1. The previous Rebbe instructed that a Chassidic farbrengen be held on Shabbos Mevorchim. At a farbrengen, Jews are gathered together; and because a congregation possesses special powers and merits, special strength is given to undertake good resolutions and to implement them without any difficulties. G‑d helps a Jew to implement his resolutions anytime he undertakes them, for “He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him.” The unique power of a congregation ensures that this implementation happens quickly and easily, for “G‑d is mighty, and does not despise any” (Iyov 36:5). Moreover, the Alter Rebbe said that a Chassidic farbrengen is able to do more than the efforts of Michoel, the angel of Israel.

The above applies to a farbrengen held at any time; and it certainly applies when the farbrengen is held on Shabbos. Shabbos is a blessed day, as explicitly recorded in Scripture, “G‑d blessed the seventh day.” This blessing extends to all the days of the following week, and when a farbrengen is held on Shabbos, the blessing of Shabbos extends to the undertaking and implementation of resolutions during the week.

Further distinction is conferred when the farbrengen is held on Shabbos Mevorchim, the function of which is to bless not just the following week, but the whole month. This extra power of blessing gives extra strength to the undertaking and implementation of resolutions.

But each Shabbos Mevorchim is different from another, consonant to the differences between months. The month of Kislev is particularly auspicious, for many important events are celebrated in this month: Yud Kislev, Yud-Tes Kislev, and Chanukah. Chanukah is a specially important time, for it marks the ultimate perfection of the Mishkan built by Moshe, of which it is said “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell within them.” The Yalkut Shimoni states (Melochim 184): “The work of the Mishkan was ended on the twenty fifth of Kislev, but it remained folded (i.e. unerected) until Rosh Chodesh Nissan, as stated (Shemos 40:2) ‘On the first day of the first month you shall erect the Mishkan.’ Kislev, in which the work was ended, thus lost out [on being the month in which the Mishkan was erected and sanctified]. G‑d said, I must repay it. What did G‑d repay it with? The dedication of the Chashmonoem [i.e. Chanukah].” We see, then, that the Mishkan built by Moshe reached its full potential during Chanukah.

Since the month of Kislev contains such auspicious events, Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev, which blesses this month, must be of a very lofty nature indeed. Thus there are very special powers given on Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev (today) to undertake and implement good resolutions for the unique service of Kislev.

“Deed is paramount,” and therefore all the above must come to fruition in actual deed. Moreover, we have been talking of things of paramount importance. Thus, although the principle “deed is paramount” applies to everything in Torah, it has particular emphasis when talking of things which themselves are of paramount importance.

G‑d grants every Jew the ability to carry out all of the above mentioned matters, as the Midrash notes (Bamidbar Rabbah 12:3): “When I (G‑d) request something, I do not request according to My powers, but according to their powers.” The powers thus given include not only the strength to perform these tasks “as they should be done,” but do so in the best way — as G‑d’s request should be fulfilled. As the Rambam (end of Hilchos Issurei Hamizbeach) and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 248:8) rule: “Everything that is for the sake of Heaven should be the best and the nicest ...” This includes fulfilling one’s task with joy, for besides service with joy being a command from G‑d, it also contributes to the success of the service.

Powers granted from G‑d to fulfill one’s mission does not contradict the tenet of free choice — although our Sages have said “Everything is in the hands of heaven except fear of heaven.” Chassidus, on the verse (Devorim 5:26) “Who would give that their hearts would always remain this way to fear Me ...,” explains (besides the plain interpretation that it means “if only it would always be this way”) that through the level of “who” (in Hebrew “Mi”) a Jew has the power to fear G‑d. The verse would thus read “Mi gives their hearts ... to fear Me.” “Mi” refers to the transcendent, incomprehensible level of G‑d (“Ein Sof”), which has the power to implant fear in Jews — although this level is not present in “the hands of heaven.” Hence, although “Everything is in the hands of heaven except fear of heaven,” fear of heaven can be instilled in a Jew from the level of “Mi.” Simultaneously, it still depends on man’s free choice.

How is it possible to have fear granted from Above and simultaneously have that fear from one’s own free choice? The Rambam explicitly rules (Hilchos Teshuvah 5:1-2): “Freedom is given to every person. If a person wants to turn to the good path and be a righteous person, he may do so; if he wants to turn to the wicked path ... he may do so ... And there is none who will force him or decree it on him, and there is none who draws him to one of the two paths; but he of his own accord and of his own knowledge turns to whichever path he wants.” Yet, writes the Lechem Mishnah (ibid), a person may “have a slight inclination” to the good path stemming from his inborn nature. The Talmud (Yevomos 79a), for example, states that Jews are, by nature, “merciful, bashful, and practitioners of good deeds.” Simultaneously, their conduct in general is from free will.

