[The children recited the twelve verses of the Torah and sayings of our sages.]

1. The letter (from the Rebbe Shlita, To All Jewish Children of pre-Bar/Bas Mitzvah Age) distributed beforehand describes the unique significance of the present year, the year of Hakhel. During Chol-HaMo’ed Sukkos, in the times of the Temple, “the men, women, and children” were gathered “to hear.. to observe and fulfill all the words of this Torah.” Although we are in exile and the Temple has not yet been rebuilt, we should prepare for its construction through carrying out actions similar to those carried out in the Temple itself. Therefore, as the days of Sukkos approach, we should work to gather Jews together. Hence, Jewish boys and girls, who were included in the Mitzvah of Hakhel,1 must set an example for the entire Jewish people by gathering together at this time “to hear... all the words of this Torah.”

The Torah (Devorim 31:13) states that the impression created by Hakhel lasted “as long as you live in the land.” That which we hear and the resolutions we take upon ourselves in the days of Sukkos are charged with so much energy and self-sacrifice that a child will continue to be affected as he grows older. After he has become Bar Mitzvah, and even at a more advanced age, he will remember what he has seen, a memory which will motivate him to carry out the Torah’s directives in every aspect of his day to day affairs.

The experience of Hakhel influences children more than adults. Children are freed entirely from all the worries of earning a living and maintaining a household, and can devote themselves entirely to Torah. “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Ya’akov” — Torah belongs to each Jew as his inheritance. Hence, someone who is free of other worries can give all of his effort and strength to Torah and Mitzvos without reckoning with the Yetzer Horah, but can, on the contrary, wage war against it and be victorious.

Thus, every Jew, even the very young, are part of “G‑d’s army.” They are “G‑d’s soldiers” and G‑d relies upon them to wage His wars against non-Jewish influences. They thereby show that G‑d is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and their only Master. When the Yetzer Horah tries to disturb their progress, a Jewish child should know that he is a member of G‑d’s army and can successfully wage war against the Yetzer Horah.2 Since they are in G‑d’s army, they need only want to observe what the Torah says and they will be able to do so. They will surely desire to succeed in all aspects of behavior: thought, speech, and action. The child will always be conscious that he is a soldier in G‑d’s army with an awareness which will motivate him to behave in a manner befitting such a soldier every day.

This army of children resembles the state of the Jewish people when they were first called G‑d’s army, at the time of the exodus from Egypt. Then, the Jews “left with an upraised hand,” having achieved a great victory, a complete and easy victory. Furthermore, since as we declared previously (in the twelve verses) “‘Love your fellowman as yourself’ is a great principle of the Torah,” the children must also influence their friends (boys affecting boys, girls other girls) to realize that they are members of G‑d’s army, to enter G‑d’s army and behave in a manner which will enable others to also recognize this. Then they will be victorious and wage the war with joy.

This begins with the holiday of Sukkos, “the season of our rejoicing.” This joy is two fold “G‑d rejoices in His deeds” and “Israel rejoices in their Maker.” From this experience, we derive joy for the entire year.

2. From the above, it is understood that each one of us must be mobilized and become a part of G‑d’s army. Hence, we must behave as soldiers in an army. G‑d has established a pattern that is followed by the armies of the world enabling us to know how we are to behave in His army.

The basic fundamental concept appreciated by every soldier is that he is not involved in a game. Rather, the war and the army are considered serious matters. It is a healthy thing, a happy thing, etc., but most of all it is a serious thing. Likewise, when one is involved in G‑d’s army, one must realize that it is not a game, but rather that it is serious. We belong to an army which G‑d has established and depends upon to be victorious in the wars of G‑d. We can never forget that we belong to that army.

A second point is that an army is built upon discipline. When an order is given, the soldiers don’t ask questions but fulfill it, whether they understand the order or not. The same concept applies to G‑d’s army. When a Jewish child hears that a Mitzvah is written in the Torah, his first reaction must be to fulfill it without asking questions, a pattern which is natural to the Jewish people. It is fundamental that the commitment “Na’aseh” — we will do — precedes “Nishmah” — we will hear and understand.

For example, when a Jew must eat, Torah commands him to eat and drink only that which is Kosher. If something isn’t Kosher even if it is healthy and tasty, a Jew will not ask any questions, but will refuse to eat it. Since he has received an order from the Commander of the army, G‑d, to eat only Kosher food, that is all that he will eat. Likewise, he knows that before he eats or drinks anything, he must make a blessing.

There is a further point that can be derived from this comparison. A soldier cannot declare: “I am my own boss and I will do what I please. If I must be punished for my actions, I will accept the punishment.” By doing so, both the actions and the punishment he will receive endanger the entire army. The same concept applies in G‑d’s army. A soldier in G‑d’s army cannot do as he pleases. Even if someone wants to eat non-Kosher food and is willing to accept the punishment for doing so he should realize that he cannot, for he is a member of the army and by acting differently from the army he puts the entire army — the entire Jewish people — in danger. The only One who could possibly know whether or not an action that departs from the discipline of the army will affect the person himself and not endanger the entire Jewish people as well, is the Commander-in-Chief of the army — G‑d Himself. He is the only One who knows the entire scope of the war and can decide what is important and what is not. A simple soldier, even an officer or a general does not know these things.

This leads to yet another point. Even if a soldier thinks he can benefit the army by not carrying out the order he was given or by doing something else which he thinks will help the entire army, he must know that the only one who can make these decisions is the one who controls the entire army and the entire war. A normal soldier cannot make such a decision, for he is not aware of all the factors considered by the army’s commander nor the tactics used by the opposing army.

