1. Parshas Re’eh is always read at a time associated with the month of Elul, either on the Shabbos on which the month of Elul is blessed or on Rosh Chodesh Elul as in the present year.

On the surface, Elul and Re’eh appear to represent two opposite thrusts. Elul is an acronym for the Hebrew words “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” and thus represents the service performed by a Jew on his own initiative. And it is such service which awakens a revelation from Above.

In contrast, Parshas Re’eh begins with the verse, “Behold, I am giving before you today the blessing...” Thus it relates to the pattern of revelation from Above. Indeed, each of the words of this verse emphasize that approach:

“Behold” — seeing, implies the establishment of a deep and powerful connection. Thus our Sages state, “hearing does not resemble seeing,” and they forbid a witness as acting as a judge. Once someone has seen a misdeed committed, he will never be able to conceive of a redeeming virtue for a defendant. In contrast, when a person is told about an event, he is allowed to serve as a judge and indeed, all trials depend on listening to such testimony.

What is the reason for such a difference? When hearing, one approaches a concept step by step, gathering all the particulars. This resembles an ascent upward. In contrast, when seeing, one is brought into direct contact with an event as a totality at once. Only afterwards, does one focus attention on the particulars. This reflects the approach of revelation from Above.

“I” — refers to G‑d’s essence as it is reflected in an uplifted and magnified manner. This can be seen in the contrast between the words Ani and Anochi. Although both mean “I,” Anochi communicates a greater sense of pride and personal magnitude as obvious from Shmuel’s statement, “I (Anochi) am the seer.”1

“Am giving” clearly implies a gift from Above and furthermore, as our Sages comment, “Whoever gives, gives generously.”

“Before you,” lifnaichem (לפניכם) in Hebrew, relates to the word פנימיות (“inner dimension”). This emphasizes the approach of revelation from Above, we begin by focusing on our inner being and then proceed to the external dimensions. (In contrast, the process of ascent would involve the opposite approach, proceeding from the externals to the internals.)

“Today” reflects the concepts of light and revelation, for the day is the time of light. It also is associated with a dimension of eternality, as our Sages state, “Whenever the word ‘today’ is used, [the influence] is eternal and forever.” And this is possible because it involves a revelation from Above which does not take into consideration the nature of the recipient.

“Blessing” clearly refers to an extension of influence from Above. And furthermore, the blessings referred to in this verse are of the highest nature as reflected in the continuation of the verse which mentions the opposite of blessing. We see this concept expressed in a Talmudic narrative which explains that Rabbi Shimon sent his son, Rabbi Eliezar, to receive a blessing from two Sages. They made statements which appeared to be curses and which caused Rabbi Eliezar much distress until he returned to his father who explained that these statements were in fact blessings. It was only because that their source was so high that outwardly they appeared as curses. This relates to the service of baalei teshuvah who have the potential to transform matters which appear negative in nature into positive influences. This, the transformation of darkness into light, represents a higher dimension of good.

This reinforces the contrast between the month of Elul which focuses on the service of ascent upward on one’s initiative and Parshas Re’eh where the emphasis is placed on revelation from Above.

It is possible to resolve this difficulty by explaining that since Elul is the month of stocktaking for the entire year — and the time in which we can correct any deficiencies in either of these services, it includes both thrusts of service carried out by the Jews throughout the year; the service of ascent upward and revelation from Above.2

These two services are reflected in the two days of Rosh Chodesh Elul. The first day, the thirtieth day of the month of Av, is associated with the service of revelation from Above.3 This concept is given additional emphasis this year, because the first day of Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, a day of revelation. The fundamental dimension of the day is spiritual service, prayer and Torah study. And this spirituality is extended even into the material realm and thus our Shabbos pleasure includes eating and drinking.

In contrast, the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul focuses on the service of elevating our material world, and doing so on our own initiative. This is emphasized by the fact that it falls on Sunday, because Sunday is the beginning of the week, the first of the days in which man goes out to involve himself in the world, and in doing so, elevates and refines the world at large.

