The great underlying principle of the Torah, as R. Akiva taught, is to “love your fellowman as yourself.” And indeed, Torah literature in general, and Chassidus in particular, overflows with instructive and inspiring advice on how one may bring oneself to truly love one’s fellow. Reading this literature, to be sure, is far more cheering than dwelling on disharmony and baseless hatred. But the reality of the human condition cannot be ignored and the present discourse addresses itself to that all too human problem.

The maamar entitled Heichaltzu (lit., “arm yourselves”) was first delivered by R. Shalom DovBer Schneersohn, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, on Simchas Torah in the year 5659 [1898]. Its first eight chapters, which borrow the mystical terminology of the Kabbalah, delve primarily into the spiritual roots of baseless hatred. Chapters 9-17 deal mainly with the practical consequences of this malady, and remedies for it. The remaining chapters perceive the subject from a cosmic perspective. For example: they consider the unity and multiplicity that coexist in the universe as manifestations of the various Divine Names; they discuss the spiritual source that makes possible the combination of unity and multiplicity; and so on.

In the present volume four items, all penned by the Rebbe Rayatz, and all related in some way to Heichaltzu , follow this major work. Echoing it is a maamar which he delivered in 5694 (1933), at a time when discord and dissension once again jarred the ears of the sensitive listener. As if in sweet contrast, the next item is a letter dating from 5681 [1921], in which the same author, writing to a celebrated chassid and close friend, sings the praises of brotherly love. Following it, an excerpt from one of his talks supplies the details of the historical background against which the Rebbe Rashab first delivered and later repeated his original discourse.

Finally, this volume reproduces the letter of 5709 [1948] in which the Rebbe Rayatz formally entrusted Otzar HaChassidim with the task of publishing Heichaltzu. The occasion was the fiftieth jubilee of the foundation of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in Lubavitch. The letter recalls that memorable Simchas Torah in detail, and notes that this was the selfsame day on which the Rebbe Rashab first delivered this maamar. It was as if this keynote discourse, with its insistence on the essential brotherhood of all Jews, was presented as a foundation stone for the Yeshivah which was destined to educate and inspire generations of Lubavitcher chassidim toward the sublime ideal of Ahavas Yisrael.

True to this comradely ideal, the present translation of Heichaltzu and its appendices has benefited from the combined talents of a number of writers. The pioneering translation (of chapters 1-17), which appeared in installments some years ago in the Chabad Journal of California, was the free rendition of R. Chaim Citron. This version was then revised and geared more closely to the original Hebrew text by R. Eliyahu Touger, who also translated the remaining chapters. (At this stage, installments were published in booklet form by Sichos In English.) The maamar of the Rebbe Rayatz was translated by R. Sholom Ber Wineberg, who also proposed improvements to the rendition of the major maamar , and R. Yossi Loebenstein translated the final three items.

In preparation for the present edition, R. Zalman Posner contributed an expert and perceptive reading of the existing translation of the first seventeen chapters of the major maamar. Finally, all the component manuscripts of the pres ent volume were painstakingly edited by Uri Kaploun. In checking the fidelity of the various renditions he was guided (in the greater part of Heichaltzu) by the scholarly scrutiny of R. Berel Bell, and in refining the clarity of presentation throughout, he was responsive to the input of all his predecessors. The present volume, not surprisingly, owes its typographical finesse to the patience of R. Yitzchok Turner. And this entire symphony of cooperation was conducted through all its stages by the rhythmic but sensitive baton of R. Yonah Avtzon.

The words Heichaltzu me’itchem anashim mean “arm men from among yourselves.” In a letter dated 30 Tishrei 5744 [1983], the Rebbe turns this phrase into an adjective. The relevant passage follows: “It may be added that although, generally speaking, cheshbon hanefesh (‘self-appraisal’) and the like is best done in private, it is most advisable in the present case that it also be undertaken at a get-together. For then the occasion lends the force of a communal resolve, and there is also the combined zechus of the many, as explained at length in Kuntreis Heichaltzu Me’itchem Anashim. It would indeed be fitting to do it in a way that in the spirit of a farbrengen makes every individual man, woman, and child a heichaltzu-me’itchem person, a dedicated vanguard. And thus would the cherished prayer be fulfilled ‘that they may all become one fellowship, to do Your will with a perfect heart.’”

It is the publisher’s hope that the present translation of Heichaltzu will enable an ever-increasing number of readers to become heichaltzu-me’itchem people.

Sichos In English

2 Nissan, 5748 (1988)

The Anniversary of the Passing
of the Rebbe Rashab

The Year of Hakhel