1. The children recited the twelve verses of the Torah and sayings of our sages.

2. We have gathered together in honor of the celebration of R. Shimon bar Yochai. As was mentioned on Lag B’Omer at the Parade, whenever Jews, and in particular Jewish children gather together, our love for, and connection, and closeness with each other is demonstrated. Particularly, since the gathering is connected with the one and only Torah, given by the One and Only G‑d to His one and only people; bringing them even closer together.

This gathering (which is connected with Torah) unites us with all Jewish children and adults throughout the world who gather together for the same purpose. This applies particularly to those who are in the one and only land, the land which was chosen over all other lands of the earth — our holy land, the land of which it is said: “the eyes of the L‑rd, your G‑d, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year,” the land which G‑d watches over with special diligence.

Furthermore, this unity binds us together with all Jews who have gathered for this purpose in all previous years and generations. We are united because Judaism, G‑d who gave us Judaism, His Torah, and Mitzvos, and the Jewish people are eternal, existing in all times and places, unified as one, as the Zohar (the book authored by R. Shimon bar Yochai) declares “Israel, the Torah, and the Holy One blessed be He are all one.”

3. The significance of the present gathering is intensified by its connection with R. Shimon bar Yochai. When we gather together in honor of R. Shimon, he looks down upon each of us from his place [in Gan Eden] with true pleasure and joy, even (as stated in connection with Lag B’Omer) “great joy.” This is particularly true when Jewish children gather together for R. Shimon devoted himself especially to Jewish children.

The ultimate goal and objective of R. Shimon’s study was that it be extended to young children and even “the children of the world,” with the intention that his teachings would spread to all children of the world, enabling each one to study it. Therefore, it is self-evident that when Jewish children gather together in R. Shimon’s honor, it brings him great joy and special satisfaction.

4. Although this gathering is not being held on Lag B’Omer, R. Shimon’s day of celebration, but two days afterwards, we are told that the AriZal would journey to Meron with family to participate in the celebration of Lag B’Omer for a stay of three days. It is not explicitly stated in most sources as to which three days he stayed there, hence, it is possible that he came the day before Lag B’Omer and did not remain for two days afterwards, However, in one text, (Sha’ar HaKavanas; Sefiras HaOmer 12) it specifically states that he arrived on Lag B’Omer and remained for three days.

5. Since the above is a part of the Torah Shebe’al Peh (the Oral Law) and every aspect of Torah — derived from the word Horeah, meaning teachings — must teach us a lesson, the story of the AriZal serves as both a lesson and a source of strength for us. Although it is now two days after Lag B’Omer, the fact that we are gathered together, particularly in a holy place, (as is the grave of R. Shimon,) a shul where Jews pray and learn and where we have prayed Minchah together and recited verses from the Torah (both the Oral Torah and the Written Torah), surely R. Shimon is with us.

G‑d is also with us; for as R. Shimon said (Megillah 29a), “In every place to which Israel was exiled the Shechinah (Divine Presence) went with them.” Wherever Jews are found, G‑d “rests within them,” in their hearts. G‑d’s influence and Rashbi’s influence bring about a deeper connection with Yiddishkeit, with Torah and Mitzvos, and with the Torah that is connected with R. Shimon.

6. One of the most important teachings of the Baal Shem Tov is that each thing which a Jew sees or hears should serve as a lesson for him in his service to G‑d. Everything that occurs happens through Hashgachah Protis (Divine Providence), being motivated by a specific objective of G‑d alone.

This teaching applies especially to Lag B’Omer, the day of R. Shimon’s celebration; for the Baal Shem Tov has a special connection with R. Shimon for, after the AriZal, the Baal Shem Tov was the one who devoted himself to spreading the teachings of R. Shimon. As it is well known Moshiach told the Besht, he will come “when the wellsprings of your Torah spread outward.” The Besht’s teachings are rooted in Pnimius HaTorah (Torah’s inner secrets) which are based upon R. Shimon’s book, the Zohar, of which it is said: “With the text of your’s, i.e. the book of the Zohar... (the Jews) will be redeemed from Golus with mercy.” Hence, on this occasion which is connected with Lag B’Omer, R. Shimon, the AriZal, and the Besht, the above-mentioned teaching of the Besht is heightened. Thus, the day of the week on which this date occurs (which changes from year to year), teaches a specific lesson for everyone, beginning with (and particularly) children — a lesson in behavior in general which is derived from the service of G‑d.

