Erev Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 5702 (תש"ב; 1942)

By Divine Providence, the 45th annual celebration of the founding of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in Lubavitch is being held in America. On such an occasion, as the first director of the Yeshivah, I feel it appropriate to share with you some observations on the objective of the Yeshivah, and what is expected of its students, as envisaged by its founder, my father and my Rebbe, and as expressed in his sichos.

The laws of the Torah, however, which encompass every facet of a man’s life and conduct, safeguard both the community and the individual against any undue encroachment on their time or patience.1 Now this consideration most certainly applies to a gathering of scholars who study the Torah and cherish its commandments. In deference to later speakers, therefore, I will confine my present remarks to a single message which I was once privileged to hear, and will record the remainder in writing.

There are many teachings and narratives which were handed on to me by my revered father — in whose honor we have gathered here — in the course of over 25 years, from 5654 (תרנ"ד; 1894) to 5680 (תר"פ; 1920). Among these there is a teaching, together with an account of its transmission, which I am now repeating word for word, as recorded in my diary at the time.

One day in Shvat, 5639 (תרל"ט; 1879), when my father entered his father’s study for yechidus, the Rebbe Maharash recounted (among other things) the following: “During a yechidus with my father [the Tzemach Tzedek] on Chai Elul, 5611 (תרי"א; 1851), he told me (among other things) what had happened on the same day, 50 years beforehand.”

These are the words of the Tzemach Tzedek:

“On Chai Elul, 5561 (תקס"א; 1801), over a month after the Alter Rebbe had settled in Liadi, the foundation stone was laid for a building for the yeshivah which he had transferred from Liozna, his previous place of residence, to Liadi. This happy occasion was also attended by my father-in-law [the Alter Rebbe’s son, the Mitteler Rebbe], all the other children [of the Alter Rebbe], hundreds of chassidim, and all the local townsfolk. At this gathering, the Alter Rebbe declared: ‘On Chai Elul, 5531 [תקל"א; 1771], the Rebbe [the Maggid of Mezritch] held a seudas mitzvah at which he repeated a teaching which his Rebbe, my [spiritual] grandfather [the Baal Shem Tov], had delivered on Chai Elul, 5515 [תקט"ו; 1755].’ ”

And this is the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov on that occasion, as handed down to us over the generations:

“Our Sages state:2 כל העוסק בתורה נכסיו מצליחין לו — ‘Whoever engages in Torah [study], his possessions prosper.’ Every Jew has his possessions. Head and heart, mind and emotions, — these are a Jew’s possessions. When a person does not merely study Torah, but is actively involved and engaged in it, then his intellectual and emotional ‘possessions prosper.’ Avraham, our patriarch, was a great scholar; he stood in awe of G‑d; and he fulfilled the entire Torah before it had been given.3 Nevertheless, it was not by virtue of these qualities that G‑d established an eternal covenant with him, but because4 ‘He found his heart faithful.’ G‑d saw his earnest heartfelt commitment, his artless sincerity, and his simple faith. These are the values which are Jewish possessions, and it is these possessions which prosper when one is fully engaged in one’s Torah study.”

This is what the Baal Shem Tov taught.

One of our prophets declares:5 ‘Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.’ The Mechilta6 queries that statement, noting that the Torah is called ‘the Torah of G‑d,’ as in the verse,7 ‘The Torah of G‑d is perfect.’ It resolves the difficulty by explaining that since Moshe Rabbeinu utterly sacrificed himself to receive the Torah, G‑d calls it ‘the Torah of Moshe.’ ”

The Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, the Alter Rebbe, and the other Rebbeim of Chabad who followed him did not merely teach chassidic thought to their followers. They sacrificed themselves to implant Torah, mitzvos, the fear of heaven, and a love for one’s fellow Jew within the hearts of the Jewish people.

