1. While a farbrengen on this date (the 13th of Elul) is a new thing, may we see many such new things — Jews gathering together in a holy place of prayer and Torah study for the purpose of increasing in Torah, mitzvos and praying. Moreover, through modern technology, it is possible to be united with Jews the world over, that they can instantly hear everything being said here — which has a far loftier effect than when Torah is repeated later by an emissary. Thus the gathering together of many Jews, including those overseas, emphasizes the idea of Ahavas Yisroel and unity as a means to increase in Judaism. The Alter Rebbe once said that a Chassidic farbrengen can effect more than the angel Michoel can; for when our Father in Heaven sees his children acting lovingly, He is filled with delight and fulfills all their desires.

Parenthetically, the ultimate purpose of technology is that it be used for holy matters, as stated: “All that the Holy One blessed be He created in this world was solely for His glory,” and “The only glory is Torah.” Thus we see that modern technology is to be used for increasing in the dissemination of Torah.

Although it is possible to utilize it for worldly matters (and even things antithetical to sanctity), this is only because man is given free choice. Indeed, when others use technology for undesirable purposes, Jews must rectify this by using it for holy purposes; and then the sanctity produced is that much greater, coming as it does from previous “darkness.’

To return to our main topic: In addition to the above, there is an added distinction to this farbrengen being held in the month of Elul. The Alter Rebbe explains the distinction of Elul by the parable to “the King in the field, when all may go to greet him and he receives them all graciously and favorably ... so too in the month of Elul we go to greet G‑d in the field ... and ‘the L‑rd causes His countenance to shine upon you.’” And of course, G‑d receives us in a far more gracious and favorable manner than a mere human king (in the parable).

Since Elul is special in that the King is revealed, then, since “the glory of the King is in a multitude of people,” the more people, the greater the glory. Thus a farbrengen held in this month, with many Jews gathering together, adds to the “multitude of people” and therefore the “glory of the King.” This is especially so when we count all those people listening to the farbrengen through modern technology (radio etc.). In turn, the concept of “the glory of the King is in a multitude of people” gives added distinction to the graciousness with which the King (G‑d) receives each Jew.

Besides this overall distinction of the farbrengen being in Elul, each day of the month has its own unique element of service; and today, the 13th of Elul, is the anniversary of the previous Rebbe’s wedding in 5657. While every year sees an added elevation in all things associated with the concept of a wedding, this year is particularly special for it marks the 85th anniversary. Eighty five is five times seventeen, and seventeen in Hebrew numerology is “tov” — “good.” “Good” indicates the concept of kindness, and there are five categories of kindness (corresponding to the five fingers of the right hand). Thus the number 85 indicates the ultimate in the five types of kindness. The greatness of the 13th of Elul this year then is that all matters associated with it are reflected in the ultimate of good — and are revealed in this world in the sphere of actual deed.


2. In addition, since it is now the night of the 14th of Elul, there is a lesson to be learned from its special significance. The Alter Rebbe writes: “The early Sages decreed in the time of the existence of the Bais Hamikdosh that the speakers should start to publicly expound the laws of the festival 30 days before the festival. That is, from Purim on they should expound the laws of Pesach; and from the 5th of Iyar on they should expound the laws of Shavuos; and from the 14th of Elul on they should expound the laws of Sukkos. This is because each and every Jew who lived in Eretz Yisroel is obligated to bring 3 sacrifices on Yom Tov: A burnt-offering, a Yom Tov offering, and a joy offering ... Therefore the Sages decreed to expound the laws of the Yom Tov 30 days beforehand to remind the people...”

The distinction of the 14th of Elul then is that on that day we start to learn and expound the laws of Sukkos. Since “whoever engages in the study of the laws of the burnt offering, it is as if he actually brought a burnt offering,” it follows that when we study the laws of Sukkos it is as if we already celebrate the festival. And although we are in exile and cannot bring the Sukkos sacrifice, the Alter Rebbe continues to say that “this decree was not abolished from Israel even after the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed.”

In practical terms, the 14th of Elul is the appropriate time to remind people about learning the laws of Sukkos thirty days beforehand. In addition, one must endeavor to supply every Jew with the needs of Sukkos, just as it is customary to do so for Pesach. Likewise with the needs of Rosh Hashanah, of which it is stated: “Eat sumptuously, drink sweet beverages, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared.” Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch states that on Rosh Hashanah “it is customary to eat fat meat and to drink honey and all types of sweet beverages, so that this year should be sweet and fat.” In addition, it is customary to eat types of food that are portents for good things. Hence one must ensure that all Jews can obtain these things for Rosh Hashanah. In addition, for the joy of the festival to be proper, a Jew must be helped to obtain the requisite clothing, and in general to help him in his financial position. Then he can enjoy Yom Tov properly, and, since he has no financial worries, will enjoy his Yom Tov eating and drinking. In practical terms: To send financial help (or its equivalent) to those in need, and the more the better.

