1. The Alter Rebbe explained that we must live by the lessons of the weekly portion. This week’s portion Yisro,1 describes the giving of the Torah. The Haftorah adds further emphasis,2 in describing Isaiah’s vision of the “Divine Chariot”; when the Torah was given, G‑d descended upon Mt. Sinai and revealed Himself and His chariot (Shemos Rabbah 29:2).

Three times each year we read the description of the giving of the Torah: in Parshas Yisro, on Shavuos, and in Parshas Vo-eschanan.3 Though they are similar in context, we derive different lessons from each of these three readings.

On Shavuos, which is a Yom Tov (festival), special prayers and customs apply to us, and work is forbidden. The words Yom Tov mean “a good day”; that is, it is a day singled out for rejoicing. Therefore, when reading the description of Mattan Torah on Shavuos, it is with a festive air.

Not so the other two readings. Parshas Vo-eschanan is read directly after the three weeks of mourning, when the service of .the Jewish people is characterized by Teshuvah. On the other hand Parshas Yisro is read when the Jewish people are immersed in their daily service of G‑d; that is, a service related to that of Tzaddikim (rather than Ba’alei Teshuvah).

Parshas Yisro describes the events directly before the giving of the Torah, when the Jewish people were on the level of Tzaddikim. This occurred before the sin of the golden calf.

Parshas Vo-eschanan, on the other hand, describes the service of Ba’alei Teshuvah, following the sin of the golden calf. Therefore it is a description of the giving of the second tablets.

The first tablets were given with “thunder and lightening,” with noise.4 Our sages proclaimed that “just as there (at Mt. Sinai), there was awe and fear, trembling and sweating, so now (in our Torah study) there must also be awe and fear, trembling and sweating.” The Alter Rebbe explains that, although there were open miracles at Mt. Sinai, which are not present during our Torah study, still that fear must remain with us, since the Torah that we receive is G‑d’s Torah.5 Our approach to Torah must parallel that of the Jews at Mt. Sinai, and also be accompanied by “noise.”

A similar point is brought out by the Tanya which declares that Torah must “rest within all 248 limbs of the body.” On the surface, Torah is an intellectual study. It must be approached with “peace of mind and peace of body.” An effort to integrate it within the entire body would disturb one’s concentration. Yet, Torah teaches that “my entire being shall declare it.” Torah must permeate the totality of our existence. A story in the Talmud (Shabbos 88a) relates that Rava, while once studying, was so involved in his learning that he placed his fingers of his hand under his feet and ground them down until his fingers spurted blood. Similarly, Torah must affect us to the point where we are totally involved with our studies.6

From the above, we can learn an important lesson. We must become involved with spreading Torah, particularly the wellsprings of Chassidus, and we must do so with “noise,” with excitement and tumult. One might argue that “the words of the wise are heard with quiet,” that we must consider carefully, and begin working slowly, step-by-step, when we are involved in spreading Torah.7 However, such an approach runs contrary to that of the Previous Rebbe, who stressed immediate action. He pointed out that we have only a “few moments” left before the coming of Moshiach and that now is the time to “grab and eat, grab and drink.” We must utilize every moment possible, creating a great commotion and tumult for Torah.8 Furthermore, this commotion and tumult is not only applicable on holidays, but even during weekdays. To emphasize this point, Parshas Yisro, which speaks about the giving of the Torah, is read not only on the holiday of Shavuos, but also during the present week.

The Medrash tells us that the “noise” of Mt. Sinai brought an undesirable effect, “the influence of the evil eye.” In view of that influence, how can we then demand noise in regard to spreading Torah? The answer lies in the concept of the sin of the tree of knowledge, the source of all undesirable influences in the world. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 21:7) relates that Adam’s sin was in the eating of the fruit the wrong time. Had he waited three hours he could have made wine from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and used it for Kiddush. That is, the eating of the fruit, at the right time, would have been a positive act.9 The same principle applies to the “noise” that must accompany the spreading of Torah. We are now at a time when such an approach is necessary. We must learn Torah and spread Torah, particularly the wellsprings of Chassidus, with “noise,” with excitement. If an objector argues that the source of noise is in Yisro, i.e., that only Tzaddikim, but not Baalei Teshuvah should be involved with “noise,” then we must point out the declaration of Isaiah the prophet: “Your nation are all Tzaddikim.” Further, one who objects to the spreading of Torah in such a manner should visit the Previous Rebbe’s grave, or should consult a Ray. He will surely be told that “Your nation are all Tzaddikim,” and that the Torah must be spread with “noise” to the point where it effects, not only those whom one knows, but even those with whom one has no connection.

