1. Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh are both associated with the concept of joy. On the words “and on the day of your rejoicing” the Sifri states that this refers to the Shabbos. Rosh Chodesh is, as its literal meaning — the “head” of something “new” [Chodesh is etymologically derived from the word Chidush, meaning new]. A regular occurrence does not bring joy. Only something new, especially the head of it, provides true joy.1 Thus a day such as Shabbos Rosh Chodesh has more than a normal share of joy.

This Rosh Chodesh is especially joyous. Normally, the joy of Rosh Chodesh derives from it being the day on which the moon is renewed — a natural occurrence. This month, as with many others, the day of Rosh Chodesh is determined not by the natural renewal of the moon, but by calculation according to Torah. A Rosh Chodesh determined by Torah is of a higher level than that determined by nature.

Even higher than a Rosh Chodesh determined by Torah, is that determined by a Jew when he blesses the month. The law states that when Jews bless [i.e. establish] the new moon, even if they err, either inadvertently or even deliberately, Rosh Chodesh is still fixed according to that reckoning. Jews are higher than, and master of, not only nature, but even of Torah.2 Thus even when they err deliberately, thereby fixing Rosh Chodesh according to neither nature nor [calculations based upon] Torah, they still remain the final arbiters; so much so that even the Holy One blessed be He depends upon the Jews to know when Rosh Chodesh is.

The reason for this is that a Jew is rooted in G‑d’s very Being and Essence. The term “Holy One blessed be He,” while referring to G‑d, is nevertheless a description (Holy, blessed, He). G‑d’s “Being and Essence,” however, refers to the very highest and innermost level of G‑d, which defies any type of description. (True, “Being and Essence” is also descriptive, but one must refer to G‑d in some manner — and “Being and Essence” is used to refer to the highest level.) A Jew is rooted in, and is one with G‑d’s Being and Essence. Therefore, the “Holy One blessed be He,” a lower level than G‑d’s “Being and Essence,” is dependent upon a Jew to know when Rosh Chodesh will be.

Thus a Rosh Chodesh such as today, which is determined by Jews, has a greater degree of novelty in it than any other, demonstrating how Jews are (as it were), masters even of the Torah, and Torah is master of nature. This greater degree of novelty provides the great joy of Rosh Chodesh which unites with the regular joy of Shabbos.

There is yet an additional dimension of novelty and hence greater joy, because Shabbos is the second day of Rosh Chodesh. The first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is also the thirtieth day of the previous month, Tishrei, and being so connected with the previous month, its newness is somewhat diminished. The newness of the second day of Rosh Chodesh, being the beginning of a new time, is completely undiminished, and thus results in greater joy.

2. This provides an obvious lesson for every Jew. In the prayer of the sanctification of the moon, we say that the Jews are “destined to be renewed like [the moon].” One must strive to instill an element of novelty in one’s service to G‑d. No matter how good the past has been, one’s future service must be in a completely new fashion.

Although it states that they are “destined” to be renewed — a future tense — nevertheless, Jews are a “kingdom of priests” and “priests are eager and hasten [to do things].” Jews are “eager to perform Mitzvos as early as possible,” a tradition received from Avraham Avinu — “Avraham arose early in the morning.” In the light of the Previous Rebbe’s statement: “all the reckoned dates [for the Moshiach’s coming] have passed,” and now we only have to put the finishing touches [lit. shine the last button], the destined renewal can come in a moment’s time.

The moon’s renewal occurs when it is at its absolute nadir. Precisely at the instant of the moon’s most intense concealment it is renewed and begins to shine again. Jews, who are “destined to be renewed like it [the moon],” take their example from the moon. Even in such a dark exile as we find ourselves, the exile can instantly be transformed into the redemption with the proper service.

At the time of redemption, Moshiach will test every Jew to see what he has learned during the exile. Hence the proper preparation for the redemption in these last moments of the exile is to learn Torah — both the revealed and esoteric parts.

