1. The Shabbos between the 10th and 19th of Kislev has a connection to both of these important dates.

Shabbos brings completion and elevation for all the preceding days and it provides blessing for all the coming days. Consequently, this Shabbos will complete the theme of Yud Kislev and bestow blessing upon the theme of Yud-Tes Kislev.

In a sense, the work of the preceding week has actually been completed before Shabbos. Shabbos only adds an aspect of elevation and wholeness to the total week. The coming week, however, begins with the potential radiated by the blessings of the Shabbos. Hence, it would seem that Shabbos has a more important function regarding the coming week.

In our case, Shabbos elevates the days of the past week — Yud Kislev — and generates the blessing and potential to the next week — Yud-Tes Kislev; the blessing will come from the Shabbos which includes Yud Kislev. And so, this Shabbos, which is associated with the revelation of the Chassidic philosophy of the first two leaders of Chabad, certainly carries an important lesson for us.

It behooves us to properly establish the foundation of this concept which attributes Torah validity to events and teachings that were revealed in later generations. What is the principle involved? The complete Torah was given to the world long ago, how can you include recent events and innovative teachings in the corpus of Torah?

The answer is: Torah is eternal!

Think about this statement for a moment and you will certainly agree that it is true. But what does it mean? Can it mean simply that whatever was in Torah thousands of years ago still applies today — what is so special about that? Its true meaning must be that whatever is taught later was really included earlier! That is true eternity! Only the revelation is dictated by time.

The five-year-old Chumash student has seen examples of this rule.

When the Torah tells us of the mitzvah of Pesach Sheni, which was commanded to the Jewish people in the second year after the Exodus, we encounter a mitzvah which was revealed after Matan Torah. Similarly, the daughters of Tzelophchod approached Moshe and demanded a share in the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael many years after Matan Torah. G‑d answered by giving Moshe the rules of inheritance; then this revelation took place just before entering the Holy Land, forty years after Matan Torah.

Nevertheless, even the five-year-old Chumash student knows that these laws are an integral part of Torah, they were only revealed later, and the “Torah is eternal.”

A more profound example may be drawn from the Laws of Sanhedrin.

The Rambam rules:

No one is qualified to act as a judge whether of the Great or a Small Sanhedrin or even of a court-of-three, unless he has been ordained by one who has himself been ordained ... reaching back to the ... tribunal of Moshe our teacher. (Laws of Sanhedrin 4:1)

The Rambam goes on to describe the power of the Sanhedrin:

Whoever does not act in accordance with their instruction transgresses a negative command, as it is said: “You shall not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto you, to the right hand, nor to the left” (Devarim 7:11).... Obedience to the direction given by them is a positive command ... for Scripture says: “According to the law which they shall teach you” (Ibid.). (Laws of Rebels 1:2)

In the following chapter the Rambam touches upon another point:

If the Great Sanhedrin, by employing one of the hermeneutical principles, deduced a ruling which in its judgment was in consonance with the Torah and rendered a decision to that effect, and a later Supreme Court finds a reason for setting aside the ruling, it may do so and act in accordance with its own opinion, as it is said: “And unto the judge that shall be in those days” (Devarim 17:9), that is, we are bound to follow the directions of the court of our own generation. (Ibid. 2:1)

We see that the rulings of a later generation Sanhedrin carries the validity of a Torah ruling. This is true even though the quality of the later Sanhedrin may be inferior to an earlier court. As the Gemara states:

“Yiphtach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation,” or “like Moshe in his generation.” (Rosh Hashanah 25b)

Once established, this rule holds true even when the previous (greater) Sanhedrin had interpreted the Torah differently.

