1. Today’s farbrengen is a continuation of the days of liberation, the 12th-13th of Tammuz. Not only is today the 14th of Tammuz, the day following the 13th of Tammuz, but it is also Shabbos, when the matters of the preceding week, especially its “auspicious days,” the 12th-13th of Tammuz, are elevated to an immensely high level. This happens through the power of Shabbos itself. In addition, a Jew, through his service to G‑d on Shabbos, can effect an elevation in Shabbos — and therefore extra elevation in Shabbos effect on the 12th-13th of Tammuz.

Now is therefore the appropriate time and place to continue the explanation of the redemption of the 12th-13th of Tammuz, an explanation which should not remain in words, but should be translated into deed. This is particularly emphasized on Shabbos, when the “world” of deed receives its vitality from the “world” of thought. During weekdays, deed and speech are two separate things. For although G‑d’s speech is considered as deed, we nevertheless find, in the six days of creation, a difference between the commands of creation (“G‑d said”) and the deed of creation (“And it was so”) — indicating a general division between speech and deed. On Shabbos, however, all the worlds are elevated, until the world of deed receives its vitality from the worlds of speech and thought. In other words, on Shabbos, everything in the worlds of speech and thought are extended into the world of deed. Thus in our case, the necessity of speech being translated into deed is emphasized particularly on Shabbos.

First and foremost, it is necessary to repeat the principle lesson derived from the 12th-13th of Tammuz. Although it was discussed at the farbrengen of the 12th-13th of Tammuz, and also in previous years, repetition indicates its importance. Moreover, repetition of something indicates not only the necessity to engage in that thing, but also it shows the precious nature of it — and thus one must engage in it with love and delight. And service performed with delight is of the loftiest level.

The first general lesson from the 12th-13th of Tammuz is as follows: A person’s mission on this earth is, as articulated by our Sages, “I was created solely to serve my Maker.” A person must serve G‑d wherever He is found — and since “the whole earth is full of His glory,” it follows that service to G‑d cannot be just in a person’s private domain, but in the entire world, including the effort to influence the non-Jewish nations to observe the Seven Noachide laws.

This was emphasized in the Previous Rebbe’s service: He spread Torah and Judaism not just in his personal domain, but throughout the whole country, and throughout the whole world — to the extent that he stood alone against the police forces of a powerful country which was totally opposed to his work. Although the Previous Rebbe knew that the government was aware of his work, and associated it with rebellion, he continued his dissemination of Torah and Judaism wherever possible.

The result was that the Previous Rebbe eventually triumphed against his opposition, to the extent that they themselves were forced to publicly free him and to admit that his work was completely legal. As the Rebbe himself wrote: “On that day it was made publicly known to all that the great work that I did in the dissemination of Torah and strengthening of religion is permissible according to the law of the land.”

The importance of the government itself announcing that the Rebbe’s work was legal is because the Torah says “the law of the land is law.” Although this rule does not apply to matters of Judaism and Torah, in which case, as the Rebbe said, “no one can force his opinion on us,” nevertheless, in other matters, “the law of the land is law.” Thus when the government — “the law of the land” — announces that it is legal to engage in spreading Torah, it is an important thing.

This is especially true since governments do not have free choice, but are “like an axe in the hand of the hewer,” fulfilling their task commanded by G‑d. Thus, when a government is forced to announce that the dissemination of Torah is legal, it is a result of forces from Above — i.e. special strength is given from above to engage in the dissemination of Judaism. The idea of the 12th-13th of Tammuz, then, is that on those days, the victory of the Previous Rebbe over those who tried to deter him from his work was revealed. This victory continues until the present, evidenced by the fruits of his work.

This is the lesson from the 12th-13th of Tammuz: If a person thinks there are obstacles to his service to G‑d, and he is alone, faced with opposition, he should not be dismayed but should continue with his work of spreading Torah and Judaism. He will certainly overcome all opposition and obstacles — as we learn from the 12th-13th of Tammuz. And although none can compare themselves to the Previous Rebbe, nevertheless, once the Rebbe has blazed the path, all can follow, for we need not now break a new path, but merely follow the path the previous Rebbe has already trodden.

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2. In addition to the above, there are also lessons to be derived from the particular days on which the 12th-13th of Tammuz fall this year. The 12th is Thursday, and the 13th Friday, which means that Shabbos follows them without any interrupting days. Moreover, the next day is the 15th, when the moon of the month of Tammuz is at its fullest.

