1. The portion starts by saying “Today you are all standing before Hashem.” It is explained in Likkutei Torah (41a) that this portion is always read before Rosh HaShanah. “Today” hints to Rosh HaShanah. This means to say that today all categories of Jews are united to such an extent that there is no high or low, they are all standing before Me equally. This is in a general way.

In a more specific manner they are united through a covenant, referring to teshuvah. Just as, for example, a covenant is made between two friends that the love between them should never end. Even though there may be ups and downs in their feelings, their relationship is never severed. So too, our relationship with Hashem, through teshuvah, is never severed.

This is why it is called “to cut a covenant.” This is similar to dividing one thing, then both parties pass between the two halves. Through passing between one body they become united.

In a similar manner is the covenant that Jews and Hashem make on Rosh HaShanah when we become one with Hashem. Since this is a time when Jews become united with Hashem on a very high level, we have the ability to crown the king through the blowing of the shofar. As it says (Tanya p. 162) “There can be no king without having a nation first.” This crowning is also effected in the upper worlds. The revelation of kingship above is specifically through Israel, which is affected through shofar, bringing about teshuvah, returning to the king. This reoccurs every year on Rosh HaShanah.

This has a special uniqueness this year since it is a Shemitah year, and Rosh HaShanah is in a year of Hakhel. Therefore the above mentioned service is in a much stronger manner. This is because during a Shemitah year we are totally given over to Hashem. Hashem should be recognized in the whole world, even in the work in the field. In addition, a Hakhel year, which is a year of the gathering together of men, women and children, achieves unity similar to the unity that is achieved on Rosh HaShanah.

May it be, that through the service mentioned above that this reading of the Torah should be through Mashiach himself. May he come speedily in our days.

The Previous Rebbe’s statement is known concerning the uniqueness of this Shabbos, the last Shabbos of the month of Elul. The Alter Rebbe once retold that “When I was in Mezritch I heard from the Maggid and from the Baal Shem Tov that the seventh month is the first month, of the months of the year. Hashem Himself blesses this month, which is the last Shabbos of the month of Elul. With this energy we have the ability to bless the rest of the eleven months of the year.”

In connection with the portion of the week: “You are all standing before Me,” refers to Rosh HaShanah, that is a time of judgment. “You are gathered, existing, and standing,” meaning to say that we merit to have a positive judgment. This portion is read before Rosh HaShanah, and included in it are the blessings that Hashem gives for the whole year.

This blessing is a general blessing, but nevertheless it is not given to remain general, but rather should be brought down in a specific, detailed way into the world. This in turn effects an increase also in the general blessing.

To preface: That we “merit in judgment” has to do primarily with the physical world. A person is only judged on Rosh HaShanah for physical things that he will have during the year.

Not only this world is judged, but all the spiritual worlds are also judged. On the contrary, the order of the drawing down this blessing starts with the upper worlds and then comes down to this world. Nevertheless, the ultimate purpose of this flow is for this physical world. Specifically here is where Hashem will be revealed, and His will fulfilled.

An example of this is a halachah that becomes the final law. All the theoretical discussions, (corresponding to the spiritual worlds), are only in order to find the final law that applies to this world.

We also see that in mitzvos, action is the main thing. Even if a person did a mitzvah without the proper intention (spiritual) he still has performed his obligation to do the mitzvah. The intention alone, without the action, has accomplished nothing. So we see, the only purpose of spirituality is for this physical world and action.

Still, the proper intention is required, although not for the intention’s sake, rather for the sake of the action. Because the intention adds an essential aspect, that being the excitement in the doing of the mitzvah. The sages say “a mitzvah without intention is like a body without a soul.”

As a result, the general flow starts on Rosh HaShanah, and later during the year is brought down in more detail into the world.

This relationship between the general and the detail (specific, physical) is also hinted to in relation to the three fathers of Chassidus. The Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid brought out Chassidus in a general manner that not everyone understood. The Alter Rebbe, on the other hand, brought out Chassidus in a detailed way. This means to say, that he brought general Chassidus down to the level where physical intellect could also understand it. This revelation of the specific also effects an elevation in the general. As we see, now every person can understand Chassidus.