Interestingly, the Rambam is of the opinion that even in modern times this principle may be applied:

It seems to me that if all the wise men in Eretz Yisrael were to agree to appoint judges and to ordain them, the ordination would be valid, empowering the ordained to adjudicate cases involving fines and to ordain others. (Laws of Sanhedrin 4:11)

In fact, on the basis of this opinion of the Rambam, the sages of Eretz Yisrael gave authorization and ordination to Mahari Bei Rav [Rabbi Yaakov Bei Rav, 16th century sage, leader of the sages of Tzfas] who later ordained the Beis Yosef (Yosef Karo), the author of the Shulchan Aruch which continues to illuminate the path of the Jewish people until the end of time.

This brings us to the presumption that even today a modern Halachic ruling may be accepted with the full force of a Torah law. The Torah is eternal, spanning all time and encompassing all proper innovations and new rulings.

Similarly, the incidents of Yud Kislev and Yud-Tes Kislev were revealed in recent generations but are really part of the Eternal Torah, and are therefore included in Torah from the beginning of time.

Because the teachings of Chassidus have a unique relationship with the teachings of Mashiach, in that they serve as a preparation for Mashiach’s future interpretation of Torah (see Rashi in Shir HaShirim 1:2), and since the Torah of Mashiach is certainly eternal, even though it will not be revealed until the future time, it follows that Chassidus, too, incorporates the aspect of eternity.

Creation itself will reach a new completeness when Mashiach comes. The “spirit” which hovered over the “Tohu” (formlessness) and “Vohu” (emptiness) at the start of creation was really the spirit of Mashiach, and the lofty light created on the first day has been sequestered for the righteous in the World to Come. All this will be revealed and Mashiach will introduce perfection in the world, as well as in Torah.

We can clearly see many aspects of the Eternal Torah: the Torah always was; what will be revealed in the future was previously present in a hidden form; each day it is like new; and, all aspects of Torah must provide an eternal lesson for us in our Divine service to our Maker; “to fear G‑d.”

Having explained that this Shabbos which concludes the theme of Yud Kislev serves as a source of blessing for the theme of Yud-Tes Kislev, we are faced with a paradox:

How can the preparation for the day of liberation of the Alter Rebbe, the father, and source of Chassidus, come from the teachings and day of liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe, the son and successor?

But the explanation is, that the Alter Rebbe symbolized Chochmah — wisdom, and the Mitteler Rebbe symbolized Binah — understanding, as we see from their respective works. The fact that this Shabbos prepares for Yud-Tes Kislev indicates that the theme and attribute of wisdom must also proceed in the manner of the “broad rivers” of Binah, with breadth and depth. How? By receiving the potential from the power of Binah, the theme of Yud Kislev.

Another point which is often glossed over.

Although, the wide and deep expanses of the “broad river” of Binah is usually meant to refer to a concept after it has emerged from the “flash of wisdom” and “point” of Chochmah — there is in truth an aspect of breadth in Chochmah itself. As Chassidus explains the term “comprehend with wisdom” that in the source itself — the fountain of Chochmah — there can also be an expanse of “understanding.”

Thus the theme of Yud-Tes Kislev — Chochmah — can in fact be introduced by the “broad rivers” of Binah — “comprehend with wisdom.”

Let us study the quality of this Shabbos that falls between the 10th and 19th of Kislev. The “sly one” (evil impulse) may argue that there is no need for all the excitement and enthusiasm today on the 17th of Kislev — you still have two more days until Yud-Tes Kislev. How can you demand an unmanageable storm of enthusiasm in a framework of logic and understanding?

But the response is, that on the Shabbos which blesses Yud-Tes Kislev there must be some aspect which is even loftier than Yud-Tes Kislev itself, after all, the giver of the blessing must be greater than the receiver. Where will we find that superior quality? In the fact that the theme of Yud Kislev reaches perfection on this day, so the “broad rivers” of Binah can evoke the broader theme of Yud-Tes Kislev. For this reason this Shabbos awakens enthusiasm and excitement.

In action?

Out of the infinite powers we must filter one finite detail, what shall it be? How can so lofty a concept be simplified for the average person who is not versed in the esoteric comparisons of Chochmah and Binah?

The answer is to emphasize the study of the Alter Rebbe’s teachings — to learn Tanya in a manner of the “broad rivers” of Binah. It can commence with understanding the first word of Tanya.

