1. There is a well-known principle that, “These days shall be remembered and performed” (Esther 9:28). This means that the events and spiritual influences associated with a particular time are relived every year; and we must recall and discuss these events (“remember”), and use the opportunity to improve our deeds (“perform”).

In this case, the 15th of Tammuz is associated with the festival of the 12th-13th of Tammuz, the liberation of the Previous Rebbe. In his written account of the arrest and liberation, the Rebbe writes, “On Shabbos Kodesh parshas Pinchas, I was called to the Torah and I blessed the gomel blessing. At the Kiddush, I recited a maamar, a second Boruch She’g’malani; and at the Shabbos meal, [which served as] a meal of thanksgiving, I recited a maamar, S’u Y’deichem Kodesh.

That Shabbos was the 15th of Tammuz, and marked his total liberation. We know this from the law regarding the gomel blessing — that a sick person who recovers cannot recite the blessing “until he returns to health completely” (Alter Rebbe, Seder Birkas Hanehenin, 13:5). The same applies to one who was in prison, that he too may not make the blessing until he is completely freed. In this case only after having returned to his home in Leningrad was his freedom complete, and he made the blessing the next Shabbos, which was the first Torah reading and therefore the first possible opportunity. This complete redemption found expression in the fact that not only one, but two maamarim were said in one day.

The principle that “These days shall be remembered and performed” applies generally to all times. However, it has a special connection with the 15th of Tammuz. This verse is written in Megillas Esther, in conjunction with the holiday of Purim. Purim and Yom Kippur are closely connected, as we see from the Biblical name, “Yom HaKippurim,” which means literally, “a day like Purim.”

This is also seen in the content of the two days. The name “Purim” means “lots,” in commemoration of Haman’s lottery which was drawn to pick the day for carrying out his decree. Although this was something negative, it was merely a “descent for the sake of a later ascent” — transforming Haman’s plan to a holy type of “lot,” with the miracle of Purim.

The concept of “lots” is also an integral part of Yom Kippur, since the sacrifices were chosen through “lots.” These sacrifices brought about atonement from an extremely lofty G‑dly level; as explained in Likkutei Torah, even higher than that which corresponds to G‑d’s four-letter name Havayah. It therefore represents a fifth level, corresponding to the fifth and highest level of the Jewish soul, that of yechidah. It is this level which is revealed on Yom Kippur and Purim, and for this reason there are five prayer services on Yom Kippur.

This level of yechidah is also connected with the 15th of Tammuz, as alluded to in the maamar S’u Y’deichem Kodesh, which was said at the Shabbos meal on that day. Among the concepts discussed was the meaning of the verse, “G‑d will bless you from Zion.” “Zion” symbolizes this level of yechidah, and the verse indicates that its strength and holiness comes from G‑d Himself.

Regarding this observance of the 15th of Tammuz, one might ask, “Why all of a sudden? For many years no fuss was made about this day, so why now?!”

There are a number of answers to this question. First of all, the day had this special quality before; the only thing that has changed now is its being celebrated openly.

Secondly, the same question could be asked regarding the entire Torah. We see that from time to time, Sages add on and innovated new ideas in Torah. How are they able to do so? The answer is that this is the way G‑d gave the Torah: many concepts were not given explicitly, but are derived through application of the general rules which were given. A Sage who has the ability to recognize and apply these rules properly can reveal an innovative idea in Torah. And why did G‑d give the Torah in such a way? This is in order that we also participate in the revelation of Torah, as the Talmud says, “A person prefers one kav [a measurement] of his own to nine kav of someone else.” By leaving us room to innovate in Torah, it becomes our own.

Similarly in this case — the special quality of the day can remain hidden before anyone recognizes its significance. But when there is even one person who can recognize its significance, he can share this with others, as is the case with any innovation in Torah. This is especially true in our case, since the Previous Rebbe alluded to the day’s special character in the maamar, as mentioned above.

A third answer to the question, “Why all of a sudden?” can be given in connection with the idea discussed last Shabbos — that this is the time to make a shturm (“storm”) in using every conceivable opportunity to make a joyful gathering of Jews.

