1. Every Shabbos Mevorchim has a dual quality, each having the common characteristic of being the Shabbos on which the following month is blessed. Simultaneously however, each is unique, each one blessing a different month. Similarly, the Shabbos Mevorchim for the same month is unique in each year, for every year is new and different.

The novelty of this year is obvious: it is Hakhel. Just as with Shemitah of which the Torah makes a clear differentiation between the “six years you shall sow your field” and the “seventh year which shall be a Shabbos for the L‑rd;” so too with Hakhel “at the end of (every) seven years... assemble the people together.”

A slight difficulty arises however, for Hakhel is defined as the assemblage in the Bais Hamikdosh. Today, when there is no Bais Hamikdosh, how is Hakhel relevant? Again, we look at Shemitah, which is described as a “rest for the land” — applicable only to Eretz Yisroel. Yet the idea of Shemitah applies to Jews everywhere, for wherever a Jew may be, he transforms that place into “Eretz Yisroel,” a place fit for G‑d. So too with Hakhel. The Bais Hamikdosh may not exist today, but the spiritual concept of Hakhel remains relevant. Consequently, in a Hakhel year, its concept must be “remembered;” and then, as the inevitable outcome of a Torah-true remembrance, all its spiritual contents and influences will be “kept.”

Each day, we pray “may our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy;” that we may see the physical rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdosh. Nevertheless, the essence of the Bais Hamikdosh is spirituality, and so, even when we do not have the physical Bais Hamikdosh, we must still retain its full spiritual content. And furthermore, when Jews study the laws concerning the construction of the Bais Hamikdosh, G‑d considers it as if they are actually engaged in building it.

Yet all is not clear. The previously noted similarity between Hakhel and Shemitah, that both are differentiated from other years, requires clarification. Shemitah is clearly differentiated: six years of work, and then the seventh year at rest. Hakhel, which immediately follows the Shemitah year, is but the first of the following six years. What separates it from the other five years? A closer look however, shows that in one respect Hakhel is distinguished from the other years even more so than Shemitah. Hakhel occurs “at the end of (every) seven years, in the set time of the year of Shemitah” (Dev. 31:10). Rashi explains that although the Torah says “in... the year of Shemitah,” Hakhel actually took place in the year after Shemitah. It is called “the year of Shemitah” only because the laws of Shemitah still apply, in reference to the Shemitah harvest which extends into the next year. So we see that Hakhel has an advantage over Shemitah. It is the eighth year; and simultaneously it is the culmination of the seventh (Shemitah) year — “at the end (meaning culmination and perfection) of seven years.”

2. The novelty of this particular Shabbos Mevorchim stems, as noted before, not only from the particular year, but also from the particular month — Kislev. Most notable about Kislev is its end (and “the end is the most decisive”) — the festival of Chanukah. The Talmud relates that at that time, in the Bais Hamikdosh, “the Greeks entered the Hechal... and defiled all the oil therein.” This, in one respect, is worse than normal exile, where the defilement is indeed terrible. Defilement of sacredness while in the Bais Hamikdosh itself however is much worse. But it was this very defilement which led to the great miracle of Chanukah, when “they found one pure bottle of oil.” It was a case of “the superiority of light which results only from preceding darkness,” leading to the Chanukah lights “which will never be extinguished.” The lights in the Bais Hamikdosh which existed prior to the defilement could perish; the Chanukah lights which resulted from the defilement will never be extinguished. This is comparable to the superiority of the third Bais Hamikdosh over the preceding two, in that it will be eternal.

The same applies to Hakhel. In the Talmud Horayos (6a), the principle is established that “a congregation does not die.” If the owner of a private sin-offering dies, the animal cannot be used and must be left to die. However, if the sin-offering was that of a congregation, then, due to the principle of “a congregation does not die,1 the sacrifice is still brought. This too is the concept of Hakhel, for its essence is a congregation — “assemble the people, the men, the women, and the children.”

This then is the common bond between (Shabbos Mevorchim) Kislev and its principal component Chanukah, and the year of Hakhel. Both embody the concept of eternity, never perishing — connecting them both with the future redemption.

