1. The general principle “Open with blessing: is well-known. It is particularly appropriate for the present occasion which includes a number of factors, each significant in its own right and worthy of blessing.

Among them:

a) We are now preparing to begin a new week and a new year;

b) The very gathering together of a wide variety of Jews — from the leaders to the common people is itself a factor which brings blessing;

c) The gathering is being held in a building which serves as a synagogue, a house of study, and also, a place where tzedakah is given. These three activities join together to create peace which brings all blessings. Rashi comments “peace is equal to everything.”

When all of these factors are grouped together, their combination brings added blessing. This is particularly true when we are gathered together as a tzibbur, a communal entity. Then, the blessing generated surpasses that which would be drawn down by the same amount of people as individuals.

In addition to all these factors, there is a particular connection between Erev Rosh Hashanah and the concept of “Opening with blessing.”

On Rosh Hashanah, “a new light which has never shone before” is revealed. To draw down this new light, we must “open with blessing,” open a new channel of energy.

The time for this service is Erev Rosh Hashanah. Just as Erev Shabbos is a day on which we prepare for Shabbos, Erev Rosh Hashanah, is the day we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, opening [a pathway for the] blessings to be drawn down in the entire year to come. It is the preparations of Erev Rosh Hashanah which allow Rosh Hashanah to be successful.

In Midrashim, and particularly in the Zohar, before mentioning a new concept introduced by a sage, we find the expression: “Rebbe ... opened....” This sage opened up a new pathway, to communicate a concept that was previously hidden. Though previously, the concept was totally concealed, through the sage’s effort, it became “open,” accessible to all.

Here, also the intent is to draw down G‑d’s blessing in a manner in which it will be open and accessible to all, even within the context of our material world. This can be achieved through our speech. Man is called Adam. Among the implications of that name is Adameh L’Elyon, “He resembles the Supreme.” Just as G‑d’s speech reveals hidden potentials, similarly, by verbally “opening with blessing,” we can draw those blessings out from the state of hidden potential to open revelation.

Hence it is fitting to begin the farbrengen by wishing all those assembled here, and by way of them, all the Jews throughout the world (beginning with those hearing by hookup connection), a Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah, L’Shana Tovah U’Mesukah, to be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year, a year of open and revealed good, in both material and spiritual matters.

Though it is appropriate to wish one’s colleagues a good year from Rosh Chodesh Elul onwards, Erev Rosh Hashanah is a particularly appropriate time for that blessing, for it directly precedes the revelation of the new light to be revealed on Rosh Hashanah.

Furthermore, the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is particularly centered on our material welfare. Hence, these blessings will also be drawn down in that sphere.

May these blessings also include the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Mashiach and the ultimate and complete redemption.

2. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who sent their blessings to me for a good year. Even though these blessings were not set to me as a private individual, but rather as the leader of a movement, nevertheless, I was the one who received the blessings and consequently, I am obligated to acknowledge my gratitude for those blessings.

I would like to acknowledge each of those blessings individually. However, because of their number, it is impossible to do so. Furthermore, a verbal reply now in the farbrengen possesses an added quality that is not present in a written blessing.

Writing, a deed, is separate from the person who writes. In contrast, speech is far closer to the person speaking. It is expressed with his breath and thus, expresses an aspect of his inner being, as the Zohar states: “A person who exhales, exhales from his depths.”

Furthermore, these blessings have the advantage of being said on this auspicious day and in this place, a place of prayer, Torah study, and tzedakah. Thus, it can be understood that they contain an advantage not possessed by a written blessing.

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3. After the conclusion of the farbrengen, we will add the third aspect of service, tzedakah. Each of those assembled will be given a dollar to be given to tzedakah together with whatever sum they would like to add.

It is explained that it is not proper to spend money on Saturday night lest this bring nurture to the forces of evil. Accordingly, the Previous Rebbe related that his father, the Rebbe Rashab, would tell his wife to ask him on Friday to give her any money she needed for household expenses for Saturday night.

Nevertheless, that applies to household expenses, money that is not connected with a mitzvah. When money is given for a mitzvah, for tzedakah, then it chases away the forces of evil.

Even so, we find a story in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Shekalim 5:4) which advises against giving tzedakah at night. Similarly, the Holy Ari advises to give tzedakah primarily before the morning prayers, also, before the afternoon prayers, but not before the evening prayers.

Nevertheless, this only applies to tzedakah given directly to a poor man. In this instance, the tzedakah is being given to a manager of a charity fund to distribute when necessary. Hence, there is no need for worry. This is particularly true in view of the meritorious nature of the present occasion as described above.

Before the giving of tzedakah, let us conclude with a joyous song, the niggun asking for the construction of the Temple. Afterwards, as a preparation for the Selichos to be recited tomorrow morning, the niggun associated with those prayers should be sung.

[Parenthetically, a note concerning the time when Selichos are recited must be made. Selichos should be recited “during the morning watch.” This term means before daybreak. Nevertheless, here, it is customary to recite these prayers somewhat later.

The main intent should be, not a specific hour on the watch, but rather, that each individual should get up earlier than normal. His breaking his nature is what is most important. See Tanya, chapter 15.]

May all these activities lead to the coming of the Mashiach and the ultimate and complete redemption.