Yahrzeit of the Saintly Rebbitzin Rivkah Rebbitzin Rivkah: 1833-1914, wife of the Rebbe Maharash, and paternal grandmother of the Rebbe Rayatz. From his early childhood until her passing he heard from her mouth “a prodigious number of narratives” chronicling early chassidic and family history. Many of these he recorded in the present work, as well as in other sichos, letters and memoirs and in his diary.

[New York]

1.

Loving a fellow Jew is a mitzvah1 required by the Torah, just like the love of G‑d and the love of the Torah. And with regard to the manner in which they are to be loved, these three entities — G‑d, the Torah, and fellow Jews — are equal.

In the love of the Torah, there is no difference between one’s love for Chumash Bereishis or Shmos or Vayikra or Bamidbar or Devarim, or for Nevi’im or Kesuvim, or likewise for Mishnayos, for Gemara Bavli or Yerushalmi, or for Midrashim or Zohar. Thus there is a verse that says, אֹרַח חַיִּים פֶּן תְּפַלֵּס — “Do not measure2 the Way of Life.” On this the Sages teach: Do not sit and weigh3 the commandments of the Torah; they were all given by one shepherd, and One G‑d stated them. This is why all the words and explanations of the Torah are equal with all Jews — from the perspective of their soul-perception.4

Differences can and do exist in the intellectual comprehension of the Torah, and of its explanations of what the particular aspects of the mitzvos signify. Whereas at this level one individual understands more and another understands less, from the perspective of soul-perception all Jews — those who do comprehend and those who do not — are equal.

The reason for this is that intellectual comprehension can be expressed in words, whereas soul-perception cannot.

2.

The Torah is Divine reason. The Torah explains Divine reason by means of clear and explicit real-life analogies that ordinary people can sense and experience. Such parables and examples are among the most valuable and prized assets in the conceptual realm of Torah and wisdom, for through them, an understanding of the Torah and the mitzvos can be brought to the broad strata of our people.

Soul-perception and intellectual comprehension are certainly very distinct modes of apprehension. Nevertheless, since studying Torah is a commandment stated in the Torah, and since grasping a commandment — through explanations and analogies — constitutes a knowledge of the Torah, these analogies and rational explanations are both vital components of the Torah and the commandments.

3.

What was sketched and outlined above in brief strokes, can be more or less clarified by the analogy of music.

The words of a song, and the singing of a song, are far from alike. In the words of a classic sage, the tongue (i.e., language) is the pen of the brain; the voice is the pen of the heart.

In general terms, this means that words and the voice give expression to the perception and understanding of the innermost level of the soul. Thus, as may readily be observed, when a person who is defending himself (or another) reaches the climax of his argument, his appearance becomes serious and his voice becomes harsh, even to the point of crying out.

When a song is sung, we see that the same melody may be sensed in one way by one listener and otherwise by another, while as far as the singer is concerned, his feeling is one. Similarly, two listeners may each understand the same concept differently, while as far as the speaker is concerned, the concept is one.

In music, moreover, it sometimes happens that a person sings because his current frame of mind makes him feel like singing, and it sometimes happens that he sings because he has to sing: though the song does not well forth spontaneously, he overcomes his feelings. And even though a master musician can mask his feelings, he himself feels that in doing so he is merely responding to the needs of the hour.

4.

In this connection: We Jews who live in this country and in the other free countries which stand for human rights and freedom of religion are more or less in a good situation, with nothing to hinder the study of the Torah and the observance of the mitzvos.

All those of us who by G‑d’s grace live in America and in the other free lands should always remember, at every family and social gathering, to bring every possible consolation and assistance to the material and spiritual life of our many thousands of stricken brethren in various lands who have not yet arrived at safe shores. Their song does not yet well forth spontaneously.

This does not refer to myself alone: I feel a true love for them all. I mean that all Jews should feel this way.

5.

We now have the pleasure to meet our cherished philanthropic visitors who work devotedly to support Torah study in general, and in particular the Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos which are thankfully branching out. Much is being done, thank G‑d, but not as much as should be done or as can be done. In fact much more can be done: a heavy load can be easily lifted by many hands.

The trouble is that people delude themselves and are afraid. When they hear that a particular project calls for a hundred thousand or a quarter of a million dollars, they become fearful and delude themselves that this is beyond them. In fact, however, a very great deal can be accomplished.

6.

We’ve spent too many words on money. Let’s now talk to the point, as they say here in America.

One of the principles highlighted by the Baal Shem Tov is ahavas Yisrael — the obligation to love not only a venerable sage or a tzaddik or a man unique in his generation, but every Jew, simply because he is a Jew.

The Baal Shem Tov taught us to observe the Divine Providence Divine Providence: In the original, hashgachah peratis. which is present in everything, even in those things that people call trivialities. If a little wisp of straw is lying on the ground and along comes a wind and carries it from one spot to the other, this, too, takes place for the sake of an intention of Divine Providence. This applies to all created beings, whether inanimate, vegetative, animal, or human. Inanimate, vegetative, animal, or human: In the original, domem, tzomeiach, chai (lit., “that which is alive”), medaber (lit., “he who speaks”). How much more so, then, does it apply to Jews, and even more particularly to those who observe and support the Torah and observe the mitzvos.

7.

At this time I perceive a manifest expression of Divine Providence.

Fifty years have passed since the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah was founded in Lubavitch.5 Lubavitch was a little townlet full of paupers who barely managed to buy their bread and sour milk. Anyone who could afford a calf’s leg for Shabbos was considered a comfortably-established burgher.

When my father [the Rebbe Rashab] established the Yeshivah he did not want to accept monetary support from outsiders, so that they should not seek to impose their opinions in its administration. Since it was therefore difficult to get it started, his mother — my grandmother, the Rebbitzin Rivkah, whose soul is in Eden — said to him: “Why be distressed? Whatever we eat, they’ll eat, too.”

And that is exactly what happened. All the students who were accepted to the Yeshivah were provided for6 by her.

Now just look at today’s instance of Divine Providence. Fifty years later we have assembled here — Jews from many places who are supporting the Yeshivah whose first students were provided for by my saintly grandmother. And today is her yahrzeit. Is this not hashgachah peratis?

8.

Those who are familiar with the teachings of our Sages describing the reward which is accorded the souls in Gan Eden for good deeds done in this world, and who have a pictorial imagination, are in some measure able to picture what is happening today in Gan Eden, on this yahrzeit of the holy soul that fifty years ago made possible the foundation of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in Lubavitch. The souls of all the Rebbeim and tzaddikim in Gan Eden advocate and intercede and plead for heaven’s mercies on behalf of all those involved in supporting the Yeshivah, requesting that they and their families be blessed with success and long life.

May G‑d grant that the merit of the Rebbeim and tzaddikim protect all these people and their families, and likewise the Yeshivah, so that they may all grow and succeed: May the Yeshivah succeed in Torah and also materially, and may its supporters succeed materially and also in Torah.