1. On the first night of Shavuos in the year 5656 (1896), my father delivered the maamar that begins, VeAsisa Chag Shavuos. It began long before candle-lighting time and lasted two-and-a-half hours. (This, by the way, was very soon after R. Faivish Zalmanov’s arrival in Lubavitch after Pesach of that year, yet on Shavuos he already endeavored to repeat that maamar for the benefit of all those present.) My father then davened Maariv in his study. As a rule, his Maariv on the first night of Shavuos resembled his davenen on the first night of Rosh HaShanah – at length, and with intense dveikus though this was not known to the chassidim.

One of the guests at the evening seudah, a chassid by the name of R. Baruch Shneur, addressed my father: “Today we attained temimus, completeness – effortlessly. The maamar was long, and then there was Maariv, so all in all, temimus was available spontaneously!”

To this my father responded: “Chassidim do not value gains that are attained after the event and spontaneously, even if they come about via Chassidus. True temimus is earned by toiling in avodah, by exertion. To earn temimus one must work hard: that which comes of its own accord is not temimus. The above applies to temimus in terms of time. Temimus also exists in the dimension of space. And above all, one should strive to attain temimus in one’s soul. This means that the brain rules the heart with a completeness that embraces “both” of one’s hearts.1

2. The Midrash teaches that when Moshe Rabbeinu told the Jewish people that G‑d was about to give them the Torah, they were overjoyed. He, however, was fearful. He was afraid that he would not be able to receive the Torah with the same degree of kabbalas ol – the simple self-subordination to the yoke of Heaven – that an ordinary Jew would have.

When my father heard that teaching from [his grandfather,] the Tzemach Tzedek, he was five years old, and did not understand it. When he was 25, he did understand Moshe Rabbeinu’s fear. This recalls the classic contrast between the feeling of a servant and of a courtier in the presence of their king.2

[The Rebbe Rayatz concluded:] Nowadays, however, there is neither the ordinary person’s joy nor Moshe Rabbeinu’s fear.

3. The routine in Lubavitch in the years 5651 to 5653 (1891-1893) was that after Pesach, it was time to respect the local tradition of taking a summer vacation.3 In Lubavitch, this “summer vacation” consisted of taking a seat in the front veranda andinhaling a bit of fresh air. During those years my father was generally very much occupied with avodah: day after day he would daven [Shacharis] at meditative length until five o’clock in the afternoon.

Present at one of those datche-sessions one day were my teacher, R. Nissan; R. Shlomo Chayim the shochet; and another few chassidim. I was there, too. R. Nissan Melamed was the son-in-law of R. Pesach Melamed, who in turn was the son of R. Avraham Melamed, a chassid of the Alter Rebbe. And his father was one of the townsfolk of Lubavitch at the time that the Alter Rebbe arrived there in his youth to study under the Maggid of Lubavitch, R. Yissachar Dov Kobilniker.

On this occasion, R. Nissan related something that he had heard from his father-in-law, R. Pesach, who had heard it from his father, R. Avraham – that the Alter Rebbe’s chassidim were always counting.

My father was very pleased to hear that, and commented: “This holds true with regard to avodah. One’s hours must be counted. In this way, one’s days will also be counted. (This concept can be perceived in the directive of the Sages: ‘It is a mitzvah to count the days [of the Omer], and it is a mitzvah to count the weeks.’4 ) When a day passes, we must know what we have accomplished and what we have yet to accomplish. And when a person knows that he has a day to his credit, then when seven such days have passed, he has a week to his credit. All in all, we must make sure that our tomorrow will be far better than our today.”

4. In recent times, people feel ashamed of themselves. A person shouldn’t feel ashamed of himself. Of whom is he ashamed – of a wooden log that wears trousers?!

5. In recent times, the wagon of Chassidus has been taken out into the street, so all kinds of [lowly creatures] have made themselves at home on it and freely voice their opinions on Chassidus – what Chassidus is and what Chassidus should be. Individuals who are utterly remote from it all, and who do not put on tefillin, express their opinions and write about Chassidus – possibly even on Shabbos It is difficult to talk about, but the truth must be said: some of the people who help themselves to Chassidus are not at all at the appropriate level. They study Likkutei Torah, but Likkutei Torah doesn’t want to have them. They help themselves to Chassidus forcibly. They do not monitor the validity of their tefillin conscientiously. They nominally discharge that obligation by having them checked once in three years, but do not conscientiously follow up that examination.

It is we who are responsible for that, because we made the hole. As the Sages say, “The mouse isn’t the thief: the hole is the thief.”5 Since chassidim haven’t been studying and davening and farbrenging as ought to be done, a hole was formed, and [lowly creatures] have found their way in. What is needed is simply teshuvah. Yet what do people ask? – Whether they should study maamarim that focus on lofty, abstract concepts,6 or maamarim that offer guidance in avodah7 whereas what is needed is simply teshuvah. One’s avodah should not be just technically acceptable after the event,8 nor should it just happen as a matter of course, without having been generated.9 And if it should happen that a spiritual obligation was fulfilled only bedieved, one should be pained by this and should exert effort to correct that instance of bedieved. This should be done privately. No one else should to know about it: towards others one should radiate simchah.

That empty space, that hole, can be blocked by means of avodah and yiras Shamayim, standing in awe of Heaven.