To connect this with the portion of Nitzavim: “all of you where commanded today.” The quote starts out in a general way “all of you” and then goes on to specify “from the leaders,” “to the water carriers.” All this is in order to “enter into the covenant of Hashem”. After entering into the covenant they all reach a much higher level of unity with Hashem.

This unity is achieved specifically through teshuvah. And in particular through the blowing of the shofar, through which one reaches a supernal level of teshuvah.

This “detail” of teshuvah was also emphasized by the Alter Rebbe, who clarified Chassidus by bringing it down into the world, in that he concerned himself with making baalei teshuvah.

It also should be added that teshuvah is also found among tzaddikim. Even if one’s service to Hashem is proper, but nevertheless one’s subjugation to Hashem is not total, on a very refined level this is considered rebelling against the king. Therefore there has to be teshuvah also in this case.

The culmination of this will be in the future world, when the whole creation will reach perfection. This will be much higher than even the perfection that was found in the beginning of creation. This will even include the perfection of Adam and Moshe, both of which were on very high levels, yet they still will be able to reach even higher. This will occur because Hashem’s will, of having a dwelling place in this world, will be fulfilled.

Being that “Action is the main thing,” therefore through all that was mentioned above Mashiach should come now.

All this should take place before Rosh HaShanah, since according to Torah it is a custom to bless each person with a good writing and sealing from Rosh Chodesh Elul onwards, this is a proof that Above it has already been decided that there should be a good writing and sealing for each and every Jew. This especially true after Chai Elul, and even more so after the last Shabbos of Elul that Hashem Himself blesses.

2. In accordance to what we spoke about, (that the drawing down of the blessings in this last Shabbos of Elul is in a general manner, and it in turn is brought down in a more specific manner, that then returns and elevates the general flow); it is understood that this fact expresses itself also in the service of this last Shabbos of Elul.

The month of Elul is a month of accounting. One needs to make a correct accounting of one’s actions of the past year in order to correct and repair any lackings. Not just to repair the lackings or transgressions themselves, but also to increase in Torah and mitzvos. This means to say that even though one’s service may have been in a proper manner one needs to increase and achieve an even greater G‑dly service. This being a fitting preparation for a new year.

It is understood that this accounting has to be in a detailed manner of physical action relating to all matters of service to Hashem. This includes the three categories upon which the world stands: Torah, prayer, and deeds of kindness. All this has to be with the preface of the service of teshuvah. As it says in Torah “teshuvah and good deeds,” first teshuvah and then good deeds. Through the preface of teshuvah then the actions will be good and illuminated. Similarly this will bring the redemption, which is the ultimate purpose of our actions and service in this world.

In all these matters there has to be a accurate accounting, and the acceptance of good resolutions concerning the service of the new year. This should be in a way of being fixed, both fixed in time and more importantly in soul (desire).

The idea of the completion and perfection of the “general” after the many details have been accomplished, is evident this year: The last Shabbos of the month of Elul falls out on the 25th day of Elul. This was the day that the earth was created. Rosh HaShanah falls out on Friday the sixth day of creation. These two facts emphasize the point that the general, (the creation of the world), is elevated by the particular, the day man was created. Being that man has the ability to elevate the creation.

This point is also brought out by the fact that the 25th of Elul is in a Shemitah year (general, totally unto Hashem), and then is followed by Rosh HaShanah, a Hakhel year when many Jews (details) are united together in order to become closer to Hashem.

The comparison of the 25th of Elul and Rosh HaShanah is: There is a known question as to why Rosh HaShanah is on the sixth day of creation and not on the day the world was created, the 25th day of Elul. The answer being that Rosh HaShanah falls on the day man was created since the creation then became complete, man being the initial purpose of the creation of the world.

Nevertheless we see the greatness of the 25th of Elul, to the extent that it could be considered Rosh HaShanah.

To explain this: The greatness of the first day of the creation, (the 25th day of Elul), was that this was the day that the heavens and the earth were created. This means to say that on this day the whole creation was created, an amazing fact. Both the physical heavens and earth, and the spiritual ones were created.

In addition, this creation has an advantage in that it was a creation of something from nothing. Only Hashem has the ability to create from nothing, as opposed to this world which is based on cause and effect.

A deeper explanation being: On the first day of creation there was a revelation of the essential ability of Hashem to create something from nothing.

