1. The question is raised in the teachings of Chassidus: Would it not have been appropriate for Simchas Torah to immediately follow Shavuos? Indeed, the very fact that this question is raised indicates that the two festivals are related.

Divine intelligence is utterly different from mortal intelligence. True, the Sages teach that “if the Torah had not been given we would have learned [modesty from the cat, the prohibition against theft from the ant…,]”1 – but all of that is merely mortal intelligence. By contrast, since the intelligence of the Torah is Divine, the very question raised above is itself a segment of the Torah, and hence that question is itself an indication that there is an intrinsic link between the two festivals. Nevertheless, there is a distinct difference between them. In the case of Shavuos, the Giving of the Torah preceded the thunder and lightning,2 whereas in the case of Simchas Torah, the thunder and lightning come first, and only thereafter comes Simchas Torah.

The “thunder and lightning” of Simchas Torah are – the month of Elul, the days of Selichos, Rosh HaShanah, the Ten Days of Penitence, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, and only then comes Simchas Torah, unlike the case of Shavuos, where the Giving of the Torah preceded the thunder and lightning.

The thunder and lightning of Shavuos indicate that this festival requires kabbalas ol, a submissive acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, in preparation for the Giving of the Torah. Otherwise, there could be a situation in which an individual wants the Torah but the Torah doesn’t want him, or a situation in which the Torah doesn’t want him, and neither does he want the Torah. What should happen is that the Torah should want him and he should want the Torah – in a spirit of kabbalas ol.

[We spoke of the thunder and lightning of Shavuos.] The sound of thunder suggests an unaccustomed degree of power – just as when someone speaks, not everyone hears, but when he shouts, everyone listens. The Torah requires this powerful degree of submissive acceptance. Lightning suggests the illumination that a person receives in all areas of his life. Sound proceeds from the air near the heart, which is the source of warmth. Sound consists of motion, and motion gives rise to warmth.

(No record is extant of the lengthy exposition at this point of several subjects: the concept that Shavuos is primarily intellective, a time of mochin, whereas Simchas Torah is primarily a time of middos, spiritual emotions; the place of the Name Havayah in the soul; and the significance of the letter yud in the word אֵיתָן, eisan.)3

Basically, Simchas Torah was not positioned after Shavuos, because the Master of the Universe wants all Jews to be chassidim, and the ultimate intent underlying the creation of the world is that there should be chassidim – as we find regarding King David, of blessed memory, who, [while pleading to be heard by G‑d,] counts among his merits, “for I am a chassid4 – that is, “for I am pious.” The Gemara likewise speaks of him as a chassid.5 Now, a chassid is a pnimi, a person of inner integrity – a state that can be earned only by hard work. Shavuos, by contrast, is the time of the Giving of the Torah, as a gift. True, there are cases in which the Sages assume that “unless a person had received a favor from another, he would not have given him a gift.”6 In our case, nevertheless, the Torah was given as a gift. And at any rate, the Divine intent is that spiritual growth should be earned by toiling in avodah.

One can really rejoice on Simchas Torah only after a few months of study, together with comprehensive and specific teshuvah,7 throughout the month of Elul and the days of Selichos, and so on. Only then can there be a real Simchas Torah, a real rejoicing with the Torah – not like those who just pop into the dancing, unprepared. The joy of that day should spring from one’s hardworking avodah.

2. It’s time to stop being embarrassed in one’s environment. True, there are excuses, such as the length of the present exile. That includes the exile within our own ranks – such as the current situation in which our brothers who hate us and spurn us,8 and who profane the Shabbos, write about Chassidus, and do so even (G‑d forbid) on Shabbos – and this exile among ourselves is even harsher than our exile among the various nations. Nevertheless, every individual should muster the necessary fortitude and not be embarrassed in the face of the world around him. The world should stand in shame before him!

The problem is that people are embarrassed by their Yiddishkeit: a piece of their Yiddishkeit they give away to the tailor, another piece they leave at the barber’s, and so on…9

It’s time to stop being embarrassed.

3. The classic works of the Kabbalah teach that the sin of Adam was that he looked where he should not have looked, and that alone is a sin. Before the Giving of the Torah, mastering one’s faculty of vision was a formidable challenge. Indeed, even Adam, who was “crafted by the Hand of G‑d,”10 succumbed. After the Giving of the Torah, man was endowed with the ability to monitor the faculty of vision, too. Unlike other faculties, whether with regard to one’s conscious thought or speech or action, this faculty operates spontaneously. Nevertheless, it must be mastered.

