1. Blessings from Above. [The Rebbe asked how the people in shul had conducted themselves when R. M[enachem] Z[e’ev] Greenglasswas called to the Torah as a chassan, and R. M[oshe] L[evitin] answered that they showered him1 “with large “welshnuts,” a name mentioned in the Alter Rebbe’s Seder Birkas HaNehenin.” With a smile, the Rebbe commented:] Throughout his writings, the Alter Rebbe often clarifies terms by adding, “which in Yiddish is called….” The linguists say that he was an expert in Yiddish usage.

2. The Guest of Honor has Arrived. The Alter Rebbe used to call the festive meal on the Second Day2 of Shavuos, “my zeide’s seudah,” and at some point on the course of the meal he would say, Baruch haba – Welcome! With that, the chassidim knew that the Baal Shem Tov was now present.

One year, the Alter Rebbe delayed the call of Baruch haba! Three elders who remembered the Baal Shem Tov were present, and one of them began to relate a story about him. (In those days, people used to talk at the Rebbe’s table.) In response, the Alter Rebbe pointed out that the Baal Shem Tov was still occupied in the Higher Gan Eden, in the Yeshivah of the Holy One, blessed be He. A little later the Alter Rebbe made his usual announcement, and then the chassidim present knew that the Baal Shem had joined them at the table.

This episode was transmitted by the Tzemach Tzedek, who was present at the time as a child of six, in the year 5556 (1796), and it was then passed on from Rebbe to Rebbe.

3. R. Aizel of Homil Recalls. Although the eminent scholarly chassid, R. Aizel of Homil,570 was much older than the Mitteler Rebbe, he used to use superlatives when speaking of him as a child. By way of illustration:

A group of chassidim who were sitting in a beclouded mood at a farbrengen were once joined by the Mitteler Rebbe, who was still a child. One of them asked him: “Tell us, what’s the reason for our atzvus, our sadness?”

He answered punningly: “Your sadness (עצבות) is explained by an explicit pasuk! It is written, ‘Their idols (עצביהם) are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands….’ Your atzvus comes from silver and gold – from hankering after another couple of rubles, instead of yearning for a love of G‑d and an awe of G‑d…!”

On another occasion, R. Aizik Homiler recalled that once before Shavuos, a number of chassidim discussed what they should ask of HaShem on the night of Shavuos. They decided to ask the Mitteler Rebbe, and assumed that he would surely speak of the study and understanding of pnimiyus haTorah. Instead, he shared his own wish: “I would wish to have the fiery flame of matan Torah.”

4. The Fiery Flame. Jews are called “believers, the sons of believers.”3 Faith transcends not only the intellect of a particular individual, for that would mean that a superior intellect can grasp Elokus, hence with great effort one could attain that superior understanding. Rather, it means that faith transcends any mortal mind.

On the scale of intellect, some people are worthy and others are not; on the scale of faith, all are worthy. Therefore, when assessed in terms of faith, which is present in all Jews, we deserve to have the Baal Shem Tov present with us here. It is certain that the Baal Shem Tov – where he is now, in the Yeshivah of the Holy One, blessed be He – is exerting himself to secure responses to all the requests of those who are present here. And what should we request of him? – That we should experience the fiery flame of matan Torah.

5. Learning from Everyone. Ahavas Yisrael, the commandment to love a fellow Jew, is written in the Torah. The Baal Shem Tov revealed why one should love a fellow Jew – and every Jew has a reason why he should be loved.

As is widely known, the Baal Shem Tov showed marks of closeness to simple, ordinary Jews, because of their artless sincerity, their temimus. In fact he used to dispatch scholarly members of the Holy Brotherhood to learn various lessons from those anashim pshutim – as in the well-known example of the disciple who was sent to learn a lesson in bitachon, trust in G‑d, from one such unsophisticated individual.

For the disciples, those lessons mainly involved the task of refining their middos, their character traits, and in particular,the task of elevating those middos to their lofty pristine state in the higher worlds.4

6. Time to Change your Glasses. The Baal Shem Tov taught that one should perceive the positive points in everyone – and if one does see them, the fault lies not in the person being observed, but only in the observer.

7. Young Grandfathers. We spoke earlier5 of the difference between the local temimim and the temimim in Russia. Over there, they have already reached the stage of having grandchildren. We’re not speaking of their own offspring (May they be live long!). We’re not speaking of the difference between older and younger temimim, but of the fact that over there, the students whom the temimim were mekarev are already producing in turn further students. Here, the temimim have only reached the stage of having produced [spiritual] children.

8. Light Up the Brotherly Love. His’orerus means arousing a feeling that has not been present until now; his’chazkus means strengthening a feeling that already exists. What I want to talk about is something else.

All Jews have ahavas Yisrael, a love of their fellow Jew. In addition, chassidim have ahavas re’im, a love of their comrades. But what chassidim are still lacking is an influx of light in that comradely love.

9. Spiritual Renewal. [At this point the Rebbe discussed themes from the maamarim6 that had been delivered on Shavuos. On the verse, Ve’asisa chag Shavuos (lit., “You shall make a festival of Shavuos”), he raised the question of what the verb “make” could mean in the context of Shavuos, and answered it by explaining the effect of the letters that constitute the Torah. He also explained that the renewal that occurs on a festival every year is not simply a repetition of what has already transpired, and discussed the meaning of renewal Above.]

10. A Constant Fire. Jews should experience the fiery flame of Torah. Indeed, the Torah commands that “a constant fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it must not be extinguished.”643 And the urgency to observe that command should spring forth from one’s [innermost essence].

11. Gemara in Depth. Everyone ought to have a regular study shiur for the in-depth study of Gemara. In addition to whatever other regular study sessions one may have, everyone must study a maseches of the Shas, a Talmudic tractate, and master it thoroughly. True, the word mishnah (משנה) has the same letters as neshamah (נשמה),7 but in addition to that, one must study Gemara in depth.

12. My Cup Overflows. [When R. D[ovBer] H[asskind] poured each of those present half a cup of wine over which to say LeChaim, the Rebbe commented:] Why half cups? Why not full ones?

13. A Fiery Niggun. [The Rebbe turned to R. D[avid] Sh[tokhamer] HaLevi and said:] If you have a fiery niggun, sing it! [Those present then sang Vechol karnei resha’im agadeia with its vigorous niggun, after which the Rebbe directed that they sing the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun of Four Themes, and sing the last theme three times.]