Yet the greatness of the first day of creation can in no way compare to the “pleasure” of Hashem upon the creation of the first man, and the completion of the creation. As it says in Torah “Hashem saw that it was very good.”

To explain further, this satisfaction was not only because the last detail of the creation was completed, but rather because specifically man was created. Because through him the entire purpose of the creation was completed, being the revelation of the kingship of Hashem. Through Adam’s (the first man) crowning of Hashem, Hashem was also crowned king in the entire creation.

In this manner we will also understand the difference between the 25th of Elul and Rosh HaShanah. On the 25th day of Elul the emphasis is mainly on many details (the entire creation), whereas on Rosh HaShanah the emphasis is on unity, (the creation of man).

Man was created in the image of Hashem, the true Oneness. Apart from the fact that physically man is made up of many parts (limbs etc.), the highest level of the soul is one with above, as is known. Therefore specifically through man is the unity of the world revealed, being Hashem.

Each Rosh HaShanah is a time when we crown the king. This is a time when we don’t recognize the differences between the people of the land. On the contrary, each one is nullified in the presence of the king.

This means to say that the 25th day of Elul is the beginning of many details of creation. This is not true of kingship, which is when the details are nullified into one united group. Since this nullification comes from the king and not from the people (who are limited) the unity is therefore much stronger.

In addition to the above, the concept of general and details also applies to Torah. On the contrary, it starts from Torah and then is brought down to the world in general. As the saying “Hashem looked into Torah and created the world.”

The Torah, even though it is one, and was given from Hashem Who is one, nevertheless, includes an infinite number of details. This fact holds true even as Torah is explained in seventy languages. Even more than this, the many details in Torah are included in the Tablets (the Ten Commandments) themselves.

The reason for this is that Hashem wanted to reward (also purify) the Jews, therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvos. In this manner each individual faculty of a person is elevated in some way.

Therefore, we see that each Jew is required to learn the whole Torah, he has to even find something new in the level of Pardes of the Torah (a very high spiritual level). A person is exempt from this requirement if this has already been done in a previous incarnation. Similarly, each Jew is obligated to fulfill all of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah. He must even fulfill the mitzvos that are given only to the king. This is accomplished when the king fulfills the mitzvah as messenger of the people. The reason for these obligations to learn Torah and do mitzvos is in order to reward Israel.

The purpose of all these details and branches is in order that we fear Hashem, that leads to the nullification of the person’s being to the king.

The difference between the 25th day of Elul and Rosh HaShanah is brought out even more in this year, being that the 25th day of Elul is a Shemitah year, and Rosh HaShanah is a Hakhel year. This is because Shemitah emphasizes many details and Hakhel emphasizes unity.

A Shemitah year, relating to the service of a person, is concerned with the service of a Jew in elevating and purifying the world (details). He makes his field into public property so that in this way he recognize the true owner of the field, being Hashem. The differences (details) being that each field and each person are different.

The mitzvah of Hakhel brings out the nullification of the person to Hashem (general). Meaning to say that all Israel; men, women, and children, do one mitzvah together. In addition, the purpose of this mitzvah is to fear Hashem. The main emphasis is not on the learning and understanding of Torah, which lead to different levels of understanding, rather only to fear Hashem. This, as we mentioned earlier, being the entire purpose of mitzvos in general.

The main point of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai was the revelation of Hashem that effected a nullification of the people. In a similar manner Hakhel is compared to the day the Torah was given. It is as though right now Hashem is again giving the Torah. The purpose not being the understanding of intellect, rather the intention of the heart, the feeling of awe and fear.

Hakhel emphasizes unity through the fearing of Hashem, therefore, also relating to the Torah portion that is read to the people at the time of the gathering, we don’t find an emphasis on any one detail, for example the Ten Commandments. Because this is a time of unity, the fear of Hashem is above differentiation. Similarly the place in the Temple that this takes place has no real importance. Also the time it takes place, after Yom Tov and at night, is not unique. As we mentioned, unity is beyond differentiation.

Similarly, we will understand why the reading is done specifically by the king. It would seem that the teaching of Torah to all Jews should be done by the Sanhedrin. Nevertheless this reading is done by the king since Hakhel is not a matter of learning but rather a time to fear Hashem. This is accomplished through the king who is the heart of the nation, and life and excitement come from the heart.

In this away we will understand that Shemitah and Hakhel are similar to the 25th day of Elul and Rosh HaShanah.

