1. This Shabbos falls between the two landmark days in the Previous Rebbe’s release from prison. The third of Tammuz was the “beginning” of his redemption, when the capital sentence was commuted to one of exile in the city of Kastrama. On 12th-13th of Tammuz came the complete redemption and total freedom.

There are lessons to be derived both from the redemption itself, and from the Shabbos which falls between these two dates.

The Previous Rebbe spared us the trouble of having to discover the lesson to be derived from his release, by explaining in his well-known letter that the 12th of Tammuz is “a holiday of redemption for all those who spread Torah,” and that everyone must therefore “add strength in the spread of Torah and Judaism.”

This general lesson receives added impetus from Shabbos. Shabbos differs from the holidays in that the latter are dependent on the Jewish people, who declare the New Moon and thereby establish when the holidays will be. Therefore, on holidays, we say in our blessings that Hashem “sanctifies Israel and the festive seasons,” to indicate that the Jewish people are responsible for the timing of the holidays.

Shabbos, on the other hand, comes regularly regardless of any declaration of the Jewish people. For this reason, we do not say that G‑d “sanctifies Israel and the Shabbos,” but “sanctifies the Shabbos.”

Nevertheless, there is still a vital contribution that the Jewish people make to the Shabbos which would otherwise be lacking. Our Sages say that a Jew is me’aneg the Shabbos, i.e. he adds new ta’anug (delight) to Shabbos. The wording indicates that it is not just that he himself feels ta’anug, but that he adds this dimension of delight to Shabbos itself.

Therefore, on the Shabbos close to the redemption of the 12th of Tammuz, our activities in spreading Torah and mitzvos must be in a way of ta’anug, with a feeling of delight. Since Shabbos has a connection both to the previous week and to the following week, there is an additional lesson to match the different qualities of the 3rd and the 12th of Tammuz.

Each of these two days has an advantage which the other is lacking. The 3rd of Tammuz was the beginning of the redemption, and therefore indicates a special sort of revelation. Our Sages say that, “all beginnings are difficult,” and therefore when something begins, an extremely great flow of G‑dliness is present. This type of revelation is not present at any later time.

This presents a lesson to a person who might think, “I am already doing many things in spreading Torah and mitzvos, and my energy should be put into spreading them further. Why should I put myself in the position of starting something new, with all the difficulties involved?”

The 3rd of Tammuz teaches that there is something unique about building up something new, and therefore one should also spread his activities into new areas.

If so, one might think, all effort should be put into new projects. Finishing them up is not his specialty; he would rather tackle the difficulties (and receive the special abilities) connected with the troublesome beginning stages.

This is the lesson of the 12th of Tammuz: one must carry things through to completion, to the state of complete redemption. Only then is true simchah achieved, just as the rejoicing on Simchas Torah results from the fact that we have completed reading the entire Torah.

2. The above lessons apply generally for any Shabbos which falls out between these two days. There is something additional to be learned from the fact that today is the 7th of Tammuz. This can be seen from the portion of Psalms for this day, and, since “everything goes according to what comes last,” the end of the portion in particular.

The final chapter in the portion is Ch. 43. In this chapter itself, the final verse is not unique, for it is identical to the final verse of Ch. 42. The unique lesson of this chapter may be derived from examining the previous verses; then we can also understand the meaning of the repetition of the final verse.

Verse 3 of this chapter contains a fascinating, yet puzzling, commentary of Rashi. Although Rashi’s commentary on Chumash is simpler than his commentaries on the Prophets and Writings, Rashi always gives the simple level of interpretation (pshat). On this verse, Rashi seems to veer far away from the simple explanation.

The verse states, “Send Your light and Your truth — they will lead me. Bring me to Your holy mountain and Your dwelling.” Rashi explains that “light” refers to Mashiach, and “truth,” to Eliyahu HaNavi.

Other commentaries explain these words in a manner which is easily understood; that they refer to various qualities of Hashem. This seems to be the simplest explanation, whereas Rashi’s explanation doesn’t even seem to be hinted at!

Furthermore, Rashi’s explanation seems quite forced. The relationship between Mashiach and “light” is proved from the verse, “I have arranged a lamp for my anointed” (i.e. Mashiach). This verse doesn’t even mention “light,” but rather a “lamp!”

Similarly difficult is the explanation that “truth” refers to Eliyahu HaNavi. Does, then, Eliyahu represent truth more than the other prophets? All of the prophets spoke truth! If Rashi insists that the verse speaks about a prophet, why not say that it means Moshe, the greatest of the prophets?

The key to understanding Rashi lies in the first word of the verse, “send.” This is a request, something to be fulfilled in the future. Therefore, one cannot say that “truth” and “light” refer to qualities of Hashem, since these qualities exist also in the present and in the past.