3. The months of the year may be counted in two ways: starting from the month of Nissan, or from the month of Tishrei. Nissan is the service of Tzaddikim7 Tishrei that of Ba’alei Teshuvah. Kislev, which is the third month counting from Tishrei, is thus the third month associated with Ba’alei Teshuvah. Teshuvah (repentance) is also associated with the future redemption, for “Moshiach will bring Tzaddikim to Teshuvah.” Further, Kislev is the third month — connecting it with the third Bais Hamikdosh of the redemption.

All these things mentioned above are associated with the future redemption.

Shemitah: only then will we be able to fulfill all its laws.

Hakhel: Can be fully carried out only then.

Shabbos Mevorchim: Jews “are destined to be renewed like the moon,” which is blessed on Shabbos Mevorchim.

Shabbos: Shabbos is of the same nature as “that day (the redemption) which will be all Shabbos and rest for life everlasting.”

We must involve ourselves in those things that bring the redemption closer — learning Torah and practicing Mitzvos. And since joy breaks all barriers, this should be done with great happiness and joy.

4. There are further lessons to be learned from this Shabbos. It has two additional elements: The Sedra read on this Shabbos is Toldos; and Rosh Chodesh falls out on the day immediately following Shabbos (Mevorchim) — Sunday.

The blessing from Shabbos Mevorchim for Rosh Chodesh varies, depending upon whether there is a break between them. If there are intervening days between the two, then no matter how much preparation there is for Rosh Chodesh, there must be a lessening of intensity. For since “every day a person must work,” some energies must be invested in the intervening days, contributing to a lessening of energy for Rosh Chodesh. But when there is no break, and Rosh Chodesh immediately follows Shabbos Mevorchim, then all the blessings uttered on Shabbos Mevorchim apply in full force to Rosh Chodesh.

The contents of the Parshah is summed up in its name — Toldos, meaning generations,2 the concept of producing something new. Even though “the world was created in its entirety,” a Jew must nevertheless effect a change in the world, “generate” something new. During the days of creation, the world was created in its entirety, yet it was still lacking “a man to till the ground” (Ber. 2:5). So too, the world needs men “to work it and keep it” (Ber. 2:15), thereby perfecting it. For the entire world was created only for the sake of Yisroel and his perfection of the world through the Torah.

This service of bringing the world to perfection is demanded not only of those who are lacking in proper service, but also of those who have attained perfect service. Indeed, the responsibility to produce “generations” is greater for those who are at a greater level.3 This concept clarifies our understanding of the order of the Parshiyos in the Torah, in which Parshas Chaye Sarah (“years of Sarah’s life”) precedes Parshas Toldos. Of the life of Sarah, the Torah tells us that all her years were equal in goodness. A person who has conducted his life similarly to the “years of Sarah’s life” — in the same exemplary manner, could suppose that he has nothing more to do, he has reached the height of perfection. Therefore the following Parshah is Toldos, to teach such a person, that despite, and indeed because of, his previous exemplary conduct, he must now continue to work in the world, in order to produce “generations.”

5. A further point to consider is that the Torah uses the word “generations” — a plural form. Rashi explains that this refers to “Ya’akov and Esav who are mentioned in the Parshah.” Ya’akov is the service of Tzaddikim; Esav is associated with the service of “The L‑rd has made everything for His sake; also the wicked unto the day of evil” (Mishlei 16:4) meaning “that the wicked man shall repent of his evil and turn his evil into day and light above” (Tanya Ch. 27). These two types of service are indicated in the verse “and make me delicacies such as I love,” said by Yitzchok to Esav. “Delicacies” is plural, alluding to, in material foods, two kinds of relishes. One of “sweet luscious foods, and the other of tart or sour articles of food, which have been well spiced and garnished so that they are made into delicacies to quicken the soul” (Tanya Ch. 27). Spiritually, these refer to two types of service: one in good matters — “do good,” and the other in transforming the wicked into day and light — “depart from evil.”

