gathering by giving tzedakah. Thus, we will have carried out three activities: tzedakah — as mentioned; Torah — mentioning verses of the Written Law and concepts of the Oral Law; and tefillah — the heartfelt prayer that G-d will “speedily cause the scion of Dovid, Your servant, to flourish,” and “May our eyes behold Your return to Tziyon in mercy.”

Then, we will proceed with Shlaimus HaOm, the complete state of Jewish people, and with Shlaimus HaTorah, the complete state of the Torah, to Shlaimus Haaretz, the complete state of Eretz Yisrael, to Yerushalayim, and to the Third Temple.

Therefore, I will give each participant in this gathering a dollar with the intent that it be given to tzedakah. Surely, each woman will add a gift of her own as well and then this tzedakah will arouse G-d to give tzedakah and to bring the Messianic redemption.

Within the contexts of these remarks, it is important to mention other gifts of tzedakah:

    1) Keren Hashanah — a fund in which an amount that corresponds to the number of days in the year is donated, so that each day of the year, an equal amount can be allocated to charity.

    2) The collection of Chai Elul — Chai Elul begins the final twelve days of the year. It has been explained that each day corresponds to a month and that one can compensate for one’s behavior in that month on that day. Thus, Chai Elul corresponds to the month of Tishrei, and hence it is fitting to add one’s gift of charity on that day.

    3) The collection of Chof Av, Erev Rosh Hashanah and other special days.

And may this tzedakah lead to fulfillment of the prophecy: “... and Israel will be redeemed with tzedakah” and may we conclude with the traditional blessing: “May you be inscribed for a good and sweet year.”

  Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech
25th Day of Elul, 5744
Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5745  
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