1. This gathering is being held at the end of the school year, prior to going to summer camp to strengthen one’s health so that the coming year can be approached with renewed vigor. We therefore gather together so that each person can help his fellow in undertaking good resolutions — which helps make it a loftier endeavor.

In general, the gathering together of many Jews must be associated with the purpose of a Jew’s creation, which is, in the words of our Sages, “I was created to serve My Maker.” Through service to G‑d, through every good deed, both regarding oneself, and regarding helping others — especially when done with joy — we cause great satisfaction to G‑d: — “It is a satisfaction before Me that I spoke and My will was done.” Because each Jewish soul is a “part of G‑d Above,” the gathering together of many such “sparks of holiness” lends extra strength to carrying out one’s mission on this earth.

When, therefore, Jews gather together, each with his good deeds, G‑d’s blessings are given in greater fashion than normal. As stated: “Bless us our Father, all of us together, in the light of Your countenance” — when Jews are all “together,” it is the fit “vessel” to receive G‑d’s blessings in both material and spiritual matters.

In our case, when gathered together at the end of the school year, this opportunity must be seized to undertake good resolutions to utilize the coming vacation period in the best fashion. This applies to one’s actual studies, when, living outside the city and its attendant distractions, in an atmosphere permeated with faith in G‑d and in His Torah and mitzvos — one can reach the highest levels in Judaism. And it also applies to influencing one’s friends, that they should also be immersed in such an atmosphere.

When these resolutions are undertaken in the presence of many Jews, then the concept of “Bless us our Father, all of us together, in the light of Your countenance” is present — in regard to the conclusion of the present school year, the vacation period, and also the forthcoming school year.

That blessing is, first and foremost, that they should see success in undertaking the resolutions and in their implementation — by doing all that is required of them, which in turn serves as a “vessel” for G‑d’s blessings for the ability to increase yet further, to do more than what was originally resolved. For a person must every day increase in wisdom — true wisdom, G‑d’s wisdom, which was given to Jewry to illuminate and direct their everyday life.

Through this, G‑d’s blessings will flow in all matters, until we merit the principal blessing, the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, when all Jews will leave exile in the manner of “I will lead you upright” — with a high-held head and an upright posture, because they succeeded in withstanding the tests and tribulations of the exile. And, moreover, not only did the exile not weaken their commitment to Torah and mitzvos, but the reverse: the exile aroused their deepest strengths and abilities, to the extent that they increased in Torah and mitzvos — “the superiority of light which comes [specifically] from previous darkness.”

2. In addition to general directives in Torah for one’s daily conduct, there are also special lessons which, although applicable to the entire year, are emphasized at particular times. Mattan Torah, for example, applies the whole year, for one must live according to Torah’s directives the whole year. Simultaneously, however, Mattan Torah is emphasized on Shavuos, for then the Torah is given afresh every year — “the Season of the Giving of our Torah.”

The lesson to be derived from this particular time of year comes from today’s portion of this week’s parshah — as the Alter Rebbe taught, we must live with the times, meaning with the lesson derived from the weekly parshah. Today is the fifth portion of parshas Korach, in which we learn of G‑d’s command to Moshe: (Bamidbar 17:17-20) “Speak to the children of Israel and take a staff for each paternal house...twelve staffs, one from each prince...you shall write each man’s name on his staff. You shall write Aharon’s name on Levi’s staff...and place them in the Ohel Moed...and the staff on the man whom I shall choose will then blossom.”

Moshe did as he was commanded, and the result was that “Aharon’s staff, representing the house of Levi, had blossomed, given forth buds, and bore ripe almonds.” Rashi explains that it was specifically almonds because “it is the fruit which buds more quickly than all other fruits.” When fruit buds quickly, the purpose for which it was created is fulfilled that much sooner — one is able to make the appropriate blessing, and to make one’s body healthy — which in turn adds to the soul’s health, allowing one to serve G‑d in a loftier manner.

Besides the plain interpretation of the above story concerning the blossoming of the staff, there is the inner meaning — the “soul” — which provides lessons for man’s service to G‑d.

A “staff” symbolizes the support and special strength given to a Jew to help him against fatigue from the great efforts needed in service to G‑d. Although in the above story this “staff” was a plain, physical one, the fact that it was placed in the Ohel Moed infuses it with special sanctity, transforming it into the level of the “staff of G‑d.” Every Jew receives just such a “staff” from G‑d to assist him in his travels in the way of G‑d — through Moshe Rabbeinu, by conducting himself consonant to the “Torah of Moshe.”

