1. Tonight is the fourth day of the week, a day which is called Mitvoch — “the middle of the week” — in Yiddish. This name implies that this is connected both to the beginning of the week — in the present instance, the holiday of Yud-Tes Kislev — and the conclusion of the week — in the present instance, the holiday of Chanukah.1 Accordingly, it is an appropriate time to focus on the lessons that can be derived from these two holidays. As will be explained, these lessons are related to the concept of Achdus Yisrael, the unity of the Jewish people.

Yud-Tes Kislev is the day of the redemption of a Nasi (leader). Our Sages declare “The Nasi is the entire people.” Thus, his day of redemption is associated with the redemption of the people as a whole, men, women, and children, for Yud-Tes Kislev represents the beginning of the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, i.e., the revelation of Chassidus in the world at large. The Alter Rebbe himself emphasized how the teachings of Chassidus were not meant to be restricted to a particular group.2

Chanukah is associated with the kindling of the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash. The Menorah had seven branches, representative of the seven categories within the Jewish people.3 Nevertheless, it was made of a single piece of metal and all the lights were pointed to the central light. These qualities reflect the oneness which pervades the Jewish people as a whole.

There is another significant point mentioned in regard to the Menorah. Our Sages declared that the Menorah was “testimony to the entire world that the Divine Presence rested among the Jewish people.” These two qualities are interrelated and given unique emphasis in the present time, the final days of the exile. Though the Jews are “dispersed and spread out throughout the nations,” they are united through the performance of Torah and mitzvos. Particularly, in the present era, we see the Jews drawing close to Torah and mitzvos in a manner that surpasses the previous generations.4 Even those Jews who are not aware of the Torah and mitzvos have, at least, the opportunity to learn about them . This opportunity has been expanded through the work of the Shluchim who spread Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus outward to the furthest reaches. Indeed, we see that at present these efforts have reached the most remote corners of the world.

Furthermore, even in those places where no Jews at all live, the gentile inhabitants are aware of the existence of the Jewish people. They know that although we are “dispersed and spread out,” we are united because “their faith is different from other nations.” Furthermore, they are aware that this difference is expressed, not only on holidays and festivals, but throughout our everyday lives. This information is offered by the United Nations which includes all the different countries within and informs them about the Jewish people.

Since curiosity is a natural tendency, when these nations find out about the Jewish people, they will be prompted to make further enquiries until they discover the seven universal commandments given to Noach and his descendants.

The above is particularly relevant in the present age, the final era before the coming of Mashiach when “I will transform the nations into a pure speech so that they will call in the name of G‑d.” The spreading of this awareness is incumbent upon every Jew since we are commanded, as the Rambam writes, to try to influence the gentiles to keep these seven commandments.5 Since today Jews live among gentiles, we must search for an opportunity to influence our non-Jewish neighbors to follow these universal laws.

[Needless to say that before a person begins working with gentiles, he should be totally permeated with Yiddishkeit so that these efforts are not made at the expense of his involvement in Yiddishkeit, but rather as an extension and expression of it.]

This is the intention of this gathering. May everyone of you accept good resolutions in regard to the above including resolutions to spread Yiddishkeit within the spirit of “loving your neighbor as yourself,” to make sure that his home is not lacking anything and thus can serve as “a sanctuary in microcosm” in which G‑d’s presence dwells. (In particular, this is accomplished through the Shabbos candles kindled by Jewish women and girls.)

May these efforts continue to the point that when each person looks at himself in the mirror he can point and say, “This is a person who helped spread, ‘the light of Torah and the candle of mitzvah.’ (In particular, this is relevant in regard to the upcoming Chanukah festival. May these resolutions speed the coming of the Messianic redemption. All the Jews have already fulfilled all that it is necessary that they do, we have already shouted “Ad masei — until when,” and we have already “polished the buttons.” All that is necessary is to wait prepared for the coming of the redemption. May it be now, immediately.