1. The mere fact that many Jews have gathered together is itself a source of blessing. Even with a gathering of ten Jews, and even if they are not involved in Torah, the Divine Presence dwells there; how much more so when there are many multiples of ten.

There is also a positive spiritual effect from the location where we are gathered: a Beis Haknesses and Beis HaMidrash.

Normally we also find an additional positive influence from the special time in which a gathering of this type takes place. However, in this case, the cause for the gathering is the yahrzeit of the Previous Rebbe. Any person’s passing would seem to be the opposite of blessing. This is especially true regarding the passing of a tzaddik, and even more so the Nasi of the generation. How can we see anything positive in this?

The truth is that the core of everything which occurs in the world is good. The reason for this is obvious: since G‑d is the ultimate good, and He looks over every detail of creation, we are forced to say that everything in creation has good within it.

The only difference is that sometimes the good is revealed and sometimes concealed. When it is concealed, it is up to the person to reflect upon it until he discovers that hidden good. In practice, although it might appear that a great deal of reflection is necessary, in reality even a superficial examination is enough to find the good.

The Rambam says that part of mourning is to “examine one’s deeds and do teshuvah.” This is the good inherent in a yahrzeit: that we should use it as an opportunity for teshuvah. On a yahrzeit, it is easier for one to do teshuvah, and it has a deeper effect on the person. For these reasons, its effects last longer and are more far-reaching. The extra teshuvah associated with a yahrzeit must penetrate one’s daily life and be recognized in one’s practical deeds. The person must also be a lamplight to illuminate those around him, to the extent that their lives are also affected.

Even small children are affected by a yahrzeit. Although they might not understand exactly what is going on, they do detect the special arousal and interest of their fathers and mothers. Since the nature of children is to imitate those around them — especially their parents — children also reach a higher level on a yahrzeit.

This is especially true when one’s arousal on the yahrzeit reaches the realm of action, in accordance with the custom to add in giving charity on a yahrzeit. Action has a special ability to be assimilated by children — both those young in age, and those young in terms of their knowledge.

We see, then, that the time is also a specially opportune one. When connected with the positive effects of the location and the gathering, it is certain that a most powerful blessing is bestowed upon all the participants; one which has lasting effects throughout the entire world.

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2. It is well known that the Alter Rebbe instructed that one should “live with the time,” i.e. derive a lesson from the weekly parshah which is read in the Torah.

As we have spoken many times, every Jew has the responsibility to do everything within his/her power to make the world a better place; that it should be recognizable that “the world was not created to be chaotic, but to be settled.”

For this reason, we are commanded in the Torah to bring the non-Jews of the world to fulfill the Seven Noachide Commandments.

However, a person might make the following calculation: “the command applies to those things that the non-Jews do not yet do. That means that I must influence them to do something new. But there are so many more non-Jews than us! How is it possible for us to come to them and expect them to listen! The Jewish people are the smallest among the nations!”

The answer to this may be found in this week’s parshah, Beshallach, which begins, “When Pharaoh sent the people away, G‑d did not lead them along the Philistine Highway, although it was the shorter route, because G‑d said, ‘if the people encounter armed resistance, perhaps they will lose heart and return to Egypt.’”

The Jewish people had already spent 4 generations in Egypt. Pharaoh had rebuffed all their requests for release, and remained strong in his rejection of G‑d.

Nevertheless, when the time came for their enslavement to end, not only did Pharaoh not interfere, but he actually assisted, as the verse begins, “when Pharaoh sent the people away.” The same enthusiasm he had used to enslave the Jews; he now used to assist them and send them on their way.

This teaches us that although we might feel small in face of the other nations, when fulfilling a mission of G‑d, we must ignore this fact. Therefore, one must disregard all obstacles to spreading the Noachide Laws and, in spite of the fact that we are numerically smaller, our efforts will surely be rewarded.

An additional lesson can be derived from the fact that “G‑d did not lead them along the Philistine Highway...because G‑d said, ‘if the people encounter armed resistance, perhaps they will lose heart and return to Egypt.’”

It was in no way definite that they would return to Egypt when faced with such a threat. It was only a possibility, as the verse says clearly, “perhaps.” Nevertheless, G‑d kept them from such a situation and led them to another path.

It is clear, then, that the path they were led along presented them with a test they could handle, as our Sages say that “G‑d only makes demands in accordance with our capabilities.” If they would have only exercised their free choice properly, they would have been able to directly enter Eretz Yisrael with the arrival of Mashiach.

This provides us with yet another answer to the complaint mentioned above. If, because of our size, we would not be able to carry out the mission of convincing the non-Jews to fulfill their 7 mitzvos, G‑d would not have given us the mission in the first place.

This is even more true in our country, where the non-Jews not only don’t disturb, but actively assist us in spreading the 7 mitzvos. This resembles the situation described in this week’s parshah, where Pharaoh himself helped send us out of Egypt.

Regarding the abovementioned goal of spreading peace among all nations of the world, some ask the following question: we constantly hope for and work towards the arrival of Mashiach. However, one of the signs relating to his arrival is, “If you see nations fighting with one another, look for the footsteps of Mashiach.” This is something which we have seen in actuality in the very latest time period, as we once discussed.

According to this, they ask, why do we want peace? Better we should encourage the nations to fight among themselves, giving further strength to this sign of Mashiach’s coming!

