1. “These days shall be remembered and kept” means that the remembrance of an event must be translated into deed, the recreation of the original occurrence. Although the original event is the trail-blazer, opening the way for its concept to be followed at later times, there is nevertheless a special distinction in the “remembrance and keeping” of the event in following years: We add to its sanctity each successive year, consonant to the dictum “ascend in holiness.”

The concept of always rising higher in holy matters is emphasized by the previous Rebbe in the letter sent to mark the first celebration of Yud-Bais Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. He writes: “Today, the twelfth of the month of Tammuz, is a festival of liberation for those Jews who engage in the dissemination of Torah. On that day it was made publicly known that the great work of spreading Torah and strengthening the faith in which I toiled, is permitted by government law.” As a result, we must “increase mightily in spreading Torah and strengthening Judaism” — in a much loftier fashion than until now. In other words, before the previous Rebbe’s arrest and subsequent release, there were grounds to believe that spreading Torah and strengthening Judaism were against the law. The liberation showed conclusively that it was permitted. Therefore, the entire episode must be seen as being for the purpose of teaching us to “increase mightily in spreading Torah and strengthening the faith.”

This inference may also be drawn from the date the previous Rebbe writes on the above letter — the 15th of Sivan. The 15th of Sivan marks the beginning of imprisonment; yet this is the date the Rebbe wrote the letter commemorating his liberation. The previous Rebbe is thereby emphasizing that the imprisonment itself was for the purpose of the ultimate good that will result, a good that is greater than before the imprisonment — an increase in spreading Torah and strengthening Judaism.

There are many aspects in spreading Torah and strengthening Judaism which the previous Rebbe requested and demanded we engage in. First and foremost among those must be those things of which the previous Rebbe wrote in the aforementioned letter commemorating his liberation. In this letter itself, the principal theme is sounded in the Ma’amar (Chassidic discourse) he sent together with the letter. That ma’amar begins with the words “Ten who sit and engage in Torah, the Divine Presence rests between them.” While the general theme of this ma’amar is the importance of learning Torah publicly (“ten who sit”), each word of “Ten who sit and engage in Torah” provides special instruction.


Ten is the all-encompassing number, the ultimate in numbering, the basis for all subsequent stages — 100 (10 x 10), 1,000 (10 x 100), 10,000 (10x 1,000), etc. In man’s spiritual service this corresponds to the idea of utilizing all ten of one’s soul-powers, enabling one’s Torah study and prayer to encompass every fibre of one’s being. It also includes the idea of utilizing one’s intellect to its fullest capacity in Torah study: A person who has the capability to learn more profoundly has not fulfilled his obligation to study Torah if he only learns superficially. In similar vein, the mishnah states that a five year old learns Scripture, a ten year old Mishnah, a 15 year old Talmud etc. — indicating that at these respective ages and corresponding maturity of intellect, a person must advance to the higher level of study. A 15 year old, for example, has not discharged his obligation by learning only mishnah; he must also study Talmud.

“Ten who sit”:

“Sit” alludes to the idea of being settled, complete concentration and devotion to Torah study. “Ten who sit” indicates that all ten soul-powers, not just the intellect, must be concentrated on the Torah study. If, for example, a person is doing something else while he is attempting to concentrate on a profound concept, his thinking will be disturbed.

“Ten who sit and engage”:

There are two ways to study Torah. At set times in the day and night, according to the amount of free time one has — following the halachic minimum, endeavoring to add to one’s Torah study. That is, even when one does not have any more time to devote to Torah study other than the halachic minimum (due to necessity of earning a living), a person earnestly wishes that G‑d will bestow His generosity on him in yet fuller measure, thereby enabling him to increase in his Torah study (since he has now been freed of part of his time from earning a living).

“Engage” therefore teaches us that one’s approach to Torah study must be as one “engaged in business.” A businessman is continually wishing to increase his business; whereas a paid employee, while discharging his duties faithfully, does not care if the business is expanding or not. So too in man’s spiritual service: When a person serves G‑d as a paid employee, he faithfully performs the duties placed upon him. But he will not be distressed if the goal has not been reached, as long as he is not at fault. It is the owner’s business — let him worry about it. Therefore we say Torah study must be in the manner of “Ten who sit and engage in Torah.” A person must feel he is the owner of the business, who will not only discharge his duties, but will worry about the business not being as good as it might. He will, as explained above, continually wish that G‑d grant him a fuller measure of prosperity to enable him to increase in his Torah study.

A story concerning the Rebbe Rashab illustrates the above point: At one of the Rabbinical conferences held to further the dissemination of Judaism, the Rebbe Rashab spoke with great self-sacrifice. As a result, the government placed him under house-arrest. When he was freed, one of the eminent Rabbis entered the Rebbe Rashab’s room and found him weeping. The Rabbi asked him the reason for his weeping, when he had, with great self-sacrifice, done all that was possible. The Rebbe Rashab answered him: The matter that needed to be done has not been done!

But the question remains: What is the use of weeping? One should instead try to influence the government next time. However, when something truly matters to a person, for he feels it is his business — one does not consider if weeping will help or not. One weeps because it affects him! So too in the case of Torah study: One should be a “businessman,” with Torah study being his “business.”

“Ten who sit and engage in Torah”:

The above three concepts (Ten, sit, engage) must be “in Torah,” and not that Torah is made to correspond to the concepts of “ten”, “sit”, and “engage.” That is, one must take these concepts and bring them into Torah, thereby making them subservient to Torah. The “ten” becomes Torah, the “sit” becomes a “sitting” of Torah, and the “engage” becomes as the “business” of Torah.


2. As noted in the previous farbrengen (on the 3rd of Tammuz), the previous Rebbe was imprisoned because of his work in the sphere of education for young Jewish children. Thus, the concrete actions which should eventuate from the inspiration provided by Yud-Bais Tammuz must first and foremost be educating children. At this particular time of the year, education takes on a special timeliness, for in most countries it is now vacation — when children are freed from non-Jewish studies.

Parenthetically, I do not wish to call such studies “secular studies,” for really, even such studies should be learned for a holy purpose. For example, mathematics should be learned to know properly the laws of eiruvin (Shabbos boundaries), or the calculation of Jewish dates, etc. The Alter Rebbe writes that secular wisdom makes “tameh” (impure) the intellectual faculties of the G‑dly soul, except when one uses them (secular knowledge) as “a spade to dig with” — i.e. to make a comfortable living from them to serve G‑d; or when one knows how to utilize them for service to G‑d or His Torah. Examples of the latter are the Rambam and the Ramban.

We see then that the study of secular disciplines is a very severe matter. The Alter Rebbe does not say it is prohibited, but that it makes “tameh,” impure. Impurity is a very severe matter, which renders a person unfit to enter the Bais Hamikdosh just by touching an impure thing — although externally no change has befallen the person. Moreover, impurity affects even the smallest infant, even though he is as yet not obligated to observe Torah and mitzvos. He too becomes impure when touching an impure object, and cannot in turn touch several things (terumah, etc). This is the only thing in which an infant and a grown man are exactly alike — so grave is the concept of impurity.