These two types manifest themselves into two different forms of service to the Creator. Ya’akov is “a simple man, dwelling in tents” (Yeshivos)7 Esav is “a cunning hunter, a man of the field” — the service of going out into the world (“field”), and capturing it for G‑d — i.e. the service of “in all your ways you shall know Him” and “all your deeds shall be for the sake of heaven.” A person must combine within himself both types of service (“generations” — plural). One must be a “dweller intents,” sitting and learning Torah, intensively and thoroughly, without any excuses — a “simple” man. Afterwards he must go out into the “field,” into the world, and there “hunt” the quarry of worldly matters, making from them “relishes” for G‑d. Only then does he receive the blessings of Yitzchok.

To be successful in capturing and transforming the world, one must be a “cunning hunter;” to be wise in the ways of the world, adopting its customs, donning its “clothing.” In short, when speaking to a fellow Jew about Yiddishkeit, do not speak in the holy tongue, Hebrew, if he does not understand it. Speak in the language he understands, with, obviously, the proper contents to influence him to good. One cannot wait for people to come to him,4 one must go forth into the world, seek out the “sparks” there, and extricate and elevate them. A Jew’s soul has descended from the loftiest heights to the lowest depths precisely in order to transform those depths into holiness.

This is the concept of Yonah. The Maftir read on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, is not called “Maftir Teshuvah” (repentance), but “Maftir Yonah,” teaching us a profound lesson. Yonah is derived from the word ‘Onoah’ — deceit, fraud. A person’s soul descends from the loftiest heights and, in a Jew’s body, is introduced to animalistic functions — eating, drinking etc. These things are totally alien to the soul (as it was before entering the world), and thus constitute a deception, a fraud. It is precisely these aspects of eating, drinking, etc., which a person must transform into G‑dliness. The only way to be successful in such work is through such deception — i.e. adopting the “deceptions” of the world — its customs, ways, etc. Again in plain language, this means that when attempting to influence a fellow Jew, one does not speak in the lofty Hebrew tongue, but in the language the fellow Jew understands — be it English, French, or whatever.

This in no way contradicts the first mode of service, of Torah and Mitzvos — “a simple man, dwelling in tents.” One can and must perform both types of service. When serving G‑d through the mode of “dwelling in tents,” Torah and Mitzvos, one must indeed be a “simple man.” But when he goes out into the world, into the “field,” then he must adopt the customs of the world as the mode of “deception,” in order to be able to transform it. This was the mode of service of Ya’akov, who, when coming to Lavan, told Rochel that “if he (Lavan) comes to deceive, then I too am his brother in deceit.” Notwithstanding his previous time spent immersed in complete holiness, the only way to perform service in the outside world was to don the clothing of the world.

This is a directive for all. The service of “Ya’akov, a simple man dwelling in tents” — is not alone sufficient. One must also perform the service of “Esav, a cunning hunter, a man of the field;” to go out into the world, to those places which are in reality a fraud, and there adopt its ways — ”if he comes to deceive, then I too am his brother in deceit” — and thus be able to elevate that place. There are many excuses put forward to avoid this type of service. The claim is made that one does not wish to associate in any way with a person who is not a G‑d-fearing, completely trustworthy person.5 But then, nothing will ever be done. For if the person is G‑d-fearing, then there is nothing to influence him about — he already fulfills Torah and Mitzvos; and if he isn’t — then he is not trustworthy and one will have nothing to do with him!

But what if it isn’t the other person’s fault? If he doesn’t know any better? True, comes the retort, but I don’t wish to have anything to do with him, people might suppose that I consider him trustworthy! But what if his sincere efforts at influencing this lost Jew will help him to reform? Again the retort: it may all be true, but I wish to live entirely in Torah and Mitzvos and have nothing to do with the outside world.

The answer to such claims comes from this week’s Parshah ‘Toldos’ — a plural form. It is not enough to alone keep Torah and Mitzvos; one must also transform the world into holiness. In the war with Amalek, Moshe commanded Yehoshua “Go out, fight with Amalek — go out from the cloud and do battle” (Shemos 17:9, Rashi). One must actually go out from his lofty height, go into the world, search for Amalek, and do battle — elevate the sparks of holiness found therein. This service is demanded of everyone, individually, just as the Ten Commandments were said to every individual personally.