What does the word “Tanya” mean? “A Tanna has taught.” Even the average Jew knows that the Tannaim were the wise sages of the earlier generations. True, he may not be aware of the difference of Tannaim, Amoraim and Geonim. He may also not have heard of the Talmudic adage:

If the earlier (scholars) were sons of angels, we are sons of men, etc. (Shabbos 112b)

He does, however, know that the Tannaim lived in the earlier generations and that they were very great indeed.

With this thought in mind, by merely reading the first word of Tanya you introduce the “broad rivers of Binah” into the study of the Alter Rebbe’s classic work by a simple person. Now, in addition to the Tanna who taught this rule, tens of thousands of Jews will learn it in Tanya, throughout all the following generations.

It also causes Tanya to be studied in the higher worlds, Gan Eden and Olam Habah (Paradise and the “World to Come”).

Thus we have seen that the study of Tanya (the Alter Rebbe’s teachings) may be approached in an expanded manner, even by a simple person.

Similarly, this approach must be followed by the “heads of your tribes.” One who has already toiled and agonized over the Alter Rebbe’s teachings will still know that he is a limited soul clothed in a physical body. In this state the individual has the quality of being able to study Torah to the point of Halachic judgment, which cannot be done by angels: “It (Torah) is not in heaven” (B. Metzia 59b). Yet, as well as he may be versed in the teachings of Alter Rebbe — he knows that it is not the same depth as the “broad rivers” of the Mitteler Rebbe’s approach.

So on this Shabbos, which effectuates the summation of the Mitteler Rebbe’s theme, introducing the depth and breadth of the “broad river” of Binah, he should use this power to approach the Divine service of Yud-Tes Kislev in order to effect an aspect of expansion in the Torah of the Alter Rebbe!

Just as this Shabbos can effect an amplification in the teachings of the Alter Rebbe. So too, we may apply this strength to all areas of Torah and bring about a widening of the horizons of Torah.

No matter how broad and extensive one’s study may be, it is nevertheless measured and limited — so there is always room for expansion.

By way of illustration, the first Mishnah of the Talmud begins:

From what time may one recite the Shema in the evening? From the time that the Kohanim enter [their houses] in order to eat their Terumah.... (Berachos 1:1)

The plain meaning of this Mishnah is clear. It teaches us the time when the Shema may be recited. When R. Avrohom the “Malach,” son of the Great Maggid, studied this tractate with the Alter Rebbe, he introduced the esoteric interpretation, that the word “Mayaymosai” (From what time) comes from the root “aymah — fear” which means, that the recitation of Shema must be preceded by fear of G‑d. Here we have an esoteric explanation which enhances the importance of the subject dealt with in the first Mishnah of the Talmud, and stresses that it provides a true foundation for all Torah learning.

The early commentators discussed the choice of this halachah to lead off the first mishnah of the Talmud. One of the explanations given broad acceptance says:

“The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the L‑rd” (Tehillim 111:10). Therefore our saintly rabbis set the beginning of the Mishnah to deal with the unity of the Holy One, Blessed be He ... which speaks of His kingdom above and below and in all four corners of the universe. (Pirkei Ria”z)

Thus, the meditation of the Shema is the foundation of Torah study. This means that Torah study must be prefaced by fear of G‑d and must lead to more fear of G‑d.

We understand this from the verse:

G‑d commanded us to keep all His rules, so that we would remain in awe of G‑d for all time.... (Devarim 6:24)

And it is carried forth in the Talmudic dictum:

If there is no wisdom, there is no fear (of G‑d). (Avos 3:17)

From these sources we see Torah study as leading to the proper awe and fear of G‑d. Yet, at the same time the Mishnah also advised:

If there is no fear (of G‑d), there is no wisdom, (Ibid.)

placing fear as the prerequisite. In totality we may understand the context in the following way. First, there must be fear of G‑d, then, Torah and mitzvos, which lead to a higher state of awe of G‑d.

