1. The Book of Tehillim (Psalms) may be divided in several ways, one of them being to apportion it into thirty parts, corresponding to the days of the month. The Rebbeim of Lubavitch had the custom of reciting the appropriate portion of Tehillim each day. On the tenth of Kislev (Yud Kislev), the day of the liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe, the daily portion of Tehillim contains the verse “He has redeemed my soul in peace from battles drawing near me, for the sake of masses who were with me.” Many discourses, including those of the Mitteler Rebbe, begin with this verse, and explain it’s connection with the concept of liberation. They explain that there is indeed a battle. But, the Hebrew word for battle, “Mikrov,” is also derived etymologically from the word “Kiruv,” — “closeness;” meaning that the battle occurs because of the closeness of the combatants. Further, success in war can occur in various ways; the success of this war was in the form of “redemption,” and “in peace.”

“These days should be remembered and kept.” Every year, on Yud-Kislev we must “remember” that an all-encompassing soul was “redeemed in peace from battles.”1 A Torah-true commemoration is one in which the incident is not treated as a historical event, finished and past, but is an actual reliving of the experience. Such a commemoration ensures that the experience is then “kept” — one’s good intentions and resolutions prompted by the commemoration are translated into action.

We find a similar experience in the liberation of the Alter Rebbe on the nineteenth of Kislev. In an epistle written by the Alter Rebbe about his liberation it states, “As I was reading in the Book of Tehillim the verse ‘He has redeemed my soul in peace,’ before I began the next verse I was liberated in peace...” The nineteenth of Kislev that year was on Tuesday, the third day of the week. In addition to dividing the Tehillim into thirty sections corresponding to the days of the month, it can also be apportioned according to the days of the week (i.e. seven sections), thus finishing the entire Tehillim each week. The section for the third day, the day of the liberation of the Alter Rebbe, includes the verse “He has redeemed my soul...,” and it was precisely while saying this verse that the Alter Rebbe was redeemed.

He describes further in the letter the exact details of his liberation, including the fact that “the salvation by our G‑d was witnessed unto the ends of the earth.” As on Yud-Kislev, the liberation of Yud-Tes Kislev must be “kept,” effecting changes in each person’s portion of the world. And since the Rambam writes that “...a single good deed can tilt oneself and the entire world to the meritorious side,” a person’s actions in his personal portion affect the entire world. Although we cannot actually see this effect, since the Rambam has rendered it so as a Halachic decision, it is most certainly true. In fact, it is precisely our actions during the exile which will bring about the future revelation of “they will see to the ends of the earth” and “the spirit of uncleanliness I shall remove from the earth.”2 Since it is our actions which will produce such a future revelation, then even now such an effect must be present, although not visible.


2. Normally, the verse “He has redeemed my soul...” (and its accompanying concept) is in the portion of Tehillim said on Yud-Kislev as divided into the days of the month. This year however, since Yud-Kislev is on a Tuesday, this verse is also in the day’s portion of Tehillim as they are divided into the days of the week (i.e. the third day). To understand the effect this has, we must first examine the difference between the liberation of the Alter Rebbe (which was on Tuesday), and that of the Mitteler Rebbe (which was on Sunday).

Historically, the Alter Rebbe’s liberation had much more publicity than that of the Mitteler Rebbe (in addition to the fact that the celebration of Yud-Tes Kislev by Chassidim is much greater than that of Yud Kislev). Also, the indictments against the Alter Rebbe were of a much more severe nature than those against the Mitteler Rebbe. Furthermore, the imprisonment of the Mitteler Rebbe and his subsequent release occurred at a time when Chassidus had already been widely disseminated, with tens of thousands of Chassidim and Chassidic discourses extant. Thus the decree against the Mitteler Rebbe could not have been as harsh as that against the Alter Rebbe when Chassidus was first being disseminated.3 Similarly, the freedom granted the Alter Rebbe was greater than that granted to the Mitteler Rebbe.

