1. It is fitting to begin the farbrengen by describing the events which motivated our coming together; the Yartzeit of the previous Rebbe and then, in keeping with the concept of “going from strength to strength,” it is proper to add a new idea. Thus, on one hand, we have to look to the past. On the other hand, when we consider the purpose of our creation and realize that G‑d has granted us more days and given us added potentials and abilities, we must surely use them to “advance in all holy matters.”

Each person must see himself as part of the entire creation, charged by G‑d with the task of working with that creation and elevating it to its ultimate state, “a dwelling place for G‑d in the lower worlds.” A Jew must bring the world to a state in which G‑d is pleased and happy with it. Just as a person’s dwelling should in the Talmud’s words, “broaden a person’s mind,” i.e. give him happiness and pleasure, similarly, a Jew must bring the world to a level in which, as it were, similar feelings are aroused within G‑d.1 This will be accomplished when the gentiles fulfill the seven commandments given them and the Jews live in accordance with Torah, described as the Torah of life.

This principle is emphasized by the previous Rebbe in the ma’amar published in connection with Yud Shevat, Bosi L’Gani. That ma’amar begins: “I came into My garden, My chamber.” Thus we see two important concepts: a) the world is G‑d’s ‘chamber,’ ‘His dwelling place’ as the ma’amar continues: “The essence of the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) was in the lower worlds”; b) that dwelling is a garden. A garden is a place of pleasure. In it grow fruits which are eaten not for the sake of maintaining man’s existence but to bring him pleasure. Similarly, it is customary to take pleasure strolls in a garden. So too, this physical world is intended to bring G‑d pleasure.

A person may ask: How is it possible for me to have an effect on such a large world? How can I transform the world into a dwelling for G‑d?

The answer to that question is that G‑d gives the person the powers required: G‑d is the Creator and the controller of all existence and He gives man the power necessary to affect the entire world. This concept is expressed by the Rambam, who writes that one should always view the world as being equally balanced between good and bad, and that with one act a Jew can tip the balance and bring salvation to the entire world. When one connects himself to G‑d who is ‘Eyn Sof’ — totally unlimited, no obstacles will stand in one’s way and therefore, with even one action, tapping G‑d’s power, one will be able to affect the entire world and transform it into a dwelling for G‑d.

In order for a Jew to succeed in his mission in the world, he must use all the powers granted to him by G‑d, as it is written: “My entire being shall declare....” Even when all that is concerned is one individual action, for example, giving charity, and hence, all of one’s power is seemingly not required, one has the power to concentrate all of one’s power into that one act and thus do it “with one’s entire being.” Indeed, we see in the world at large that whenever one invests more power and energy in a task, and does so with joy, one is able to produce work of a higher quality. Thus, we can fulfill G‑d’s mission easier and with greater success.

There is an added dimension to the above. On one hand, each person is an individual and he must view himself as having been personally and individually charged with the task of affecting the world at large. Nevertheless, as the Rambam writes: (Moreh Nevuchim) “Man is a social being,” i.e. man was created in such a manner that he is part of humanity at large and must work together with others. Therefore, when two or more people join together to carry out the mission described above, they will be more successful. This concept can be understood from a statement of the Talmud. The Talmud explains_ that individually, a man can lift only one third of the burden he can carry if others help him. Thus, when two people work together they can achieve more than double their individual powers. Hence, though a person must individually feel charged with the mission of affecting the entire world, he must also realize that he will succeed in fulfilling that mission to a greater degree if he joins forces with others.

The above can be explained as follows: G‑d created each individual with different tendencies and powers than others. Just as “no one’s facial countenance is exactly alike,” neither are their minds or their potentials. Each one has unique abilities and a sphere in which he is able to be successful. Some may be able to influence an entire city or country, while others will be able to affect only their families or themselves. G‑d did not create these different potentials in order to bring about division. On the contrary, His intent was that each person should realize the advantage possessed by his colleagues and join together with them and thus, reach a higher level of fulfillment.

