1. Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev contains several aspects: 1) Shabbos Mevorchim 2) Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev 3) the day on which it falls this year. Everything in Torah comprises both a generality and details. All the details are equal in that they are encompassed by the generality; and different in that each detail has its own specific concept. So too in the case of Shabbos Mevorchim: The general nature in which all Shabbos Mevorchims are equal is that they bless the forthcoming month; the specific nature is that each Shabbos Mevorchim blesses a different month.

We find this dichotomy in Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev itself. Its general nature as that every year there is a Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev; its specific nature is the particular concept associated with the day on which it falls that year (this year it falling on Shabbos parshas Chayei Sarah, the 27th of Cheshvan).

Both these aspects (the general and the specific) are important components, and therefore each provides a lesson in service to G‑d. None of the specifics of a particular year (e.g. the day on which it falls) happen by chance, but all are by Divine Providence — and therefore provide lessons in service to G‑d. Moreover, not only are matters in Torah exact, not happening by chance, but even secular, mundane things are by Divine Providence. As the Baal Shem Tov taught: anything encountered by a Jew can serve as a lesson in his service to G‑d.

Our Sages stressed the same point: “There is nothing that is not alluded to in Torah” — meaning that everything in the world is alluded to and derived from Torah. For example, an entire section of the Talmud explains the source in Torah for popular sayings. Although it is but ordinary people who use these expressions, nevertheless, since they exist, they must have a source in Torah. The only question is, as the Talmud asks, “Where is the source?” Certainly then, in matters of Torah itself nothing is by chance, but every detail provides lessons for service to G‑d. In our case, all the particular details and circumstances of Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev are exact, and we can and must learn a lesson from them.

The general nature of Shabbos Mevorchim (of all months) is that it is “a day of farbrengen and undertaking of good resolutions.” The preparation to this is the recital of the entire Tehillim in the morning before the Shacharit prayer — and the five books of Tehillim correspond to the five books of the Chumash, which encompass the entire Torah. The idea of Shabbos Mevorchim then is that it is an auspicious time to undertake resolutions in all matters of Torah and mitzvos. This is particularly so when the farbrengen takes place in both a synagogue (for prayer) and a study hall (for Torah study) — i.e. the prayer is in the same place where Torah is studied, adding distinction to the prayer.

The special concept of Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev is that it is the preparation to and provides strength for the service unique to the month of Kislev. That is, the undertaking of good resolutions on Shabbos Mevorchim is specially in relation to service of Kislev. Everything important needs preparation, as the Talmud states: “One prepares on weekday for Shabbos and for Yom Tov, and one does not prepare on Yom Tov for Shabbos, nor on Shabbos for Yom Tov.” The meals of Shabbos and Yom Tov are important, and therefore need preparation; the meals on weekday are not important, and therefore do not need preparation.

Every Jew knows that the month of Kislev is very important, for it contains the festival of Chanukah. Since the matters of the whole month are included in the head of the month, Rosh Chodesh, the preparations for it must be made before Rosh Chodesh — for on Rosh Chodesh the service of the month already begins. That is why we bless Rosh Chodesh Kislev on the preceding Shabbos which is in the month of Cheshvan (i.e. on Shabbos Mevorchim), and undertake good resolutions — as a preparation to the entire month. And we can learn a lesson from the preparation to Kislev taking place specifically in the preceding month — Cheshvan.

Not only are Cheshvan and Kislev different, but they are opposites: Kislev contains the extremely lofty festival of Chanukah, whereas Cheshvan has nothing special. The month before Cheshvan, Tishrei, is “full of festivals;” the month after, Kislev, has Chanukah; Cheshvan has nothing.