In connection with helping Jews, it is appropriate to once again talk of one’s relationship with all Jews. The whole year one must deal with a Jew, say our Sages, in the manner of “the right hand draws close (i.e. to approach a Jew with warmth and friendliness, as opposed to “the left hand deters”). The Talmud says this even in relation to a Jew who practices sorcery and attempts to draw others away from belief in G‑d. In our times, when such categories do not exist, one’s approach to a fellow Jew must certainly be with “the right hand draws close”! And this is particularly so in Elul, the month of mercy, when the King is found in the field and receives all Jews graciously and favorably — even Jews “in the field,” referring to those who engage in worldly affairs (“affairs of the field”).


3. Following the 14th of Elul comes the 15th, when “the moon is in its fullness.” The unique element of the 15th of Elul in Lubavitch is that on that day the Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim was founded in 5657. It was founded during the festive wedding meal in the seven days of festivities of the previous Rebbe’s wedding in 5657 (as commented upon previously). Hence the 15th of Elul this year marks the 85th year of the Yeshiva’s founding; and, as explained above, since 85 indicates the ultimate in good and kindness (5 times “Good”), the 15th of Elul this year effects a special loftiness in all things associated with Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim (and other affiliated institutions under different names).

The increase in things associated with the Yeshivah must first and foremost begin with the principal function of the Yeshivah — Torah study, the exoteric together with the esoteric. The Rebbe Rashab (who founded the Yeshivah) writes in Kuntres Eitz HaChayim that the purpose of it was “to found a place where they shall study ... and engage studiously in the study of the Talmud and its commentaries. Simultaneously, there shall be a good supervision of them to implant the roots of faith and awe in their hearts, ... to know the L‑rd.” That is, the purpose of the Yeshivah was the study of the exoteric (Talmud) together with Chassidus — ”One Torah.” Just as the soul and body are one, so too, the exoteric in Torah (the “body”) is one with the esoteric (the “soul” — inner part of Torah).

This was the idea in founding Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim: Until then, Chassidus was learnt separately (both in place and way of learning); in Tomchei Tmimim, they would learn the exoteric and the esoteric together — in one place and as “one Torah.” In plain terms: When learning the exoteric in Torah, it should be recognizable upon a person that he possesses the concept of “Know the G‑d of your fathers and serve Him with a whole heart.”

There is a connection between Tomchei Tmimim and the date on which it was founded, the 15th of Elul, when “the moon is at its fullness.” In Torah in general, there is a difference between Torah study, and the deeds that result from that study. Of course, the ultimate perfection of Torah study is only when it is translated into deed: the synthesis of study and deed. These two aspects exist in Torah study itself; the exoteric and the esoteric. The exoteric, the “body” of the Torah, is similar to the aspect of deed in Torah; the esoteric, the “soul” of the Torah, is similar to the aspect of study in Torah. And the synthesis of study and deed is similar to the synthesis of the exoteric and the esoteric.

Furthermore, Jews are compared to the moon, and therefore “they are destined to be renewed like it.” The state of the moon on the 15th of the month, when it is at its fullest, corresponds to the ultimate perfection of Jews — in the future redemption. And in the future, the synthesis of study and deed will reach its peak of perfection.

This then is the connection between the founding of Tomchei Tmimim (with its emphasis on the synthesis between the exoteric and the esoteric) and the 15th of Elul. The perfection of this synthesis will be in the future, when the state of Jews will be in its ultimate perfection — which is expressed by “the moon at its fullness.”

4. There is a further lesson to be learned from the daily portion of Chumash learned on the 15th of Elul — the sixth portion of parshas Sovo. It states: “The L‑rd shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before you in seven ways.” In spiritual terms, “your enemy” refers to the Yetzer Horah, who is the spiritual “enemy and avenger.” Scripture tells us “they will flee before you in seven ways,” for man’s spiritual service is principally with the seven middos (soul-characteristics).

The service of “they will flee before you” indicates that the Yetzer Horah still exists, but one’s service causes him to “flee before you.” Following this comes the service of converting the Yetzer Horah to good. This general service (“fleeing before you” leading one to the ultimate of converting the Yetzer Horah) has particular application to Elul, the month of teshuvah (repentance).

Through the spiritual service of “they will flee before you” — the abolition of our sins (which is the cause of exile), the exile (the result of our sins) will also be abolished — for when the cause is eliminated, the effect is also eliminated. Although we are still in exile and must still wait some few moments for the true and complete redemption, nevertheless, the literal fulfillment of “they will flee before you” is realized. As Scripture states further: “All the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of the L‑rd is called upon you and they will fear you.”

