1. This farbrengen is associated with the Yahrzeit of the Tzemach Tzedek. This year, the 120th anniversary of that Yahrzeit, has an added dimension which was not possessed by the Yahrzeits of the previous years.

The comprehension of this unique dimension must be preceded by the following concept: G‑d’s infinite essence is the source for the existence of each particular aspect of creation. Therefore, every aspect of creation reflects the infinity of its source and thus, contains an endless amount of particular elements.

[In this context, we can understand the Rambam’s choice of words (Hilchos Yesodei Torah 1:1): “All existence... came into being only from the truth of His being.” The Rambam implies that not only is G‑d the only source for the creation of all existence, but also that He created all existence in a manner which reflects a connection to “the truth of His being.”]

If the above applies in regard to creation in general, it surely is relevant in regard to Torah and mitzvos. The Torah is G‑d’s wisdom and the mitzvos, His will. Therefore, they reflect His infinity in a revealed and open manner.

This is true, not only of Torah and mitzvos as they exist as general concepts, but also, of each particular element of Torah and mitzvos. Each contains an infinite amount of particular elements. Furthermore, this infinity is openly revealed. Accordingly, it is always possible to perform each mitzvah in a more elevated manner. Thus, even though until the present, a person may have carried out his service in the most complete manner possible, since his service is limited within the context of time and space, there is always the possibility of raising that service to a level incomparably higher than before.

Based on the above, we can understand the statement of the Mishnah: “G‑d wished to make the people of Israel meritorious; therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvos in abundant measure.” On the surface, one might consider that the true meaning of “abundance” must be considered as infinity. If so, how can we say that the Jews have been given “an abundant measure” of Torah and mitzvos, when there are only 613 mitzvos?

However, as explained above, G‑d gave the Torah in a manner in which each mitzvah contains an infinite number of elements. Thus, within the Torah, there is true infinite abundance, not in the number of mitzvos, but in the infinite quality possessed by each mitzvah. Furthermore, this infinity is also reflected and revealed within the person who fulfills the mitzvos.

This is expressed in the blessing recited over the mitzvos, “Asher Kidishanu BiMitzvosav Vitzivanu....” Vitzivanu is derived from the word Tzavsah, meaning “connection.” With each mitzvah, a Jew establishes an infinite and unbounded connection with G‑d, who gave us the mitzvos.

Thus, though the One G‑d gave One Torah, to Israel, the One nation, He gave the Torah in a manner of “abundance” in order “to make Israel meritorious,” and allow their fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos to possess the potential for infinite elevation.

The ultimate revelation of the infinity of Torah and mitzvos is expressed at the time of a person’s death, when his soul rises above the limitations of the body. This is particularly true in regard to the Rebbeim, described as Ni’siai Yisrael. The word Nasi means “uplifted,” raised above boundaries and limitations. Since their service within this world was not bound or limited, we can understand the high level reached when their soul is no longer bound by the body’s limits. Therefore, as the Tanya explains, at the time of a Tzaddik’s passing, the totality of their service is revealed and brings about “salvation in the depths of the earth.”

[A further aspect of a Nasi’s unbounded nature is expressed by our Sages’ statements: “The Nasi is everything,” and that he is “the heart of the congregation of Israel.” The Yechidah, the unlimited aspect of the soul, rests within the heart. Similarly, within the heart of the Nasi is revealed an unlimited quality which includes the totality of the Jewish people.

The above relates to the teaching of the Kehilas Yaakov that the word Nasi is an acronym for the phrase “Nitzutzo shel Yaakov Avinu” “a spark of Yaakov, our Patriarch.” Just as Yaakov was a “general soul,” including within his soul “the souls of all the Jews for all time,” so, too, a Nasi contains within his soul, the souls of the entire Jewish people.]

The high level reflected at the passing of a Nasi is particularly related to the Tzemach Tzedek whose Yahrzeit is on the thirteenth of Nissan. Nissan is “the month of redemption.” Also, the word “Nais” means “elevated” or “upraised,” and thus, the month of Nissan is a month of Nissim — “miracles” — which brings about miracles in all the other months of the year. (In his teachings, the Tzemach Tzedek explains how Tishrei reflects the natural order and Nissan, the miraculous.)