The future redemption will be similar to the exodus from Egypt, as stated: “as in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt I will show wonders.” The Jews left Egypt with “great wealth” taking “their silver and gold with them.” Upon leaving, the Jews requested the Egyptians’ wealth. When they denied having any, the Jews pointed out the exact location of their valuables to them. They were able to ascertain through this the location of their wealth while the Egyptians were paralyzed by the plague of darkness, since “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings,” permitting them to see even in the darkness. Even in exile, the Jews had “light in their dwelling places,” enabling them to locate the Egyptians’ wealth; and thus in their exodus “they despoiled Egypt [of all its wealth].”

So too in our present exile. While still in the darkness of exile we must go out among the “straits and limits” [etymologically derived from the word Mitzrayim — Egypt] and extricate the sparks of holiness found there. This service must be performed in accordance with the lesson learned previously from Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. Although the service performed in the previous month of Tishrei was of the loftiest level, reaching heights never before attained, the service of the month of Cheshvan must nevertheless he in a completely new fashion. For when the new month comes, one must advance, and a true advance occurs when one springs forward in an utterly different manner than during the previous month.

Above all there must be action, involvement in the spreading of Torah and Chassidus, and in the Mitzvah campaigns; we should not content ourselves with sighing over the exile, but we must act, for “one deed is better than a thousand sighs.” Through the truly new service of the month of Cheshvan we will advance to the coming of our righteous Moshiach, and be immediately redeemed.


3. The contents of this week’s Parshah, Parshas Noach, expresses the same idea as that previously discussed. After the destruction wrought by the flood, those who survived, Noach and his sons, “saw a new world.” This not only reinforces the lesson learned from Rosh Chodesh that a Jew’s service must be in a completely new fashion, but also teaches us the difference between Cheshvan and Tishrei. The Alter Rebbe writes, on Rosh Hashanah “a new light descends that is higher than any previous light,” illuminating the world. In the month of Cheshvan however, the service must be such that they “saw a new world;” the world itself must be made anew.

Chassidus explains that “G‑d remembered Noach” because of the “essential loftiness of a Jew’s soul.” This verse and the following “you also remembered Noach with love” is therefore said in the Musaf prayer of Rosh Chodesh, referring to the “inner essential love” for all Jewish souls, which is revealed in every generation. Hence, all things relating to Noach after the flood apply to every Jew. Thus, after the month of Tishrei, when we come to the month of Cheshvan and start the service of “Ya’akov went on his way” — to transform “his way” to “G‑d’s way” — it must be such service which transforms the world into a new one — “he saw a new world.”3

This is not a theoretical matter pertaining only to certain individuals, for every Jew is capable of carrying out the above directives. Simply stated: do not think that the service of Tishrei suffices for the later months. Instead, one’s service must now be performed with renewed energy, renewed enthusiasm, renewed pleasure, and renewed joy. A Jew surely has the ability to carry out this task, for “I (G‑d) do not demand (that the Jews carry out tasks) according to My ability, but according to their abilities.” And when one makes the effort to create the world anew, then the absolute true renewal which comes from G‑d alone is also effected.

Despite all the accomplishments of Tishrei, one small action in Cheshvan can make all the difference. The Rambam states that “one should regard oneself and the entire world as being equally balanced between being meritorious and the opposite. One good action can tilt the individual and the entire world towards the meritorious side, and effect salvation for himself and it.” Salvation means the redemption, and after the service of Tishrei which brought the world to an even balance, even one good deed can cause the world to be meritorious, and the redemption will come.

From the “new world” of Parshas Noach we progress to Parshas Lech Lecha, the first words of which are “Get yourself out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house.” Chassidus explains this to mean that one should disencumber oneself of one’s personal characteristics, accustomed ways, and upbringing, and go to the place that G‑d will show him. His going should lead him to begin his service to his Creator anew, affecting both himself and his environment, until the coming of our righteous redeemer, when “kingship will be the L‑rd’s.”

