1. The tenth of Kislev is the day of liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe, the son and successor of the Alter Rebbe, the founder of Chabad Chassidus.

The theme of this day repeats itself each year and we can draw its lesson for the entire year, in increased action and Divine service.

Although we cannot fathom the true essence of this spiritual giant, we can analyze those aspects which have been revealed to us by the earlier Rebbeim, and this can serve as a guidepost for our lives.

The Previous Rebbe related, that the Alter Rebbe symbolized the aspect of “Chochmah” — wisdom, and the Mitteler Rebbe symbolized “Binah” — understanding. Through the Mitteler Rebbe we were introduced to the comprehension of the broad expanses of Chassidic philosophy.

Compared with the amplitude of Chassidic writing of the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe wrote at much greater length, and both quantitatively and qualitatively he gave us much more than was revealed before. The greater perception which we derive from the works of the Mitteler Rebbe attests to his role in developing Chassidic philosophy in a broader, deeper and more apprehensible fashion.

The innovations of the Mitteler Rebbe may also be associated with his liberation from prison, as expressed in the term, “He has redeemed my soul in peace” (Tehillim 55:19), which we associate both with the liberation of the Alter Rebbe and the Mitteler Rebbe.

Of his redemption on the 19th of Kislev, the Alter Rebbe wrote that he was informed of his freedom at the moment he was reciting the verse, “Podoh Besholom” (He has redeemed my soul in peace). Similarly, the Mitteler Rebbe’s release was also connected to that verse.

There was, however, a difference.

In the case of the Alter Rebbe, he was reading chapter 55 of Tehillim because it is in the section of Tehillim that is assigned to Tuesday according to the seven-day division of Tehillim. The Alter Rebbe had accepted upon himself to recite the sections of Tehillim for the days of the week while he was in prison. In the case of the Mitteler Rebbe, however, chapter 55 is in the section read on the 10th of the month according to the monthly division.

We may deduce, therefore, that the Mitteler Rebbe’s relationship with that verse was stronger than the Alter Rebbe’s, for in the case of the 19th of Kislev it would apply only when the 19th falls on a Tuesday and only for those who read the full Tehillim section of the days of the week. Whereas, in the case of the Mitteler Rebbe, “Podoh Besholom” is always read on the 10th of the month, by everyone.

Thus, the Mitteler Rebbe’s theme, to reach more people with greater understanding, may also express itself in the redemption verse of “Podoh Besholom.”

We may now garner a lesson, and find a source of inspiration and power from the 10th of Kislev for our actual Divine service.

Because the Mitteler Rebbe presented us with the “broad rivers” of Chassidic understanding, today we have the opportunity to increase our involvement in Chassidic philosophy in the broad sense.

This will include increased study in quantity and depth of understanding, as well as spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus to the widest possible audience; to the “outside.”

Since the Mitteler Rebbe developed his system of depth and breadth of Chassidus in the years prior to his imprisonment (he passed away one year after being liberated,) it follows that his redemption introduced an increased aspect of understanding and appreciation beyond all that he had taught during his lifetime. It is in a like measure that our actions must be inspired and invigorated on this day to flood forth like “the broad rivers” in the greatest measure. This expression and effulgence of Binah as personified in the Mitteler Rebbe (see above) will find sympathetic resonance in the attribute of joy — simchah.

There is an essential connection between simchah and Binah, as we find in the verse: “A joyful mother of children” (Tehillim 113:9). In Tanya we learn that “Chochmah and Binah are father and mother which give birth to the children — the seven attributes.”

Chassidus also explains that our Matriarch Leah symbolized Binah. She bore six sons and a daughter, the six sons are the six attributes, from Chessed to Yesod (kindness — foundation) and the daughter represents the attribute of Malchus (royalty). Thus, the “mother of children” is joyful, and passes on the joy to the children, the attributes.

Now, we may also associate the “broad river” of Binah with the aspect of joy which “breaches the walls.” The limitations of normal Divine service are superseded by the inspiration of rejoicing and one may attain a state of total spiritual immersion without any limitations.

Thus the understanding must be combined with joy. And both aspects must be inspired and invigorated by the day of Yud (the 10th of) Kislev.

In practical terms.

On this day of the liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe we must vigorously increase all aspects of rejoicing in Torah and mitzvos, and even in those permitted secular areas which one utilizes for the sake of heaven. This applies to men and boys, as well as women and girls.