From the verse,8 “Surely, man walks in a shadowy image,” the Jerusalem Talmud9 learns that one who repeats a teaching in the name of its author should picture the author as standing before him. Accordingly, the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov which I have quoted, together with the account of how it was relayed from Rebbe to Rebbe over the generations, serves as an invitation which we are hereby extending to the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, and all the Rebbeim of Chabad to participate in this anniversary celebration of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah. For the Yeshivah was founded with the strength they imparted and continues in their spirit and in their merit. All the positive Torah achievements of the last 45 years are the products of their holy strength and all praise is theirs alone.

In the name of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, and all the Rebbeim of Chabad, I hereby convey their blessings to all the students, teachers, mashpi’im and administrators of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivos in this country and those overseas, wherever they are to be found. Likewise, their blessings are hereby conveyed to all their supporters. And with their blessings, I hereby open the Anniversary Campaign of the Central Committee for the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivos.

[Some of the following teachings and narratives were first heard as a continuation of the above opening address which the Rebbe Rayatz actually delivered at the anniversary gathering. Others, as he had promised in his opening words, were later prepared by him for publication as a written sequel to it.]

This is a moment in which to offer abundant thanks to our G‑d, the G‑d of our fathers, Who has granted us life and sustained us, and has enabled us to participate in this celebration of Torah as coupled with the fear of heaven — the 45th anniversary of the foundation of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah by my father and Rebbe [the Rebbe Rashab], on those days that shine with Torah and divine service, the 15th and the 18th of Elul.

I have indeed been broken — physically, that is — by many of the varied experiences, both good and difficult, of these 45 years of spreading Torah and working on behalf of the Jewish public, especially during the last twenty years, since I lost my revered father and was left almost unaided to carry on, according to the principles which he shared with Reb Chaim of Brisk.10 Nevertheless, I remember all these events with pristine clarity. When I read my memoirs, I relive all the events of those days and of those places as echoed in principle in our own times today.

My father established the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah, like a veritable Urim VeTumim, on the firm bases of light and truth.11 With G‑d’s help I hope to publish some of the notes which I recorded at the time — I had begun to make jottings in the year 5652 (תרנ"ב; 1892)12 — concerning its foundation and mode of conduct, and concerning the addresses delivered by my father on Sunday, the 15th of Elul, the day it was founded, and Wednesday, the 18th of Elul, the day on which the actual study of both nigleh and Chassidus began. This will enable one to grasp the full meaning of the Yeshivah, both as an independent institution, and in relation to the Jewish people throughout the world.

Before my eyes, I still picture the august assemblage at the opening of the Yeshivah. I still behold my father’s luminous and cordial countenance. And still resonating clearly in my ears, are the holy words he spoke after the maamar of Chassidus which he had based on the teaching of the Sages,13 that “By means of the light that had been created on the First Day, Adam gazed from one end of the world to the other.”

After this maamar my father began by paraphrasing a verse:14 “May it be G‑d’s will that the Divine Presence dwell within the work of our hands.”

He then continued: “ ‘On the Fourth Day of Creation, the luminaries were suspended in the heavens.’15 Today [Wednesday] is Chai Elul, the holy day on which, 199 years ago, the Baal Shem Tov was born. By starting the Yeshivah (for which I do not yet have a name16 ), I am kindling an eternal light bequeathed to us by the luminaries — the Baal Shem Tov and the later Rebbeim. May this help to fulfill the prophetic promise17 that ‘the wellsprings [of Chassidus] will spread outward’ and ultimately lead to the coming of Mashiach.”

In the three years which followed, my father frequently spoke to the mashpi’im and mashgichim,18 as well as to myself, giving directives of both a general and specific nature concerning the conduct of the Yeshivah and its students. In addition, from time to time he addressed the students themselves.

At the farbrengen that accompanied Kiddush before Hakkafos on the eve of Simchas Torah, 5661 (תרס"א; 1900), my father explained in depth some of the concepts which he had set out in Kuntreis HaTefillah (“A Treatise on Prayer”), and illustrated them with episodes from the lives of revered elder chassidim. This treatise had been publicly studied in hundreds of places within and outside Russia during the preceding year.