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4. When the flood waters had receded, G‑d commanded Noach to “Go forth from the ark, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons wives with you.” The departure was to be such that each man exited together with his wife, unlike their entrance into the ark when the men entered separately from the women — “Noach went in, and his sons, and his wife, and the wives of his sons with him into the ark.” The difference being, that upon entering “they were forbidden marital relations since the world was steeped in grief,” whereas when leaving “He permitted marital relations.” Yet, when Noach and his family actually left the ark, we find that in contradiction to G‑d’s command, the men left separately from the women: “Noach went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and the wives of his sons with him.”

Rashi, in a later passage (9:9) provides the answer to this problem. He states: “Noach was apprehensive about engaging in being fruitful and multiplying until the Holy One blessed be He promised not to destroy the world again.” Noach was worried that if he were to have children and re-populate the world, they would eventually sin, and G‑d would again send a flood to destroy them. Therefore, upon exiting from the ark, the men went separately from the women. In doing so, he was not violating G‑d’s words that the men should exit together with their wives, for he interpreted the words “go forth from the ark, you, your wife, and your sons, and the wives of your sons” to mean not a command to engage in cohabitation, but rather permission to do what was, until now, forbidden.4 And being afraid that having children would lead to another flood, he chose not to take advantage of the permission granted. [Later, however, G‑d expressly commanded him to he fruitful and multiply.]

Yet all is not clear. How could Noach, a “righteous and wholehearted man,” solely because of his fears and worries, ignore the mode of exit from the ark as told to him by G‑d? When King Chizkiyahu prophetically saw that one of his descendents would be Menashe, a wicked person, he did not wish to engage in cohabitation, and for this he was punished. King Chizkiyahu was certain that if he cohabited, Menashe would result, and still he was punished for not wishing to have children. Yet Noach refrained from following G‑d’s orders only because it might result in a second destruction!

One of the possible answers is, Noach thoroughly understood the value of life, and thus the gravity of putting a life in danger, or even the possibility of danger. He had just witnessed the destruction of the entire human race, together with large segments of the animal, plant and mineral world. Knowing what having children could lead to, and lacking certain knowledge that there would not be another flood, it was impossible for him immediately upon leaving the ark, to proceed to have more children.

Despite Noach’s objections, G‑d instructed him that this was not the proper way, but instead he should “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” We who do not have any of Noach’s reasons for worrying, and must fulfill the first commandment of the Torah to bear children, most certainly have no reason whatsoever to refrain from having children. All arguments of economic difficulties are spurious, for G‑d provides sustenance for one and all.

Another reason for having children is that “Moshiach will not come until all the souls will have descended into bodies.” Through having children, one speeds up the redemption. One need only trust G‑d, and then one fulfills the Mitzvah of “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” with joy and delight. This joy and delight breaks through all barriers, providing all things necessary for the husband and wife.

Every Mitzvah causes an effect in the world. Procreation is the only way to effect the wondrous action of revealing the Power of the Infinite in the world. One’s child then has children, further revealing the Power of the Infinite, and so on for all generations.

Thus a great merit and obligation rests upon each of us to fulfill the Mitzvah of populating the earth. Especially now when we need the redemption, and children are demanding that “we want Moshiach now and we don’t want to wait” — so why not do a Jewish child a favor, and help bring Moshiach by causing all the souls to descend into bodies! With trust in G‑d we shall advance to greet Moshiach “with our sons, our daughters, our youth, and our elders.” [The Rebbe Shlita requested that all children should sing “We Want Moshiach Now.”]


