1. What special observance do we associate with the seventh of MarCheshvan? In Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Laws of Prayer, the Alter Rebbe rules:

In Eretz Yisrael we begin saying the prayer for rain (“bestow dew and rain for blessing”) from the evening of the seventh of MarCheshvan, because the Land has a mountainous terrain and it needs rain immediately after Sukkos. The prayer for rain should have been said immediately after Sukkos, why then was it postponed for 15 days? In order to allow for the last pilgrims who had come to Yerushalayim to return to the Euphrates River, where the farthest Jewish settlements existed, and not be hampered on the way by rain. (Orach Chayim chap. 117:1)

The Alter Rebbe continues in a parenthesis:

Even after the destruction (of the Temple) they would gather from all areas in Yerushalayim for the holidays, as is done even today, and therefore the Rabbinic edict was not abolished, and they start the prayer for rain in Eretz Yisrael on the seventh of MarCheshvan. (Ibid.)

This of course is the case for Eretz Yisrael, what is the halachah for the Diaspora?

In Babylon and similar countries which are not so mountainous as Eretz Yisrael and therefore do not need rain immediately after Sukkos, they begin reciting the prayer for rain with the evening prayer of the 60th day after the Tishrei (autumnal) equinox. [i.e. The Maariv of the evening preceding the 5th of December, and in a civil leap year, the 6th of December.]

The Halachah then concludes:

Our observance follows the Babylonian custom in all matters. (Ibid.)

In a further discussion of this point, the Alter Rebbe goes into an unusually long explanation of a variant opinion which suggests that in the diaspora each country should choose its own time. This opinion is not accepted as the final ruling and the Alter Rebbe concludes:

Halachah does not accept this opinion, for in all countries of the diaspora we have always followed the custom of Babylonian Jewry. (Ibid.)

If however;

One errs in the diaspora and prays for rain after the 7th of MarCheshvan he must not repeat his prayer. (Ibid.)

This uncharacteristic verbosity devoted to a variant opinion leaves us with an enigma. The Alter Rebbe generally did include the meanings and reasons of the halachos — but generally only for the dominant, accepted opinions, not the rejected views. As his sons wrote in their introduction, the Great Maggid was directed from Above to choose a disciple “filled with the spirit of G‑d who would know to teach clear halachah and to organize all of the laws and rulings ... in a clear language with their reasons and meanings.” This is not the case for the opinions which did not become law!

Why is this case an exception? One may thing that perhaps his purpose is to lead to the final point about one who mistakenly said the prayer at the wrong time. However, it is inconceivable that this would be his purpose. For this goal he could have just mentioned that such an opinion exists without giving all the details.

Perhaps we can find the answer to this puzzle by following a moralistic approach. Here we learn an important lesson concerning Jewish unity.

Until the seventh of MarCheshvan we discern no difference in prayer between the Jews of Eretz Yisrael and the Jews of the diaspora, because they all say: “Bestow blessing.” However, when the night of the seventh of MarCheshvan arrives, the diaspora Jew knows that the Eretz Yisrael Jew has begun reciting “Bestow dew and rain for blessing.” It would therefore appear that an aspect of dissension has been sown among the Jewish people.

To this we must respond that in truth there is no dissension. The cause of the different observance is a ruling of Torah, and since there is oneTorah there is more unity than dissent. There are opinions which would rule that Jews in the diaspora should also start praying for rain on the seventh of MarCheshvan, as the Jews of Eretz Yisrael do, and this opinion is elaborated upon in all its details. [Even though it is not relied upon for a final ruling because of a technicality — that in all practices we follow the customs of Babylon and we don’t want to change our custom (minhag).] By explaining the reason for the practice we thus restore the harmony and unity. Consequently the seventh of MarCheshvan underscores the theme of unity.

The ruling, that people living in Eretz Yisrael start the prayer for rain on the seventh of MarCheshvan, similarly emphasizes the importance of unity of the Jewish people and neighborly love. After Sukkos, the pilgrims who had gathered in Yerushalayim used to disperse and travel back to their home cities, as far as the Euphrates River. When the Jews in Israel postponed praying for 15 days until the last travelers arrived home, so that they would not be hampered by the rain, they showed their care and concern for their distant brethren.