Within Nissan itself, the thirteenth of Nissan reflects this quality of unboundedness to a greater degree since: a) it is one of the three days before Pesach, the holiday celebrating the exodus from Egypt, a holiday associated with the transcendent of limitations; b) thirteen is numerically equivalent to “echad,” “one.” One reflects the drawing down of the influence of Alufo Shel Olam, the L‑rd of the world, throughout the seven heavens and the four directions of our physical world, revealing how “G‑d is one.” The ultimate reflection of this oneness will come in the Messianic age when the Ain Sof, G‑d’s infinity will be revealed within this world.

In particular, there is a unique aspect to this, the 120th Yahrzeit. In the spiritual realms, the soul continues rising higher, going “from strength to strength,” “without rest.” In particular, on the day of a Yahrzeit, there is a unique elevation. Therefore, we see that the number 120 is significant in this earthly realm, referring to the ultimate level of completion possible for a man. (Therefore, Moses lived 120 years.) Similarly, we can understand that a similar concept applies above and after 120 years in the spiritual realms, the soul reaches a unique level of elevation. Hence, this year, in addition to the infinitely high levels reached on the 13th of Nissan every year, there is an added aspect of elevation.

This produces a lesson for each and every Jew to apply in deed and action. The levels of elevation attained by a Tzaddik and a Nasi are revealed on this earthly plane and have an effect on all those who study his teachings and follow his ways.

However, in order to “receive” this influence, it is necessary to prepare “vessels,” the most proper vessel being the study of his teachings and following in his ways. In this manner, we unite and bind ourselves to the Tzemach Tzedek in a manner where his influence “brings about salvation in the depths of the earth.”

[This also applies to those who have, as of yet, not begun the study of the Tzemach Tzedek’s teachings or the practice of his ways. Shulchan Aruch clearly states that if a person makes a good resolution to perform an act at a later time, he receives the reward as if he had already performed it.]

This will also hasten the most complete “salvation,” the coming of the Messianic redemption, the rebuilding of the Temple, the resurrection of the dead, in time that we will be able to celebrate the upcoming Pesach festival in the third Temple, the eternal Temple.

2. We find the expression “the light of Torah,” implying that all aspects of Torah are openly revealed. Thus, the unique aspect of the thirteenth of Nissan, including its numerical equivalence to echad, should not be considered merely a mystic secret. Rather, the fact that it is a day on which G‑d’s Oneness is revealed is a concept that can be openly perceived by all and is reflected in the Torah customs associated with this day.

On the first twelve days of Nissan, it is a widely accepted custom to recite the passage of the Torah associated with the Nesi’im, the princes of the tribes, who brought their offerings to dedicate the Sanctuary. On the thirteenth day, we recite the passage, Zos chanukas hamizbayach, which includes the sum total of all the offerings, and the passage describing the fashioning and kindling of the menorah. Both these passages emphasize the concept of unity.

The offerings of each of the Nesi’im brought together all the individuals connected with that tribe. Thus, the thirteenth of Nissan did not represent the union of any single tribe, but rather, the sum total of the offerings of the entire Jewish people and their unification into a single entity.

The menorah also emphasizes the idea of oneness. Though it had seven branches, it could not be fashioned by joining different pieces together. Rather, it had to be made from a single block of metal and beaten into shape. Furthermore, the menorah was kindled by Aharon, the High Priest, whose service was characterized by Ahavas Yisrael, “loving the creatures and drawing them close to Torah.” Thus, the customs associated with the thirteenth of Nissan are characterized by the quality of oneness.

On this basis, we can understand the connection of the thirteenth of Nissan to the fourteenth, the birthday of the Rambam. The thirteenth of Nissan is characterized by oneness, “loving the creatures,” the service of Aharon. This brings about “drawing them close to Torah,” drawing them close to Moshe. This refers to the first Moshe, Moshe ben Amram and also Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam, who shares many common points.