Furthermore, since there have been certain negative occurrences, we must completely wipe out any trace of them, and moreso, transform them to the positive. This is similar to the Rambam’s words at the end of Hilchos Taanis (The Laws of Fasts), that in the Messianic Age the fasts will be transformed to holidays and days of joy. He then concludes by quoting the verse, V’ha’emes V’ha’shalom Aheivo. This means that the way to accomplish this transformation is through emes (truth) and shalom (peace) — i.e. through adding in ahavas Yisrael

It is therefore the proper time to add on in all good things and in blessings. This idea is also stressed in the maamar mentioned above, which ends,

This is the avodah of Chassidus: to take away every negative personality trait — to purify it, cleanse it, and elevate it to [the level of] kodesh ha’elyon. [This will bring] the revelation of G‑d’s name Havayah to the world, and thereby bring blessing to the world — because the name Havayah is blessing and mercy and complete good.

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2. We have the opportunity of combining this farbrengen with a siyum, the conclusion of a section in Torah. Today’s daily portion of Rambam includes the end of Hilchos Klei HaMikdash (The Laws Regarding Objects Used in the Temple). In the last halachah, Ch. 10, halachah 13, he writes,

This that we find in the words of the prophets that the Kohanim used to wear ephods of linen does not refer to Kohanim Gedolim, for the ephod of the Kohen Gadol was not made of linen. Even Levites used to wear [such linen ephods], as we find written regarding the prophet Shmuel, who was a Levite, “A young man wearing a linen ephod.” This ephod was worn by the bnei nevi’im (those aspiring to become prophets) and those fit to receive ruach hakodesh (divine inspiration) to give notice that they have reached the level of a Kohen Gadol, who speaks according to the ephod and choshen with ruach hakodesh.

The source of this law is in the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhedrin 10:2), which quotes the verse which relates that Doeg the Edomite “killed the kohanim, and 85 men wearing the linen ephod died on that day” (Shmuel I, 22:18). Chumash speaks of an ephod only regarding a kohen gadol, and the verse seems to imply that there were 85 Kohanim Gedolim. Rav Chiya explains that there can be only one Kohen Gadol at a time, and “the verse teaches us that they were fit to be Kohanim Gedolim.”

There are a number of questions on this law in Rambam. First of all, Mishneh Torah is a book of laws. This halachah seems only to explain the Scriptural passage rather than teach a law, and is therefore out of place in Mishneh Torah. And even though we find that the Rambam frequently ends a section by giving a moral lesson rather than an actual law, this particular case does not seem to convey any such lesson either!

There are also a number of questions on the details of this halachah:

1) The Rambam says that the ephod was worn “to give notice that they have reached the level of a Kohen Gadol.” The Jerusalem Talmud makes no mention of this, only that they were fit to be Kohanim Gedolim. What was the purpose of this “giving notice.”

2) The entire explanation seems paradoxical: the whole proof that the verse doesn’t refer to Kohanim Gedolim is that the Kohen Gadol did not wear a linen ephod. If so, how could the bnei nevi’im “give notice that they have reached the level of a Kohen Gadol” by wearing something that the Kohen Gadol himself didn’t wear?!

3) The reason given in the Talmud as to why there cannot be two Kohanim Gedolim simultaneously is “because of hatred” — to avoid jealousy between them. If there was such a problem between just two, how could jealousy be avoided among 85 bnei ha’nvi’im, who wore the ephod to “give notice that they have reached the level of a Kohen Gadol”?

The answer to all this is that the Rambam does indeed intend to teach a practical law — that the bnei ha’nvi’im were required to wear such an ephod. The purpose of this requirement may be understood in view of the Rambam’s description of the role of a prophet, that he “tells us things which will happen in the future...and even notifies an individual, like Shaul, who lost something and went to a prophet to tell him where it was” (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, 10:3). For this reason the bnei ha’nvi’im had to wear linen ephods to “give notice” that they are fit to have ruach hakodesh, and that people should know to ask them for assistance.

According to this explanation, we can see that the order of the last few laws is very logically constructed. In halachah 11, the Rambam describes the process of asking a question of the Urim VeTumim, which were worn inside the Kohen Gadol’s choshen. In halachah 12, he writes that only a person in a position of communal responsibility, such as a king, can ask a question, and even then, only questions which affect the community. Individuals were not allowed to ask the Urim VeTumim.

If so, one might ask, where were individuals to look for guidance? The Rambam therefore writes that the bnei ha’nvi’im had to wear linen ephods — to “give notice that they have reached the level of a Kohen Gadol, who speaks according to the ephod and choshen [i.e. the Urim VeTumim] with ruach hakodesh” — and were available to answer questions which one could not ask the Urim VeTumim.

