Mr. Chairman,1 esteemed rabbinical friends, members of the chassidic fraternity, honored assemblage:2

Allow me to welcome you all, and to thank you for giving me the opportunity to publicly express my grateful praise to the Almighty at the conclusion of five years of successful work – in disseminating the study of Torah inspired by the awe of Heaven, in furthering authentic Jewish education,3 and in buttressing the observance of Yiddishkeit in a spirit of brotherly love.

The wording of the blessing of thanksgiving4 and praise [after meals] is discussed in the Mishnah and Gemara by two Sages: R. Yosi HaGlili, renowned for being pious in all his actions,5 and R. Akiva, who sacrificed himself for the Torah, and gave his life6 for the Sanctification of the Divine Name. R. Yosi HaGlili holds that the wording of the blessing varies according to the number of people present at the time, while R. Akiva holds that the blessing remains the same, whether pronounced in the presence of ten men or ten thousand.

Everyone recalls the statement that “the Divine Presence hovers over every gathering of ten [Jews].”7 The Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch, cites in one of his lgros Kodesh (Epistle 23)8 a teaching that he heard from his mentors (viz., the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch); namely, that if there were an angel standing in the presence of ten Jews gathered together for a positive purpose, even if they were not exchanging words of Torah, he would be seized by an infinite awe and fear – on account of the Divine Presence that abides over those ten souls assembled together.

In essence, the difference between the two above-quoted opinions is that R. Yosi HaGlili, celebrated for his piety, holds that the wording of the blessing of praise and thanksgiving depends on the number of people who are to hear it, while R. Akiva, who gave his life in Sanctification of the Divine Name, holds that it depends on their quality. At today’s Torah celebration, with an assemblage distinguished both in numbers and in quality, both views find expression, and from deep in my heart I wish you Gut Yom-Tov!


Honored gathering:

I would like to read out a Yiddish translation of a few lines from my diary, written at 4.00 a.m. on Wednesday, the tenth of Adar II, in the year 5700 (1940).

I quote: “It was Tuesday, the ninth of Adar II, in the year 5700 (1940), the day we arrived in this country.9 Chassidim and rabbis honored me with a well-attended reception in one of the halls of Greystone Hotel, where I explained to the distinguished audience the soul-mission underlying my arrival in America – not ‘to eat of its fruit10 and become sated with its bounty,’ but with the purpose, directed by Divine Providence, of establishing (with the Almighty’s help) institutions for the dissemination of Torah study inspired by the awe of Heaven, and authentic Jewish education.

“After having presided that evening over the foundation meeting of the first Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivah in America,11 I was visited by two notable individuals – veteran Americans,12 prominent among my most devoted and faithful friends who said: ‘We heard what you stated at the reception, and we took part in the foundation meeting of the Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivah in America. Unfortunately, however, we must make you aware of America’s dismal spiritual situation. Despite our heartache we must tell you that your noble desires – to disseminate Torah study inspired by the awe of Heaven, and to further authentic Jewish education as you picture it from the Old Country – are not feasible in America, no matter what exertion is invested. We feel dutybound to save you from a catastrophic disappointment and shameful failure, and thereby to protect the honor of your illustrious forebears – our holy Rebbeim (May their merit protect us!).’

“One of them said: ‘America is a land that devours great and good people. It gobbles up even the greatest of newly arrived great men, and transforms him mercilessly into the puniest of the puny.’

“The other added: ‘America is a land of fleetingly fiery enthusiasm – and of endlessly coldblooded indifference. On dozens of occasions, the flamboyantly enthusiastic welcome accorded famous Torah scholars has been swept away in America’s frigid nonchalance; those highly esteemed scholars have been forgotten, and shunted off to the background like outcasts.’

“They concluded as follows: ‘We are telling you only a small proportion of what we should be saying. We want you to have a true picture of the situation, so that you will know how to organize the tasks involved in your communal work here in America. We only hope that in your case things will be different and that you will be more fortunate, so that your holy undertaking will be crowned with both material and spiritual success.’ ”

* * *

It is no doubt superfluous for me to depict how I felt after having listened to my cherished and faithful friends; the endless tears that accompanied my first bedtime Kerias Shema on American soil shall remain undescribed.


