1. Yud-Beis Tammuz, in addition to being the Previous Rebbe’s day of redemption, is also his birthday. This year there is a unique dimension to this aspect because it is the 110th anniversary of his birth. The Torah associates the number 110 with Yosef who lived for 110 years, mentioning that fact in two separate verses.

Yosef’s lifespan has raised several questions. On one hand, the Talmud states that “the years of Yosef’s life was reduced,” and indeed, he did not live as long as his father or grandfather. On the other, the Midrash chooses Yosef as an example of long life, stating:

Since he worked hard to honor his father in Egypt, he merited the crown of old age... as it is written: “And Yosef saw Ephraim’s great-grandchildren.”

It can be explained that there is no contradiction between the two: Compared to his brothers and his ancestors, he did not live long. When compared to an average person, however, his life was prolonged. In addition, Yosef possessed the unique aspect of seeing the third generation of Ephraim’s descendants and Menasheh’s grandchildren (Bereishis 50:23; see The Living Torah). The Torah does not explicitly describe any other figure as being blessed with the fortune of living together with that many generations of his descendants.1

Despite this dimension, Yosef’s life was, in fact, shorter than that of his brothers and, indeed, less than 120 years. Furthermore, Yosef’s life was shorter than that of his father.2 This fact can be clarified by another concept.

It can be explained that the reason that Yosef merited to see a continuity of his descendants is a result of the fact that Yosef was the first Jew to serve as a king. With the exception of the fact that he did not sit on the throne, he fulfilled all the functions of the monarchy.3

Thus, Yosef serves as the source of monarchy for the Jewish people and we find the expressions, “the kingdom of the House of Yosef” and “the Mashiach of the House of Yosef.” Even though the ultimate dimension of monarchy is associated with the House of David, who will come from the tribe of Yehudah, that dimension will not be revealed until the Messianic age. Until then, Yosef is supreme and Yehudah receives from him.

[The ultimate expression of monarchy is seen in the crown. For this reason, the sign of whether a monarch of the House of David was fit for his position was whether the crown fit him or not. A crown, Kesser, in Hebrew, is identified with the Sefirah of that name.

There is a connection between this year’s commemoration of Yud-Beis Tammuz and the attribute of Kesser. This is the 63rd anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s release from prison. 63 can be divided into 50 (a number identified with Kesser) and 13 which stands for the 13 Attributes of Mercy and the drawing down of their influence to the Jews who are divided into twelve tribes and the tribe of Levi.]4

The concept of prolonged years and continuity from generation to generation is integrally connected with the concept of monarchy as it is written, “Prolong the king’s life, extend his years from generation to generation.” Therefore, the Torah explicitly associates these qualities with Yosef. Nevertheless, since the ultimate aspect of monarchy will be revealed in the House of David, Yosef’s life was actually not as long as that of his brothers. Furthermore, the Zohar explains that Yosef did not live to be 147, the age to which his father Yaakov lived, because he gave 37 years of his life to King David, implying that ultimately, the Kingdom of Yosef will lead to the Kingdom of David.5

On the basis of the above, we can appreciate the unique dimension of Yud-Beis Tammuz in the present year, the 110th anniversary of the birth of the Previous Rebbe — the Yosef of our generation. Here, it is possible to see the continuity of the generations whose service he inspired, a service that will bring about a spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward and thus, lead to the coming of Mashiach.

This concept can be associated with the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz which was of a collective nature, strengthening and encouraging Torah and Yiddishkeit, not only in the Previous Rebbe’s generation, but in the generations that follow until the present day. Indeed, we see that as a result of his redemption, the Previous Rebbe was able to reach America, “the lower half of the world.” There, he continued to spread Torah and mitzvos and transferred this mission to the coming generations who have expanded this service. This will lead to the ultimate expression of monarchy, the coming of Mashiach whose sovereignty will spread throughout the entire world.

The above concepts receive greater emphasis due to the fact that the Previous Rebbe is the sixth generation6 of the Chabad Nesi’im who spread the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, reaching the furthest reaches of the world.

Our Sages relate that there will be six millennia to the existence of the world in its present state: two thousand years of chaos, two thousand years of Torah, and two thousand years of [preparation for] the Messianic age. Thus, the sixth millennia is intended to prepare us for the seventh millennia, the age which is “all Sabbath and rest for eternity.”