The 25th day of Elul emphasizes the many details of the creation, and afterwards Rosh HaShanah nullifies all these differences and brings out that they are really one.

The relationship between Shemitah and Hakhel is similar. Shemitah brings out many differences and details. And after this the differences are nullified in the Hakhel year when unity is brought out.

All that we find in the creation we also find in a person, who is called a microcosm. From this we will understand that the 25th day of Elul and Rosh HaShanah, the first day of creation and the sixth day of creation, all relate to a person in his general life, and also on a day to day basis.

When people wake up from their sleep they immediately realize that there is a large world around them that has many details. This requires a realization that all one’s actions have to be in accordance with the awareness of Hashem presence. This means to say that the beginning of the day with the saying of modeh ani, is a general recognition of Hashem. But the intention is that this acknowledgment should carry over into the rest of the physical day, into all its different aspects.

However after the completion of one’s service at the end of the day he returns to the general point of modeh ani and realizes that everything is given back to Hashem, and he says “I entrust my spirit into Your hands.”

We find that the beginning of the day is like the 25th of Elul, whose main emphasis is many details. The modeh ani at the beginning of the day has to be brought down into all the details. The end of the day is similar to Rosh HaShanah, the nullification of all the details into one point of unity. This is like the nullification at the time of crowning of the king.

Similarly relating to Shemitah and Hakhel in the service of man. Shemitah, which deals mainly with many details, is the awareness that all the land belongs to Hashem, and this awareness has to be drawn into a person’s life just as modeh ani has to be brought into the whole day.

In the case of Hakhel, after one finishes the Shemitah year, the main service is unity. To unify all the details into one point, the fear of Hashem. This has to be done on a personal level oneself and also with others.

We can also add one amazing point concerning the lesson of Shemitah and Hakhel in the service of a person outside of Israel in the time of exile.

To preface: It is explained in many places that it is easier to effect the nullification of a simple person than it is to do so with a very intellectual person. The reason being that intellect is in contradiction to kabbalas ol (subjugation). Both of them can’t exist at the same time. Therefore a chocham has to force upon himself kabbalas ol. This is not the case with a simple person. Since he doesn’t possess anything to prevent kabbalas ol it’s easy for him.

The mitzvos of Shemitah and Hakhel are similar. In Israel at the time the Beis HaMikdash was in existence, when the mitzvos of Shemitah and Hakhel were actually done, they had to be simultaneously done in spiritual terms, relating to the soul. At that time the doing of the physical act could hide the spiritual side. This is not true in our times when there is no physical act, and there is only the service of the soul.

More specifically, prefacing with the explanation of the sacrifices which prayer now takes the place of.

At the time that the Beis HaMikdash was in existence, when sacrifices were actually brought, one also had to think that his sacrifice was in place of himself caused by the sin which he did, but because of Hashem’s great kindness He allowed us to exchange ourselves with the sacrifice. But a person shouldn’t think that this is enough. Otherwise he remains in the same state that he was in before he brought the sacrifice. He also has to do teshuvah.

This is not true in the time of galus when the Beis HaMikdash is not in existence. One can’t bring a sacrifice, he can only bring a spiritual sacrifice. He can only bring his soul closer to Hashem through prayer. Now the emphasis is only on the spiritual sacrifice as there is no other type to be brought.

Similarly, relating to the mitzvah of Shemitah. In Israel, where they can actually do the mitzvah of Shemitah, the field owner will not be able to appreciate the spiritual aspects of Shemitah. This being because he will look out at the fields that he worked hard on for six years and see that they now lie fallow and open to the public. This will bother him a great deal.

On the other hand, outside of Israel, where one cannot actually perform the mitzvah of Shemitah, one can only fulfill the spiritual aspects. This will automatically stress the spiritual aspects to a greater extent. This in turn will lead to increases in Torah study, and a recognition that everything belongs to Hashem.

In addition, the realization that everything belongs to Hashem will in turn also effect an increase in the learning of Torah. When he comes to realize that the very chair that he is sitting upon was created this very moment from nothing, he won’t have to think deeply into the command of Hashem, that he needs to learn Torah every free moment he has. He automatically will not waste even one second since everything else will seem insignificant.

