The twentieth day of the month of MarCheshvan marks the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, fifth leader of Chabad. The great emphasis he laid on disseminating Torah, exemplified by the founding of the Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim, teaches the vital importance of spreading Torah to all Jews.

The twentieth day of the month of MarCheshvan marks the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad (born in 5621-1860).1 The Previous Rebbe revealed2 that a birthday is an auspicious time and holds a place of distinction in Jewish life. In previous generations only a few unique individuals knew this; now it has been made known to all Jews.

Everything has its proper time

It is common experience that a subject in Torah may be revealed only at a later date. Even in regard to the written Torah we find some matters which were revealed after the Giving of the Torah; and certainly in regard to the oral Law,3 many new concepts were unknown until propounded by students of the Torah at a later date.

The reason for this is that everything has its proper time. If something has not been revealed, it means that as yet no obligation is attached to it. When the proper time comes for it to be made known, it then becomes obligatory.

We find this concept in respect to Torah in general. The Midrash states that “Adam was worthy that the Torah be given through him.”4 Yet it was only given twenty six generations later, because “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”5 So, too, concerning the idea of a birthday. There was a period when its concept was unknown; and when the time came for it to be known, the Previous Rebbe revealed it to all Jews. Of course, everything in Torah, even new concepts propounded by later students, “was given to Moshe from Sinai.”3 But when these matters are revealed depends on their proper time.

Everything can and must provide a directive in service to G‑d; consequently, we must derive a lesson from the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab. Understandably, such a lesson should be associated with a special quality of the Rebbe Rashab, something on which he laid greater emphasis than did the earlier Rebbeim.

The Rebbe Rashab was distinguished by his dissemination of Torah, and not only the revealed aspect of Torah. He founded the Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim so that students should learn “G‑d’s Torah, the revealed Torah and the hidden Torah, as a whole.”6 It should be “one Torah.”7

Dissemination of Torah to all regions

The preceding Rebbeim also devoted themselves to the goal of spreading Torah. The Alter Rebbe had three “classes”8 where both the revealed and hidden realms of Torah were studied. The Tzemach Tzedek used to send young men to different places to learn under the supervision of Chabad teachers.9 Likewise, we find that there were young men who studied in Lubavitch where the Rebbe Maharash lived. Indeed, this system continued in the early years of the Rebbe Rashab’s leadership.

All the above, however, concerned and affected only those students who lived in the vicinity. The real spreading of Torah began with the founding of Tomchei Temimim, the purpose of which was to attract students from all over. And although in the times of the Alter Rebbe people traveled to other places to spread Torah and Judaism, it was not the same type of dissemination as achieved through the founding of Tomchei Temimim. However, it could be said that the founding of Tomchei Temimim was indeed the aim of the earlier Rebbeim — but was actually implemented by the Rebbe Rashab.10

The directive from the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, then, concerns the dissemination of Torah. It is an eternal lesson, valid for all times and for all Jews, for “we will walk in his paths forevermore.”11

Further lessons may be derived from the connection between the twentieth of MarCheshvan, and Chanukah and Shabbos.12

Oil symbolizes the Esoteric

The principal reason for establishing the festival of Chanukah was the miracle of the oil,13 and “oil” alludes to and symbolizes the hidden part of Torah.14 This is the connection to the twentieth of MarCheshvan, the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab who founded Tomchei Temimim, the purpose of which was the study of the revealed Torah together with the hidden, as “one Torah.”

The concept of Shabbos is that “then you shall delight in the L‑rd,”15 “you shall call the Shabbos ‘delight,’”16 and “all your work is done.”17 This is associated with Torah study, for our Sages state that “the Torah was given only to the eaters of the manna.”18 The eaters of the manna had no material worries, for all their needs were taken care of: bread from heaven (manna); water from the well of Miriam; and clothing that was protected by the clouds of glory.19 Since they had no worries about material needs, they could learn Torah properly.

The lesson from this is that to study Torah properly, a Jew must be on the level of the “eaters of the manna,” not allowing material worries to distract him from learning Torah properly. Similarly, on Shabbos, “all your work is done” — meaning G‑d takes care of the work — and a Jew therefore has no material worries on Shabbos and can devote himself completely to Torah study.

The idea of Shabbos goes further — “then you shall delight in the L‑rd” and “you shall call the Shabbos ‘delight.’” It may be that a Jew will devote himself completely to Torah study only out of acceptance of the yoke of heaven; and while acceptance of the yoke of heaven is “the beginning of service and its core and root,”20 one also must take delight in Torah study. Our Sages say,21 “A person should always learn that part of Torah which is his heart’s desire,” for in addition to the general obligation to learn Torah, a person is also obligated to try and succeed in his Torah study. And success depends on one studying with all one’s abilities, including having a desire for and delight in the subject.

Spreading Torah with Enthusiasm

This, then, is the lesson from the twentieth of MarCheshvan and Shabbos: the dissemination of Torah must be with delight and enthusiasm. When this is so, the spreading of Torah receives added dimensions, as can be seen from a narrative in the Talmud.22 The Roman general Vespasian was putting on his shoes when he heard that he had been made emperor. When he tried to put on the second shoe he could not, nor could he take off the shoe already on. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai told him that the cause was the good news he had just received, for “good tidings make the bone fat.”23 If delightful tidings can affect even physical bone, delight certainly adds dimensions to the work of spreading Torah.

But a Jew may think that all of the above has no relevance to him, for, as the Talmud states, “A person desires a measure of his own to nine of his neighbor’s,”24 indicating that a person has delight in something that is specifically his, something that he personally has worked on. Torah was spread through the efforts of the Rebbe Rashab and the Previous Rebbe. What delight then can he have in spreading Torah, when it was the Rebbe Rashab’s initiative?

The answer is “You shall call Shabbos ‘delight.’” Although Shabbos of itself is the concept of delight, a Jew, through his service, can add to the delight of Shabbos — and therefore it becomes “a measure of his own.” Every Jew can follow in the footsteps of the Rebbe Rashab, and every Jew can, and must, disseminate Torah.

Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, pp. 386-399