The final two questions can be answered by analyzing more deeply the difference between the bnei ha’nvi’im and the Kohanim Gedolim. What were their qualifications? The Kohen Gadol had to be superior to the other Kohanim, “in beauty, strength, wealth, wisdom, and appearance” (Hilchos Klei HaMikdash, 5:1). Much more was required in order to acquire prophecy, as the Rambam writes (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, 7:1),

Prophecy only comes to a person with very great intelligence. He must have strong character, and not be overcome by his impulses in any way. He must also have constant control over his emotions and have an outlook that is both very broad and very firm.

A person having all these qualities can then delve into the spiritual. He can advance in these deep, subtle concepts, gaining a firm understanding and perception of them. At the same time, he must also sanctify himself and separate himself from the ways of the common people, who grope in the darkness of the times. He must achieve a constant diligence in not even thinking of non-essentials or considering the vanities and intrigues of the times.

He must work upon himself until his mind is constantly clear and directed on high. He must bind his intellect to the Throne of Glory, striving to comprehend the purity and holiness of the spiritual beings. He must furthermore contemplate the wisdom of G‑d in everything and understand its significance, whether it be the highest spiritual entity or the lowliest thing on earth.

One who does this immediately becomes worthy of ruach hakodesh. When he attains this spirit [of inspiration], his soul becomes bound up in the level of the angels, called ishim, and he becomes a different individual completely....

Obviously, much more was required in order to attain prophecy than to become Kohen Gadol. This is also reflected in the different ways that ruach hakodesh was revealed to them. When one would ask a question of the Urim VeTumim, the Kohen Gadol would stand facing the ark, gaze at the letters engraved on the stones of the choshen, “and see with prophetic vision...the letters sticking out of the choshen.”

The bnei ha’nvi’im, however, didn’t need special preparation such as wearing particular garments or standing in a certain place. They received ruach hakodesh directly.

This superiority is stressed in the fact that their ephod was made of linen. The Kohen Gadol normally wore an ephod woven with gold and dyed wool. On Yom Kippur, though, in order to enter the Holy of Holies, he had to don linen garments. The linen ephod of the bnei ha’nvi’im therefore showed that they were higher even than a regular Kohen Gadol, and reached the level of a Kohen Gadol as he was in the Holy of Holies.

This answers the question mentioned previously: how could the bnei ha’nvi’im show that they had reached the level of Kohen Gadol by wearing something that the Kohen Gadol did not? The answer is that the linen ephod showed that they had indeed reached that level, and had even surpassed it.

A similar idea is expressed elsewhere in Mishneh Torah. In the end of Hilchos Shemitah V’Yovel, the Rambam explains that any person who dedicates himself wholeheartedly to serving and knowing G‑d, “niskadesh kodesh kodashim,” “becomes sanctified [like the] Holy of Holies.” This shows that through his own efforts a person can reach a level higher than that a regular Kohen Gadol — that of a Kohen Gadol in the Holy of Holies. This is similar to our law, which shows that this level can also be reached by the bnei ha’nvi’im, as signified by the linen ephod.

This also answers our last question: If, in order to avoid jealousy, there could not be two Kohanim Gedolim, how could there be so many bnei ha’nvi’im? The answer is now clear: Only the Kohanim Gedolim could have such a problem, since they did not need so much spiritual refinement in order to qualify for their position.

To join the bnei ha’nvi’im, on the other hand, one needed lengthy preparation, as quoted above from Mishneh Torah. On their level of spiritual advancement, there was no danger of jealousy. This is similar to the state of affairs in the Messianic Age, when, as the Rambam describes, there will be, “no famine or war; no rivalry or jealousy.”

According to this, we now understand why the Rambam placed this law in Mishneh Torah although, as mentioned previously, it normally includes only laws of practical relevance. This includes laws which will be applicable only in the Messianic Age, during which prophecy and Divine inspiration will once more exist, as written in the book of Yoel (3:1), “I will pour My spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters will utter prophecy.” Since it will be necessary for people to know who to turn to for prophetic guidance, it appears that they also will have to wear linen ephods like the bnei ha’nvi’im.

This also presents the obvious lesson that we should increase in all actions which hasten the arrival of Mashiach. This includes the path of the bnei ha’nvi’im, as quoted above from the Rambam, and thereby to automatically prevent any feelings of jealousy. This is also connected with our discussion last Shabbos of avoiding any such negative feelings and instead adding on in ahavas Yisrael.

At this point, however, one might want to present a question. Even when speaking of people fit to be appointed Kohen Gadol, one could not have two simultaneously because of the possibility of hatred arising. If so, how can it be demanded of everyone to avoid such feelings?! This gathering, one could claim, includes children, and certainly many who have white beards, but are still “intellectually children” (k’tanim b’da’as)! How could one make such unreasonable demands?!