In the present talk, my father highlighted the chassidic custom of singing — privately and spontaneously — during prayer. Let me now share his words with you.

* * *

Sometimes, a chassid sings a happy niggun, and sometimes, a niggun reflecting contriteness; sometimes, it is a niggun which reflects the soul’s yearning to flee this world and cleave to G‑d (ratzo), and sometimes, it reflects the contrary realization — that life ought to be rooted within our worldly reality (shov). One melody might reflect the soul’s desire to transcend the body which houses it, almost expiring in the rapture of kalos hanefesh; another might reflect ahavah betaanugim, the worshiper’s fulfilled enjoyment of the love of G‑d which he has attained. And common to all these kinds of niggunim, ignited by the measured meditation that characterizes Chabad Chassidus, is a fiery ardor, coupled with an intense yearning to cleave ever higher.

The practice of singing during prayer began with Moshe Rabbeinu. It is written,19 אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל את השירה הזאת — “Then Moshe and the Children of Israel sang this song.” Though he sang this particular song together with the Jewish people, during his prayers he would sing alone.

Moshe was a Chabadnik. He embodied the attribute of Chochmah (“wisdom”), which finds full expression through the attributes of Binah (“understanding”) and Daas (“knowledge”) that are comprised within it. (Indeed, this relationship is reflected in the full spelling of the names of the respective letters that represent these attributes.20 ) Since Moshe Rabbeinu had attained the level of Chochmah of the World of Atzilus in its fullest state, he possessed all the qualities of Chochmah, Binah and Daas. I.e., he was a Chabadnik — and a Chabadnik sings as he prays.

When the Alter Rebbe defined the principles which guide the spiritual lifestyle of Chabad Chassidism, he gave due prominence to the singing of niggunim, especially during prayer. This is illustrated in the following episode.

Moshe Vilenker21 and Pinchas Reizes22 were among the first students to be educated in the Alter Rebbe’s chadarim. After testing their grasp of their studies, the first thing the Alter Rebbe did was to send them to learn niggunim from Moshe Zalman Feldman.

Moshe Zalman was a middle-aged man who was well educated in Torah studies, engaged in chassidic thought and practiced silence. He was also a gifted singer. On the High Holidays and during the other festivals he would serve as sheliach tzibbur, leading the prayer services attended by the Alter Rebbe. During the summer months he would often take a holy text to a field outside the town, and the singing which accompanied his study was well known throughout the region. And as to his love for the fields, it earned him the name Feldman, literally, “the man of the fields.”

Once, as Moshe Vilenker and Pinchas Reizes recalled in later years, the Alter Rebbe entered the small hall where they and several other students were studying. He sat at the table, rested his head on his hands, and fell into a rapt state of dveikus. Then, opening his eyes, he quoted a mishnah which deals with the prohibition of carrying on Shabbos23 — “With what may an animal go out and with what may it not go out...” — and expounded it on a non-literal level, as follows:

This mishnah refers to the time of prayer — the Shabbos [i.e., the dimension of heightened spiritual perception] which is found in every weekday. Seen in this light, its opening question (“With what can an animal go out?”) means: What kind of divine service in prayer is effective in driving out one’s animal soul?

There are different levels of animal souls — represented in the mishnah by an ordinary camel, a swift-running camel, a donkey, and a horse — each of which has a particular service which is appropriate to it. The general principle which characterizes all these kinds of divine service is this: “All those which possess a shir [a Hebrew word which in the halachic context of the mishnah means collar but also means song, and thus allows for the interpretation which follows] go out with a shir and are led with a shir.” A shir is a ring to which a rope is attached. “Going out with a shir and being led with a shir” alludes to an alternating dual dynamic in divine service — ratzo (yearning to cleave to G‑d) and shov (appreciating the ultimate superiority of living within the context of our worldly reality). Singing during prayer is a wondrous medium for driving out the animal soul and refining the good within oneself. At the same time it arouses inner concentration.

