1. Today is the Shabbos on which the month of Shevat is blessed. Thus, blessing is also conveyed on the special day, the tenth of Shevat, the yahrzeit of the Previous Rebbe, when “all of his deeds, Torah, and service, are revealed and shine in revelation from above to below... and ‘bring about salvation in the depths of the earth.’ ”

Since the Previous Rebbe is a Nasi, his yahrzeit is relevant to every Jew. Everyone, men, women, and children, should strengthen their commitment to follow the paths which the Previous Rebbe showed us.

Each year, the yahrzeit represents an increase and an elevation. In particular, this year, the fortieth anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s passing, is associated with receiving, “a knowing heart, eyes that see, and ears that hear,” in regard to the Previous Rebbe’s teachings as our Sages taught: “After forty years, one attains [full grasp] of one’s teacher’s knowledge.”

The fundamental lesson to be learned from the Previous Rebbe’s yahrzeit is connected with the date, the tenth of Shevat. The Torah states, “The tenth will be holy, consecrated unto G‑d.” Holiness has two dimensions. On one hand, it implies an aspect of separation as the Zohar states: “ ’Holy’ is a word to itself.” Conversely, it also spreads to other entities. Thus, in regard to certain holy articles, the Torah states: “Everything which touches them shall become consecrated.”

This concept is also reflected in the yud, the letter which is numerically equivalent to ten. The letter yud is only a point, without any form or particular dimensions. Thus, it reflects the essential point which transcends everything. Nevertheless, this point also is associated with the point of concentration which includes everything.

To view the concept in spiritual terms: The letter yud is the first letter of (and thus, stands for) the name Y‑H‑V‑H and thus refers to G‑d who is utterly transcendent. Simultaneously, “from the truth of His Being, all existence came into being.” This is reflected in the soul of a Jew (which also is alluded to by the letter yud, representing the quality of Chochmah) and also in the Divine spark which brings into being and grants life to each creation.1

Within a Jew’s soul, the letter yud refers to the essence of the Jewish soul, the pintele yid, which is above all form. This inner dimension, however, pervades and permeates through all our other levels of soul.

Similarly, in all creations, the Divine spark which gives it life is separate and holy. It, nevertheless, grants the entity life, and thus, reflects that entity’s true being.

Based on the above, we can understand why the Messianic redemption is associated with the number ten.2 The Messianic redemption will be the “true and complete redemption,” the era when the quality of truth will be revealed.3 Similarly, the truth of every entity, the Divine spark which maintains its existence, will be revealed. This is connected with the quality of completeness which is also associated with the number ten. In that age, there will be a complete revelation of G‑dliness in all matters.

In this context, we can understand the application of the concept of “ten” in our service of G‑d. The purpose of creation is that a Jew should reveal the aspect of “ten” within his soul, his Jewish spark, and proceed to reveal the aspect of “ten,” the spark of G‑dliness, in the world at large, by spreading holiness — “the tenth will be holy” — throughout the world. The ultimate completion of this service will come in the Messianic age when, “the glory of the L‑rd will be revealed and, together, all flesh will see that the mouth of L‑rd has spoken.”

Based on the above, we can understand the connection between the number ten and the Previous Rebbe’s yahrzeit on the tenth of Shevat. The two seemingly contradictory aspects explained regarding ten — that it is “holy,” above the other qualities, and, simultaneously, permeates through them all — also applies in regard to a Nasi. The word Nasi has its source in the word naso, “uplifted,” as personified in King Shaul’s being “from his shoulders upward, higher than the entire nation.”

Conversely, “the Nasi is the entire people,” and a king is described as being, “the heart of the entire congregation of Israel.” Just as the heart is the source of each individual person’s life energy, the king is the source of the life energy of the entire people.

Though these qualities apply regarding all Nesi'im, since the Previous Rebbe was the Nasi in the generation which directly precedes the coming of Mashiach, when we “taste” the revelations of the Messianic age, it follows that these qualities were revealed to a greater extent in him. Accordingly, his yahrzeit, the day on which “all of his service is revealed,” falls on the tenth of the month.4

A unique potential to carry out the service of “ten,” to reveal the soul of every Jew and to reveal the “soul” — the Divine life energy — of the world at large, was granted by the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus. This enables us to establish a dwelling for G‑d in this world. This will be realized with the coming of Mashiach which is brought about through the service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.

In particular, the Previous Rebbe brought about an increase in this service by:

a) Having the teachings of Chassidus translated into other languages;

b) Spreading Chassidus in America, “the lower half of the world,” where these efforts were broadened and expanded in a manner which incomparably surpassed the efforts in the previous generations.