Similarly relating to the mitzvah of Hakhel. At the time when the Beis HaMikdash was in existence they were actually able to do the mitzvah of Hakhel. It is possible that it would be enough for them to just be involved in the mitzvah of Hakhel and not be concerned with the spiritual aspects that also are involved.

This is not true now when the Beis HaMikdash is no longer in existence. The only thing left now is a remembrance of its existence. In our times the spiritual aspects of Hakhel are much more evident. This being the transcendence of one’s being through the fear of Hashem.

May it be that everyone will fulfill all the matters connected with the last Shabbos of Elul. Everyone should make a true accounting, and mending of the passing year in preparation for the new year. In particular with those matters connected with the 25th day of Elul. And afterwards the transcendence and elevation of all these matters to one main point of crowning the king on Rosh HaShanah.

All these matters should be achieved through happiness. As it is known “Happiness breaks boundaries.” This will quicken the breaking of the limitations of the exile, and bring the redemption through the righteous Mashiach. Then we will merit to actually perform the mitzvah of Shemitah, and even more so the mitzvah of Hakhel in the third Beis HaMikdash speedily in our days.

It is self-understood that even though we explained above the advantage of people outside of Israel, nevertheless, the main goal is that we be able to actually physically perform these mitzvos. This is because this is what Hashem wants, that these should be done in this physical world.

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3. As we are accustomed to do at every farbrengen we will explain a passage from the portion of the week with Rashi. Also the notes of my father Rav Levi Yitzchok on the Zohar, a Mishnah from Pirkei Avos that is learned on this Shabbos, and a halachah from the Rambam that is learned on this day according to the daily learning schedules.

As usual we will try to find a connection in our daily lives from these studies that we learned. Because of Divine Providence they were studied today, therefore they have a unique correlation with this day. As the Alter Rebbe said “we should live with the times.” In other words with the portion of Torah that is applicable on that day.

In addition, this week’s parshah has a uniqueness about it that we do not find among other parshahs.

There are many parshahs in Torah that at times are read together in the same week. There are years when they are read together, and there are years when they are read separately.

But concerning our parshahs of Nitzavim and Vayeilech there is a difference. Other parshahs that are connected are in essence two different parshahs but because of a certain situation they are read together. Whereas our parshahs are in essence one parshah, but at certain times they are divided into two parshahs.

Concerning the known question relating to the Zohar is: It says in the Zohar that there are fifty-three parshiyos in the Torah. But we see that there are really fifty-four? The answer being that Nitzavim and Vayeilech are really one parshah.

We find in this week’s parshah a quality that is not found in any other of the parshahs that are combined. This one parshah has so much light that it at times has enough light to illuminate two weeks!

Being that this parshah has such a uniqueness, emphasizes to us the importance of each detail it is concerned with. This will lead us to contemplate, and to live in the parshah. Especially in a year when they are both read together, and especially on Shabbos when they are read together from beginning to end.

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The reason we say “All Israel” before Pirkei Avos is brought in many places (Kol Bo 40):

The saying of Pirkei Avos in the summer months is connected with the praying of Minchah. Meaning to say that just as a person is obligated to pray Minchah he is obligated to say Pirkei Avos. This also includes an unlearned person who doesn’t know what he is saying.

In order that he shouldn’t become dejected because he doesn’t know the explanation of what he is reading we preface the Mishnah with “All Israel have a share in the World to Come, as it says: ‘And your people are all righteous...in which to take pride’ ” (Yeshayahu 60:21) Even though this person doesn’t understand, nevertheless there is a greater thing, that he has a portion in the future world! This is in addition to the fact that Hashem is glorified through his actions.

Therefore if someone asks him why he is learning Pirkei Avos when he doesn’t understand what he is learning, he can answer: Go and ask Hashem why He is glorified through my actions! I don’t have any answers or reasons, it’s enough for me that Hashem is glorified through my actions!

Since we are on the topic, now is the time to bring out that there should be a unity between all Jews, even a unlearned person who doesn’t know what he is saying.

There are those who feel that it is below them and not a honorable thing to associate with such a person. He feels it’s not his own honor he has to protect, but rather the honor of Torah. He feels that since he learned the whole Torah his whole being is compared to the Aron Kodesh (the ark) that has the Torah in it. Therefore what does he have in common with such a person.