The Shabbos that follows the 12th-13th of Tammuz elevates those days. When Shabbos immediately follows the 12th-13th, this elevation happens immediately, without any interrupting interval. Moreover, when the day after Shabbos is the 15th, when the moon is at its fullest, the usual descent which is present from Shabbos to weekday is missing — for the fullness of the moon indicates perfection in the month (of Tammuz).

The lesson from the above must affect actual deed, as the Previous Rebbe many times said, that the test if one’s understanding is true is if it comes to fruition in actual deed. Moreover, our Sages have said that “deed is the principle thing,” meaning that although understanding is very important (for our Sages did not say “deed is everything,” but only “deed is paramount”), deed is still more important.

This lesson which affects actual deed must likewise be understood by every Jew — just as the liberation of the 12th-13th of Tammuz applies to every Jew. As the Previous Rebbe wrote: “G‑d did not redeem only me on the 12th of Tammuz, but all those who love our holy Torah, practice the mitzvos, and also those who are but Jews in name.” Simultaneously, this lesson applies also to the highest categories of Jews.

The lesson is as follows: The idea of Shabbos is that on it “all your work is done.” The Shabbos that follows the 12th-13th of Tammuz thus teaches that the dissemination of Judaism which one does in the mission of the Previous Rebbe must be in the manner of “all your work is done. Therefore, even if one sees difficulties in this work, one should remain unaffected; for “all your work is done” — a person is asked only to want that the work which will be done in any case be his work (“all your work is done”).

In addition, the verse states, “You shall call Shabbos ‘delight,’” which teaches that the service of dissemination of Torah and Judaism must be done with “delight.”

Furthermore, the Previous Rebbe writes that the festival of the 12th-13th of Tammuz applies to all categories of Jews — “those who love our holy Torah, practice the mitzvos, and also those who are but Jews in name.” Therefore all must unite together and work together in spreading Judaism. For example, all should work together in the mitzvah campaigns, and to pray together that “You should speedily make flourish the scion of David Your servant” (and congregational prayer is surely listened to by G‑d).

But a question arises: How can a simple Jew, who is only a Jew in name, unite together with one who is on a far loftier level so that they work together? Is there not too great a gulf between them?

The answer comes from Shabbos — “You shall call Shabbos ‘delight.’” “Call” means the idea of drawing down delight into the matters of Shabbos. [Just as when one “calls” to a friend, he “draws” the friend to come to him.] When a Jew knows that he is able to call delight to come to him, despite its lofty level, there is no longer any wonder how he can call to a Jew on a loftier level to come to him to work together.

Moreover, the Alter Rebbe in Tanya (ch. 32) explains that all Jews are united, “for they are of one kind, and we all have one Father ... from the root of their soul in the one L‑rd; only the bodies are different.” Because Jews’ souls are the principal factor and their bodies are secondary, all categories of Jews can unite together.

The above lesson from Shabbos — that all Jews can unite together — can be treated more elaborately.

Chassidus explains that all the worlds, including this corporeal world with its four categories of inanimate objects, plant life, animal life, and humans, are elevated on Shabbos.

This is expressed in eating and drinking. That man needs physical food to survive is really to receive the spark of G‑dliness in the physical food, as stated: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on all that comes from the mouth of G‑d does man live.” Although man’s soul is a “part of G‑d Above,” he nevertheless needs the spark of G‑dliness in the food, for it comes from a higher level than his own spark of G‑dliness (his soul) — for the loftier a thing in its source, the lower it descends. Thus, among physical things themselves, inanimate objects have a loftier source than plant or animal life — which is why, when it has descended, it becomes the lowest category of things in the world — inanimate objects.

This is the reason why salt (of the inanimate category) is so important: every sacrifice had to be accompanied by salt, and it is a Jewish custom to eat salt at the beginning of every meal.

Whereas during the week there can be “waste” from one’s eating and drinking [meaning, if one eats not for the sake of heaven, but only to satisfy his hunger etc.], on Shabbos it is impossible, for Shabbos elevates even material things, food and drink.

In this respect, Shabbos is even greater than Yom Tov. although on Yom Tov it is a mitzvah to eat meat and drink wine, nevertheless, when “one eats and drinks with his children and wife, and does not give food and drink to the poor and the embittered of soul, it is not the joy of a mitzvah, but the joy of his stomach ... and this joy is a shame for them....” On Shabbos however, although we eat fat meat and old wine, there is no idea of “waste” on it.

The reason for the difference between Yom Tov and Shabbos is that Yom Tov is the idea of joy, in which one must be careful that nothing bad will eventuate. Shabbos, however, is the idea of delight, which is so lofty that nothing bad can come from it.

