1. Every action of intelligent people has a reason and purpose. So, too, when many people gather to do a common action there must be a unifying cause. Sometimes we must seek a reason why different people gather — but sometimes the reason is clear, such as this gathering, today, which is connected to the Yahrzeit of the Previous Rebbe.

Yahrzeit is a broad subject; why do we gather on a Yahrzeit after so many years since the passing of the Previous Rebbe? Here, too, we should see a clear directive, for we speak of one who sacrificed his life to spread Torah. This was his driving force in life for himself, and this was the essential theme which he demanded of others around him. It is therefore understandable that his life and accomplishments are remembered each year by gathering on his Yahrzeit and by studying his Torah teachings. We speak especially of the Torah discourses which he prepared before his passing for the 10th of Shvat (the day of his passing), and which, consequently, we study every year on the 10th of Shvat.

In the first maamar — dated on the 10th of Shvat, at the beginning and end of the maamar, we find a subject which gives us the purpose of this yearly gathering and what we must emphasize.

The maamar begins:

I came into My garden — I came into My bridal chamber, the place where My essence was originally revealed. At the beginning of creation the essence of the Shechinah was apparent in this lowly world.

The maamar tells us that specifically thisworld is called: “My garden,” for G‑d was satisfied with it at the start. And even though there were negative causes of change in the world, still a solution was provided, which pushed away the bad aspects, and made the world pleasurable for G‑d.

This shows us, that when we gather — our purpose is to do whatever we can to make the world pleasurable for G‑d. Each and everyone individually, and especially many Jews together, bear this responsibility. The onus is even greater when we gather in the same place where for the last 10 years of his life the Previous Rebbe prayed, learned and spread Torah — last of which was this Maamar, “Basi LeGani.” Thus, there is a clear purpose and goal, in addition to what you would do to make the world “a dwelling place” for G‑d. We must make the world a pleasurableplace, a garden of G‑d, a place that will give pleasure to the Holy One, Blessed be He. Furthermore, knowing that the world was once a good place pleasing to the Holy One, Blessed be He — we realize that it is easier to bring back the conditions which existed then. Each person must do his share, and all the individual efforts will be combined. This will add more and more to the beauty of the King.

Being that creation includes all creatures and all people — Jews and non-Jews, we must remember that there are the seven general rules, the Seven Noachide Laws with all their details, which all nations must observe and which the Jewish people must teach them to accept.

There is another thought which the maamar discusses: Before Matan Torah, at the time of creation — before the first sin — the spirit of G‑dliness filled the world. Then, later on, in the days of Moshe at Matan Torah, the voice of G‑d reverberated all over the world:

I am G‑d your L‑rd...Do not have any other gods before Me. (Shemos 20:2-3)

The word of G‑d reached all four corners of the world, so much so, that even the animals were quiet to hear the words of G‑d. This, however, came after the time that the Shechinahhadrisenaway from the world. Yet, it did come back again to the lower world through the Mishkan where the Shechinah would: “...dwell forever upon it” (Tehillim 37:29), and which brought light to the world.

Later, after Matan Torah, the Torah is still “new,” for at each moment the Torah is given again, as new! Therefore it must be “new” in our eyes. Clearly, each person can fulfill this mission.

But let us take a moment to answer an argument. There are those who say that they need time to be prepared and ready to teach others, because they must first be perfect, and only then can they teach others. As the Talmud teaches us,

First adorn yourself and then adorn others. (B. Metzia 107b)

So we tell him, this mitzvah must be done at every moment and at all times, it can’t wait until you make the world a garden. G‑d gives you all the power at one and the same time to adorn yourself and others! The Previous Rebbe showed this to us by his own example and it was also practiced by his followers who were ready to advance against all obstacles. Actually, the obstacles are only the making of the “sly one” — who endeavors to stop our Divine service. When we ignore the “old and foolish king,” we see that it is easier than we thought. Then the argument that maybe you are not ready is forgotten! You are not doing something new, rather you are returning the world to its original state. So too, when a person contemplates about himself — he realizes that he, too, must return to the perfect behavior that once was, i.e. to go back to his real essence, as he was when he was created. This holds true for Jews and non-Jews as well. At the time of creation G‑d saw that all He had made was verygood. This was the case when He createdman! Now, if the individual is not living up to par he must improve, but he must not think that he is doing it from scratch, rather he is returning to the original perfection.

