The eighteenth day of Elul, or Chai Elul, marks the birthdate of both the Baal Shem Tov,1 founder of the chassidic movement, and the Alter Rebbe,2 founder of Chabad Chassidism. This day invariably falls either on or near the Shabbos during which the Torah portion of Savo is read.

All Jewish festivals and auspicious occasions on the Jewish calendar are alluded to in the Torah portion read during the week in which they occur.3 Understandably, Chai Elul is thus alluded to in the portion of Savo. Where in this portion can one find this connection?

Savo begins by relating the laws of bikkurim, the first fruits that the Jews were obliged to bring immediately upon “coming to the land that G‑d your L‑rd is giving you as a heritage; occupying and settling it.”4

Our Rabbis note5 that the qualification “occupying and settling it” comes to teach us that the obligation of bikkurim did not begin until after the fourteen years during which Eretz Yisrael was conquered and divided among the tribes.

The verse is modified in this way for the following reason: The true meaning of “coming to the land” is that of coming into it entirely. This is in keeping with the saying of our Sages:6 “A partial entry is not considered an entry at all.” The word “coming,”7 therefore means “occupying and settling it,” for only then were the Jews considered to have truly entered the Land.

This, then, is the connection between Savo and Chai Elul, the birthdate of the two great chassidic founders:

Chassidus is unique in its ability to rouse the spirit, mind and heart, so that a Jew’s service of Torah and mitzvos is in the manner of “savo” — a complete immersion, with every fiber of one’s being suffused with spiritual service.

The importance of this manner of service will be understood by explaining the difference between man’s intrinsic and extrinsic states of being; intrinsic referring to man as he exists in relation to himself and extrinsic to man as he exists relative to others.

In terms of spiritual service, this means the following: When a person does something in an external and extrinsic manner, he and the thing he is doing remain two distinct entities.

When, however, a person does something from his innermost self, then his being immerses itself entirely in that which he is doing, for in relation to man’s innermost core there exists nothing outside of himself. Thus, when a person acts in this manner, even a single seemingly external action is tied up and united with his innermost self — the person and the act are wholly united.

Herein lies the uniqueness of Chassidus: Chassidus, otherwise known as “the soul of Torah,”8 reveals a Jew’s quintessential life force in all aspects of Torah and mitzvos,9 and the unique quality of this life force is that it becomes wholly one with that which it enlivens.10

For the life force does not add anything tangible to that which it vitalizes — a live body possesses no more parts than a corpse. The life force is thus not separate from that which it energizes, rather it is the soul of the enlivened body, and because of it each and every aspect of the enlivened body is a living entity.

The soul is thus uniquely able to enliven the body, since a person’s “life” is his soul and innermost essence, and as explained earlier, that which is part of a person’s innermost core becomes wholly one with the object with which it unites. Thus, the body in which a life force dwells is entirely permeated by it.11

Exactly so is the effect of Chassidus on Torah and mitzvos: It is possible for a Jew to study Torah and perform mitzvos while remaining separate from them. Chassidus, however, enables every Jew to reveal the innermost aspect of his life force — his holy Jewish soul. And in relation to that level — the quality of savo, “entering fully into the land” — each and every Jew is truly one with all of Torah and mitzvos.12

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, pp. 244-247.