1. All the days of the month are included in Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh means the “head of the month,” and just as the head of a person encompasses the vitality of all the limbs, and “leads” the rest of the body, so too Rosh Chodesh encompasses and leads the rest of the month. Shabbos Mevorchim blesses Rosh Chodesh, and since Rosh Chodesh encompasses the rest of the month, the blessings of Shabbos Mevorchim flow to all the rest of the days of the month also.

Hence, today, Shabbos Mevorchim Tammuz, blesses all the days of the month of Tammuz, including the special days of Yud-Bais (12th) and Yud-Gimmel (13th) of Tammuz — the days of liberation of the previous Rebbe (from imprisonment and exile). Thus today is the appropriate time to make good resolutions how to utilize these days consonant to the directives of the previous Rebbe. This certainly brings blessings and success in all these matters, and in such a lofty manner as to transcend all limitations.

Since the blessings transcend all limitations, the service to G‑d too must transcend limitations — which is the service of “with all your might.” Simultaneously however, one must not cut off all relations with the world (which is limited), but the ultimate purpose is that even when dealing with limited things one’s service should transcend those limits. Hence, together with the service of “with all your might,” the service of “with all your heart, with all your soul” — service consonant with the limits imposed by one’s soul powers — is necessary.

In plain terms, this means that even while transcending limits, one must fulfill all the mitzvos with their specific limitations. For example, a garment requiring tzitzis must have four (and not 3) corners.

This concept is emphasized in the service of Aharon to light the Menorah. All the tribe of Levi were set apart to serve G‑d; especially the kohanim; and certainly the kohen gadol, whose sanctity was of the loftiest level. We can appreciate then how lofty (transcending limits) was the service of lighting the menorah. Simultaneously however, Torah says that the praise of Aharon was that “he did not change” — his service was within the prescribed limits: he lit seven lights only, no more or less, the wicks were arranged properly, the oil filled properly etc. In other words, the purpose was to bring down the service that transcends limits (lighting the menorah) into its prescribed limited form — the synthesis of “with all your might” and “with all your heart, with all your soul.”

Aharon encompassed all Jewish souls, as we see that his service on Yom Kippur effected atonement “on the behalf of all the congregation of Israel.” Thus the lesson learned from Aharon’s service applies to all Jews.

Not only is service transcending limits not contradictory to service within limits, but it is precisely through the former that service within limits can be properly performed. It is impossible for man, a finite being, to be exact (i.e. there must always be a margin of error). How then can one perform service within true limits exactly? But when service transcends limits, connecting man with “heaven,” one can perform one’s service exactly, for heaven can be exact.

This is what our Sages said: “One should first accept upon oneself the yoke of heaven and then accept upon oneself the yoke of mitzvos.” Through accepting the “yoke of heaven” (in the first section of Shema, in which it says “with all your might” — transcending of limits), which binds one with “heaven,” his service of performing mitzvos (in the second section of Shema, in which it says “with all your heart and with all your soul” — service within limits) can be proper, within true limits — for then his performance of mitzvos is as if performed by heaven which can be exact.

This same concept is found in the making of the vessels for the mishkan — “the vessels of the Sanctuary were exact in their weight ... no more and no less.” Likewise, the menorah was “one kikar of pure gold — no less and no more — ” i.e. it was exactly a kikar. How was this possible? The ability to make the menorah in such an exact fashion was that it was built according to how “it was shown to you on the mountain” — similar to “heaven.” That is, it was only by following this (similar to the idea that only heaven can be exact) that the vessels could be made in their exact, prescribed limits.

The idea of bringing the service transcending limits into the service of limits is also found in Yud-Bais Tammuz. The liberation reminds one of the imprisonment which preceded it, which was the ultimate in limitations — of evil. Limitations of evil exist only because there are limitations of holiness (as above, service within limits). The purpose of limitations of holiness is that the concept of transcending limitations should permeate them. Moreover, the concept of transcending limitations should penetrate also into limitations of evil, meaning, to convert them into limitations of holiness. Thus the imprisonment and liberation of the previous Rebbe emphasizes the idea that service transcending limitations (the liberation) should permeate the limitations, including those which are evil (the imprisonment) — converting them to limitations of holiness.