Following the directives of the maamar we see that we must make the world a dwelling place for holiness — and if we should see the job as overwhelming, we must also remember it was done already! It was successfully carried out before, as the Rambam says, that a person must see himself equally balanced and the world equally balanced, and one good deed, one word or thought, weighs the whole world — to the side of merit.

This engenders enthusiasm for more good resolutions, to increase light and goodness, tzedakah and righteousness, all from the source of G‑dliness. How? by just announcing that there is a true ruler for the world. Thus, He is here in the world! and requests and endows us with the ability to make a dwelling place for G‑d in the world. And one act, according to the Rambam, can push the whole world to the side of salvation. As we see in a scale which is balanced exactly equal, then even a slight, infinitesimal addition on the right side will overweigh the scale in the proper direction. So may it be for us to do and succeed, to return the Shechinah to the place where it was in the lower worlds, through Mashiach, with the true and complete redemption.

2. Just as the Previous Rebbe’s maamar conveys an important theme in its opening chapter, so too, can we learn from the closing paragraphs of the maamar. At the close of the maamar the Previous Rebbe warns about the possibility of obstacles in the path of serving G‑d, but he then says that each thing has a set time, and every person has a limited time on the world and each act must be done at the right time, and not be postponed, even if one has a reason to be lackadaisical.

So, too, the theme which we take from this farbrengen for the future must come from the beginning of Torah and from the end. When we realize the great mission we have, one might imagine that it is necessary to make all sorts of preparations for self and others. For example, in this country when something needs to be done the people gather to make a conference, and form a committee, where they then discuss...when to make the second meeting! The maamar says action is the essential thing. When you start with the deed then the act itself will show you the way to work, so that the meeting will go in the right direction.

The maamar says, first of all doyourmission, then, along with the actions the specific needs and goals will crystallize, and you will find the strength and resources to accomplish your goal. If not, you remain in the realm of talk and thought — not action. Then, even if you have a budget it is wasted on the people who do analysis and research, and study the problem rather than do what needs to be done.

The problem is clear!

The world was created to bring pleasure to G‑d through righteousness and just action, as we see in the Seven Noachide Laws and especially in Torah. So we must be careful to do them properly.

Every day we have choices, right and wrong, and sometimes things happen which make us ignore the purpose of making the world a dwelling place for G‑d. So we must start with action! By beginning to act we will save many analytical studies and eliminate additional problems and bad things, and we will accomplish much good.

Essentially, all efforts should be geared to fulfill the main purpose of our existence; to make the world a place of good societies — not a place where people cannot talk together. Instead of hatred, unity and cooperation must prevail. When people work together they can accomplish more than twice as much, for each does more when helped by another. How much more so, when there are many who work together, they can accomplish so much more.

When we see success in our efforts it will add desire and enthusiasm to do more — including drawing others to do the same.

This year — the Hillula day is connected with the portion of Torah, Beshallach.

The Torah is not only a book of nice, true stories; but it is also teaching; a lesson how to live in this world.

This week’s portion begins “Vayehi Beshallach” — “When Pharaoh let the people leave” (Shemos 13:17). What do we learn from a story that occurred thousands of years ago, far away from us and even before Matan Torah. What can we learn from the details of these stories for ourselves, this week, when we read the portion Beshallach.

The story of Beshallach will give us the answer to the oft-asked question: “Since Jews are in the dark galus, and even the non-Jews exist in difficult times when it is hard to do the Seven Noachide Laws, how can we hope to fulfill our mission?”

But let us first approach this question from a different vantage point and find some explanation — and then come back to Beshallach.1

In recent years and in recent times we have seen such tragic events and phenomena, in nature and in human relations. In the last few months we saw earthquakes and floods in places where for many years nothing bad had happened. Suddenly, tens and hundreds and thousands were killed.

Also, in human relations — such a danger as we see today never existed. There are two mighty powers locked in direct confrontation. Each wants to spread its hegemony and rule over the entire world! In earlier generations there were different kingdoms and many wars or upheavals took place, but never were there two distinct superpowers in two opposing camps. In the history of the world we find in all the generations there were wars, but not a situation where all the world was divided in two camps and those in-between could not remain neutral, but had to take sides. The situation seems to deteriorate from day to day and as much as they try to enter into peace talks, they continue to prepare moreandmorewarmaterial. This has become more evident recently and when we think about this situation and then we hear that one must make the world a place of pleasure for G‑d, it does not fit! The reality does not match the plan!

