1. The festival of redemption, Yud-Beis Tammuz, shares a unique connection with the ultimate redemption, the redemption to be led by the Mashiach. Our Sages explain that all redemptions, even those which do not involve a complete redemption from exile, are connected to each other.

In particular, this applies to the redemption of a Nasi (the leader) of a generation. Commenting on one of the verses from this week’s portion, Rashi states “The Nasi of the generation is equivalent to the entire generation.” In the letter he released in connection with his redemption, the Previous Rebbe himself emphasizes this point, stating, “On Yud-Beis Tammuz, G‑d did not redeem me alone, but rather, all those who hold dear our holy Torah, those who observe its mitzvos, and anyone who is called by the name Israel,” i.e., his redemption effected the entire Jewish people.

Furthermore, the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz led to the beginning of a new phase of “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.” It brought Chassidus to America, “the lower half of the world,” i.e., the lowest plane of existence, and transformed it for a source of influence from which these wellsprings were spread throughout the entire world.1 Thus, it is connected with the ultimate purpose in spreading those wellsprings, the coming of the Mashiach.

Also, the date, the 12th of Tammuz, alludes to the Messianic redemption for then, all twelve tribes will be redeemed. The Previous Rebbe was informed of his redemption on the 12th of Tammuz, his actual release, however, took place on the 13th. That number is also connected to the Messianic redemption for it is numerically equivalent to (אחד) one and in the Messianic age, G‑d’s Oneness will be revealed throughout the entire world.

This year, there are several factors which further emphasize the relationship between Yud-Beis Tammuz and the Messianic redemption. Among them: a) Yud-Beis Tammuz falls on Shabbos. Shabbos is itself representative of the Messianic age. Thus, on the verse, “A Psalm, a song of the Shabbos day,” our Sages commented, “a song for the era which is entirely Shabbos and rest forever.” Shabbos is a microcosm of the world to come. If this is true of Shabbos at all times, it surely applies to a Shabbos on which Yud-Beis Tammuz is celebrated. b) The Torah portion of the week — with which we must “live” as the Alter Rebbe explained — contains explicit references to the Messianic redemption. In Hilchos Melachim, the Rambam writes:

Whoever does not believe in [the Mashiach] or does not wait for his coming does not deny only the prophecies of the other prophets, [he denies] the prophecy of Moshe... The portion of Bilaam speaks and prophesies about two anointed kings, the first anointed king, Dovid... and the final anointed king, [the Mashiach], who will arise from his descendants and save Israel...”

The Rambam continues to explain how the prophecies beginning with Bamidbar 24:17 are divided into two parts, the first referring to Dovid and the second to the Mashiach. Thus, when we read this portion in public, reciting blessings before and after it, these concepts receive more emphasis. c) Similarly, the Torah portion which we begin to read in the Minchah services, Parshas Pinchas, also relates to Mashiach’s coming. Our Sages identified Pinchas2 with the prophet Eliyahu who will announce Mashiach’s coming.3 d) There is an added dimension which is contributed by this entire year, the fortieth year after the Previous Rebbe’s passing. Then, G‑d grants “a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear.” One can reach the understanding of one’s master. This surely applies on the Previous Rebbe’s day of redemption which is also his birthday, the day on which the spiritual source of his soul shines powerfully. This is also connected to the concept of redemption because the number forty is associated with the Sefirah of Binah that is described as “the world of freedom.”

* * *

2. The concept of redemption is not relevant to the Jewish people alone, but will effect the entire world. The entire world must be elevated to a state of redemption.

This concept can be understood in terms of the first Mishnah in the seventh chapter of the tractate of Shabbos. {This Mishnah is chosen based on the following rationale: As mentioned above, Shabbos is representative of the concept of redemption. Since “G‑d looked into the Torah and created the world,” it follows that the quality of redemption is also reflected in this tractate. The seventh chapter was chosen based on our Sages’ statement, “All the sevenths are dear,” which is also associated with the concept of redemption.}

This Mishnah states:

The number of categories of labors [prohibited on the Shabbos] are forty less one: One who sows, one ploughs... one who completes a utensil, one who transfers an object from one domain to another. These are the forty less one categories of [forbidden] labors.

Among the questions asked regarding this Mishnah are: a) Why doesn’t the Mishnah refer to thirty nine labors instead of “forty less one?” b) Why is sowing mentioned before plowing when generally one ploughs before one sows? c) Why is the last labor mentioned the transfer of an article from one domain to another? On the surface, it would seem more appropriate for the final labor mentioned to be the completion of a utensil for it emphasizes how an activity — and in a larger sense, all activities — have been completed.

