1 [New York]

Shalom Aleichem! Aleichem Shalom!2

This comprehensive Torah-inspired greeting is one of the wonderful bequests that our Patriarchs — Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov — bequeathed us, the Jewish people.

Almost 3,600 years have passed since Avraham Avinu, through these words, familiarized the whole world with the holy Name of its Creator. Note the wording of the verse, וַיִּקְרָא שָׁם בְּשֵׁם ה' אֵ-ל עוֹלָם — “He called there3 upon the Name of G‑d, L‑rd [of the] universe” [lit., “L‑rd- universe”]. Avraham Avinu explained to the world that G‑d is not merely its Creator Who directs it by Divine Providence4 and enables man to lead an upright life. This would have been the meaning of אֵ-ל הָעוֹלָם — “L‑rd of the universe.” Instead, Avraham Avinu explained that G‑d is אֵ-ל עוֹלָם. [Rather than implying that G‑d, though Master of the universe, is separate from it and outside it, so to speak], this phrase teaches that in every way, the created universe itself indicates its Creator.

Avraham Avinu appealed to the people of the world and awakened their understanding so that they should perceive the truth of G‑d’s creation of the universe. Using concepts within their reach he explained them the real meaning of Divinity: מְלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ — “The whole world5 is filled with His glory.” He is everything, everything is Him. Hence, wherever a man stands or moves, he is within Divinity.

It is written, שִׁוִּיתִי ה' לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד — “I have set G‑d6 before me constantly.” The King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, Whose glory fills the universe, stands by a man and observes his every move. With this awareness, with which a Jew (according to the Shulchan Aruch)7 begins his day, Avraham Avinu made the Creator of the universe known among mankind.

This, then, is the true meaning of the Torah-inspired greeting, Shalom Aleichem! Aleichem Shalom! Since “Shalom is the Name of G‑d,”8 this greeting means, “G‑d is with you.”

This is also one of the many characteristics with which we, a unique people, have been blessed, distinguishing us from all of humanity. The Torah law which G‑d gave Moshe and Israel differs from the religious laws of all the nations of the globe, who discharge most of their religious obligations (and this applies even to the most devout) by attending houses of worship at specified times.

For a Jew, religious observance is not restricted to the times of prayer in synagogues and Houses of Study, nor even to the fulfillment of all the mitzvos. It embraces as well — and essentially — minhagim, all Jewish customs. As Tosafos writes, מִנְהַג אֲבוֹתֵינוּ תּוֹרָה הִיא — “A custom of our fathers9 is Torah.” The Yerushalmi likewise states: מִנְהַג נָשִׁים תּוֹרָה הִיא — “A custom of women10 is Torah.”

The Torah embraces a man’s life from the very first moment at which his birth is made possible until beyond his life in this world, including the reverent obligations of children towards the bodies and souls of their parents and the obligation of departed parents to intercede on behalf of their surviving children and families.

To revert to the very first moment at which birth is ultimately made possible: Taharas hamishpachah requires the scrupulous observance of the laws and times of family purity, including immersion in a valid mikveh. Those who have unfortunately been misled by the scoffers and atheists who are spiritual murderers, desecrate this commandment by substituting baths and showers. This is one of the greatest life-threatening dangers to Jewish family life and to the health of Jewish children.

This is not the place nor is there time to explain the full scope of this question. Nevertheless, since not only from a religious point of view but also from a scientific point of view it is a question of life, I cannot and dare not leave it in silence. Regretfully I shall have to make do with few words, but those few words spring from the depths of my heart.

Jewish women! Protect your lives against danger; be vigilant against bringing unsound children into the world; observe all the Torah’s laws concerning purity and the mikveh. You will then be assured of health, long life, and fine and healthy children.

A Jew’s conduct throughout his life in this world, as well as his conduct relating (as mentioned above) to the time that follows his life in this world, includes a whole range of customs, all of which are Torah. For example: The informal prayers11 that women are accustomed to whisper before and after candle-lighting, in which they request that G‑d light up their home with domestic harmony and with children radiating reasons for joyful satisfaction;12 the unsophisticated requests that women customarily make before and after they fulfill the mitzvah of challah by separating part of their dough,13 when they ask that their family be blessed with an ample livelihood so that they will be able to support Torah scholars and contribute generously to charitable causes; the homespun prayers that women customarily utter before and after immersion in a mikveh, when they ask to be blessed with fine and healthy children who will grow up to be pious and upstanding men and women. All of these customs are Torah.

G‑d has granted us, His Chosen People, two priceless gifts — G‑dliness and strength. It is written, ה' עֹז לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן, ה' יְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ בַּשָּׁלוֹם — “G‑d gives strength14 to His people; G‑d blesses His people with G‑dliness.”15

G‑dliness and strength are Jewry’s two main characteristics. It was these characteristics that enabled our forefathers and our parents to bear this bitter exile and to observe the Torah and its mitzvos with self-sacrifice — and with these same two inherited characteristics we, in this final era of exile, must observe the Torah and the active requirements of its mitzvos with the utmost self-sacrifice.

With unbending decisiveness, Jewish men and women must save their children from the treifah Talmud Torah schools, from the missionary emissaries, from the treifah yeshivos, and register them only in kosher Talmud Torah schools and yeshivos. Moreover, all Jewish men and women should make every possible endeavor to support these institutions.

Today, the Seventh of Adar — the birthday of Moshe Rabbeinu, the intermediary in the Giving of the Torah — we have come here together to celebrate the third anniversary of the foundation of the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos in America. When one sees the students of these institutions, as well as the students of their associated Achei Temimim Junior Yeshivos, there is no further need to speak of what these schools have (with G‑d’s help) accomplished. Thank G‑d, the distinctively Jewish appearance and conduct of these students testifies to this more eloquently than any words of praise. Their appearance is the most effective magnet that will assuredly make every father and mother desire that their children, too, will attain such an appearance.

I request those here assembled and American Jewry at large: Entrust us with the education of your children, and provide the means for their support.