1. [An announcement was made concerning the time of sunset. The Rebbe Shlita then said:] The announcement concerning the time of the sunset is significant, for washing before that time will enable one to continue eating as we proceed into the following day. In contrast, those who do not wash before that time must wait until after Havdalah in order to participate in this meal.

Even though the day that follows is an ordinary weekday, the purpose of the farbrengen is to extend the holiness of the festival into the days which follow. This same concept is reflected in the observance of Isru Chag,1 in which the festive nature of the holidays is carried over to the subsequent day.

Havdalah in this context refers to a distinction between two levels of holiness as reflected in the manner in which we conclude the Havdalah blessing at times, “He who separates between holiness and holiness.” To explain this concept within the context of our service of G‑d: We are told “Know Him in all your ways” and “All your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven.” These services involve drawing down holiness into our material environment. The Jewish people possess the potential to carry out these services because their souls are on an elevated spiritual plane.2

There is a connection between these concepts and the night. Although the sacrifices were not to be offered during the night, in a spiritual sense, the spiritual service associated with the sacrifices, the refinement of our physical world must be carried out at night. I.e., through our service in the night of exile, we hasten the coming of the dawn of Redemption.

These concepts are reflected in the laws concerning the evening service. Originally, there was no obligation to recite this service; the matter was left to each person’s discretion. In the later generations, however, the service has been instituted as an obligation. Homiletically, this can be explained as follows: In the early generations, the sages were certain that the Redemption would come immediately, so they did not see the need for “illuminating the night” with the service of prayer. When the sages of the subsequent generations saw that the Redemption was being delayed, they required that prayers be recited at night to banish the darkness and bring on the dawn, the dawn of the Redemption, and cause it to become manifest in our material world.

This, the manifestation of the redemption in this world, is of utmost importance. In the spiritual realms, the redemption already exists. This, however, is not sufficient for us and it is necessary that the redemption be brought down to our material world.

We find that the Rebbeim frequently carried out activities to cause spiritual truths to become revealed in this material world. For example, the Alter Rebbe involved himself in matters of this world including the war against Napoleon, because he saw that this would be beneficial for the spiritual welfare of our people.

At present, we are seeing the ultimate outcome of the Alter Rebbe’s vision, for Russia is allowing the Jews to emigrate and many are choosing to make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael or to other countries. The public notice drawn to this mass aliyah is creating a great Kiddush Hashem, “Sanctification of G‑d’s Name.” Significantly, even the secular media3 use the term aliyah, which means “elevation,” to describe the immigration to Eretz Yisrael. This implies that these immigrants are experiencing an aliyah, an elevation in their spiritual service. This elevation also involves participating in the celebrations of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.

The ultimate celebration of Simchas Torah will come in the Era of the Redemption. The coming of this Era will be hastened by taking on good resolutions to increase one’s service of Torah and mitzvos, establishing fixed times for Torah study. The fixation of these study sessions must be, as the Alter Rebbe emphasized, in our souls as well as in time. And as our Sages emphasized, an entity which is kevua, “fixed” never becomes nullified. Even when a person will be involved in other matters, the influence of his Torah studies will continue.4

Our involvement in Torah study should also constantly increase. Similarly, it should always expand to new horizons, bringing out chiddushim, new Torah concepts. This increase in study should focus on the realm of halachah, Torah law.

As mentioned on previous occasions, commenting on the verse, “The paths of the world are his,” our Sages explained, “Do not read halichos, ‘paths,’ but rather halachos,” Torah law. For there must be a connection between Torah study and worldly activity. Even those individuals who are primarily involved with Torah study (halachos) must not divorce themselves from worldly activity (halichos) entirely. Conversely, even those individuals who have extensive commitments in worldly activities must devote time to Torah study. In this manner, the darkness of the world will be illuminated with the light of Torah, and, in the spirit of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, this will generate great joy.

In Eretz Yisrael, the celebration of both these holidays are condensed into a single day. (And then, on the night following the holiday, Hakkafos shnios, the second Hakkafos, are held. They are more joyous than the celebrations of the first day.) In the Diaspora, these holidays are celebrated in a two day progression, the joy of Simchas Torah surpassing that of Shemini Atzeres. Nevertheless, in the last years, it has become customary to celebrate Shemini Atzeres with boundless joy. This joy will “break down barriers,” including those barriers which hold back the Redemption. And then we will continue this farbrengen in Jerusalem and in the Beis HaMikdash.

[After this sichah, the Rebbe Shlita instructed that a niggun associated with each of the Rebbeim be sung.]

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2. Significantly, Simchas Torah was celebrated on the third day of the week, a day associated with the repetition of the phrase “And G‑d saw that it was good.” This is interpreted as referring to a twofold good, “good to heaven” and “good to the created beings.”