If the above applies to eating and drinking, it certainly applies to the Jew himself. Even the lowest category of Jews, those who are Jews in name only, are elevated on Shabbos to the highest of levels. This is emphasized by the Talmud Yerushalmi (Demai 4:1) which states that even an “ignoramus” (am ha’aretz) does not tell a falsehood on Shabbos. Shabbos elevates him to the extent that he is unable to tell a lie.

Because, then, Shabbos elevates even the simplest Jew, he is obviously able to unite with a Jew of even the loftiest caliber, to work with him in those things associated with the 12th-13th of Tammuz.

This lesson applies also to Jews on lofty levels, those who belong to the “heads of your tribes.” Such a person may think that because he learns the Chassidus of the Previous Rebbe, and knows everything about his imprisonment and liberation, he has no connection to, and cannot unite with a simple Jew who knows about the Previous Rebbe and the 12th-13th of Tammuz only in a general fashion. Such a person must know that the previous Rebbe demanded that everyone unite together in the dissemination of Torah and Judaism. For since “deed is paramount,” and everything else (understanding, etc.) is only a means to attain this goal, even a Jew of the loftiest caliber can unite with the simplest of Jews — for in the sphere of deed, everyone is equal.

3. When the 12th and 13th of Tammuz is on Thursday and Friday, with Shabbos immediately following, the next day, Sunday, is the 15th of Tammuz, when the moon is at its fullest.

A week, seven days and nights, depends on the sun’s movements, whereas a month is dependent on the moon’s movement. A week is full and complete on Shabbos, and the fullness of the month is on the fifteenth, when the moon is at its fullest. This indicates the fullness of Jewry, as our Sages say the fourteenth and fifteenth generations are the generations of Dovid and Shlomo, when Jewry was in its full glory.

Thus, this year, the 12th-13th of Tammuz emphasizes the fullness of both the sun (since Shabbos immediately follows) and the moon (the 15th immediately following Shabbos). This parallels the chapter of Tehillim corresponding to the age of the Previous Rebbe this year, ch. 104, which states (verse 19): “He appointed the moon for seasons; the sun knows its going down.”

The difference between the sun and moon is that the sun is itself a luminary, whereas the moon receives its light from the sun. The moon’s phases vary according to how it receives its light from the sun: at times the sun’s light shines on a small part of the moon; at times on a large part; or sometimes on all of the moon, when the moon is then at its fullest.

In a Jew’s spiritual service, there are two concepts, corresponding to the sun and moon. There are some matters in which a person is independent (similar to the sun), and some things in which a person needs assistance from a fellow (similar to the moon).

Every Jew, for example, has faith in G‑d stemming from his very nature, and he needs no assistance from his fellow for it. But in things which involve understanding and comprehension, such as love and awe of G‑d, a Jew needs direction from a teacher.

Even the greatest of Jews has these two aspects (“sun” and “moon”), for there are matters in which the greatest Jew has no choice but to be a “receiver.” Even a Jew who knows the whole Torah must constantly keep on learning; for although he knows the whole Torah in regard to clear-cut legal decisions, he can always increase his studies in regard to dialectic reasoning (“pilpula d’Oraysah”).

The idea of “pilpula d’Oraysah” really belongs to Moshe Rabbeinu, as the Talmud states, (Nedarim 38a) that “pilpula d’Oraysah” was given only to Moshe, but he generously gave it to Israel. Thus, even the greatest of Jews, who have learned the whole Torah, “receives” the idea of pilpula d’Oraysah from Moshe — the idea of “moon in his service to G‑d.”

The lesson from this year, then, is that the service of spreading Torah and Judaism must be done in a complete manner — both that associated with a week (sun), and that associated with a month (moon).

May it be G‑d’s will that each Jew translate the above into his personal service, and most importantly, translate it into actual deed.

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4. It is customary to learn a verse of the weekly parshah with Rashi’s commentary. This week there is a verse associated with the idea of redemption — the entry of the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael. And, just as there are two days of redemption, twelfth and the thirteenth, so too this verse is written twice — once in the daily portion of the twelfth, and once in the daily portion of the thirteenth.

In the daily portion of the twelfth, Bilaam, the non-Jewish prophet hired by Balak to curse the Jewish people, instead blesses them and says: (23:24) “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness, and as a lion will lift himself up.” In the daily portion of the thirteenth, Bilaam again says: (24:9) “He crouched, lay down as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him?”