Through this conversion, the limitations of holiness are elevated. Thus we see that after the imprisonment and elevation, all matters of Judaism were increased, for when all saw that those who imprisoned the previous Rebbe were forced to free him, great encouragement was given to Judaism. Likewise, the previous Rebbe himself engaged in spreading Chassidus immediately after the liberation — and in an infinitely loftier fashion than beforehand.

In the light of the above, we see that Shabbos Mevorchim Tammuz is the proper time for good resolutions in spreading Judaism and Chassidus in a manner transcending limitations — as it is brought down within limits. Obviously, the resolutions alone are not enough, and the main thing is to translate them into action.

There is a special distinction in all of the above from the date on which Rosh Chodesh falls out this year — Monday (and Tuesday). This means that there is an intervening day between Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. When there are no intervening days, the preparations to Rosh Chodesh on Erev Rosh Chodesh (which is Shabbos) are in the manner of service on Shabbos — “Shabbos is sanctified of itself.” But when there is an intervening day between Shabbos Mevorchim and Rosh Chodesh, the preparations to Rosh Chodesh made on Erev Rosh Chodesh (which is now weekday) are through man’s efforts. And a person prefers one measure of his own to nine measures of his friend (i.e. acquired through no personal effort).

May it be G‑d’s will that each Jew utilize the opportunity of Shabbos Mevorchim Tammuz to make good resolutions concerning all the above, and to translate them into deed.


2. The above (the synthesis between service transcending limitations and service within limitations) is relevant every year. In addition, there is special emphasis this year, when the first day of Tammuz (second day of Rosh Chodesh) is on Tuesday, the third day of the week.

Tammuz follows the month of Sivan, the “third month.” Sivan is associated with redemption, for at Mattan Torah, the decree that the upper shall not descend to the lower was abolished — which is the idea of redemption. Previously, the world was limited, unable to be elevated. Mattan Torah brought redemption to the world, freeing it of its limits, so that now the lower could be elevated.

Since Tammuz follows Sivan, it indicates that Tammuz is loftier than Sivan. But “Tammuz” is the name of an idol, as stated (Yechezkel 8:14) “There the women sat weeping for Tammuz,” which refers to an idol worshipped then. How is it possible that after the lofty service of Sivan (redemption, transcending limitations), we bless the month of Tammuz (a name of an idol) in the conclusion of the month of Sivan (on Shabbos Mevorchim Tammuz which is still in Sivan).

We cannot answer that the name “Tammuz” was given to this month not because it is a name of an idol, G‑d forbid, but because the name “Tammuz” existed before they called the idol by it — for in the end, the fact remains that there is an idol by this name (and written in the Torah). And although there is a great advantage in the idea of converting darkness into light, similar to the idea of “transgressions become merits for him (for one who repents),” this itself needs clarification: why did G‑d in the first place make it that Tammuz should also be the name of an idol so that we need to convert it to sanctity?

The answer is as follows: The season of Tammuz is unique among the other seasons of the year in that in Tammuz the heat of the sun is at its greatest. Every Jew knows that the heat of the sun comes from G‑d; but, since man has free choice, and therefore there must be the opportunity to think that the sun is an entity for itself — a god, there is an idol called “Tammuz” which means “heat.”

Hence, when a person recognizes that the strength of the sun is from G‑d — even when he could choose to think it is an idol — the revelation of G‑d is that much stronger having penetrated even to such a situation.

This lets us understand the distinction of Tammuz compared to Sivan. Sivan is the idea of redemption transcending limitations. Then comes the distinction of Tammuz which is the idea of revelation transcending limitations reaching even those places where idolatry is possible — for the purpose of converting darkness into light.

