1. This farbrengen is connected with Shabbos and in particular with the unique aspects of this Shabbos — Shabbos Shirah (the Shabbos of song). That name was given because the Torah portion contains the song sang by Moshe Rabbeinu at the splitting of the Red Sea and the Haftorah, the song of Devorah. The elevated level of the song of Moshe can be seen by the fact that it is included in our daily prayers. Based on the principle “The words of the sages are dearer than the words of the Torah,” it follows that the song is contained within the Haftorah reflects an even greater level.

The latter statement can be explained as follows: The Shulchan Aruch explains that the Haftorah was instituted when the Greeks forbade the public reading of the Torah. In its place, the sages instituted readings of the prophets that were thematically related to the Torah portions. Afterwards, when the decree was nullified and the public reading of the Torah reestablished, the custom of reading the Haftorah was not nullified.

It is impossible for there to be a decree against the Jewish people on the physical plane unless a parallel process takes place in the spiritual realm. By virtue of their own power, the gentiles have no authority over the Jews and cannot institute decrees against them, particularly, decrees that prevent them from studying Torah. However, if there are negative forces in the spiritual realm that prevent the Jews from reading the Torah, those forces will be reflected on this plane as well, and then, the gentiles will be given the power to enforce such a decree.

However, the nullification of that decree is in the hands of the Jewish people. By reaffirming their connection with the prophets and thus, binding themselves with a level higher than that of the Written Law, (for as explained above, “the words of the sages are dearer than the words of the Torah”) the Jews evoked a deeper quality of love from G‑d and thus, brought about the nullification of the decree. In truth, the Jewish people are connected to G‑d on a higher level than any other entity. Hence, the revelation of that level will nullify all harsh decrees, whether in the spiritual realms or on this earth. Thus, we can appreciate how the reading of the Haftorah contains an advantage over the Torah reading itself.

On the basis of the above, we can understand an interesting question. On the surface, when the gentile authorities decreed that the Jews should not read the Torah in public, it is logical to assume that they checked to see that their decree was carried out. If so, when the Jews began to publicly read the Haftorah instead of the Torah, why didn’t the Greeks prevent them from doing so?1 Why would they allow readings of the prophets and not the readings of the Torah?2

However, on the basis of the above, these questions can be answered. The decree in the spiritual realms applied only to the readings of the Torah and not to the prophets. As explained above, the only way the Greeks had the power to enforce a decree against the Jewish people was by virtue of the decree existing in the spiritual realms. Hence, their decree could only have an effect on the area in which there was a spiritual decree and thus, though logically one would think otherwise, the Haftorah readings were allowed.

This principle can be extended: There are those who protest: How can one demand that in the time of “golus,” a period in which open. miracles are not seen, the Jews take a firm stand and refuse to compromise in regard to Torah and mitzvos, explaining that such a stance will cause the gentiles to aid them? How can such an approach succeed at present?

However, an answer to this question can be appreciated from the above narrative. The Jews were living in a time of golus, indeed, a time when the gentiles were able to prevent them from reading the Torah for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, when the Jews did not lose heart because of this decree and on the contrary, instead of separating themselves from the Torah, initiated a new custom, reading from the prophets, they succeeded in nullifying the decrees. Similarly, by standing strong with Jewish pride, we can bring about a state in which the gentiles will not only not harm us, they will aid and assist us. This principle is so clear that it can be understood by every Jew, all converts to Judaism3 and even by gentiles.

To return to the concept mentioned originally. The unique nature of this Shabbos is expressed by the songs contained within both the Torah and Haftorah readings.4 Song is connected with a farbrengen, a joyous occasion, for song comes as an expression of joy, as evident from our sages statement: “Songs should only be recited over a cup of wine.” Though in general, Shabbos is connected with joy, for “no sadness is found on it,” this particular Shabbos, Shabbos Shirah, is uniquely connected with joy. Hence, it is an appropriate time, to join together in a farbrengen,5 and say l’chaim, a physical expression of joy.