We must be careful, however, not to derive false pride and egotism from our activities;10 and when others are accomplishing something valuable, we must not react negatively. Rather, the task must be approached with true unity. In short, we must work to spread Torah with enthusiasm and excitement, through joint effort and with common goals. These efforts will hasten the revelation of the third Temple, the Temple that was built by G‑d, with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

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2. Parshas Yisro is read in the weeks following the Previous Rebbe’s Yahrzeit. This year, the lesson of the Parshah is enhanced by a connection with the thirtieth anniversary of the Rebbe’s Yahrzeit. There is a particular relationship between Yud Shvat and Parshas Yisro. The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 30:4) states that the Torah is called the Torah of Moshe. Why is it connected with him personally? Since he sacrificed his soul for it. Similarly, the Previous Rebbe sacrificed his soul for all matters of Torah and Mitzvos. Not only did he sacrifice his body and his animal soul, but he also gave up his G‑dly soul. He went as far as to send others to sacrifice their lives — a step that requires even greater self-sacrifice. There were certain Rabbis who maintained that one’s life need not be sacrificed at that time, since the Russian government did not ask the Jews to commit either murder, adultery, or idol worship. Nevertheless, the Previous Rebbe was willing to sacrifice his life, in order to spread Torah. He knew that he might be imprisoned for his activities, and that, in prison, he would be prevented from doing certain Mitzvos;11 yet, he continued his efforts unceasingly.

Each year since the Previous Rebbe’s passing, “a new light... higher than any light that has descended until now is revealed,” enhancing the effect produced by the Previous Rebbe’s service. This is particularly true this year, the 30th anniversary of his passing. This year must lead to new breakthroughs in the spreading of Torah and the wellsprings of Chassidus.

The lesson from the thirty years can be explained in terms of the Baal Shem Tov’s commentary on the Mishnah — “Reflect upon three things... before whom you are destined to give a judgment and accounting.” The Besht explained that before a judgment can be made on a Jew, he is given the chance to judge another person in a similar situation; that same judgment is then carried out in regard to himself. The same concept applies to the Previous Rebbe who declared, in regard to his liberation of Yud-Bais Tammuz, that “G‑d did not redeem me alone” but also the entire Jewish people, even those of us on the furthest extreme of Jewish commitment.12 Likewise, he wrote concerning his father, that a “shepherd of Israel will not leave the sheep of his pasture.” These same judgments now apply to the Previous Rebbe himself. The Talmud (Sotah 13b) states that Moshe Rabbeinu, even thousands of years after his passing, is “standing and serving” the Jewish people, just as during his lifetime. The same applies to the Previous Rebbe.

The Mishnah declares “At thirty — one achieves strength.” We might assume that, since it is thirty years since the Rebbe’s passing, we are now able to stand on our own. The reply, is no; “a shepherd will never leave his flock.” His connection with us now is just as strong as it was in the first moment after his passing. We must merely hold fast to his “doorknob,” and especially to his open door: go to his graveside, write Pidyonos (letters that a Chosid writes to a Rebbe asking for blessings), and ask for mercy and blessing.

Hence, when we approach a Jew in the middle of his business day, urging him to devote time to Torah study, we should not be discouraged if he answers that his present circumstances do not allow it. We must bring him to realize that the Previous Rebbe — the Nassi of the generation — asks him to do so; and we may all take courage from the Previous Rebbe’s devotion to Torah study, even under severe persecution.

May it be G‑d’s will that, in the near future, the promise that “those who lie in dust will arise and sing,” will be fulfilled, with him among them, with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.