Should one ponder, that this type of rejoicing would normally be reserved for the “Season of Our Rejoicing” in the month of Tishrei, how does it fit in on Yud Kislev? The explanation is plain:

During Tishrei when we emphasize the rejoicing of the “Season of Our Rejoicing” we also understand that the joy must radiate throughout the coming year. Now that we have reached an auspicious day, the emphasis we place on joy, and on “piercing” joy — and even “liberated” joy — forms a gateway through which all these aspects may rise and illuminate all aspects of Divine service of the whole year — past and future, including even the joy of Tishrei. And because of its great “broad rivers” it creates a wide “gate” for all aspects of service of the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Consequently, we should increase our joy manifoldly — the joy of Torah and mitzvos — to the point of “leaping and dancing,” with intense force, beyond the normal limitations, to break forth and be liberated, and to generate this joy into the future days and weeks.

However, despite our wish that this joy be infinite we are restricted by the clock for we will have to conclude and pray Minchah in the proper time, therefore we must seek an intensity of quality rather than an immensity of time, and in a short while we will seek to attain a lofty level of joy beyond all restrictions.

This is in keeping with the verse in today’s portion:

You shall spread out to the west, to the east, to the north and to the south. (Bereishis 28:14)

And, as the Gemara says:

He who delights in the Shabbos is given an unbounded heritage ... the heritage of Yaakov your father ... like Yaakov of whom it is written: You shall spread out to the west, to the east, to the north and to the south. (Shabbos 118, a-b)

And since Yaakov is associated with the third meal of Shabbos, the time of intense delight, it follows that this delight of “unbounded heritage” may be connected to the time of Shabbos after midday. So, in the limited time allowed for us, in which there can be singing and joyousness (between the talks) we should utilize the opportunity and attain an intensity of joy beyond all limitations. May the joy break all fences. First of all the fences of evil, if anything opposes holiness it should be nullified. And even the good limitations or restrictions, in the area of holiness, the measured order of holiness, should also burst with the effulgence of joy and generate an infinite heritage. This will see the fulfillment of the promise,

When G‑d expands your borders as He promised you. (Devarim 12:20)

Thus, in addition to “perfection” and “completion” we will have “expansion.”

First the complete land, the complete nation, and complete Torah and mitzvos, and then the expansion of the borders, the “broad river” and the unlimited heritage.

And may we merit all this in the final days of galus: comfort and expansion, in children, sustenance and health and in all matters of disseminating the fountains of Torah, and then we will be able to effect the coming of the King Mashiach speedily in our days.

2. Having discussed the general theme of Yud Kislev let us now discuss the special aspects of Yud Kislev which emerge from the day of the week and the Torah portion in which it occurs.

The theme of Shabbos is generally associated with the theme of rejoicing, as the Sifri states: “‘On the day of your rejoicing,’ this refers to Shabbos” (Sifri, Behaalos’cha 10:10).

And although there is a discussion in earlier writings concerning the relative joys of Shabbos and Yom-Tov, the fact remains that Shabbos is called “the day of your rejoicing.”

In fact, in some respects, the joy of Shabbos can surpass the joy of the holidays:

(A) By definition; since the Sifri says that the term “the day of your rejoicing” means the Shabbos day.

(B) The joy of the holidays is expressed in the phrase, “Season Of Our Rejoicing” — which the Alter Rebbe explained as referring to the joy of the Jewish people combined with the joy of the Holy One, Blessed be He. The joy of Shabbos, however, is referred to as the “day of your rejoicing,” a joy concentrated only for the Jewish people.

Having discussed the general theme of joy in connection with Yud Kislev it now takes on new vigor when it occurs on Shabbos.

Today’s Torah portion is Vayeitzei, which may also be associated with the “broad river” of Binah — understanding. In order for the “point” of wisdom — Chochmah, to develop and expand into the “broad river” of comprehension there must be an emergence — “Vayeitzei.” The thought must leave the wisdom “flash” and supersede its brilliance in order to reach the deep and wide understanding of the matter, in all its detail, in the realm of Binah.

When this true understanding is attained, the original stage of wisdom — the “Flash of Genius” is also raised, for the “point” had encompassed — in potential — in its initial embryonic stage — all of its subsequent ramifications. When they later develop, the fundamental wisdom rises too.

Chassidus further relates Yaakov’s name to the emergence of the supernal wisdom, through Binah, into the lower levels of the “heels.”

Thus, today’s portion has a common theme with Yud Kislev — the joy of Binah.

Our discussion of Chochmah and Binah is also symbolic of a person’s moods and attributes. When one feels himself to be on the lofty level of Chochmah he must emerge from this position and move out, thereby effecting a rise in the higher levels; even the holiness rises. By fulfilling Torah and mitzvos a Jew causes an uplifting of Torah and the other aspects of holiness.

This theme of Vayeitzei will also apply in the case of spreading the wellsprings to the outside. The basic premise of spreading the wellsprings is that the “spring” by itself is insufficient, the water must leave the fountain and spread forth as a “broad river,” so that it will reach the far out places. “Vayeitzei Yaakov” would indicate the emergence of the highest categories, to reach the most distant and farthest “outside.”

