The Sages relate1 that when R. Yosei arrived at a certain city, he asked that the guardians of the city2 be brought to him. When the townsmen brought him the local policemen, he said: “These are not the guardians of the city; these are the destroyers of the city! The real guardians of a city are its Torah scholars, the little children in the Torah schools, and the like.”

In our current predicament, everyone needs to find a shelter, a merit3 by virtue of which he will be protected from danger. It is written, Ani chomah – “I am a stone wall,”4 and the Sages comment5 that these words are spoken (as it were) by the Torah. That is to say, the Torah is a protective stone wall in which one can find shelter.

The Sages teach that the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvos “protects and saves.” (That is to say, the Torah protects and saves whether or not one is studying it at that particular time, whereas a mitzvah protects and saves only while it is being observed.)6

Actually, this distinction begs to be explained. After all, the Torah is the explanation of the mitzvos, and studying Torah in itself is a mitzvah. Why, then, is the effect of the Torah constant, whereas a mitzvah is effective only for its actual duration?

The answer lies in the very wording of the Sages. A person is fulfilling a mitzvah only while he is actually holding his esrog in hand. This is not the case with regard to the Torah. [With regard to the Torah, the Gemara uses the Aramaic phrase, lo asik, which means, “when he is not occupied” with it. At this point, however, the Rebbe gives a non-literal derush-interpretation of that Aramaic phrase, so that it reads:] Even when lo, when the Torah is not being studied, one is nevertheless asik – one is occupied with it. Right now, for example, even though we who are sitting here are not studying Torah, we are nevertheless occupied in the interest of Torah.

Thank G‑d, a Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah has been founded here. With His help we have succeeded in attracting such an extensive enrollment that – unfortunately, or Baruch HaShem! – there is not enough space for the present students, let alone those who are still asking to be accepted. At this point we must have a building for the Yeshivah. I would therefore request that all those present play a part by joining the committee in order to raise the necessary funds.

[The other speakers were: the Rebbe’s son-in-law, R. Shmaryahu Gourary; Mr. A. B. Kramer; R. Rivkin; Rabbi Dr. Carlebach; and Dr. Shapiro, son of the rav of Kovno. The Rebbe then resumed:]

The local Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah is not going to be founded now. It existed even before now. There are thinkers who hold that when a person blows and makes the air move, its impact is felt throughout the entire globe. When the Yeshivah was in Europe, its impact was not merely heard, but felt in America, too. It was felt not merely in financial aid: it was felt spiritually.

It is written, “For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah is light.”7 The Torah diffuses light from afar, as in the Midrash, which likens the Torah to a lighthouse. Even when the Yeshivah was in Europe, its light reached America; how much more so now, when the Yeshivah is located here.

I am not requesting help to found the Yeshivah: it is already here, thank G‑d. I am requesting your help in taking it further. The high motivation of its students is amazing. This is a G‑dly phenomenon. In the few weeks since a branch of the Yeshivah was established in Montreal, there are about forty students. This is G‑dly. The Al-mighty Himself is conducting the affairs of His Torah.

One of today’s speakers spoke of [the self-sacrifice of] Mordechai. This reminded me of an occasion on which my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, was in Petersburg, at a meeting with prominent and wealthy communal activists. Their connection with the Torah was warm, and they used to contribute heavily for Torah institutions. However, when a challenge arose that demanded self-sacrifice, they stepped aside.

My father then told them: “We read in the Megillah8 that [Mordechai warned Esther]: ‘Relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from elsewhere – but you and your father’s family will perish.’ This means that the objective will be attained, but you will have lost ‘us’ – the merit and the privilege [of participating in ‘our’ project].”

I have heard here that some of those present are willing to help personally, though not to join the committee and thereby to motivate others to help. The Sages, however, teach us that ‘a person who motivates another [to perform a mitzvah] is more praiseworthy than the person who actually performs the mitzvah.’9 Let me tell you that for those people to be involved in this project is a great zechus. It’s not that the project needs them; rather, they need the project.

I would like to thank all those who attended, and those who have undertaken to join the committee. As to those who have not yet undertaken to join, I would advise them to think it over – and in the merit of this, may we be privileged to a complete and speedy Redemption.