Contemplate this for a moment. In praying for rain we are dealing with a matter of basic sustenance and survival. Rain makes vegetation grow; the grain, and the fruits, in the fields and orchards of Israel. This results in receiving food and sustenance, starting with bread. It would appear that for so vital a subject the Jews should have started praying for rain immediately after Sukkos in order to receive the rain, hence food, in time.

On the other hand, the benefit to be gained for the travelers by postponing the rain is not a question of life and death — rather only a question of eliminating discomfort; to make sure they should not get wet!

Nevertheless, the theme of unity and concern for a fellow Jew will dictate that the discomfort of one Jew, who is traveling to a distant destination, affects everyone. The effect is great that the prayer for rain which is so vital for all of Eretz Yisrael will be suspended by all the population — to allow one straggler to be able to reach his home in comfort, and not get wet, even on the last day of his journey.

A more profound study and analysis will uncover several paradoxical points. Halachah rules that the mitzvah of prayer requires a person to pray for his needs “with supplication and petition.” If the Jews of Eretz Yisrael need the rain immediatelyafter Sukkos, then they must, by virtue of the mitzvah of prayer, prayimmediately for their need — rain. How can they postpone their prayers for 15 days?

Similarly, there is a commandment in the Torah, “Watch yourselves very carefully,” (Devarim 4:15, see Talmud Berachos 32b) which is applied even in a case of pain or suffering, as the Alter Rebbe rules in Shulchan Aruch:

A person does not own his body ... to cause it to suffer even by withholding any food or drink. (Laws of Harm to Body and Soul ch. 4)

The reason for this is that “a man’s soul is the possession of the Creator.” (Radvaz, Laws of Sanhedrin ch. 18)

The connotation here is that man is master over his body only insofar as he can use his physical powers to serve G‑d; just as he may use any physical object for the service of Hashem. But that does not extend to him the right to torture himself. Therefore, even a healthy, strong person may not refrain from eating for the purpose of self-punishment. This of course does not condone gluttony, it speaks only of the food and drink needed for proper health.

There is a manner of fasting which is permitted — when it is done for the sake of repentance, for then the “pain is good for him,” in fact the balm of teshuvah makes the fast painless! Straight self-infected pain, however, is forbidden.

This brings us back to the problems: A) How can “brotherly love” for the returning pilgrims, suspend the mitzvah of praying for their own needs, for 15 days, and; B) How can they cause suffering to themselves by postponing the rain?

These questions are magnified when we realize that the need for rain and the problem of self-inflicted pain are certainties, while the concern for the “last pilgrim” is only a possibility. Perhaps that person was really not required to go on the pilgrimage. And perhaps those who lived a 15 day’s journey from Yerushalayim in fact did not go. If so, why wait for two weeks — start saying the prayer for rain earlier! Despite this reasoning all the Jews of Eretz Yisrael will wait until the seventh of MarCheshvan.

The explanation will be as follows: When a Jew is imbued with a true and proper feeling of Ahavas Yisrael (love for fellow Jews) and Jewish unity, if he becomes aware of the possibility that the “last of the pilgrims” might be inconvenienced because of the rain — on the sixth day of MarCheshvan — his last day on the road, it is impossible that this Jew at home will feelaneedforrain to water his fields. And it is impossible that he will find satisfaction from the downpour which will soak the fields, so long as he worries that there are other Jews who might suffer.

Now, although the mitzvah to pray for our needs is a positive commandment, it is only triggered when we feel a legitimate need. This choice is left to the person, and since in this case he feels no need to pray because he really doesn’t want the pilgrims to suffer — being that he is suffused with brotherly love — he will suffer more if it does rain. Consequently, in such a case the mitzvah of prayer does not apply.

What about the question of self-inflicted pain? Here we will have to differentiate between actual suffering or the inconvenience of psychological and projected discomfort. If you think about it you will see that the former does not pertain here. When will a person eat the bread from the wheat which will grow as a result of today’s rain? Several month hence! Therefore postponing today’s prayer for rain causes no actual suffering.

What it does affect is the psychological anxiety, that several months later his ration of bread might be delayed by a few days. Here, the mental anguish can be balanced by the realization that rain today will harm the last pilgrim today in a physical manner. In that case, he is ready to forego today’s rain in his field and he will not pray for rain today. Onthecontrary if it should rain today he will commiserate with the suffering of his coreligionist, the last pilgrim who is stuck on the journey.

