[This address was delivered by the Rebbe Shlita after Minchah on the half-day fast on the 7th of Tammuz called by Agudas HaRabbonim of America and Canada in view of the grave situation in Eretz Yisroel.]

1. The Alter Rebbe explains in Iggeret Hakodesh (Ch. 2) that a fast day is a “desirable day (to G‑d).” This applies also to a half-day fast (only until past noon), as the Alter Rebbe notes that the Talmud Yerushalmi considers this also a fast. Hence this time must be utilized to speak words of inspiration (only a few words, for since many are still fasting, one should not prolong their affliction). It is to be strongly hoped that these following words will bear fruit, for “deed is the essential thing” — and this will justify the body’s affliction during the fast. These deeds will further hasten the exodus of Jews from exile (the greatest of afflictions) in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

The idea of a fast being a “desirable day” applies to all fasts. In addition, there is a special lesson to be learned from the portion of Chumash learned today — the second portion of parshas Chukas Balak. It relates a story emphasizing the praise of Israel. G‑d commanded Moshe Rabbeinu (Bamidbar 20: 8): “Take the staff, and assemble the community, you and Aharon your brother, and speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will give forth its water; and you shall (thus) bring forth water to them from the rock, and you shall give the community and their livestock to drink.” The greatness of the Jews was such that they were worthy of having a miracle performed to give them water; and, since G‑d “has consideration for the wealth of Israel,” the water was also for their livestock.

Moreover, in this parshah it is related that the Jews were on a low spiritual level: they had complained against G‑d and Moshe (that they had no water) to the extent that Moshe and Aharon were forced to flee “from the assembly to the entrance of the Ohel Moed.” Nevertheless, G‑d commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to take the staff and fulfill the demands of the complainers to give them (and even their livestock) water!

Another point in this story further demonstrates the greatness of the Jews. Scripture goes on to relate that although G‑d commanded Moshe Rabbeinu “Speak to the rock,” “Moshe raised his hand and struck the rock.” For this Moshe and Aharon were punished, as stated “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this community into the land which I have given them.”

Although the producing of the water through striking the rock was also a sanctification of the Name of Heaven for those who saw such a miracle, (as indicated by a prior episode in parshas Beshallach when Moshe was commanded to strike the rock), nevertheless, it cannot compare to the sanctification when the miracle of the water occurred solely through speaking to the rock. And the difference in sanctification of G‑d’s Name by striking or speaking to the rock was so great that Moshe was punished for not speaking to it.

This emphasizes how praiseworthy the Jews were: Even when they were in such a low state that Moshe and Aharon had to flee from them, they were still fit for one of the greatest of miracles — to receive the revelation of G‑dliness and sanctification of G‑d’s Name in the loftiest fashion (through speaking to the rock).

2. The great merit of Jews is emphasized most strongly in our generation, every Jew being in the category of a “brand plucked from the fire”: even after the terrible tragedy of this generation he has remained a believer in G‑d and His Torah. This certainly applies to the Jews in Eretz Yisroel, the “land which the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d are always upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year” — for it is a great merit to be in the “air of Eretz Yisroel.” And it is even more true of those Jews who literally risk their lives daily to guard Eretz Yisroel and its citizens. Their merit is exceedingly great, and they are on the loftiest of levels — as demonstrated by the open miracles shown by G‑d in connection to the actions taken most recently to assure the security of Eretz Yisroel. And since G‑d has shown open miracles, it is G‑d’s will that when a good thing is started, especially something concerned with saving lives, it must be finished to the end.

The question is asked: Surely G‑d shows miracles only through a great tzaddik (righteous person). How then can we say that great miracles were witnessed (in the recent campaign)?

However, there are tens of stories in the Talmud and Midrash of miracles performed even through the agency of animals, and certainly people — irrelevant of the spiritual standing of the one through whom G‑d has elected to perform a miracle for Jews. G‑d is not limited by human intellect, and thus can choose to perform a miracle through animals or people on any level — even if it does not find favor in human eyes! The above stories in the Talmud and Midrash teach us an eternal lesson that G‑d can show miracles through whomever He chooses, without any limits. Certainly then, the children of Avraham, Yitzchok and Ya’akov, and particularly those who are prepared to literally sacrifice their life to protect the land and its inhabitants, are the most fitting of “vessels” through whom to perform open miracles.

Thus it was recently, that the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces witnessed open miracles: Wherever they came, their enemies fled before them — ”in seven ways they shall flee before you.” G‑d forbid to say that these open miracles seen in the last few weeks and days were the result of “my strength and the might of my hand.” Woe to such an attitude! It was the strength and might of G‑d — ”By the great strength of Your arm they shall be still as stone.” Only G‑d can show open miracles (as those lately witnessed).

In addition to the open miracles witnessed by the military, there are further miraculous matters that were completely not envisioned. We have mentioned on previous occasions that the fact that the President of the U.S.A. travelled abroad for 10 days was an open miracle and clear directive that there were 10 days available in which to complete the operation of assuring the security of Eretz Yisroel without any pressure from the U.S.A. (since the President was away). Following this, there were a further 9 days in which the Prime Minister of Eretz Yisroel was in the U.S.A. — so that they could complete this operation during these days without complaint against him (since he was overseas). But because of our many sins, these days were not fully utilized!