7. Today falls on a Tuesday. The Alter Rebbe, who perpetuated and spread the teachings of R. Shimon bar Yochai, the AriZal, and the Besht, taught (Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim 25a) that each Tuesday is similar to the first Tuesday, the third day of creation. Thus, the lesson we derive is connected with the Torah’s description of the things that were created on the third day.

The creation of the world has an intrinsic connection with the gathering in honor of R. Shimon bar Yochai. R. Shimon said regarding himself that he maintains the world — which was created in the days of creation.

8. The Torah describes the creation of the third day as follows: “G‑d said: Let the earth sprout vegetation, seed-bearing herbage, the fruit-tree that bears fruit after its kind, with its seed in it, upon the earth...” The earth responded by producing all sorts of vegetation, grasses, and trees. Our sages (Medrash Bereishis Rabbah Ch. 5) explain that all the trees — even non-fruitbearing trees — yielded fruit; and then “G‑d saw it was good.”

9. This is a clear lesson for Jewish children. Every Jew is like a grass or a fruit-bearing tree (Devorim 20:19). The birth of a child (like the production of seed) comes because G‑d desires it and has given the order and strength to do so. G‑d has given His blessing to the parents to produce “seed after its kind.” The children are like the most vital produce which the earth gives forth, grain, wheat, barley, etc., from which bread — which keeps the body alive and healthy — is made. Furthermore, all children are like a “fruit-bearing tree;” fruit — in contrast to bread which is a necessity — adds pleasure to our daily lives.

10. G‑d gave every Jewish child an individual will, with his own individual powers and capacity for pleasure. However, He also gives each child the potential to have a proper will and take pleasure in the proper things. Hence, the children will use all their potentials, including those of will and pleasure, and grow up as G‑d desires. Then G‑d will see “that it is good.” Even when the children are still small, at the very beginning of their development, G‑d looks at them (each Tuesday) and sees that they are “good.”

This “good” is related to the fact that the expression “and G‑d saw that it was good” is mentioned twice in connection with the creation of the third day. The repetition of that expression alludes to a two-fold good — “good to the heavens” and “good to the creatures.” Each Jewish child will be “good” in his home for himself and will also do everything he is called upon to bring good to all those around him. This, in turn, will greatly increase the success and the blessings from G‑d.

11. In connection with the concept of “good to the creatures,” at the end of the Farbrengen, the Mitzvah of Tzedakah will be fulfilled. This will establish a “three-fold cord” — Torah (both the Written and Oral Law), prayer, and Tzedakah — which “will not be... broken” (Koheles 4:12), remaining an eternal bond [because it is established] by the eternal people fulfilling the eternal Torah and Mitzvos. It will soon hasten the coming of the time when we will proceed to the eternal redemption, the redemption that will not be followed by Golus, led by Moshiach speedily in our days.

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12. A lesson can also be derived from today’s date, the twentieth of Iyar, which is specifically mentioned in the Torah. Since the word Torah is derived from the word Horeah meaning “lesson” and “the Torah is eternal,” it follows that this date contains a lesson that is applicable every year.

13. In Parshas Beha’alosecho, the Torah (10:11-13) relates that “in the second year, on the twentieth day of the second month, the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle... and the children of Israel set forth on their journey out of the wilderness of Sinai,... and they took their first journey according to the commandment of the L‑rd by the hand of Moshe.” This was the day that G‑d showed the Jews that they must set forth from Mt. Sinai in the direction of the land of Israel, the holy land.

14. There are hours in the day when the children’s position can be compared to that of the Jews at Mt. Sinai, for example: the times during which they study Torah, pray to G‑d, or stand before Him, conscious of “Whom you are standing before.” There are other times, when a person sleeps, eats, drinks, or does other things that are necessary for their health. During these times, it is impossible to study Torah, and therefore possible to assume that at these times we are separate (heaven forbid) from Torah. However, the Torah teaches us that even if we go away from Mt. Sinai we don’t go away from Yiddishkeit or from Torah, rather we are going “according to the commandment of the L‑rd by the hand of Moshe.” Just as then, “the ark of the covenant of the L‑rd went before them” showing them the way, we too follow in the path of Torah.