With this teaching, the Alter Rebbe implanted among chassidim the primacy of the “service of the heart” (i.e., prayer); he stimulated the spiritual potential of their singing; and endowed their singing with the ability to evoke concentration. In this respect prayer has an advantage over study. Many people — though not all — can grasp the more abstract teachings of Chassidus. Everyone, however, can pray like a chassid.

“Prayer takes the place of the sacrifices,”24 and “the secret of the sacrifices ascends to the secret of the Ein Sof.”25 When a homespun prayer, motivated by an unquestioning acceptance of the yoke of heaven, is offered up in true chassidic spirit, it “ascends to the secret of the Ein Sof.” Chassidim must exert themselves in the avodah of prayer, and the G‑d of our fathers, the holy Rebbeim, will help them.”

* * *

The above-summarized talk of my father [the Rebbe Rashab], interrupted occasionally by brief pauses, lasted a few hours, so that the Hakkafos of the eve of Simchas Torah were not begun until three in the morning and were not concluded until five, well after sunrise. For the custom in Lubavitch was that the Rebbe would deliver a maamar towards the end of Shemini Atzeres. The chassidim would then recite the evening service, make Kiddush, partake of a Yom-Tov meal, and go off to the farbrengen which preceded the Hakkafos of the eve of Simchas Torah. It was at such a farbrengen that the above talk had been delivered.

At the daytime Kiddush that year, my father spoke about the modes of conduct which are appropriate for a chassid in regard to his own life and those appropriate for his interpersonal relations. He commented that now that he had composed a treatise on prayer, it would be worthwhile composing a treatise on eating and sleeping, and another on how a person should live his own life and how he should relate to others.

At the daytime festive meal of Simchas Torah, which was held in the large study hall, my father spoke twice. In his first talk he spoke in praise of the divine service of an unsophisticated chassid, who approaches his tasks with kabbalas ol. He depicted the way in which such a chassid relates to G‑d, to his fellow man, and to himself.

He concluded: “...Like Hendel,26 may he rest in peace. Reb Chanoch Hendel is already crowing27 in the Higher Gan Eden.”

My father then went on to describe at length what Hendel had undergone between his burial and Simchas Torah, and explained: “Our Sages28 teach that the longest term that a confirmed transgressor will spend in Gehinnom is twelve months. The usual maximum is nine or ten months, while a person who observes Torah and mitzvos, even at a very modest level, has finished with Gehinnom within four or five months.

“There is another factor — yichus (‘distinguished lineage’). Even in this world, a world of falsehood, yichus carries weight; in the World of Truth,29 yichus is of paramount importance. Our Sages30 teach that the Patriarch Avraham saves even the sinners of Israel from the judgment of Gehinnom, for they too are31 ‘as full of mitzvos as a pomegranate [is full of seeds].’ Surely, then, this applies to those who observe Torah and mitzvos.

“The yichus that is traced back to our father Avraham and the other Patriarchs is common to all Jews. In addition, some individuals have a more specific yichus: they have righteous forebears. Moreover, some chassidim have such a close bond with their Rebbe that their first request when they reach the World of Truth is, ‘Notify the Rebbe!’

“Some people are rid of their judgment in Gehinnom in a month, after which their souls begin an ongoing series of ascents, in the spirit of the phrase,32 וקדושים בכל יום יהללוך סלה — ‘Holy beings praise You daily for all eternity.’

For Hendel, a mere whiff of Gehinnom was enough. The tears he shed during his prayers, his heartfelt reading of Psalms, his genuinely chassidic approach to loving a fellow Jew, his self-sacrifice, and the fine qualities with which he would attract young men to the chassidic lifestyle, — these merits saved him from suffering in Gehinnom, and they are elevating him from one level to the next.”

Before beginning his second talk, which was directed to the students of the Yeshivah, the temimim, my father turned to me: “This past erev Rosh HaShanah marked three years since erev Rosh HaShanah, 5658 (תרנ"ח; 1897), when, after returning from the gravesite of the Rebbeim, I entrusted you with the directorship of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, making you responsible for both its spiritual and material welfare.”