Indeed, Cheshvan is the only month that has no special distinction, Tishrei is “full of festivals.” Kislev has Chanukah. Teves has the 10th of Teves which is destined to be converted into a Yom Tov. Shevat has the 15th of Shevat, the Rosh Hashanah for trees. Adar has Purim. Nissan contains Pesach -”in Nissan they were redeemed and in Nissan they will be redeemed in the future.” In Iyar, besides Pesach Sheni, every day has a mitzvah — Sefiras Ha-Omer. It is the only month in which every day has a special mitzvah. Sivan has Mattan Torah, the festival of Shavuos. On the 17th of Tammuz, the first tablets were given, and eventually it is destined to be converted into a Yom Tov (as the 10th of Teves). Tisha B’Av will become one of the greatest Yomim Tovim, and in addition, Av has the 15th of Av about which our Sages say “There were no festivals for Israel as the 15th of Av.” In Elul the King (G‑d) is found in the “field,” accessible to all Jews. We see then that Cheshvan is the only month that does not have any special event.

Moreover, Cheshvan, the second of the winter months, is the exact opposite of Iyar, the second of the summer months. The months can be counted starting from Nissan (summer months) or from Tishrei (winter months); Cheshvan is therefore the counterpart of Iyar. The lofty mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer is on every day of the month of Iyar — whereas its counterpart, Cheshvan, has not even one day of special significance. This illustrates even more vividly the paucity of Cheshvan.

Yet the preparation to the lofty month of Kislev is precisely in the undistinguished month of Cheshvan! Kislev is in one respect loftier even than the months of Tishrei and Nissan, for the Chanukah lights, our Sages tell us, “will never be abolished” — they are eternal. And yet no better time than Cheshvan could be found for its preparation! Nevertheless, since the order of the months was set by G‑d, we must say that every Jew has been given the strength on Cheshvan to prepare for Kislev’s service.

This is the particular lesson from Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev. A Jew may think that he must be on a very lofty level to prepare for such a lofty month. If he is on a regular level, he cannot do so. Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev, which is in the month of Cheshvan, teaches that even in Cheshvan, which has no special distinction, a Jew can prepare for the lofty service of Kislev.

This emphasizes the greatness of a Jew’s essence: He does not need special strength associated with specially distinguished days, but his own greatness suffices. In other words, G‑d relies on Jews that they, of their own loftiness, can prepare properly for Kislev.

Through preparing on Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev, we merit the lofty matters of Kislev, particularly the element of eternality in the Chanukah lights. Through this we effect the eternality of the “lights of Zion” in the third Bais Hamikdosh, for the light of the Bais Hamikdosh (the “lights of Zion”) are associated with the Chanukah lights.


2. There is an additional lesson to be learned from the day on which Shabbos Mevorchim falls this year — the 27th of Cheshvan. Scripture records (Bereishis 8:14) that “On the twenty seventh day of the second month the earth dried.” That is, the flood sent in Noach’s time ended completely on the 27th of Cheshvan, when “the earth dried.” Since everything in Torah is eternal, the above record also contains an eternal lesson for man’s service to G‑d.

“Flood” in a man’s life is the worries over making a livelihood, and one’s involvement in material things. Just as waters flow unceasingly, so worries over livelihood disturb a person without stop. He is constantly thinking of business. And although one must engage in making a livelihood — to make a “vessel” to receive G‑d’s blessings, a Jew must know it is but a vessel, without putting his heart and soul into it. The main thing is G‑d’s blessings -not the vessel. Yet people are so involved in making a living that they think about it even in the middle of prayer, when they are standing before G‑d, the Supreme King of kings.

Moreover, the Yetzer Horah, adopting a guise of piety, tells a Jew that it is good to be so involved in making money, for then he can give more tzedakah. Furthermore, continues the Yetzer Horah, the purpose of a Jew’s existence is to make the world a dwelling place for G‑d; therefore he must deal with worldly matters. So important is this task, urges the Yetzer Horah, that a Jew should not even wait until after praying and studying Torah -but should think about his business even in the middle of prayer! This is to the extent that even before saying “Modeh Ani” upon awakening in the morning, he first thinks of business: what swindle can he pull off today that he missed out on yesterday.

The answer to this is from the lesson of the 27th of Cheshvan, when “the earth dried.” When a Jew is caught in the “flood” of incessantly being engaged in making a living, he may lose hope, thinking he can’t be helped, or since he is so accustomed to doing so, it is permissible. Such a Jew is taught that there was a “flood” in the entire world in the times of Noach, a flood which lasted an entire year. Yet on the 27th of Cheshvan, the flood completely ceased, to the extent that “the earth dried.”