The third day also marked the creation of plant life including “trees which are fruitbearing, containing seeds.” This implies that each tree contains the potential to bring about the existence of other trees.5

Our Sages employed fruitbearing trees as an allegory for Torah sages. This implies that one’s Torah study should carry seeds for the study of the other individuals, or to refer to our Sages’ expression, one must “raise up many students.”

In particular, this directive applies to the students of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, whom the Rebbe Rashab described as “candles who spread light,” illuminating the darkness of the world. In the renowned sichah, Kol Hayotzei L’Milchemes Beis David, the Rebbe Rashab describes the nature of their service, how it must involve divorcing6 oneself from our worldly affairs.

Their efforts will lead to the revelation of the “new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me,” in the Era of the Redemption. Herein there is a connection to the beginning of the Torah, which opens with the narrative of creation. Then one proceeds to Parshas Noach which, as the Zohar explains, is related to “rest” and “pleasure.” The negative dimensions of Parshas Noach, the flood, do not necessarily apply. To refer to a related concept, “the flood did not descend in Eretz Yisrael.”7

More particularly, in the opening verse of the Torah reading, there is a repetition of Noach’s name. This refers to a twofold measure of rest and pleasure which is reflected in both the physical and spiritual realms. This represents a new development in both realms: This influence is extended to include even the physical realms and also, the spiritual realms are elevated to a higher rung. Before this service, the spiritual rungs are described as “standing,” and through the above service they are given the potential to proceed further, to become mehalchim.

This in turn is reflected in Parshas Lech Lecha which reflects how a person must leave, “his land, his native place, and his father’s house,” which according to Chassidus refer to the limitations of one’s will, one’s mind, and one’s emotions. Through this progress, the Jews increase their material blessings. Although the judgment regarding a Jew’s material blessings is granted on Rosh HaShanah, a Jew’s increase in positive resolutions can amplify these blessings.

In particular, this should be reflected in the resolutions accepted in connection with Simchas Torah which are unlimited in nature.8 As mentioned above, in Eretz Yisrael, the celebration of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are fused together. This generates a positive influence which assists the Jews found in the Diaspora (where at present, the largest number of Jews are found and with them, the base of the infrastructure of the Torah community). This also includes Jews from Russia for some of them have settled in the Diaspora.

This positive influence is also increased by the custom mentioned above, that in recent years, even the celebrations of Shemini Atzeres have been characterized by the unlimited influence of Simchas Torah. And this joy is shared with others through the tahaluchah, in which individuals go out and visit other communities to spread the rejoicing of this holiday.9

This celebration should lead to the acceptance of resolutions which should center on going out to the world at large and improving it. Thus our Sages interpreted the Hebrew word lesakein in the verse “everything which G‑d created lesakein,” as meaning “to correct.” For G‑d created the world in a manner that it should be “corrected” and improved through man’s activity.

In this manner, man becomes a partner with G‑d in creation and earns — and thus need not look at them as “bread of shame” — a full share of Divine blessings. G‑d has granted every Jew the potential to reveal his true self and in doing so, to generate change and progress in the world at large, bringing pleasure and serenity to the world.10 This year, the potential has been granted for such efforts to affect the totality of our environment as fitting for a year of niflaos bakol, “wonders in all things.” And this will lead to the Redemption which will come, not “little by little, as the rising of dawn,” but rather immediately, in one moment.

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3. There is a unique dimension to Simchas Torah in that every Jew is given an aliyah to the Torah. Generally, on festivals, five individuals are called to the Torah; on Yom Kippur, six; and on Shabbos, seven. Simchas Torah is the only time in which every person in attendance is given an aliyah. Although this involves time and one might think that it would be improper to delay the entire communal prayers for this reason, this practice is followed. Why? Because it is the genuine desire of each member of the community that every person present receive an aliyah.

The positive nature of the holiday is also enhanced by the unique nature of the present year. Rosh HaShanah was celebrated on a Monday, directly after the passage of Sunday which is described as “a day of oneness,” a day on which G‑d’s sovereignty is revealed.11 Moreover, as mentioned on previous occasions, this year is a leap year, described as a “perfect year.” Similarly, Pesach falls on Shabbos and thus, the weeks of the Counting of the Omer are “perfect.” Also, both the months of Cheshvan and Kislev are full, causing the year to contain the maximum amount of days.

As mentioned above, today is a Tuesday, associated with the creation of plant life.12 Significantly, plant life is used as an analogy for Mashiach, as we declare, “Speedily cause the shoot of David Your servant to flourish.” And this flourishing will cause us to celebrate Simchas Torah together with “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.” And all the Jews will dance together with G‑d in “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands.”

Afterwards, the Rebbe Shlita delivered a short sichah in which he mentioned the importance of studying Chitas, the daily study sessions of Chumash, Tehillim, and Tanya. Similarly, he mentioned the importance of participating in siyumim, gatherings marking the conclusion of the annual study of the Rambam’s classic work, the Mishneh Torah.