The Previous Rebbe’s name itself also alludes to such activities. His first name, Yosef, is connected with the service of, “May G‑d add on to me another son;” i.e., transforming a person who is an “other,” estranged and cut off from his Jewish heritage into a “son.” This involves revealing the yud, the spark of holiness, within the person.

His second name, Yitzchok, is connected with the service, “Whoever hears will laugh with me,” spreading happiness and joy. True joy comes when the happiness permeates an individual’s entire personality and spreads to his surrounding environment. Thus, this involves not only the joy of the soul, but also the joy of the body; not only joy connected with Torah and mitzvos, but joy in every aspect of a person’s life.

2. Based on the above, we can understand the service which is appropriate on the Shabbos on which the month of Shevat is blessed: The blessing of the new month and its sanctification have to be reflected in the service of each particular Jew5 and motivate him to express new blessing and new holiness. Each month, his service must be renewed according to the particular nature of the month.

Since the Previous Rebbe’s yahrzeit is the most significant day of the coming month, it follows that the service of Shevat is connected with the concept of “ten” explained above. A Jew must reveal the aspect of “ten” in his soul and in the world at large. This will cause, as we declare in the monthly blessings, “the Holy One, blessed be He, to renew” the month for blessing.6

We conclude those blessings by stating, “Let us say. Amen.” “Amen” expresses the quality of completion and thus reflects how the quality of yud will permeate through the totality of existence.7 The effect will be all-encompassing, influencing even the lowest levels as evident by the fact that we omit the prayer Av HaRachmim (connected with undesirable events) and proceed directly to Ashrei, “Happy are those who dwell in Your house,” connected with the Messianic Bais HaMikdash, the ultimate expression of “G‑d’s house.”

The above is enhanced by the fact that Shevat is blessed in the month of Teves, the tenth month. Thus, the service of “ten” connected with Yud Shevat receives its blessing from the tenth month. This month also reflects the two contrasts of ten. On one hand, it is connected with the service of “the tenth will be holy,” which emphasizes separation and transcendence. Conversely, there is also an emphasis that this quality permeate through all existence. Thus, the month is described as, “the month where the body derives pleasure from the body.” The term “body” can be interpreted, in a spiritual context, to refer to G‑d’s essence. Thus, that expression means that Teves is the month when G‑d’s essence derives pleasure from the service that we carry out with our bodies.

The above is also enhanced by the fact that, this year, Rosh Chodesh Shevat falls on Shabbos.8 Shabbos grants us greater potential to reveal holiness and to have that holiness permeate every aspect of the world (the two aspects of “ten” mentioned above). In an ultimate sense, these qualities will be realized in “the era which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity,” the Messianic age.

Similarly, added influence is brought about by this week’s Torah portion, parshas Shmos. That portion begins: “These are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt together with Yaakov. Each man came with his household.”

Egypt, associated with boundaries and limitations, is symbolic of exile. Nevertheless, there, “the names of the children of Israel” are revealed. This refers to “the names of the children of Israel on the earthly plane, for throughout the duration of the Egyptian exile, the Jews “did not change their names,” and also, to the sublime spiritual names — including the name Y‑H‑V‑H — which are revealed in the names of the Jewish people.

The Jews came “with Yaakov.” “Yaakov” (יעקב) can be broken up into Yud eikev (י עקב), i.e., the source of the soul, the yud (the reflection of the name Y‑H‑V‑H), is drawn down throughout the totality of an individual’s personality, until it effects even its heel (eikev).

“Each man came with his household.” This led to the perpetuation of the Jewish people. Because they came as families, they “were fruitful, became prolific, and multiplied very much.” They raised children to proceed to “Torah, chuppah, and good deeds,” encouraging them to build Jewish homes of their own.9

The conclusion of the Torah portion is also connected with the above themes: Moshe protested to G‑d: “From the time I came... to speak in Your name, this people’s situation has deteriorated. You have not saved Your people [as of yet].” This brought about G‑d’s reply, “I revealed Myself to the patriarchs....” Furthermore, it prompted the revelation of the name Y‑H‑V‑H (to which the patriarchs were not privileged) within the boundaries and limitations of the world (Egypt), ultimately, leading to the redemption from Egypt and the giving of the Torah.