Furthermore, both these aspects, unity and Torah, are expressed in the Rambam’s magnum opus, Mishneh Torah. Mishneh Torah is a book of halachah, the field of Torah study which unites all Jews together. On other levels, there is room for divergence as our Sages explained: “These and these are the words of the living G‑d.” However, halachah is referred to as “the word of the L‑rd,” relating to the name, Yud Hay Vav Hay, a spiritual level which transcends division.

Similarly, Mishneh Torah relates to Torah for it is a collection of all the laws of the Torah in a manner which can be appreciated by “the great and the small.”

The above is also related to the month of Nissan, the month of redemption as our Sages declared: “In Nissan, our ancestors were redeemed and, in Nissan, we will be redeemed.” The future redemption relates to Moshe as our Sages declared: “He was the first redeemer, he will be the final redeemer,” and similarly to the exodus from Egypt. Thus, Michah prophecies concerning the Messianic redemption: “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”

The connection of the Mishneh Torah to the Messianic redemption can be explained as follows: a) The phrase, “the word of G‑d,” is interpreted as a reference to both Halachah and the end of the exile. The two interpretations are interrelated. Through the study of Halachah, we can bring about an end to the exile. b) The Messianic redemption is dependent on the study of the entire Torah. This is the intent of the Mishneh Torah which is “a collection of the entire Torah Shebe’al Peh (the oral law).”

The connection of the Mishneh Torah to the Messianic redemption is further emphasized by the fact that the Mishneh Torah concludes with a description of the Messianic redemption. Thus, the very study of the text demonstrates how through reaching a level of completion in Torah study one proceeds to the complete redemption, to the extent where “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the water covers the sea.”

This will be achieved through our service of “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward”; particularly, at present, when all that is left to do to prepare for Mashiach is, to quote the Previous Rebbe, “to polish the buttons.” Then, “as in the days of your exodus from Egypt,” when G‑d revealed Himself to the Jewish people and took them out of the Egyptian exile, so will we merit the complete and ultimate Messianic redemption. May it be speedily in our days.

3. The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything which a Jew sees or hears should serve as a lesson for him in his service of G‑d. Thus, the fact that the Tzemach Tzedek’s Yahrzeit, the 13th of Nissan, is followed directly by the Rambam’s birthday on the 14th, reveals an inner bond between these two great leaders and can surely provide us with a lesson applicable in our service.

[It may seem presumptuous for individuals of our humble stature to start differentiating between the Rebbeim and explaining how “this Rebbe was characterized by this quality and another, by a different quality.” Nevertheless, as the Rebbe Rashab explained in regard to Chassidim offering their own interpretations of Tanya, such explanations are desirable if they will lead to an increase in the fear of G‑d and the service of Him.

This is the goal of our description of the qualities of our leaders. They are “the heads of Israel” and the body naturally follows the head. Hence, a definition of the nature of their service will enable it to have a greater influence on our service.]

The main thrust of the Rambam’s service was, as he writes himself in the introduction to Mishneh Torah, “Halachah, after Halachah.” [For this reason, he begins the Mishneh Torah with an acronym for the name Y-H-V-H. On the verse, “Y-H-V-H is with him,” our Sages commented: “The Halachah follows his opinion.”]

Similarly, the Tzemach Tzedek was involved in deciding practical halachic questions and was accepted as a halachic authority by the international Jewish community, even those who were not necessarily associated with the Chassidic movement. In this aspect, he was unique among all the Rebbeim. Even the Alter Rebbe, who was surely associated with Halachah as emphasized by his composition of the Shulchan Aruch, did not merit such widespread recognition as a halachic authority in his lifetime.

There is another point of similarity between the two. One of the unique achievements of the Rambam was to collect the vast sea of Torah teachings, organize them into a systematic framework, and, when necessary, after sifting through different conflicting opinions, arrive at a conclusion that is practically applicable.