Consequently, when Chassidus explains that “Mayaymosai” means we must read Shema out of fear, the basic foundation of all Torah is enhanced and strengthened. And on this foundation each individual has the potential to build and expand his observance of Torah and mitzvos during the day.

It should be noted that just as the Alter Rebbe first translated the Mishnah according to its plain meaning and then the “Malach” added the esoteric interpretation, so too, we must start with the focal point of basic Chochmah — wisdom, and then introduce the broader outlook of Binah — deeper conception and understanding.

Widening our Torah horizons should also lead to expansion in observance of mitzvos and in the scope of dedicating our secular deeds for the sake of heaven. This infers that all our material endeavors should also be blessed with greater success. For the Rambam has explained:

He has further promised us in the Torah, that ... He will remove from us the obstacles that hinder us in the observance ... and He will bestow upon us all the material benefits which will strengthen our ability to fulfill the law, such as plenty, peace, abundance of silver and gold. So that ... we will have leisure to study wisdom and fulfill the commandments. (Laws of Teshuvah 9:1)

Thus, material benefits will bring expansion in our Torah and mitzvos.

Interestingly, there is an oft quoted adage of the Alter Rebbe:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, gives the Jewish people material blessings and the Jewish people transform the material into spiritual.

This is a corollary of the Rambam’s ruling about the blessings bestowed by G‑d. The Alter Rebbe, of course based his teaching on the earlier interpretations and revealed, expanded and promulgated the concept in his own context and his unique style.

The deed is of the essence.

And on this 17th of Kislev the theme of the “broad river” of Binah must be utilized to approach the Divine service of Yud-Tes Kislev and all other areas of Torah and mitzvos likewise, including also the principle of using material blessing for the sake of heaven.

All this should be permeated with joy, as all mitzvos should be. Especially as we are dealing with the holidays of liberation, the 10th and 19th of Kislev, and also since every Shabbos has a special association with joy: “The day of your rejoicing refers to Shabbos” (Sifrei, Bamidbar 10:10).

This joy should pierce all the boundaries and limitations and the restrictions of the galus, when we attain: “Everlasting joy upon their heads” (Yeshayahu 35:10), with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, truly in our time.

* * *

2. There are many important topics in the portion of Vayishlach. Let us discuss the general theme of Vayishlach, which is projected in the name of the portion, “Vayishlach — Yaakov sent messengers.” What lesson can we garner from this term which encompasses all of the other topics in this portion?

Since we speak of the general theme, we may deduce that the teaching we derive will also embody a broad lesson and hence it will be very important and pertinent.

The first verse of the portion:

Yaakov sent messengers ahead of himself to his brother Eisav, to Edom’s field in the Seir area. (Bereishis 32:4)

This verse speaks of the emissaries (angels) which Yaakov sent to his brother. Being the “chosen one of our forefathers,” Yaakov’s conduct certainly sets an example in Divine service for all of us to follow.

We should ponder for a moment the importance of a Torah narrative. Yaakov lived for 147 years. During his lifetime he certainly did many good deeds. Without doubt every day was filled with holiness, Torah and good deeds. Yet, if we were to compile a list of all the incidents in Yaakov’s life recorded in Torah — written and oral — it would not add up to a small fraction of what a good person could perform in 147 years.

The reason for this is obvious. Torah only relates to us those incidents which provide a teaching and lesson for all the Jewish people.

Consequently, when Torah does reveal the story of how Yaakov sent messengers to his brother Eisav, we must conclude that herein lies a central theme which pertains to the conduct of every single Jew.

Naturally, this verse also has its esoteric interpretation. However, we should first explain its plain meaning and the lesson derived there from.

What are the reasons? There are two!

A — The lesson derived from the plain meaning of the verse clearly applies to everyone, even the average Jew. For, when something is understood clearly and fundamentally then it applies to everyone. The esoteric insights and homiletic interpretations which are derived through deeper insight are pertinent to those who are on a higher level, commensurate with their level of study.