So too in spiritual terms: Although a Jew may be caught in a “flood” for a long time, he nevertheless has the strength to escape. This strength comes from the 27th of Cheshvan when “the earth dried.” Afterwards, a new service starts.

The above lesson is directed to a person on a low level, a Jew caught in the “flood” of materialism. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 27th of Cheshvan provides a lesson for those on a lofty level. That lesson comes from the command given to Noach on the 27th of Cheshvan — “Go out from the ark.”

The situation in Noach’s ark, Chassidus explains, was similar to the situation that will exist in the future. When Noach was in the ark he did not have to engage in plowing, sowing or any other work in obtaining food; everything was prepared beforehand. Moreover, in the ark “a wolf dwelt with a lamb” — as will be in the future.

Some Jews claim they are in such a situation. They are completely immersed in the study of Chassidus. They are in “Noach’s ark,” similar to the future. They have no interest in the world outside. Why, therefore, should they engage in spreading Chassidus so that Moshiach will come and they will learn his Torah — when they are now engaged in learning Chassidus?

The answer to this claim is the command “Go out from the ark.” The ultimate goal is to go out from the ark and work in the world outside, to influence the world for the better. To go out in this low, physical world, and make it a dwelling place for G‑d.

The two lessons from Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev on the 27th of Cheshvan this year are complete opposites. The lesson from “the earth dried” is addressed to those caught in the “flood” — the lowest of levels. The lesson from “Go out from the ark” is addressed to those on a level similar to Noach’s ark — the highest of levels.

There is also a lesson to be derived from this week’s parshah — Chayei Sarah. The name “Chayei Sarah,” meaning “the life of Sarah,” indicates that all her years were encompassed in one term — “the life of Sarah.” As Rashi states: “All of them were equal in goodness.” But how can all her years be encompassed on one term? She lived 127 years, some of them the complete antithesis of others. We cannot compare the years she spent in “Ur Kasdim” and “Charan” to those spent after the fulfillment of G‑d’s command “Go from your land ... to the land which I will show you.” Or compare the time she was in Pharaoh’s and Avimelech’s house to when she heard about Yitzchok offered up as a sacrifice by Avraham. How then can all her 127 years be included in one term — “the life of Sarah?”

However, the “life of Sarah” refers to those things in which Sarah lived — in which she placed her energy and zeal. “The life of Sarah” was not expressed in her eating for example, and certainly not in the time in Pharaoh’s or Avimelech’s house -for to be admired and abducted by a king was not just unimportant to her, but caused great distress. The true expression of “the life of Sarah” was in “a light burning from one Shabbos eve to the next, blessing found in the dough, and a cloud hanging over her tent” — the three mitzvos special to Jewish women.

Thus, although Sarah went through different periods in her life, all were equal in the true “life of Sarah” — the above three mitzvos. That is why the parshah is called “Chayei Sarah” — “the life of Sarah,” and not “the years of Sarah’s life.” There were differences in her years; but her true “life” was always the same.

This then is the lesson learned from this week’s parshah: Every Jewish daughter knows she is a descendant of “Sarah our mother.” Just as Sarah’s life was not expressed in external things, but in lofty matters, so too every Jewish daughter must live her “life” in the three mitzvos which expressed Sarah’s life: “A light burning from one Shabbos eve to the next” — the mitzvah of Shabbos lights; “blessing in the dough” — kashrus; “cloud hanging over her tent” — family purity and modesty.


3. In parshas Chayei Sarah we learn of the mission given to Eliezer by Avraham to go Avraham’s birthplace and there find a girl suitable for marriage to Yitzchok. After various miracles, Eliezer finds Rivkah, the daughter of Besuel and sister of Lavan. Eliezer then tells them of the miracles by which he knew Rivkah to be the right girl, and requests their permission to take Rivkah back to Yitzchok. After they agree, Eliezer stayed the night, and then, the next morning, tells them it is now time for Rivkah and him to go — “Send me away to my master.” Their answer is found in Ch. 24, verse 55: “Her brother and her mother said: Let the girl stay with us a year or ten months; after that she shall go.” Rashi explains that at first they requested Rivkah stay with them a year “for so is given to a maiden a period of twelve months to provide herself with ornaments.” They then added “or ten months,” meaning that if Eliezer is not agreeable to Rivkah staying a full year with them, then perhaps he will at least agree to 10 months.

