1. For several weeks we have had the opportunity of spending time gathered together. Many of you have come from distant countries and diverse lands; from overseas, and especially from the Holy Land. Now, before parting and bidding “farewell” it is important to seek to increase and strengthen all the accomplishments and good practices that were carried out during the time you were here together. The purpose of this would be to draw these accomplishments into the future.

Paramount is the theme of Ahavas Yisrael — love of fellow Jews — and unity of the Jewish people. These aspects were clearly emphasized by your presence here. Especially when your goal was to pray and study together and to increase all areas of Yiddishkeit, and to be united with the Holy One, Blessed be He, and His Torah. All these aspects have intensified Jewish unity.

Jewish unity develops as a result of being one with G‑d, “G‑d is one,” is the true unity. When we realize that all Jews:

All having one Father, therefore all Israelites are called real brothers by virtue of the source of their souls in the One G‑d; (Tanya 32)

then we come to true unity. Just as Jewish unity is connected to our closeness to G‑d, so, too, is our unity associated with Torah. For the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself” was dubbed: “...that is the whole Torah”!

In the word “Yisrael” there is an acrostic which connects the letters of the Torah to the Jewish souls — and since Torah is one entity, it thereby unites the Jewish people and makes them “One people.”

Thus when the period of our coming together draws to a close we must reemphasize our unity. When you return home with the fond memories of these gatherings it will engender a longing for this unity and it will encourage you to carry out all the good resolutions and evoke further expressions of Jewish love and unity.

Since the reason for our gathering was the Hillula of the Previous Rebbe, Nasi of our generation, who worked so hard for Jewish unity and brotherhood, it is self-evident that these goals must be realized.

Returning to your different occupations, material or spiritual, you will carry along with you the genuine feeling of Ahavas Yisrael — to care about, and be concerned about, fellow Jews; and to act on their behalf in physical matters and especially spiritual matters.

Gathering in honor of the Hillula emphasizes this point. For it is then that all of the Divine service of the tzaddik is raised and unified. And our gathering for that occasion intensifies the all-encompassing unity.

When the Jewish people lived in the Holy Land “Every man under his vine and under his fig tree” (I Melachim 5:5), they would gather together from time to time, as it is written:

Three times each year, all your males shall thus be seen in the presence of G‑d your L‑rd in the place that He will choose. (Devarim 16:16)

The thrice-yearly pilgrimage would bring all the Jews to Yerushalayim the Holy City — to the Beis HaMikdash — the House of G‑d:

Where the Shechinah was revealed...and all the souls would be nullified as candles in front of a great fire...which melded them together as one. (Likkutei Torah, Devarim 98a)

This spiritual state of self-deprecation would linger in the Jewish souls from visit to visit, even though they all went back to their individual “vines” and “fig trees.” The cumulative effect was that all their places of domicile and all the “sparks of holiness,” all over the world, were thereby united and uplifted.

We may find an analogy to this in our time of galus.

Although we no longer have the mitzvah of pilgrimage to Yerushalayim, nevertheless, the holy radiance of the Shechinah and the accompanying custom of pilgrimage has been infused into the synagogues and study halls of the diaspora (See Megillah 29a). For there the Jewish people gather and are united as one community and consequently the Shechinah is concentrated there. When many Jews gather in these houses of prayer and study, it is analogous and similar to the pilgrimages of old. And especially when the gatherings take place in the House of Prayer of the Nasi of the generation.

With this power, you can return to your separate places — physical and spiritual — and draw with you the unity which creates a unified dwelling place for the essence of G‑dliness.

By acting in this manner of Ahavas Yisrael and unity we will speed the fulfillment of the promise “a great company shall return there” (Yirmeyahu 31:7) to our Holy Land.

In the Torah portion which we study today we read of the “Song of the Sea”: “Moshe and the Israelites then sang this song” — all together. Men and women joined together in singing praise to G‑d.

This prepares the way for the ultimate redemption. As the Gemara says:

Then shall Moshe...sing...not sang, but shallsing is written: thus resurrection is taught in the Torah. (Sanhedrin 91b)

Now, this hint given by Torah also creates the potential, that our good deeds and our Divine service through Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity will speed and bring the future song of praise.