First of all we need to look into what in truth is bothering him, the honor of the Torah or his own honor! It is obvious that if he is not obstinate about his own honor then his connection and closeness to a simple Jew won’t be interpreted by him as a blemish on the honor of Torah.

Even more, and more importantly, Hashem Himself says about this Jew “I take pride;” that Hashem is glorified by the actions of this Jew!

Therefore, because of the reason given above, it suffices to say “all Israel” one time before the saying of two chapters of Avos (this week chapters 5 and 6).

Accordingly, there is to explain the saying of “Rabbi Chananyah” after the saying of Pirkei Avos.

In preface, every Jew needs to try to contemplate and work to find an explanation on his own. As it says, “a shy person won’t learn” (Avos 2:5). We see that a person works and strives with his intellect and understanding to comprehend physical things, even though they transitory, and there eventually won’t remain any trace of them at all. This exertion should be done to an even greater extent relating to matters of Torah since he is dealing with eternal matters.

In connection with our subject, why we say “Rabbi Chananyah” after saying Pirkei Avos:

Pirkei Avos are “matters of chassidus (B. Kama 30a)”, matters beyond the letter of the law. According to what we have explained that the saying of Pirkei Avos applies to everyone we could ask: Every person knows his own personal situation, that he still lacking in the fulfillment of the things he is obligated to do according to Torah. This being the case it would seem that it is not relevant for him to do things that are beyond the letter of the law.

The answer to this is “Rabbi Chananyah ben Akashya said: The Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to reward Jews, therefore He increased in Torah and mitzvos.” Therefore, when a person does an additional thing in Torah, especially a thing that has to do with matters of chassidus, he will increase in the “reward of Israel.” Not only in quantity, but also in quality.

Accordingly, it is enough to say “Rabbi Chananyah” once after saying two chapters of Avos since this point need only be made once.

Relating to chapters five and six there is a possible reason to say “Rabbi Chananyah” at the end of each chapter, although this is not the actual case.

In preface: the beginning of the sixth chapter starts out by saying “The chachamim taught, in the language of a Mishnah.” Meaning to say that this is a Beraisa in the language of a Mishnah, and not a Mishnah proper. Since up until now we have been learning only Mishnahs we need to be told that from now on we are learning a Beraisa.

The reason we needed to be told that we are learning a Beraisa is because the way of learning Torah is to be exacting in every word. If it’s in a Mishnah it will carry more weight, than if it’s in a Beraisa. Also there can be a difference in the final law, depending on if it’s a Mishnah or Beraisa.

Here we can also answer those that are “shpitz Chabad” that make a mistake relating to the teachings of the previous Rebbeim, “What’s the difference which Rebbe said it, the main thing is that it’s Chassidus.”

In answer to this, we see that the Previous Rebbe was very careful to mention the author of every quote he made. He was even careful to explain exactly under what circumstances it was said. This is not a new thing initiated by the Previous Rebbe, rather this is the way it’s done. Similarly, one has to be exact in specifying whether it is a matter from the written or oral Torah, or a Mishnah, Beraisa, or Gemara.

In the same way, when we learn the fifth and the sixth chapters together we could differentiate between them by saying “Rabbi Chananyah” in order to differentiate between a Mishnah and a Beraisa.

This can similarly be said concerning the third and fourth chapters. Even though they are both Mishnahs there still is a reason we could differentiate between one chapter and another. As mentioned previously, everything in Torah is exact and its every detail carries different inferences, therefore each Mishnah has own unique laws that it teaches. But nevertheless, as mentioned, we only say “Rabbi Chananyah” once.

In regards to the two chapters of Pirkei Avos we say on this Shabbos we find a connection to matters that relate to today:

The fifth chapter begins “The world was created by means of ten (Divine) utterances.” This occurred on the 25th day of Elul, the day of the creation of the world.

The sixth chapter concludes “All that Hashem created in this world, He created solely for His glory.” This means to say that the ultimate purpose of the creation was the creation of man, which was on Rosh HaShanah, on the sixth day of the creation.

May it be that by speaking of all these matters including matters of the written and oral Torah, and in particular the inner Torah this will quicken the true redemption.