Furthermore, the verse continues by saying that “they (i.e. the truth and light) will lead me,” and are coming to fulfill a specific goal, to “bring me to Your holy mountain and Your dwelling.” This is the function of Mashiach and of Eliyahu HaNavi, to bring the Jewish people out of exile and to the Beis HaMikdash.

There is further significance to the fact that Eliyahu HaNavi is referred to as “truth.” Something is true when it exists under all conditions and in all situations. This can be seen from the Mishnah in Parah, which defines a “false” river as one that dries up even once in a seven year period. From this we see that “truth” indicates something that exists at all times.

Eliyahu HaNavi is unique in that he exists in both the spiritual and the physical realms. Even a child knows this, having been told that Eliyahu attends every bris, and having seen a special chair being prepared for him. Furthermore, since the bris has a constant effect (as explained elsewhere) Eliyahu accompanies the child to the home as well!

This is the embodiment of “truth,” indicating a lack of change even between the physical and the spiritual. Therefore it is particularly fitting to explain “truth” as referring to Eliyahu HaNavi.

After learning this verse, the final verse of the chapter attains new significance. The verse states, “Why is your soul downcast and why are you agitated?” This is an expression of tremendous surprise and wonder: ‘since you have been promised complete redemption (“Send Your light and Your truth; they will lead me. Bring me to Your holy mountain and Your dwelling”) why should you be downcast and agitated?’ Certainly this request will be speedily fulfilled, with the arrival of Mashiach.

3. We can derive an additional lesson from the weekly Torah portion, Chukas. A chok is a type of law beyond intellectual understanding. It is for this reason that the law of the red heifer, which is discussed at the beginning of the parshah, is called a chok, because it defies reason.

Chassidus explains that the word chok is related to the word chakikah, or “engraved.” In particular, it refers to letters which are engraved in stone, in contrast with those which are written with ink on paper.

Obviously, Chassidus does not only point out this connection because of the phonetic similarity between the two words, but also because they are similar in meaning and content.

When a law is connected with a certain reason or explanation, it is possible that the law will eventually change. We see this with rabbinic enactments, which can sometimes be modified by a qualified Jewish court when circumstances change. This is not the case with a chok. Since the law is totally beyond reason, and must be performed for no other reason than the fact that G‑d has so commanded, it remains constant despite various changing circumstances.

This same idea is stressed by “engraved letters.” When ink is written on paper, the ink may possibly fade or crack, or even be completely peeled off. The connection between the letter and the writing surface is only temporary. Engraved letters, though, cannot be peeled away. They become a permanent, unchangeable part of the stone.

This idea of permanence gives us an additional lesson regarding the 12th of Tammuz and the spread of Torah and mitzvos. When this is only an external aspect of our being (like letters of ink, which are separate from the paper), it can vary when the environment changes. When the mission of spreading Torah and mitzvos becomes engraved in our being, however, it remains constantly strong despite any possible obstacles.

Furthermore, Torah and mitzvos must be spread with mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice. The portion of parshas Chukas associated with the 3rd of Tammuz (for the third day of the week) stresses this point. There it is related how, in response to the request of the Jewish people for water, and G‑d’s command to speak to the rock, Moshe instead struck the rock. As a result, G‑d decreed that he shall not enter Eretz Yisrael.

This requires some explanation. Why was this considered such a serious transgression? Moshe had tried speaking to the rock but no water came. Furthermore, G‑d had instructed Moshe to “take the stick,” and it was only natural for Moshe to think that just as previously he had used the stick to bring water, so too here!

The Chumash itself relates that G‑d declared why this was so serious, “you did not have faith in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Bnei Yisrael.” (Bamidbar 20:12.) This involved a public Kiddush Hashem, and was therefore extremely important.

We find a similar point in regard to the 3rd of Tammuz. When the Previous Rebbe was notified that he was being released from prison and sent to exile in the city of Kastrama, he discovered that the train would arrive on Shabbos. He notified them that, if necessary, he would remain in jail for Shabbos, but under no circumstances would he arrive on Shabbos.

This response seems puzzling, for when one’s life is in danger, the laws of Shabbos are put aside. Here, there had been a clear death sentence, and it would seem most important to get out of such an environment as soon as possible. Furthermore, technically, there would not have been a halachic desecration of Shabbos (see Likkutei Sichos, Third of Tammuz, 5744).

However, this case involved a public Chillul Hashem. There would have been public mention that they had forced the Previous Rebbe to travel on Shabbos, and he therefore would not agree under any circumstances. This is an additional lesson teaching us how our work in spreading Torah and mitzvos must be done with constant self-sacrifice, since it is connected with Kiddush Hashem.