Today’s Rambam section also conveys this concept:

It is an affirmative commandment to lend to the poor of Israel. For it is written: “If you lend money to any of My people, to the poor with you.” (Laws of Creditor and Debtor 1:1)

The Rambam goes on to say:

Lending money to the poor man is a more meritorious deed than giving charity to him who begs for it. (Ibid.)

It is self-evident that these acts of kindness go hand in hand with Ahavas Yisrael for it is an expression of brotherhood and caring and engenders love and peace.

The Holy One, Blessed be He, established the differences that there shall be rich and poor, lender and debtor, benefactor and beneficiary. As the Gemara explains, if we were all rich who would do kindness?

By helping our neighbors, through a good word, careful advice or a helpful act, and especially a free-loan, the giver and receiver, lender and borrower are united. And although it seems that one is the giver and the other a beneficiary — nevertheless they are united and:

The poor man does more for the master of the house than the latter does for him. (Vayikra Rabbah 34:8)

So that they become one entity, and this unity is perfected when they unite themselves with the Holy One, Blessed be He, for G‑d created them and commanded them to help each other, through which they unite with Him. In this manner all classes of Jews stand united before G‑d.

In this manner we bring the redemption closer:

Great is charity in that it brings the redemption nearer. (B. Basra 10a)

Then all Jews will truly be one great assemblage united by Mashiach, the essential “uniting soul” of the Jewish people. May he come speedily and redeem us and lead us, upright, to our Holy Land, speedily and truly in our time.

I will therefore appoint each of you as “mitzvah emissaries” by giving everyone one dollar on condition that you give tzedakah upon returning to your homes. This “mitzvah mission” will add blessings and success in your travels.

May we very speedily complete all our “travels” to the final destination in our Holy Land, may it be rebuilt speedily and truly in our days through our righteous Mashiach.

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2. The day a boy becomes bar-mitzvah is an auspicious day because on that day he becomes a full-fledged Jew, a counted member of the Jewish people. The bar-mitzvah day signifies for the boy what the day of Matan Torah signified for the Jewish people. “Today you have become a nation.”

As with every new beginning G‑d bestows His blessings on this day in a greater measure.

In speaking of the dedication of the Altar, Sanctuary and Holy Temple, the Alter Rebbe in Or HaTorah explains that the concept of dedication is associated with education. Just as the process of educating a child includes training him with the promise of rewards or special signs of affection similarly, at the time of the dedication of the Temple there was an increase of the benevolence of the supernal luminaries.

The bar-mitzvah day likewise serves as a day of dedication of the “inner sanctuary” in the heart of every Jew, and consequently, on this day G‑d increases His blessings and benevolence in honor of this occurrence.

All of the blessings outlined in the previous, general Yechidus, certainly apply to all of the bar-mitzvah celebrants. But there are additional blessings engendered by the occasion of the bar-mitzvah. These blessings are radiated to the bar-mitzvah boys as well as their parents and educators who have merited to bring them to the point where they accept the “yoke” of Torah and mitzvos and the “yoke” of the Kingdom of Heaven.

First and foremost — these blessings are given to the mother and father; the grandparents, also the older brothers and sisters, who certainly also helped in his education; and then, of course, to the teachers and counselors.

Their great merit brings a great reward, the increased blessings of the Holy One, Blessed be He. All of Israel will consequently benefit, for every good act that every Jew performs really also includes all fellow Jews.

At the beginning of the morning prayer the Alter Rebbe included in the Siddur the following formula:

It is proper to say before prayer: I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzvah, “Love your fellowman as yourself.” (Siddur)

As an introduction to prayer one must unify himself with all other Jews. When he asks the Holy One, Blessed be He, for all his needs, for good things, success and blessing for the whole day, he must include all the Jewish people, by saying that he accepts the commandment of loving his fellow Jew. As a result of this, his whole being will be permeated with love to the point that the “others” will be seen as important as “self,” and his prayer will become more efficacious and evoke G‑d’s blessings.

This feeling will pervade all his actions during the day and influence all of his activities to be done in a spirit of Ahavas Yisrael which will increase his blessings during the day.

So this auspicious bar-mitzvah day is not just limited to the bar-mitzvah boy — but spreads its blessing to all the Jewish people.

