It is written, “You shall surely reprove your comrade”1—“even one hundred times,” add our Sages,2 taking up the hint offered by the repetitive form of the Hebrew verb.

"הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת עֲמִיתֶךָ" – "אֲפִילוּ מֵאָה פְעָמִים".

Therefore, writes the Alter Rebbe, I cannot contain myself and cannot refrain from crying out yet again, in a voice betraying [pained] weakness.3

וְלָזֹאת, לֹא אוּכַל לְהִתְאַפֵּק וּלְהַחֲרִישׁ מִלִּזְעוֹק עוֹד בְּקוֹל עֲנוֹת חֲלוּשָׁה:

I plead with you out of deep compassion,

בְּמָטוּתָא מִינַּיְיכוּ, בְּרַחֲמִין נְפִישִׁין,

have pity on your souls. Take care, be extremely vigilant, concerning the study of Torah and the service of the heart, which is prayer4 with proper intent.

חוּסוּ נָא עַל נַפְשׁוֹתֵיכֶם, וְהִשָּׁמְרוּ וְהִזָּהֲרוּ מְאֹד מְאֹד עַל הַתּוֹרָה וְעַל "הָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב – זוֹ תְּפִלָּה" בְּכַוָּונָה,

All should begin [the prayers] in unison, as one, word by word, not one person here and another elsewhere, one mute and the other idly chatting, may G-d protect us.

לְהַתְחִיל כּוּלָּם יַחַד כְּאֶחָד מִלָּה בְּמִלָּה, וְלֹא זֶה בְּכֹה וְזֶה בְּכֹה, וְזֶה דּוֹמֵם וְזֶה מֵשִׂיחַ שִׂיחָה בְּטֵילָה, ה' יִשְׁמְרֵנוּ.

The main cause and instigator of [this] damage comes from those leading the services.

וְעִיקַּר הַסִּיבָּה וּגְרָמָא בִּנְזָקִין – הוּא מֵהַיּוֹרְדִים לִפְנֵי הַתֵּיבָה,

That office is abandoned to whoever wishes to stride forth and snatch the honor,5

שֶׁהוּא הֶפְקֵר לְכָל הָרוֹצֶה לִפְשׁוֹט רַגְלָיו, הַחוֹטֵף אֶפְרָתִי,

or because not even one desires it…, so that ultimately the prayers are led by someone inappropriate to the task.

אוֹ מֵחֲמַת שֶׁאֵין גַּם אֶחָד רוֹצֶה וְכוּ'.

For this reason, this is the counsel offered, and a regulation established as law not to be violated further, G-d forbid.

וְאֵי לָזֹאת, זֹאת הָעֵצָה הַיְּעוּצָה, וְתַקָּנָה קְבוּעָה, חוֹק וְלֹא יַעֲבוֹר עוֹד חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

That is, choose fixed individuals fit for this office of leading the prayers, by lot or by consent of the majority of the worshippers.

דְּהַיְינוּ, לִבְחוֹר אֲנָשִׁים קְבוּעִים הָרְאוּיִם לָזֶה עַל פִּי הַגּוֹרָל, אוֹ בְּרִיצּוּי רוֹב הַמִּנְיָן.

And who, indeed, is fit for this office?

These shall be men who pray word by word, at a moderate pace, aloud,

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְּלִים מִלָּה בְּמִלָּה בְּדֶרֶךְ הַמִּיצּוּעַ בְּקוֹל רָם,

neither overly prolonging the prayers nor racing intemperately, G-d forbid.

וְלֹא מַאֲרִיכִים יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי, וְלֹא מְקַצְּרִים וְחוֹטְפִים חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

Theirs is the duty to lead the prayers, each on his day as determined.

וַעֲלֵיהֶם, מוּטָּל חוֹבָה לֵירֵד לִפְנֵי הַתֵּיבָה, כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בְּיוֹמוֹ אֲשֶׁר יַגִּיעַ לוֹ,

He shall assemble close around him all those who pray audibly, at least, neither whispering nor rushing, G-d forbid.

