1. This farbrengen is taking place on the Shabbos that blesses the month of Adar Rishon. The Shabbos Mevorchim farbrengens were instituted by the Previous Rebbe. It is said that a farbrengen can do “more than the angel Michoel;” but, like all of the other laws, customs, and special ordinances of Torah, it must have an influence which extends beyond its own limits; increasing Torah-learning, observance of Mitzvos, and especially the service of man to his Creator.

Between codifiers we find a whole controversy over whether, in a leap year such as this one, Adar I or Adar II is considered to be the leap month. And they conclude that Adar I is the extra month; if one vows to do something in the leap month he must do it in the first Adar. In light of other Halachic rulings, this is an unparalleled conclusion, which demands an explanation.

The verse states: “the children of Israel camped facing the mountain” (Mount Sinai, before the giving of the Torah). The verb “camped” is in its singular form (“Yachid”), not plural — for when the Jews went to receive the Torah they were “as one man,” unified by their attachment to the true Oneness. “Peace” implies the absence of conflict; “cooperation,” leaves room for some separation; but oneness (which is in fact the accomplishment of a farbrengen), spreads outward even into the “mountains of separation,” the “domain of many.”

And this must be not only oneness (Echod) but unity (Yachid) a merging beyond separate entities. The word Echod is composed of three letters, Aleph (Alufo Shel Olam — Master of the world), Ches (numerical value 8; the seven heavens and the earth), Daled (4 — the four directions). Even the Alef, “Master of the world,” implies that there is a world, and it must have a “Master,” who uses His power to rule over the world. Above this concept are the ideas of “the power of the Doer in what is done”; there is a revelation of G‑dliness in the created, even though the creature has its own existence, and, even higher: “There is none beside Him” — the complete Unity of G‑d, admitting of no other existence.

The lesson from this is, that among Jews there must be “unity,” beyond “oneness”; which is accomplished through Torah.

It is clear that when one corrects a lack, the accomplishment is much greater than when one simply continues a process which is moving smoothly. We see this in our Parshah — the unity of the Jews was “before the mountain” — before they received the Torah, even before they stated “we will do” before “we will understand.”

When Torah was given, the opportunity was given for man’s existence to become Torah existence, through learning — the “wondrous unity” spoken of in Tanya (chapter five). But the unity of “before the mountain” existed prior to this opportunity. Moreover, they initially camped in disunity, but corrected the defect — a significant accomplishment.

The need to go beyond oneness to a state of unity is emphasized in a leap-month, whose purpose is to restore to completeness, that which is lacking. The solar year is 10 days, 21 hours and 204 parts longer than a regular lunar year. A leap year corrects this defect to such an extent that it has 383 (or 384 or 385) days, even more than the 365 days of the solar year. Although every lunar year is complete, the completeness of a leap year depends upon the leap month, which not only repairs the lack, but adds an “extra.”

When the world was created, the sun and moon were “the two great lights” — equal. Due to subsequent incidents, the moon became “the small light,” and its year became shorter than the sun’s year. The idea of completion can be understood from the Midrashic saying (Shemos Rabbah 31:15): “The day borrows from the night and the night from the day.” There is room in Torah for the idea that night and day should be equal, with 12 hours apiece. Instead, during the summer the day “borrows” hours from night and in winter the night borrows from the day. They are only “paid up” at the equinoxes of Nissan and Tishrei. Similarly, solar and lunar years are only paid up at the end of a 19 year cycle.

But why is it that the leap month comes before the regular month? We would expect the reverse; for example, if one misses a regular prayer service, the make-up prayer is said at the time of the following service, but only after one has completed the prayer belonging to that time. In this case however, the make-up comes first, and only then the “regular” month.

From this comes a wonderful teaching, applicable in all times, not only leap years. When an opportunity arises to do a good deed, or “hiddur mitzvah”(beautifying a Mitzvah with extra care, etc.) the initial reaction would be to first take care of those things demanded of this day, and only then, when all “debts” are paid, can one consider “rising in holy things.”

But the lesson of the leap-month teaches us otherwise. First we make the addition, and then follow the normal order. Sometimes the “extra” must come first, for only in this way is there a “complete year.”

It does say in Sefer Chassidim (ch. 454) that “he who owes money should not give large amounts to Tzedakah until he is paid up” — but this refers to regular times. There are, however, times in which the Tzedakah-agent explains that the money must come now — and if not now then the whole project may be lost (note Ta’anis 21a). Then we must take a lesson from the leap-month.

This lesson goes beyond the story brought in Talmud (Ta’anis 24a) of an individual who, because he had always donated generously in the past, continued to do so even in difficult times in order not to “descend in holy things.” In his case he was continuing an established practice. The leap month says more: When the Tzedakah collector comes and says that a certain amount is needed, in a particular way and by a fixed deadline, one should realize that this is a special time, and immediately give Tzedakah. This lesson is borne out by the practice of many Gedolai Yisroel, who borrowed to give Tzedakah (even though they certainly had learned Sefer Chassidim).