This is why Tammuz, besides containing Yud-Bais Tammuz, also contains the fast day of 17th of Tammuz, when the tablets were broken. In Sivan, the tablets were Above; in Tammuz, Moshe Rabbeinu brought them below, to the degree that evil could occur (the breaking of the tablets). The purpose of this is to convert the evil into light — “these days (the fast days) will be converted to joy and happiness and to good festivals.” This is similar to the idea of G‑d wishing to have a dwelling place in this lowest of all worlds — that G‑dliness should penetrate to the furthermost and lowest extent, thereby converting the “lowest world” into a dwelling place for G‑d.

The above is emphasized this year when the first day of Tammuz is on Tuesday. On Tuesday, “it was good” was said twice (at creation), the second time covering the completion of Monday’s work when “it was good” was not said, for then there was the idea of division — “He separated.” Tuesday, the third day, elevated even these low matters (divisions and separations).

This is the distinction of the third day compared to the first: The latter is called “one day” for then G‑d was One in His world — there was no descent below. On the third day, even that which was below (the second day, divisions) was elevated. This is similar to the distinction of Tammuz compared to Sivan.

This is the connection of the second day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz (the 1st of the month) to Tuesday, whereas the first day of Rosh Chodesh (the last day of Sivan) is on Monday. The first day of Rosh Chodesh has greater connection to the previous month Sivan, whereas the second day has greater connection to Tammuz. And since the concepts of Tammuz and the third day are similar (descent to elevate the below), the second day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz is on Tuesday.

The lesson from this in practical terms: Since the first day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz this year falls out on Tuesday — “good for heaven and good for creatures,” we must increase in the spreading of Judaism and Chassidus. Although this is stressed by Yud Bais Tammuz every year, there is special emphasis on this when the first day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz falls out on Tuesday, when “it was good” was said twice. If one spreads Judaism because of the lesson learned from Yud-Bais Tammuz, it may be his activities are not because of “good for creatures,” but a result of “good for heaven” — because the previous Rebbe commands it. But when the second day of Rosh Chodesh is on Tuesday, when it is “good for heaven” and “good for creatures,” then his work in the field of “good for creatures” (spreading Judaism and Chassidus) is because of the greatness of this concept, and not just because so the Rebbe commanded (“good for heaven”). The difference is that when one does it because it is “good for creatures” he approaches it with enthusiasm and life (not just because he is commanded to) — and the influence exerted is that much greater.

The main thing is to translate the above into action, and to spread Judaism and Chassidus. This begins with the campaign to unite all Jews by writing a general Sefer Torah, followed by the other campaigns: Ahavas Yisroel, education, Torah, tefillin, mezuzah, house full of Jewish books, Shabbos lights, kashrus, and family purity. And through our work in spreading Judaism and Chassidus we merit the fulfillment of the promise “these days will be converted into joy and happiness and good festivals” in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.


3. Parshas Shelach talks of the spies who were sent to spy out Eretz Yisroel before the Jews entered. They reported that the land would be very difficult to conquer since its inhabitants were very mighty. Ch. 13 verse 33 states: “There we saw the Nefillim, the sons of Anok, who (come) of the nefillim ...” Rashi, on the words “the nefillim” comments that this means: “Giants, of the children of Shamchazzoi and Azael who had fallen from heaven in the days of the generation of Enosh.”

There are a few difficulties in this explanation of Rashi: Rashi is giving two interpretations to the word “nefillim”: 1) that it means ‘giants;’ 2) that it also comes from the root “nefillah”, “falling” — that these giants were “of the children of Shamchazzoi and Azael who fell from heaven.” However, once Rashi has explained that “the nefillim” means “giants,” this verse is understandable in the plain interpretation. Why then does Rashi add the words “of the children of Shamchazzoi and Azael who had fallen from heaven in the days of the generation of Enosh.” Rashi only explains that which is difficult to understand in the plain meaning — and this phrase is seemingly extra to understanding the plain meaning of the verse.

Some commentaries explain that Rashi finds it necessary to bring this extra interpretation (and not just be content with the explanation “giants”), for since the verse contains the words “the nefillim” twice, the second time (“There we saw the nefillim, the sons of Anok, who (come) of the nefillim”) must have an extra interpretation — “fallen from heaven.”