The superiority of the Alter Rebbe’s release to that of the Mitteler Rebbe is similar to the superiority of the third day of the week (when the Alter Rebbe was released) to the first day (when the Mitteler Rebbe was released). On the third day of creation, the expression “that it was good” is said twice. Rashi explains that “on the preceding day, the expression ‘that it was good’ was not said, because the work of [the second day], creating the waters, was not completed until the third day; for He had only begun it on the second day, and a thing that is not completed is not at its perfection and at its best. On the third day [however], when the work was completed, and [in addition] He began and completed another work [of creation], the expression ‘that it was good’ was repeated; one for the completion of the work of the second day, and one for the work of that [third] day.” This is the concept of “transforming darkness into light.” Division was created on the second day — “Let it divide between the waters” — and on the third day, this was rectified — the transformation of darkness into light.

Furthermore: The third day is superior to the first day not only in that it says “that it was good” twice, but also because it is intrinsically superior. The repetition of the expression indicates that “it was good for heaven and good for the creatures.” This does not mean that one moment is “good for heaven” and the next “good for creatures,” but every single moment has within it the combined qualities of “good for heaven and good for creatures.”

In practical terms, a Jew has been given the ability to combine “heaven” and “creatures” into a single entity through every thought, speech and deed, making them indivisibly one. Although “heaven” and “creatures” are two opposites this is possible; for as the Rambam explains, “All that is found in the heavens and earth and in between, do not derive their existence except from He who is the true Existence.”4 The Rambam is telling us a wonderful thing, that not only are all things created by G‑d, a creation ex nihilo, but their existence is actually (derived) from He who is the true Existence. Describing other aspects of G‑d, the Rambam writes, “He is the Knower and He is that which is Known, and He is the Knowledge itself.” It is then certainly true to say of the much higher level within G‑d, “He who is the true Existence;’5 that it is One with G‑d. And it is precisely from this level of “He who is the Existence,” — and even more, from “He who is the true Existence,” — that all other things take their existence.

There is a profound lesson to be learned from these concepts; of the third day on which “it is good” was said twice; of transforming darkness into light; and of making “good for heaven” and “good for creatures” into one entity. We find ourselves in the time of the “footsteps of Moshiach,” the last moments of the exile, in dense darkness, and living outside Eretz Yisroel.6 It is a time of night, which affects even matters of holiness.7 Yet Torah gives a Jew the strength to effect the exact opposite: that even though it is “night,” nevertheless “night was not created except for the purpose of learning,” since at night Torah learning is carried out with greater success.

In concrete terms: we are, in exile, in the densest darkness. When one ventures into the “night” of exile, and finds a Jew who outwardly is a “night-Jew” — the “candle of G‑d [which is] the soul of a person” does not illuminate from within him — one must know that “night was not created except for the purpose of learning.” This “night-Jew” was created only for the purpose that his “darkness,” his wickedness, should be transformed into day, into light. It is one’s task to ensure that this night-Jew be illuminated by “the candle of G‑d that is a person’s soul:” and so much so that “night will shine as day,” with the “superiority of light that comes from previous darkness.”

This is the lesson and task derived from the liberation of the Alter Rebbe and Mitteler Rebbe. Especially so this year, when Yud-Kislev is on Tuesday, the day “that ‘it was good’ was repeated,” which is the concept of transforming darkness into light, and uniting “good for heaven” and “good for creatures” into one entity. Every action taken to transform one’s own darkness, and that of other “night Jews,” into day and light, causes the liberation of Yud-Kislev to be translated into the revealed future redemption. Then “all flesh together” will see that “all existences derive from He who is the true Existence,” and we will go out from exile with an “upraised hand.” Then “those who lie in the dust will rise and sing,” with the Mitteler Rebbe at their head, in the future redemption, may it come speedily in our time

