1. This farbrengen is connected with the reading of the special portion of the Torah, called Zachor [Remember] (Devarim 25:17-19). It is the only Torah portion on which all authorities agree, that Scriptural Law requires it to be read.

In addition, there are other topics associated with this Shabbos and farbrengen: The ancillary details of parshas Zachor, today’s date of the Hebrew month, and several occasions set to take place in the days ahead. Divine Providence brings all these disparate details together and thereby indicates that there must be a common theme to all these subjects, which unites them to each other and especially to parshas Zachor.

As such, we keep in mind the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that from every experience we must learn a lesson for our Divine service to G‑d.

The portion of Zachor [Remember] has a connection to the holiday of Purim and to the seventh day of Adar. The Gemara says that the second of the four special Torah portions [Zachor] is to be read on the Shabbos before Purim, as Rashi explains: “So as to put the eradication of Amalek close to the eradication of Haman” (Rashi, Megillah, 29a). Hence, it is always read on the Shabbos preceding Purim. The seventh of Adar [Moshe’s birthday and Yahrzeit] always occurs in the week before Shabbos Zachor and therefore it also includes the theme of the seventh of Adar.

What is the connection between Purim and seventh of Adar? The Talmud states:

They cast a “pur,” that is the “lot.” A Tanna taught: When the lot fell on the month of Adar, he [Haman] rejoiced greatly, saying, the lot has fallen for me on the month in which Moshe died. He did not know, however, that Moshe died on the seventh of Adar and was born on the seventh of Adar.

Thus, the sinister plot and evil decree of Haman, as well as the ultimate turn around and his final downfall, were all connected with the seventh of Adar, through his lottery. Haman thought that the death of Moshe in Adar made it an unlucky month for the Jews — but in truth the birth of Moshe made it a lucky month, so that everything turned around. The decree was nullified, and the thirteenth of Adar became a holiday.

We see the importance of the significance attributed to Haman’s lottery by the fact that the holiday is called “Purim,” which recalls the pur — lots. So Purim — lottery — and the seventh of Adar are connected. Now what about parshas Zachor?

The concepts of Zachor, remembrance, and goral [purl, lots, or chance, are opposites.

Remembrance applies to something that occurred in the past, in a set, organized manner, with a definite purpose and goal; we must remember and recall what happened.

Conversely, lots represent chance, uncertainty, something not yet set, restricted or designated. In fact, it will only be decided by the lot! Thus, something that can be remembered cannot be a matter of chance! They are opposite concepts.

So the innovation of Shabbos Zachor is that it creates a connection and relationship between remembrance and chance. Even the lots of chance are drawn into order and may be remembered.

We find an interesting illustration of this phenomenon in relation to the allocation of the inheritance of Eretz Yisroel.

The Torah states that the allocation of the different sections of Eretz Yisrael was to be done by lots: “However, the land shall be divided by lot,” while at the same time it was to be done by Divine inspiration. Rashi explains the entire Process in his commentary on Bamidbar 26:54:

To the numerous you shall give more inheritance — to the tribe that had a numerous population they gave a larger portion of land. Although the portions were not of equal area — because, as we have now said, in all cases they assigned the portions according to the numerousness of the tribe, yet they did so by and of the lot, but the lot fell by the utterance of the Holy Spirit, as is explained in B. Basra (122a): “Eliezer the Kohen was clothed in the Urim and Tumim [breastplate] one word and spoke by the Holy Spirit, ‘If such and such a tribe comes up, such-and-such a territory shall come up with him.’ The names of the tribes were written on twelve tablets, and those of the twelve districts on twelve tablets. They mixed them in an urn [two urns], and the prince of a tribe inserted his hand in it [the two urns] and took out two tablets. There came up in his hand the tablet bearing the name of his tribe and the tablet relating to the district, that had been declared by the Urim and Tumim to be intended for it. The lot itself cried out saying: ‘I the lot, have come up for such-and-such a district for such-and-such a tribe. ... etc.”‘

Is this not strange? Having inquired of the Urim and Tumim what to allocate to whom, the Urim and Tumim announced that such-and-such a tribe would receive such-and-such territory, what reason is there for making a lottery? Everything was already set by the Urim and Tumim!

