1. The Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment in 5687 initiated a series of events which brought about his departure from Russia in 5688 and ultimately, his settling in America in 5700.1 Since everything is controlled by Divine Providence, it is clear that the Previous Rebbe’s coming to America was not merely to find refuge from the troubles which beset the Jews in Europe, but rather had a self-contained goal, that he should live and work in America.

The Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, and the Chabad Rebbeim all lived in Russia. Thus, that country, and later, in particular, the village of Lubavitch, became a center from which the light of Chassidus was spread throughout the entire world. Nevertheless, G‑d’s intention was that the Previous Rebbe leave those surroundings and come to America.

Furthermore, in Chassidic thought, America is referred to with the expression, “the lower half of the earth” and it is stated that on an open, revealed level, “the Torah was not given in the lower half of the earth.” Nevertheless, “Lubavitch underwent ten exiles,” and the last and most difficult of these exiles involved settling in America, “the lower half of the world.”

The reason for such a process of exile and descent can be understood within the context of a different idea. The holidays of Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz are connected with the month in which they are celebrated, transforming the nature of that month to the extent that there are many who refer to the month as “the month of redemption.”

To elaborate: In the Bible, the month of Tammuz is referred to with the name, “the fourth month,” the month which follows and continues the service of Sivan, the third month, the month associated with the giving of the Torah. The difference between them is that Sivan is associated with influence from above. In this month, G‑d gave the Torah to the Jews as a guide to show them how to conduct their lives. The following month, Tammuz, centers on “receiving the Torah,” how the Jews on their own initiative draw the Torah into the world through their deeds.

The difference between the two months can be understood in the context of our Sages’ statement that the letters Gimmel and Daled (numerically, equivalent to three and four) reflect the expression, Gommel Dallim, “being generous to the poor.” Gimmel, three, is associated with “being generous,” giving from above. Daled, “the poor,” is associated with receiving those gifts. Similarly, three represents the three mediums of influence and four adds a new dimension, that of the receiver. Similarly, in the spiritual realms, three refers to the spiritual worlds, Atzilus, Beriah, and Yetzirah, while four adds the world of Asiyah which receives from these higher realms.

Thus, Sivan is the month where G‑d generously gives the Torah from above. Tammuz is “poor.” It receives the influence of the Torah and applies it within the context of daily life. Even though entry into the context of the world as it is in its own right represents a great descent. Nevertheless, it is this service which allows us to fulfill G‑d’s desire in the creation of the worlds, that this lowly world — as it exists within its own context — become a dwelling place for Him. Therefore, even though this is the lowest of the four worlds and there is a great gap between it and the higher worlds, it is in this world that G‑d’s intention is fulfilled.

The above concept is also related to the fast of the seventeenth of Tammuz which the prophet refers to as “the fast of the fourth month.” The five negative events associated with this date — beginning with the destruction of the tablets and concluding with the destruction of Jerusalem, the event which led directly to the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent exile — all further emphasize the descent into the lower realms associated with the fourth month.

G‑d’s intention, however, is that this great descent generate a response from the Jews who are found within these lower realms and that they, by adding to their service of Torah and mitzvos, nullify the reasons which caused this descent. In particular, this is connected with an increase in ahavas Yisrael (the love for one’s fellow Jew) for the exile came because of the sin of unwonted hatred. By nullifying that sin, we can also nullify its effect, the exile.

This is also associated with the Rambam’s statement that, in the Messianic age, the fasts connected with the Temple’s destruction will be transformed into holidays and days of rejoicing. Since the ultimate intent of these fasts is to bring about a deeper experience of good, it will eventually be revealed how these days are days of celebration.

[Furthermore, even within these day’s present context, they reveal G‑d’s great love for the Jews. In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains this using an analogy of a king who, because of his great love for his son, is willing to descend and wash away his filth and excrement.]

Thus, the element of fasting and destruction associated with Tammuz represents a further level of descent which was intended to evoke a higher level of service. Thus, this further expresses the extent to which the influence of the third month is drawn down within the world, reaching people on the lowest possible levels. Simultaneously, the fact that ultimately, this fast will be transformed into a day of rejoicing, which surpasses the revealed happiness of the third month, reveals the unique dimension contributed by the service of the receiver on his own level.

In our time, the positive dimension of the fourth month was revealed to a greater extent by the redemption of the Previous Rebbe which transformed the entire month into “a month of redemption.” The Previous Rebbe’s arrest was an expression of the difficulties of the exile which began with the seventeenth of Tammuz. Indeed, it was one of the harshest expressions of this exile, connected with physical torture and a threat of death.

