1. This gathering marks the conclusion of summer camp; and a gathering of Jews (particularly children), must be associated with Torah, prayer and tzedakah. Therefore we assemble in a holy place, a synagogue and study-hall where we pray and learn Torah every day and fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah.

The conclusion of summer camp is not an end, but a preparation to a higher step in Torah and mitzvos. Torah says of every Jew that “Man is a tree of the field,” meaning that man should be as a “tree,” which continually grows and produces fruit, which in turn produces fruit, ad infinitum. Hence there is no such thing as an “end” for a Jew, for he must always be growing, rising to an ever higher level, to produce ever better fruit. Thus a “conclusion” is only relative to a particular level, when one level is concluded and one now ascends to the next higher one.

So too the conclusion of summer camp: Since “man is a tree of the field;” then, also in the “field” he utilizes all opportunities therein to grow in the finest manner. In other words, also when in summer camp, engaging in healthy activities (similar to a “field”), simultaneously one increases in all holy matters — Torah study, prayer and fulfillment of mitzvos. Indeed, the purpose of having a healthy body is to enable one to increase mightily in Torah matters. Therefore the conclusion of summer camp is the conclusion of a particular step and manner of growth, which serves as a preparation to a loftier step in the days that are to follow. This means that after concluding summer camp, more life and light is added in all matters of service to G‑d.

The above is emphasized by the conclusion of summer camp being in the month of Elul. Since, as the Baal Shem Tov said, nothing is by chance but by Divine Providence, there is a special lesson to be learned from the camps’ conclusion being in Elul.

The unique concept of Elul is that then the “king is in the field,” and all may meet with and request their needs from him — and the king receives each person pleasantly and favorably. This is the connection to that discussed above concerning “man is a tree of the field:” even when in the field one utilizes all opportunities to increase in one’s personal growth and increase in Torah and mitzvos.

In practical terms, each one of you must utilize the physical and spiritual abilities accumulated during summer camp to increase yet further in Torah and mitzvos. From the conclusion of the stay in camp one goes with a joyful dance into the month of Elul, and meets the king in the field such that the king rejoices with each one of you, and you with the king — “Yisroel should rejoice with its Maker” and “G‑d rejoices with His works.” All this is utilized to increase in all matters of Torah and mitzvos — and with joy. And consonant with the command “You shall love your fellow as yourself,” you should influence all those around you to do likewise.

The general theme of Elul — when the king is in the field — is the preparation for the coming year, such that we go together with the king to his capital, and to the royal palace. Through this spiritual accompaniment of the king we hasten its literal realization, when very soon all Jews go with G‑d from exile (“field”) in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach. All Jewry — “the people in its entirety,” together with “the Torah in its entirety” — all the Torah and mitzvos fulfilled, will go to Eretz Yisroel, “the land which ... the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d are continuously upon it, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year” — the “land in its entirety.” In Eretz Yisroel itself, we will go to the capital — the holy city of Yerushalayim, and therein to the royal palace — the Bais Hamikdosh.

2. The Alter Rebbe taught that we must live with the times, meaning our daily conduct must be consonant to the lessons derived from the weekly parshah, and in particular from the daily portion of each day. Today is the third day of parshas Ki Sovo: The name of the parshah, “Sovo,” which means “you will come” refers to entering Eretz Yisroel — “When you will come to the land which the L‑rd your G‑d gives you as an inheritance, and you will inherit it and dwell in it.” The land belongs to the Jews as an “inheritance,” and they live there permanently — ”dwell in it.”

Eretz Yisroel is special in that it is the “land which the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d are continually upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year” — G‑dliness is revealed in greater fashion in Eretz Yisroel than in other lands. Thus a Jew’s service, wherever he may live (even outside Eretz Yisroel), must be consonant with the lesson learned from parshas Sovo — “When you will come to the land”: his service is to make the place where he lives into a spiritual “Eretz Yisroel” by revealing G‑dliness (through Torah study and performance of mitzvos). This service is in the manner of “you will inherit it and dwell in it”: “inherit it”, for Torah and mitzvos are the inheritance of all Jews — ”The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Ya’akov”; “dwell in it,” for this service is a permanent fixture of everyday life.