Additionally, since the lottery came up exactly as the Holy Spirit had predicted, this emphasizes the quality and power of prophecy by Divine inspiration, not the power of a chance lottery.

Notwithstanding these points, we do see that in this case there is a connection between a lottery of chance and something which is set and established.

This same relationship may be applied to the Divine service of every Jew. Everyone has aspects of his psyche and soul which are superrational, e.g., the transcendental powers of the soul. Normally these forces are not systematically arranged and cannot be elicited at will in an organized fashion; they are his lottery powers, powerful but random. They include intuition, mesirus nefesh (altruism), creativity and faith. Now, these potent forces can and should also be reined in under his rational and accessible control. On the other hand, the normal cognitive powers and systematized functions of his mind and soul, which are predictable and limited must be permeated with the force and spontaneity of the superrational. Bring the lottery into remembrance.

Thus Shabbos Zachor creates a synthesis of system and chance.


2. Another important aspect of this Shabbos is the date of the Hebrew month — the ninth of Adar.

In our generation a unique happening occurred on the ninth of Adar, the previous Rebbe arrived on these shores in the year 5700/1940. Consequently, the beginning of “disseminating the wellsprings to the outside” in the Western Hemisphere started, as a result of the arrival in America of the Previous Rebbe.

[Note: In letters and writings of the previous Rebbe, and earlier Chassidic sources, the Western Hemisphere is referred to as the “Lower Hemisphere,” but for our purposes we shall use the common term, Western Hemisphere.]

This bears some elaboration.

There is a well-known letter of the Baal Shem Tov in which he tells of the answer he received from Mashiach, that his coming would follow “the spreading of the wellsprings to the outside.” Our Rebbes and Nesi’im have explained that this means that the source of Torah and Chassidus must be taken outside and flood the farthest reaches of the world.

Although the process of disseminating the wellsprings began with the liberation of the Alter Rebbe in Czarist Russia on Yud-Tes (19th) of Kislev in the year 5559/1798, it only covered the Eastern Hemisphere of the world. What will actually precipitate “... the coming of the master, Mashiach the King”? When the wellsprings also reach the Western Hemisphere. When did that phase begin? on the ninth of Adar, 5700, with the Previous Rebbe’s arrival in America.

Thus the theme of the ninth of Adar is similar to the theme of the 19th of Kislev.

The teachings of Chassidus were revealed, to some degree, before the occurrences of Yud-Tes Kislev, albeit not in a manner of “... spreading outside.” Similarly, before 5740/1940 the previous Rebbe had sent his emissaries to these shores and the teachings of Chassidus had been transplanted here. The spreading of Chassidus and the influence of Chassidim were further enhanced by the visit of the previous Rebbe to America in 1929. But the true dissemination of the wellsprings of Chassidus in the multiple aspects mentioned earlier, began in earnest when the previous Rebbe set foot on the American Continent and settled here permanently in 1940.

Thus, the full revelation of the theme of Yud-Tes Kislev in the Western Hemisphere was effected on the ninth of Adar. We may expand on this and state that after the Rebbe moved from Europe, settled in America and lived here for ten years — an entire era — America subsequently became the source of the wellsprings of Torah and Chassidus which must spread to the entire world — even the Eastern (upper) Hemisphere!

Now, on this day of the ninth of Adar there is a unique endowment of power to increase all activities of spreading the wellsprings, with more strength, vigor and majesty. This will bring closer the fulfillment of the Baal Shem Tov’s legacy .

Do you wonder why this aspect of the ninth of Adar was revealed only in this generation? Koheles has given us the answer: “He made everything beautiful in its time” (Koheles 3:11).

Many aspects of Torah, including many mitzvos and major teachings, were revealed after the giving of the Torah. Some teachings were transmitted to the Jewish people at the end of the 40 years in the desert. Some mitzvos were instituted by Shlomo HaMelech [King Solomon]. So much so, that tradition tells us that all the innovative interpretations of all true sages throughout all the generations have also been incorporated into the body of Torah. There is therefore no wonder that the revelation of the power of spreading the wellsprings of Torah to the Western Hemisphere should take place specifically in our generation. “He made everything beautiful in its time.”