My father then continued: “The people of Israel are described as G‑d’s ‘desired land,’33 a land which G‑d has infused with a power to promote growth — to promote the revelation of the lights which radiate from the Torah, from mitzvos, and from the service of the heart. [More specifically,] a yeshivah is known as ‘G‑d’s vineyard,’ an orchard of fruit trees.

“The law regarding a vineyard prescribes that it is forbidden to benefit from fruit which grows in the first three years.34 No matter how good it may appear to be, it is termed orlah, and it is forbidden to benefit from it.35 The fruit of the fourth year is called revai, and though benefit may be derived from it, it must first be redeemed.36

“Our ‘vineyard of G‑d,’ the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah, is now three years old, and has produced fine fruit. Nevertheless, however good this fruit may appear, it is orlah and it is forbidden to benefit from it. True enough, our students have studied nigleh extensively and in depth. (Indeed, in any Lithuanian yeshivah they would have been extravagantly hailed as brilliant prodigies, superlative sages, geonim of genius, etc. etc.) Furthermore, they have studied — and understood — the teachings of Chassidus. Some have become earnestly involved in the ‘service of the heart,’ attempting to internalize these concepts.

“All in all, these are fine fruits — but they are orlah, for they are tainted by conceit and coarseness, and by claims of credit for oneself. The law prescribes that even after the first three years have passed, their fruit remains forbidden; unlike the fruit of the fourth year, it cannot be redeemed. When the above-mentioned traits stem from Torah study and ‘service within the heart,’ they constitute the irredeemable orlah (‘the uncircumcised foreskin’) of the heart: nothing whatever can purify them or render them fit for use. If fruit is tainted by orlah of the heart, then no matter how fine that fruit may be, no benefit may ever be derived from it.

“Fruit that is orlah has no other remedy: it must be nullified and removed from the world — by means of the midnight service of tikkun chatzos, when one sheds the tears that cleanse away blemishes. This cleansing is explained by my greatgrandfather, the Mitteler Rebbe, in his Derech Chayim,37 quoting the verses,38 ‘O wall of the Daughter of Zion, let your tears flow like a river,’ and39 ‘My tears were like bread for me day and night.’

“We are now beginning the fourth year in our ‘vineyard of G‑d,’ the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah. While the Beis HaMikdash was standing, the fruit of the fourth year had to be taken up to Jerusalem and eaten there. During the present exile the fruit is redeemed in exchange for a coin, which is then either thrown into the sea, or crushed into fragments which are scattered.

“To understand these concepts at a deeper level: The name ‘Jerusalem’ in the Holy Tongue (ירושלים) is seen by the Sages40 as a composite of two words: יראה שלם, which together suggest ‘complete fear,’ an uncompromising awe of G‑d. The utter destruction of the coins alludes to bittul, to the task of effacing one’s sense of self-importance. These are the two means by which one may benefit from the fruits of the fourth year.”

My father’s mention of the taint of orlah fruit did not pass unheeded: the contrite tears of teshuvah shed by some of the students left a deep impression on all those present.

My father continued: “I have an absolute assurance that the students of Tomchei Temimim wherever they are — and ultimately, they will spread throughout the four corners of the world — will fulfill G‑d’s intention with mesirus nefesh, and make a dwelling place for Him within this lowly world.41

“Director,” said my father, turning to me, “present the army of Tomchei Temimim. I want to say LeChaim with them, establishing a covenant with them in their divine service.”