In explanation of the first questions, the Rabbis noted that the word מלאכה (“labor”) or derivatives of it are mentioned forty times in the Torah. There are thus 40 labors associated with the Shabbos. 39 are forbidden and one,4 the labor of the righteous in Torah and prayer, is not forbidden. This can be seen from our Sages’ commentary on the verse, “And there He rested from all His work,” “He rested from worldly work, but not from the work of the righteous.”

To elaborate: The 39 labors represent the sum total of all worldly activity. When the Jews perform these labors during the week in a manner of “All your deeds shall be for the sake of heaven,” and “Know Him in all your ways,” they refine the world and transform it into a dwelling place for G‑d. This was also the intent of the performance of these labors in the Sanctuary — the source for all the forbidden labors of Shabbos — to establish a dwelling for G‑d. Through the refinement of the material elements of existence and their transformation into a sanctuary for G‑d, we also draw down the “one” labor, the labor of heaven, the labor of Shabbos.

In particular, this is the difference between the service of the exile (the week) and redemption (Shabbos). The exile is called “work” for it is the time in which the service of refinement took place. This work prepares us for “the day which is all Shabbos,” when our service will center on the fortieth labor, the labor of oneness.

This concept is particularly relevant during 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.”

Based on the above we can answer — from a homiletic standpoint — the questions mentioned above regarding the order of the labors in the Mishnah. The two labors in question — sowing and transfer from one domain to another — reflect the concept of exile. The prophet Hoshea refers to exile as sowing as the verse states, “I will sow you among the nations.” Similarly, the transfer from one domain to another reflects how the Jews were taken away “from the table of their Father.”

These two labors are also significant in regard to our service of refining the world, the prophet Hoshea also speaks of “sowing tzedakah for you;” i.e., the mitzvos were planted among the Jewish people. Conversely, the transfer from one domain to another reflects the nature of all the forbidden labors of the Sabbath, removing an article from G‑d’s domain — the private domain — and taking it into the domain of evil, the public domain.

Our activity with these thirty nine labors in exile will also bring about the ultimate redemption. Sowing a single seed produces an entire plant. Similarly, the intent of the exile is to produce crops, that there should be unmeasurable growth and development. Also, the service during the exile can be compared to taking from one domain to another, bringing entities from the public domain into the private domain, into G‑d’s dwelling. Similarly, it marks the return of the Jews from their dispersion among the nations.

Thus, this Mishnah represents “a great general principle,” applying to all Jews and their service within the world, making this world “a dwelling place” for G‑d.

3. The redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz also had an effect within the world at large. This concept is expressed by the celebration of the holiday on two days Yud-Beis (the 12th) and Yud-Gimmel (the 13th). On the 12th of Tammuz, the Previous Rebbe himself was informed of his release. Nevertheless, a public statement of that release was not made because, due to a government holiday, the appropriate offices were closed. It was only on the following day, the 13th of Tammuz, that he was given the official papers announcing his release.

Thus, we see that Divine Providence ordered that the Previous Rebbe’s redemption occur in two phases: one for himself (on the 12th) and one for the world at large (on the 13th).5

The importance of the latter aspect can be seen from the letters which the Alter Rebbe sent Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev and Rebbe Baruch of Mezibuz in regard to his redemption on Yud-Tes Kislev. In these letters, he emphasizes how “G‑d worked great wonders... in particular, before the officers and nations throughout the domain of the king.” On the surface, Yud-Tes Kislev is the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus, the beginning of the service of spreading “the wellsprings of Chassidus outward,” why when explaining the importance of such an occasion is it significant to mention the effect the miracle had on the gentiles?

It is possible to explain the concepts as follows: Both these two redemptions, Yud-Tes Kislev and Yud-Beis Tammuz are connected with the ultimate redemption to be led by Mashiach. Then, the entire world, including its gentile inhabitants will be refined as the prophet Tzephania declares, “Then, I will transform all the nations,... so that they form one entity.” Accordingly, attention is paid to the connection of the gentiles to the two redemptions, that of the Alter Rebbe in his letter, and that of the Previous Rebbe, by the fact that the announcement of his redemption was postponed a day so that it could be certified according to the secular law of the land.

A continuation of this process can be seen by an activity undertaken by the Congress of this country (which is democratically chosen by a population which is, for the most part, gentile) in which an announcement was made concerning Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz. They praised G‑d for miraculously saving the Previous Rebbe and for the process of Divine Providence which brought him to this country where he spent the final ten years of his life, spreading Judaism and Chassidus among Jews and the paths of good and righteousness (as expressed by the seven universal commandments given to Noach’s descendants). All this was publicized as an official government statement.