Eliezer answered them: “Do not delay me. G‑d has made may way successful. Send me away, so that I may go to my master.” In other words, since G‑d has been instrumental in making successful my mission of finding the right girl, do not delay me. And indeed, in the end, “they sent away Rivkah their sister.”

There is a puzzling point in this whole episode. Rashi, on the words “Her brother and her mother said,” comments: “Where was Besuel (her father)? He desired to hold back (the marriage), and an angel came and killed him.” That is why it says “Her brother and her mother” and not “her father” — for Besuel was dead. According to this, why didn’t her brother and mother request that Rivkah stay with them for the seven days of mourning?

Although some opinions hold that Scripture mandates only a one day mourning period (and therefore they did not request 7 days), we cannot answer so according to the plain meaning of Scripture. G‑d, when informing Noach of the coming flood, told him (Bereishis 7:4) “In another seven days I will cause it to rain upon the earth.” Rashi, explaining the words “In another seven days,” states: “These are the seven days of mourning for Mesushelach the righteous man. For the Holy One blessed be He had regard for his honor and postponed the punishment.” Thus, in the plain meaning of Scripture, we see that there are seven days of mourning — and thus the question: Why didn’t Rivkah’s mother and brother request that she stay with them for the seven days of mourning for Besuel her father?

We cannot answer that the importance of the seven days of mourning is only when it is a “righteous man” who has died (as in the case of Mesushelach), for we are concerned with the request of “her brother and mother.” In their eyes, Besuel (father and husband respectively) was an important person, and therefore from their point of view they should have requested that Rivkah stay for the seven days of mourning.

The explanation:

Rivkah’s brother and mother had already asked for a longer period — “a year or ten months,” which encompasses the seven days of mourning. Eliezer had answered them “Do not delay me. G‑d has made my way successful.” Once they had received such an answer, they could not then ask for even the seven days of mourning, for Eliezer’s answer eliminated any possibility of delay — even for the shortest period.

His answer “G‑d has made my way successful” emphasized that G‑d showed him success even in his traveling. Rashi, on Eliezer’s words to Rivkah’s parents (24:42) “I came today to the well,” comments that “I left (Avraham) today, and I came (here) today.” From here (we learn) that the earth shrunk for him.” That is, the distance became miraculously less, enabling Eliezer to travel the entire long distance from Avraham’s place to Rivkah’s place in the same day. Moreover, not only did his journey not take longer than a day, but less than a full day. Avraham had entrusted Eliezer with the mission to find a wife for his son Yitzchok. Presumably Eliezer set off on the same day he was given the mission. Yet he could not set off at the beginning of that day, for he had many things to do beforehand. First of all, Avraham gave him the mission. Then he made Eliezer swear that he would only take a wife from his (Avraham’s) birthplace. An oath is a weighty thing, taking time. In addition, Avraham wrote out a deed, gifting all his possessions to Yitzchok, for Eliezer to take with him -so that Rivkah’s parents would be eager to have their daughter marry such a wealthy man. The writing of a deed and finding witnesses for it also takes time. Moreover, Eliezer had to prepare the 10 camels he took with him, and the gifts, and food for the way. All these things take time, and thus Eliezer could not have started at the beginning of the day. Yet Eliezer reached Aram Naharaim on the same day.

This then was Eliezer’s answer “Do not delay me. G‑d has made my way successful.” Since G‑d made a special miracle to so much hasten Eliezer’s journey, it is evident that G‑d wanted the marriage of Yitzchok and Rivkah to take place immediately, as soon as possible. Therefore “do not delay me.”

Once Eliezer had thus informed Rivkah’s brother and mother that there can be absolutely no delay, they could no longer ask for her to remain the seven days of mourning.