Our sages declared: “Deed6 is most important.” Now is an appropriate time to take upon ourselves good resolutions regarding our behavior in the future, and the joy of this occasion will generate an influence that will allow us to succeed and carry out those resolutions. This will merit the coming of Moshiach, at which time the Jewish people will again join in song.7

2. (Between the Sichos, the Chassidim sang the niggun, “And G‑d lead them surely ... and the sea covered up their foes.” The Rebbe based the next Sicha on that verse.)

The niggun sung at present is related to Shabbos Shirah, for it describes the splitting of the Red Sea, the events described in the song of Moshe. Since this year, Shabbos Shirah falls on Tu B’Shevat, it follows that an interrelation exists between those events, that niggun and verse, and the present date.8 As will be explained, that interrelation is related to Tu B’Shevat for, among the spiritual qualities of Tu B’Shevat, is the fact that it is a day on which the full moon shines.

Similarly, from the year 5710 onward, there has been a further quality connected with Shabbos Shirah, for Shabbos is always the Shabbos that follows Yud Shevat, the Yartzeit of the previous Rebbe. On Shabbos, all the days of the previous week are elevated to a higher level. Hence, even though Yud Shevat itself is a day of great importance, since all matters of holiness have an infinite dimension, a higher quality is revealed on the following Shabbos. That quality, as will be explained, is also connected with the verse in the niggun mentioned above.

The significance of the phrase: “... and the sea covered up their foes” can be explained as follows: When something is covered by the sea, its existence is not nullified. On the contrary, it continues to exist while it is covered by the water. This concept is related to the future redemption. Then, “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the sea covers up the ocean,” i.e. the world will exist. However it will be “covered up” by the revelation of G‑dliness. Our sages explained: “Everything that exists on dry land exists in the sea.” However, in the sea, the particular existence of each creation is not noticed, for they are “covered up by the sea.” Similarly, in the Messianic Age, the revelation of G‑dliness will “cover up” the individual existence of each creation.

Though this concept has been explained previously, it must be further explained until it is understood and grasped by even simple people. As explained in the farbrengen of Yud Shevat, one of the factors that distinguished the wisdom of the Torah from the wisdom of the other nations is that those nations kept wisdom as a treasure accessible only to a select few, while Torah was given to the entire Jewish people in a manner in which it is accessible and can be understood by the common people. This principle applies not only to the concepts taught on the level of the simple meaning of Torah (p’shat), but even Torah’s deeper aspects, including pnimius HaTorah, Torah’s mystic secrets. Indeed, this is the task of our generation to “spread the wellsprings of Chassidus to the outer reaches,” to offer even a Jew who is found in the “outer reaches” the opportunity to understand the teachings of Chassidus.9

In regard to the above, the question was asked: It is written: “Torah never departed from before the forefathers,” i.e. even before the giving of the Torah, the Jews studied Torah. If so, how can we say that this change took place at the time the Torah was given? However, this question shows how one appreciates only the superficial aspects of the concept and not its greater meanings.

Though the forefathers studied the Torah before it was given, there was no obligation to study Torah. When the Torah was given, each and every Jew became obligated to study Torah. The forefathers and similarly, the chosen of the people; studied Torah, but the average Jew had no obligation to study Torah nor do we find that the common men studied Torah. On the contrary, from the narratives in the Chumash and the Midrash, it appears that the majority of the people did not study Torah.10 Thus, before the giving of the Torah, a parallel existed between the Egyptians and the Jews. Both had an educated elite who attended special schools where they labored to attain knowledge. However, among both peoples the common man was distant and unaware of this knowledge. When the Torah was given, the potential was given for each Jew to grasp and comprehend even the inner mystic aspects of Torah including the meaning of the phrase: “... the sea covered up their foes” as will be explained.

