[The children recited the 12 verses of the Torah and sayings of our sages.]

1. The seventh of Menachem Av is one of the “nine days” and is in the three weeks of “between the straits.” Its uniqueness, as noted in Tenach (Melachim II, 25:8) and emphasized in the Talmud (Ta’anis 29a), is that “in the fifth month (Menachem-Av), on the seventh day, the heathens entered the Temple and ate, drank, and desecrated therein.” Until then only Eretz Yisroel and Yerushalayim had been ravaged; on the seventh day the destruction of the actual Temple began. Whilst the Temple was still intact, all other calamities were reversible; but the day the Temple itself was entered signalized utter disaster. The seventh of Av is consequently such a significant day in the period of the destruction that special laws are applicable from this day onwards.1

Torah instructs us to not only recall the destruction but also to relive it. Furthermore, since the reason for the Exile is “a descent for the purpose of an ascent,” such remembrance and reliving should induce action to rectify the cause of the destruction. When the cause is eradicated the consequence will be eradicated, bringing about redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

The Medrash (Eichah 1:32-33) relates: “Come and see how be-beloved are children by the Holy One blessed be He. The Sanhedrin was exiled, but the Shechinah (Divine Presence) did not go into exile with them. The priestly watches were exiled, but the Shechinah did not go into exile with them. However, when the children were exiled, the Shechinah went into exile with them. That is what is written, ‘Her young children have gone into captivity before the enemy,’ immediately followed by the statement ‘Gone from the daughter of Zion is all her splendor’ (i.e. the Holy One blessed be He).” The event which specifically marked the beginning of the exile was the expulsion of the children.

Since the exile did not properly start until the children were expelled, they have a special role in eradicating its cause.2 Their proper conduct guarantees that not only do they stay out of exile, but, as noted previously, the presence of the Shechinah, and ipso facto the return of the Sanhedrin and the priestly watches.

The exile was caused by our sins. The fervent fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos by children, which eliminates the cause, will bring about the immediate redemption.

2. There is also a more specific matter to be corrected. On the seventh of Menachem-Av, as previously mentioned, “the heathens entered the Temple, and ate, drank and desecrated.” The rectification of these things is achieved through the corresponding proper conduct of children in their daily life. Eating and drinking should be accompanied by a blessing before and after (if a sufficient quantity was eaten); and in contrast to desecrating, Jewish children should correct their conduct in their own houses, thus correcting the entire House of Israel.

In the gathering today, the children have indeed conducted themselves in such a manner. In addition, we all prayed the Minchah service, which is associated especially with Eliyahu Hanavi,3 who will announce the coming of Moshiach. Similarly, verses from the Written and Oral Torah were said, as well as sayings from the inner part of the Torah, from the Tanya, which clarifies matters stated in the Zohar; about which Moshe declared that learning its writings will bring the Jews out of Exile with mercy.

3. In the section of Tehillim said today Dovid Hamelech says “I will go to the altar of G‑d,... why are you downcast, my soul, and why do you yearn for me?” (43:4-5) Whilst yearning to go to G‑d’s altar, he simultaneously despairs of ever reaching there, causing the anguish in his soul. In effect, he is asking: Jews have been in exile for hundreds of years. How is it possible Moshiach should suddenly come and immediately redeem us?4

The answer is provided by Dovid Hamelech himself. “Why (indeed) are you downcast, why (indeed) do you yearn? Hope in G‑d!” With true trust and hope in G‑d it is certain that “I will go to the altar of G‑d” and there “I will praise You on the lyre.”

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4. Concerning the Bais Hamikdosh, there is a law stated by the Rambam which is instructive for every Jew. He states: “It is an exceptional Mitzvah to strengthen the Bais Hamikdosh, to make it taller, according to the capability of the community... and to adorn and beautify it according to their capability. If they are able to gild it with gold... it is a Mitzvah to do so.”

A person whom G‑d has endowed with greater opportunities than another, whether in time, intellect, or money,5 is not permitted to only work in his spiritual Bais Hamikdosh at a level commensurate with the opportunities given to his less fortunate fellows. He must work commensurate with his opportunities, for the fact that G‑d has endowed him with more abilities and/or money indicates that his task is to do more. G‑d has given him the potential to fulfill an extra Mitzvah, as in the words of the Rambam “to adorn and beautify it... and if they are able to gild it... it is a Mitzvah to do so.” Upon working to his utmost, he is then given by G‑d even greater abilities and more opportunities to fulfill Mitzvos.

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5. In today’s Parshah, Vo-eschanan, Moshe tells G‑d that “You have begun to show Your greatness...” The Zohar (III, 260b) asks: How could Moshe say that only in his time G‑d began to show His greatness, when prior to him lived Ya’akov Avinu, a great Tzaddik, for whom G‑d performed miracles? The Zohar answers that in Ya’akov’s time the Jews were very few in number, with only seventy people entering Egypt. But in Moshe’s time, they were already a community of millions,6 which, when unified, constitutes the true greatness of G‑d.

The lesson learned from this is that every Jew, both adult and child, must strive for the unity of the Jewish people. This is accomplished through Ahavas Yisroel, love of a fellow Jew, especially when children befriend other children — boys befriending other boys, and girls befriending other girls — and influence their parents to also conduct themselves with Ahavas Yisroel.

This is carried out to such an extent that, at the start of every day, each Jew, before beginning to pray for his own needs, binds himself to the entire Jewish people through the Mitzvah of “love your fellowman as yourself.” A Jew is then not alone, but is linked with each and every Jew in all generations, providing for “Your greatness” in the fullest measure.

As previously explained, the cessation of Golus is dependent upon Jewish children. Love of a fellow Jew should therefore begin with them, thereby binding each child with all other Jewish children, each influencing another to go in the ways of the “Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Ya’akov.”

The fulfillment of the above with enthusiasm and energy makes “a dwelling place for G‑d in this world,” which is the “purpose of the creation of every Jew and of all the worlds.” This is especially applicable at this time since those present at this gathering have conducted themselves in the appropriate manner to counteract the “eating, drinking and desecrating of the heathens.” Minchah was davened, Torah was said, and Tzedakah will be given, of which it is said: “Zion will be redeemed with justice [Torah] and those who return to her with charity.” These things hasten the fulfillment of the latter part of the Zohar mentioned above. Moshe Rabbeinu said “You have begun to show Your greatness;” the Zohar tells us that the consummation of G‑d’s revelation will be with the coming of the “final redeemer,” our righteous Moshiach.

[The Rebbe Shlita gave to each of the children (before Bar/ Bas Mitzvah age) two dimes, one for Tzedakah and the other to use as desired. Afterwards the Rebbe Shlita gave, as above, to all the assembled.]