In this context, it can be explained that Parshas Re’eh is involved with only a certain dimension of the service of Elul, the stocktaking of the service of revelation from Above. It is, however, a more comprehensive approach to find a connection between Parshas Re’eh and the month of Elul as a whole. Indeed, since as mentioned previously, the fundamental aspect of the month of Elul is service on one’s own initiative, it is proper that a connection be established between the Torah reading and this service.4

This connection can be established by focusing on the advantages of these two services and on the interrelation between them. The service of “I am my Beloved’s” possesses an advantage over the service of “my Beloved is mine,” namely that the service is accomplished on man’s own initiative. It possesses, however, a limitation for since man is limited, such service can reach only those levels of G‑dliness which relate to the limitations of man and not to the infinite dimensions of G‑dliness.

In contrast, the service of “my Beloved is mine,” reflects a revelation of G‑d as He is, unlimited and unbounded, to man. Nevertheless, since this comes about as a revelation from Above, it is not appreciated by man. Quite the contrary, it is regarded as “bread of shame.” Therefore, there is a need for the fusion of both these services and this is reflected in the name Elul. In this manner, even service carried out by man on his own initiative will have an unbounded dimension.

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2. More particularly, the fusion of these two thrusts is expressed through the five services identified with the five verses from the Tanach for which the name Elul serves as an acronym:

Prayer — אני לדודי ודודי לי “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” For it is through prayer that the love relationship with G‑d is intensified.

Torah study — אנה לדיו ושמתי לך “It chance to happen and I set aside for you a place.” This verse describes the Cities of Refuge and thus refers to Torah study for “the words of Torah provide refuge.”

Deeds of kindness — איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים. In this verse, the concept of deeds of kindness is clearly expressed.

Teshuvah — ומל ה' את לבבך ואת זרעך “And G‑d your L‑rd will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants.” For the service of teshuvah is primarily the inner service of changing one’s inner self, the feelings of one’s heart.

Redemption — ויאמרו לאמר אשירה לה'. (In this phrase, to arrive at the name Elul the order of the words must be rearranged.) This phrase is taken from the Song of Redemption sung at the Red Sea.

The first three services are identified with the three pillars of man’s service. These services must be permeated by the service of teshuvah and by the service of redemption and thus they will be endowed with a boundless quality that surpasses the limits of man and of the world at large. Thus man’s service on his own initiative, “I am my Beloved’s,” has the potential to reflect, not only his human characteristics, but the unlimited nature of his G‑dly soul. The soul, in essence, is one with G‑d’s essence as the Zohar states, “Israel and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are all one.”

On the basis of the above, we can resolve the difficulty mentioned at the outset, the seeming contradiction between the approaches of Elul and Parshas Re’eh. For Elul puts an emphasis not only on the service of man on his own initiative, but that this service should be carried out in an unlimited manner, in a manner that reflects how he is one with G‑d. This is the intent of Parshas Re’eh, that there be an open and revealed expression of the essential G‑dly potential every Jew possesses as a preface to his service of G‑d.

This theme is expressed at the beginning of the Torah reading which relates how we are shown how our connection with Anochi, G‑d’s essence, is internalized within us (see the interpretation of the verse at the beginning of the first section). Similarly, the Torah reading concludes with the mention of Shemini Atzeres, the holiday when “Israel and the king are alone.”

The concept that man’s service on his own initiative should be carried out in a manner that surpasses our limitations receives greater emphasis when Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Shabbos. Shabbos elevates the state of every Jew above his ordinary weekday level. He is on a different plane; he is a Shabbasdikker Yid. Thus when Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Shabbos, the nature of a Jew’s service throughout the month to come is affected and endowed with a Shabbos-like quality.

In particular, there are times when as this year, the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Shabbos and other months when the second day of Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos. There is an advantage to the present month because when the first day of Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, this endows the second day with a Shabbos-like quality as well.

The manner in which the quality of Shabbos dominates Rosh Chodesh is reflected in our prayers, where the Shabbos prayers are recited and the concept of Rosh Chodesh is merely added; the Grace after Meals, where Shabbos is mentioned before Rosh Chodesh; and in Kiddush and the blessings after the Haftorah where Rosh Chodesh is not mentioned at all.5 This further emphasizes the Shabbos-like quality of the day.