This frame of mind will engender a feeling of happiness on the part of the local citizens similar to the joy one feels when he fasts a “dream fast” on Shabbos. (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Laws of Shabbos 288:3)

The novelty here is that we actually project that all the local Jews will really feel this way. Knowing the nature of the land and the cycles of the climate and the genuine need for immediate rain [the non-Jews will irrigate their fields if it does not rain], this compassion for the traveler is amazing. Yet, the Shulchan Aruch rules that even the simple unlearned Jew will harbor the proper emotion of brotherly love and not want the rain to fall. He will not even feel the need for rain to fall until the 15 days of travel have passed!

Thus the attitude of Ahavas Yisrael can permeate the person to the degree that it will affect his physical needs. Now all that remains is to make that slight move and reveal this inner emotion of Jewish love and unity.

What is the practical application? We must put more effort into these aspects of Ahavas Yisrael (love) and its goal of Achdus Yisrael (unity). To achieve this we must carry the spirit of the Tishrei holidays into the rest of the year. Until the sixth of MarCheshvan it was simple, because the holiday was still with us; the afterglow of Simchas Torah still illuminated our Divine service.

The proof is that until the sixth we still think about the Jews who came to Yerushalayim and are now returning, and we still feel the joy of Simchas Torah. When the seventh of MarCheshvan arrives and we begin to move out of the holiday orbit and the aura fades, then we must reawaken the spirit and joy of the holidays and inject it with Ahavas and Achdus Yisrael and instill every day with this combination. This is what the Previous Rebbe meant when he taught that all the holidays of Tishrei comprise general themes which influence the whole year.

By starting the prayer for rain on the seventh of MarCheshvan — after having postponed it 15 days — we emphasize the attributes of love and unity of the Jewish people — with the intention of drawing it into the rest of the year.

May this day initiate the new cycle of drawing the joy of the holidays into the regular days of the year, so that all our actions and all our ways will be imbued with the spirit of knowing and serving G‑d. Similarly, that all our actions of the coming year will be practiced in a spirit of love and unity and we will merit the true and complete redemption, so that immediately the Jewish people will leave the galus, with our youth and elders, sons and daughters, to Eretz Yisrael, the land which is always under G‑d’s scrutiny. Then we will rise to the Holy City Yerushalayim, the Holy Mountain, and the Third Bais HaMikdash, speedily and truly in our days, and in our time.

2. The seventh of MarCheshvan always occurs in the week between the portion of Noach and Lech Lecha. It also always occurs on the same day of the week as Simchas Torah. This year the seventh of MarCheshvan (as well as Simchas Torah) falls on a Tuesday. This injects an added aspect to the theme of Simchas Torah and the 7th of MarCheshvan, which is the unity and love of the Jewish people [as was discussed earlier].

The specific theme of Tuesday emphasizes that there is a double blessing; the term “Ki Tov — it was good” is mentioned twice on the Tuesday of Creation from which we learn “good to heaven (G‑d) and good to men (the creations).” We can stretch the meaning a bit and say that when one is concerned about his personal Divine service, that is referred to as “good to heaven”; when he unites with another Jew and shows his care for him, then he is “good to creatures.”

Further thought will reveal that when the seventh of MarCheshvan occurs on a Tuesday the aspect of “good for creatures” is even stronger than on Simchas Torah.

During the month of Tishrei the emphasis is placed on spiritual matters. And, while it is true that the unity of the Jewish people is enhanced, for during Tishrei we gather on many occasions in the synagogues and study halls, however this collectivity expresses itself in matters of holiness and spirituality. After all, there are mitzvos which the individual must perform and there are mitzvos which can be observed only when a group of Jews join together in unison to practice them.

Thus, when Simchas Torah falls on Tuesday the unity and love projected by the holidays is channeled through the double blessing of Tuesday but it leans towards communal matters which are “good for heaven.”

Then, when the seventh of MarCheshvan comes around, also occurring on a Tuesday, here we again carry through the theme of love and unity of the Jewish people, but here we can deal with “good for men,” for the focus of the seventh of MarCheshvan is on mundane, worldly matters. Hence Simchas Torah and the seventh of MarCheshvan complement each other in a unique fashion when they occur on Tuesdays.