Today, we see also another dimension of the influence of Yud-Beis Tammuz on the world at large, even when compared to that of Yud-Tes Kislev. It is well known the position the Alter Rebbe took in regard the two countries, France and Russia. In the war between these two countries, the Alter Rebbe supported Russia, explaining that a Russian victory would be more advantageous for the Jews’ spiritual level and their fear of heaven. We see that all the Rebbeim (from the Baal Shem Tov to the Previous Rebbe) revealed their teachings — spread their wellsprings outward — in Russia and for all those years, France remained on a lower spiritual level.

The Previous Rebbe made efforts to change that situation. Even before he became Rebbe, he visited France and worked to change the spiritual level there. After leaving Russia, he personally visited on occasion and we have — indeed it was published now in connection with Yud-Beis Tammuz — a record of a sichah he recited there. He also sent emissaries and Chassidic texts to the French Jewish community.

These efforts have continued until the present day and we see that many Jews in France have returned to Torah, connecting themselves to the Nasi of our generation by studying the wellsprings of Chassidus and spreading them outward. Similarly, they also work to motivate the gentiles in that country to keep the seven universal commandments given to Noach’s descendants.

Thus, Yud-Beis Tammuz represents the spreading of Chassidus in a much lower level within the world at large, to a country whose spiritual level was such that they could have a negative influence on the Jews. This represents a further step in the preparation of the world for Mashiach’s coming when the lowest aspects of our existence will be transformed into a dwelling place for G‑d.

Greater emphasis is placed on the above since present at this farbrengen are a group of Jews from France who have come close to Torah and mitzvos as they are illuminated with the light of Torah, the teachings of Chassidus, through the efforts initiated by the Previous Rebbe.

Therefore, it is proper that these guests say LeChaim and sing the French national anthem6 as it has been transformed into a song of holiness by coupling it with the words of HaAderes VeHaEmunah (a hymn which contains verses beginning with each of the 22 letters of the alphabet).7

May this cause them to increase their efforts when they return home and may the have an influence on the entire world.

{At this point, the Rebbe Shlita spoke to the guests in French, saying:} To all the guests who came from France, welcome. We would like to honor you by having you sing a niggun of yours, HaAderes VeHaEmunah. When you return home, you should communicate the message of this niggun. May all this be done with happiness, joy, and success. {Afterwards, the Rebbe Shlita began singing HaAderes VeHaEmunah.}

* * *

4. Today, we read the portion of Balak which as the Rambam mentions, contains references to the Messianic age. In the Minchah service, we will read from Parshas Pinchas, which also relates to Mashiach’s coming because our Sages identified Pinchas with the prophet Eliyahu who will announce Mashiach’s coming. Accordingly, it is appropriate to emphasize the importance of strengthening the faith in Mashiach’s coming and the anticipation of it. The Rambam emphasizes the importance of hoping for Mashiach’s coming, stating that we must “wait for him to come each day.” To prepare for his coming, we should increase our study of Torah and particularly, those areas of Torah which deal with the Messianic redemption, for example, the concluding chapters of Hilchos Melachim which are also called Hilchos Melech HaMashiach. The study of these matters hasten the time when the prophecies will materialize.

Also, it is appropriate to continue spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, in particular, emphasizing the study of the Previous Rebbe’s teachings including a new book of Sichos (5696-5700) which was presently released. This should also be expressed through the construction of buildings and, as mentioned in the previous farbrengen, $100 will be given towards any building that is dedicated to Torah, prayer, and Tzedakah from a fund of the Previous Rebbe’s.

Surely, the coming days, the 13th, 14th, and 15th of Tammuz8 will be used to hold farbrengens celebrating the Previous Rebbe’s redemption. It is appropriate that in each of these three farbrengens one should make three positive resolutions (one in each of the spheres of Torah, prayer, and deeds of kindness).

May these activities lead to the transformation of the fast of the 17th of Tammuz into a day of celebration9 with the coming of Mashiach. May it be now, immediately.

{The Rebbe Shlita distributed bottles of Mashke to all those who arranged farbrengens in connection with the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. Afterwards, he said,] There are also guests here from Eretz Yisrael. There are certain halachic questions about leaving Eretz Yisrael. However, in this instance, may the guests be blessed for coming to celebrate the festival of redemption in the synagogue of the Previous Rebbe. May they clear up any doubts that possibly remain by saying LeChaim and singing a niggun.

{After the guests from Eretz Yisrael sang “Hoshea es Amecha,” the Rebbe Shlita said:} It is also appropriate that the inhabitants of the Diaspora, myself included, say LeChaim to the Nasi of our generation and may we dance to greet Mashiach, immediately.