We must find an answer which will satisfy everyone! In simple terms:

Since the question is new, the answer must also be new. G‑d creates nothing without a purpose, so the answer could not be found earlier than the question! Rather, the solution must be found only in the inventions and discoveries of recent times.

The answer is found in the Zohar that from the year 5600 much wisdom will come into the world, including worldly scientific knowledge. Therefore, most recently, in the new things that have been discovered we will find the answer.

How can we make the world a place where the kingdom will be for G‑d? When the people will make a good world. But, when we see all the war mongering of the two power blocks, we wonder, “Can it be?” At the same time we see that recently we have discovered the power that is found in the smallest amount of matter — the atom. Years ago, to make an explosion large quantities of explosive mass were needed. In the last few decades and especially in the last few years, we have discovered that the smallest particles of matter can cause a great negative change to take place. Yet, at the same time, this same power may be used to influence the whole world in a positive way, when used according to G‑d’s will. But, since G‑d gives us intellectual choice to choose good and life — this shows we are intelligent beings — we therefore have the choice to choose the opposite. So, while G‑d begs us to choose life and use our own freewill to choose good and life, He has provided us with the potential to do the opposite!

These are the discoveries that were revealed in recent years. To change an order in the old days large armies were needed, and much time, in order to reach all places and make the change! Now with the power of the atom, when used according to the principles given by G‑d, the small mass will influence the whole world, instantly.

Nature had the power all along, but man did not know about it. It was revealed now to help fix the world. As the prophetic vision: “And a little child shall lead them” (Yeshayahu 11:6), even a small boy who does not have great power and who is small in size! If this power is used right you can revolutionize the world with one press on a button (as we have seen recently a small boy found out how to push the rightbutton) which will help the world move in the right direction. For free will to exist, there must also be the choice.

Now, to answer our dilemma! How can one man help the whole world?

The teaching of the Previous Rebbe says that the previous state should come back to make the world a garden of G‑d as it once was. You ask how?

The answer: Press the right button! The one who presses the button neednotknow how atomicenergyworks or how it will influence the whole world! He must just push the rightbutton at the righttime! Even if he does not understand what he does, there must be the action! When G‑d directs us, there must be an act in response, even before we hear what He demands: “We will do and we will listen!” Weallknowthis! When G‑d prepares the opportunity for us to do the right act, all will be set for each person, so that by his actions he will bring salvation in all four corners of the world.

We speak not of faith or religiosity — rather only of the action. Are you afraid that one who is not normal (spiritually) or one who is not stable in righteousness will push the button? Do not be afraid for we see that it can be done effectively when we follow Torah. We are responsible to walk in the right path: Seven Noachide Laws for all people and 613 mitzvos for Jews. May it be soon and instantaneously that we see salvation with joy and glad hearts.

3. In the portion of Beshallach we read that after hundreds of years in exile in Egypt, the Jews were given their freedom by Pharaoh. Pharaoh was a world ruler, and during the hunger years all the world had come to Pharaoh for food, and all the money of the world came to the treasuries of Egypt — along with all the power it controlled.

The Talmud tells us that Yosef consolidated the treasures of Egypt and all the power connected with those riches. In Beshallach, however, we read that Pharaoh sent out the slaves — he drove them out — to freedom with an “upraised hand.” Instead of the state of hundreds of years of back-breaking work, we now see the opposite, that they were leaving with an “outstretched arm.” Who helped them? Pharaoh and all his advisors!

He sent them out of Egypt to march to Mount Sinai. Here we have an answer to the aforementioned question. The Jews had been enslaved by the Egyptians for so long, yet, Torah tells that when the time came to be redeemed it was instantlydone, suddenly, and with the assistance of the advisors, magicians and Pharaoh himself.

In our own era we must learn from the story of Beshallach. It is true that today we live in the darkness of the galus and even the nations around us are in such a sorry state that they do not put their efforts into making the world a just society. How can we make the world a “garden” for G‑d? How can we even make it a dwelling place for G‑dliness? The answer is that these changes can take place in a split-second and all the forces that are now against us will become our helpers.

So too, in order to call all nations to serve G‑d together, there must first be the work of Moshe, which will be the preparation for all the nations to serve G‑d all with one mind. Similarly, the ultimate redemption will come, and we will not even remain one moment longer, but we will go with our sons and daughters and elders, also the flocks will go and then we will sing “Az Yashir.” It leads to the tenth song, a new song — a song of redemption for Jews and all the world, speedily and truly in our days.

