1. This farbrengen is connected with Shabbos Mevarchim Kislev. Each Shabbos Mevarchim is connected with a different lesson appropriate to the specific nature of the month that follows.1 Every Jew, even the most simple, realizes that there are differences between one month and another.

To discover the differences between Kislev and the other months we must look into Torah. Torah is “our life and the length of our days,” and it reveals to us the particular nature of each occurrence we are faced with. Based on the above principle, we see that as soon as we look at a calendar to see what aspect of Torah and Mitzvos is connected to the month of Kislev, we find the festival of Chanukah.

The word Chanukah2 means dedication. Chanukah commemorates how the Maccabees “purified Your Sanctuary” and rededicated the Altar and the entire Bais Hamikdosh. That dedication did not involve bringing into being a new entity. At that time the Bais Hamikdosh was not built, it was just dedicated. Before its dedication (even before its purification), the Bais Hamikdosh was an entity; Chanukah focuses on its purification and dedication.

The dedication of the Bais Hamikdosh is connected with great joy. When King Solomon dedicated the Temple,3 the happiness was so great that it superseded the importance of fasting on Yom Kippur and brought the Jewish people to a level where they were “all assured of a portion in the world to come.” On a lesser scale, we see from our personal lives that the dedication of a new house or institution is connected with joy. In Torah Or, the Alter Rebbe explains this concept in detail, informing us that a dedication is connected with special presents and celebration.

This concept is applicable in our lives. Each Jew has his own personal sanctuary, an aspect of his soul in which G‑d dwells. When the Torah (Shemos 25:8) states: “And they shall make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them,” it uses a plural form of the word “within,” implying that G‑d dwells within all of us. Chanukah (and in general the month of Kislev) teaches us that we must make that sanctuary pure.

One might argue with the claim that he has searched himself thoroughly and it seems to him that his Bais Hamikdosh is complete. If asked, ‘has it been purified?’, he will explain that he doesn’t see the need for purification. He will say that he doesn’t see any impurity and that he cannot find an occasion on which he acted out of selfish motives.

In such a case we advise him, saying, “If one has examined his deeds and sees no fault, let him attribute it (painful suffering) to the neglect of the study of the Torah.” (Berachos 5a) This statement is interpreted to mean that, obviously, there has been a neglect of Torah study, for if one had studied Torah sufficiently, he would have found the fault.

In fact, the very perspective that, “I have no faults,” is the greatest fault that needs our purification.4 Purification comes about through Torah study. Torah is a “Torah of truth,” and a “Torah of light.” It reveals the truth of every situation and can show each of us our personal faults.

The above provides a lesson for us in our service of G‑d. When the month of Kislev comes and we ask G‑d for his blessings, we must realize that those blessings are dependent on our service of “purifying our sanctuaries.” We must always “proceed further in holy matters” as our sages declared: “whoever has one hundred, desires two hundred; whoever has two hundred, desires four hundred.” (Koheles Rabba 1:13) At each higher level, a new state of purity is necessary. This lesson, although it has been derived from Chanukah, is applicable to the entire year.5

Then, after the purification of the Bais Hamikdosh, “candles will be lit in the holy courtyard,”6 an obvious sign of joy.7 The lights will shine in our own homes and also light up the world outside,8 even the public thoroughfare. And we will merit the coming of Moshiach who will “fight the wars of G‑d and be victorious.” And then he will “build the Bais Hamikdosh on its sight,” in the ultimate and complete redemption, may it come speedily in our days.

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2. The above lesson applies to Shabbos Mevarchim Kislev, in general. However, each particular year provides a lesson of its own. That lesson is derived from the exact day on which Shabbos Mevarchim Kislev falls. This year Shabbos Mevarchim Kislev comes out on the 27th of Cheshvan.

The 27th of Cheshvan is the day on which the earth dried out after the flood.9 As it states: “In the second month, on the 27th day, the earth dried up,” (Bereishis 8:14) and afterwards G‑d ordered Noach to “leave the ark.”

Although this point is derived from a story of the past, still, it has relevance for us today. A story in Torah is itself a lesson. The story represents an actual historical event,10 the lesson from which can be applied in our own time.

The Hebrew word for Noach’s ark, “Taiva,” also means word. Using this definition, the Besht explained the verse, “Come into the ark,” as meaning, “Come into the words of prayer and the words of Torah.” (Also, on the verse, “A light shall you make to the ark,”(6:16) he explained that the words of Torah must be filled with light.11 )

Similarly, Noach’s ark is representative of Messianic times. The prophecy, “a wolf will dwell with a sheep,” (Isaiah 11:6) which refers to the future redemption, was actually fulfilled in Noach’s ark. The ark contained all animals — a wolf and a sheep — and nevertheless they “did not hurt or destroy.” (Ibid. 11:9)

In view of these qualities, the question arises: Why did G‑d tell Noach: “Leave the ark?”