The concurrence of these many aspects directs us to find a general theme in Shabbos Zachor which will serve as a “gateway” for all these subjects.

First of all, “Zachor — Remember” indicates strength and life. When the subject is continuously in front of your eyes it is alive and strong.

So we learn that all of these mitzvos must be done constantly and powerfully.

An additional emphasis of Zachor is that remembrance involves the intellect and wisdom of the person. When one does something with wisdom, it is apparent to others. This is the idea that others see that we are, “a wise and understanding nation,” and “... a man’s wisdom lights up his face,” to the point, that the Gemara tells us, even a non-Jew is able to discern the shine of wisdom on a Jew.

And perhaps you think that being openly and actively involved in this might bring you to haughtiness and you would rather operate discreetly. Well, you have the choice and free will to take action that will neutralize your pride. As the Gemara tells of the Amora who told himself words of admonishment to keep from being proud. This shows us that you can and may work on yourself.

On the one hand, we see that Torah demands an open and active role, and conversely, the Torah also demands modesty; certainly there must be a happy medium which will accomplish both — seek and you will find.

You cannot put off helping your fellow Jew because you have not yet reached your personal goal to walk discreetly. Do your duty for the cause, and then work on refining your own personality.

[Note: The sichah about the siyum of the Book of Holiness of the Rambam has been printed separately. The following section was excepted from the talk and is being presented here because of the commonality of theme.]

In the “good old days” it would have been the responsibility of the mashpi’im to be involved in arousing people to fulfill the directive of learning the Rambam and similar matters.

It was said of the Rogachover Gaon that he knew the verse: “... and the sons of Korach did not die, from the Gemara in Sanhedrin — not from the Chumash, because his study involvement was mainly in Talmud study. Similarly those mashpi’im should understand that their job is to stress and encourage the fulfillment of the items in which we get excited.

And although “three shepherds” have already been appointed, we don’t see the fruits of their labors — there are no results.

Evidently they have decided to function in accordance with the verse “... walk modestly with G‑d,” and they do not want to impose themselves on others, but would rather wait for discreet opportunities to speak quietly and secretly with the people they should be influencing.

They probably argue that the Baal Shem Tov also did not “reveal” himself in the early years of his ministry. However they forget the fact that later on, the Baal Shem Tov did reveal himself, after he was told about “spreading the wellsprings to the outside.” They however continue to be secretive even after being advised to reveal themselves. And no one knows of their activities.

Others, including those who appointed the mashpi’im, assume that since there are official mashpi’im the onus of responsibility is off their shoulders and they let the mashpi’im worry about it. This is not so. for “there is no agent for wrongdoing.

It is a shame that time must be stolen from the farbrengen to discuss this matter, when it could be used for more Divrei Torah.

May G‑d grant that all of these matters will come to fruition, for practice is the essential thing, with forcefulness beyond the point of limitation. First, by reaching a state of personal redemption from all restrictions and limitations, and from the personal redemption to the exodus of the Jewish nation, as the Gemara says “to connect one redemption to another,” from Purim to the redemption of Mashiach.

Really it should happen in a way that the true and complete redemption will come even before Purim, so that we will celebrate Purim together with Mashiach, as the Rambam says in Laws of Megillah: “In Messianic times ... the days of Purim will not cease to be observed, as it is said: ‘... and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed”‘ (Esther 9:28).

3. It would be appropriate now to complete several topics in sequence to the farbrengen of the .seventh of Adar

On the seventh of Adar we explained the connection of the birth of Moshe with the portion of Tetzaveh, which is the only portion in the Torah [after Moshe’s birth] in which Moshe’s name is not mentioned. The reason for this being that when he was born and the “... house was completely filled with light.” he was not immediately named “Moshe.”

Although Moshe was certainly named by Amram and Yocheved, for the life-force of a person’s soul is drawn into his body through the letters of his Hebrew name. However, (A) this applies later when the person is fully alive, not at the precise time of birth, and (B) it is not connected with the phenomenon of the radiance Moshe brought into the house, which stemmed from a spiritual source higher than the letters of a name.