A similar pattern can be seen in the Tzemach Tzedek’s activities. He was particularly active in collecting the teachings of the Rebbeim who preceded him and when necessary resolving the apparent contradictions in their works. The same applies not only in the realm of Chassidus, but also in the realm of the Torah’s revealed teachings. The Tzemach Tzedek was especially known for his collection and organization of many teachings. Thus, the Tzemach Tzedek has been referred to as “the Rambam of Chassidus.”

That appellation has also been applied to the Rebbe Rashab, for in his works, he resolved many apparent contradictions between different Chassidic teachings and explained them in a systematic matter. However, there is no contradiction between the two statements. Indeed, it can be explained that the Rebbe Rashab’s functioning as “the Rambam of Chassidus” came as a result of his studying, and internalizing to the extent it became his own tendency, the teachings of the Tzemach Tzedek.

Furthermore, the Rebbe Rashab’s contributions as “the Rambam of Chassidus” were only in the realm of Chassidus itself. In contrast the Tzemach Tzedek, like the Rambam himself, collected in a systematic framework not only Chassidus, but rather, the totality of Torah.

There is a point of contrast between the two. The Rambam would work in a manner of “from above to below.” He would collect the vast teachings from all realms of Torah including the teachings of Kabbalah. [Though the Rambam is not known for this, an analysis of the first chapters of Hilchos Yesodei Torah shows striking parallels with many of the expressions in the Zohar] Then he would reach a conclusion, a practically applicable halachic directive.

In contrast, the Tzemach Tzedek worked “from below to above.” He would begin with the simple statements of the Torah and the simple meaning of Halachah and then, explain them in the full breadth of the teachings of Nigleh and Chassidus.

There is a further common point shared by the Rambam and the Tzemach Tzedek. Both were active in working to benefit the gentiles. We see the Rambam giving halachic directives concerning the spiritual welfare of the gentiles; stating how we are commanded to teach the gentiles the seven mitzvos commanded to the descendants of Noach and stating how in the Messianic age, the entire world, even the gentiles will be occupied in “the knowledge of G‑d.” Furthermore, the Rambam served as the doctor for the Sultan of Egypt and his household and thus, in a very physical way, he sought the benefit of the gentiles.

This concept is reflected in the time of the Rambam’s birthday, the fourteenth of Nissan in the afternoon [as mentioned several times, it is unique that the birthday of a Torah leader is recorded in such precise detail], the time of the Paschal sacrifice. The Paschal sacrifice represented the negation of the gentile’s worship of the lamb. Similarly, for all time, this day was set aside as one that negates the worldly matters that run contrary to holiness.

The Tzemach Tzedek was also involved in benefiting gentiles. He had many connections with powerful figures in the Russian government and influenced them greatly in the realm of faith and religion. In his time, there were many meetings concerning the future of the education and faith of both Jews and gentiles. Not only did the Tzemach Tzedek participate in these meetings, he took a leading role and was recognized as the spokesman for Torah Judaism, expressing his opinion even when it involved tremendous self-sacrifice.

Thus, in a time associated with both these leaders, we should make the resolution to strengthen our study of their teachings, studying the discourses of the Tzemach Tzedek and joining the three- pronged campaign of the study of the Rambam’s works. In the latter regard, it is proper to organize gatherings in connection with the conclusion of the study of the Rambam in every place; publications of Chiddushei Torah based on the teachings of the Rambam.

May these activities hasten the coming of Mashiach as the relation of the Tzemach Tzedek to the Messianic redemption is well known (Hanochos Lahak 5746 Vol. 1 p. 283). Indeed, the very name Tzemach is one of the names of Mashiach and in our daily prayers we request: “Cause the Tzemach — scion — of David to flourish.” Similarly, Tzedek — justice — is a fundamental element of Mashiach’s activity to the extent that the Messianic prophecies state: “With Tzedek, he girds his loins.”

Thus, may these efforts to increase the study of Torah lead to the time when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d,” we will learn Torah from Mashiach, with the coming of the ultimate and complete redemption. May it be speedily in our days.