The answer is that there is no other choice. The nasi doreinu already ruled and announced that the redemption is being held back by the lack of ahavas Yisrael. This being the case, twisted intellectual reasoning (p’shetlach) must be totally ignored. This is even more true since we are not speaking of an inward emotional love (pnimiyus halev) or even an external love (chitzoniyus halev) — but only in action, by refraining from acting, writing, speaking, etc. contrary to ahavas Yisrael.

We are not going to dwell on the negative aspects, but only on the positive side. Everyone must increase in ahavas Yisrael, beginning with the easier things and gradually progressing. First of all, there must be control in the realm of action, as mentioned above; and then, one must begin to greet others with a pleasant, rather than sour countenance (seiver panim yafos), since this also affects how other people feel.

We see the necessity of this from the laws of charity, where it is stressed that not only must a person give, but he must give with an expression of happiness. Parenthetically, it should be pointed out that the reason one would give charity in a grudging manner is because he feels that the money he is giving could be otherwise used for his own needs. But how could anyone think such a way? — We say in the Blessing After Meals that the only One Who “blesses the entire world with grace, kindness, and mercy” is G‑d Himself!

May it be G‑d’s will that the nullification of all jealousy and hatred will be the preparation and make the vessel (kli) for the coming of Mashiach. Just as we have finished learning Hilchos Klei HaMikdash (“vessels of the Temple”) and begun to learn Hilchos Bi’as HaMikdash (“entering the Temple”), may we enter the Temple in actuality.

The notification of all this will come through the prophet Eliyahu, which is related to this week’s parshah, as our Sages relate, “Pinchas is Eliyahu. And since Pinchas was a Kohen, and “Kohanim act with swiftness (z’rizus),” certainly he will quickly announce the arrival of Mashiach.

It might be added that Pinchas has an advantage over other Kohanim when it comes to z’rizus. Other Kohanim obtained their status at birth, and could always claim, “No one asked me if I wanted to be a Kohen...so don’t force me to rush, I’ll do as best I can.” But Pinchas obtained his status because of his own efforts, so certainly his service will reflect that enthusiasm. In addition, the act of killing Zimri was itself associated with z’rizus, since “Only the zealous may kill the offender” (kanayim pogin bo). And if he was swift to enforce something of that nature, how much moreso for the good — to announce to the Jewish people that Mashiach has finally arrived.

In the portion of Rambam which we begin to study today, Hilchos Biyas HaMikdash, there is mention of a subject which relates to Pinchas becoming a Kohen. A Kohen who was about to serve in the Tabernacle and the Temple had to first wash his hands and feet in the kiyor (washstand). The Rambam rules (Ch. 5, halachah 13),

How much water had to be in the kiyor? — At least enough for four Kohanim to wash. The proof is from the verse (Ex. 30:19), “Aharon and his sons” — since this includes Elazar, Isamar and Pinchas, the total was four.

The reason why Nadav and Avihu were not counted can be answered quite simply. They served only during the days during which the Tabernacle was being inaugurated, and died on the eighth day. Since they never performed the actual Temple service, only Elazar, Isamar and Pinchas are counted.

However, the case of Pinchas still remains difficult to explain. There are two opinions as to when Pinchas actually became a Kohen. One opinion is that he was a Kohen from birth, and according to this opinion the law regarding the kiyor still makes sense.

But according to the other opinion, Pinchas became a Kohen only after he killed Zimri, which happened in the 40th year, at the end of their journey through the desert. Therefore, for a period of 39 years only three of them served in the Tabernacle — Pinchas joining them only at the end. Why, then, did the kiyor need water for four Kohanim instead of three?

One might think that the Rambam’s ruling is in agreement with the first opinion — that Pinchas was a Kohen from birth — but that according to the other opinion, the kiyor only held enough water for three Kohanim. But this answer is not acceptable, since it violates the principle that there are no disagreements in matters of fact, but only in matters of law. How could they disagree in the size of the kiyor, which could be easily determined?

We must say that all opinions agree that the kiyor held enough water for four Kohanim. However, the second opinion has another source for learning this out, not from the verse quoted by the Rambam. This subject warrants a lengthy discussion. (See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, p 196f.)

The main thing about everything mentioned above is that with the Divine assistance we gain from the 12-13th of Tammuz and the 15th of Tammuz — when the moon, which represents the Jewish people, is full — that all good things should be realized in actuality. And since the 15th of the month and the fullness of the moon has already passed — and, as our Sages said, kolu kol hakitzin (“the time for Mashiach to come has already passed”) — that Mashiach should come immediately.

