1. The Alter Rebbe taught that we must “Begin with blessing,” i.e., every new beginning must be characterized by blessing. This is reflected in the Torah’s description of the creation of the heavens and the earth which begins with the word Bereishis. The first letter of Bereishis, beis, is an acronym for the word berachah, blessing.

In Hebrew, the word berachah also means “extension,” implying that the blessings of a special day must be drawn down in the days that follow, continuing to exert an influence until that day is commemorated again.1 This surely holds true regarding the commemoration of the Previous Rebbe’s yahrzeit, and particularly so this year, since the present year represents a landmark, the 42nd anniversary of that occasion.2

These positive influences will be drawn down to all the Jews who have gathered here and will be enhanced by the influence of the place where the gathering is being held, a building which is the house of prayer, the house of study, and the house of good deeds3 of the Nasi of our generation, the Previous Rebbe. This will help reveal the fundamental positive qualities possessed by every member of the Jewish people for the Nasi “represents the entire people” and includes them within himself.4

As the Baal Shem Tov explained, every Jew is regarded by G‑d by G‑d as “a cherished land” from which all types of good produce can grow.

Herein, there is a connection to Tu BeShvat, the New Year of the Trees, which is associated with the seven species of produce with which Eretz Yisrael is blessed: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.5 Every Jew can express spiritual services analogous to these seven species,6 for every Jew has the potential to carry out the guideline of the Rebbeim, “Make this place Eretz Yisrael.” Surely, this concept applies when many Jews gather together; as they exist as a single unit, they have the potential to express these seven services.

The Tzemach Tzedek employed the adage, “Think positively and the outcome will be good.” This implies that if an attempt is made, there is the possibility of revealing these seven modes of service and doing so in a manner which brings praise to the Jewish people at large.

This service will also lead to the ultimate Redemption when we will all proceed “on the clouds of heaven” to Eretz Yisrael and “partake of its produce and be sated with its goodness.”7 This will also be hastened by making each of you an agent to distribute money to tzedakah. An increase in tzedakah will bring additional blessings in all matters.

It is our generation, the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the Redemption, who will complete the service of all the previous generations, drawing down the alef and thereby transforming golah (“exile”) into geulah (“Redemption”).

Herein, lies a connection to the Torah reading of the previous week which contains the song which the Jewish people sang in celebration of the crossing of the Red Sea. That song concludes, “G‑d will reign forever and ever,” a reference to the Redemption. Similarly, it serves as a preparation for the ultimate song, “the new song,” which will be sung in celebration of the Redemption.

And this leads to the Torah portion of the coming Shabbos, Yisro which is associated with the giving of the Torah. For in the Era of the Redemption, we will merit the revelation of “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”

And it is in that era, together with the entire Jewish people,8 we will proceed to Eretz Yisrael with “healthy bodies and healthy souls” and partake of its produce in a physical sense.

This will be hastened by a proper appreciation of Eretz Yisrael at present. Heaven forbid that one should even speak of returning portions of Eretz Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael will remain complete and it will be united with the Torah as the Torah is complete. And this will lead to “the new [dimensions of the] Torah” that will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.

Yechidus for Bar and Bas Mitzvah Youth and Their Parents

2. All the blessings mentioned above are also relevant to you. In particular, this is a special time, the days directly following the New Year of the Trees and in the days following the Shabbos of the Song of the Red Sea and preceding the Shabbos associated with the giving of the Torah.

This is a unique time to be celebrating your Bar or Bas Mitzvah, an occasion which makes you personally responsible for the observance of the mitzvos, the greatest merit possible. As such, you will merit all the blessings that are given to the Jewish people, not only because others have trained you in this path, but because of your own merit. And this merit is great, for “a person who observes the commandments because he is commanded to is more meritorious than one who observes them without being commanded to.”

In this context, a connection can be drawn between your Bar and Bas Mitzvahs and the New Year of the Trees, for a Bar Mitzvah, like a New Year, represents the beginning of a new phase of activity, a “head’ for all the years that follow.

As you begin your status as individuals who observe the commandments because you are commanded to and express this new level in your daily activity, you will surely pay heed to our ages’ directive that “all the day’s of one’s life” should be directed to one goal, “to bring the Era of the Redemption.”

Together with the other mitzvos which you become obligated to fulfill are also the mitzvos of love and fear. These are described by the Tanya as “wings” which can elevate the observance of all the mitzvos. Similarly, with these wings, we can ascend upward, going from strength to strength until we proceed, together with the entire Jewish people, to our Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash. All the above, and particularly the Redemption, will be hastened by gifts to tzedakah.

Yechidus for Grooms and Brides

3. In addition to all the above blessings, you are worthy of a special blessing, because you are beginning a new phase in life, building a new home. This is associated with the motivating force for the entire creation, G‑d’s desire for “a dwelling in the lower worlds.”

Herein, there lies a connection to the Torah portion of the coming week which describes the giving of the Torah. For our Sages associate the verse, “Speedily, there will be heard in the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem... the voice of a groom and the voice of a bride” with the subject of this week’s Torah reading, the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.9

May your weddings and the preparations for the weddings be carried out with great success and may they lead to many good years after the wedding in which you will merit sons and daughters occupied with the Torah and its mitzvos. May you merit to participate in the marriage of your children and that of your grandchildren.

And may we “speedily,” i.e., immediately, merit the fulfillment of the above verse with the return of our people to our land. And there we will “sing a new song” and merit “the new [dimensions of the] Torah” with the coming of the Redemption. This will be hastened by our gifts to tzedakah and in particular, the gifts to tzedakah given by the groom and the bride and their families in connection with their wedding. This reveals how the entire Jewish people share a connection to the groom and the bride, for in truth the entire Jewish people are united “as one man, with one heart.”

And soon we will receive the one Torah from the One G‑d in the Land of Oneness and the City of Oneness. May this take place in the immediate future.