Thus, there are two ways of service — there is the way described in Sefer Chassidim, and there is another way: that of not confining oneself (“laying”) within boundaries and limitations, even the limitations of Torah. In fact, through going beyond boundaries the ordinary service, “the perpetual offering,” becomes elevated to its true level. Yet — how can we decide which service is appropriate for a given situation?

To help in this decision there is the well known story told over by the Previous Rebbe (Sefer HaSichos 5703 p. 67) about “when the thought came in.”1 The rav in the story caught himself immediately, but for the benefit of ordinary Jews who might not do so, we have the story in printed form.

To apply this story to our case: it depends when he remembers that he is a debtor and “a debtor should not make large gifts to Tzedakah.”

We see that it did not occur to him when he learned in his daily shiur after davening, or when he ate and drank (to satisfaction, of course, to fulfill the verse “thou shall eat and be satisfied”). Nor when he went for a walk (in order to guard his health, as explained in the Rambam: of course he fulfills all the words of the Rambam); and neither did he remember when he read the paper before his walk (so he would have something to discuss if he met a good friend). He may not have thought of his debts at all until after Minchah. But when the collector approached him, then he thought of his debts. Thus the story reminds us to check when the thought comes to us, what our true concern is.

And the same goes for love and fear (of G‑d), the spiritual “silver and gold.” For it is precisely at those times when there is a special need, — a special mitzvah, an event that comes by Hashgochah Protis — at these times the “clever one” [evil inclination] comes to tell us that we must do the regular service first, before fulfilling these special needs. But the leap-year teaches us that there are times that one must give of himself spiritually and physically to make up what is lacking, before going back to the normal order of things. Moreover, the “leap month” of Adar I must come before the “ordinary” Adar II to make a complete year; and hence we see that even the “normal” service of Adar II would be incomplete without the previous fulfillment of the extra service of Adar I.

May it be His will that [in view of the fact that the two months have the same name (Adar) and both have Purim (although this month is “small Purim”)] we will have the blessing even now of “the month that was converted for them (to joy),” and we will go from the redemption of Purim to the redemption of Nissan with the true and complete redemption through our Righteous Redeemer.


2. This year is not only a leap year but a year of Hakhel. In addition, there are many unusual events on the calendar this year which necessitate that it be a year of learning. And, as the Alter Rebbe points out, the first priority is to learn “the deeds which should be done” and to prepare oneself “thirty days before the holiday.” These events include:

1) The leap year itself, involving the laws of “sanctification of the new moon.”

2) Hakhel, which although it is not celebrated in a physical way, its laws are found in a spiritual form in musar, chassidus, and kabbalah.

3) Purim, which falls on a Friday (and in the “cities surrounded by a wall since the time of Yehoshua,” on Shabbos) and thus it must be determined which of its observances take place before, during, and after Shabbos.

4) Even more so Pesach, which this year falls directly after Shabbos.

5) The Birchas Hachamah (blessing over the sun).

All of these demand a special study of these laws, as well as a general increase in Torah study. We can understand this by considering the two approaches to the study of laws. The Rambam, in Mishnah Torah, provides all of the Halachic decisions but supplies no reasons. The Rosh (in his Halachic commentary on Talmud), provides lengthy explanations. The Alter Rebbe, in writing his Shulchan Aruch, follows the order (and in general adheres to the principles) of the Rambam, but also provides reasons.

To completely comprehend the laws one must not only know the reasons connected with them (as opposed to referring only to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, or the Shulchan Aruch of R. Yosef Karo) but must also delve into the passages of Talmud and later seforim from which they derive, and compare these laws with rulings in other fields of Torah. Thus the special events of this year should inevitably increase Torah study in general.

Moreover, this increase will effect an extra desire for Torah study. “He who has 100 wants 200” — the study of these special laws will increase the desire for more Torah — not necessarily for more Mitzvos, which is a separate subject, but surely for more Torah.

All of the revelations of the time of Moshiach are dependent upon our service in the time of exile, meaning, the “mivtzoyim,” beginning with an increase in the learning of Torah. And the fact that this year is a year of Hakhel and a leap-year, etc. (as mentioned above) helps bring about this increase in Torah, not only for oneself alone, but truly carrying out Mivtzah Torah, seeing to it that others also learn.

This is connected with the Mivtzah Ahavas Yisroel, because first one must “love the creatures” as a preparation to “bring them close to Torah.” To bring them close to Torah means that one must speak to them according to the way they are, which is connected with,

Mivtzah Chinuch (Jewish Education). The Rambam explains at length that in order to educate a child one must offer the things he is interested in at his level of maturity. (“Teach the child according to his way”), and this will lead to “From out of (learning Torah) not for its own sake one comes to (learning Torah) for its own sake.”

While the Rambam was discussing children in years, it also applies to those who are children in the level of Jewish understanding, as almost all of them are in the category of “infants who were captive.”

Even someone who is past Bar Mitzvah, with a high position in business, and a bank account, a contributor and guarantor of worthy causes, with connections in Washington — the Torah calls him an “infant.” He is not at fault, for he was brought up without an appropriate Torah education. To him applies the verse in our Sedra “He stole a man and sold him” — he is truly in captivity. One can and should speak with him, and even if he becomes angry, remember that it is not he himself that is angry, but his “captivity.”

Then one should speak with him about Mivtzah Tefillin which contains all of the Mitzvos, because “all of the Torah is connected to Tefillin.” If he is sufficiently advanced, one should introduce the concept of subjugation of the mind and heart.

Next one can speak about Mivtzah Mezuzah, that when there is a Mezuzah on the doorway, everyone who passes by can see that this is a Jewish home. Moreover, it protects him, his family, and his possessions.

Is it possible to explain such a “supernatural” protection to “an infant who was captured?” Yes! And the proof is not from any mystical part of Torah, but from the revealed Torah — Talmud.

The story is told (Yerushalmi 1:1) that when a high ranking non-Jew (a king or an officer) sent Rabbeinu HaKadosh (Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi) a present of a precious stone, Rabbeinu HaKadosh sent him back a Mezuzah. The king, somewhat indignant, asked how he could send a small piece of parchment in return for such a valuable object!

Rabbeinu HaKadosh replied, “you sent me a thing which I have to protect — I sent you a thing which protects you.”

This answer was given to a non-Jew, calmly and openly — and from the sequel, we see that it was accepted. (Some want to say that this king or officer was actually Jewish — but the Talmud indicates otherwise, and most commentators hold that he was not Jewish. The idea that a non-Jew can be protected by a Mezuzah is a separate question.)

In the same way one can explain this to anyone he meets, even if he is in the other person’s debt. As we see from the story itself, the non-Jew had already given a sizable present to Rabbeinu HaKadosh, and still he was not affected. The shlichus (mission) of the leader of the generation gives him the power to transmit this concept.

Similarly Mivtzah Tzedakah and Bayis Maley Seforim, and how much more so the pillars of the Jewish home: Mivtzah Taharas HaMishpachah, Mivtzah Neiros Shabbos Kodesh which protects against stumbling on wood or stone; for in addition to the many symbolic hints in this phrase, we must take in its simple meaning as expressed in the Shulchan Aruch.

Mivtzah Kashrus which has a special connection to the first verse of our Parshah. Rashi explains that the verse: “These are the judgments which you shall set before them” implies that it should be like “a table set and prepared for eating before the man.” Rashi has a reason to use this particular comparison (instead of, for example “a garment which is ready to wear, etc.): Just as food becomes a part of a person and goes wherever he does (blood and flesh like his flesh) so must Torah become part of the person.

All of these should be accomplished in a manner of “grab and eat, grab and drink” (i.e. when an opportunity for Torah and Mitzvos comes, it must be grabbed). As it says in the Maamar connected with the passing of the Previous Rebbe, “who knows his time and season” — not because something might happen heaven forbid, but even in a life 120 years, each moment must be valued. It is impossible to know what might come to pass the next moment: The holy spark might change, the other person might change, or someone else might come along and grab the Mitzvah. And although the desired result will be accomplished, one will lose a chance to accomplish something, to add in one’s own perfection. (See Megillas Esther 4:14).

One may say that there are already plenty of “askonim” working with others, and he is not as qualified as the others. In that case, let him work on himself! But after he works on himself, let him work with others also: When he says, that others can do this better, he is not admitting everything. If taken aside and asked if anyone can do as well as he does, he will respond, “Where did you get such a question! Of course I can do it better!” And he will demonstrate it as well!


3. The question has been raised: “Why is the first Adar called Adar Echod (Adar One) and not Adar Rishon (first Adar). (See HaYom Yom). The question is really no question: what is written there is “Adar Aleph” and aleph can stand for either “one” or for “first,” as in seforim, which are divided into “part aleph,” “part bais,” etc. But since “Moshiach Now” is the current issue, a light answer can be given. Since Moshiach could come now, if he comes the Sanhedrin will be convened, and the moon will be sanctified by sight, as opposed to the established calendar, and it is possible that they will decide that this year is not a leap year, and we will go directly from this Adar to Nissan.

Although “in Nissan they were redeemed and in Nissan they are destined to be redeemed” this does not contradict the last of the 13 principles of faith: “I wait for him (Moshiach) each day that comes,” which implies not a hope that he will come eventually, but that he will come today, as we say “for Your salvation I have waited all day,” that it should “speedily sprout forth.”

The explanation is similar to that which the Previous Rebbe gives for “Next Year in Jerusalem” — not that Moshiach should wait until next year, but that he should come now, and next year we will of course be in Jerusalem. So too, we want Moshiach to come earlier, so that “in Nissan they will (already) be redeemed.

In the meantime we must follow the lesson from this year “To gather together the man, women, and children” to learn Torah, to publicly learn Torah together, in particular the “Collel Tiferes Z’keinim — Levi Yitzchok,” “Tiferes Chochmas Nashim” and “Tiferes Bachurim.”

With regard to “Tiferes Z’keinim” older people have a special advantage, in addition to their experience: “how many experiences have come upon this old man” (Kiddushin33a). They can also have the quality expressed by the saying: “Who is a Zaken (elderly man)? He who has acquired wisdom,” i.e. their wisdom is in a way of acquisition. And through this we will come to the third Bais Hamikdosh, in the true and complete redemption of our Righteous Moshiach.