A note of warning: Rashi, in his comment of Toldos, says “Ya’akov and Esav who are mentioned in the Parshah.” When in the world one’s conduct in one’s service must be as “mentioned in the Torah” — according to the dictates of the Torah and he who sent him on his mission, the Previous Rebbe. When one conducts oneself so, performing the service of both Ya’akov and Esav according to the dictates of Torah, then one merits all the blessings of our father Yitzchok.

From Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev, Shabbos Parshas Toldos, and Chanukah, we take the strength to carry out our proper service. With joy we involve ourselves in all the Mitzvah campaigns, until the greatest campaign of them all, the redemption. With all the blessings of Yitzchok we go forth to receive our righteous Moshiach, when “kingship will be the L‑rd’s.”


6. In Chapter 27, verse 27, it states, that when Ya’akov went to Yitzchok to receive his blessings (instead of Esav), “And he (Yitzchok) smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said: See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the L‑rd has blessed.” Rashi, on the words “And he smelled...” comments: “But there is no smell more offensive than that of washed goat skins,” Meaning, that we learned previously that Rivkah had draped the skins of the kids of goats on Ya’akov’s hands and neck, so that should Yitzchok feel him he would be hairy as Esav. Therefore, Rashi questions: how could Yitzchok possibly have smelled a pleasant scent, when the skin of goats is one of the foulest smells? Rashi then answers: “However, this teaches that there entered with him the smell of the Garden of Eden.” We might ask: From where does Rashi know, based on the Torah,6 that the pleasant scent that Yitzchok smelled was that of the Garden of Eden?

Further, on the words “as the smell of a field which the L‑rd has blessed” Rashi comments that “For He (G‑d) placed in it a good smell, and this is a field of apples, so interpreted our Rabbis of blessed memory.” That Rashi knows it was a field of apples presents no problems, since he states that this is an interpretation of the Rabbis. What is perplexing is why Rashi considers it necessary to even bring this interpretation of the Rabbis. Why not just leave it that G‑d placed a good smell in a field? In fact, if any field has a good smell, it is a field of flowers or spices, rather than one of apples!

We can answer this by prefacing it with another question. Rivkah wished to hide from Yitzchok that it was Ya’akov and not Esav entering to receive the blessings. Presumably she could not know in advance that a scent of the Garden of Eden would enter with him camouflaging the smell of the goat skins. How then could she place goatskins, which have the foulest of odors, on Ya’akov without alerting Yitzchok that something is amiss?

The answer is quite simple. Yitzchok had requested Esav to “go out to the field, and hunt for me venison, and make me savory food such as I love, and bring it to me.” This involves the work of slaughtering, skinning, quartering, and cooking the animals. Yitzchok wanted the delicacies as soon as possible. It would not be strange then to Yitzchok (indeed it would be strange if it were not so) that Esav would have the odor of animals on him. Therefore Rivkah did not worry about the obvious odor which accompanied Ya’akov due to the goat skins he was wearing.

Hence Rashi asks the natural question: Why did Yitzchok smell a good smell? What happened to the smell of the goat-skins? And so Rashi must answer that indeed the good aroma was not natural — it came about through a miracle, that “there entered with him the smell of the Garden of Eden.”

Now we can also understand why Rashi says that the smell was of a “field of apples,” and not a field of spices or flowers. Yitzchok did not know the smell was that of the Garden of Eden; he thought it was the smell of Ya’akov’s clothes as stated “And he smelled the smell of his raiment.” But if, as arrived at our previous conclusion, Yitzchok expected a noxious smell of hides etc. (coming from Esav’s work in preparing the tasty foods), then why did not Yitzchok wonder about it being a fragrant aroma? Yitzchok is expecting a nasty smell, and yet he merely comments on the type of fragrance, saying “the smell of my son is as of a field which the L‑rd has blessed?!”