When a Jew goes in the strength of G‑d, to the extent that the “peoples of the earth” actually see that “the Name of the L‑rd is called upon you,” then “they will fear you” and will “flee from before you in seven ways.” Moreover, not only will they flee because of fear of Jews (fear of their weapons, which in reality is fear of G‑d, for the strength of the Jew is really the strength of G‑d), but “they will fear you” means they will have fear born of respect — when they see that “the Name of the L‑rd is called upon you.”

The above is particularly relevant in these times. Some people think that true peace has been achieved, and peace reigns throughout the world. But we see recently that the opposite is true: However bad the situation was before, most recently nations are quarreling and fighting with each other even more so! Likewise, recent events have emphatically demonstrated that the Jewish people cannot rely on the nations of the world — “Do not place your trust in benefactors, in mortal man, for he cannot bring deliverance.” Jews must therefore go in the strength of G‑d, such that “all the peoples of the earth shall see that the Name of the L‑rd is called upon you.” Jews must proclaim that “we raise our banner in the name of our G‑d,” and “we invoke the Name of the L‑rd our G‑d” — and therefore act as we must. The peoples of the world then “will fear you,” knowing a Jew is G‑d’s envoy.

Jews are the envoys of G‑d, fulfilling His mission with His strength. But since G‑d wants things to occur naturally, a Jew therefore has weapons. But he will not need to use these weapons, for when the peoples see that G‑d’s name is upon the Jews, they fear them; and not only do they “flee before you in seven ways,” but are turned into friends and supporters — “kings shall be your foster fathers.”

There is an episode related in the Talmud which illustrates this idea of non-Jews being “your foster fathers” (i.e. helping Jews in all their matters) when Jews conduct themselves properly. The Talmud relates (Zevachim 19a): “R. Ashi said, Hunah bar Nosson told me, I was once standing before King Izgedar (a Persian king); my girdle lay high up (above the elbows), whereupon he pulled it down (to make it presentable) saying: It is written of you ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (and therefore you must conduct yourself as befitting the beauty of a priest, of whom it is stated ‘they shall not gird themselves in (a place of) sweat’ — and above the elbows is a place of sweat). When I came before Amemar he said to me, the verse ‘kings shall be your foster fathers’ has been fulfilled in you.”

King Izgedar was the king of Persia, one of the mightiest empires of that time. Huna bar Nosson lived in a country that was under King Izgedar’s rule, and was therefore obliged to honor him, for “the law of the land is (considered by Torah as) law.” Nevertheless, when King Izgedar saw that Huna bar Nosson was wearing his girdle (for he was not ashamed to dress as a Jew!) in a manner unbecoming for the “beauty of priests,” and knowing that Jews are called a “kingdom of priests,” he did not wait for Huna to ask him (the king) to adjust it for him (something which Huna would of course not do since he could fix it himself) but immediately he went and adjusted it himself!

This story contains an eternal lesson, relevant for our times also. When a Jew conducts himself properly, then, the concept of “kings will be your foster fathers” is effected — not just in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh, but also in exile, standing before the king of Persia!

When a Jew is in exile under non-Jewish rule, and he knows that a Jew must pray for the welfare of the country and that “the law of the country is law” — simultaneously his conduct in anything associated with Judaism is with the steadfastness of the “pride of Ya’akov.” Every Jew is a son of Avraham, Yitzchok and Ya’akov, and he inherits the strength of the “pride of Ya’akov.” A Jew is not affected by non-Jews and non-Jewishness; he acts with the “pride of Ya’akov.” G‑d forbid that a Jew should act obsequiously before a non-Jew, or to flatter him! Such conduct besmirches the “pride of Ya’akov,” especially since the non-Jew knows the flattery is false, mere lip-service. “The law of the land is law” only applies in things that have nothing to do with Judaism. In regard to Halachah, Torah, a Jew is master of the world! This is the lesson from the above story in the Talmud: When a Jew conducts himself as is fitting, even non-Jews recognize that “Of you it is written ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’” — and therefore they act in the manner of “kings will be your foster fathers.”


5. The world, as can plainly be seen, is in a precarious state of affairs, and growing worse from day to day. To ensure the world’s stability, it is well to resolve (without vowing) to increase in giving tzedakah every day until (and inclusive of) Hosha’ana Rabbah — except of course, on Shabbos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Yom Tov. So that it should not have the binding force of a vow, it is better not to give the same amount every day. The time for giving the tzedakah is at the beginning of the day, before the morning prayer.

May it be G‑d’s will that the resolution for this already have its effect. Although night is not an auspicious time for tzedakah, nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch states that when one makes a good resolution, the effect is immediate, although its implementation may come only later. Thus in this case, may the resolution to give an added amount of tzedakah already effect all those matters that the actual giving of tzedakah effects.