A soldier’s approach is characterized by Kabbalas Ol — acceptance of the yoke of Heaven. He must serve G‑d, the Commander-in-Chief of the army properly. Furthermore, in G‑d’s army, G‑d stands next to every soldier — as the Tanya (Ch. 41) declares “G‑d stands over him... and He looks upon him and searches his reins and heart [to see] if he is serving Him as it is fitting.” What is a fitting service? Following all the orders given by G‑d in the Torah.

This must be done with joy. We must realize the great merit and privilege we have in waging war for G‑d. Each Jewish child, even those of a very young age, are members of G‑d’s army and have that privilege. Hence, they are given the power to carry on the war with the Yetzer Horah, fulfill the mission G‑d has charged them with, and do so with joy.


3. There is another lesson that can be learned from the metaphor of an army. Each army sends its soldiers through a period of training. Then, from time to time, they hold a parade, gathering all the soldiers together and observing how they act during the parade, in order to see whether they have behaved as they should. Those whose behavior stands out are rewarded with medals and other prizes. The same concept applies in regard to G‑d’s army. Each day of the year, we must undergo training in thought, speech and action as G‑d has shown in the Torah. Then, from time to time G‑d’s entire army, particularly the children in the army, gather together for a parade. Such a parade will be held, with G‑d’s help, this Chanukah. Then, all the children will bring records of their behavior and prizes will be given to those who have the best record.

To facilitate the above, it is proper to reprint a special edition of the booklet containing the twelve verses from the Torah and sayings of our sages. The printing should be done on special paper, so that it should be noticeable that the booklet was reprinted specially, in honor of the parade which will take place on Chanukah. At the end of the booklet pages should be left blank, to be filled in with the names of those children whom each child has taught the twelve Pesukim and saying of our Sages. Particularly, in the days between Chol-HaMo’ed Sukkos and Chanukah, Jewish children should make a special effort to reach out and mobilize other Jewish children and have them volunteer to become part of G‑d’s army. Since the Mitzvah of “Love your fellowman as yourself” applies to every Jewish child, a child who is already a member of G‑d’s army and sees another Jewish child who has not yet taken up his role in that army, will try, through being a good example and speaking to him from the heart, to ensure the other child will also volunteer for the army.

There is another lesson to be learned from a Hakhel year that applies to Jewish children: every Jew, beginning with Jewish children, must carry out a service that is, in a spiritual sense, parallel to that of Hakhel. Just as during Hakhel the entire people gathered together in the Temple, a holy place, each of us must make of our home a holy place, a house of light, the light of Torah, a Jewish house. The same applies to the school which he attends. When a child comes home from today’s Hakhel, he/she must tell his mother and father, and his brothers and sisters that are past Bar/Bas Mitzvah, what was spoken here. He must ask them to do what is incumbent upon them to make the house even holier than it was before. Similarly, when he goes to school, he will speak to the teacher about increasing the study of Torah and Mitzvos.

When the child speaks to his parents and his brothers and sisters in this manner, and is an example of how a soldier in the army carries out all the commands of the army’s Commander, including the command “Honor your father and mother,” they will respond and increase the holiness of the home. This will be one of the achievements of G‑d’s army and bring pleasure to G‑d, the Commander of the army. When we bring G‑d pleasure, He, in turn, gives His blessings to every member of the army and also the parents and other members of the family, who have listened to the member of the army. This will bring a good and sweet year. Since it will be good and sweet in a spiritual sense, it will also be good and sweet in a material sense.

4. Before we end this gathering, I would like to add an additional point. All of you that are in contact with children in other cities, the Mitzvah of “Love your fellowman as yourself” requires that the content of what was spoken here be conveyed to them and that an effort be made to influence them to also become part of G‑d’s army. Also, those who are hearing these remarks through a “hook-up” should convey the message to others and carry out all the activities mentioned. This includes reprinting the booklet of the twelve verses of the Torah and sayings of our Sages and preparing for the parade of the “army of G‑d” to be held during Chanukah.

Also, those cities which have not held a Hakhel gathering of children during Chol HaMo’ed Sukkos should do so (before Shemini Atzeres) and include in the program Torah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah as was done here. We have prayed together, recited the Pesukim, and we will conclude with Gemilus Chassodim, the Mitzvah of Tzedakah.

5. This, in turn, will hasten the time when we and all the Jewish people “our youth, our elders, our sons, and our daughters” will leave exile with a raised hand and with peace. This is related to Sukkos as we say in our prayer “spread Your Sukkah of peace over us.” We will go to greet Moshiach who will lead us to the true and complete redemption, taking us to Israel — the land which “the eyes of L‑rd, your G‑d, are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” Furthermore, even in Golus we have the promise “the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

Then we will come to Eretz Yisroel in a complete state. Likewise, Eretz Yisroel will be complete, and we will carry out the complete Torah as the Torah declares concerning Hakhel: “to do all the words of this Torah.” In Eretz Yisroel itself, we will come to Yerushalayim, the holy city, the capital. Every Jew has a portion in Yerushalayim, for as our Sages declared “Yerushalayim was not divided up among the tribes.” No one can give anything away from Yerushalayim. It does not belong to him, but rather to every Jew, in its entirety including the Kosel HaMarovi — the Western Wall — and the Temple Mount.

In Yerushalayim, we will come to the Temple which will be rebuilt by Moshiach who will gather in the exiles of Israel and bring them to Eretz Yisroel, to Yerushalayim, and to the Temple.

[The Rebbe Shlita gave the Madrichim copies of the letter (To All Jewish Children of pre-Bar/Bas Mitzvah Age — in English — ) and dimes to be distributed to the children; two dimes for each child. One for Tzedakah and the other to use as desired.]