This concept can be expressed through using the metaphor of the human body. Man has two major powers: intellect — lodged in the brain, and emotions — lodged in the heart. The two are basically opposite in nature. Intellect requires cold, rational thought, while emotion brings about excitement and warmth. However, the intention is for these two (and similarly, the other powers) to work in harmony with each other and not in contradiction. By coordinating all of his powers and directing them to one goal, one becomes a full and healthy person; each of the powers assisting and aiding the other in its functioning. For example, the heart is one of the most essential organs of the body, yet, when does the heart function in a healthy manner? When that functioning is regulated by the brain.

Similarly, through working together with another individual in G‑d’s mission, one becomes able to achieve more oneself. Thus, the various differences between individuals enable each one to reach greater fulfillment when they join together to reach a common goal.

The above qualities are brought out during a farbrengen when many Jews gather together. Since each Jew is different, he must realize that he must both contribute and simultaneously, receive benefit from joining together with his colleague. Thus, when each Jew devotes his full energies to the service of G‑d and joins together with others, their combined efforts will surely arouse G‑d’s blessings and G‑d will grant the potential to transform the world into a dwelling place and a garden for Him.

Based on the above explanation, the question arises: Is it appropriate to hold a farbrengen to commemorate a Yartzeit? On the surface, the two are contradictory. The purpose of a farbrengen is to add energy and joy to the service of G‑d, while a Yartzeit marks the passing of a Jew, the end of that service. Similarly, a Jew’s passing is connected with sadness and mourning.

That question can be explained as follows: G‑d controls every aspect of our existence. Hence, it can be understood that a Jew’s passing also comes about because of a Divine decree. Simultaneously, a Jew must realize that “I was created only to serve my Creator,” and that service must be carried out with happiness, as it is written: “Serve G‑d with joy.” Hence, every moment of his life, even those connected with the passing of another Jew, must be filled with joyous service of G‑d. The Mishnah teaches us “everything that G‑d created, He created solely for His glory.” Thus, it can be understood that even if on the surface, events seem to have a negative import, “they are also for the good,” as the Talmud relates. Hence, even in one’s passing a positive aspect can be seen. Indeed, the darkness can be transformed into light and can bring about ‘a higher quality of light.’2

The above can be explained as follows: The soul is an eternal spiritual entity. In the case of a Nassi, a leader of the Jewish people, that eternity is related to his role as well, i.e. even after his passing a Nassi continues to function in that capacity and affect the world. The Talmud tells us that after his passing, Moshe Rabbeinu continued to serve as in his lifetime. Similarly, every Nassi, after his passing, continues to aid every Jew to carry out the mission given to him by G‑d to make this world “a dwelling place” and “a garden.”

Furthermore, a tzaddik’s passing brings out even higher qualities than during his lifetime. The Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya (Iggeres Hakodesh 27) that “a tzaddik who departs is to be found in all worlds more than in his lifetime ... even in this world, the world of deed ... he is to be found more.” He explains that during a tzaddik’s lifetime, his soul and therefore its effects were limited by the confines of the body. However, after his passing, these limitations fall away, and the tzaddik is able to have a greater effect.3 For these reasons, a tzaddik’s Yartzeit is called a Hilulah, a wedding feast, an occasion that calls for great joy, for through its influence, it is possible to reach a greater level of service of G‑d, through joy.

The above should be applied in the service of spreading Torah and particularly, in the direction of education. A child’s education leaves a life-long effect on him. Because of his youth, the impression that it leaves is so great that it affects every subsequent stage of his life: how he grows up, marries, and builds his own family.4 Indeed, when an educator sees the fruits of his efforts, the children and grandchildren who are raised by his pupils, he realizes that this result was worth all the effort he invested. The same concept applies to the spreading of Torah and mitzvos in general. When a Jew realizes that he is fulfilling G‑d’s will and furthermore, he is spreading good and holiness throughout the entire world, he will apply his entire effort to this task. He appreciates that in relation to the goal of his service, making the world a dwelling and a garden far G‑d, his effort and work is of no consequence.

May the above lead to the era when as we declare in the Kaddish: “Exalted and hallowed will be His Great Name,” when, as that prayer continues, He will “bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Moshiach,” speedily in our days.