2. In addition to the above, there are lessons to be derived from the parshah read on Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev this year — parshas Toldos. There are two parshas which could have been called by the name “Toldos:” “These are the toldos (generations) of Noach” and “These are the toldos of Yitzchok.” Jewish custom is to call the latter (today’s par-shah) with the name “Toldos,” whereas the former is called parshas “Noach.” This indicates that the idea of “Toldos” is emphasized on this Shabbos and in all of this week’s concepts (all of which belong to parshas Toldos).

The plain interpretation of “Toldos” is “generations,” the idea of producing more Jews. This teaches that service in all of the above subjects must be done in such a way as to influence others to do likewise — to serve as “lights to illuminate,” to be an example and inspiration to others — who in turn influence others, ad infinitum.

Such “generations,” moreover, must be in the manner of “the generations of Yitzchok,” and not “the generations of Noach.” “Noach” is cognate to the word “neichah,” meaning satisfaction; “Yitzchok” means laughter, the idea of joy. Joy is a much higher level than satisfaction, for a person can be satisfied and yet not be in a joyous mood. Thus “These are the generations of Yitzchok” teaches that the “generations” produced as a result of one’s service should be in a joyous form.

May it be G‑d’s will that through all of the above we speedily merit the fulfillment of the promise “Then our mouth will be filled with laughter.” This will come to pass in the true and complete redemption, which is associated with Yitzchok specifically, as the Talmud (Shabbos 89b), on the verse “You are our father, for we have not known Avraham, and Yisroel we did not recognize,” notes that in the future we will say “You are our father” to Yitzchok specifically.


3. The above lesson is associated with this year specifically, when parshas Toldos is read on Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev. By rights, we should first examine those concepts which are associated with Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev every year, regardless of which parshah is read — the concepts stemming from the service of the month of Kislev.

Chronologically, the first event of Kislev is Chanukah, as noted above, marks the completion of the concept of the Mishkan built by Moshe — the first Sanctuary, of which it is said: “Make a Sanctuary for Me and I will dwell within them.”

The general idea of the Sanctuary (both Mishkan and Bais Hamikdosh) is that it is “the Sanctuary which your hands, 0’ L‑rd, have established.” Nevertheless, each of the Sanctuaries has its own unique aspect. The Mishkan was the continuation and conclusion of the idea of Mattan Torah. Mattan Torah introduced and revealed G‑dliness into the world, to make the world a dwelling place for G‑d. This was brought to completion by the Mishkan, built of physical materials, through which the idea of “I will dwell within them” was implemented.

The first Bais Hamikdosh, built by King Shelomoh, also has a unique distinction. The distinction of the second Bais Hamikdosh is that “The glory of this latter House shall be greater than that of the first,” (Chaggai 2:9) which, the Talmud (B. Basrah 3a) states, refers to the second Bais Hamikdosh. The Zohar (I, 28a), however, interprets “the latter House” to refer to the third Bais Hamikdosh, thus emphasizing its unique quality. In general, each of the Sanctuaries possessed qualities not owned by the others.

Chanukah, we have said, is the completion of the Mishkan built by Moshe — “completion” meaning not only the finish, but also the ultimate perfection — Chanukah introduced concepts that were not present in the Mishkan. For although the Mishkan, as all Moshe’s works, is eternal (Sotah 9a), this element of eternality is sometimes not openly evident. Of the Chanukah lights, however, it is said (Ramban, beginning of parshas Beha’aloscho), “These lights will never be abolished.” That is, the lights of the Bais Hamikdosh exist forever in the form of the physical Chanukah lights. This is only true of Chanukah, for, in the case of the first and second Bais Hamikdoshs, only the spiritual aspects are eternal.

The Arizal, on the verse “These days shall be remembered and kept,” taught that through the proper remembrance, all the original concepts are repeated and “kept.” Thus the idea of Chanukah — the completion of the concept of the Mishkan — is repeated every year, especially since we do not just remember it, but actually kindle the Chanukah lights. Moreover, according to the rule “always increase in holy matters,” the original concepts are not only repeated but are every year effected in an infinitely loftier manner.

Another event in Kislev is Yud-Tes (and Yud) Kislev, which is the idea of the revelation of the esoteric part of TorahChassidus — in the manner of “Your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside.” This is associated with Chanukah, for Chanukah celebrates the miracles of the oil, and “oil” symbolizes the “most secret secrets” of Torah.