וְלֶאֱסוֹף אֵלָיו סָבִיב סָמוּךְ כָּל הַמִּתְפַּלְּלִים בְּקוֹל קְצָת עַל כָּל פָּנִים, וְלֹא בְּלַחַשׁ וְלֹא חוֹטְפִים חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

This is amplified in age-old communal regulations in many towns.

וְכִמְבוֹאָר בְּתַקָּנוֹת יְשָׁנוֹת בְּכַמָּה עֲיָירוֹת.

I come now, writes the Alter Rebbe, to renew them, to strengthen and invigorate them, never again to be weakened, G-d forbid.

וְעַתָּה בָּאתִי לְחַדְּשָׁן וּלְחַזְּקָן וּלְאַמְּצָן, בַּל יִמּוֹטוּ עוֹד לְעוֹלָם חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

(6The following two words appear in Yiddish7 in the Alter Rebbe’s original manuscript: Gevald! Gevald!—an outcry of agonized consternation.)8

(בכתב יד גְּוַואלְד גְּוַואלְד),

How long will this be an obstacle for us?9

עַד מָתַי יִהְיֶה זֶה לָנוּ לְמוֹקֵשׁ,

How long will we burdened by praying without proper intent?

Have we not sufficient reproofs and troubles that have overtaken us? May G-d protect and console us with redoubled support10 and purify our hearts to serve Him in truth.

וְלֹא דַי לָנוּ בְּכָל הַתּוֹכֵחוֹת וְהַצָּרוֹת שֶׁעָבְרוּ עָלֵינוּ? – ה' יִשְׁמְרֵנוּ, וִינַחֲמֵנוּ בְּכִפְלַיִם לְתוּשִׁיָּה, וִיטַהֵר לִבֵּנוּ לְעָבְדוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת.

Strengthen and fortify your hearts, all who hope in G-d.11

חִזְקוּ וְאַמְּצוּ לְבַבְכֶם כָּל הַמְיַיחֲלִים לַה'.

Also: Complete the study of the entire Talmud year after year,

גַּם, לִגְמוֹר כָּל הַשַּׁ"ס בְּכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה,

and in every community apportion the tractates by lot or by consent, each individual choosing the tractate that he desires to study.

וּבְכָל עִיר וָעִיר לְחַלֵּק הַמַּסֶּכְתּוֹת עַל פִּי הַגּוֹרָל אוֹ בְּרָצוֹן.

In a city with numerous synagogues, each congregation should complete [the Talmud]. And if a congregation is too small to implement this program, they should join forces with men of a larger one.

וְעִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ מִנְיָנִים הַרְבֵּה – יִגְמְרוּ בְּכָל מִנְיָן וּמִנְיָן. וְאִם אֵיזֶה מִנְיָן קָטָן מֵהָכִיל, יְצָרְפוּ אֲלֵיהֶם אֲנָשִׁים מֵאֵיזֶה מִנְיָן גָּדוֹל,

This Statute—that the entire Talmud be studied every year—shall not be varied or violated.

בְּבַל יְשׁוּנֶּה, חֹק וְלֹא יַעֲבוֹר.

In addition, each of the participants shall individually read the whole of the eightfold Psalm 119 every week.12

וְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵהַלּוֹמְדִים הַנַּ"ל יִגְמוֹר לְעַצְמוֹ בְּכָל שָׁבוּעַ הַ"תְּמַנְיָא אַפֵּי" שֶׁבִּתְהִלִּים קי"ט.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, comments on the connection between completing the study of the Talmud and the recitation of Psalms as follows: “From here, we see that the study of Gemara is complete only when it is accompanied by the recitation of Psalms, and in order to recite Psalms properly, one needs to study Gemara.”13

Moreover, since, due to the frailty of our times, not everyone is capable of fasting as he ought,

וְלִהְיוֹת מֵחֲמַת חֲלִישׁוּת הַדּוֹר אֵין כֹּחַ בְּכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד לְהִתְעַנּוֹת כָּרָאוּי לוֹ,

In Iggeret Hateshuvah,14 the Alter Rebbe cites the classical works of Mussar as to the number of fasts prescribed for each major sin so that a penitent will be able to render himself as acceptable to G-d after his repentance as he was before sinning.

the counsel offered follows the declaration of our Sages, of blessed memory, “Whoever observes Shabbat according to its law is forgiven all his sins.”15

לָזֹאת, עֵצָה הַיְּעוּצָה כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "כָּל הַשּׁוֹמֵר שַׁבָּת כְּהִלְכָתוֹ מוֹחֲלִין לוֹ עַל כָּל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו" –

The term “according to its law” is used advisedly, for the Shabbat cannot be properly observed without a knowledge of its laws.