On the former verse, Rashi quotes the words, “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness, etc.,” and comments: “When they rise from their sleep in the morning, they make themselves as strong as a lioness and a lion to hasten [to observe] the mitzvos, to put on the prayer shawl, to read the Shema, and to put on tefillin.” Then, quoting further the words of the verse, “He does not lie down,” Rashi comments: “At night upon his bed, until he consumes and destroys every destructive thing that comes to seize him. How [does he do this]? He reads the Shema upon his bed, and entrusts his spirit into the hand of the Omnipresent. If a camp and an army comes to injure them, the Holy One, Blessed be He, guards them and wages their war, and casts them down slain. Another explanation of ‘Behold a people that rises up as a lioness, etc.,’ — as the Targum renders it.” The Targum’s interpretation of this verse is, “Behold the people shall dwell as a lioness, and as a lion shall he raise himself; he will not dwell in his land until he has slaughtered, and the wealth of the peoples will he inherit.” That is, the Targum explains that this verse refers to the future conquest of the nations by the Jewish people upon entering the land.

There are several perplexing points here:

Rashi himself gives the general rule for his commentary — “I have come only for the plain interpretation.” Rashi always explains a verse according to its plain interpretation. Only when there is some difficulty in the plain interpretation will Rashi bring an extra interpretation from our Sages.

In our case, the first interpretation of Rashi is not the plain interpretation, whereas the Targum’s interpretation, which Rashi brings only as a secondary interpretation, is the plain interpretation — as we shall now see.

When Balak summoned Bilaam, he told him, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the earth, and they sit opposite me. Therefore, please come and curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me; perhaps I shall prevail, that we may smite them and may drive them out of the land....” In other words, Balak was afraid the Jews would conquer his land. Thus, when Bilaam answered him in his prophecy that, “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness, and as a lion will lift himself up; and drinks the blood of the slain,” it makes sense to interpret these words as an answer to Balak — that his hope to stop them is in vain, the Jews will conquer all the peoples — as the Targum interprets it.

Rashi’s first interpretation, on the other hand, that this verse refers to Jews’ haste to perform mitzvos immediately upon awakening from sleep, is not the plain interpretation. The fact that Jews immediately perform mitzvos is not specially associated with the era of Balak and Bilaam, but with all eras and times, including that of Rashi, many, many years after the story of Balak and Bilaam.

According to this, then, the plain interpretation should be only that the verse is referring to the Jews’ conquest of Eretz Yisrael (the Targum’s interpretation). Yet, not only does Rashi find it necessary to bring another interpretation, but he brings the Targum’s interpretation as the second one — and the first one Rashi writes comes from our Sages, and does not even seem to be the plain interpretation! Nor does Rashi even preface it with the words, “Our Sages explained,” or something similar.

A yet more puzzling question arises when we learn the second verse, in the daily portion of the thirteenth of Tammuz. On the words, “He crouched, lay down as a lion,” Rashi comments: “As the Targum renders it, they will settle in their land with strength and might.” Here Rashi interprets the verse only as the Targum, and makes no mention of the first interpretation he brought on the earlier verse, that it refers to hastening to do mitzvos. Why, then, on the first verse, does Rashi not only bring an interpretation in addition to the Targum’s, but also relegates the Targum’s to second place — and places an explanation which is not the plain interpretation as the primary one?

Incidentally, the source for Rashi’s interpretation of the first verse — that it refers to Jews arising early to hasten to observe mitzvos — is the Tanchuma on the verse. The Talmud (Berachos 12b), however, brings a similar interpretation on the second verse.

According to the rule that the Talmud takes precedence over Midrash, Rashi should have brought this interpretation on the second verse, as the Talmud does, and not on the first verse as the Midrash (Tanchuma) does.

However, when a certain concept can be derived from two verses, it is more logical to derive it from the earlier verse, and not wait until the second, later verse. Rashi therefore brings this interpretation on the verse, “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness,” which is before the verse, “He crouched, lay down as a lion.”

The explanation of the above questions:

Rashi does not bring the Targum’s explanation as the primary interpretation, because there are several problems with it.

Earlier, in Yaakov’s blessings to his sons, concerning Yehudah he says: (Bereishis 49:9) “He stooped down, he crouched as a lion; and as a lioness who shall rouse him?” Rashi comments that this refers to “the days of Shlomo.” Thus we know that the Jews did not wage wars as a “lion” in the desert and the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, for the idea of “he crouched as a lion,” was in Shlomo’s times, not before. Indeed, we learn that in the conquest of Yericho, which was the “lock” to Eretz Yisrael, the Jews did not war as a “lion,” but merely circled its walls, blew on trumpets — and the walls fell down of themselves. Thus it is impossible to say that the verse, “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness,” refers to the conquest of Eretz Yisrael.