4. [After the maamar, “Az Yashir,” the Rebbe Shlita continued:] We customarily discuss the commentary of Rashi on the weekly parshah. In the passage discussing the altercation between the Jews and Sichon, the verse states, “Sichon did not allow Israel to pass through his territories, but he gathered all his people and went out to confront Israel in the desert.” Rashi comments,

“If Cheshbon was full of mosquitoes, still nobody would be able to conquer it. If Sichon would be in a unfortified town, nobody would be able to conquer him. How much more so when he was in Cheshbon. G‑d said, ‘Why should I inconvenience My children to conquer each city individually?’ He therefore gave the soldiers the idea to gather in one place, where they fell. From there, the Jews went to the cities, where there was no opposition except for women and children.”

There are a number of obvious questions here. First of all, why does Rashi find it necessary to comment at all. It is obvious that Sichon had to go out against the Jews because, as Rashi explained in his previous comment, the surrounding nations paid taxes to Sichon that he should prevent anyone from passing through. Rashi does not need to add anything. Furthermore, Rashi doesn’t speak about Sichon, but rather about the motivation of “all the soldiers.”

Another obvious question is raised by what Rashi says. After stating that Cheshbon couldn’t be conquered even if it was populated only by mosquitoes, Rashi concludes that the Jews found no opposition except for women and children. Certainly, they are stronger than mosquitoes!

The explanation: Rashi is not concerned here about Sichon’s motivation, which, as we mentioned, was explained previously. The question that would strike the child first learning Chumash is Sichon’s having “gathered all his people.” If Sichon was so strong that he himself was capable of protecting all the surrounding nations, why did he need to gather all the people to help him?

Furthermore, why should the people themselves go? If Sichon, who was so strong, was himself afraid of the Jews, the other people had even more reason to be afraid! Sichon had promised to protect everyone, and he was compelled to go. But they weren’t bound by any commitment!

Rashi answers this by saying that, “He therefore gave the soldiers the idea to gather in one place.” Their only reason for participating was because G‑d put the idea in their heads.

Regarding the last question, a five-year-old child realizes that even the strongest city needs some protection. Normally, there are soldiers to use their swords and keep the invaders at a distance. If there are no guards whatsoever, it is always possible to climb the walls undisturbed and enter the city.

To keep people away from the wall, even mosquitoes are effective. The child sees that they are capable of stinging and drawing blood, and that there are certain times when they are particularly bothersome. Certainly a massive number of them would be able to fly over the wall and keep an invading army at a distance. In this respect, they can better prevent an invasion than women and children, who cannot prevent the army from reaching the wall (unlike mosquitoes) and are limited in their use of weapons (unlike men).

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5. On the Zohar’s statement, “Knesses Yisrael is nourished from two sides, now from kindness, now from judgment,” my father commented that these two influences can be present simultaneously. He did not explain, however, the practical lesson to be derived from this.

Even when expressing kindness towards another individual, there must be some gevurah. If there is no limitation placed on this kindness, it will not be felt as an act of kindness. The Gemara describes a case where there was a drought, and after prayers for rain, a deluge followed. The Gemara relates the subsequent prayer, “too much good we can’t take either.”

Furthermore, sometimes it might even be necessary to blend the kindness with severity. Avraham Avinu, who was the epitome of kindness, would feed idolatrous travelers, and then insist that they thank G‑d for the food. Should they refuse, he would give them all sorts of difficulties until they finally agreed. This was because he realized that true kindness dictated that he force them to learn to bless G‑d.

Since we are close to the 12th of Tammuz, we must relate this to the spread of Torah and mitzvos. One must reach out to those far away from Torah and mitzvos and encourage to do more mitzvos. This must be done in a pleasant way and with a feeling of warmth.

On the other hand, the person should not feel that you find his behavior totally acceptable. You must notify him that you are not totally satisfied: that this is only a first step and that he must continue to grow.

One should not dwell on this point excessively, because this would have the effect of pushing the person away, G‑d forbid. Nevertheless, the kindness must have a little “severity” mixed in.

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6. In the weekly chapter of Pirkei Avos, Chapter V, the fourth Mishnah concludes, “With ten trials did our forefathers try the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the desert, as it is stated: By now they have tested Me ten times and did not listen to My voice.”

There is a general principle in Torah that one should conclude with something positive. There are many things with the number ten, as seen from the other mishnayos. Why should the Mishnah conclude with something so negative? Even if we can explain this, it would seem sufficient to quote the beginning of the verse. Why is it necessary to make the particularly uncomplimentary statement, “they did not listen to My voice”?

However, it is specifically this addition which brings out the positive. Whenever a Jew does something negative, it is not a reflection of his true essence, but is only superficial. The Rambam explains (Gerushin, end of Ch. 2) that deep inside, every Jew wishes to follow G‑d’s commands.

This is what is meant by saying v’lo shamu, “they did not listen,” or “they did not understand.” The only lack was in their superficial understanding and behavior. Inside, they were still connected with G‑d.

This is a practical lesson for us all. Should we see a Jew behaving improperly, G‑d forbid, we must not despair or consider the situation hopeless. We must keep in mind that we are only seeing an external behavior, and that, with the proper effort, the inner light of the soul can shine through.