1. The general concept of Chof MarCheshvan (20th of MarCheshvan), the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, exists every year. In addition, there are special lessons to be learned from the day on which it falls. For example, this year Chof MarCheshvan is on Tuesday of Parshas Chaye Sarah. However, Chof MarCheshvan falls out on Tuesday on other years, and there must be a lesson unique in this year.

The distinction of Chof MarCheshvan of this year is that it marks the 122nd year since the birth of the Rebbe Rashab (born in 5621). The Baal Shem Tov inaugurated the custom of saying daily the chapter of Tehillim (Psalms) commensurate with one’s age. The appropriate chapter for each year is begun on one’s birthday.

The Rebbe Rashab was accustomed to say a Ma’amar (Chassidic discourse) to his son, the Previous Rebbe, every year on his (the Rebbe Rashab’s) birthday. The last one said during his lifetime was based on a verse from Ch. 60 of Tehillim, the Rebbe Rashab passing away in his sixtieth year. However, even after his passing away, the Previous Rebbe related that his father appeared to him on his (the Rebbe Rashab’s) 84th birthday (i.e. after having passed away) and told him that Ma’amarim based on Ch. 84 were said in the Heavenly spheres. For a person’s ‘Mazal’ is on the ascendancy on his birthday, effecting an incomparably great elevation. This is expressed in the saying of a new chapter of Tehillim, it being relevant to the whole year until the next year’s birthday.

Since this year marks the beginning of the 122nd year since the Rebbe Rashab’s birthday, the appropriate chapter in Tehillim is Ch. 122. This is the distinction of this year compared to all past and future years. And since this chapter is said the entire year, the lessons derived from it are especially applicable to the whole of this year. Ch. 122’s contents are about the idea of peace, and love for a fellow Jew. For example, verse 8 states: “For the sake of my brethren and friends, I ask that there be peace within you.” Likewise, verse 3 states: “Yerushalayim that is built like a city in which [all Israel] is united together.” This expresses the general idea of unity and love of a fellow Jew, as our Sages have interpreted it: “a city that is joined together — a city that makes all Jews friends.” This unity engendered by Yerushalayim is not just in spiritual matters, but also expresses itself in physical things.

This concept is also expressed in a passage in the Talmud (Ta’anis 5a) “The Holy One blessed be He said: ‘I will not enter the Yerushalayim of Above (i.e. the heavenly Yerushalayim) until I can enter the Yerushalayim of below (i.e. the earthly Yerushalayim). Is there then a heavenly Yerushalayim? Yes. For it is written: ‘Yerushalayim that is built like a city in which [all Israel] is united together.’“ And Rashi explains that: “the Yerushalayim of below is built as a city that has a companion which is similar to it.”1

This Talmudic passage is clarified with reference to a commentary in Likkutei Torah on Shir Hashirim. It explains that the “daughters of Yerushalayim” mentioned in Shir Hashirim (5:16) refer to “the souls that have not yet descended to this world to be enclothed in a body...” When these souls do descend below, they descend from the Yerushalayim of Above to the Yerushalayim of below, to fulfill their mission of converting the “below” (this physical, corporeal world) to a “Yerushalayim of below” (to make the physical world a fit dwelling place for G‑d).

There are two general types of souls (“daughters of Yerushalayim”): those in the category of “the heads of your tribes,” referring to those souls on the level of Yerushalayim of Above; and those in the category of “your wood choppers and water drawers,” referring to those souls on the level of Yerushalayim of below. The verse “Yerushalayim that is built like a city in which [all Israel] is united together” teaches us that there must be unity between the Yerushalayim of above and that of below, between the two extremes of “your heads” and “your wood choppers and water drawers” — the idea of unity and love between Jews.