2. The concept mentioned above — that each Jew has a mission to affect the entire world — can be derived from a statement of the Talmud. The Talmud asks: “Why was man created alone in contrast to all the other creations which were created in number?” and explains that each man must feel that ‘the world was created for me.’ Based on this statement, the Rambam writes, as mentioned above, that each man can with one act tip the balance and bring salvation to the entire world. Each person is ‘an entire world’ and he is given the potential to, should he choose to do so, reveal these qualities and affect the entire world.

Within this context, we must understand that though above it was explained that man can affect the entire creation because he employs powers above his own, G‑d grants him that potential. Hence, with G‑d’s infinite powers, he can elevate all aspects of his environment.

This principle is one of faith. However, the Torah demands and requires that all principles of faith be questioned, queried and probed to whatever extent possible, until they are understood and intellectually comprehended by each person. Furthermore, different levels of understanding are demanded from various individuals. Just as in regard to charity, it is clearly understood that a rich man cannot content himself with giving a similar or even slightly larger donation than a poor man. Similarly, a person who has been granted greater emotional and/or intellectual powers must use them to meditate on the principles of faith and bring them down to the level of understanding. One should not content himself with grasping the practical application of the above concept, i.e. the need to work to affect the totality of creation. Rather, one must make every effort possible to understand how we possess the potential to carry out such a service.

Indeed, this concept that every man is required to work to understand the principles of faith was one of the major revolutionary developments brought about by the giving of the Torah. Before the giving of the Torah, there were wise men in each particular country, for example, in Egypt we are told of the wisdom of Pharaoh’s astronomers.5 However, this wisdom was limited to a select and small group of people. The wise men represented a very small segment of the entire population of Egypt.

For most Egyptians, the books of wisdom were closed and inaccessible. They may have been told by the “wise men” how to act, but never were they given the opportunity to understand and grasp the reasons for those actions. In contrast, the Torah was given to the entire Jewish people as one. Within that revelation’ was contained the totality of the Torah’s teaching. “Every new concept revealed by an experienced Torah scholar was given to Moshe on Mt. Sinai.” Thus, every Jew received an equal revelation of Torah. Furthermore, at the same time, each individual was commanded to study Torah, and labor to grasp its concepts with his intellect. The obligation of Torah study rests equally on every Jew. The Rambam writes: “Every man of Israel is obligated in the study of Torah, whether poor or rich, whether sound of body or suffering from privations, whether young or an old man who has lost his strength ... as it is said: , ... and you shall meditate on them day and night.’“ Even an “am haaretz” (an unlearned person) is obligated to study “a portion of the Torah in the morning and a portion of Torah in the evening.” In that manner, he fulfills the command: “This scroll of Torah will not depart from your lips,” for, as mentioned on a number of occasions, the intent is that the moments in which a person studies Torah become the vortex around which revolves his entire existence.

Thus, we see that the giving of the Torah brought about a radical change in comparison to the Egyptian approach to knowledge. Because the Jews had spent a number of generations in Egypt and, on the surface, were influenced by Egyptian culture, as soon as they left Egypt they were commanded by G‑d to break with the previous pattern and work to make sure that every individual uses his intellect to grasp and understand Torah. From the giving of the Torah onward, each Jew could not content himself with receiving directives from a select few, but had the obligation to use his own intellect and understanding.6

The above should be applied, as mentioned previously, to meditation on the greatness of G‑d and thus, motivate the love of G‑d and the fear of G‑d. Since a Jew is constantly obligated to fulfill those mitzvos, it can be understood that similarly, he must constantly be involved in such meditations. Indeed, this concept is also connected with the giving of the Torah; the Midrash relates that when G‑d descended upon Mt. Sinai, G‑d’s Chariot, the source of mystic knowledge, was revealed to every Jew. Furthermore, that revelation caused “the entire nation to tremble and stand at a distance.” Thus, we see that at the giving of the Torah, when each Jew was instructed to use his mind to understand Torah, he was also given the potential to reach an awareness of G‑d. That awareness should, in turn, arouse his emotions which will lead to deed and action, the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos.7

The above leads to another concept. If G‑d grants an individual powers of understanding and he is able to discover new principles in a particular field, he should not keep this knowledge to himself. Rather, he should share it with others. Instead of keeping that wisdom contained within a small select group, an effort must be made to spread it to as many people as possible, even to the simple.