This was the connection between the birth of Moshe and the complete portion of Tetzaveh.

There is also a connection of Moshe’s birth to the section of Tetzaveh applying to Thursday [the fifth reading part of the portion]. The topic in that section is the training of Aharon and his sons for seven days:

Do exactly as I have instructed you for Aharon and his sons. Their installation shall take seven days.

This may be connected to the fact that Moshe was born on the seventh of Adar.

When you have seven days of the week in sequence you have a complete cycle. In the case of Moshe’s being born on the seventh day of the month, this complete cycle in the month of Adar could then influence the entire month. It was in its merit that at the time of Purim, the entire month was converted to a month of joy. The AriZal says that the cycle of the seven days of the week in sequence can also encompass and influence the whole year.

So, when the Kohanim had to be initiated into their responsibilities in the Tabernacle, they needed a full week of training so that they should have —a complete cycle, and everything would be whole and complete.

Similarly, when the cycle of the first seven days of Adar were brought to completion by Moshe’s birth, that unit was able to influence the entire month.

In his general introduction to Mishneh Torah the Rambam writes that before his death, Moshe wrote 13 Torah scrolls, one for each tribe and one to be placed in the Holy Ark.

This establishes the connection between the seventh of Adar and the study of Rambam. It also reminds us of the important project to write Torah scrolls for the Jewish community which will unite the Jewish people together, and also connect us with those first Torah scrolls written by Moshe.

4. A question has been presented to me in relation to the discussion of Moshe’s birth in the previous farbrengen. It was explained that normally the day of death is loftier than the birthday as the verse in Koheles states: “And the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth” (Koheles 7:1). Logic would also attest to this thought, seeing that on one’s birthday his future conduct is still not known, while at the time of death everyone knows how he lived his life. Nevertheless the case of Moshe is different because at his birth: “She realized how extraordinary [the child] was ...,” on which the Talmud relates: “When he was born the entire house was filled with light.

The question.

In Midrash Koheles it states that the verse cited above, which states that the day of death is better than the day of birth, refers to Moshe! Which means that in Moshe’s case also his day of death was better than his day of birth. But we just said that his day of birth was better!! How can this be? A paradox!!

In answering the question it should be noted that this is a case where words were heard, but the concept was not comprehended. As a result, the substance of the idea was overlooked. Additionally, instead of trying to reach an understanding of the paradox, the effort was only made to compare the words of the Midrash with the words of the farbrengen, which could not be reconciled. Let us first see what the Midrash says:

You find that when the righteous are born nobody feels any difference, but when they die everybody feels it ... when Moshe our teacher was born nobody felt [it], but when he died all felt it, because the manna made his death known by ceasing to fall. (Midrash Koheles 7:1)

In endeavoring to comprehend this Midrash several questions come to mind: (A) Was no other thing noticed at Moshe’s death besides the lack of the manna? All his other important life’s accomplishments — even Matan Torah — were missed when he died, why are they not mentioned?

(B) Is it possible that this great person, Moshe, should be remembered only by the fact that the manna ceased to fall? Is it proper that this should embody and portray his greatness?!

It is also inconceivable to say that what the Midrash means is that after his death the people learned that the manna was given to them in his merit. In describing Moshe the Torah tells us: “Moshe, however, was very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). Can the quality of such a person be presented in the form that when he died we discovered that the manna was given in his merit?

This brings us to the realization that there are many logical difficulties and inconsistencies in this Midrash, yet the only problem that bothered the questioner was that at the farbrengen it was stated that in Moshe’s case, because the house was filled with brightness, his day of death was not better than his day of birth, while in the Midrash it seems to say that Moshe, too, was included in those referred to by the verse in Koheles. This question points out the lack of a balanced approach to the meaning of the subject matter.

What then is the explanation?

It is obvious and clear that during Moshe’s lifetime many great and lofty accomplishments were added to his credit, which did not exist at the time of his birth. The Midrash, however, is not dealing with this, which is why it does not mention all his great deeds. At the farbrengen, on the other hand, the theme of the exposition was that on his day of birth we find something unique, not found in any other case, that the house was filled with light. The explanation followed, that this quality overpowered the negative aspect of the day of death and therefore Haman’s evil scheme came to naught and was converted to good.