This descent, nevertheless, brought about an even greater revelation. The freedom granted to the Previous Rebbe, and the positive impetus his liberation brought to his work of spreading Torah and mitzvos, surpassed that which existed before his arrest. His liberation demonstrated how one could spread Torah and mitzvos without being hindered by any worldly obstructions.2

The Previous Rebbe did not see his liberation as affecting only himself alone, but rather as relating to “all those who hold dear our holy Torah, those who observe its mitzvos, and anyone who is called by the name Israel.” Thus, his redemption makes the service of each and every Jew3 easier and allows for Torah and mitzvos to be spread in a more complete matter to more distant and far removed places, reaching every place in the world. Also, the Previous Rebbe’s redemption can be seen as a taste of — and a preparatory step for — the Messianic redemption. Thus, it transforms the fourth month — a month generally associated with fasting and destruction — into a “month of redemption.”

Based on the above, we can understand why the Previous Rebbe’s redemption led to the movement of the center of his activities to spread Torah and Chassidus to America, the lower half of the world. In time, the transition from the third month to the fourth month, represents a shift from the emphasis on what is given from above to what man accomplishes on his own initiative. Similarly, in space, as long as the Jews were camped around Mount Sinai, they were still influenced by the atmosphere pervading their camp. Only when they journeyed from Sinai did the service on their own initiative begin.

A similar concept is associated with the Previous Rebbe’s move to America, the lower half of the world where “the Torah was not given.” He sought to spread Torah in America despite the tremendous difficulties that this task involved. He proclaimed, “America is no different” — even though the attitude of the overwhelming number of Jews of that time was that America is different — and sought to transform it into a Torah center.

Coming to “the lower half of the earth” was one further step in a series of exiles (from Lubavitch to Rostov, from Rostov to Petersburg, from Petersburg to Latvia, from Latvia to Poland and ultimately, to America) and thus, was surely a descent that posed obstacles to the Previous Rebbe’s work. Nevertheless, this descent fulfilled the intent of the giving of the Torah, that a dwelling place for G‑d be established within the lower worlds.

As we approach the Messianic redemption, the world must be made more fit to serve as a dwelling for G‑d. Thus, we see that originally, the Jews lived together in Eretz Yisrael and from there, “light emanated to the entire world.” Afterwards, the center in Babylon served a similar function. However, in the present exile, the exile of Edom (Rome), the Jews have been spread throughout the entire world. With each passing year, the dispersion has become greater. Nevertheless, until the previous generation, the dispersion had only been within “the upper half of the world.” However, as Mashiach comes closer, a large amount of Jews — and the Previous Rebbe among them — came to “the lower half of the world” to refine this portion of the world as well and demonstrate the all-encompassing influence of the giving of the Torah.

The service of spreading Torah throughout the world associated the fourth month and with “the lower half of the world” brings out another quality. The receiver (mekabel) becomes a source of influence (mashpia), contributing new dimensions that did not exist previously.4

To make possible such a service, the Previous Rebbe’s redemption, which was a taste of the Messianic redemption, led directly to his settling in America and beginning the work which transformed America into a center of Torah for the entire world. His settlement in this country stimulated new activities, spreading Torah, spreading Chassidus, and spreading ahavas Yisrael5 in a manner which surpassed the activities of the previous Rebbeim in spreading these services in “the upper half of the world.” From the Previous Rebbe’s center in “the lower half of the world,” the wellsprings of Chassidus have spread out6 “westward, eastward, northward, and southward,” encompassing the entire world.

These activities which began in 5700 and continued for the ten years in which the Previous Rebbe lived in America are being perpetuated by his students and emissaries. In particular, they reach a new peak in the present year, the fortieth year after the Previous Rebbe’s passing, when “G‑d grants you a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear.” It is possible to “attain the understanding of one’s teacher” and then, continue to proceed and add further light.

* * *

2. The above can be associated with the weekly Torah portion, Parshas Korach. Chassidic thought justifies Korach’s demand, “The entire nation is holy and G‑d is within them. Why do you raise yourselves above G‑d’s congregation?”, explaining that, in essence, his arguments have a foundation. According to the concept explained above that the recipients (mekabelim) on the lowest levels possess a tremendous advantage — because the establishment of a dwelling in the lower realms, G‑d’s intention in creation is carried out through them — their rung surpasses that of the mashpia (source of influence). Korach’s mistake, however, was that this quality will not be revealed until the Messianic age. Until then, the service must be carried out in a manner where the influence descends from the higher realms to the lower.7

In this context, we can understand an allusion which is found in Rashi’s commentary. Rashi begins his discussion of this portion with the statement, “This parshah is expounded upon nicely in the Midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma.” As he, himself, frequently states, Rashi focuses on “the simple explanation of the verse.” Nevertheless, in this instance, he mentions a different approach to the interpretation of the Torah, the Midrash, to teach us that even though from a simple perspective, the portion of Korach is not “nice,” when one looks from the standpoint of Midrash, it is “nice.” Since in the Messianic age,8 Korach’s approach will be acceptable, Rashi feels it necessary to allude to a “nice” interpretation of it.