5. There is a rather perplexing problem in this week’s Parshah. There were all species of beasts in the ark, both herbivorous and carnivorous. Yet Rashi makes no comment explaining how all the different species were able to co-exist peacefully without attacking each other. As regards to entering the ark, there is no problem. Rashi, on the verse “of the fruit after their kind and of the cattle after their kind” states that “they came of their own accord and all that the ark would receive Noach brought in.” Noach certainly was not able to go and round up all the species of animals and bring them into the ark. Instead they came of their own accord, obedient to G‑d’s command. G‑d wished them all to be saved from the flood, and so they most certainly would not have attacked and killed each other upon entering the ark.5

The same cannot be said of the duration of their stay in the ark for a complete year. Surely during that period of time the more ferocious beasts, in the natural order of things, would have attacked the weaker ones. Nor can one postulate that the natural order was suspended during their stay in the ark, for the Medrash relates that when the lion’s food was late in coming, it bit Noach — a natural act of a hungry lion. If it could bite Noach who fed him every day, just because he was late once, then certainly it would have attacked and eaten a weaker animal when hungry!

The answer is found in Rashi’s explanation of the verse “you shall make quarters in the ark.” He interprets the word “quarters” to mean not merely partitioned spaces, but “separate rooms for all the beasts and cattle.” A room is a sturdy structure equipped with a lock, capable of holding even the most ferocious of beasts. Noach made sure that the separate rooms for the beasts and cattle were kept locked at all times, thus preventing any attacks.

We can learn a valuable lesson from this. One may think it quite sufficient to save the animals from destruction, without going to any more trouble. Yet G‑d instructed Noach that it would not suffice to merely coop the animals up in cages; he must instead provide rooms for them. If so with regard to beasts, how much more so with human beings, especially Jews. “You shall love your fellowman as yourself” applies to every Jew, no matter what his situation in life, for “who can know their greatness and excellence in their root and source in the living G‑d?” Every Jew is “full with Mitzvos as a pomegranate [is with seeds],” and “every Jew has a share in the world to come.” Not only must one save a fellow Jew from the “flood,” but also prepare a “room” for him — supply him with all his needs. G‑d, Himself, also grants a Jew his needs for a long and healthy life, and thus fortified, he performs his duty, preparing the way for the speedy coming of our righteous Moshiach.

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6. This year is a year of Hakhel, associated with joy and rejoicing. Hakhel occurred at the time of Sukkos, the season of our rejoicing, when men, women and even infants came to the Bais Hamikdosh. There they heard the king read from the Torah, all of which contributed to the joy of the occasion.

In our times as well, we must joyously celebrate Hakhel, albeit in the spiritual sense and not in the physical Bais Hamikdosh. Yet the world unheedingly slumbers on! So we will try a tested and proven way to reverse the situation — that in all one’s actions one must “serve G‑d with joy,” both in matters of Torah and Mitzvos and also in mundane matters such as eating, drinking and sleeping.

The way to achieve this joy is through Torah, for “the precepts of the L‑rd are just, rejoicing the heart.” Therefore I suggest that each and every person take upon himself an increase in learning every day as well as an increase in giving Tzedakah every day, for that also achieves joy. On Shabbos, when one cannot give Tzedakah, one can invite guests. Unfortunately however, having guests does not always cause joy, as we can literally see at present. Many guests have come to Crown Heights, but who has to look after them? — a Jew who had to come especially from Eretz Yisroel! If having guests had been a joyous matter, the local residents would have taken them in. Hence, the solution to giving Tzedakah on Shabbos is to give twice as much on Friday.

The above suggestions should be widely disseminated, ignoring all mockery. Such scoffers will claim that instead of learning more Torah, one should better spend time earning money to give to Torah institutions. Likewise, why give more Tzedakah every day? — better give a huge sum once a year. The answer to this is that “one must perform his service, day to day;” to give Tzedakah every day, to learn Torah every day, and so increase in joy every day.

The increase in learning and giving Tzedakah is not limited to adults, but applies equally to children and infants. In fact, children take such things more seriously, and when instructed to be joyous, simply do so as a matter of fact.

The source for the above suggestions is found in the Talmud Ta’anis (22a) which tells of two men “who were joyous and made others joyous.” Their reward for this was that they received a share in the world to come — solely because of joy.

May it be G‑d’s will that this suggestion be accepted by all Jews everywhere, and the joy expressed while still in exile will lead to the joy experienced with the coming of our righteous Moshiach, who shall redeem us and lead us to our land, speedily in our days.