1 Today is the Yom-Tov of the Rebbe, author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch. On this day [in 5559/1798] the Alter Rebbe was (thank G‑d!) freed from the lies and counterfeit evidence with which various inciters of controversy, by means of trickery and deceit, won the confidence of the Lithuanian leaders in the world of Torah and the awe of Heaven. This trust they exploited for their own shameful goals. By means of gross libel, those slanderous informers persuaded the Russian regime of that time to arrest the Alter Rebbe, and his holy life was in jeopardy for fifty-three days.

Today is the Yom-Tov that celebrates the revelation of the truth. On this day the entire Jewish world saw and recognized the truth. Today is the Yom-Tov of the chassidisher Exodus from Egypt, when the Alter Rebbe was recognized as the redeemer of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, and as the Moshe Rabbeinu of Chabad Chassidus.

Some forty years later, in 5603 (1843), my great-grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, traveled [to Petersburg] on matters of public concern.2 There, all the leading Torah scholars in the circles of the misnagdim greeted him with the greatest respect. The negative memories of earlier years had vanished.

It was in 5657 (1897) that my father and the gaon, R. Chaim of Brisk, first met in a certain place, and in the course of their discussion they resolved that in matters affecting the Jewish community as a whole they would work hand in hand. However, as soon as R. Chaim made this pact known, there appeared individuals who reawakened the hatred of bygone years. In fact in one location, a circle of antagonists began to gravitate around a certain Torah figure, in the spirit of those earlier times.

Now, R. Chaim was an exceptionally brilliant personality whose words were characteristically pithy and penetrating. Thus, at a meeting that was held at that time in Brisk, he said: “We descend from the family of pure people.3 At the time of the opposition to chassidim, there were two groups of misnagdim.4 One of them sought the truth in the course of several decades and was happy that they found it; the other group sought out libels and lies, and brought about bans and excommunications.”

Then, in a voice that conveyed the binding authority of the Torah, R. Chaim declared: “Beware of the grandsons of the liars and of the inciters of controversy!”

His warning left an impact that lasted for decades, for the benefit of Jewry at large. It became a tried and tested approach to be followed at all times and in all countries.

For Chabad chassidim, the Yom-Tov of Yud-Tes Kislev is the Rosh HaShanah of Chabad Chassidus, and the Yom-Tov of self-sacrifice for the sake of the truth. Our Rebbe’s mesirus nefesh for the sake of the truth is not only a guidepost for chassidim: it is also a wellspring of mesirus nefesh for the sake of the paths of truth in general.

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Divine Providence has ordained that we should celebrate the 142nd Yud-Tes Kislev in the American galus.

American Jews have made two mistakes. The first is that after they arrived here, they did not make use of the rich religious baggage that they brought here from their homes. The second mistake is they did not tell their children, and do not tell their grandchildren, of their family’s roots. Memories of the older generation are of vital value for the young generation that is growing up in this country. If fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, would only describe to their grandchildren and children the atmosphere in which they themselves had grown up, this would have the finest and greatest influence.

In addition, Chabad chassidim in America have made a third, big mistake: they have forsaken the chassidic tradition of studying Chassidus, and are left only with the fact that they daven out of a Siddur that follows Nussach Ari. True, the nussach is very important, and strenuous efforts should be made to adhere to it – but in addition, the obligation to study Chassidus must be respected.

American Jews should learn a great deal from the events in the world at large and in the Jewish world in particular. By observing people who until recently were millionaires and property owners, surely they should see how baseless is the world of wealth. Even the magicians in ancient Egypt recognized the “Finger of G‑d,” so surely we Jews in all countries should understand the meaning of “the great Arm” and “the mighty Arm” that G‑d is showing, and towards what He is leading us.

It is high time for Jews to see how holiness is being desecrated, to see the spirit of assimilation, and in some cases, to see a move to drive people out of their Judaism – a move which rabbis who are Reform, or half-Reform, or modern, have introduced into Jewish homes.

American Jews must be addressed in the severest words that can bring people to teshuvah, namely: “In forty days’ time, Nineveh will be upturned!”5 They must be told what it is that can annul that decree or considerably alleviate it, instead of seeking to calm their concern by heeding noisy [political] talk. For us Jews, all the countries of the Diaspora are only temporary lodgings. “Here he stands behind our wall!”6 We must prepare ourselves to welcome our Righteous Mashiach. It would be shameful to receive such a holy guest in such (begging your pardon) an unclean environment!

Teshuvah is the key to our liberation, which will come about soon by means of the Righteous Redeemer whom G‑d will send us.

It is high time for every Jew and Jewess to tell their sons and daughters to observe G‑d’s commandments – to put on tefillin, to keep Shabbos, to eat kosher food, to observe the laws of family purity, and to give their children a Jewish upbringing.

With His Divine power, G‑d cast us into this bitter exile, and with the same Divine power He will extricate us from it. However, we for our part must wash off our own galus-filth and become utterly clean, before we can be worthy of welcoming our Righteous Mashiach – whose arrival we should expect in the immediate future.