As explained above, when one looks at the sea, one sees the sea and does not notice all the particular creations contained within it. However, in truth, the sea contains many creations which are dependent on it for life. If they are removed from the sea for any period of time, they die. Indeed, this concept is so simply understood that when Rabbi Akivah wanted to explain the relationship between the Jews and Torah to a gentile, he told him that Jews are compared to fish in the sea. Just as fish die when they are taken from the sea, similarly, Jews when taken away from the Torah, i.e., even a gentile understands that the sea does not cover up the existence of the fish. Rather, it reveals their true existence, their source of life.

The same principle can be extended: If you ask anyone, even a simple person, “What is the source for the existence of all creations?,” he will answer, though perhaps not using these words: “All existence came into being from the truth of His Being.” Every particular entity in the world could not create itself and was created by G‑d. Thus, just as in the metaphor of fish in the seas, one does not perceive the fish, rather the source for their existence, similarly, in the Messianic age, when “the knowledge of G‑d will fill the world as the sea covers up the ocean,” the individual identity of each creation will not be perceived. Rather, all that one will perceive is G‑dliness, the source for that creation. All the creations, even the gentile nations,11 will continue to exist in the Messianic Age — Would one expect G‑d to suddenly kill off three billion people? That would be the very opposite of the Torah approach for, “the ways of the Torah are peace.” Rather, the gentiles will continue to exist — however, the G‑dly force which maintains their existence will be openly revealed and therefore, as the prophets declared: “Kings will be your foster fathers.” The gentiles will realize that the purpose of their existence is to serve the Jews.

This is the inner meaning of the verse: “And the sea covered up their foes.” The existence of even the enemies of the Jewish people will be transformed through the revelation of G‑dliness in the Messianic Age, and they will serve and assist the Jews.

The above should be reflected in the personal service of each individual. Our service to G‑d should not be confined to our G‑dly souls, ignoring the animal soul entirely; rather, we must work to bring the animal soul and yetzer horah to the service of G‑d. This principle is alluded to in the verse: “Love G‑d with all your heart” — which uses the plural declension of the word heart, “levevecha,” as our sages interpreted: “With both your desires; both the yetzer tov and the yetzer horah.

On the basis of the above, we can understand the relation of the verse: “... and the sea covered up their foes” to the 15th of the month, the time when the full moon shines. The moon is representative of the Jewish people. Thus, a full moon represents the Jewish people as they reach a complete state of service. Thus, as explained above, the complete state of the service of the Jewish people is not “Iscafiah,” breaking and nullifying the existence of the “enemy,” the animal soul, but rather transforming it into holiness.12 Similarly, in regard to the service of the Jews in the world at large we must work to transform the world by teaching the gentiles the Seven Noachide Laws and “perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Al‑mighty.” This, in turn, will bring about the revelation of the ultimate state of completion in the world at large as alluded to in the verse explained above.

On the basis of the above, we can understand why the verse: “... and the sea covered up their foes” is contained in the Book of Tehillim. In the first sicha, it was explained how the words of the sages (including in an extended sense the works of the prophets and the Scriptures) have an advantage over those of the Torah. Hence, we find the Torah speaking of the drowning of the Egyptians, but using phraseology that refers to their destruction, i.e. alluding to the service of Iscafiah, suppression of one’s opponents. In contrast, Tehillim, (the words of the sages) bring out the same concept using a terminology that implies “Ishafchah,” their transformation into good. One can see the two as following in a progression. First, one must carry out the service of Iscafiah, destroying and suppressing the opposing forces and then, one can come to the service of Ishafchah — transformation. Similarly, chronologically the Torah was composed before the Book of Tehillim.

On a deeper level, the connection between the phrase: “... and the sea covered up their foes” and the Book of Tehillim can be understood in relation to the author of that work, King Dovid. King Dovid is referred to as: “Dovid Malka Moshiach.” Hence, it is appropriate that this verse which describes the ultimate state of completion that the world will attain during the Messianic revelation be included in his text.