3. There is one aspect in which the liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe was superior to that of the Alter Rebbe. The concealments and darkness prior to the Mitteler Rebbe’s liberation were (in one respect), much greater than those prior to the Alter Rebbe’s liberation. The Alter Rebbe was freed with such publicity and fanfare, that even non-Jews were astonished. One would have thought that after such a triumphant liberation, it would be impossible that there would be another arrest. And yet the Mitteler Rebbe was arrested — demonstrating the depth of the darkness and concealments that could enable such a thing to happen. And as we noted before, the Mitteler Rebbe’s arrest occurred when Chassidim and Chassidic discourses numbered in the tens of thousands, with “the spreading of your wellsprings (of Chassidus) outside” in full strength.8 Yet the darkness was so great as to overcome the great light that emanated from these “wellsprings of Chassidus,” and effect the arrest of the Mitteler Rebbe! It then took the greatest spiritual efforts to enable the physical efforts made to liberate the Rebbe succeed. Such a dense darkness surpassed that of the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment.

The conquering of this darkness then caused “the superiority of light that results from prior darkness” to be much greater, effecting the “spreading forth of the wellsprings” to be, in one respect, greater than that by the Alter Rebbe. “Spreading your wellsprings outside” also includes the “spreading” of “your wellsprings” to the “outside” of a person — the penetration of Chassidus into a person’s intellect to the degree that it becomes “a wonderful union like which there is none other, and which has no parallel anywhere...” This was present in the Chassidus of the Mitteler Rebbe to a greater degree than in the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidus.9 One derives greater understanding and comprehension in a concept when learning the Mitteler Rebbe’s Chassidus than from the Alter Rebbe’s, causing the “wonderful union” to be that much greater. This is similar in concept to the difference between learning Mishnah and Talmud. Mishnah is written in curt concise language. The Talmud, which elaborates and explains the Mishnah, enables a person to understand the same concept with an incomparably greater degree of comprehension. This difference is also analogous to that between wisdom and understanding [the intuitive flash of intellectual illumination and the expression and elucidation of that flash]. And it is through learning the Torah of the Mitteler Rebbe, with its greater elaboration, that we also receive the wisdom [of the Alter Rebbe] in a more profound way.10

4. When one is attempting to influence a “night-Jew” to allow the “light of a candle which is the soul of man” to shine through, he may come to realize that he himself is lacking. For although he has learned the Chassidic discourses of the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, and all the succeeding Rebbeim, his intellectual endeavors have not influenced his actions. Such a person may become downcast and easily fall prey to his Evil Inclination, which tells him: You were in Yeshivah and learned assiduously without any financial worries, and yet found that afterwards, when you left Yeshivah, your learning had not affected you. What then is the use now of learning the same things, with the same explanations, and expect it to affect you? If it didn’t help in Yeshivah, it certainly won’t help now! And if so, continues the Evil Inclination, occupy your time with simpler things such as giving Tzedakah, the Mitzvah Campaigns etc. — but it would be futile to now at your age to be a “Yeshivah Bochur” and expect to be able to learn and perfect yourself!

To counteract such temptation we have the example of the liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe. Even though Chassidus was so widespread, the Mitteler Rebbe was still imprisoned. So too, although a person has learned much Chassidus, and it has not helped make him a better person — do not give up! Indeed, this itself should give one an impetus to now start working to let Chassidus reach his intellect. For everyday is a new day, and one can and must start afresh. One must begin again to let Torah affect his actions, with the view to learning the Halachah and the proper path upon which to tread. Not only with the revealed part of Torah, but also with Chassidus one should learn with the intent to produce the proper results — the true love and fear of G‑d. As was the Mitteler Rebbe’s wish: when two Chassidim meet (in the street), they should talk about Chassidus.

Yud Kislev gives every Jew the necessary strength to carry out the Mitteler Rebbe’s wish, and to be successful in one’s learning. In plain words: In addition to the learning one has done until now, one should increase one’s studies even more. Everyone has enough time and strength to do this, and still spread Yiddishkeit and Chassidus, for being the agent of G‑d, Who is beyond limitations, every Jew has the ability to fulfill his mission beyond all limitations. One can simultaneously fulfill the service that is of “heaven,” together with that of “creatures,” every moment.

May it be G‑d’s will that we translate all of the above into action, in regards to one’s own self, family, and portion in world, as well as the entire world. We shall proceed, together with the whole world, to receive with great joy our righteous Moshiach in our own times.


5. Yud Kislev is two weeks before Chanukah, and as the opinion which says that “two weeks before a festival, we occupy ourselves in the laws of the festival,” it is appropriate to talk about, and to give encouragement to, the Chanukah campaign. Since Chanukah is associated with sunset (the time of lighting), the Chanukah campaign should be primarily aimed at those who spiritually are in a state of “sunset.” Meaning, that their “sun”11 — their essential Jewishness — is in a state of sunset; it is concealed, and does not illuminate their lives.

As with Jews who are in such a spiritual state of “sunset,” so too with those who are in such a physical state: Those Jews who are not well and in hospital, those in old-age homes, and those in jails. To such people the Chanukah campaign should be directed with extra force. We receive the strength for this campaign from these two weeks, in which we should make all the necessary preparations for the Chanukah campaign.

The Chanukah lights, which “will never be extinguished,” existing as they do even in exile, are the introduction from which we proceed to the lights of the Menorah in the future Bais Hamikdosh (which were the reason for Chanukah). Our endeavors should simultaneously include all the other Mitzvah campaigns.

Chanukah has special meaning for children, as seen from the custom to give “Chanukah Gelt” (money) to children. Hence it is proper that special attention be given to children during Chanukah. In addition, they too can help in the campaign and its preparations, and may they have great success. Especially this year, when there will be a parade of “Tzivos Hashem” on Chanukah, for all Jewish children under Bar/Bas Mitzvah age. Children should prepare themselves for this, by conducting themselves properly, especially in their Torah studies and fulfilling Mitzvos, in honoring their parents, teachers and counselors.

All these things together, in this year of Hakhel which stresses that all Jews, men, women and children, comprise equally “one congregation,” ensure that even in exile they are done with true joy and thoroughness. Then very soon, all Jews, led by “Tzivos Hashem” — the Jewish children — will receive our righteous Moshiach. Then we will see “the lights of Zion” (the lights of the Menorah in the third Bais Hamikdosh), together with “these lights” (Chanukah lights) which “will never be extinguished,” in the third Bais Hamikdosh which will be eternal, through the efforts of the Jewish people, who are an eternal people.


6. As discussed previously, this year Yud Kislev is on Tuesday, when “He redeemed my soul in peace...” is present in the day’s portion of Tehillim as it is when completed monthly, and also as completed weekly. It is a double “redemption” — once for the aspect of the moon which is associated with the days of the month, and once for the sun which is associated with the days of the week (since each day — “and there was evening and there was morning” — is dependent upon the sun’s movement).

When both aspects coincide, as in this year, it teaches the Jew a lesson in proper conduct. These two aspects of sun and moon (days of the week and days of the month) are represented in Torah: the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. Just as the moon receives its light from the sun, so too “there is nothing that is not alluded to in the (Written) Torah.” These same two aspects are found in a person’s service to G‑d — Torah (studies) and prayer. Compared to prayer, Torah is as day [sun], for prayer is the concept of requesting from G‑d one’s needs which are lacking — a situation which is as “night” [moon].

So too with a person’s daily service. Part of the day is spent in the Shul and Bais Hamikdosh — light (sun). Afterwards, the day is spent working in the outside world where “darkness covers the earth” — darkness (moon).


7. This year being a year of Hakhel teaches us yet another lesson. Hakhel is “gather the people, the men and the women and the children.” If each category was said separately, it would indicate a state of division and argument; and such a state cannot produce anything that is “good.” But when it states “gather the people, the men and the women and the children,” it indicates that there is no division or argument, for they are all one congregation. Of course, this gathering must be done according to Torah, as in the time of the Simchas Bais Hashoevah,12 when the “men were below” and “the women above.” Only then is it a true “gathering,” and only then will there truly be no divisions. (And not as some people mistakenly believe that such an arrangement divides the people.)

This gives us further impetus and encouragement in the Mitzvah campaigns, for they are all based upon the aim of making all Jews one congregation, when we shall truly become a “great congregation.”