Since G‑d is “benevolent, compassionate and gracious,” He has given yet another opportunity to complete the above campaign, by showing a further open miracle. When the Prime Minister came to Washington, he effected a radical change in the attitude to the Jews and Arabs. No one envisioned that the U.S.A. would agree to and support the present status quo. The previous day there was complete opposition, and yet a radical change happened. Not only did they not pressure Eretz Yisroel, but the reverse: they supported Eretz Yisroel! These miracles were not lesser than those witnessed by the military.

A further miracle, no less great, was the change in Secretaries of State; and in the U.S.A., the transition period is very long. This is a clear indication that these days can be utilized properly without fear of any pressure, for it is a reasonable excuse that the Secretary of State needs time to “learn the ropes” and fill his predecessor’s position, and he must familiarize himself with all the facts and causes etc.

Although the previous opportunities were not utilized, since however G‑d has shown open miracles in all the above things, we must at least utilize the coming days properly. The campaign to assure the security of the Jews of Eretz Yisroel must be completed, so they may live safely such that “sword will not pass in your land,” even a “sword of peace” (of the U.N. — and woe to the “peace” they are able to bring!).

The conclusion of the campaign shall be with full and true trust in “the L‑rd, G‑d of Hosts.” Then open miracles will also be witnessed from now on, and in a peaceful fashion — war will be unnecessary, for through Jews’ fear of G‑d, there will be fulfilled the promise “All the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of the L‑rd is called upon you and they will fear you.” And as mentioned many times, the full conclusion of this campaign is the only way to assure that the Jews of Eretz Yisroel will be able to live safely and unafraid.

3. May it be G‑d’s will that very soon we merit the fulfillment of the promise brought in the end of today’s portion of Tehillim (43:3-4): “Send Your light and truth; they will lead me and bring me to Your holy mountain and to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to G‑d’s altar, to G‑d my exceeding joy; and I will praise You with the lyre ...” All Jews merit to come to the holy city of Yerushalayim, with great joy — when the promise “He puts an end to darkness” will be fulfilled, and there will be the beginning of the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

The previous Rebbe said: “It was not with our will we were exiled from Eretz Yisroel, and it is not with our might that we will return to Eretz Yisroel; our Father our King may He be blessed exiled us from our land and He may He be blessed will redeem us ... through Moshiach the righteous redeemer.” From this we infer that the action Jews may take to bring nearer the redemption is our service in spreading Judaism, particularly Chassidus — for through this we effect the coming of Moshiach. This includes working with self-sacrifice in educating Jewish children who are called “My anointed ones (Moshiach).” Moreover, “from the mouths of babes and sucklings You have ordained strength to still the enemy and avenger.” Hence we must immeasurably increase in all efforts of education.

All of this will hasten the exodus from exile “with our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters,” all Jews together, “a great community” — through the general concept of Ahavas Yisroel which is a “great principle in the Torah.” And especially when all Jews unite by each one purchasing a letter in one of the general Sefer Torahs.

Ahavas Yisroel is expressed also in education: in addition to educating oneself one also educates one’s surrounding in all matters of Judaism, Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos. This starts with the mitzvah of tefillin, as our Sages have said: “The whole Torah is compared to tefillin;” and particularly to ensure that the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces put on tefillin. Likewise with the other mitzvah campaigns: mezuzah, tzedakah, house full of Jewish books, Shabbos and Yom Tov lights, kashrus, and family purity. The general idea of family purity is associated with the purification of the “waters of sprinkling” mentioned in this week’s parshah, Chukas. Through this we hasten the fulfillment of the promise “I will sprinkle purifying waters upon you and you shall be pure” — the nullification of the darkness of exile in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

4. “Deed is the essential thing” in all of the above, from which they extend into all matters of Torah and mitzvos. As a beginning in the area of deed, one should increase now in the mitzvah of tzedakah, before the conclusion of the fast. That is, before eating, each person should show that the needs of the poor are more important to him than his own needs, and therefore gives tzedakah before eating.

At the same time, each one should make good resolutions in regard to all of the above, whose central message is that it depends on us to eradicate the exile. As the Rambam writes: “Torah has promised that Yisroel will eventually repent ... and immediately they will be redeemed.” Then we merit the fulfillment of the promise given in the portion of Tehillim of the 7th day of the month of Tammuz, the “month of liberation”: “Send Your light and truth; they will lead me ... I will go to G‑d’s altar, to G‑d my exceeding joy; and I will praise You with the lyre ...” — the seven-stringed lyre, the eight-stringed lyre, and finally the ten-stringed lyre — the “ten-stringed instrument.” This is also associated with the “fullness of the land” — the “land of the seven nations;” and when “the L‑rd your G‑d will broaden your borders,” it will be the land of the ten nations, similar to the “ten-stringed instrument.”

The fulfillment of this promise is hastened by the firm resolution to guard the land in its fullness, and likewise in regard to the “fullness of the people” and “fullness of the Torah” — to bring every Jew near to Judaism, and to unite all Jews through the general Sefer Torahs — to the extent that all Jews observe the Torah and its commandments in their entirety.

Amen, may it be G‑d’s will, speedily in our times.