1. It has become customary to meet one additional time before parting to return home. The present gathering is unlike the farbrengens, which were associated with special days and occasions. The sole purpose of this gathering is to intensify the feeling of unity among ourselves so that its effect be felt even when we are far apart.

It is naturally more difficult to generate such a feeling when separated physically. However, since the Torah’s requirement of ahavas Yisrael is unconditional, it automatically follows that it can be fully accomplished under all circumstances. Furthermore, since the physical distance obstructs this feeling, we must arouse an even deeper sense of ahavas Yisrael in order to overcome it. This is the purpose of the present gathering: to inspire an even more powerful feeling of ahavas Yisrael after we have parted.

The theme of unity is also stressed in the distribution of charity. As far as the recipient is concerned, it makes no difference who is actually giving the charity. To him, everyone is truly the same!

Several aspects of the time in which we are meeting also stress the idea of unity. The recent holiday of Purim shows that unity can be maintained in spite of physical distance. Achashverosh said that, ‘There is one nation spread out and dispersed among the nations.’ (Esther 3:8) This means that in spite of their physical distance, they still kept their unity as ‘one nation.’ In fact, their unity was so complete that even the non-Jews recognized it.

The day of the month, the 16th of Adar, is also special in this regard. It is written in Megillas Taanis that on this day, the wall which surrounded Jerusalem was rebuilt. Jerusalem itself is a city of unity, described in Psalms (122:3) as, ‘a city in which [all Israel] is united together.’ In addition, the name Jerusalem means ‘complete fear,’ because it aroused those who entered it with a feeling of awe. And when people stand in awe of G‑d, they forget about their individual differences. They are completely united and concentrating on the same goal.

The above mentioned points refer to a spiritual dimension of unity. The wall which surrounded Jerusalem extended this unity to the physical realm. This is because the wall surrounded and protected all those who lived within its boundaries without distinction. Therefore, on the 16th of Adar there is a special lesson regarding an all-pervading sense of ahavas Yisrael and unity.

The fact that we are meeting on Tuesday, the third day of the week, underlines another aspect of this unity. On the 3rd day of creation, there is double mention of the fact that, ‘it was good.’ Our Sages tell us that this alludes to the fact that it was, ‘good for the heavens and good for the creations.’

‘Heavens’ and ‘creations’ signify two extreme ends of the spectrum — the highest and the lowest levels of creation. Nevertheless, both extremes were united on this day. This is possible because they share a common point: that they are constantly kept in existence by the creative force of G‑d. Only He, Who transcends all levels of differentiation and constantly brings them into being, can accomplish the unity of these extremes on the very same day.

In keeping with the instructions of the Alter Rebbe to ‘live with the times,’ i.e. the weekly (and daily) Torah portion, we find a deep lesson from the third segment of Parshas Ki Sisa. After the sin of the Golden Calf, G‑d tells the Jewish people that they will be led through the desert by an angel. Moshe responds that unless G‑d Himself leads them, the Jews don’t want to follow. G‑d agrees to this request, and responds, ponai yeileichu (‘My countenance will go with you’). Moshe comments that this will have the effect that ‘I and Your people will be distinguished from every nation on the face of the earth.’ (Ex. 33:16)

The Jewish people were distinguished from the non-Jewish nations for all time and under all conditions, not just when they were in the desert. Even a Jew who has committed severe transgressions is called a ‘Jewish sinner,’ for he remains distinct from the other nations regardless of his behavior.

But how was this uniqueness effected? The answer lies in the word ponai quoted above, which also means, ‘My innermost dimension.’ It is this inner spark of G‑dliness, which resides within every Jew and accompanies him wherever he might be found, which gives him this absolute and permanent uniqueness.

This is the wondrous lesson for those who are about to part and who will maintain their unity in spite of their distance. The truth is that they are united by this spark of G‑dliness which resides within every Jew, dominates their existence and makes their unity complete. This spark has its effect wherever they might be and at all times of the day, even when asleep.

For the same reason, this holiness reaches all Jews equally — even a newborn baby. This is the reason for the recent campaign to insure that a Shir HaMaalos be hung in the room of every baby and of the mother who has recently given birth. As we have discussed on other occasions, this has the dual function of protecting the health of the mother and child, as well as insuring that the child is surrounded with holiness.

This is also the reason for the Jewish custom that children be given only toys made in the form of kosher animals; singing them to sleep with songs of holy content such as ‘Torah iz de besteh s’chorah’ (‘Torah is the best commodity’); and having children kiss the mezuzah before going to sleep at night.

The Torah has always stressed how the environment effects even the youngest child. In recent generations, even non-Jewish doctors have agreed with this.

The profound effect on the child’s development is also the reason for the recent stress on placing holy books in the child’s room. Obviously, the intention was not to just place one book there as a way of ‘fulfilling an obligation.’ The books should be of major importance in the room, with a minimum of at least a Chumash, a Siddur, and a Haggadah. It is advisable to add a Tehillim, either by itself, or bound together with a Siddur. The child should also have his own charity box, as we have mentioned on many occasions.

This is all part of the parents’ awesome responsibility for the child’s welfare — both physical and spiritual. Although being a parent involves a great deal of effort, when one thinks of how the essence of G‑d dwells within the child’s heart, one feels lucky to have been given such a job.