Normally, even the life of a tzaddik cannot be foretold at birth, since all the good is still only in a potential state. Therefore, the day of death is better than the day of birth, because then we know how his life turned out [as the Midrash actually explains it].

Moshe’s case was different. Immediately at birth his lofty quality was realized, openly and actually, for the house was filled with light.

Certainly this quality of “birth — light” does not outshine his later accomplishments. He definitely did many things later in life which did not exist on his birthday. And in relation to these, his day of death was better than his birthday — as the Midrash indicates.

Nevertheless the “birth — light” which effected the ability to neutralize the decree of Haman, was real and actual only and specifically on his birthday, and not later in life. This is why it was able to atone for the death, nullify Haman’s decree. and convert it to the good.

Haman had rejoiced when the lot fell on the month in which Moshe died, thinking that the terrible loss of the day of death would cause the day and month to be unlucky for the Jews. To which the Gemara says that he did not know that it was also Moshe’s birthday, so that the revelation of light generated by Moshe’s birth turned the day into an auspicious day: “The light was good” (Bereishis 1:4).

We may now understand the language of the Gemara that Moshe’s birth was able to “atone” for the death. The revelation of light neutralized any bad aspects in the day, so that the day was transformed to be a day of miracles. This is the truest form of atonement, which transforms something bad into something which is good.

5. In the portion of Tetzaveh on the verse: “Also make linen pants ...,” Rashi writes: “This makes eight garments for the Kohen Gadol and four for the ordinary Kohen.” What does Rashi innovate by telling us this. Even the five-year-old Chumash student can count the garments which the Torah lists and he will find eight for the Kohen Gadol and four for the ordinary Kohen.

If Rashi does mention this, it is evident that without his comment we might have made a mistake in the count. How do we explain this?

When we learned the verse:

For Aharon’s sons make tunics and for them sashes. Also make for them hats that are both beautiful and dignified, (Shmos 28:40)

we found that the Torah made a distinction between the different actions involved in making the garments. We can even say that from the structure of the verse, with a separate verb and the plural noun for hats, it would seem that the directive to make the hats for the sons of Aharon would include also the hat for Aharon. This was the case with the pants where the command to make the pants is said only once, including the pants for the common Kohen as well as the Kohen Gadol.

Since in the case of the regular Kohen the hat is called “migba’as” and for the Kohen Gadol it was called “mitznefes,” I might think that they are not the same and that the Kohen Gadol wore nine garments — including two hats.

To forewarn this Rashi had already explained that the migba’as and mitznefes were really the same garment, but in the case of the ordinary Kohen it was called migba’as and in the case of Kohen Gadol it was called mitznefes. Therefore here, after listing all eight garments, Rashi stresses there were only eight for the Kohen Gadol. not nine!

Regarding the regular Kohen, we might also have a misunderstanding. In the verse which commanded the manufacture of tunics, sashes and hats, the Torah uses three clauses. In the first it says: “For Aharon’s sons make tunics,” the next clause says “... make for them sashes ...,” and the third “... also make for them hats.” The verse could have said “make them tunics, sashes and hats.” Since it does not include all three in one clause with only one verb — “to make,” — and in two of the cases it adds the words “for them,” while about tunics it does not say “for them,” I might think that regarding the tunics, each Kohen received two (the plural form “ketonos”). Therefore Rashi tells us clearly that the Kohen Gadol had eight garments and the regular Kohen had four garments: one tunic, sash, a hat and pants.

Rashi’s note will help us to understand an opinion in the Talmud Yerushalmi which actually does hold that the ordinary Kohanim wore two tunics, which is derived from the sentence structure that we just analyzed, which does not use the wards “for them” in the case of tunics.

The explanation in Yerushalmi is that since the tunic was worn directly on the body, there should be another garment above it so that perspiration should not be apparent. Thus, Rashi’s point is well taken but the opinion in Yerushalmi also has solid footing.

This bears further discussion and we will leave it for wise to find more wisdom.