At present, since we are still involved in the task of refining the world, Korach’s argument is not acceptable and the mekabel must receive influence from above. However, in the Messianic age when this task of refinement has been completed, Korach’s argument — stressing the advantage of the mekabel — can be looked upon “nicely.”

The service of the present age which directly precedes the Messianic redemption reflects the service of the Messianic Age. Therefore, by coming to America, the Previous Rebbe began a new path of service, different from his service and that of the Rebbeim who preceded him in “the upper half of the world.” There, the service involved “drawing down from above to below.” In contrast, through his service in America, the Previous Rebbe revealed how the mekabel, “the lower half of the world” — in which “the Torah was not given” — could become a center of Torah from which the entire world derives nurture.

In order to make this service possible, it was necessary for the Previous Rebbe to come to America. Just as, in general, the service of drawing down influence from above to below must precede the service of the mekabel himself, similarly, within the service of the mekabel itself, the first stage must be the service of “a priest” (the Previous Rebbe), a person who gives instructions and generates power which allows other Jews to carry out the service of spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidus.

This relates to another aspect of Parshas Korach which also has a parallel in the Previous Rebbe’s service: Korach’s challenge to Aharon ultimately strengthened his position as High Priest. The miracles that were performed including the flowering of Aharon’s staff testified to the fact that G‑d had designated him as the High Priest.9 That choice was further accentuated and established as “an eternal covenant” by the 24 priestly gifts mentioned at the conclusion of the portion. Our Sages described this concept with an allegory of a king who gave a present to a friend without certifying the gift. An opponent challenged the right of the king’s friend to the property. In response, the king certified the gift through the appropriate legal channels. Similarly, Korach’s challenge strengthened Aharon’s position.

A similar concept applies to Yud-Beis Tammuz. The Previous Rebbe’s arrest can be seen as a challenge to his service of spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidus and his liberation, a sign that service should be strengthened and continued as “an eternal covenant.”10

The narrative of the flowering of Aharon’s staff also conveys another relevant lesson. G‑d told Moshe to collect the staffs from the princes of all the tribes and put them in the Sanctuary together with Aharon’s staff. His intent in doing so was not only to negate any claim they might have to Aharon’s position, but also, to establish a connection between them and Aharon. This made it possible for them to receive influence from Aharon.

Based on this explanation, we can understand why the Torah tells us, “Each person took their staff.” First, the Torah teaches that all the staffs11 were gathered together with Aharon’s in order to receive influence from him. Afterwards, each staff, which represents a different path of service, was taken by the individual who was intended to lead his tribe in that service.

Similarly, though the Previous Rebbe, as the Nasi of the generation stands above the generation as a whole, he is found together with them and grants them powers to carry out their own individual services.

* * *

3. Always, an effort is made to connect ideas with actual deed. In particular, since this is the fortieth year since the Previous Rebbe’s passing, it is important to connect this occasion with a deed which emphasizes the uniqueness of his service in “the lower half of the world.” This is parallel to the realm of behavior described as reshus, i.e., activities which are neither obligatory12 or prohibited. In this realm, it is necessary to reveal how “All your deeds should be performed for the sake of heaven,” and how one can “Know G‑d in all your ways.”

The most permanent of all the matters in this realm is a person’s home. Thus, a parallel to the service mentioned above involves the transformation of each person’s individual dwelling into “a dwelling for G‑d.” For this reason, this year has been set aside as “a year of construction,” in which buildings should be constructed for the purposes of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah. Similarly, private individuals should build new homes or make additions to their existing homes and set aside a portion of that dwelling as a place for Torah, prayer, and tzedakah. They should accentuate this purpose by setting aside a fixed place in the house or room for a Chumash, Siddur, and Tzedakah Pushka.

Thus, as part of the activities associated with “the month of redemption” which ultimately led to the Previous Rebbe’s coming to America, everyone — men, women, and children — should take part in “the year of construction.” To encourage these efforts, $100 dollars13 will be given from the Previous Rebbe’s funds as participation in these activities. This applies both to the construction of (or making additions to) communal buildings and private homes provided it is evident in actual deed that the place is intended for Torah, prayer, and tzedakah.14 A portion of these hundred dollars should be given to tzedakah and the rest used to help defray the construction costs.

May the above activities lead to the coming of the Messianic redemption. The prophet Hoshea proclaims, “Israel, is a youth, I love him.” Accordingly, though there are many spiritual activities which may parallel the Messianic, the nature of a “youth” is that he will not be satisfied with promises or the spiritual counterpart of Mashiach. He wants to see Mashiach now in actuality,15 revealed within our physical world. When Israel cries out “Ad mosai,” how long will the exile continue, G‑d will respond like any father and grant His son’s wish and bring about the redemption. Then, all the Jews will proceed — together with the houses of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah constructed in the exile — to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash.