FREE TRANSLATION

By the Grace of G‑d
Erev Shabbos Kodesh,
Sedra of the Week:
Sovo El Ho’oretz Chai Elul 5744
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our people Israel, Everywhere

G‑d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

To begin with a blessing — in the present days of Elul, and particularly on this day of Erev Shabbos Kodesh Chai Elul

Bearing in mind that the last twelve days of Elul, beginning with Chai Elul, are days of introspection relating to the months of the outgoing year, each day corresponding to its respective month, so that the first of these — Chai Elul, relates to the first of the outgoing year, namely, the month of Tishrei, with Rosh Hashono, etc. —

It is especially appropriate to extend to each of you, in the midst of all our Jewish people, the traditional and all inclusive blessing of “a good and sweet year” both materially and spiritually.

All the more so, since the said introspection, although it is a personal one, made by every Jew for himself, it is at the same time also an introspection which everyone makes as part of the whole Jewish people.

Moreover. the said introspection is directly related to Rosh Hashono, when all Jews “stand firmly” before HaShem, together and united, all as one, as the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch, explains the verse, “You are standing firmly, all of you, this day, before HaShem your G‑d” — “this day” (HaYom) referring to Rosh Hashono.

Hence, it is especially significant and adds dimension to the connection between Chai Elul and the Kesivo vaChasimo Tovo.

The purpose of the said introspection, an honest self-appraisal, is that it should determine most resolutely one’s correct behavior in the everyday life of the coming year. This is also indicated and emphasized in the name of the festival — Rosh Hashono — meaning that in addition to being the “beginning” of the year, it is also, and essentially, the “head” of the year: Just as the head directs all the organs of the body, and it is only in this way that each organ carries out its purpose in the fullest measure, also as an organ per se — so should Rosh Hashono direct and animate each and every day of the year, in all particulars of the daily life, in order that the person should attain his or her fulfillment according to the design of the Creator.

Through the fulfillment of the human being, also the entire created order in all its four divisions: domem, (inanimate), tzomeiach (vegetation), chai (animal), and medabber (man, the “speaker”) — attains its fulfillment, both individually and collectively .

This is also underscored by the fact that Rosh Hashono has been designated to take place not on the first day of Creation, but on the sixth — the day when the first man, Adam, was created; and with his creation, the entire created order was concluded and completed, and through man’s fulfillment all of Creation is fulfilled —

Because the order and purpose of Creation is that the inanimate (mineral), in addition to its task of serving its own end, should sustain (and be absorbed into) plant life, and thereby be elevated to the “world” of the vegetable; and the latter should sustain, and thereby be elevated to, the animal world; and all three — animal, vegetable and mineral — should support and serve mankind, and thereby become part of, and be elevated to, the world of man, “the chosen one of all creatures.”

And through man’s serving the Creator, man and (through him) all the said four divisions of Creation, attain their complete and perfect fulfillment.

Indeed, as our Sages of blessed memory declare, this was attained in the very same day that the first man was created, when Adam immediately called upon all creatures, himself included: “Come, let us worship, bow down, and kneel, before HaShem our Maker.”

The said concept, namely, that the central point and original purpose of the whole created order is that it should attain perfect fulfillment — as it was attained when the Creator completed His creative work of the Six Days of Creation, in preparation for, and then by, the creation of man (Adam), and also that this fulfillment should be attained every day, year after year, through man’s conduct in compliance with the teachings of the Torah (“Torah” meaning ‘instruction” and “teaching”) —

Is reflected also in the Mitzvo of Bikkurim (First Fruits) with which our Sedra Savo begins (where the Mitzvo of Bikkurim and of Bringing the Bikkurim is stated in all its details), as follows:

By way of introduction: The Mitzvo of Bikkurim became due only after the conquest of the Land of Israel, and after its subdivision among the Tribes, and after the “House of G‑d” was established. It would therefore seem more appropriate to introduce the Mitzvo of Bikkurim with words similar to those we find at the end of the preceding Sedra: “And it shall come to pass when HaShem, your G‑d, will choose to set His Name there, in the land,” etc. However, it is introduced here with the words Ki Savo el Hooretz, which seemingly focuses attention on the day of entry into the land. But the idea is to emphasize that immediately upon coming into the land, you should become aware that the ultimate purpose of it is that “You should take of the first fruits,” etc., as Bikkurim to HaShem. Thus, all your actions from that day on, and until the actual bringing of Bikkurim, will be permeated with the spirit of the Mitzvo, making all the intervening days a period of preparation for the actual fulfillment of the Mitzvo of bringing Bikkurim, although it will take place many years later. In other words, briefly: The idea of Bikkurim is, that the Mitzvo of Bikkurim begins with “coming into the land,” when one begins his daily labor, “Six days shall you labor, plant your field and prune your vineyard,” cultivating the soil (mineral). Then, after the preparatory activities of tilling, planting and pruning, comes the harvest of grain and fruit (plant life), of which the first and choicest are designated as Bikkurim unto HaShem, and they are taken up, together with offerings (animal) to the Beis Hamikdash, where the bearer of the Bikkurim (man, “the speaker”) recites in a loud, clear and joyous voice the Declaration of Bikkurim.

In the words of the Rambam:

“The men of all the small towns of the Ma’amad (district, constituency) gather in the main town of the Ma’amad. . . for “the greater the gathering, the more glory to the King”... The appointed leader of the gathering calls out, Arise, let us go up to Zion, unto HaShem our G‑d; and the ox (for a Peace-offering) goes before them. . . the flute is played before them, and they walk all the way and recite, “I rejoice when they say to me, Let us go to the House of HaShem.... When they all enter the gates of Jerusalem, they begin reciting, Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.... When they reach the Har HaBayis (Temple Mount), everyone takes his (fruit) basket on his shoulder, and they recite, Praise HaShem, praise G‑d in His holy place up to (the end of the psalm) Let every soul praise HaShem Hallelui-a.... When they reach the Azarah (Temple Court) the Levites sing the song, I will exalt You, HaShem, for You have lifted me up,...”

Such is also the order of man’s everyday service to his Creator:

After awaking from sleep, during which a person, with his intellect, abilities, knowledge, etc., is like an inanimate — yet it is the time when all forces of the soul and body should be refreshed and invigorated for Avodas HaShem — one must rise from one’s sleep, “immediately, with alacrity, to serve the Creator.” Then one begins to grow ever higher through the fulfillment of the Creator’s commandments, such as washing the hands, reciting the Morning blessings, etc., in preparation for the Morning Prayer, with its four stages: Hodu, Pesukei DeZimrah. Shema and the Amidah; then one goes on to carry out the Divine edict, “and conquer (the world),” going about one’s worldly affairs in the manner of “All your actions shall be for the sake of Heaven” — actions that involve all four categories of Creation (inanimate, vegetable, animal and man), the world all around, which one accomplishes with the aid of one’s nefesh habehamis (“animal soul”). Thus, one attains the complete fulfillment expected of the “chosen creature” by “creating an abode for Him, blessed be He, in this lowest world,” which is the ultimate purpose and fulfillment of the whole created order.

All this also brings closer the true and complete Geulo through Mashiach Tzidkeinu,

When acknowledgement of the Creator in response to the call, “Come let us bow down and kneel,” will be everlasting, and the “Coronation of the King over all the earth” will be complete, and “Kingship — will be HaShem’s (alone)” and “all (the nations, the whole world) shall know that You, HaShem, alone, are supreme over all the earth.”

With esteem and blessing for Hatzlocho in all above, and for a Kesivo vaChasimo Tovo for a good and sweet year, both materially and spiritually

[Signed: Menachem Schneerson]