What added significance can we attribute to this Tuesday, the third day of the week of Lech Lecha? The third reading section of Lech Lecha begins with the verse:

Lot, who accompanied Avram also had sheep, cattle and tents. (Bereishis 13:5)

It concludes with the verse:

Avram moved on, He came and settled in the plains of Mamre, in Chevron, and there he built an altar to G‑d. (Ibid.:18)

In studying the first verse our attention is drawn to the Talmudic exegesis:

Whence can it be derived the popular saying: “Behind an owner of wealth chips are dragged along” ... as it is written: “Lot who accompanied Avram also had sheep, cattle and tents.” (B. Kama 93a)

The Gemara’s reasoning is, that the inclusion of the words, “who accompanied Avram,” is superfluous — we were previously told that Lot traveled with Avram — why is it mentioned here again? This is to teach us that his followingAvram brought him wealth.

The Talmud thus indicates that this Scriptural passage serves as the basis for the popular saying, “Behind an owner of wealth chips are dragged along.” Not only is it a source of a Torah teaching but also the secular world has based a sound proverb on it.

From this we may garner a unique lesson. A person may hold the mistaken belief that it matters not who his neighbors are. He disregards the Rambam’s wise counsel:

It is natural to be influenced, in sentiments and conduct, by one’s neighbors and associates, and observe the customs of one’s fellow citizens. Hence a person ought constantly to associate with the righteous and frequent the company of the wise, so as to learn from their practices,

and to live in a place where,

the people are righteous and follow the ways of the good. (Laws of Ethics 6:1)

This individual feels secure in his inner fortitude and is willing to chance bad neighbors. He might add another point, that since he is only settling temporarily there is nothing to fear. The argument could be carried even further. Why worry about the neighbors when in fact we are dealing with a case of travelers. He is not settled at all. But the truth is that it is important for him to check out who his co-travelers are?

To this misguided traveler comes the directive: Lot became rich because he carefully chose whom to travel with! See how important a neighbor is — even if only while you travel!

Having given us guidance regarding one’s wealth, we further learn about the influence of neighbors on one’s character. This we discover as the details of Lot’s moves unfold before us and he settles in Sodom. Although Sodom is usually spelled Sodom in our transliterations it would be more consistent to spell it Sedom.

The inverse was true in the case of Avraham, as Rashi indicates concerning the removal of the negative aspects when Lot, the “rasha,” separated from Avraham.

This message comes across so clear that even the general populace — even non-Jews — were wont to repeat the “popular saying.” Therefore, all people should take care to dwell among good people and choose the proper partners in travel.

How much more so must we take heed in this matter when we speak of children and their education. Sorry to say, there are parents who rationalize that when the Jewish way of life is observed and practiced with the proper esteem and adornment in the home, then it matters not who their child’s classmates will be. Even if the schoolmates come from non-observant homes it will not affect their children who come from a good Jewish home.

This erroneous argument is often carried to the point that the parents no longer see the need for their children to attend Jewish schools. Why spend the money and cause the child to travel every day, when there are free government public schools nearby?!

They know that their children will associate with others who act in a manner which is far from the principles of Avram, and perhaps even closer to the ways of Sodom! Yet, they foolishly argue that this companionship lasts only a few hours a day, and back at home the child will receive the proper Jewish training and upbringing in the spirit of Yiddishkeit.

In fact, they admonish their children to be careful of what they eat and to remember to say a blessing before and after eating! With such good training at home who cares if the child sits next to a neighbor like “Avram” or like a citizen of “Sodom.”

To these parents we must direct the teaching of the Talmud, referring to a “popular saying” that: “Behind an owner of wealth chips are dragged along.” Even non-Jews know and repeat this basic truth that the “environment” has an important and determinant influence. Simply put, if a child has good classmates and friends he will be influenced positively and the converse is obviously even more true.

To those who protest, the simple answer is: If it weren’t so obvious and true, then everyone would not accept this principle! For those who are still not convinced and harbor some doubt — they should not take the chance to put their child in a situation of danger.

It is unnecessary to emphasize that this applies to girls as well as to boys. Hopefully these words will effect good results.

What do we learn from the last verse of today’s section?

Avram moved on. He came and settled in the Plains of Mamre, in Chevron, and there he built an altar to G‑d.