* * *

4. At the beginning of tractate Rosh Hashanah the Mishnah teaches us:

There are four New Years. On the first of Nissan...the first of Elul...the first of Tishrei.... On the first of Shvat is the New Year for Trees according to the ruling of Beis Shammai; Beis Hillel, however, places it on the fifteenth of that month. (Rosh Hashanah 2a)

The Hillula of the Previous Rebbe which is the tenth of Shvat falls between the two opinions of Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel. By Divine Providence we can therefore choose the tractate of Rosh Hashanah to be studied at this time for the Siyum. The closing discussion of a tractate (Hadran) usually involves elucidation that binds the end of the tractate with its beginning.

This thought is also mentioned in the liturgy read on Simchas Torah, when the Torah is completed and immediately started again:

The beginning of the reading of the Torah always immediately follows its completion. (Siddur)

As we have previously discussed the closing lines of the tractate Rosh Hashanah, we will today discuss a matter slightly earlier — in the last few mishnayos of Rosh Hashanah where it speaks of an important subject of Rosh Hashanah: the mitzvah of sounding the shofar, and its blessings.

In discussing the final mishnah of Rosh Hashanah the Gemara tells us:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, proclaimed: Recite before Me on Rosh Hashanah kingship, remembrance and shofar verses; kingship verses to declare Me king over you; remembrance verses, that the remembrance of you may come before Me for good; and through what? through the shofar. (Rosh Hashanah 34b)

This indicates that the order of the verses must specifically follow this order.

The question arises: If in the first part of the quoted discussion it says “recite” kingship, remembrance and shofar verses, then it should also say in the latter part, recite the shofar verses. Why does it end, “through what”? (In fact, in Tosefta it does present the quote in that manner; referring to the verses of shofar and not the blasts of the shofar.) Some want to correct the passages and to write the “verses of shofar” — as in the Tosefta — but this cannot be, for then the Gemara would not be referring to the sound of the shofar at all, only words!

We may connect this problematic Talmudic discussion to the dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel at the beginning of the tractate and we will find an answer for our dilemma.

Beis Shammai says that the New Year for Trees is the first day of Shvat and Beis Hillel says it is the 15th.

What is the concept of the New Year for Trees?

The trees gain sustenance and grow from the old ground-water (i.e. from the previous year’s waters) till Shvat. Beis Shammai says that on Rosh Chodesh Shvat they start drawing the “new” water, and Beis Hillel says from the 15th of Shvat.

In order to understand the debate we must deal with the water, which is judged on RoshHashanah, for it is connected to human needs. The water is judged on RoshHashanah but it comes out in reality on Sukkos, the 15th of Tishrei when we celebrate the water libations. Really we should start asking for rain at the start of the holiday of Sukkos, but, the water would interfere with fulfilling the mitzvah of Sukkos, so we wait until the end of the holiday.

According to the Talmud Yerushalmi it takes four months for the water to have an effect on the trees. So it takes from Tishrei till Shvat — and hence, the classic debate between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel now expresses itself in this matter. Beis Shammai holds that we follow the potential and Beis Hillel holds that we look to the actual. Many examples have been presented in this debate. On Rosh Hashanah we dressinwhite but the blessing of the New Year symbolized by white is only potential, for we are sure that G‑d willgiveus a good year. The actualreveals itself on Sukkos when Jews carry out the lulov, shaking it openly; this shows that we were successful in our case before G‑d.

Then in Shvat (and also Chanukah) the debate centers on whether to stress the potential or the actual — Beis Shammai says on Chanukah, light eight candles the first day for it has in it the potentialrevelation of eight days. So too, on the New Year for Trees we emphasize the day on which the potential started — Rosh Chodesh Shvat — four months after Rosh Hashanah. Beis Hillel says we follow the actual — on the first of Chanukah light one candle and on the 15th of Shvat we celebrate the New Year for Trees, for it is four months after the 15th of Tishrei and that is when the water actually starts feeding the trees.

In our case, at the end of the tractate when we deal with the sounding of the shofar we may also discern a difference between potential and kinetic.

When a person recites the verses of kingship his hope is that he will effect the actual kingship of G‑d. Thus, the recitation is kinetic, but the kingship is potential.

