1. Our gathering today is distinguished by the fact that we heard the sounding of the shofar. This custom is connected to the month of Elul.

The Alter Rebbe taught us a parable about the month of Elul:

A great and noble king is in the field surrounding His capital city and is approaching the city to return to his palace. All the citizens of the city leave whatever they are doing and go out to greet the king in the field. [The king greets all of his subjects with a happy face and a pleasant countenance, and also gives each person an opportunity to meet Him.] Later, they will accompany the king into the city and to his royal palace.

This is the “mashal” — the parable. What do we learn from this? The lesson is that during the month of Elul, even during the weekdays, we are together with the Holy One, Blessed be He. This is so for all Jews, and it is especially true for the boys and girls who are in the Army of HashemTzivos Hashem.

All year long, day and night, they conduct themselves as soldiers in Tzivos Hashem should. Before they go to sleep they recite “Shema Yisrael” and say: “I entrust my spirit into Your hand ...” (Siddur). When they awake they recite “Modeh Ani” — “I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, You have ... restored my soul....” They thank G‑d for giving back their souls, to be able to begin a new, lively day filled with Yiddishkeit, Torah and doing the will of G‑d.

And, although it would appear that when children eat or drink there is no difference between a child who says a “berachah” and one who does not, in fact there is a difference. When a child says a berachah the eating and drinking are different, and when he says: “I entrust my spirit into Your hand,” he sleeps differently and the entire day is different.

The Order of the Day is, that now in the month of Elul, the “King is in the field,” and He is near to all of us, even as we stand in the field — involved in field matters. Our mission is that we must be connected to the King.

More especially, when we read the portion of Shoftim: “Appoint yourselves judges and police,” members of Tzivos Hashem you must remember, that even when no one is around, and the yetzer hora — the evil inclination — wants to confuse you and he says: “Since no one sees, you can follow the yetzer hora,” to this you must answer: “Shoftim! I will make my own yetzer tov (good inclination) the judge and the guard, to make sure not to do anything wrong in my daily life, even in matters of the field.”

The Tzivos Hashem child says:

Although no one is around it makes no difference because I have a policeman. I won’t forget the rules of the yetzer tov. And if the yetzer hora wants to confuse me I have the yetzer tov to counteract him. Being G‑d’s people and being with G‑d, the King, in the field, I will certainly do all that the Yetzer Tov says is written in the Torah.

The yetzer hora will be warned that the guard will chase him away and not allow him to approach.

The child goes on to serve G‑d with strength, in a lively and joyous manner, as you just recited:

The Jews should rejoice in their Maker. (Tanya chapter 33)

The intelligent child looks around himself into the world. Standing in the field he sees the earth, the heaven, the sun, moon and stars. He realizes that G‑d created everything:

In the beginning G‑d created the heavens and the earth. (Bereishis 1:7)

The child knows who is the ruler of the world, and he makes a dwelling place for G‑d in the world.

And thus, G‑d rejoices with His creations because He has such devoted soldiers and such good small children.

Today, many children have gathered together here from many camps with one purpose, to hear the shofar that reminds us of Matan Torah and to crown the King, with new enthusiasm (that is the role of the shofar of Rosh Hashanah) and we will certainly be blessed with a Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah in a very good and revealed way.

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2. What do we learn from today’s section of Sefer HaMitzvos? The mitzvah of challah, which teaches us that the first part of the dough must be raised and donated to G‑d. Because bread is the main “staff of life,” all food may be included in the term “bread.”

Every child has many things that are important to him or her: food, drink, clothing, dwelling, love of parents, brothers and sisters, teachers and counselors, who are all involved in helping him and making sure that he is healthy and happy.

The “first” of everything the child has must be dedicated to G‑d and uplifted:

G‑d stands over him, and the whole earth is full of His glory.... (Tanya ch. 41)

G‑d looks at the child and gives him the power to be able to fulfill the directives, to raise the matters of the field and make them terumah”; to make them G‑dly. How? By saying Modeh Ani at the start of the day. By saying a berachah before eating and drinking. In this way he connects himself and his actions to G‑d and thanks Him for His kindness.

During the eating and drinking the yetzer hora might come and say:

You just ate meat, but there is something very tasty made with milk; who cares if it is dairy, eat it and have the pleasure!