This principle is brought out in the laws of Torah study which state: “One of the Torah’s positive commands is for each and every wise man of Israel to teach all the students,” i.e. a sage must teach Torah td anyone with whom he comes in contact.8 This is the direct opposite of the behavior of ‘the wise men of Egypt’ and the legacy they left. The remnants of their approach can be seen today, for example, doctors will often write prescriptions in code comprehensible only to another doctor or a pharmacist. In contrast, Torah teaches us to spread knowledge and reveal it to all.

In order to accomplish the above it is necessary to probe the very core of all concepts that we studied. Only then can one understand a concept in breadth and in depth. If one views the idea only from one particular perspective without penetrating to its core, one may err and miss the essential point.

For example, there are two possible approaches to meditating on the wonders of creation: 1) to emphasize the marvels of creation, emphasizing all the myriad particulars of the universe but forgetting its Source and Creator, and 2) focusing on the Creator and perceiving all of creation as His handiwork.

Here too, we can see a different approach between the wisdom of Egypt and that of Torah. The Egyptians took the first approach and hence, made a multitude of idols, each one representing a different aspect of creation. In contrast, Torah teaches us: “I am the L‑rd, your G‑d ... You shall have no other gods....” The Egyptians attained peaks of wisdom; they were not simple barbarians. Indeed, when the Torah praises the wisdom of King Shlomo, it relates how his wisdom surpassed that of Egypt. However, they made a basic mistake; they used their wisdom to contemplate nature as an independent entity diverting their attention from its Source and Creator.9 In contrast, the Ten Commandments emphasize that one must remember and concentrate on the source of creation, meditate on each object’s primary cause, and then one will come to an awareness of G‑d.

In the light of the above, we can understand the concept explained in the first sichah that a Jew has the power to affect the entire world despite its myriad components. When one meditates on the creation as an independent entity, it appears great and numerous. However, if one probes to the depth of the matter, one realizes that there is one force, G‑d’s power, that has brought about all existence. Furthermore, one realizes that the creation of the world is, in fact a descent for G‑d, as our sages explained: “In the place of His greatness, there you find His humility.” G‑d’s greatness, the miracles of creation, is for Him an act of humility, a descent from His own level. Thus, it is possible for a Jew to affect the totality of creation. Firstly, as mentioned above, This power is not his own, but rather it is G‑d Who gives him the power to achieve this goal. In addition, he realizes and appreciates intellectually how the world exists only by virtue of G‑d’s power and is not, Heaven forbid, an independent entity. Hence, he realizes that his task is to express this principle with the world and reveal how the world is G‑d’s dwelling and garden.


3. As mentioned above, one cannot content himself with a general appreciation of a concept, but must probe to its very core. The same principle applies in relation to one’s life in the secular world and observance of the laws of the country in which one lives. One may view those laws superficially without trying to discover their motivating principles and thus, content himself with grasping merely a directive for action or, one can work to gain a widespread appreciation of their meaning. If one takes the former approach, it is possible that he will err and interpret a particular law or even a general principle of law incorrectly.

This difference of approach can be seen in regard to the principle of separation of church and state in the American constitution. One of the fundamental principles that a child must learn in order to grow up to be a moral human being is that G‑d exists, that the world has a Master who created it and supervises its functioning. Nevertheless, there are those who, based on their conception of the constitution, are trying to prevent these concepts from being taught in American schools.

Such an approach will lead to undesirable results. A child must know that the world has a Master who has set up principles of righteousness, justice and kindness, according to which our lives should be lived. In this manner, it will be made clear to him that the world is G‑d’s dwelling. Only through this behavior will it be possible to establish stable social norms.

G‑d created man with a yetzer tov (good inclination) and a yetzer hora (evil inclination) and there are times when each individual feels swayed to follow the temptations of his yetzer hora. How can he be dissuaded? If the approach used is threats of punishment, the yetzer hora will reply: “First, fulfill the desires of your heart, enjoy yourself, have a good time. Later we will deal with the concept of punishment. Maybe we will be able to conceal the action to the point that it arouses no notice, and then you will not be punished. Even if you are caught, isn’t it worth a little punishment to enjoy yourself now?”