The Or HaChayim Hakodesh explains that Israel is compared to a lion because unlike other nations, which are unspectacular at war until they become experienced, Jews are like a “lioness that will rise up” — they did wonders in their war with Sichon and Og, etc.

However, despite the greatness of the Or HaChayim (as attested to by the Chida and other sources), this explanation is not consonant with the plain interpretation of the verse. In regard to the war against Sichon, we have previously learned in Rashi on parshas Chukas (21:23) that its capital city Cheshban was so strong that with just the slightest defense, it could not be captured by anyone. Therefore, explains Rashi, “G‑d put into the hearts of all the men of war to go forth from the cities, and all of them assembled in one place, and there they fell. And from there the Jews went to the cities and no one withstood them....” That is, there was no defense, and therefore in that war there was no need for the strength of a lion. Likewise, the phrase, “He does not lie down,” also does not apply, for they could “lie down” and do nothing, since “no one withstood them.”

In regard to the war against Og, we have learned in Rashi (21:35) that “Moshe slew him.” The Talmud (Berachos 54b) explains that Moshe was ten cubits tall, took an axe ten cubits tall, jumped ten cubits, hit Og on the ankle and killed him. That is, although Og was so fearsome (30 cubits just to his ankle!), Jews did not need to war with him with the strength of a lion, but instead Moshe alone slew him.

In the war against Midian, the Jews only used twelve thousand soldiers, whereas the rest of the Jews did not go to battle. Moreover, in that war the Jews did not lose a man.

Thus we see that the wars in the desert were not waged with the strength of a lion (for it was unnecessary). And therefore it is difficult to interpret this verse as the Targum does, that, “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness,” refers to the wars to conquer Eretz Yisrael.

A second difficulty in the Targum’s interpretation is that the conquest of Eretz Yisrael was not something that concerned Balak. He was worried only that the Jews should not conquer his land. Thus, when Bilaam answered him in his prophecy that “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness, etc.,” in the plain interpretation of the verse it is impossible that it refers to strength in the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, since this did not concern Balak at all. Rashi therefore cannot bring the Targum’s interpretation as his primary one.

Rashi instead says that it refers to “When they arise from their sleep in the morning they make themselves as strong as a lioness and a lion to hasten [to observe] the mitzvos.” This is also difficult, for if it refers to observing mitzvos, why is the verse in future tense — “Behold a people that will rise up as a lioness, and as a lion that will lift himself up” — and not in the present tense, since the observance of mitzvos apply in the past and present as well?

However, Bilaam wanted to tell Balak that he would not be able to overcome the Jews because they are like a lion and lioness — they observe mitzvos. It would not suffice that they observed mitzvos in the past and observe it in the present, for this is no reason why Balak should not overcome them in the future. That they were like lions in the past and are like lions in the present is irrelevant to what will be in the future.

Because Bilaam also prophesied about the future, as stated, (24:14) “Come I will advise you what this people shall do to your people in the end of days,” he emphasized that “Behold a people will rise up as a lioness, and as a lion will lift himself up” — also in the future Jews will strengthen themselves as lions to hasten to observe mitzvos, and therefore Balak will be unable to overcome them also in the future.

However, this interpretation also has difficulties, for the future tense of the verse implies that it is taking place exclusively in the future, and not also in the past and present, as does the idea of observing mitzvos. Therefore Rashi also brings the Targum’s interpretation which speaks exclusively of the future — the future conquest of Eretz Yisrael. But the first interpretation remains the main one, for, as explained previously, it is most consonant to the plain interpretation of this verse.

That Rashi brings only the Targum’s interpretation on the second verse — “He shall crouch, lie down as a lion” — and doesn’t mention the first interpretation he brings on the earlier verse, can be explained in two ways:

1) Rashi does not bring the first interpretation because it is impossible to explain this verse according to this interpretation.

2) Rashi need not bring this interpretation because it is self-understood in the light of Rashi’s comment on the earlier verse. He must bring the Targum’s interpretation, however, because if not, we would have good reason to think that the interpretation cannot apply to this verse. The Targum renders this verse as referring to the conquest of the land, which is a future event — and this verse is in past tense: “He crouched, lay down as a lion.” Rashi therefore mentions that nevertheless, this verse can still be interpreted according to the Targum, for the verse can also be interpreted to include the future tense.