This was the third altar that Avraham had built and in each case our sages tell us what his intention was. Here, too, the Midrash explains:

This was the place where the coronation of Dovid took place and where they entered into a covenant, as it is stated: And all the Elders of Israel come to the king to Chevron and King David enacted a covenant for them in Chevron before the L‑rd... (II Shmuel 5:3)

Avraham’s general purpose of building altars was in conjunction with the general purpose and responsibility of man’s Divine service of sacrifice:

The world stands on three things: Torah, service (avodah) and deeds of kindness. (Avos 1:2)

Avodah originally was the Divine service of the sacrifices which later became the Divine service of prayer. As the Gemara relates: “The prayers were instituted to replace the daily sacrifices.” (Berachos 26b)

Thus Avram built altars for his Avodah of sacrifices. We have incorporated the service of Avraham in our prayers. As we indicate in the daily Amidah, “Shield of Avraham.” Consequently, the theme of Avraham’s altar must be incorporated by all Jews into their Divine service. By placing an altar in Chevron, Avraham was emphasizing and teaching the theme of unity of the Jewish people.

Chevron was the burial place of ancestors of the Jewish people. The Zohar says that the name “Chevron” comes from the root “chibur” — unity! Why did Avraham build this altar!? To indicate that here was the place where the Jews would later come with Dovid and enact a Covenant, an act which unified all the tribes of Israel.

This is the lesson of the third altar, built in Chevron. All matters of Divine service must be permeated by a spirit of Jewish unity.

This theme of unity, associated with the Altar of Avraham, is also related to the future redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

The Rambam writes:

As soon as Dovid was anointed king he acquired the crown of royalty which became hereditary in his male line forever as it is written: “Your throne shall be established forever.” (II Shmuel 7:16)

The kings of the House of Dovid will endure forever ... but in the case of a king selected from any other tribe of Israel the kingship will be wrested from his house.... (Laws of Kings 1:7,9)

It follows that at the time of the redemption the kingdom will belong to the House of Dovid, also; again the Rambam:

King Mashiach will arise and restore the kingdom of Dovid to its former state and original sovereignty. The prophecy ... bears upon the two Mashiach’s: the first, namely, Dovid, who saved Israel from the hands of their enemies, and the later Mashiach, descendant of Dovid, who will achieve the final salvation of Israel. (Ibid 11:1,4)

We also find in Midrash the reference that Dovid is Mashiach. This concept is reiterated by the fact that we proclaim:

Dovid, King of Israel, is living and enduring. (See Siddur)

This means that the Jewish people see Dovid as the continuing monarch — not only in the world to come — but also now and leading into the times of Mashiach. When we announce at the Sanctification of the Moon that “Dovid ... is living and enduring” and that the Jewish people “likewise are destined to be renewed ...” we equate the eternity of the Jewish people with the eternity of the kingdom of Dovid. This was the intention of the third altar of Avraham.

A significant emphasis emerges from this insight. Our Divine service during the diaspora must be tied to, and imbued with, the theme of Dovid the King Mashiach.

Concerning our Divine service in the diaspora the Ramban has written:

It is stated in the Sifri:

.. Although I banish you from the Land, to outside the Land, make yourselves distinctive by the commandments, so that when you return they shall not be novelties to you ... and so did the prophet Yirmeyahu say [to the people in exile in Babylon], “Set thee up waymarks,” these are the commandments, by which Israel is made distinctive ... so that they shall not be novelties to us when we return to the Land, for the main [fulfillment of the] commandments is [to be kept] when dwelling in the Land of G‑d. (Commentary on Torah, Vayikra 18:25)

In other words, our observance of mitzvos in the diaspora creates distinctive marks which point towards the true and complete observance at the time of the future redemption.

Consequently, when we fulfill a mitzvah with the knowledge that it points to the future mitzvos, we engender a longing and desire for that future time; the true redemption through our righteous Mashiach. And, of course, the more we accomplish with this anticipatory attitude the quicker Mashiach will come.

The third altar which Avraham built set the stage for the culmination of his Divine service of sacrifices. As such is connoted the idea that all of our Divine service, Torah, Avodah, good deeds, even our worldly pursuits for the sake of heaven, must all be geared to reach their summation with the coming of Dovid Mashiach. And then we will be able to perform the will of G‑d in true form. To this end our present Divine service must feel, and express our desire and longing, for that time.

In the Holy Temple the site of the Mizbeach (altar) was most precise, because tradition tells us that Adam, Noach and Avraham (at the Akeidah) all had built altars on the same spot on Mount Moriah. Thus when Shlomo built the Bais HaMikdash he made sure to set the Mizbeach on the exact spot that his father had chosen.

