1. As the Zohar explains; all the days of the week are blessed from the preceding Shabbos. The nature of that blessing is consonant with the particular qualities of the days of the following week; and when a special event occurs during the week, special efforts must be made to ensure that the blessing of Shabbos be appropriate.

As this is the Shabbos preceding the holiday of redemption, Yud-Bais — Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, the blessing of this Shabbos is particularly important. For the events of this holiday concern a Rebbe, and relate to the entire Jewish people. While something relating to many individuals is of general importance it is limited to a specific group, place, and time; but that which relates to the entire Jewish people is of everlasting relevance for, as our sages say, “a community never dies.” Therefore special efforts must be made to ensure that this Shabbos bring an appropriate blessing for Yud-Bais Tammuz.

These efforts must be connected with Torah and Mitzvos, and in particular with the three pillars on which the world stands — Torah, Avodah (prayer), and Gemilus Chassodim (acts of kindness). By fulfilling these services on Shabbos, in a manner appropriate to Shabbos, we prepare the blessing for the week to come.

On Shabbos, each of these services is carried out differently than during the week. In our prayers we omit Tachnun (the daily penitential prayers). Furthermore, the nature of prayer and Shabbos are one; for just as prayer is a process of connection with G‑d, Shabbos is the time when man ceases his physical activities and becomes united with G‑d. And as Chassidus teaches, this unique attribute of prayer on Shabbos results in the elevation of the weekday prayers through the Shabbos prayers.

Likewise, one cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of Gemilus Chassodim with money or any object, the use of which is forbidden on Shabbos. The specific act of kindness traditionally identified with Shabbos is the custom of inviting guests.1

Torah study also differs on Shabbos, done solely in a spirit of pleasure. The schools, where study is sometimes accompanied by fear of punishment, are closed.2 It is also customary to study Kaballah on Shabbos as opposed to Niglah (the exoteric, legal realm of Torah). Although all of Torah is referred to as “songs” — “Your statutes were songs for Me” — the questions, doubts, and arguments of Niglah are irritants, whose discomfort is eradicated only by resolution of a particular question. Hence, on Shabbos Kaballah is studied, for in Kaballah there are no questions or arguments;3 and therefore we can appreciate the true, infinite nature of Torah with pure pleasure, free of the discomforts of doubts and arguments.

Today, on the Shabbos before Yud-Bais Tammuz, we must prepare ourselves to generate the appropriate blessings for that day. The Previous Rebbe’s service was not limited to his own Torah, Avodah, and Gemilus Chassodim; rather his commitment was one of Mesiras Nefesh (self-sacrifice), extending himself to every Jew, wherever he might be. Had he limited himself to the three pillars of service he would never have been imprisoned; yet he sacrificed himself to extend this service to each and every Jew.

If we are to express this concept in the physical world, physical action is necessary. The prophets connected their prophesies with actual deeds. Similarly, this farbrengen is connected with the three pillars; for concepts of Torah will be discussed within a house of Torah study. Minchah will be davened; hence the service of prayer will be carried out within a house of prayer. And we are together in a group where joy is generated through treating one’s neighbor kindly (Gemilus Chassodim).4 Furthermore, prayer and Gemilus Chassodim are connected; for before prayer we state: “Behold, I take upon myself the Mitzvah (to) ‘Love your fellowman as yourself.’“

Through carrying out these services we generate a blessing for the coming week, including Yud-Bais Tammuz. May we take upon ourselves resolutions to further these three services; and may “the Holy One blessed be He join good thought to deed.” And then, may we proceed from the redemption of Yud-Bais Tammuz to the Messianic redemption, speedily in our days.

2. While the above applies to the Shabbos preceding Yud-Bais Tammuz every year, specific lessons must be derived from the events of this year. For, as the Baal Shem Tov teaches, everything which happens to a Jew is to further enable him “to serve his Creator” — the whole point of the Jew’s existence. Hence, everything occurs by Divine Providence, both material and spiritual occurrences, to teach the Jew a specific lesson. Hence, this week’s Torah portion teaches us a specific lesson in relation to Yud-Bais Tammuz.

This week’s portion is Parshas Chukas.5 While there are an infinite number of concepts within each Torah portion, all of them are included within the name. The lesson communicated through the name must be made clear to even the most simple and unlearned, for as the Previous Rebbe explained, “G‑d did not redeem me alone on Yud-Bais Tammuz,” but rather the entire Jewish people. Thus the redemption must be understood by all.