In light of the above, we understand the crucial importance of the first mitzvah in the Torah, that of having children. Obviously, G‑d Himself has an interest in seeing that the child is taken care of — it is as if the child is His. One therefore has no reason to worry about being able to care for the child’s needs, for G‑d really has the responsibility! Making enough money to care for the child and keeping the parents healthy in order that they be able to make a living and care for the children is therefore in G‑d’s hands.

In concluding with the distribution of charity, it would be appropriate that each of you, upon returning to your home city, give this money to a local educational institution. And, as our Sages say, ‘Charity is great, for it hastens the redemption.’

We should also mention a point we discussed on Purim: that the time for Mashiach’s arrival has already come, but just ‘one action,’ or ‘one word,’ or even ‘one thought’ is all that is necessary to bring it in actuality. And since the action of a child is halachically valid, even a child’s act could bring it about.

We must therefore increase in speaking and thinking about the redemption, thereby hastening its arrival, as we say in the Amidah that Mashiach should arrive, ‘because [i.e. in reward for the fact that] we hope for Your salvation the entire day.’

Redemption is also alluded to in the parshah, Ki Sisa. The parshah begins by discussing the census (ki sisa) of the Jewish people, a description of the kiyor (wash basin) for the Tabernacle, and continues with the anointing oil and incense used in the Temple service.

What is the explanation of the order of these topics? The kiyor is especially puzzling: all other objects which were to be placed in the Tabernacle were described in the previous parshah, Terumah. Why was it placed here?

The phrase ki sisa es rosh b’nei Yisrael (‘when you make a head-count of the Jewish people’) can also be translated ‘when you lift up the heads of the Jewish people.’ In this sense of the word, there is clear reference to the redemption, when the Jewish people will be elevated above all the nations of the world.

The sign that the redemption has finally come is when the Temple is rebuilt and the sacrificial order resumes. The anointing oil (which was used to consecrate all the holy objects for use in the Temple) alludes to the rebuilding of the Temple, and the incense (which was the holiest form of service) hints to the Temple service in general.

How does the wash basin fit in? The last stage of preparation for Mashiach’s arrival is to ‘wash our hands’ and to ‘wash our feet.’

In a spiritual sense the hands refer to positive actions, i.e. the mitzvos we are required to perform. Since we are in exile, it is possible that some ‘dust’ or ‘mud’ have clung to our hands, with the result that in our desire to do good, we might inadvertently harm someone in the process.

The ‘feet’ refer to prohibitions, from which one must figuratively run away from. Instead the feet should be used to (in the words of Pirkei Avos) ‘run to do a mitzvah.’ Since the ‘mud’ of exile might affect our ability to run in the proper direction, they must also be ‘washed.’

This is one lesson we can derive from the placement of the Torah’s description of the kiyor. Their is only a slight bit of additional preparation remaining before Mashiach arrives (‘ot ot kumt Mashiach’), and immediately upon finishing this stage, Mashiach will immediately arrive and the Temple will be immediately restored.

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2. In addition to all the blessings mentioned previously, G‑d should grant all of you — bar mitzvah boys, bas mitzvah girls, parents, and teachers — success in fulfilling your mission in this world in Torah and mitzvos, and with a feeling of joy.

This is especially true in such a joyous time, when the transition is made from fulfilling mitzvos as a way of preparation for the future to the actual performance of mitzvos. This is not only an increase over the previous category of mitzvah, but a new category of mitzvah altogether. This brings in turn completely new blessings from G‑d, not just quantitatively greater blessings.

We will conclude with the distribution of charity, which should be given on the day of the bar mitzvah. And this mitzvah will lead to many others, thereby hastening the redemption.

The redemption bears similarity to becoming a bar mitzvah. The commentaries explain that the mitzvos of the days of Mashiach are of a vastly superior quality. The mitzvos we fulfill during the exile are similar to a preparation for those we will do in the Messianic Age. This is similar to the idea of a bar mitzvah, where there is a transition from a stage of preparation to one of actual fulfillment.

[After distributing charity, the Rebbe concluded:]

In addition to giving charity on the day of the bar mitzvah, you will also certainly fulfill the custom of studying chapters 13 and 14 from the book of Psalms, which correspond to one’s age.

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3. In addition to the blessings mentioned previously, G‑d should bless you with success in preparing for the wedding: that they should be in an auspicious time, and be carried out with great success and in a chassidic way. Included in this are the good resolutions made by the couple regarding building a Jewish home filled with holiness.

The wedding itself should also be in an auspicious time and you should build a Jewish home upon a foundation of Torah and mitzvos; with parnasah both in a spiritual and in a physical sense; an everlasting edifice with sons and daughters spending their lives on doing Torah and mitzvos. And everything mentioned above should take place in a joyous manner.

May this be the final preparation for G‑d’s promise (recited in the seven blessings for a bride and groom), ‘let there speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness...the sound of exultation of grooms from under their chuppah, and youths from their joyous banquets,’ with the arrival of Mashiach.

We will conclude with the distribution of charity to be given on the day of the wedding, the merit of which will increase even more G‑d’s blessings in all your needs.

And your efforts in building a miniature sanctuary should be the final preparation for the sanctuary for the entire Jewish people, the Holy Temple.