We can also see that the three altars that Avraham built were symbolic of the altars of the three Holy Temples — the third and last symbolizing the third and everlasting Third Bais HaMikdash, which will reach the loftiest level of holiness.

Our activity and action in this vein will speed the revelation of that covenant with Dovid the King, and we will see that, Dovid the King is living and enduring and,

He will prepare the whole world to serve the L‑rd with one accord as it is written: “For then I will turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the Name of the L‑rd to serve Him with one consent.” (Tzephaniah 3:9 — Laws of Kings 11:4)

May this all be instantaneously “with the clouds of Heaven,” may we be in Eretz Yisrael the Holy Land, in Yerushalayim on the Holy Temple Mount, and see the third Bais HaMikdash.

* * *

3. The Chida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai), was a posek (halachic authority), and Kabbalist, who is often quoted by later scholars in matters of Halachah as well as the esoteric teachings of Torah. In his 18th century encyclopedic work, “Midbar Kdeimos,” under the entry “Kevui — hope,” the Chida writes:

In Yalkut Shimoni on chapter 40 of Tehillim we find: Even if the Jewish people only have the merit of hoping [for the redemption] and striving after the L‑rd, they are worthy of being redeemed. And if you should say, “There were times in the past when we hoped and expected the redemption to come and we were not saved,” (see Yirmeyahu 8:20 and commentaries loc. cit.) “Hope in the L‑rd, be strong and let your heart be valiant, and hope in the L‑rd.” (Tehillim 27:14) This means that although you have hoped and have striven after G‑d, but your supplications were not heard, still you must hope, again and again.

Based on this commentary of the Yalkut, our great teacher, Rabbi Yosef David, in his wonderful book “Tzemach David,” writes the following explanation on the text of the blessing in the Amidah: “Speedily cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish, and increase his power by Your salvation, for we hope for Your salvation all day”: It appears to be quite puzzling. Why is ourhope a reason for bringing Mashiach? If we are worthy, the redemption will come without our hopes, and if we are not worthy, why will our hoping help?!

But the explanation is:

We must pray to G‑d: “Please bring the scion of David, and if you will say that we are truly not meritorious and we are not worthy, nevertheless bring the redemption, because we hope for Your salvation all day.” If we have the merit of such longing and striving, in that merit alone we are worthy of being redeemed!

We find a related commentary in the writings of Radak (Rabbi Dovid Kimchi — 12th century) whose authoritative commentary on Tanach has been accepted and included in many editions of Mikraos Gedolos including the very first edition.

In the Book of Samuel II, the last chapter tells of the census which King Dovid ordered and the sin which was thereby incurred. As a result, many thousands of Jews died in a sudden plague. King David repented, and G‑d accepted his remorse and led him to purchase the barn and threshing floor of Aravnah the Jebusite, where he built a Mizbeach (altar), and where the Holy Temple would eventually be built. After Dovid offered sacrifices on the Mizbeach, Scripture tell us:

.. G‑d accepted the prayer of the people of the land and the plague ceased from the Jewish people. (II Shmuel 24:25)

Rabbi Dovid Kimchi in his authoritative commentary on this verse comments:

There is a homiletic interpretation [in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai], that so many thousands of Jews died in the days of Dovid only because they did not pray for and demand that the Bais HaMikdash (Holy Temple) should be built in their time. From here we derive an important lesson, a minori ad majus: These people never had the Bais HaMikdash, nor was it destroyed in their time, yet, they perished because they did not strive for it, how much more so, we, who had the Bais HaMikdash and saw it destroyed in our times, must truly pray, hope and demand that it be rebuilt.

For this reason the Elders and the prophets made the rule that we must train ourselves to pray three times every day: “Return Your Shechinah (glory) and Your Kingdom to Zion and the Order of Your Divine Service to Jerusalem,” Amen, so may it be Thy will, Selah!

With these words the Radak concludes his commentary on the book of Samuel II.

What action do I seek? From the questions and arguments that I hear concerning our sincere hopes and demands for the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, it seems clear that there are many who are unfamiliar with these aforementioned teachings.

It is therefore appropriate that these vital words be printed and publicized in the media. May I stress that it should not be published in my name. There are those who find opposing opinions whenever something is said in the name of certain individuals. But more to the point, in matters of redemption we have the classic rule of our sages:

Whoever says a thing in the name of its author brings redemption to the world. (Avos 6:6)

For this reason it is appropriate to propagate these words in the names of the Radak and Chida. Let the words be quoted verbatim and the sources be cited. Hence, even our fellow Jews who may not possess these books will be able to study their words.