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3. Each year, on one’s birthday, it is customary to study the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of years of one’s life together with its commentaries. Similarly, this Psalm is recited each day throughout the year. Because of the attachment of Chassidim to the Previous Rebbe, it is proper that they study and recite the Psalm associated with his birthday.

Psalm 111 contains the verse, “He has made a remembrance of His wondrous works.” The Tzemach Tzedek comments on this verse:

Whatever G‑d does for the righteous in this world is only a “remembrance” of what He will do for them in the world to come.... Even the miracles of the exodus from Egypt are only a “remembrance” when compared to the miracles which will be in the Messianic era as implied by the verse, “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”

The above receives even greater emphasis this year, תש"נ, “a year of miracles,” which will lead to תשנ"א, whose letters form an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, “May this be the year of ‘I will show wonders.’ ” This is further intensified by the connection to this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Balak, which contains several allusions to the Messianic redemption. For example, the Rambam writes that the verse, “A star will shoot forth from Yaakov and a staff will arise in Israel,” is a reference to Mashiach’s coming.

The above concepts can be applied in each of our lives since each Jew has a connection to royalty as our Sages declare, “the Jews are like the sons of kings.” Similarly, the Jewish people as a whole are called Yosef and thus, particularly, our generation whose Nasi is named Yosef — and “the Nasi includes the entire generation” — share a connection to the Previous Rebbe, the Yosef of our generation.

Each Jew, within the context of his life in the physical world, receives a crown7 of kingship from G‑d. This gives him the potential to live in a manner of redemption, without being hindered by any of the obstacles of the exile. On the contrary, he rules over his environment and reveals G‑d’s sovereignty in the world.

To allow a Jew to carry on this service, G‑d grants him manifold blessings so that he can live a life of peace and prosperity — in Eretz Yisrael or in the Diaspora — and thus, further his service of Torah and mitzvos. The celebration of Yud-Beis Tammuz this year grants further potential for such service, endowing each Jew with the potential to spread this service to others, “raising up many students,” and thus establishing continuity with the generations to come.

When each Jew lives in “a manner of redemption,”8 the world will be prepared for the ultimate redemption. Then, this, the last generation of exile will become the first generation of redemption.

On a practical level, resolutions should be taken regarding the following: a) Gifts should be given to tzedakah in multiples of 110 and in multiples of 63; b) The farbrengens of Yud-Beis Tammuz should be continued and, in every place, farbrengens should be held on the 14th and 15th of Tammuz, in the hope that this will transform the 17th of Tammuz into a day of celebration, c) The campaign of public sessions of Torah study should be reinforced, d) The maamar, Asarah SheYoshim released by the Previous Rebbe in connection with Yud-Beis Tammuz should be studied, e) Psalm 111 should be studied together with its commentaries.

These activities will lead to the fulfillment of the promise, “And you shall spread westward, eastward, northward, and southward,” spreading G‑dliness throughout the world. This will lead to the coming of Mashiach. May it be in the immediate future.

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4. At present, the affluence enjoyed by the Jewish community allows the possibility for Rabbis to study Torah without disruption and thus, penetrate to the depth of Torah, deriving practical halachic decisions. It must, however, be emphasized that although, from an abstract perspective, the most challenging aspect of Torah study is to deal with the application of halachah, before actually putting into practice — or advising others to put into practice — one’s decisions, it is proper to consult with a Rabbi who has experience in rendering decisions in applied halachah. Indeed, we find that in previous generations, before a Rabbi was allowed to render halachic decisions, in addition to having Semichah, “ordination,” he had to have shimush, “internship,” during which he assisted a practicing Rabbinical authority.

The influence of the practical application of halachah is evident form the following story concerning an important Rabbi (whose name will not be mentioned lest some of the particulars in the story are not accurate) who was being tested to see if he was fit for a Rabbinical position. He was asked many questions which he answered correctly with the exception of one, to which he gave an answer that contradicted the views of most other authorities. When questioned about this point, he explained, that G‑d has helped him to, as of yet, never err in regard to an actual halachic question. Apparently, the question was being asked merely from a theoretical perspective with no intent of being applied to actual behavior and therefore, his answer was lacking.

May today’s Rabbis render the halachic decision of immediate relevance: that the exile has lasted too long and may G‑d carry out their decision and bring Mashiach.