On a deeper level, the precedence of Shabbos over Rosh Chodesh can be explained as follows: Shabbos existed from the beginning of creation and indeed, our Sages relate that Shabbos preceded creation.6 In contrast, it was not until “the Holy One, blessed be He, chose His world” that “He established Rashei Chadashim.”7

Thus the fact that the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Shabbos indicates that the service of “I am my Beloved’s” must be infused with a quality of transcendence that is entirely above the limits of the creation. And this is particularly emphasized by the Torah reading which begins “Behold, I am granting you...” which as explained above indicates how the blessing from Anochi, “G‑d’s essence,” becomes internalized within man’s consciousness and enhances his service within the limits of his worldly environment.

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3. In truth, the potential for service of G‑d without any limitations will only be possible in the Era of Redemption. This level of service stems from the yechidah, the essence of the Jewish soul. Mashiach represents the yechidah of the entire Jewish people. Hence, his coming allows each Jew to reveal his yechidah, the spark of Mashiach in his soul. This will introduce this limitless quality into the service of the people as a whole.

Mashiach’s coming is imminent. For our Sages declared, “All the appointed times for Mashiach’s coming have passed,” and it is one of the fundamental principles of our faith to “wait for his coming every day.” In particular, however, the above is relevant in the present year, a year when “I will show you wonders.” And we have seen wonders, miracles that have brought redemption to many individuals and indeed, redemption to thousands of people, especially to Jews in Russia. Many have been granted permission to leave that country and even those who have remained have been granted the rights to observe Torah and mitzvos and to live their lives as Jews.

Furthermore, in these very days, a greater wonder has taken place. A International Convention of Shluchim has been held in Russia, with sittings in Lubavitch, in Alma Atta [the site of the grave of the Rebbe Shlita’s father], and in Moscow, the capital city of that country. There resolutions were taken to spread Yiddishkeit and Chassidus in Russia and throughout the world.

Despite these wonders, when we reach the month of Elul, must take stock and ask: Is it possible that eleven months of this year have passed and Mashiach has not come! The sum total of the stocktaking is Ad Maasei, “Until when must we remain in exile.”

To connect the above with Parshas Re’eh: It is not enough that we believe that Mashiach will come, we want to actually see his coming. And the present occasion is a uniquely appropriate time for his coming. Firstly, it is Shabbos which is “a microcosm of the World to Come.” Furthermore, this is the third of the seven Shabbasos of Consolation and thus shares a connection to the Third Beis HaMikdash.

Also, since today is the thirtieth day of the month of Av, it represents the sum total of that month. Av is connected with the Redemption for the month is referred to as Menachem Av and our Sages state that Menachem is the name of the Mashiach. The connection is further emphasized by our Sages’ statement that:

A lion (Nebuchadnetzar) came in the month whose sign is a lion and destroyed Arie-l (“the lion of G‑d,” the Beis HaMikdash), so that a lion (G‑d) would come in the month whose sign is a lion and rebuild Ariel.

And on Parshas Re’eh, we can — as mentioned above — demand that G‑d bring the Redemption in a manner that allows it to be openly seen.8 And this is particularly true since these statements are being made at a Chassidic farbrengen. A farbrengen has the power to draw down Divine blessing. And this is particularly true when the farbrengen is attended by many people and is being held in the shul, house of study, and house of good deeds, of the Previous Rebbe. May this farbrengen have the power of drawing down the ultimate blessing, the coming of Mashiach.

To conclude with directives for action: Efforts should be made to publicize the five services connected with the month of Elul. In particular, emphasis should be placed on the service of Redemption, and this should influence all the other services. I.e., the totality of one’s service to G‑d should be infused with a dimension of infinity that comes about from anxious anticipation of the Redemption.

This anticipation should be so powerful that one actually considers the Redemption a reality. And when his happens, one should share this feeling with others, telling them that we can actually see the coming of the ultimate Redemption.

Furthermore, even a person who has not fully internalized the conception of the Redemption in his own mind should make efforts to spread this concept to others, beginning with his own family and circle of acquaintances. Why should one’s own failure to internalize these concepts cause others to be denied this knowledge?

And ultimately talking about the Redemption will precipitate its coming. And it will cause it to come immediately. Indeed, the potential exists for Mashiach to come this very Shabbos.