Similarly, each Jew possesses an attribute of Moshe within his soul which protests to G‑d. “From the time... I [began] speaking in Your name... (i.e., practicing Torah and mitzvos which reveal ‘G‑d’s names’ within the world), You have not saved Your people.”10

This prompts a twofold reply from G‑d:

a) “I revealed Myself to the patriarchs...” This revelation is not only an event of the past, but rather a present factor. The patriarchs endowed their spiritual heritage to their descendants. Thus, G‑d’s revelation to the patriarchs is an active force influencing our own behavior.

b) He promises the revelation of the name, Y‑H‑V‑H, which will come in the Messianic redemption. Then, we will emerge from exile (Egypt) and merit the revelation of “the new Torah which will emerge from Me.”

* * *

3. This Shabbos is also unique in that it follows the yahrzeit of the Rambam on the 20th of Teves11 and precedes the yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe, on motzaei Shabbos, the 24th of Teves. The Alter Rebbe, the founder of Chabad Chassidism, opened a new path which allowed the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah which were previously hidden to be comprehended through the powers of understanding and thus, reveal G‑dliness within the context of this material world.

This quality is alluded to in his name, Schneur (שניאור) which can be broken up into two Hebrew words (שני אור) that mean “two lights,” i.e., the light of Nigleh (the revealed legal realm of Torah study) and the light of Pnimiyus HaTorah.12 The Alter Rebbe’s second name, Zalman, shares the same letters of the word L’zman and is thus, connected with the concept of time. Furthermore, since this name is not Lashon HaKodesh, it relates to the gentile nations. Thus, the combination of the two names implies that the two lights of Nigleh and Pnimiyus HaTorah will be drawn down within the context of our world.

After the Alter Rebbe opened this path of service, it was continued by the Rebbeim who succeeded him and thus, is also alluded to in their names. Thus, the Mitteler Rebbe’s name DovBer fuses together both the Hebrew and Yiddish words for “bear” in a single word.13 Our Sages describe a bear as “overladen with meat.” Thus, the Mitteler Rebbe’s name implies drawing down the revelation of G‑dliness to the level of one who is “overladen with meat.”

This service was continued by the other Rebbeim. Thus, the Rebbe Rashab’s name was Sholom DovBer, i.e., in addition to the fusion of Dov and Ber, the concept of Shalom, “peace,” was introduced.

The Previous Rebbe carried this service further. Thus, his first name, Yosef, refers, as explained above, to the transformation of a person who is estranged (achar) into a “son.”14 His second name, Yitzchok, refers to an all-encompassing joy, a happiness that effects both the body and the soul.

The power to carry out these services was derived from the Alter Rebbe who revealed how to connect G‑dliness to the world through Torah and how to fuse together the teachings of Nigleh (which involve the refinement of worldly matters) with those of Pnimiyus HaTorah (“the Tree of Life [which has no connection] to the forces of evil”).

The concept of establishing a connection between G‑dliness and the world is also expressed in the opening phrase of the Alter Rebbe’s two major works, the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch. The Tanya is based on the verse, “It (referring to the full scope of Torah) is very close to you.” Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch begins, “Yehudah ben Taima declares...” The name Yehudah contains the name Y‑H‑V‑H. This attribute becomes “ben Taima,” which refers to a constant revelation; a person constantly expresses the G‑dliness within him.

A similar concept can be explained in connection with the Rambam who begins the Mishneh Torah with the letter yud and states that, “The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being and that all the entities... came into being from the truth of His Being.”

Similarly, this concept is connected with the date of his yahrzeit, the 20th of Teves, for twenty is twice ten. Twenty is also (numerically equivalent to and thus) connected with the level of Kesser, a level which transcends the world entirely and yet is revealed in a manner which, “brings about salvation in the midst of the earth.”

The yahrzeits of these teachers should inspire us to establish fixed programs of study that focus on their works; in particular, strengthening the commitment to the daily study of the Mishneh Torah (preferably three chapters a day) and establishing a fixed program of study in the Tanya and the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch. (In this context, it is worthy to mention the custom of the Chassidim of the previous generations who would study a chapter of Tanya every day before davening Shacharis.)

This service should prepare us to proceed to Yud Shevat with renewed energy, establishing a connection with the Previous Rebbe by studying his teachings and following his directives which involve the spreading of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus outward. In particular, added potential to carry out this service is granted in the present year, the fortieth year after his passing when we receive, “a knowing heart and eyes that see...” and it is possible to, “attain a [full grasp] of one’s teacher’s knowledge.”

This service, in turn, will hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption and the advent of the era when, “Those that lie in the dust (including the Rambam, the Alter Rebbe, and the Previous Rebbe) will arise and rejoice.” May it come now, in the immediate future.