Chukas, comes from the word Chok, meaning decree — a concept which is beyond our intellect and logical comprehension. Regarding the chok of the red heifer, even King Solomon, the wisest of all men, declared, “I said I would attain wisdom, but it is beyond me.” And our sages said regarding Chukim — “You are not permitted to question them.”6

Thus, when one approaches a Jew who is far from Jewish observance and tells him, “Yud-Bais Tammuz is coming and you must feel an air of redemption,” he may be rebuffed. The Jew may retort, “I am in the midst of the doubled and redoubled darkness of exile, where there are numerous obstacles to the study of Torah and observance of Mitzvos. It is logically impossible for me to feel a sense of redemption.” One must not be put off by this response, but tell him, “It is a Chok. You do not have to understand; rather you should feel a sense of redemption solely because G‑d commanded it to be so.”

Furthermore one should “serve G‑d with joy;” as the Rambam explains all Mitzvos must be carried out with joy. Many Mitzvos can be understood rationally, as our sages explain (Eruvin 100b) “If Torah were not given we would learn modesty from a cat and (the prohibition against) stealing from an ant.” Chukim, however, have no-rational explanation and are carried out solely because G‑d commanded. Therefore, the joy derived from performing a chok is much greater than that from the observance of another Mitzvah, for it is purely the joy of doing G‑d’s will.7

This week’s portion then teaches us that we must see ourselves as being redeemed whether we understand it or not. By doing so we attain a full measure of redemption,8 and with joy, for our own egos are subordinate to the command of G‑d.

We are presently enveloped by a dense and redoubled darkness. The Moshiach has not yet come and his imminent arrival is nowhere apparent to us. The darkness is so intense that there are those who use Torah as a justification for breaking its commandments.

One such example of the misuse of Torah is the definition of “Mihu Yehudi — who is a Jew.” There are those who point out that “the entire Torah was given only for the establishment of peace within the world,” and use this as an excuse for calling a gentile a Jew. In order to promote “peace” between a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman whom he has married against the specific command of Torah, they give her a piece of paper stating that she is Jewish. This meaningless document is used to condone the most severe sin possible. For, as the Rambam explains, this act is a graver sin than even murder, adultery, or idol worship. And as the Rogachaver Gaon pointed out, this is the only way a Jew — or more precisely the potential for creating a Jewish child — can become a non-Jew; for children born from such a union are not Jewish. Nevertheless, there are those who call themselves “rabbis” who insist that for the sake of closeness, unity, and peace, such non-Jews must be considered as Jews.

If someone protests this situation and tries to rectify the damage done, he meets with even greater aggravation; he is informed that at this time, nothing can be done. Those who have the power to do something are too busy: flying to Washington, having their pictures taken, dealing with all the insignificant matters of the world. Yet when it comes to a truly important issue, who is to be recognized as a Jew, they are too busy.

Such situations arise because their is a lack of commitment to Chukim, to Torah irregardless of one’s rational understanding. When the total commitment to Chukim is absent, the logical explanations for other Mitzvos are also eventually eroded, leading to twisted rationalizations which are used to justify mistakes such as the above.

Thus one’s observance of Yud-Bais Tammuz should be carried out as a Chok; for then it is possible, even in this time of redoubled darkness for a Jew to achieve a state of redemption. Our sages declared, “the only free man is one who is occupied with Torah,” a truth which is particularly obvious when we look at the example of the Previous Rebbe. One’s sensitivity to this comes from the commitment of Chukas — fulfilling Torah with a dedication exceeding the limits of reason and understanding, bringing about complete joy.

This concept is developed further in the portion of Chukas, which includes the song of the Jewish people giving thanks for the well (of Miriam). Song is connected with joy as our sages explained: “Song should only be recited over wine” and wine “brings joy to G‑d and man.” The well also refers to “the well of living water,” the spiritual well which is within the heart of every Jew. That “well” is revealed through joy. If one approaches another Jew with a severe and critical countenance, he may recoil. But if approached with joy he will respond positively.9 Thus, we must always feel joy and redemption; and when these feelings are exuded from ourselves we will generate them within others. Then, these combined feelings of joy and redemption will break through the darkness of Golus, and lead to the fulfillment of the verse, “and all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings,” even within the last days of Golus, may it be speedily in our days.