When the temimim, headed by their mashpi’im and mashgichim, were ranged before him, my father stood up and said: “I am hereby making a covenant with you, the students of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim — both with those who are now studying in any of the levels of the Yeshivah and with those who will study in the Yeshivah at any time in the future, ‘both with those who are present here today and with those who are not [yet] present’;42 I shall be a partner in your self-sacrificing labors for the sake of a G‑d-fearing approach to the study of the Torah and to the ‘service of the heart,’ an approach that is without concessions or compromise. ‘Let the law pierce the mountain!’43 Let the law of the first tzimtzum pierce the mountain of concealment and obscurity. Let the law of the heavenly court pierce the mountain of ‘the Society for the Dissemination of Enlightenment.’44

“Our Sages teach that45 ‘G‑d creates the cure before the plague.’ G‑d created the cure — the establishment of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah — before the plague which will be caused by the teachers trained by ‘the Society for the Dissemination of Enlightenment.’ I am sure that Tomchei Temimim will outlive the ‘disseminators of Enlightenment,’ whose renunciation of Torah and mitzvos will be corrected by the students of Tomchei Temimim.”

At this point my father had it announced that all those present should prepare themselves for the singing of the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun of Four Themes.46 Recalling his statement before Hakkafos that every niggun has the power to elevate and establish a connection, he emphasized how this surely applies to this niggun, whose four themes parallel the four letters of G‑d’s Name (י-ה-ו-ה) as well as the general and particular aspects of the Four Worlds — Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.47

He then said: “It was to this melody authored by the Alter Rebbe that my grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, applied48 the teaching of our Sages, that29 ‘Whoever cites a teaching in the name of its author should picture that author as standing before him.’

“My father [the Rebbe Maharash] once said that the time when the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun is being sung is an appropriate time for doing teshuvah, for this is a propitious time in the spiritual realms, and chassidim know what that means.”

My father [the Rebbe Rashab] then began to sing the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun, and everyone joined him with an ardor that was fiery but not conspicuous. Rather, everyone was involved with himself, with his past, with his present, and with his future. In a moment, the atmosphere in the hall was transformed into the intense and awesome atmosphere which accompanies the reading of U’Nesaneh Tokef on Yom Kippur.49

After the niggun my father turned to the Yeshivah students and declared: “Temimim! ‘Whoever goes out to a battle of the House of David writes a bill of divorce for his wife.’ ”50

In honor of today’s 45th anniversary of the foundation of the Yeshivah, I am now publishing the maamar that opens with this quotation (Kol HaYotzei LeMilchemes Beis David) which my father then delivered, and which I later recorded in writing. [It appears above (p. 57) in English translation, before the present account of the words of the Rebbe Rayatz.]

My father’s discourse lasted — with brief interruptions — for almost three hours, ending shortly before ten at night. After leading the Grace After Meals my father handed me the kos shel berachah, the goblet over which the blessing had been recited, so that I could distribute the wine among all those assembled. Finally, singing Ki vesimchah seitzeiu (“May you go out with joy!”51 ), we accompanied my father to his home. We then returned to the study hall, recited the evening service and Havdalah, and began reconstructing and repeating from memory the talks of Simchas Torah.

Prominent in this activity was one of the younger students by the name of Avraham David of Klimovitch,52 who had a remarkable memory: he was53 “a cemented cistern which does not lose a drop.” Even before he had grasped the fundamental principles of Chassidus he was able to recall and repeat the discourses which my father used to deliver every Shabbos, and he would prepare written versions (hanachos) of them. Ultimately, he became one of the Yeshivah’s outstanding students.

Throughout the night the students worked together. By daybreak they had reviewed most of the sichos and in the course of the day, Isru Chag, they completed them all.

The discourse based on the teaching, Kol HaYotzei LeMilchemes Beis David, defined the direction to be followed in avodah by all of that generation’s students of Tomchei Temimim. With G‑d’s help, it yielded fine fruit in the areas of Torah study, divine service within the heart, and refined conduct.

In the course of these last 45 years the eternal torch of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings — the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah — has journeyed through many lands. Everywhere, inspired by its founder, it has sown seeds in the “vineyard of G‑d.”

The year 5663 (תרס"ג; 1903), five years after its founding, was the first year that the Yeshivah’s students assumed positions in a number of cities and townships, spreading Torah coupled with the fear of heaven. The spirit of Tomchei Temimim began to envelop many Torah centers. As its students married and set up their homes in various communities, they began to take charge of local educational projects.