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3. This is a good opportunity to once again stress the importance of increasing in all joyous matters, as mentioned in the gathering of last Shabbos. First of all, this includes Torah study, since “G‑d’s commandments are straight, and make the heart glad” (Psalms 19:9). This includes the inner dimension of Torah, since then the joy also reaches one’s inner dimension. This is particularly true now that the inner part of Torah has been revealed in Chabad Chassidus, which is the innermost dimension of the inner dimension (pnimiyus she’b’pnimiyus)

And just as the revealed part of Torah must be studied until one reaches the stage of practical application (in that case, the final legal decision), so too in the inner dimension of Torah. One must refine one’s emotional traits, as quoted above from the maamar that “the avodah of Chassidus” is “to take away every negative personality trait — to purify it, cleanse it,” etc. And even if there were negative instances in the past, certainly they have already been nullified, and even transformed to good.

In addition to adding joy through Torah study, there must also be joy in the plain sense. This is accomplished through gathering many Jews together, especially in a Chassidic gathering, which can accomplish wondrous things — as well-known from the Previous Rebbe’s story of the “note which came down from the highest of heavens.”

Even during the Three Weeks — if Mashiach delays his coming, G‑d forbid, until a few moments or hours into the Three Weeks — one must utilize every opportunity which Jewish law allows to add in joy. At a circumcision or pidyon haben, for example, one should increase in joy as much as possible.

Joy is curtailed and limited during the Three Weeks, and one must scrupulously adhere to the Shulchan Aruch as to what is permitted. The joy can still transcend all boundaries, however. Although this seems to be a contradiction, with the power of Torah it can be accomplished. The Holy Ark in the Temple was exactly 2 1/2 amos long, which was an absolute limitation. At the same time, though, “the Ark didn’t take up any place,” and transcended physical limitation. The Torah, which was held in the Ark, conveyed this ability to combine opposites, and through Torah, the same applies to unlimited joy.

By way of participation in these gatherings, some mashke from this farbrengen will be given to anyone who takes upon himself to make upon returning to his city, neighborhood, shul, etc. As mentioned above, it should be done with all the limitations of Shulchan Aruch — but at the same time it should be obvious to everyone present that it is being done by a person who is “alive” with the energy of Torah, and pnimiyus HaTorah in particular.

We will also conclude through distributing dollars for charity, which is also connected with joy. In the simple sense, the act of giving charity brings joy to the poor recipient. The same applies to one who is poor in the spiritual sense, and might not even know of his poverty in this area — unaware of the astounding revelation of Chassidus; of Torah in general; or of the amazing quality of the days of liberation, the 12-13th of Tammuz. Through sincerely and joyfully conveying these ideas to others, one’s words will certainly be effective.

It is also advisable that everyone should learn by heart the last few lines of the maamar which was recited on the 15th of Tammuz, S’u Y’deichem Kodesh. As mentioned above, it teaches that “the avodah of Chassidus” is “to take away every negative personality trait — to purify it, cleanse it,” etc. and “thereby bring blessing to the world,” in the infinite manner associated with the name Havayah, down here in the physical world.

We will conclude with a few special niggunim, including the one associated with the 12-13th of Tammuz, n’yet n’yet nikavo — as related by chassidim, including the one who himself sang the niggun upon the Rebbe’s release. Also, the Alter Rebbe’s niggun, the “niggun of preparation” and the Mitteler Rebbe’s niggun.

Afterwards, dollars will be distributed through the “tankistim,” and the distribution of mashke for the farbrengens, [the Rebbe smiled, and then continued,] I’ll keep for myself. The main thing is that there should be additional joy, and that this joy should spread throughout the entire year.

[After the niggunim, the Rebbe continued:]

As the gabayim normally announce, “The seder will be as follows:” First, everyone should say, “LeChaim.” Then, everyone who needs to will recite the blessing after eating. Then, the mashke for the farbrengens will be distributed. It should also be mentioned that the topics discussed at the farbrengens should include the redemption of the 12-13th of Tammuz, and the Previous Rebbe’s urging to add in all matters of Judaism. This begins with learning Torah in groups, giving charity, spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus, etc. Then, dollars for charity will be given out through the “tankistim.”

Let me begin — “LeChaim, LeChaim v’liv’rocha!”

[Afterwards, the Rebbe stood up and distributed bottles of mashke, then sat down and gave dollars to the “tankistim.”]