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3. This year, the festival of redemption, Yud-Bais-Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, has an additional dimension, for it marks the hundredth anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s birth. One hundred represents a higher level of perfection. Ten generally represents the state of completion of any creation, as it states in this week’s chapter of Pirkei Avos: “with ten statements the world was created.” Philosophically speaking, each element is composed of ten things: “the thing in itself and nine derivatives.” Similarly, a decade represents the completion of a period of time. And in the human realm ten also represents completion. For as we see in the Grace after meals, if ten men are present G‑d’s name is mentioned; but even if there are thousands present nothing more is added. Hence, the number ten represents the level of completion in the natural world.

The purpose of man’s creation however is to perfect the world, to not leave it in its natural, completed state, but rather refine and correct everything he encounters. Hence the Jew draws out ten levels of completion within each of the ten aspects of the world, totaling one hundred (perfection). In addition, one hundred represents the ten different types of Jews and their effect upon the ten different elements of nature.10

Practically speaking, each Jew must refine his own ten inner qualities and simultaneously refine the ten elements of the world around him. He must also influence the Jewish people around him, creating an environment where “ten sit and study Torah:” and, moreover, he must inspire each of these ten to go out and seek another ten — thus reaching the level of one hundred.

The Previous Rebbe encouraged the propagation of the custom initiated by the Baal Shem Tov to recite daily the psalm which corresponds to the year of one’s life. The hundredth psalm, entitled “A song of Thanksgiving,” is, as the “Megalah Amukos” writes, connected with the custom of reciting one hundred blessings11 each day.12

All this must be applied through action. The farbrengens held in connection with Yud-Bais Tammuz should include “the three pillars upon which the world stands”: Torah study, preferably in a group of ten; the accompaniment of the farbrengen with a prayer service (either Minchah or Maariv); and the actual giving of Tzedakah at the farbrengen.13

As is well-known, the Previous Rebbe devoted himself to spreading Torah and Mitzvos to all Jews with great self-sacrifice, particularly in the education of Jewish children. It is therefore proper to arrange a special farbrengen for children where they will learn Torah, conduct a prayer service, and give tzedakah. Moreover just as the Previous Rebbe recites the hundredth psalm daily, since “the body is drawn after the head,” it is appropriate to study, or at least recite, this psalm14 with the children.

The above applies to every Jew, from the lowest to the highest. The learned scholar may feel that his sole task would be the study of the deeper aspects of the Previous Rebbe’s teachings, yet he too must be involved in the three pillars. In regard to the study of the hundredth psalm, the explanations of the Tzemach Tzedek in “Yahel Or” should also be studied.

Every important act requires proper preparation to ensure its success. May we prepare properly to ensure the success of all this and may the fulfillment of our actions lead to the true and complete redemption, when we will learn the Torah of Moshiach, may it be soon.

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4. There is another aspect of Yud-Bais Tammuz which should be particularly emphasized to children. When we tell them the story of the Previous Rebbe’s liberation explaining that although the revealed event occurred 53 years ago, it neither began nor ended at that point in time. It began at the Previous Rebbe’s birth, for even as a new-born infant he possessed the potential for his future achievements. Likewise, even hundred years after his birth, “his children are alive” and therefore “he is alive.” The very fact that I am speaking to you right now about Yiddishkeit is proof of the effectiveness of his work, of the Previous Rebbe’s “children,” i.e. the results of his self-sacrifice. We see daily the continuous growth of the fruits of his labor, as more and more individuals fulfill Mitzvos carefully in his merit.

We must explain to Jewish children that just as the entire potential for the Previous Rebbe’s service was possessed by him as a new-born infant, they too can grow up to emulate his deeds. As Eliyahu Rabbah declares: “Every individual must say, ‘When will my deeds15 equal those of my forefathers — Avraham, Yitzchok, and Ya’akov?” For a while a child may have difficulty in matching the deeds of Reuven, (for he may stem from a different tribe), Avraham, Yitzchok, and Ya’akov are the forefathers of all Jewish children. Thus, their entire spiritual legacy is translated to each and every Jew, for “a son inherits all.”

If we speak to a child with “words emanating from the heart,” those words will enter the child’s heart and motivate him to declare as Eliyahu Rabbah did. Then, we will gather together all Jewish children and — not forgetting to include oneself — study Torah and establish Tzivos Hashem — G‑d’s army.