Water symbolizes the exoteric part of Torah; wine symbolizes the Torah’s secrets — “when wine enters [a person], secrets come out;” and oil, which floats on top of wine, symbolizes the Torah’s “most secret secrets.” Since Chanukah celebrates the miracle of the oil, it follows that it refers to the revelation of the Torah’s “most secret secrets” in the manner of a miracle. This is the idea of “Your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside:” The loftiest matters, the Torah’s “most secret secrets,” are used to illuminate the outside — just as the Chanukah lights must be kindled “on the threshold of the house on the outside.”

The central theme of the month of Kislev, then, is the revelation and dissemination of the Torah’s secrets — as they are in a miraculous manner — to the outside.

Now we can understand the greatness of Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev. Because Shabbos Mevorchim blesses the following month, it not only marks the start of these concepts, but is also, in one respect, loftier than them — and therefore has the ability to bless them. A “blessing” indicates that the one who blesses is on a plane above the source of the blessing. Therefore, 1) he can command that the blessing be drawn below; and 2) the blessing will certainly be drawn down. Thus a blessing is loftier than prayer, when the person who prays is on a plane below that for which he prays. Since Kislev is such an auspicious month (as elaborated on above), it follows that Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev, which blesses the month, is lofty indeed.

The central theme of Kislev, we have said, is the dissemination of Chassidus to the outside. Yet this seems difficult, if not impossible, for this generation to do. In previous generations, they did not disseminate Chassidus. In the times of the Arizal, for example, it was “a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom” — reveal, but not disseminate. In even earlier generations, it wasn’t even a mitzvah to reveal it, but instead, “the wisdom of the Kabbalah was concealed.” How then can we say that in this generation it is obligatory to disseminate Chassidus to the outside?

It is a puzzling paradox. In the generation of Rashbi, the author of the Zohar, it was forbidden to reveal the Torah’s secrets except to a few outstanding individuals — to the extent that the punishment of exile was meted out for revealing the Torah’s secrets (see Zohar III, 287b). In R. Moshe Cordervero’s generation, the Torah’s secrets were not studied openly; and it was only in the following generation, that of the Arizal, that “it is permitted and it is a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom.” Even then, many restrictions and conditions were imposed on its study. There were even certain restrictions in the generation of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidus. It was only when the Alter Rebbe founded Chassidus Chabad, and especially after the liberation of Yud-Tes Kislev, that the idea of “your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside” really began to take place. From then on, Chassidus was disseminated in even greater fashion from generation to generation.

The question, then, is: Since the service of the earlier generations was whole even without the dissemination of Chassidus, why specifically now, in our generation, is it a necessity to spread Chassidus?

The same type of question applies to the days of creation. The world was created perfect by G‑d in the six days of creation, as stated “G‑d saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Yet, Torah states of Shabbos that on it “He rested from all His work which G‑d created to function,” and, says the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:6), “to function” means to bring to perfection: “everything created in the six days of creation needs ... rectification.” This is effected by man’s service, who thereby becomes G‑d’s partner in creation. But if everything created in the first six days was perfect, how can there be any deficiencies that require rectification?

However, although the creation was “very good,” it still needs rectification compared to the greatness of Shabbos (on which “G‑d created to function” was said). In other words, the creation was “very good” only on the level of the first six days; but in comparison to Shabbos, which is of a higher level than the previous days, not only could the creation become better, but it was actually deficient.

So too with the idea that the dissemination of Chassidus is specifically in our times. That the service of earlier generations was whole and complete without the dissemination of Chassidus was only in regard to those times. The closer we approach to the future redemption, the previous service becomes deficient. Therefore it is specifically in the latter generations, particularly our generation, that it is necessary to spread Chassidus.

In practical terms: Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev, when blessings are given for the concepts of Kislev — the dissemination of Chassidus — is an extremely auspicious time to resolve to spread Chassidus as much as possible. Likewise, it is an auspicious time for resolutions concerning the Chanukah campaign, including the inner meaning of Chanukah — that besides actually kindling the Chanukah lights, one thereby draws down the “most secret secrets” of the Torah — and in a miraculous manner.


4. The beginning of parshas Toldos talks of the birth of Ya’akov and Esav to Yitzchok and Rivkah. Ch. 25, verse 24, states: “When the time for her to give birth was full, there were twins in her womb.” Rashi, on the words “When the time was full,” comments: “But regarding Tamar it is written (Bereishis 38:27) ‘At the time she gave birth;’ [the reason for this is] because her period [of pregnancy] was not full, for she gave birth to them at seven months.”

There are several difficulties in Rashi’s interpretation. 1) Rashi makes a comment on a verse only when there is a difficulty in that verse. In our case, there is nothing inherently difficult in our verse. The only problem is the different expressions used in Rivkah’s case and in Tamar’s case, a problem which crops up only when we learn the verse concerning Tamar — after our verse. Why, then, does Rashi in our verse comment on the different expressions?