However, in the plain meaning of the verse, this explanation does not suffice. Ordinarily, when something needs to be emphasized, it is repeated, and the second time does not necessarily have a different meaning.

For example, when we wish to emphasize someone’s greatness, a common phrase it that he is a “tzaddik (righteous man) the son of a tzaddik” — not only is he personally righteous, but he also has the merit of having righteous forebears. And the word “tzaddik” means the same both times.

In our case, the spies wished to emphasize the great fear they experienced when confronted by the nefillim, and thus said “There we saw the nefillim, the sons of Anok, who come of the nefillim”: meaning, not only were they themselves nefillim (giants) but also the sons of Anok who come of the nefillim” — and hence their dread is that much greater. There is no necessity to interpret the second “nefillim” differently than the first.

2) Even if for some reason Rashi does find it necessary to explain that “nefillim” also means “fallen from heaven,” why did he find it necessary to state their names “Shamchazzoi and Azael.” What difference does it make what their names were?

Moreover, the principal place where the nefillim are mentioned is in Bereishis (6:4) “The nefillim were on the earth in those days ...”, on which Rashi comments “[They were called so] because they fell ...” Rashi in Bereishis does not mention the names of those who fell. Why then in our parshah, in which the nefillim are only an incidental happening (part of the spies’ report), does Rashi explain that they were “of the children of Shamchazzoi and Azael.”

3) Why does Rashi continue to say that they had fallen from heaven “in the days of the generation of Enosh.” What difference does it make when they fell from heaven? Indeed, through adding these words, Rashi causes the student learning his commentary to ask a question: The generation of Enosh was prior to the flood in which everyone was destroyed except those in Noach’s ark. How then did the nefillim (who descended from Shamchazzoi and Azael, angels who fell from heaven in the times of Enosh) exist after the flood — they were not in the ark?

Likewise, another question is raised: In parshas Lech Lecha we learn of the capture of Lot, Avraham’s nephew. Avraham learned of this when (Bereishis 14:13) “The one that had escaped came and told Avraham.” Rashi comments on this that “the Midrash states: This (‘the one who had escaped’) is Og, who escaped from the generation of the flood ...” How was Og saved from the flood?

The Talmud (Zevachim 113a) explains that in Eretz Yisroel there was no flood. According to this, we could say that Og fled to Eretz Yisroel, and was therefore saved from the flood. Although other people could have done likewise, they would have died from the great heat of the flood waters (i.e. although the waters did not reach Eretz Yisroel, the heat generated by them did — and was intense enough to kill people). Og, being a mighty giant, could have withstood the heat. According to another opinion in the Talmud that the flood was also in Eretz Yisroel, Og was saved by sitting on a board that was sticking out from the ark.

However, all this is in the Midrash and Talmud. According to the plain meaning of the verse the flood was also in Eretz Yisroel, and hence we cannot say Og was saved by fleeing there. Likewise, we cannot say he was saved by sitting on a board sticking out from the ark, because Torah relates the measurements and shape of the ark — and we do not find that a board was sticking out. Moreover, the waters of the flood were boiling; and how could Og, if he was sitting on a board sticking out from the side of the ark, endure boiling water? The Talmud answers that “a miracle occurred to them that the waters around the ark became cool.” But in the plain meaning of the verses, we find no allusion to such a miracle.

Thus the questions remain: How was Og saved from the flood? How could there be “children of Shamchazzoi and Azael who had fallen from heaven in the days of the generation of Enosh” existing after the flood?

The explanation:

The purpose of the spies’ report was to so frighten the Jewish people that they wouldn’t want to enter Eretz Yisroel, for (13:28) “the people are fierce ... and moreover the children of Anok we saw there.” Hence, when a later verse is added — “There we saw the nefillim (in addition to “the children of Anok”) — extra fear is generated. Therefore Rashi, in addition to the plain interpretation of “nefillim” being “giants,” adds that they “had fallen from heaven.” This causes great fear, for not only are they giants, but supernatural beings — ”fallen from heaven.”