Thus, when many Jews gather together, each with “the staff of G‑d in his hand,” great strength, derived from all the staffs combined, is given to each person in his travels in life.

3. There is, in addition, a unique aspect associated with the staff of the tribe of Levi, Aharon’s staff — “Aharon’s staff representing the house of Levi had blossomed, given forth the buds, and bore ripe almonds.” That is, in addition to the strength alluded to in the general idea of “staff,” special blessings and strength is given to infuse everything, even inanimate objects (a “staff”), with Jewish life. It must begin to “blossom”: First, to give off blossoms that add beauty; then, to “give forth buds” — to bear good fruits; finally, this itself should be done quickly and with zeal — in the fashion of “almonds,” which “bud more quickly than all other fruits.”

The lesson from “Aharon’s staff” then, is that everything in the world should be made to blossom (beauty) in regard to Judaism, to the extent that it actually gives forth fruit — and quickly.

Although only Aharon’s staff blossomed, its concept applies to all Jews. Aharon is the High Priest of all Jews for all generations, and therefore anything that is associated with Aharon is associated with each and every Jew. Moreover, Aharon is the prince of the tribe of Levi, of whom it is later said, (18:20) “I (G‑d) am your portion and your inheritance.” The Rambam states that this applies “not only to the tribe of Levi, but every person...whose spirit moves him...to stand before the L‑rd to serve Him...becomes most sanctified, and the L‑rd is his portion and his inheritance forever....”

Every Jew can reach the level of the tribe of Levi — to cleave to G‑d by serving Him in making the world a fit dwelling place for the Divine Presence. Then G‑d becomes “his portion and his inheritance” — he need not invest much effort in material matters, for he merits G‑d’s blessing through just a minimal effort.

Thus the above lesson from Aharon’s staff — that one has special strength to make things give forth good fruit in Judaism — applies to all Jews.

In the light of the above, it is clear that there are special blessings and strength given for all the good resolutions undertaken at this gathering. First and foremost, strength in regard to the resolutions applicable to the summer period, and their translation into practice — strength associated with the “staff” in the Mishkan, the “staff of G‑d.” This is particularly relevant to those who are preparing to utilize the summer period to engage in education. The central theme of educating youth is to inculcate in them the idea of, “to stand before the L‑rd to serve Him” — similar to the service of the Kohanim and Levi’im in the Mishkan — which is thus associated with the “staff of G‑d” in the Mishkan.

In addition, special strength, associated with “Aharon’s staff, is given. That is, in addition to the strength of the general “staff,” special power is granted that one’s service be in the mode of “blossoming” — beauty, and in the mode of “giving fruit” — spiritual fruit, mitzvos, and physical fruit, G‑d’s blessings for all one’s needs. And all this is done with alacrity and enthusiasm, “almonds.”

Through our involvement in all of the above, we merit G‑d’s blessing for all our material and spiritual needs, extending to the greatest blessing of all — the coming of our righteous Mashiach, which shall be in the manner of “almonds” — very quickly. For since Jews have endured all the tests of the exile until the present time, particularly the intense darkness of the era of the “footsteps of Mashiach” (the era immediately preceding Mashiach’s coming), and, moreover, have transformed the darkness into light — it is surely sufficient to warrant the speedy arrival of the redemption.

Through increasing in all of the above with special alacrity and enthusiasm (“almonds”), this further hastens the redemption in the manner of “almonds.” And it will not be just as ordinary almonds, which take three weeks to ripen, but as the almonds in our parshah, of which it states that, “Moshe placed the staffs...in the Ohel Moed, and on the next day...Aharon’s staff blossomed...and bore ripe almonds.” In the words of the Rambam: “Torah has promised that Israel will eventually repent at the end of their exile, and immediately they will be redeemed.”

May G‑d help each of you to go from strength to strength in all matters of sanctity. May you have much success in implementing all the good resolutions undertaken — both in regard to your own education, and the education of the youth G‑d has entrusted you with. Then, automatically, it will be a healthy and successful summer, physically and spiritually. And all this will hasten the principal blessing — the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, speedily in our times.