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4. In explaining Rashi on the parshah:

In the parshah it says that “men, women, and children should be gathered together” (Vayeilech 31:12). This being the mitzvah of Hakhel in the Beis HaMikdash. Rashi explains that “the men came to learn, and the women came to hear, and the infants came in order to give merit to those that bring them for bringing them.” It seems obvious that Rashi’s purpose in explaining this passage from the Torah is not to explain why the men and women should come to the Beis HaMikdash. Rather he wants to answer the question relating to infants, for what purpose were they brought?

Rashi then explains: in order to give merit for bringing them.

This still needs clarification. It is explained in the following passage (13) “Their children that don’t understand will listen and learn to fear Hashem.” Meaning to say that also relating to children, the matter of “listening and learning” is applicable. Besides this, it is an obligation to teach your children in matters of Torah and mitzvos, apart from the mitzvah of Hakhel.

When children who haven’t reached the age of understanding actually see that a large gathering of people are all standing and listening very intently to the words that the king is saying, it makes a deep impression on the child.

This being the case why is there a question “why are the infants brought”? It seems to be such a strong question that we have to find a reason that has nothing to do with their own benefit, rather to give merit to the those that bring them.

Relating to the possible answer of the obligation of “teaching your children Torah,” this passage is not referring to the obligation of the father to bring his son, rather on the obligation of the person who gathers the people.

Referring to the next passage: “Their children that don’t understand will listen and learn to fear Hashem,” the word children here is not referring to infants.

Therefore we see that the passage is coming to teach us that even the person who is required to come to the Hakhel himself can also gain merit by bringing infants.

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In the sixth chapter of Pirkei Avos (Mishnah 2) we are taught: “The Tablets were the work of Hashem, and the writing was the writing of Hashem, engraved (charus) on the Tablets. Do not read charus (engraved) but charus (freedom), for there is no free man except for one who occupies himself with the study of Torah.”

The question on this is known: This Mishnah is referring to the first Tablets. In Eruvin 54a it says “the fact that the Torah says ‘engraved on the Tablets’ tells us that if the first Tablets would not have been broken, Torah would not have been forgotten.” In addition, “no nation or language would have ruled over them.” How is it that the tanna in our Mishnah learns from “engraved (charus) on the Tablets” that one who learns Torah is a free man, since the first Tablets, whom he was speaking about, were broken?

The Tzemach Tzedek explains that “the first Tablets were created by Hashem, therefore no nation could have ruled over the Jews. Which is not true of the second Tablets. Nevertheless, since they were also engraved by Hashem, and also come from a place of freedom, which is why they were given on Yom Kipper a day of the revelation of a very high level in G‑dliness, therefore anyone who is involved in Torah is a free man. The second Tablets don’t have the ability to have this freedom spread out to all the nations in the world. Nevertheless, for one who is involved in Torah study he becomes illuminated with freedom.”

This matter also emphasizes the point that we spoke about before, that a general rule includes also the details. The true meaning of freedom is not just in a general way, rather freedom has to apply to all the details. This means to say that the freedom that one person has is not true freedom. True freedom would only be when he has no interference or worries during his Torah studies. If this is not the case, even in one detail, this would be a contradiction in freedom. An example being a servant who is given a contract for his freedom, but yet is still a slave.

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Concerning today’s lesson in Rambam (Avos HaTumah chapter 15): We learn the greatness of a minyan (congregation). The connection of this to these days of preparation to Rosh HaShanah and the ten days of teshuvah is: We see that also regarding the ten days of teshuvah the greatness of a congregation is emphasized. Even when an individual prays alone during this time it is accounted to him as though the prayed with a congregation. From this will be understood the even greater act of his praying with a congregation during this time.

All this is caused by the greatness of a congregation even if not involved in Torah. Even more so if they are actually involved in Torah and mitzvos, as in the gathering here. Especially when this is done in a special time like the month of Elul, after Chai Elul, and on Shabbos. Also in a special place, in a synagogue or beis midrash. Especially in a place where the Previous Rebbe prayed. It is certain that all this adds to the greatness of a congregation.

Since action is the most important thing, we should make use of all the extra capacity of a congregation in order to increase in all things that are relevant to this time: To complete the accounting of the soul for the whole year that has past, being a Shemitah year, and to prepare for the coming year, a Hakhel year.

We should also carry out the desires of the Previous Rebbe including the spreading of Chassidus. Through the doing of all this we should merit to the coming of Mashiach quickly in our days.