Likewise, their names, “the children of Shamchazzoi and Azael,” also adds to their dread, and therefore Rashi includes them in his comment. The name of a person reflects on his nature; and in our case, the names “Shamchazzoi and Azael” indicate what kind of beings they were. “Shamchazzoi”: comes from the words “Chazi Shemmomah,” which means “see desolation” — indicating that one could see in Shamchazzoi that he was capable of making a place desolate. “Azael”: on the word “Azazael” in Vayikra (16:8) Rashi explains that it is “a strong hard mountain, a high peak, as it is stated ‘a land which is cut off.’” Hence the name “Azael” indicates that the person who bears it is capable of turning a civilized place into a “land which is cut off.”

Hence, knowing the names of those who “had fallen from heaven” — Shamchazzoi and Azael — increases one’s fear of them, knowing that they are so powerful they are capable of reducing a place to desolation and a land which is “cut off.” Therefore Rashi includes their names.

Although Bereishis is the first and principal place where the nefillim are mentioned, there is no necessity to mention their names there. For not only will it not serve any purpose there, but it contradicts the context of the verse. The context of the verse concerning the nefillim talks of populating the land — “when the sons of G‑d came to the daughters of men, and they bore (children) to them.” Since their names indicate the reverse of populating the land (desolation of the land) Rashi makes no mention of them. (For if he did so, he would have to explain why first they populated the land, then destroyed it etc.).

This is also why Rashi adds that their fall from heaven was “in the days of the generation of Enosh” — because this too adds to the fear of the “nefillim.” The very fact that they survived the flood shows how strong they were. Rashi need not explain how they survived the flood, for the flood was directed only at human and animal life — “I will eradicate man whom I have created from the face of the earth; from man unto beast, unto creeping thing, unto fowl of the heaven ...” Angels however, who “fell from heaven,” and their descendants, were not included. Since they were angels, they were able to survive the flood. Likewise, Rashi need not explain how Og was able to escape the flood, for Og descended from the nefillim who fell from heaven.

Rashi tells us another thing by adding the words “in the days of the generation of Enosh.” In parshas Bereishis (4:26) we learn that in the generation of Enosh “(men) then began to call upon the name of the L‑rd.” Rashi explains that in Hebrew the word for “began” — “Huchal” “is ‘an expression of profaneness;’ (men began) to call the names of man and the names of the idols by the name of the Holy One blessed be He — to make themselves idols and to call them Divine beings.” The spies said “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we,” on which Rashi says “they spoke, as it were, against G‑d (i.e. that the people are stronger than G‑d).” The spies disbelief in G‑d’s ability was similar to the idolatry in the times of Enosh — alluded to in Rashi’s comment that the nefillim fell in the times of Enosh.

The above also explains another puzzling aspect in this Rashi. After he explains what nefillin means, and after explaining the end of the verse “so we were in their sight (as grasshoppers),” Rashi explains what the word “Anok” means — “they towered (“Ma’anikim”) over the sun by virtue of their height.” The word “Anok” precedes the phrase “so we were in their sight” — why then does he quote (and explain) the word “Anok” after this phrase?

“Anok” is a person of unusual height, as Rashi on the words “men of stature” in the previous verse explains: “Huge and tall men and it is necessary to talk of them in the same measurements as Goliath ‘whose height was six cubits and a span.’” Likewise, we learn of Og that his bed was “nine cubits ... “ In the light of this, when Rashi explains that “so we were in their sight (as grasshoppers)” means “We heard them saying one to another: ‘There are ants in the vineyards, resembling human beings’” — the question arises: A normal person is about 3 cubits tall. If the Anokim were 6 or 9 cubits tall, how could they say about the spies that “There are ants in the vineyards?” The difference between 3 cubits and 6 or 9 cubits is not nearly as great as that between men and ants!

Therefore, after Rashi has explained that “so we were in their sight (as grasshoppers)” means they were as ants in the eyes of the Anokim, he must add the explanation that the Anokim were not only just taller, but infinitely so — “they towered over the sun by virtue of their height.”