Yitzchok’s request was “hunt for me venison, and make me delicacies.” In order to prepare delicacies, savory foods, one garnishes the meat with seasoning made from other foods. Thus when Yitzchok smelled a nice aroma, he naturally assumed that this was from the seasoning and such which Esav had been handling to prepare the delicacies. And on that smell he commented “the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the L‑rd has blessed” — upon which Rashi comments “for He placed in it a good smell” (i.e. the smell of foods in a field from which seasonings are extracted).

Therefore Rashi cannot conclude from the verse that the smell was of spices or flowers. The smell (or so Yitzchok thought) was from the seasonings placed in the dishes — which comes from other foods, — and not flowers or spices. Of course, there are a variety of fruits which grow in fields which have a pleasant aroma, and not only apples. Rashi therefore adds the words “so interpreted our Rabbis” — since his knowledge that it was apples, and not some other fruit, is not derived from the simple meaning of the verses, but from outside sources.

Similarly, as discussed before, Rashi arrived at the conclusion that when Ya’akov entered, a non-natural pleasant odor accompanied him concealing the noxious smell of the goat-skins. Rashi cannot know however, from the verses alone, that this non-natural odor was in fact specifically that of the Garden of Eden. Again, he must resort to the interpretation of our Rabbis. But then, one may ask, why does Rashi make no mention of his source, as he does on his comment concerning the type of smell (that it was specifically apples). This however is Rashi’s custom in such circumstances. His mention of the source at the end of his interpretation on a particular verse, applies also to that written at the beginning, even though it may be under a different subheading.7

7. Chanukah has as its etymological root the word “Chinuch” — Jewish education. There is a custom that Jewish children should give Tzedakah during Chanukah, and although this custom has lapsed, it should now be renewed and strengthened.

The above is part of the on-going concept of Tzivos Hashem — the Army of G‑d. Parents have a tremendous responsibility to educate their children as to their membership in Tzivos Hashem. Children have a tremendous merit (and responsibility) to be a member in Tzivos Hashem, their appropriate conduct helping to redeem themselves, their parents, and all Jews from exile.

In Tishrei we directed that the booklets containing the twelve verses should be reprinted on special paper, with space for the children to inscribe the names of those whom they have succeeded in recruiting for Tzivos Hashem to learn the twelve verses. We did not then appoint anyone to head this project and, apparently because of that, nobody has done anything about it! Five weeks have passed, and not one booklet has been published. Who suffers? — the children! For five weeks children have had no booklets as an incentive to find other children to recruit into Tzivos Hashem.

When I asked what a particular communal worker was doing about it, I was answered that he had been too busy with other projects and had no time. Of course. First he must eat and drink, then get plenty of sleep so he is well rested. Then, because he is after all a communal worker, he must work on his own projects, so that the honor he receives from others will be well earned! Simultaneously he must make certain that no one else does the work he is meant to do, to ensure, that he, and he alone, receives all the plaudits.

After all this, if there is time, he then puts himself out — to find someone else to do all the necessary work in printing the booklet! But should something inconvenient occur, such as it starts to rain, then he beats a quick retreat to his house to rest up!

When it is a matter of printing his own things, something that he receives honor from, then you can be sure that he will leave no stone unturned to see it through. The proper paper is found, money is found, everything becomes available; it is even published in the newspapers replete with his picture. But when it comes to printing the booklet containing the twelve verses in a five week period of time — he has no time! Why should the children suffer because one seeks honor and therefore has no time for them?

As in all other matters, I am held responsible. Why did I not appoint one individual to be in charge, instead of leaving it up to everyone? Know, however, that a person’s livelihood and all other necessities, and one’s World to Come, are dependent on this thing. And it is not my business to apportion shares in the World to Come. Therefore I did not appoint any particular individual, for it is everyone’s business. And yet five and a half weeks have passed by, and nothing has been done.

Children have been stopped for that amount of time from learning the twelve verses. This is not my personal matter. The twelve verses are from G‑d, and He wants children to learn them!

