1. The Rebbe Maharash (whose Yahrzeit is marked by this farbrengen) would frequently say: “(If presented with an obstacle,) generally people try to crawl under; if they cannot crawl under, they climb over, my approach is to climb over from the beginning.” This statement was publicized by the previous Rebbe. There were many parallels between the two. On a strictly physical level, they looked alike. This was true to the extent that once, when the previous Rebbe visited Eretz Yisroel, an older Chosid entered his room for Yechidus and immediately, before a word had been spoken, fainted. When he became conscious, he explained that he had been a Chosid of the Rebbe Maharash and he was so struck by the facial resemblance between him and the previous Rebbe that he felt as if he was having Yechidus with the Maharash. Likewise, they both dealt with the Russian government as spokesmen for the welfare of the Jews in a strong and confident manner, adopting a stance of, to quote the above expression, “to climb over from the beginning.”1

It follows that the above should also serve as a lesson to us. We can adopt the approach taken by the world — trying to “crawl under” — or we can follow the example of the Rebbe Maharash, “to climb over as a first impulse.” This applies to our service of G‑d in general — in the study of Torah and the’ fulfillment of Mitzvos — and in particular to the matters of present concern. Also, it is understandable that the lesson that can be drawn from this statement is applicable in the areas where its author was most involved. One of the areas in which the Rebbe Maharash was most active — towards this goal he undertook many official visits in Russia and made many journeys2 outside Russia — was the improvement of the status of the Jews of that country in regard to both material and spiritual matters. This relates to the present time, the days before Sukkos, when the Jewish people are preparing for that holiday, “this one involved with his Sukkah, this one with his Lulav,” etc. There are many spiritual and physical needs facing the Jewish people. On one hand, we ask ourselves how we can compare ourselves to the Rebbe or hope to emulate his service. On the other hand, since he was a Nassi, his service reflects a point of commonality with every Jew, for each Jewish soul possesses a spark of the soul of the Nassi. Furthermore, having heard this statement of his, a connection has been established which allows us, should we make a firm decision to desire it, to act in a manner of “climbing over upon first impulse.” Hence, this rung of service is accessible to us.

This should be seen in regard to the preparations for Sukkos. Though all the holidays are referred to as “festivals for rejoicing,”3 Sukkos is specifically called “the season of our rejoicing.”4 Hence, we must ensure that all Jews are provided with their holiday needs, for the rejoicing of Sukkos must also be on the physical plane. Hence, in order to provide every Jew with his holiday needs, effort must be made now during the days before the holiday.5

An additional characteristic is emphasized this year, a Hakhel year. In a spiritual sense, the lessons from Hakhel are applicable even in the Diaspora, even in the time after the Temple’s destruction. Hakhel involves gathering together all Jews: men, women, and children. Hence, it is appropriate that everyone — men, women, and children — take part in assembling all the Jews. Men must try to influence men; women, women; and children, children to gather together. Furthermore, in certain ways — in accordance with the laws of Tznius, of course — men can influence women and vice versa. Likewise, children can influence adults, as mentioned throughout the summer in regard to the concept of “turning the hearts of the fathers through the children.”

May it be G‑d’s will that the men, women, and children all accept good resolutions in regard to all the above and that then, through the approach of climbing over on first impulse, we will climb over all the boundaries and limitations of exile and proceed to the true and ultimate redemption. Then we will hear Moshiach read the Torah in the Temple courtyard when he has gathered together the entire Jewish people. May we proceed with true joy to witness all the above in the present Hakhel year, 5741.

2. There is a special stress on the above this year since the Rebbe Maharash’s Yahrzeit takes place on Tuesday, the third day of the week. As has been explained many times, Tuesday is referred to as the day on which the expression, “And G‑d saw it was good” is repeated twice. Likewise, it is linked to a specific portion of Chumash, the section that relates Moshe’s blessing to the tribe of Yosef, which begins, “His land shall be blessed by the L‑rd.”6 Yosef’s land had a greater blessing than that of the other tribes. Moreover, the blessing was as that of the third day: “Good to heaven” — with the precious things of heaven” and “Good to the creatures”7 — ”and with the waters that lie in the deep.”

Yosef’s two sons Ephraim and Menasheh and the approaches to the service to G‑d they symbolize relate to the aforementioned statement of the Rebbe Maharash. The approach of Menasheh — “G‑d has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house” (Bereishis 41:51) — is one of crawling under, while that of Ephraim — “G‑d has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (41:52) — is a high level, that of “climbing over upon first impulse.” Even while in exile, he is able to be fruitful and transcend all boundaries. Therefore, even though Menasheh was great, Ephraim was considered greater, and in the journeys of the Jewish people in the desert, Menasheh was included in Ephraim’s camp under his flag.

Menasheh was the firstborn. His behavior also reflects a high level. With G‑d’s help, he was able to overcome all his difficulties, forget the obstacles that faced him, and carry out G‑d’s will. Nevertheless, the negative factor, the fact that he had to forget, is mentioned in his very name itself. This reflects an approach of crawling under. In contrast, Ephraim’s service was that of “being fruitful,” transcending all limitations even in the land of affliction. Therefore, the Torah refers to “the thousands of Menasheh,” but “the multitudes of Ephraim.”8

The above lesson from the portion of the Torah connected with the present day must add vitality and energy to our service of G‑d, in particular to the specific service of Hakhel mentioned above. This relates to the two Mitzvos of Sukkah and Lulav. Though in general there is an obligation to carry out all Mitzvos in a beautiful manner, there is special stress laid on beautifying the Sukkah. However, the most beautiful Sukkah is one in which, in the words of the Talmud, “all Israel is fit to sit in.” One must invite others into one’s Sukkah in a pleasant manner (and likewise, the guests must act in a manner that encourages unity).

Likewise, the Mitzvah of Lulav stresses the concept of unity. All four of the species used in the Mitzvah bring out and express the concept of oneness. Likewise, the four species each represent a category of Jews: from the Esrog with its taste and smell — those who study Torah and fulfill Mitzvos to the willow which has neither of those qualities and represents a Jew who has neither the attributes of Torah or Mitzvos. The Mitzvah is not complete unless all four of the species are included and joined together. Through these activities the Jews are established as “one nation in the land.” Even in the midst of the land, of Jews’ physical and material involvements, we are one nation. On Sukkos, this unity can be perceived by the non-Jews9 because the Lulav is an openly visible symbol.

The activities of preparing10 for the Mitzvos of Lulav and Sukkah while in Golus prepare the way and hasten the fulfillment of the Messianic redemption.11 After this we will make the festival pilgrimage to Yerushalayim.

From all the above, what is important is the practical point: the need for spreading Yiddishkeit and spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus, particularly spreading the Mitzvos connected with the present, those of Lulav and Sukkos and also the ten Mivtzoyim: Ahavas Yisroel, Chinuch, Torah study, Tefillin, Mezuzah, Tzedakah, Bayis Maley Seforim, and the three Mitzvos for women: the lighting of Shabbos candles, Kashrus, and Taharas HaMishpachah.12 These will bring about the great Mitzvah to be carried out by G‑d Himself: the redemption of the Jewish people.