There is also a particular lesson to be learned from today’s portion of Chumash — the third portion of Sovo. It states: “You have set apart the L‑rd .. and the L‑rd has set you apart” — meaning, Rashi explains, that “you have separated yourself from the strange gods that He should be your G‑d, and He has set you apart to Him from among the nations of the earth to be His treasured nation.” It means also, (as Rashi writes further), that G‑d grants praise to the Jews, as stated “Your people are all righteous ... the works of My hands in which to take pride;” and the Jews take pride in G‑d, that they chose Him to be king over them, and conduct themselves according to His directives the entire year.

Since these verses are part of the third portion of the week’s parshah, there is an extra lesson associated with the special distinction of the third day — when “it was good” was said twice — “good for heaven and good for creatures:” The concept of “You have set apart the L‑rd and the L‑rd has set you apart” must be in the fashion of “good for heaven and good for creatures.” Besides one’s personal service (“good for heaven”) one must also influence others (“good for creatures”) to also be in the situation of “You have set apart the L‑rd and the L‑rd has set you apart;” they too must take pride in G‑d and G‑d take pride in them.

The concept of “You have set apart the L‑rd and the L‑rd has set you apart” is associated with Rosh Hashanah, and therefore these verses are learned in Elul, the month which is a preparation to the service of Rosh Hashanah. The service of Rosh Hashanah is the crowning of the King (G‑d) and acceptance of His sovereignty, as stated “His sovereignty they willingly accepted upon themselves.” This is the idea of “You have set apart the L‑rd and the L‑rd has set you apart.” So that this service should be proper, G‑d gives us time to prepare-the month of Elul, in which special strength is given for this service — when the King is in the field and helps each person to prepare for this service.

In practical terms, each of you must utilize — with joy and good heart — the special abilities given in Elul. This must be done amidst Ahavas Yisroel: to unite all Jews through Torah study, acquiring a letter in a Sefer Torah, and performance of mitzvos — all of which unite Jews into one entity. When all Jews are one, they merit and increase in G‑d’s blessings — “Bless us our Father, all of us as one, in the light of Your countenance.”


3. When a Jew makes a good resolution, he must show that he is eager to begin implementing it, knowing that “deed is the essential thing.” Hence, in addition to good resolutions to increase in Torah and mitzvos, we must immediately begin something concrete. Therefore, in addition to having now prayed the Minchah prayer and learned the 12 verses and sayings of our Sages, you shall increase yet further in Torah and mitzvos, with joy and good heart: You shall sing the verse “Indeed, the righteous will extol Your Name; the upright will dwell in Your presence” (a verse in Torah); and sing the prayer “May it be Your will ... that the Bais Hamikdosh be rebuilt speedily in our days.” Afterwards you will fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah, as is customary at every gathering to give each of you two coins, one of which is to be given to tzedakah.

Moreover, we once spoke that it is a good thing for every child, boy and girl, to have his/her own Siddur to pray in, and his/her own “tzedakah box.” Therefore all those who do not have their own Siddur or tzedakah box should certainly try to acquire them. Each of you should resolve to give at least one cent to tzedakah on each day of the months of Elul and Tishrei until after Hoshanah Rabbah. Obviously, tzedakah is given only on weekdays, not on Shabbos, Yom Tov or Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Then, in accordance with our Sages’ saying that “Tzedakah is greatest for it brings near the redemption,” may it be G‑d’s will that the resolution to increase in the mitzvah of tzedakah hasten the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

May it be G‑d’s will that these actions be the beginning of your increase in the three areas of Torah, prayer and good deeds (performance of mitzvos). These actions will effect an increase in the stability of the world, for the world will be conducted according to G‑d’s will. This is the proper preparation “to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Al-mighty” in the redemption. And, as is understood, these actions will also effect and increase in G‑d’s blessing for “the small world which is man” — we already receive G‑d’s blessings for a good and sweet year.