Yud Shvat is the yahrzeit of the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, and the day his son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, accepted the leadership of the Lubavitch movement. In the days before he passed away, the Rebbe Rayatz had prepared a chassidicdiscourse to be studied on Yud Shvat. When he passed away on that date, that discourse was considered by the chassidim as a spiritual last will and testament. A year later, when the Rebbe formally accepted leadership, he did so by reciting a chassidic discourse based on the above discourse.

Both the discourse of the Rebbe Rayatz and the discourse of the Rebbe begin with the same words: Basi LeGani, “I came into My garden.” These words are taken from the Song of Songs. The entire book is an analogy that describes the love relationship G‑d shares with and the Jewish people. Our Sages interpret the phrase “I came into My garden,” as referring to the Giving of the Torah, the time when G‑d’s presence was manifest on earth. They explain that G‑d is telling the Jewish people: “I returned to My garden,” the place where I was originally, for at the beginning of Creation, G‑d’s presence was manifest here on earth. After Adam’s sin, it departed and the Giving of the Torah began the completion of the process of drawing it down to the earth again, a process that will be entirely completed with the coming of Mashiach.

With the words, “I came into My garden,” G‑d is calling this world His garden. What is a garden? A place where you go to luxuriate, to derive pleasure. This is our world’s essential state. In other words, when somebody tells you that the world’s a hard place; that it’s dirty; that it is difficult to get along with others, they’re missing the fundamental picture. G‑d says that the world is His garden, a place where He takes pleasure and He invites us to be His partners.

Obviously, a garden needs to be tended; there is much to do in order to make the world a place of Divine pleasure. But the awareness that we are together with G‑d in His garden changes our perspective on the nature of the world we live in.

Looking to the Horizon

Understanding must be coupled with action. In his very first talk after formally accepting the leadership of the Chabad community, the Rebbe explained the actions he sought to inspire:

Jews: Take heed! In general, in Chabad, the approach was always to put an emphasis on one’s own efforts and not to rely on the Rebbeim….I am not withdrawing from offering help. [I will] help as much as possible…. But if there is no labor [on the part of others], what will it help that texts are produced, melodies are sung, and toasts are made?

Moses could have built the Sanctuary by himself. And David could have built the Temple by himself, but they wanted the merit to be shared by the entire Jewish people.

Similarly, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, could have had the Torah scroll to greet Mashiach written totally on his own. He did not desire to do this, but wanted the entire Jewish people to participate….

When it comes to making a dwelling for G‑d in this material realm, we all must take part. Every person must… carry out his mission. There are only tiny shards left. When those [tasks] are completed, the prophecies [of Mashiach’s coming] will be fulfilled.