The child answers the yetzer hora: “Pereh Adam — you wild donkey of a man! Don’t you know who created all this food — kosher and non-kosher — you are a true fool, for you speak nonsense — I am a member of Tzivos Hashem. I will not eat the milk after the meat!”

In this way, whatever we do is connected with the mitzvah of challah, for everything is uplifted.

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At the end of today’s Chumash reading the Torah says:

You must remain totally faithful to G‑d your L‑rd. (Devarim 18:13)

This is a warning to the yetzer hora not to throw any ideas, philosophies or foolish arguments into the mind of the child, for he is commanded by G‑d as a member of Tzivos Hashem to be totally faithful, and he will have no discussion with the yetzer hora. In all matters dealing with G‑d — he is totally faithful — “We will do and we will listen.” When the yetzer hora sees that the child carries out the Order of the Day — he runs away and disappears.

The small child might still ask “How can I withstand the temptations of the world, there are still the non-Jews all around us?”

To this the answer is: “Be “tamim” totally faithful,” and you will be, “with your G‑d.” G‑d will be with you, for you are truly a “part of G‑d”! Nothing will stand in the way of the Order of the Day, the Torah and mitzvos, and you will give joy to G‑d.

Many children are gathered here today, which gives more emphasis to the mitzvah, “You should love your fellow as yourself.” For you must use your good influence — boys to boys and girls to girls — in person or by pen-pals.

When you write to your friends you start by writing the acrostic for, “By the grace of G‑d.” Then you write that he or she should learn Torah and do mitzvos, and then you conclude by wishing a good year, a Torah year and A Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah.

In Tehillim today we read the verse “The L‑rd is my shepherd I shall lack nothing.” G‑d speaks to every child and adult as a shepherd and assures us not to worry about tomorrow.

The Mizmor goes on: “... in green pastures,” you have just returned from the summer camps where you enjoyed the country pastures and garnered new strength to serve G‑d. All this came from G‑d, your shepherd, and just as G‑d watched over you and protected you in the camps, so too, will He be your shepherd throughout the year. You will lack nothing; you will have a year of Yiddishkeit and a year of Torah. You will have all of G‑d’s blessings and soon we will go with Mashiach to the complete Eretz Yisrael with our youth and elders, with the King Mashiach and the Holy One, Blessed be He, and you will take along all the Torah which you have studied, which will speed the redemption and it will come in our days.

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3. As we do at every rally we will conclude with the mitzvah of tzedakah, and especially in the month of Elul, when the King is in the field, we must strengthen the mitzvos of the field — namely tzedakah. While terumah and maaser must be given to certain individuals, tzedakah must be given to anyone who is in mind.

G‑d makes us good messengers to give tzedakah to other persons, like ourselves, who lack something. A boy can give to a boy and a girl to a girl, who might lack a few cents, a nickel or a dime. Or you can give tzedakah to help a yeshivah or a school which accepts children on a scholarship basis, or to camp for next summer.

We also end every rally by showing that we are joyous members of Tzivos Hashem by concluding with songs. This will strengthen the preparation for the future Beis HaMikdash. At the end of today’s Tehillim section we read the verse: “Grant salvation to Your people....” So the first song will be “Hoshia Es Amecha,” then, “We Want Mashiach Now,” and “Sheyiboneh Beis HaMikdash.”

This will speed that soon with Mashiach we will sing a new song. And that this year will indeed be a year: of redemption, of light, of blessing, of joy, (revelation) jubilation, beauty, good gatherings, merits, good life, great benevolence, unity with Torah, sustenance, good learning, the King Mashiach, wonders and great miracles, heavenly assistance, physical and spiritual strength, redemption from exile, happiness, walking upright, exaltedness, joy, Torah, repentance, prayer, and praise of G‑d. [This list of words of blessing is the translation of an alphabetical listing of Hebrew words of blessing which the Rebbe cited in his prayer for the coming year. Based on many sources.]

And all as one may we be blessed by G‑d our Father.

And may we go with the “clouds of heaven,” in a “moment” to our Holy City, Yerushalayim, and we will follow the King to His Palace.

The counselors should come to take the coins for the children and the “Tankists” for the adults, and this will speed the Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah, may you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year in all manner of good.