It is impossible, even in concentrated form, to chronicle all the activities which these students undertook in the realm of Jewish education and the dissemination of Torah study. It is sufficient to quote two geonim of blessed memory, the author of Chafetz Chayim and Rav Chayim Ozer [Grodzinski], who said that the students of Tomchei Temimim possess a spirit of life, and inject a spirit of life into all the yeshivos.

The above covenant — to disseminate Torah with uncompromising mesirus nefesh, in the spirit of the fear of heaven, which my father made with the temimim on Simchas Torah, 5661 (תרס"א; 1900) — has been honored by the temimim in Russia ever since the Yevsektzia embarked on its oppression of Jewish religious observance, and it is being honored today.

My enforced physical separation from them brought me indescribable anguish; I can still not bring myself to publish the written record that I then made of my spiritual suffering at being forced to leave behind the chassidim and the temimim in Russia and in Poland, and to wander through other lands.

Having visited America twelve years ago,54 I was aware of the positive qualities, but also of the faults, manifest in this country’s Jewish — and even observant — leadership. For example, there are some rabbis, ritual slaughterers, teachers and Torah scholars who are ashamed to wear a beard and peyos. People think that yeshivah and university can go together. There are Talmud Torahs whose principals and teachers do not observe Shabbos or put on tefillin. These educators seek to uproot the foundations of their pupils’ faith in G‑d and His Torah.

There are older rabbis, genuine G‑d-fearing men as in the Old Country, who could contribute in many ways, but they stand back in despair of ever changing anything. It therefore took me weeks to decide whether or not to come here.

Eventually I embarked on one of the last regular passenger ships, with a full knowledge of the difficulties that confronted me in the task of disseminating Torah in a G‑d-fearing spirit. In this formidable task, my hope was nourished — and continues to be nourished — by the covenant with which my revered father entered into partnership with me and with the assembled temimim on that Simchas Torah.

Arriving on the ninth of Adar Sheni, 5700 (ת"ש; 1940), I immediately began preparations for kindling the eternal light of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings by establishing the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in this country. Through the praiseworthy endeavors of my son-in-law, HaRav Shmaryahu Gourary,55 and a number of chassidim who helped him, a branch of the Yeshivah was (thank G‑d) opened in America, its first students being American young men who had studied in Tomchei Temimim in Otvotzk.

As to all the chassidim and all those who love the Torah who have helped and continue to help in our efforts to redeem our brethren in Europe and to spread Torah here in America, they each have a place of honor in my memory, and may all blessings light upon their heads. On a very different page in my memory’s chronicles are listed all those who have obstructed and who continue to obstruct these efforts, whether openly or covertly, through deceitful petty politics and two-faced manipulation. Unfortunately, this page of shame has become far too full in the few short years since G‑d brought me here. May G‑d help these individuals step out into the sunlight, and strive for the dissemination of Torah illuminated by the fear of heaven. They will then find their names transcribed from the page of shame to the page of light.

The three years of orlah as explained above are not three full calendar years counted from the date of planting to the date of picking. Instead, with regard to the first and third years, the reckoning considers as a year even several months of a year of creation.56 According to this reckoning, we are now beginning the fourth year of Tomchei Temimim in America. This is the year of neta reva’i, the year in which the fruits of the Yeshivah may first be enjoyed, provided that they are either “eaten in Jerusalem” (i.e., sanctified by the awe of heaven) or “redeemed with a coin which must be destroyed” (i.e., chastened by self-effacement) — as these terms are expounded by my father and quoted above.

With G‑d’s grace, the eternal torch of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings in America has been carried into its fourth year, the year whose fruit is taken up to Jerusalem. In the spirit of the Torah as inspired by the awe of heaven, we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the founding of the original Tomchei Temimim, together with the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah and its branches, the Achei Temimim Yeshivos, throughout America and Canada.