"כְּהִלְכָתוֹ" דַּיְיקָא,

It is therefore incumbent upon every individual to master the “great law” of Shabbat.

לָכֵן מוּטָּל עַל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד לִהְיוֹת בָּקִי בְּ"הִלְכְתָא רַבְּתִי לְשַׁבְּתָא".

The term “great law” echoes the expression in the Gemara16 regarding checking one’s clothes before sundown on Friday in order not to transgress a prohibition later. The laws of Shabbat thus not only inform us of what is prohibited but also of how to avoid transgression.

Also, be most careful [on Shabbat] not to indulge in idle chatter, G-d forbid.

וְגַם יִזָּהֵר מְאֹד שֶׁלֹּא לָשׂוּחַ שׁוּם שִׂיחָה בְּטֵילָה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

For, as is known to the students of the Kabbalah, all the mitzvot comprise an internal and an external aspect—the spirituality of the mitzvah and the physical act which it requires.

בִּהְיוֹת מוּדַעַת זֹאת לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן, כִּי בְּכָל הַמִּצְוֹת יֵשׁ פְּנִימִיּוּת וְחִיצוֹנִיּוּת,

The externality of the [mitzvah of] Shabbat is the cessation of physical activity, just as G-d ceased making the physical heaven and earth.

וְחִיצוֹנִיּת מֵהַשַּׁבָּת – הִיא שְׁבִיתָה מֵעֲשִׂיָּה גַשְׁמִיִּית, כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁבַת ה' מֵעֲשׂוֹת שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ גַּשְׁמִיִּים.

The internal dimension of Shabbat is one’s intention in the Shabbat prayers and during one’s Torah study to cleave to the One G-d,

וּפְנִימִית הַשַּׁבָּת – הִיא הַכַּוָּונָה בִּתְפִלַּת הַשַּׁבָּת וּבְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה לְדָבְקָה בַּה' אֶחָד,

as it is written, “It is Shabbat to the L-rd your G-d.”17

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ",

Underlying the cessation of labor on Shabbat is the concept of elevation. When a person rests from his labor at any time, the energy that had been vested in it rises and returns to its source within the soul. So, too, the cessation of labor and resting on Shabbat means that the soul, which during the week had been immersed in mundane activities, is uplifted “to the L-rd your G-d.”

This [internal level of the mitzvah of Shabbat] is the element of “remembering.”

וְזוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת "זָכוֹר".

The Shabbat comprises two elements, “remembering” (zachor) and “observing” (shamor), reflecting the two commandments, “Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it,”18 and “Observe the Shabbat day to sanctify it.”19 Elevating the soul on Shabbat through proper intent (kavanah) during prayer and Torah study is an act of “remembering.”

The inner dimension of the element of “observing” is refraining from speech about material affairs, just as G-d ceased from the ten utterances through which the physical heaven and earth were created.

וּבְחִינַת "שָׁמוֹר" בִּפְנִימִיּוּת – הִיא הַשְּׁבִיתָה מִדִּיבּוּרִים גַּשְׁמִיִּים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁבַת ה' מִיּוּ"ד מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁנִּבְרְאוּ בָהֶם שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ גַּשְׁמִיִּים,

The external aspect of “observing” is refraining from active labor; the internal aspect of “observing” is refraining and resting from speech about material affairs.

For20 “one opposite the other…”—speaking about material affairs on Shabbat is the inverse of the rest and elevation that a Jew secures on Shabbat through prayer and Torah study.

כִּי זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה כוּ':