Continuing this line of thought, we can understand the connection of the abovementioned verse to Yud Shevat. The ma’amar Basi L’Gani associated with Yud Shevat described the purpose for the world’s creation: G‑d’s desire for a dwelling place in the lower worlds, and explains that this can be achieved through the service of Iscafiah and to a greater degree through Ishafchah, transforming darkness to light. This is the same principle implied in the above verse.

The above must be put into practice within the context of our behavior. Since we are presently in the days directly preceding the Messianic redemption, our greatest efforts should be devoted to those services that serve as a preparation for and hasten the coming of that era. Thus, much energy should be devoted to “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.” Furthermore, since the Messianic redemption will bring the entire world to its completion, the revelation of G‑dliness will encompass even the gentiles, as explained in the verse: “... and the sea covered up their foes,” it follows that, in preparation for that revelation, efforts must be made to reach out to the gentiles and influence them to observe the Seven Noachide Laws.

Furthermore, without dealing with the Messianic dimensions of the concept, we each have a clear halachic obligation to make such efforts for, as the Rambam explains: “From the mouth of the Al-mighty, Moshe, our teacher, commanded us to compel all the inhabitants of the world to accept upon themselves the commandments given to Noach’s children.”

There are those who refuse to involve themselves in such activities explaining that doing so might upset the gentiles. We see, they argue, that in previous generations, Jews did whatever possible to keep the gentiles happy. If the “poritz” (landowner) would order the Jew to dance before him, the Jew would dance. So too, today, we must follow such a course of action.

How low can a person sink? There is no greater sign of a lack of Jewish pride than to recall dancing before a poritz in today’s democratic society. Without the gentile asking, those individuals (clothed as rabbis and claiming to speak in the name of Torah) will dance and bow down before the gentiles, doing anything to find favor in their eyes in the hope of reaping financial gain, They do not realize that the purpose for which G‑d has arranged them to come in contact with the gentile is to teach him the Seven Noachide Laws and explain them in a manner in which a gentile can understand.

We can (and we must) explain to the gentiles that G‑d wished to have an ordered world and therefore, all the creations must fulfill their tasks with which they have been charged: the gentiles with their task, the fulfillment of the Seven Noachide Laws, the Jews with their tasks, the fulfillment of the 613 mitzvos. Furthermore, one can understand that just as the different limbs of the body fulfill the functions appropriate for them, different peoples have been given different tasks.

However, there are those who scorn these efforts. The Shulchan Aruch begins with the command: “Do not become embarrassed before those who scorn.” Look at who they are scorning, the Rambam,” the Guide to the Perplexed” for the Jewish people throughout the generations. No attention should be paid to such people. Rather, we should follow the directive of the Rambam and thus, hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption, at which time the revelation alluded to in the verse: “... and the sea covered up their foes” will become manifest throughout the world.

3. As mentioned above, the importance of Jewish women is emphasized by Shabbos Shirah. The Torah reading relates how Miriam led the Jewish women in song and the Haftorah relates how Devorah, the prophetess, led the entire Jewish people in song. In other matters, we also see how the women took a leading role. For example, in regard to the donations towards the Sanctuary, it is explained that the women gave before the men. Similarly, when Moshe was commanded to prepare the Jews to receive the Torah, he was instructed to approach the women first.

Similarly, today there is a need to stress the high qualities possessed by Jewish women. This principle takes on an added dimension when considering a concept explained in Kabballah. We are told that the generation preceding the coming of Moshiach will be the reincarnation of the generation that left Egypt. Just as “through the merit of righteous women, our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt,” similarly, the merit of the women of our generation will hasten the Messianic redemption. Furthermore, the merit of the women of our day should resemble the merit of the Jewish women in Egypt, the bearing and raising of Jewish children. Then, together with them, with song and rejoicing, we will proceed to greet Moshiach speedily in our days.