B — Even those who do study the symbolic, homiletic, and esoteric meanings of Scripture do not disregard the plain meaning, because a verse cannot depart from its plain meaning (Shabbos 63a).

Even moreso, the plain avenue of study provides the foundation for all deeper interpretations just as a tall building of many stories must rest on the base of the foundation at its lowest level.

[The Kabbalistic view of the story of Yaakov and the messengers speaks of sending angels to the spiritual source of Eisav because Yaakov thought that Eisav had been reformed and raised back to his spiritual source, the level of Tohu, (formless and unordered points). He was however disappointed to discover the truth.]

The simple meaning of sending the messengers to Eisav will convey an important lesson for everyone.

You must reach out and send messengers even to those Jews who appear to be on the level of Eisav — the lowest possible rank. As long as he is your “brother” you must relate to him in a pleasant and peace-loving manner, with love and affection, and attract him with “ropes of love.” How? By sending him a message, through messengers, to inform him of your peaceful attitude and your desire for his friendship and love. You must explain that you want to walk with him towards the true and complete redemption.

This concept of Ahavas Yisrael truly touches all aspects of Torah. The commandment “Love your fellow as yourself” was described (by Hillel) as: “That is the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary thereof” (Shabbos 31a). Thus any other area of Torah may be referred to as part of the explanation of Ahavas Yisrael. Now, if someone should want to study any part of Torah, he may be told:

The subject you want to study is part of the explanation of Ahavas Yisrael, first you must practice Ahavas Yisrael and only then can you approach the meaning of this subject — or any other area — of Torah!

Since the portion of Vayishlach is studied all week long, its impact influences the full cycle of time represented by the seven days of the week. Another point which emerges is the idea that having made the outreach on Sunday you cannot be satisfied, for now again on Monday you are still in the week of Vayishlach and you must reach out again to your lost brother and attract him back to Torah and mitzvos. Hopefully, you will accomplish the main thing — to walk together towards the true and complete redemption.

The theme of Vayishlach is also mirrored by the Shabbos between the 10th and 19th of Kislev, for these two days represent the revelation of Chassidus to the far outside. As the Baal Shem Tov was promised, that when his teachings would spread out, then Mashiach would come.

Hence, just as Mashiach’s coming is important for all Jews, so is Chassidus important and pertinent for all Jews, and it therefore must reach all Jews. The Alter Rebbe said that Chassidus is not just for Chassidim, rather, it is for all Jews.

Having explained that the theme of this Shabbos is to join the “broad rivers” of the Mitteler Rebbe with the level of Chochmah of the Alter Rebbe and to widen its influence and scope, it is clear that it must also reach out to the broadest possible audience without any limitations.

Now, Vayishlach adds the aspect that it also includes sending emissaries even to the very distant Jews — even to those who appear to be on the level of “Eisav.” That is the true “outside.”

May our discussion lead to quick fulfillment and may we merit speedily the coming of our righteous Mashiach, when we will study Mashiach’s Torah from his lips and we will reach the state when:

They shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother saying “Know the L‑rd,” for they shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them. (Yirmeyahu 31:33)

Speedily and truly in our days.

* * *

3. The Dinner of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim will take place this week. The yeshivah was founded by the Rebbe Rashab and his creativity continues. For just as G‑d:

..in His goodness renews each day continually, the work of Creation, (Siddur)

so too, tzaddikim are compared to their Creator, and their influence also continues to enliven their works, many years later.

We should emphasize that the Rashab described the students of Tomchei Temimim as “soldiers of the House of Dovid,” who would fight the forces “who shamed the heels of Mashiach” and bring the true redemption through our righteous Mashiach; when we will have the blessing:

Blessed is the L‑rd forever; Amen and Amen (Tehillim 89:53)

Nowadays this role has been extended to everyone.

In order that the yeshivah can fulfill its responsibility it must have the financial wherewithal — which begins with tzedakah. No need to elaborate on the importance of tzedakah. It has been discussed in many places and especially in Tanya, part four. My hope is that everyone will contribute with a generous heart, and add a little more to what they had previously planned to give.