The answer to this lies in the following fact: there are certain mitzvos that the more you add in them, the better they are. In other ones, however, it is preferable to do the minimum. In general, positive, friendly matters should always be extended and stressed. Things which involve the negative, though, should be done only as required.

The same applies to G‑d’s actions, some of which we ask to be increased, and others which we beg that the past should suffice. So too in this case of the fighting among the nations. We ask that the amount we have endured until the present time should suffice as the sign for Mashiach. Therefore, we spend our energy on spreading peace in the world, as mentioned previously.

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3. This is also an appropriate time to again mention the suggestion and request regarding “mini-sanctuaries,” that houses of Torah, prayer, and charity should be expanded, and in places where they do not yet exist, be founded.

The special quality of a house is its settled character and its permanence. This is why King David wanted the Holy Ark in a Beis HaMikdash. Although the Tabernacle, in which the Ark was located, was also extremely holy, it still was a “temporary dwelling.” He wanted a permanent location for its holy revelation.

The main thing, however, is the deed. When it comes to studying the laws of the sacrifices, our Sages say, “One who studies the laws regarding a burnt-offering is considered to have actually brought a burnt-offering.” The only reason that study is sufficient is because the act is physically impossible. On the other hand, in cases where action is possible, mere talk is insufficient. Therefore, houses of study, prayer, and good deeds must be built in actuality.

The same applies regarding another topic spoken about recently, the instruction of the Mishnah “make for yourself a rav.”

Due to the darkness of the exile, it is possible that in spite of the fact that the Torah gives clear directions regarding our daily life, a person could still be confused and in doubt as to how to behave. When filled with doubts, a person is unable to properly serve G‑d — yet the Mishnah tells us that a person is created to “serve his Creator.” Since (as mentioned earlier), G‑d always gives us the tools we need to fulfill our missions, we must say that He has also given us a way to remove our doubts, thereby enabling us to serve Him properly.

This is the idea of making for yourself a rav. Upon doing so, a person will be rid of his doubts, and be able to serve G‑d in a settled way — similar to the effect of a house, as mentioned above.

[The Rebbe Shlita said a maamar “Basi LeGani” in the format of a sichah. The maamar primarily explained the 17th chapter of the previous Rebbe’s maamar.]

4. [This day marked the completion of the 3rd cycle of the study of Mishneh Torah by the Rambam. In the farbrengen, the Rebbe gave a lengthy and complex analysis of the Rambam’s wording in his description of the events leading up to the revelation of Mashiach. The following represents just a few points which were discussed.]

In the final chapter of Mishneh Torah, the Rambam brings two opinions regarding the arrival of Eliyahu the prophet. One opinion is that, “In the beginning of the days of Mashiach, there will be the war of Gog and Magog; and before the war of Gog and Magog, a prophet will come to straighten out the Jewish people and to prepare their hearts, as the verse says, ‘I am sending you Eliyahu...’” The Rambam later says, “and some of the Sages said that Eliyahu will come [just] before the arrival of Mashiach.”

There appears to be a disagreement regarding to exactly when Eliyahu will arrive: whether before the war of Gog and Magog or later, just before Mashiach’s arrival. This, however, would violate the basic principle that in the Torah there is no such thing as a dispute regarding a fact, but only regarding the law. In this case it appears to be a dispute regarding a fact ( a machlokes b’m’tzius).

However, everyone agrees on the time of Eliyahu’s arrival, and furthermore, they agree on what he will do when he arrives [as discussed in detail in the sichah]. The disagreement is only regarding his status and function beginning before the war of Gog and lasting until just before Mashiach’s arrival.

According to one opinion, his function during that time is part of the preparation for Mashiach. However, the second opinion holds that Eliyahu’s presence at that time is totally separate from the revelation of Mashiach.

Just as he did many acts during his lifetime, such as bring a sacrifice on Mt. Carmel, etc. so too he will do certain things before Mashiach comes. According to the second opinion, these actions around the time of the war of Gog and Magog are not part of the revelation of Mashiach, but rather a category for themselves.

Therefore, the first opinion says that, “In the beginning of the days of Mashiach, there will be the war of Gog and Magog; and before the war of Gog and Magog, a prophet will come...” This means to say that Eliyahu’s function at that early stage is already part of “the days of Mashiach.”

The second opinion agrees that Eliyahu will come at the same time and perform the same functions. However, this opinion says that this is not part of the Messianic revelation, but a concept for itself. Eliyahu’s role as related to the days of Mashiach begins at a later time.

Therefore we see that there is actually no machlokes b’m’tzius; only a disagreement regarding Eliyahu’s status at that point in time.

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5. We will end this gathering by mentioning the practice of learning the daily portion of Chumash, Tehillim, and TanyaCHITAS.

Everyone should make a firm resolution regarding learning Chitas from now on. Even for those that have missed in the past, there is the similar case of those who were unable to bring the Pesach sacrifice. As a result of their complaint “Why should we lose out!,” G‑d responded by giving them a second chance. From this we learn that “it is never too late” (“Nitoh kein farfallen”).

The same applies to those who have missed something from Chitas. They should fill in what they have missed, and in a way similar to the advice of our Sages, “If he was used to learning one page, now he should learn two pages; one chapter, now he should learn two chapters.”

We shall conclude with giving charity to Kupas Rabbeinu and by making resolutions for future behavior, in accordance with the special quality of this day, as mentioned previously.