Similarly, when we recite the verses of remembrance the goal is that “the remembrance of you may come before Me for good.” Again we have a case where the recital is actual and the hoped for result is potential.

However, in the case of the action of blowing the shofar, here we say “through what...the (actual) shofar.” Here we cannot be satisfied with only saying verses, we must have the actual blowing of the shofar, because it is the mitzvahoftheday and it must be performed!

Then also, the previous hopes of kingship and remembrance will be fulfilled, when the shofar is blown. This was explained in the Chassidic discourses of the Rebbe Maharash that the prayers of remembrance and kingship will reach reality through blowing the shofar. He related two parables about the shofar, one from R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev and one from the Baal Shem Tov:

1. A wise and powerful king had an only son whom he loved very dearly and who was learned and well brought up. The king cared for his son as the apple of his eye. The father and son once decided that the prince should travel to distant lands to gain new wisdom and to learn the customs of different peoples. The king assigned officers and servants and a large sum of money was placed at his disposal so that he could travel to islands and far-away places and gain experiences in those exotic places which he could not attain at home in the palace.

But the boy squandered the money on wasteful expenses and spent it on his foolish desire to have the same pleasures and amenities that he had at home. The trip also gave him the opportunity to learn of new and expensive pleasures. The money was wasted, and he then sold all that he had, and ended up in a very distant land where his father was not known and he could not communicate with home.

In his distress he realized that he wanted to return to his native country, but so much time had elapsed that he had forgotten his native tongue. When he finally traveled back to his country in tattered rags he could not communicate with his people. Somehow, in sign language, he convinced the officials that he was the prince and he was brought to the king’s palace — but in the king’s court they did not recognize him and he could not explain his identity. So he began to cry in a loud voice so that his father should hear him. The king did in fact recognize the sound of his son’s wailing and his mercy was awakened and he felt again the love for his son — so he embraced him and kissed him and put him back in his true place.

When a soul descends to this world it is clothed in a body and if it wanders away from its source to the point that it forgets the language of its Father, then it needs the plain call of the shofar — the inner soul cry from the depths of his heart. This is the message of repentance, remorse for the past and the good resolutions for the future. Then the King of kings accepts his prayers and shows him His love and forgives him for the past.

2. A king once set out on a journey to a distant city and was not familiar with the way. He passed through a thick forest and in the midst of the forest he lost his way and could not return home.

He met several woods-people and villagers in the forest who did not recognize him and had never heard of the main highway which led to the capital city.

Soon he met a wise man who immediately realized that this lost soul was the king and he hurriedly saw to his needs and did all that the king requested and led him out of the forest.

The king traveled back to the palace and sat on his throne again. Years later the man sinned against the king and the king was greatly angered. He commanded his ministers and judges to try the perpetrator as a traitor to the king. The wise man knew that he had no chance and that because of the king’s anger he would be sentenced beyond the severity of his crime. So he fell to the feet of the king and begged him for one favor that before the sentence would be passed he should be allowed to wear the same garments he wore on the day he lead the king out of the forest and the king should also put on the clothes he wore that day. The king granted him this one wish. When they were so dressed the king recalled the setting of that fateful day and the kindness which the wise man had done for him in returning him to his kingdom and his throne. The king’s mercy was aroused and he found grace in the eyes of the king who pardoned his sin and returned him to his post.

So the Berdichever says, that this second story was like Matan Torah. When G‑d wanted to give the Torah to the world He asked all the nations and they refused; only the Jews accepted the Torah. When the shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah it reminds G‑d of the shofarofMatanTorah when only the Jews accepted the Torah.

The first parable shows our action, by the prince who cries with an inner voice — the voice of the child — that reminds the king of his son’s voice — the power of teshuvah. The second parable speaks of the special quality of Torah. Both of these points come through with the shofar. The kingship and the remembrance all comeaboutthroughtheshofar for it is similar to the primitive unarticulated call from the depths of the heart.

So in the two opinions of Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel concerning the time of New Year for Trees, we stress the power of potential and actual, whether the first of Shvat or the 15th of Shvat — we can see the qualities of both opinions. While at the end of the tractate we see the blending together of the potential and actual — when you blow the shofar you bring the potential into the actual.

The halachic ruling accepts the opinion of Beis Hillel that the New Year for Trees is the 15th of Shvat (the actual rather than potential). This year it comes on Shabbos Beshallach and following the Hillula day of Yud Shvat. May it lead us to the “new song” at the complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.