Another point on the same subject: I have recently received a troubled and frightened letter from a woman. She wrote that she received a “chain letter” which demanded that she should make ten copies of the letter and send them to ten people. The letter went on to say that if the recipient of the letter would do as told she would receive great blessing and if not “terrible things” would happen to her, and those who did not follow these instructions in the past “suffered terribly.” The letter was not signed and it was full of foolishness and ridiculous words.

The recipient of this “chain letter” did not know who had sent it, nor how her address had been found, but she still asked me what to do in the face of such a “threat.”

Understandably, I answered her to destroy the letter and I added:

Thus says the L‑rd: “Learn not the ways of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of the heavens for the nations are dismayed at them.” (Yirmeyahu 10:2)

Even when referring to the “signs of the heavens” a Jew has nothing to fear.

Later I thought to myself; I don’t know this woman who wrote to me nor does she know me, she just heard my name and came to seek advice. Now why would such a case come to my attention? I realized that I had to utilize this phenomenon for an aspect of holiness.

A Jew must use everything for holiness. If it is forbidden it must be rejected. If it is permitted, a fitting way must be found to utilize it for holiness. Even when something was previously used for a negative purpose, if it is permitted, a way must still be found to convert its use to holiness.

We find an example of this in the case of gold. The Midrash says:

The world was really unworthy to have the advantage of gold, but it was created for the sake of the Tabernacle and the Temple. (Shmos Rabbah 35:1)

This was true despite the fact that for 26 generations gold was used for idolatry! When the Temple was built the true reason for gold’s creation was realized.

Seeing that there is a practice of sending out “chain letters,” we must use this phenomenon to propagate a good thing among our Jewish brethren. In our case: To spread the words of hope and striving for Mashiach. This can be effected by sending such letters to ten Jews with the suggestion that they each send copies to ten other Jews, and so on.

Now, if there are those who see themselves as “Shpitz Chabadniks” (elite Lubavitchers) and want to stop all their activities and send out hundreds of such letters let them know that all I ask is to send ten letters and nomore! If they have spare time let them study Torah.

Of course there should be no threats in the letters, only blessings! Where do you draw the potential to bless Jews? Simple. Every Jew is a son of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov; a daughter of Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah upon whom the promise of G‑d applies: “I will bless those who bless you.” (Bereishis 12:3) Thus when you bless others you will also be blessed.

The letters should be written in a pleasant and friendly manner citing the sources of our great sages about the great importance of praying and demanding of G‑d to speed our redemption. In this vein and spirit you make the request of the recipient, to copy the letter and send it to ten other Jews and ask them to do the same. The letter should conclude with a prayer that they be blessed with all the blessings of the Written and Oral Torah which will come through this action of bringing the redemption closer. This activity should also bring an increase in Torah, brotherly love and Jewish unity.

For those who wonder: What happened that these old ideas are suddenly being projected? The answer is that by Divine Providence these ideas have come to my attention now.

It may be added that recently some actions and occurrences have come to light which are surprising and strange. No one would have thought that certain people would do certain good things, or the opposite. To me these are signs of Mashiach.

When actions and ideas are clarified so that all can see the good in them, this is a sign of Mashiach’s times, as we find in Daniel

They will be selected and clarified and many will be refined. (Daniel 12:10)

When the Holy One, Blessed be He, saw that our “sleep is pleasant and sweet” it was obvious that we needed a new “sign.” So G‑d revealed the good of some and the evil of others, in cases where we would never have imagined it.

We must do what we can, to inform as many Jews as possible of the writings of our sages, including the Rambam who writes:

In that era ... Israelites will be very wise, they will know the things that are now concealed and will attain an understanding of their Creator to the utmost capacity of the human mind as it is written: “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L‑rd as the waters cover the sea.” (Laws of Kings 12:5)

This will come about at the time prior to Mashiach, through the spreading of the wellsprings of Torah to the outside.

And through our actions and our Divine service in all these aspects, the Halachah of the Rambam will surely be fulfilled that:

The tenth red heifer will be made by the King Mashiach, may he speedily redeem us. Amen, so may it be Thy will.

By studying these matters and praying for Mashiach with all your heart and soul G‑d will bring Mashiach speedily. Amen so may it be.