The theme of unity will also direct our thoughts to realize the importance of increasing tzedakah on the bar-mitzvah day, for tzedakah is another expression of Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity.

Since on this day the boy enters the category of one who is “commanded to do” it is appropriate to initiate him into the obligatory observance of mitzvos with the mitzvah of tzedakah, “which is equal to all the mitzvos.”

Let therefore all of the bar-mitzvah celebrants be careful that on their bar-mitzvah day they should give a set amount of money to tzedakah. If the bar-mitzvah is on Shabbos or Yom Tov, the tzedakah should be given on Friday, or Sunday, or both. Their parents and teachers should do likewise.

My participation in your simchah will be to give each of you a dollar bill on condition that you give it (or an exchange) to tzedakah on the bar-mitzvah day.

There is an accepted custom of the Baal Shem Tov — as taught by the previous Rebbe — that everyone should recite daily the chapter of Tehillim corresponding to his age. Upon becoming 13 years old one begins reciting chapter 14 of Tehillim.

Since you will certainly begin observing this custom you should also take the time to study the meaning of Psalm 14.

And may all of these good observances increase further the blessings of G‑d in all you need for the bar-mitzvah boy, his family and all Israel. Including the essential thing — a mitzvah which G‑d must perform — to redeem the Jewish people from exile.

Tzedakah has a special merit relating to the redemption, for our sages tell us:

Tzedakah is very great for it brings the redemption closer; (B. Basra 10a)

the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, speedily and truly in our time.

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3. Worldly matters are set according to the rules of Torah, for “G‑d looked into Torah and created the world.” All aspects of a Jew’s life are, all the moreso, defined by Torah.

Since the Torah includes generalities and specifics it follows that in the Jewish people we will find the communal and the individual. The entire Jewish nation — “one people in the land” — on one hand, and every individual family, man and wife, on the other hand. In each individual the whole is mirrored and in every marriage of groom and bride we see reflected the all-inclusive marriage of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Jewish people. This is emphasized in the wedding blessings bestowed upon each couple:

Who sanctifies His people Israel through Chuppah and Kiddushin. (Siddur)

The marriage between the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Jewish people must bring the realization of G‑d’s decree, to make the physical world a dwelling place for the Shechinah, just as the spiritual heavens provide an abode for G‑dliness.

Similarly, each couple that weds will bring G‑dliness into their home when they conduct themselves properly and merit that the Shechinah will dwell in their home.

By drawing down the Shechinah, the worthy couple will see the face of the “living King” and benefit from the bountiful blessing in all manner of goodness, materially and spiritually. “From His full, open, holy and generous hand” (Siddur). This should include all the blessings of the Seven Benedictions, to the last:

Let there speedily be heard in the cities of Yehudah and in the streets of Yerushalayim the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a groom and the sound of a bride....” (Siddur p. 410)

It is customary for the groom and bride to increase tzedakah on the day of their wedding.


To stress that they are preparing to create a home built on the true foundation of (among others) — tzedakah, — which “equals all the other mitzvos.” When their home will be based on the basis of truth and spiritual strength it will be an everlastingabode, with sons and daughters who are involved in Torah and mitzvos and with comfort — materially and spiritually. It will be a home blessed with long life, children and prosperity — all in great abundance.

It is also customary that the relatives and all who bless the couple should also donate money to charity in the merit of the couple. The Omnipotent One will surely increase His infinite blessings manifoldly, to match the many donations connected with the wedding. They should be blessed with sons and daughters who will grow up, and themselves, go out and build faithful homes in Israel, until the end of generations.

I will participate in your simchah by giving each one of you a dollar bill on the condition that you give it (or an exchange) to tzedakah on the wedding day with some extra added from your own.

And may the Holy One, Blessed be He, grant, that all of the tzedakah will collectively bring the redemption, for “Tzedakah is great in that it brings the redemption closer.”

Then we will truly see the consummation of the marriage of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Jewish people. This is expressed in the Midrash:

This world is like the betrothal.... The actual marriage ceremony will take place in Messianic days.... (Shmos Rabbah 15:31)

Then it will truly be everlasting, not to be followed by any exile; the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, speedily and truly in our time.