* * *

Tonight the Melaveh Malkah for Mivtza Neshek will be held. This associates it with Shabbos, since “accompanying the king” means that you are still in the “company” of the king.

The greatness of lighting Shabbos candles is well known. And this applies also for women who are not yet married and even for young girls. When Torah tells us the story of lighting candles it deals with a young girl who was three years old, our Matriarch Rivkah. When she lit candles, the Torah says, that she was transformed to be like our Matriarch Sarah. So too, every daughter of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, when they light Shabbos candles, are transformed to be like Sarah our mother.

I will give a bottle from this farbrengen which will connect it to the Melaveh Malkah and may G‑d grant that from the Melaveh Malkah, which is the banquet of Dovid HaMelech, we should merit to the speedy coming of King Dovid Mashiach. May he come and redeem us and lead us “upright” to our land.

And then:

Awake and sing ye that dwell in the dust. (Yeshayahu 26:19)

Among them the Alter Rebbe and Mitteler Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe, Nasi of our generation, and all other tzaddikim and Moshe and Aharon with them, with the true and complete redemption speedily and truly in our days.

[The Rebbe asked that the time and place of the Dinner of Tomchei Temimim be announced and he gave a bottle to Rabbi Z. Gurary for Mivtza Neshek.]

* * *

4. At the beginning of the fifth reading section of Vayishlach we find:

And Dinah, the daughter of Leah ... went out. (Bereishis 34:1)

Rashi comments:

The daughter of Leah — (so Scripture calls her) why not the daughter of Yaakov? But just because she “went out” she is called Leah’s daughter, since she too was fond of “going out” as it is said: “...and Leah went out to meet him” (Ibid 30:16). (With an allusion to her they formulated the proverb: “Like mother, like daughter.”) (Rashi loc. cit.)

The five-year-old Chumash student has already learned the rule, brought in Rashi: “The memory of the righteous is blessed” (Mishlei 10:7). If so, how is it possible that the Torah would associate the unpleasant incident of Dinah with the righteous Leah? Why would the Torah tell us that because she was “the daughter of Leah” that is why this unfortunate event took place?

Can it be, that Leah was made the subject of a proverb in order to instruct even simple people of the importance of the lesson?

Is it possible to suggest that Scripture wishes to find a justification for Dinah and place the blame for her “going out” on her mother? This cannot be — we don’t morally exonerate one person by blaming someone else.

Furthermore, Dinah was still a young girl at this time — at an age when she was not yet responsible for observing mitzvos (about six years old) — it is inconceivable that we would seek an excuse for her conduct by blaming her mother?!

The verse ends: “... to see the daughters of the land.” In the paragraphs just preceding this story, as well as the following verses, we find the Torah tells us that Yaakov came to Shechem and the name Shechem is used very often. If so, why does the Torah here say she went out to see the daughters “of the land,” what were all the daughters of all the land doing in Shechem?

At the close of the fifth reading section the Torah says:

G‑d appeared to him again and blessed him G‑d said to him “Your name is Yaakov, but your name will not be only Yaakov; you will also have Yisrael as a name.” [G‑d thus] named him Yisrael. (Bereishis 35:9-10)

This prophecy and dialogue should be connected to the general theme of redemption. The name “Yaakov” is associated with “his hand was grasping Eisav’s heel,” the condition of the galus. In this respect G‑d says to Yaakov: “Your name will not be Yaakov but Yisrael” — which carries the meaning of “prince and ruler,” as in the context of “You have struggled with a divine being ... and you have won.” When will this come to fruition — at the time of the future redemption.

This connects to the beginning of the portion where Yaakov informs Eisav that his work of purifying the world has been completed and he is ready for redemption.

[Note: The questions on Chumash and Rashi raised in this sichah are dealt with and answered by the Rebbe Shlita in the farbrengen of Shabbos Vayeishev and Mikeitz.]