In other words: Despite the fact that there are different levels among Jews (“heads” and “water drawers”), and each category must perform the spiritual service suitable to it, there must nevertheless be unity between them. Indeed, the verse states: “You are standing today all of you before the L‑rd your G‑d, your heads... to your water drawers” — “all of you” meaning “to unite them as one.” Furthermore, the context of the above stated Talmudic passage is about G‑d’s entering Yerushalayim of below (and then Yerushalayim of Above) — the idea of the final redemption. And our Sages have said: “Israel will not be redeemed until they will all be one (united) group” (Tanchuma Nitzavim).

But all is not clear. How is it possible to achieve true unity when Torah itself states that there are differences among Jews — heads, wood choppers, water drawers etc.? However, our Sages have taught that the preparation and preliminary to Mat-tan Torah (Giving of the Torah) was the unity of Jews. This is seen in the verse relating their encampment at Mt. Sinai which states (Shemos 19:2) “And Yisroel encamped there before the mountain,” on which our Sages point out that “encamped” (in Hebrew) is singular tense, teaching us that they were ‘as one man with one heart.’ Only when they were united did G‑d consider them fit to receive the Torah, This unity was effected by “Yisroel encamped there before the mountain,” Mt. Sinai on which G‑d gave the Torah. It was the revelation of “And G‑d descended on Mt. Sinai” which effected the complete unity of Jews.

So too in our case. Unity between the different categories of Jews is effected when “You are standing today all of you before the L‑rd your G‑d, your heads... to your water drawers.” The standing “before the L‑rd your G‑d” effects that it should be “all of you” — “to unite them as one.”

Jews must be united all the time, as evidenced by the inclusion of the verse “For the sake of my brethren and friends I ask that there be peace within you” in the prayers said every day (in “Ein Kelokeinu”). Nevertheless, the fact that this year we begin to say Ch. 122 of Tehillim (corresponding to the Rebbe Rashab’s birthday, as explained above), which includes this verse and others speaking of unity and love between Jews, is an indication that such unity and love should be emphasized and strengthened this year.

In practical terms, this means to intensify working in those areas connected with Ahavas Yisroel, in a peaceful and serene manner. And just as the idea of peace is mentioned several times in this chapter, so too one must not be content with just one effort in this area, but must continue many more times. If one speaks truly from the heart, his words will surely enter the person’s heart the first time. And if not, one should examine oneself, for perhaps the problem lies within himself!

From Ahavas Yisroel we draw inspiration for the other mitzvah campaigns: Jewish education, Torah study, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah, house full of Jewish books, Shabbos lights, Kashrus, and family purity. Through all Jews being united and having Ahavas Yisroel to each other, we effect the concept of “Bless us our Father... in the light of Your countenance,” with which we merit the fulfillment of our request “L‑rd G‑d of hosts, restore us, light up Your countenance, and we shall be delivered” in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach, speedily in our times.

2. Now is also the appropriate time to mention again the most recent campaign to unite all Jews by each purchasing a letter in a Sefer Torah. Although a Sefer Torah contains hundreds of thousands of letters, each a distinct separate entity, they all combine to form “the one Torah.” It is a Torah of truth and is eternal, and is perfect and complete only when all the letters are present. When Jews purchase letters in a Sefer Torah, with money that could have been used to buy essential things for one’s ‘life,’ then he is giving his ‘life’ to purchase a letter. In this way he unites with all other Jews in an eternal bond, through the eternal Torah.

As explained before, although there are different categories among Jews, when they are standing “before the L‑rd your G‑d” they are united, “all of you together.” Likewise in this case. Through everyone participating in the writing of a Sefer Torah, they are united together. Hence efforts to have people purchase a letter in the Sefer Torah must be intensified, thus ensuring true unity of the Jewish people.