The verse continues, “from Beer Sheva” referring to the highest level, and “to Charan” referring to the lowest level.

Nevertheless, “Yaakov left Beer Sheva and headed towards Charan” for the purpose of making a dwelling place for G‑d in the lower worlds. Later when Yaakov returned, not only was he complete, “Yaakov arrived safely” but also “the man became tremendously wealthy.” He accomplished a symbolic joining and was even able to send messengers to Eisav with the intention of drawing and attracting him to holiness.

Vayeitzei conveys a general lesson about the Divine service of every Jew. Leave your high position and go out to accomplish something in the lower levels. Or, the reverse, leave your physical involvements, and deal with spiritual matters.

Every Jew has the potential for rising and “raising an object to a higher grade of sanctity” (Berachos 28a). Having received the complete Torah as an inheritance, every Jew must realize his potential ability to increase his actions and activities in raising things to higher levels of kedushah. Every soul is “truly a part of G‑d” and each day we acknowledge G‑d’s kindness and thank Him, by reciting Modeh Ani:

For You have mercifully restored my soul within me. (Siddur)

This is something that even the simple person knows. And anyone can follow the simple connotation:

If You, G‑d, leave all the lofty, celestial worlds and come to return my soul to meeach day, it follows, that I must do more today than I did yesterday and rise to a higher level of holiness.

I must do something with the inheritance that I have received from G‑d, the complete Torah. Simply! Today is another day that I have my soul, I must add another action of holiness!

The first step in this action is “Vayeitzei” to emerge from the physical inertia and to be involved in spiritual activity. The demand here is not for sacrifice, rather, after having cared for your material needs, then you must find the moment, or hour, to turn to spiritual matters and increase Torah and mitzvos.

G‑d demands this of you and He surely gives you the ability to do it.

If, for example, a simple person will be asked, “Does the Holy One, blessed be He, know how you will act tomorrow?” (Without addressing the question of Omniscience and Free Will,) he will look at the questioner as if he were crazy. “You have called G‑d, ‘the Almighty,’ how can you ask if G‑d knows what will be?!”

So G‑d does know what will be and what your potentials are and what you are capable of doing. Therefore, if the Holy One, Blessed be He, asks you to “leave yourself” and be involved in holiness, you certainly have the power to fulfill this request. You must only want to do it.

In Yaakov’s leave-taking of Canaan and his travels toCharan we find, that after G‑d’s promise of protection, he traveled with ease and speed, happy that he was going, for he had been assured of success and safe return. Similarly, the emergence of each Jew from his materialism to be involved in spiritual matters must be done with joy and zealousness, for then he will see success.

Hopefully, everyone will work on these matters, spreading the wellsprings with joy, comfort and breadth of action; more joy in Torah and mitzvos and the special joy of Shabbos, when we read “Uforatzta — you shall spread out.” And may all the limitations and restrictions be neutralized — even the spiritual boundaries — and may we have the genuine joy of the redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

3. In today’s portion we find a puzzling verse:

And now, you have surely left (haloch halachtah) because you surely missed (nichsof nichsaftah) your father’s home. But why did you have to steal my gods? (Bereishis 31:30)

Why is it necessary for the Torah to use a double expression when mentioning Yaakov’s leaving and homesickness?

Normally a double verb is used when the action is such that it is repeated again and again, for example:

You may definitely eat (achol tocheil) from every tree of the garden. (Ibid 2:16)

The repetition there indicates an action which may be repeated; you eat more than once. Or the expressions:

“Open your hand generously” (poseach tiftach) and, “make every effort to give” (nason titain), (Devarim 15, 8-10)

in both of these cases the commentaries explain, that you should give tzedakah many times, or even a hundred times. The double expression may also be used in Tanach when special emphasis is necessary in the context of the narrative.

Did Lavan mean to say that Yaakov had gone twice? We know that this was the only time Yaakov had left. Concerning his “missing” his father’s home, Lavan may have used the double expression because he understood that the longing to go home had been felt many times.

Yet; if this were the meaning of Lavan’s words, that Yaakov had a strong, uncontrollable longing and desire to go home — then why does he include this point in his argument against Yaakov’s action; it is rather a justification for what Yaakov had done!?

In searching for clarification of this verse let us first take a broad glimpse at the theme of Vayeitzei.

In Vayeitzei we find the script for the lifelong Divine service of a person. Beginning with, “Yaakov left Beer Sheva and headed towards Charan.” This descent to Charan symbolizes the descent of the galus, for in this lowly place the effort to create an abode for G‑dliness must be made. The saga continues and concludes with the refinement and perfection of the worldly journey till “He named the place Machanayim.”

