1. Our Rabbis taught, “Begin with peace.” This is particularly appropriate since this is the day following the day of the Previous Rebbe’s redemption,1 whose activities were dedicated to bringing peace among the Jewish people. And similarly, this will bring peace in the world at large by spreading the wellsprings of Torah and Chassidus outward for the Torah was “given to bring peace to the world.”

This is associated with today’s Torah portion, the fourth aliyah in Parshas Balak which contains the blessing “I see [him] from the mountain tops and gaze upon him from the hills.” I.e., when a person looks at the Jewish people from afar,2 he describes them using the singular, implying that he appreciates the positive qualities of each individual.

And those prophecies continue, “Who can count the dust of Yaakov.” Dust is an allegory used to refer to a great multitude. This is the intent of this term. The pejorative connotations are surely not in place for every Jew is an important — and indeed most important — entity, for “G‑d is the lot of His people, Yaakov, the cord of His inheritance.” Why is dust used? To emphasize how the positive qualities a Jew possesses are expressed in a manner of bittul, with selflessness and humility.

This is further enhanced by the census of the Jewish people which endowed each Jew with further importance as implied by our Sages’ statements, “An entity which is counted can never be nullified.”

As an expression of these qualities, the Jews are compared to stars, a very important entity, placed in the heavens themselves. Nevertheless, although the stars are in the heavens, their light is perceived on the earth, and indeed, shines to the earth when the other luminaries, the sun and at times, the moon, do not shine. And there are a multitude of stars. Many are perceivable when we look towards the heavens at night, and far more exist which cannot be perceived here on earth. Thus the two metaphors, the stars and the dust, convey the message of how important and numerous the Jews are.

These metaphors were first given to our Patriarch Avraham, the first Jew, of whom it is said, “Avraham was one.” He communicated this legacy to his descendants, “one nation in the earth,” i.e., even as the Jews exist within the material confines of this earth, they draw down G‑d’s Oneness, expressing the quality of bittul in their involvement with their material concerns.

And this will lead to the redemption, as this Torah reading continues, “They rise like the king of beasts, and will be lifted up like a lion.”

The above shares a unique connection to the redemption of the Previous Rebbe, who was released from the limits of imprisonment, and ultimately, released from all the restrictions of Russia until he was able to come to a free land where he could carry out his activities with no restraints.

This revealed the lesson which he boldly declared on the Third of Tammuz, ten days before his redemption:

It is only our bodies which are in exile and subjugated to the gentile nations, our souls were never sent into exile or subjugation.

This applies to every Jew, and in particular, to a Nasi, for that name implies that one is lifted above all limits. And from the Previous Rebbe, there is a connection with every individual Jew as reflected in our Sages’ statement, “The Nasi is the entire people.”3

The Previous Rebbe’s service is implied in his name Yosef, which the Torah associates with Rachel’s prayer, “May G‑d add on to me another son.” Chassidic thought explains that Yosef has the potential to transform “another,” a person who is estranged from his Jewish roots, into a “son.” This is relevant to every Jew, for indeed, every Jew is like a son to G‑d, as it were, as it is written, “You are children to G‑d, your L‑rd.” Indeed, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, G‑d loves every Jew as parents love an only child born to them in their old age.

May the redemption of the Previous Rebbe from prison lead to the redemption of the entire Jewish people from the prison of exile. For indeed, the Previous Rebbe’s redemption was general in nature: “The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem me alone... but... all those who are referred to with the name ‘Israel.’ ”

This relates to the maamar sent out by the Previous Rebbe in connection with Yud-Beis Tammuz which begins with the teaching: “When ten people sit and occupy themselves with Torah study.” Each term in this expression is significant: “Ten” is a reference to the tenth redemption, the ultimate redemption which we await. “Sit” implies a settled approach to study which in an ultimate sense, is possible only in the Era of the Redemption. Furthermore, it is a reference to the Third Beis HaMikdash where “the righteous shall sit in Your presence.” “Occupy themselves” alludes to the development of new Torah ideas.

And may this be enhanced by the good resolutions to add to the study of the Torah — both Nigleh and Pnimiyus HaTorah — and since “great is study for it brings to deed,” the fulfillment of the mitzvos. For it is the study of the Torah that takes a Jew beyond all confines and limitations. And in particular, this allows him to fulfill mitzvos in a manner that is unlimited, adding this lack of limitation also to the intent of the mitzvos.

There is a unique connection to the mitzvah of tzedakah. Tzedakah should be given without any limitation, without considering whether one is giving a tenth, or a fifth, or more. And “tzedakah is great because it brings the redemption near.” May we merit that this — the ultimate and complete Redemption — take place immediately.

Yechidus to Bar and Bas Mitzvah

2. In addition to the blessings mentioned above, which apply to the entire Jewish people and in particular to those who were in Shul at present, you are worthy of a special blessing as is appropriate to the change in your status, to your reaching the age when you are obligated to observe the mitzvos.

This relates to the Jewish custom of giving an additional gift to tzedakah on the day of one’s Bar or Bas Mitzvah.4 This should be coupled with the strong resolution to fulfill all the mitzvos. In particular the Hebrew word for “fulfill,” mikayaim, is also significant for it implies that a Jew can infuse the mitzvos with kiyum, vitality and staying power. In this context, tzedakah is particularly significant, for “Tzedakah is equivalent to all the mitzvos.”

This will be enhanced by the observance of the custom which is spreading among the Jewish people that, not only the Bar or Bas Mitzvah youth, but also their parents, relatives, and teachers give to tzedakah in connection with this occasion.

And may the mitzvah of tzedakah increase and amplify G‑d’s blessings, including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption. Then we will observe the “mitzvos in accordance with Your will,” in the Era of the Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.

Yechidus to Grooms and Brides

3. In addition to the blessings given previously, special blessings are appropriate in connection with your upcoming weddings which will bring about an eternal structure with its foundation on the Torah and its mitzvos.5 May the preparations for the wedding, the wedding, and the days of celebration that follow be characterized by success of an unlimited nature, as fitting for the unlimited joy of a wedding celebration.

And may this prepare for the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Soon 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 coming of the ultimate Redemption. At that time, we will merit the ultimate wedding, the consummation of the marriage bond between G‑d and the Jewish people. And then, we will merit an ultimate structure, the Third Beis HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd, established by Your hands.”

May this lead to the transformation of the upcoming Three Week period to one of joy and celebration. This will be enhanced by the couple’s gifts to tzedakah in connection with their weddings and this will lead to the ultimate Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.