One day [in 1798], when the Alter Rebbe was being cross-examined in the Tainy Soviet Prison in Petersburg,11 he stood up in his tallis and tefillin and looked hard at his interrogators. They were so terror-stricken that those who were seated could not stand up, and those who were standing could not sit down. Even the inkwells trembled. A gentile grandson of one of the interrogators reported this incident to R. David Kabakov. When this chassid relayed it to the Tzemach Tzedek, the response was, “Just see what a Jew is capable of doing!”

Mastery of one’s faculty of vision can best be attained by studying Chassidus in a chassidisher yeshivah. Whereas some other students look where they shouldn’t and when they meet with their friends they talk about what they have seen, the students of a chassidisher yeshivah don’t look where they shouldn’t, and when they meet with their friends they talk about appropriate subjects.

In other – misnagdishe – circles, whatever is permitted is of course permitted, and as to that which is forbidden, people seek lenient and permissive rulings.12 Among chassidim, that which is forbidden is of course forbidden, and that which is permitted is dispensable.13

4. A certain city here has 80,000 Jews but no mikveh. There are people who contribute to other causes, but when the object is a mikveh they have no funds. Their argument: Let those who need a mikveh cover its cost. When it cones to schooling, they do contribute – and they also step forward to make their opinions heard. The teachers they choose do not wear tzitzis or put on tefillin; they desecrate Shabbos and eat treifah food. Teachers who wear tzitzis and put on tefillin, who observe Shabbos and eat only kosher food, are not the people they are looking for. If they are employing their preferred teachers in order to provide them with a livelihood, some other employment should be found for them. Of course every Jew needs a livelihood, so such teachers should be paid extra – provided they are not employed as teachers. If, however, their employers are choosing them for educational reasons, then those employers are bitter enemies of the Jewish people and as such are (Heaven forfend!) liable for [drastic punishment].

People should go out in the streets unabashed, and tell those who go shopping on Shabbos that if they do not stop doing so, a time will come when they will not have the wherewithal to pay for their purchases. The storekeepers who keep their stores open on Shabbos must likewise be warned that a time will come when even on weekdays they will not have anything to sell.

What are people waiting for? It’s late. There are only a few months left!14 There is a great deal for people to do, as much as they can. I hope that the Society for Memorizing Mishnayos and the Worldwide Tehillim Society will ease the birth pangs of Mashiach. We must hope that Machne Israel and Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch [will fulfill their tasks] and that more and more branches of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah will be established, even though they will not need to last for a lengthy period. When our forefathers were in the wilderness, they sometimes erected the Mishkan for only a short time, and the same applies today to Torah institutions. Even though they will stand only for a short time, their little light will banish a great deal of darkness,15 and will give rise to a great illumination.

5. [The Rebbe now delivered the maamar that begins, Chaviv Adam,16 and then shared the following narrative:]

The Baal Shem Tov was once invited by the townsmen of Slutzk17 to the outdoor inaugural celebration of their newly-built House of Study. After being welcomed there with deep respect, he delivered a Torah teaching while seated on a large stone which the townsfolk had brought there themselves, and which was soon to be incorporated in the new building. The stone, he said, which a Jew had carried there for the construction of a newbeis midrash, was something precious indeed: in fact it recalled the episode involving R. Chanina ben Dosa, as related at the beginning of Shir HaShirim Rabbah18 and of Koheles Rabbah.19 The Torah teachings which the Baal Shem Tov shared while seated on that stone resonated warmly in the hearts of the unscholarly townsfolk.

The advanced scholars of the town, however, challenged him: “What have you innovated in the Torah? After all, Torah was being studied before [the advent of Chassidus], too! And so too, regarding the Torah it is written, ‘I have given you good instruction’20 – so we already have the Torah!”

The Baal Shem Tov replied: “I have not sought to innovate anything, but only to explain the plain meaning of the verses. In fact, here is the meaning of the very verse that you have quoted. Its opening words, ‘I have given you good instruction,’ allude to nigleh, the revealed levels of the Torah.21 In that realm, a person may conceivably understand that ‘I have given you’ means that the Torah is now all his, and he may possibly forget about the Giver of the Torah. In this frame of mind, he may seek permissive leniencies and rational argumentation. Hence the same verse continues, ‘My Torah, do not forsake it!’ When in addition one studies ‘My Torah’ – the pnimiyus, the inner [i.e., mystical] dimension,22 of the Torah, one believes in hashgachah peratis, specific Divine Providence. And then the conclusion of the verse is fulfilled: ‘Do not forsake it’ – and then one is also not forsaken.”

6. It is told that R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev23 once said: “The Kaiser of Germany says that he is the king. The Czar of Russia says that he is the king. And I, Levi Yitzchak ben Sarah say, Yisgadal veyiskadash Shmeh rabbah! ‘May His great Name be magnified and sanctified!’ “24