In the course of the narrative we are told of Yaakov’s difficulties in Lavan’s home, for Lavan was worse even than Pharaoh. As every child knows from the Haggadah:

Pharaoh had issued a decree against the male children only, but Lavan wanted to uproot everyone — as it is said: “The Aramean wished to destroy my father.” (Haggadah)

Nevertheless, not only was Yaakov not daunted or intimidated by the problems, but he was also able to have some good influence on Lavan, as Chassidus explains on the verse: “Lavan left to return home” (Bereishis 32:1) having been raised to a higher spiritual level.

Within this context we may better comprehend the verse at hand, “Because you surely missed your father’s home.”

In galus the Jew can never be complacent, he cannot be still. “Jew” and “galus” are mutually exclusive terms. And when a Jew is forced to be in galus “he surely misses his father’s home.”

Here the emphasis is on the double term “nichsof nichsaf-tah,” your homesickness has attacked you time and again. Thus, when your longing for redemption has been so strong that you could not endure it any longer to the point that you passed out, then, when you see that Mashiach has still not come, you must once again engender the feeling of longing and once again feel the homesickness for your father’s home.

Let us now turn our attention back to our original question concerning Yaakov.

Were there, likewise, multiple “goings” on the part of Yaakov, which would explain the double phrase in the beginning of the verse?


The five-year-old Chumash student has learned that after Yosef was born,

Yaakov said to Lavan, “Let me leave I would like to go home to my own land let me have my wives and my children ... and I will go. (Ibid 30:25-26)

In other words, Yaakov was in a state of “leaving” from that time on. Only because of Lavan’s request that he remain, did Yaakov postpone his departure for six more years. Until finally,

Yaakov began the journey placing his children and wives on the camels.... He was heading to see his father Yitzchok in the land of Canaan. (Ibid. 31:17-18)

Thus, in effect, this was not Yaakov’s first departure, for a long time he had been ready to leave and in fact stood in a state of moving. For this reason the verse rightly says “haloch halach-tah,” because this was not the beginning of his journey, nor was this the first time he longed for home, so that this journey could be seen as one of a series.

This explanation however, leaves us with a dilemma. After all, Lavan was a smart gentile, why would he mention in his tirade against Yaakov an argument which would justify Yaakov’s action?! “Because you surely missed your father’s home.”

The answer is that Lavan used this logic to his advantage. He argued as follows:

This is not the first time that you, Yaakov, have missed home to the point that you were ready to take leave. Nevertheless, in the past you did not run away. Rather, you conducted yourself in a sensible manner. You came to me, we sat down to a “round table” discussion and I explained to you that it would pay for you to remain with me. “Just name your price and I will give it” (Ibid 30:28). You became reconciled to one in the past and you did not lose anything. In fact, you have become a wealthy man — because of me.

With this introduction Lavan goes on to ask Yaakov:

Why have you suddenly changed your conduct and run away without any discussion. “Why did you have to leave so secretly” and “lead my daughters away like prisoners of war?”

And so, Lavan emphasizes, that despite the intense longing of which he is well aware, Yaakov should not have acted precipitously. He then adds the point: “But why did you have to steal my gods?”

Now that we understand Lavan’s argument to Yaakov we remain a bit unsatisfied by Yaakov’s silence! Why does he not answer Lavan?

But this ponderation we will leave to the listeners to ponder on. Hopefully there will be no need to worry about this for in an instant Mashiach is here, when the promise of “rise and sing ye that dwell the dust” will be fulfilled. Moshe and Aharon will be among them, as well as the celebrant of this day of liberation and also Yaakov — so we will be able to ask him what his answer to Lavan was. May it come speedily with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, when all the Jewish people will come to the Holy Land, the complete people in a complete land, speedily and quickly and truly in our time with happiness and glad hearts.

* * *

4. This week there will be a siyum celebration for the completion of study of a section of Rambam. It is customary to make a siyum feast at the time of completion and to also start studying the next section.

It would also be appropriate now to mention the dedication celebration of the Beis Chabad (Portland, Oregon) and in order to connect these happy occasions with the farbrengen I will give bottles for the celebrations, which will have the effect that all who are gathered here be considered as participants of those festivities also.

May all the activities meet with great success, especially since they are connected with this farbrengen of the day of liberation, Yud Kislev, in the building where the Previous Rebbe lived and worked the last ten years of his life. For certainly he is still guiding his flock and radiates to all his followers blessing and success in all their needs materially and spiritually — children, health, sustenance and in abundance like the “broad river.”

Till the great redemption will come through our righteous Mashiach, may he come and lead us upright to our land. Speedily and quickly with joy and gladness.