15. Thus we see the eternal lesson taught by the twentieth of Iyar. Every Jew and every Jewish child, must know that a portion of his time is comparable to Mt. Sinai. During that time, he learns Torah and fulfills the Mitzvos. However, in order to enable him to study Torah and fulfill Mitzvos with full strength, he must also eat, drink, and sleep. These activities were also created by G‑d and in the Torah; He provides directives explaining how they should be carried out.

16. There is another lesson that can be learned from the Jews’ journey from Mt. Sinai. As mentioned above, the ark journeyed before the Jewish people, leading the way for them. Through its guidance, although they journeyed through a desert, there was no need for war; for “Whenever the ark set out, Moshe would say: Arise, 0 L‑rd, and Your enemies will be dispersed, and Your foes will flee before You.” G‑d goes before the Jews, thus ensuring that they will not have to go to war. The Jew’s enemies are G‑d’s enemies as our sages (Sifri, Rashi Bamidbar 10:35) said “Whoever hates Israel hates Him who spoke and the world came into being.” Before a Jew arrives at a place, his enemies have already been dispersed and his foes have fled before him due to the influence of the ark and the tablets.

17. Thus, when G‑d’s ark leads the way and we follow the Torah, the path of G‑d, all the obstacles that hinder or oppose us are dissipated. We can go peacefully and securely on our way, relaxed and happy as a Jew should be, proceeding to the true redemption.

18. When a Jewish child behaves as he should, the verse in today’s portion of the Torah (Vayikra 25:19): “And the earth shall yield her fruit,... and dwell therein in safety” will be fulfilled. “The earth” — the Jewish home — will produce “fruit” — Jewish children — who will cause their parents to dwell securely; for the children will generate true satisfaction and pleasure. Then, as the portion concludes (25:24) “You shall grant a redemption to the land,” the land which G‑d gave as an eternal inheritance to the Jewish people will be redeemed.

19. May it be G‑d’s will that this take place in the near future. It will come about through our deeds and service; through the fact that Jewish children will behave as they should and will have fulfilled their task to influence their parents to become more involved in Yiddishkeit as the prophet Malachi declares(3:24), “And He shall return the hearts of the parents through the children.” Then “a great congregation will return there,” our eternal inheritance, our holy land.

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20. There is also a special lesson that can be derived from the year in which this gathering in honor of Lag B’Omer takes place. This is a special year, a Shemittah year. During Shemittah the behavior of the entire Jewish people resembles that of the Jewish children. A child has no responsibility to work or to earn a livelihood, for G‑d has blessed him with good parents who provide him with both necessities — bread — and the things that give him pleasure. Similarly, during Shemittah, and on every Shabbos, the entire Jewish people rest from work in the fields.

21. Jewish children must realize that the Shemittah year is not a year during which (heaven forbid) there is nothing to do. It is a year which is a “Shabbos unto G‑d,” a year connected with Torah, Mitzvos, and all the things that are commanded by G‑d. Similarly, G‑d has put a Jewish child in a position in which he does not have to work, not to allow him to be idle, but to enable him to work in those areas that are connected directly with G‑d: the study of Torah, the fulfillment of Mitzvos, prayer, etc.

22. The prayers and wishes for success made by the children must apply to themselves, to their parents, to their schools, and also to the “creatures” — to Jews whom they have never met but whose existence they know of; and to whom they are connected with through the Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel. They will wish — and bring about — that each of them be redeemed as we mentioned in the Minchah prayer in which we blessed G‑d as “redeemer of Israel” and the one “who rebuilds Yerushalayim” praying “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy.” Through the efforts of the Jewish children, G‑d will redeem all the Jewish children and adults and bring them to Yerushalayim. Then, G‑d will “return the Shechinah to Zion” for the Shechinah was with the Jews while they were in Golus. However, it will return to Zion with the Jewish people speedily in our days with the coming of Moshiach.