The only effective way of dissuading the yetzer hora is by teaching it that there is a Master of the world, who created the world including him and his desires and commanded him not to listen to the lures of the yetzer hora. Therefore, no matter how intelligent he thinks he is, he understands that G‑d is above him and is watching everything he does. Only on this basis can we guarantee the observance of those laws which every society understands as necessary for the maintenance of order: Do not kill, do not steal, etc. Only when people are aware and conscious of G‑d, will they behave morally.10

We do not have to look beyond the last generation for a clear proof of these statements. The nation which was most developed in the areas of science, ethics, and philosophy perpetrated brutalities never before conceived by man. The very same people who set themselves up as a paradigm of morality committed barbarities that we find difficult to understand. How was this possible? Because their morality and ethics was based on human intellect without taking into consideration the existence of a Creator. Thus, to insure moral and ethical behavior, we must instill in a child from the very beginning of his education faith in G‑d and awareness that G‑d is watching and observing his actions.

Today, in America, a major role in influencing the development of a child is played by the school. Even when parents make the effort to free themselves from their other affairs and tend to their child’s education, the time they spend with the child is considerably less than that which the child spends in school. Therefore, an effort must be made to enable children in school and even in kindergarten to develop faith in G‑d. Every day, at the beginning of the school day, time should be set aside to enable the child to appreciate the existence of G‑d. The children should become conscious:

1) that G‑d is the Creator and Controller of all existence.

2) that His will should be followed and hence, the stability of society will be maintained.

3) that they are being observed by G‑d at all times.

This approach to education will ensure that Jewish children will grow up performing the 613 mitzvos and gentile children their seven Mitzvos.

Despite the importance and necessity of these steps, there are those, as mentioned above, who argue that taking such an approach in the public schools violates the principles of the separation of church and state. Their mistake comes from the fact that they view the subject superficially and do not try to penetrate to its core. One must remember that the United States was founded by religious men who came here seeking freedom from the lack of religious tolerance in other lands. Therefore, they placed as a fundamental element of the constitution each person’s right to follow his own religion and thus, restricted the power of the government to involve itself in its citizen’s religious lives. However, their intent was not to prevent those parents who want their children to gain an appreciation of G‑d from doing so. It’s ridiculous to think that the founders of this country who sought to ensure religious freedom would place a clause in the constitution that forbade the mention of G‑d in the nation’s schools. If one does not content himself with merely a superficial understanding of the constitution, but attempts to comprehend its inner intent, it becomes obvious that the promise of religious freedom without any limitations is one of its fundamental principles.

There is another matter which is related to the same question. There are parents who choose to send their children to parochial schools (because the teachers and the principles in the11 public schools forbid the mention of G‑d). They are forced to pay tuition in the parochial school and are not freed from paying taxes to support the public schools. The parochial schools are not given any government aid and nevertheless, the parents who support them are still required to help to maintain the public schools though they receive no benefit from them. This situation is in direct opposition to the intent of the constitution which sought to insure the welfare of all the country’s inhabitants. Hence, since in the 200 years of American history, many changes in the social and educational make-up of the country have taken place, it is proper to consider what is proper in terms of the country’s welfare at present and amend the laws accordingly.12 Statistics will clearly prove that the percentage of children educated in parochial schools whose behavior has swerved from the proper path is far less than that of those educated in the public schools for, as mentioned above, it is only through an awareness of G‑d that a child will realize that he is different from a beast in a jungle and will learn to control his behavior.

In view of the above, two steps should be immediately taken.

1) Government aid should be given to parochial schools.

2) A moment of silence should be instituted at the beginning of the school day in the public schools. During this time, the child will meditate on the existence of G‑d as explained to him by his parents.