Such efforts must be in the manner of “His word runs must swiftly.” There are two ways in which G‑dliness is drawn down into this world. From stage to stage, and from one spiritual world to the next, until it reaches below, to this physical corporeal world. In this fashion, G‑dliness is not drawn down directly but must pass through each of the various stages, influenced by the inherent limitations of each stage. This is expressed in the first part of the verse: “He sends forth His command to the earth.” A second manner is when G‑dliness comes from the loftiest heights to this world without being influenced by any of the successive stages. It is not hindered in its transmittal, and is direct and powerful. It is expressed in the second part of the verse: “His word runs most swiftly.”

The connection between the latter way and the concept of peace mentioned above is as follows. Peace is associated with Aharon,2 and the drawing down of kindness through Aharon is in the manner of “His word runs most swiftly.” We find that in the desert, when G‑d commanded that the staffs of Aharon and those who claimed to take his place be placed in the Mishkan, the sign that the priesthood did indeed belong to Aharon was the flowering of Aharon’s staff. It states (Bamidbar 17:23): “The staff of Aharon from the house of Levi budded, and it put forth buds, and blossoms bloomed, and bore almonds.” Almonds bud more quickly than other fruits,3 indicating the speedy drawing down of Kindness without any hindrances.

Every Jew is a descendant of our father Avraham, whose service was in the field of loving Kindness. The kindness of Avraham was without limit, and hence the legacy of kindness bequested to us by Avraham is also beyond limits. Hence a person’s efforts in the Sefer Torah campaign must be in the manner of “His word runs most swiftly.” Likewise, it is in the manner of “Before he had finished speaking”4 — meaning, that when one speaks to a fellow Jew about purchasing a letter in a Sefer Torah, the person will agree even before one finishes speaking about it. For a Jew wants and desires to acquire a letter in a Sefer Torah, thus binding himself to G‑d.


3. The above is connected with the name of the Rebbe Rashab, Sholom DovBer. ‘Sholom’ means peace, and as explained above, Ch. 122 of Tehillim emphasizes the idea of peace several times. Similarly, the quintessence of the Rebbe Rashab’s service was to combine and unite (“make peace between”) the study of the exoteric and the study of the esoteric. In the Yeshivah he founded, students learned both the exoteric and the esoteric, such that each discipline influenced and complemented the other. They are not two separate things, but one harmonious whole.

This is also seen in the name ‘Dov.’ Dov means bear, and in the Talmud it states (Kiddushin 72a) that a bear is characterized by its heaviness and that it knows no peace. This is somewhat paradoxical, for heaviness implies ungainliness, the bulk of the bear inhibiting the free movement stemming from the spirit, the soul. A bear however, although extremely bulky, is not inhibited by its heaviness, and its soul is not impeded.

This is analogous to the unity between the exoteric and the esoteric. The exoteric is the ‘body’ of the Torah, while the esoteric is the ‘soul.’ Just as a bear harmonizes both its body and its soul, neither hindering the other, so too the exoteric and the esoteric are one harmonious whole.

The analogy can be drawn in a different way. The heaviness of a bear refers to one’s involvement in the physical world; and that it knows no peace refers to spiritual matters. The lesson from the bear is that although one is involved in the world, it should have no effect on one’s spiritual standing.

The name ‘Ber’ also means ‘bear,’ but in Yiddish. This refers to the idea of holiness permeating the most physical and corporeal of things, symbolized by the name in Yiddish, not in the Holy tongue as in the other two names (Sholom and Dov).

In practical terms, we must follow in the footsteps of the Rebbe Rashab and increase in our Torah studies, both the exoteric and the esoteric, combining them into one harmonious whole. Likewise, to further our endeavors in spreading Judaism and Chassidus. Then very soon we will merit the fulfillment of the promise “Those who lie in the dust will arise and rejoice,” with Moshe, Aharon and the Rebbe Rashab among them.

May it be G‑d’s will that all our endeavors in the field of Ahavas Yisroel, especially in encouraging all Jews to participate in the writing of a Sefer Torah, be successful in uniting the entire Jewish people. Then we will go with the Sifrei Torah to receive our righteous Moshiach, and dance with them in the true and complete redemption, speedily in our times.