With trust in the merit of my holy forebears, and with soldierly and obedient devotion to the principles governing communal activity that my Rebbe – the great leader and teacher, my late father, of sainted memory – taught me when he inducted me into office13 as his confidential secretary for communal affairs in the year 5655 (1895), I began my work.

“The first principle in communal work,” my father said at the time, “is resolute self-sacrifice for carrying out one’s work (with G‑d’s help) in disseminating Torah study and in buttressing the observance of Yiddishkeit regardless of time and place, while oblivious to hindrances, no matter what force motivates them.”

Thanks to a gift from G‑d I have found favor in the eyes of my close friends, so that they help me in the undertakings of my soul-mission, and in the course of one year His blessing was already apparent.

Within three years, thank G‑d, the ice of the spiritually frozen American ocean was broken. My former slogans on various subjects – Torah study inspired by the awe of Heaven, authentic Jewish education, repentance and redemption14 – which over these years had been mocked and fought from left, right and center, were now occasionally uttered by individuals who aspire to be this generation’s leaders.

By a year later, articles had appeared in the press, and certain plans were being prepared to establish funds for the dissemination of Torah study, for education, and for all kinds of purposes.

One year later, my coworkers on the front of the dissemination of G‑d-fearing Torah study, headed by my son-in­law, Rabbi Gourary,15 had already established dozens of institutions for study of this kind, and my assistants on the front of authentic Jewish education and Machne Israel,16 headed by my son-in-law, Rabbi Schneerson,17 had already established girls’ schools, and had published half a million copies of educational books and booklets.

By this time imitators had appeared on the scene, at least on paper. It is certain, however, that no imitation can match an original.


Today’s event is a Torah celebration, the fifth anniver­ sary celebration of the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos in America. All of us here, yourselves and myself, should render grateful praise to the Creator in a spirit of brotherly joy. We should say aloud: בָּרוּך הַשֵּׁם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לִזְמַן הַזֶּה – “Blessed be He Who has granted us life and sustained us, and has enabled us to reach this occasion.”

Not only have these yeshivos shattered the false local view that in America one cannot found and conduct yeshivos like those of the Old Country; not only have they created an utterly new Torah atmosphere, which has encouraged the previously existing large yeshivos; but in addition, the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos in America have created and continue to create a distinctive type of student.

The students of these yeshivos are trained – and are being further trained – with the greatest possible devotion to their education and guidance. Apart from their studies, and their guidance toward the awe of Heaven, they become saturated with the love of the Torah and the love of their fellow Jews, as they are groomed to become dedicated, responsible and self­sacrificing workers for the undiluted dissemination of the Torah and for authentic Jewish education.

Every student of the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos in America, from the most senior student in the mesivta or beis midrash to the youngest student in the Achei Temimim18 Lubavitch Junior Yeshivah, knows that he stands under an old banner that was set up through self-sacrifice – the banner of Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch, and exerts himself to the utmost to be worthy of being called its student.


American Jewry! The untiring five-year-long work of the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos in America has asserted Jewish self-respect in this country, and has manifestly demonstrated that the young children of America can be – and indeed are – Torah scholars and G‑d-fearing Jews just as in the Old Country.

American Jewry! Our goal, the goal of those who head the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch Yeshivos in America, is to transform America into an abode for the Torah, so that youthful voices studying it will be heard in the Jewish neighborhoods of America just as they used to be heard in Lubavitch, and in the towns of Lithuania and Poland.

I call on American Jewry: Give us the funds that will enable us to bring this goal to life. And when that happens, we may all rest assured of witnessing the fulfillment of the verse, that “among all the Children of Israel there was light in their dwellings.”19

These five years of work have proved themselves to you through deeds, not through loud advertisements and articles with pleasant promises.


I have two things to tell you that are of the weightiest importance for Jewry in general and for the Jews of America in particular. This I shall do in my closing talk.