Everyone should do what is possible to influence the members of the Senate and Congress and similarly, the officials in the local governments of the importance of these steps. May these actions lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy: “I will then turn the nations to a clear tongue, that they may all call in the name of the L‑rd,” with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

4. When the previous Rebbe came to America, he announced that the purpose of his coming was not to insure his own personal safety, but to demonstrate that “America is no different” and consequently, he would continue the same activities, the spreading of Torah and mitzvos, in which he was involved in Europe.

On the surface, the very opposite seemed to have been true. The previous Rebbe fled Europe on the very last ship to leave before the Nazi conquest. (The story of all the miracles involved in his journey is retold in other places.) Thus, on the surface, it would appear that he came to America for his own sake, because America was different, i.e. the danger which threatened him in Europe did not exist there. If so, how could he describe the purpose of his coming as above?

However, according to the concept described above, this question can be answered. It was explained that a superficial conception of an idea and the comprehension of that principle that results from probing to the depths of the idea are different and at times even opposite.13 Similarly, the above question regarding the previous Rebbe’s coming to America will only be asked when one views the subject superficially. However, when one contemplates the character of the previous Rebbe and his life in depth, it becomes clear that he lived for (and felt constantly, the urgency of the mission) to spread Yiddishkeit in every place, through every means, and thus, heighten the awareness of the oneness of the Jewish people. Wherever he lived, he worked for these goals. It was impossible for him to do otherwise, for that was his mission in this world. Hence, just as in Europe, his life mission was to spread Yiddishkeit, so too, that mission remained when he came to the United States. The means of accomplishing the mission changed, but the goal remained the same. Therefore, as soon as he came to America, he announced his purpose to show that America is not different and set about working to bring that principle into practical expression and, thus unify the Jewish people.14

The principle, “America is no different” is fundamental to the life of each individual Jew. When a person looks at his own personal life, it is quite possible that he will become overly involved in the particulars of his desires and forget about the purpose for his existence. This problem exists on many levels: On a very basic plane — a person should think about what he eats. Furthermore, from a Torah perspective, he should take notice of his food. Otherwise, he will not know what blessings to make. However, he should not get bogged down in those particulars to the point where they become overly important to him.

The same principle applies in one’s occupation and even in one’s service of Torah and mitzvos: There are many particular elements involved and it is possible to become so pre-occupied with the particulars that one forgets about the essence of his existence, the fulfillment of G‑d’s mission. This is what the previous Rebbe meant when he declared: “America is no different.” Since the superficial aspects of life in America and Europe are different, it was necessary to declare that the difference exists only in regard to those superficialities, but not in regard to the essence of a Jew’s existence, his mission to make the world a dwelling for G‑d.15

The above is also related to the concept of love for one’s fellow Jew. When one is preoccupied with the particulars of his own existence, it is hard for him to appreciate the needs of another Jew. He may appreciate that the other is in need and be willing to help him, however, it is possible that he will not know how to help him. He will be so concerned with his own needs that he will not be able to understand what his colleague is lacking. He may himself be involved in the understanding of deep Torah concepts and he will try to teach them to the mass public without working to make them understandable by others. However, when one transcends the particulars and involves himself in the essence, such mistakes will not be made.

Thus, we must appreciate the fundamental intent of the statement, “America is not different.” It teaches us that whatever we are doing, we must recall the purpose for our existence, the G‑dly mission we are charged with. Thus, we will feel no difference between the various activities in which we are involved. Whether we are praying, standing before G‑d in ultimate self-nullification as “a slave before his master,” or eating, one basic motivation, the realization that we were created to serve our Creator, should be felt.

This lesson is connected with the purpose of this farbrengen. Today, we have gathered for one purpose: Since this is an auspicious occasion, the previous Rebbe’s Yartzeit, it is appropriate to gather together, “to walk in his paths and his teachings.” Furthermore, such an assembly adds strength to his own stature, for the fact that “his descendents are alive” adds life and strength to the influence he contributes to the world today. This in turn will bring about G‑d’s blessings and the ultimate blessing, the future redemption led by Moshiach.

[The Rebbe Shlita conducted a Siyum (conclusion of a Talmudic tractate) of the tractate of Eruvin, asked the assembled to contribute to the Keren Torah as customary on Yud Shevat, and stressed the importance of studying Chitas and involving oneself in the ten mivtzoyim.]