2) Why does Rashi say that Tamar “gave birth to them at seven months?” To describe the difference between the expressions “the time for her to give birth was full” and “at the time she gave birth,” it would suffice to say that Rivkah’s days were “full” and Tamar’s were “incomplete” — as indeed the Midrash says, and also Rashi himself says in parshas Vayeishev (38:27) — “There [by Rivkah] they were full, but here [in the case of Tamar] they were incomplete.” Why, then, does Rashi choose to give particulars as to how incomplete her pregnancy was?

3) Since Rashi, for whatever reason, finds it necessary to give details concerning Tamar’s pregnancy, why doesn’t he do the same concerning Rivkah — that she gave birth at nine months?

The Explanation

Rashi’s comment is not intended to resolve the difference between the expressions used in Rivkah’s and Tamar’s cases, but to answer a question that crops up now, on this verse. Birth usually occurs when a woman’s term of pregnancy is full, and therefore, in all the many previous instances when birth is mentioned, the fact that the woman’s term of pregnancy was full is never mentioned. Why, then, does our verse mention it?

Rashi’s answer is “But regarding Tamar it is written ‘At the time she gave birth.’“ The Torah’s purpose in telling us that the “time for her to give birth was full” is to inform us that in the case of Tamar, where it states “at the time she gave birth,” her term of pregnancy was not complete. This is apparent only when in a previous verse (ours, in the case of Rivkah), it states that the term of pregnancy was complete.

But all is not clear: If the purpose of writing “When the time for her to give birth was full” is to emphasize the exception in the case of Tamar (the birth of Peretz and Zorach), why is it written in our parshah specifically, and not the first time birth is mentioned (in parshas Bereishis)? Or, to even more emphasize the difference in the case of Tamar, it should have been written at the last time a birth is mentioned before Tamar’s case — at the birth of Er and Onan. Had Scripture there written that these births were at full term, the difference between them and Peretz’s and Zorach’s birth would have been most apparent.

We must therefore conclude that although the Torah’s principal objectives in writing “When the time for her to give birth was full” is to emphasize the difference in Tamar’s case, these words also add clarification to our case — and therefore these words are written in regard to Rivkah specifically.

Rivkah experienced great pain in her pregnancy, as stated (25:22) “The children clashed within her,” on which Rashi comments, “When she would pass by the doors of Torah of Shem and Ever, Ya’akov ran and struggled to come forth, and when she would pass by the door of idol worship, Esav struggled to come forth.” This pain was so intense that Rivkah wondered why she had desired so much to conceive, and inquired of G‑d what her end would be (Rashi, ibid).

There is thus reason to posit that G‑d, in order to shorten her pain, shortened her term of pregnancy. Our verse therefore tells us that “the time for her to give birth was full” — her term of pregnancy was not shortened. However, the principal reason for the inclusion of these words is, as explained above, to emphasize the difference in Tamar’s case. Rivkah’s pain does not mandate that her term of pregnancy was shortened, and thus the Torah would not be forced to tell us that in fact her pregnancy went to full term.

Now we can also understand why Rashi writes that Tamar “gave birth to them at seven months,” and not just that her term was “incomplete.” This tells us something new: that despite the fact that Rivkah could have given birth at seven months — like Tamar — the pregnancy, and its accompanying pain, continued for another two months. Because it is important to know this in our parshah, Rashi writes that Tamar gave birth at seven months — and not just that her term was incomplete, which could mean just a few days.

But then, the question of why Rashi does not write that Rivkah gave birth at nine months becomes even more puzzling, for surely this would emphasize even more that despite here pain, her pregnancy went to full term.

However, there is a difference in opinion in the Talmud (Niddah 29a, 38b) as to whether a woman who bears at nine months always gives birth after nine full months have been completed, or if she can also give birth in the ninth month, before the month is full. Thus the words “the time for her to give birth was full” can be interpreted in two ways: 1) According to the second opinion, the verse teaches that Rivkah gave birth at the end of nine full months, and not in the ninth month. According to the first opinion, it teaches that she gave birth at nine months, and not at seven months — for according to this opinion, that she gave birth at nine full months is no news, for it is impossible to do otherwise once she has reached her ninth month. Thus the verse teaches that she did not give birth at seven months (the other possibility besides nine full months).

Because Rashi does not want to interpret this verse according to only one of the above views, he does not say that the phrase “the time for her to give birth was full” means she gave birth at nine months — for that would mean he is of the opinion that the verse teaches us that she gave birth in the ninth month and not in the seventh — like the first view. Therefore he does not write anything, thus leaving the verse open to both interpretations: 1) nine and not seven; 2) nine full months, and not in the ninth month.