The worst thing of all is that no one has protested about this situation. Should someone stick a needle into a person’s little toe, you can be sure that he would raise a howl of protest. Yet about the twelve verses no one has even protested, showing that it matters less to them than even a pinprick.

This is not the first time. After we had spoken about establishing a Kollel especially for older people, we thought there would be a great flurry of activity, setting up Kollels wherever possible. What eventuated? I received letters enquiring whom should be appointed the head of the effort to establish Kollels. I did not answer, for, as mentioned, it is not my business to apportion shares in this or the other world.

I received other letters informing me that many of the old people were senile [and therefore what is the use of setting up a Kollel for them]. A true incident answers this excuse. A young fellow went to an old age home, where he met an old man, about whom the doctors had long given up hope of raising from the stupor into which he had sunk. This young man approached him with a Lulav and Esrog, and immediately, without a word having been spoken to him, the old man snapped out of his lethargy, immediately cognizant of his entire surroundings. The sight of the Lulav and Esrog had reminded him of his youth, and he thereupon made all the blessings without any help whatsoever. The doctors were stupefied by the amazing recovery. This episode demonstrates the influence and effect that Yiddishkeit can have on elderly people. And yet, the proper efforts to set up Kollel Tiferes Zekanim (for men) and Tiferes Chochmas Noshim (for women), are still lacking.

If such is the effect on senile elderly people, how much more so is it important to ensure that healthy Jewish children receive the proper Jewish education. Such education includes providing them with the booklets containing the twelve Torah verses, enabling them to learn it themselves, and also influence others to enroll in Tzivos Hashem. Yet five weeks have gone by, nothing has been done, and children have not learned the verses. Time for everything else can be found, except for this. There are no valid excuses as to quibbling over who should head the effort, and who should be the main worker. Let everyone do it! If this will cause confusion, then let there be confusion; as long as the children get the booklets! It would be better to have too many booklets, then none at all.

I asked that special paper be used in the booklets. So of course, once again, it is my fault, for now there is the problem of acquiring special paper. For five whole weeks, special paper could not be found in New York!? As before, rest assured that had it affected people’s personal honor, they would have quickly found the right paper. If the children would have been older, they would have stormed the offices, taken away the printing-presses, and printed the booklets themselves.

I could have chosen an individual, grabbed him by the fore-lock or the beard, and commanded him to be the one in charge of the entire operation. But then everyone else would have been frightened off, thinking that only that individual is allowed to be involved in printing the booklets and no others.

Know then, that no one has a copyright on spreading Judaism, Torah and Mitzvos; and no single individual has inherited the right of specifically being the head of the organization, with only himself being involved. No one has been appointed the head of world Jewry! These are matters which involve each and every Jew. Everyone who so wishes, wherever he may be, can spread Judaism.

It used to be the custom that the sexton of the synagogue had, among his other duties, the responsibility of waking the members for morning prayers. He would rap on the shutters of their houses with his sturdy staff, saying: “Wake up Jews to the service of the Creator.” In our situation, I do not wish to appoint anyone to be the sexton (to rouse people to involve themselves in printing the booklets); hopefully, it will not be necessary.

If the only way to make someone do something is to appoint him the overall chief of Tzivos Hashem, second only to G‑d, the Commander-in-Chief, then so be it. As long as it gets results.

The five and a half weeks of inactivity have delayed Moshiach’s coming by that much time. For had the booklets been printed five and a half weeks ago, Moshiach’s coming would be five and a half weeks earlier! Children should band together, make a coup, overthrow their “generals,” and do themselves what is necessary!

I am not talking in such a fashion because I am angry at anyone, or because I wish to annoy anyone — but only to ensure that the job is carried out through any means whatsoever — be they natural or miraculous. May it be G‑d’s will that my words will help, not only in this matter, but in all things we talk about — be it in the past, present, or future. May our actions from now on light up the exile, with the “superiority of light that comes from darkness,” that darkness resulting from the five and a half weeks of delay and foolishness. Then we will receive our righteous Moshiach quickly in our time.