The answer is that these two commands are interconnected. The command to “Come into the ark” must be followed by the directive to “Leave the ark,” for through this the ultimate goal of creation, the establishment of a dwelling place for G‑d in the lower worlds, is brought about.

An example of an application of this principle can be seen in the Shulchan Aruch’s guidelines for everyday behavior. There it teaches that, we must first go to shul, then to the Bais Hamedrash (house of study) and then proceed to one’s “worldly occupation.”12

The first stage of this daily process is“entering the ark,” i.e., involving oneself with prayer and study. This is necessary because the soul, in order to be enclothed in the body, had to “descend from a high peak to a low pit.” This descent is connected with danger. In order to give the soul the strength to carry out this mission, we must begin our day with Torah and Mitzvos. “Torah protects and saves.” Through becoming involved in prayer and study, we insure that “The L‑rd is your guardian; the L‑rd is your protective shade at your right hand.” (Psalms, 121:5). However, afterwards, we must carry out the service of: “Leave the ark,” go out into the world, and see that the worldly occupations should be in a manner of “following the way of G‑d, doing justice and righteousness.”

As mentioned above, G‑d gave the command to leave the ark on the 27th of Cheshvan, one year and 11 days after the flood began. Thus, the flood lasted an entire solar year, as opposed to a lunar year. In explaining this fact Rashi uses the expression, a “complete year,” instead of a “solar year.” In doing so he communicates an important concept. A year represents a complete sequence of time, encompassing all the changes and variations that are possible. By involving oneself, in the words of Torah and prayer for a “complete year” — and during that time he goes through all the different times that occur during the year — a Jew derives the strength to “go out of ark” into the world; and to fulfill his mission of making the world a dwelling place for G‑d during all times of the year.

This concept of “the land drying out” (which came about on the 27th of Cheshvan) is interrelated with the concept of “purifying your sanctuary” described before. The forty days during which the flood waters descended parallel the forty “seah” (a certain measure) of water which make up a Mikveh. The purpose of the flood was to purify the world.13 When the land became dry on the 27th of Cheshvan, the process of purification was complete.

The above concept can be applied to our service of G‑d. After the month of Tishrei goes by, and the service of “and Ya’akov went on his way” begins (particularly when he is preparing for the month of Kislev) one cannot think of his house alone. His service must also consist of effecting the street and the Tarmudoi (note footnote H) who are found there. In such a case, it is possible that a Jew will object, preferring instead to stay inside his home in order to occupy himself with Torah study and with prayer. This may be so even when he knows that in the street there is another Jew whom he can help. Furthermore, he knows that helping him is a matter of Pikuach Nefesh, saving of life, and that by virtue of the command, “love your neighbor as yourself,” he is obligated to help him.14 He also knows that to make a Minyan he needs ten Jews,15 nevertheless, he wants to stay “in the ark.” The 27th of Cheshvan teaches that he must “leave the ark;” go out into the world and prepare the world for the Messianic redemption, may it come speedily in our days.

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3. Besides Chanukah, the month of Kislev contains other important elements — the celebration of Yud-Tes Kislev,16 and the celebration of Yud Kislev, the anniversary of the Mitteler Rebbe’s release from prison. Even though historically Chanukah comes first, then Yud Tes-Tes Kislev, and then Yud Kislev. However, in our service to G‑d we first begin with Yud Kislev, then Yud-Tes Kislev, and then we proceed to Chanukah.

Also in the present context, there is a unique aspect that is connected to the 27th of Cheshvan. The 27th of Cheshvan is the eighth day after the birth of the Rebbe Rashab, the day on which his bris should have been held. Actually, the bris was postponed and did not take place until the second day of Chanukah. [In Chanoch LaNar, (p. 7-8) the entire story is related as follows: On the night before the bris, the Tzemach Tzedek (the Rebbe Rashab’s grandfather) sent a message that the bris would be postponed. Nevertheless, everything was prepared as if the bris would take place as scheduled. However, when they checked the baby before the circumcision, it became clear that the bris would have to be postponed. However, the feast that was prepared for the bris was served and the Tzemach Tzedek recited a Chassidic discourse.]

At this point, a question arises: Which day do we associate with the commemoration of the bris,17 the 27th of Cheshvan, the eighth day after the Rebbe Rashab’s birth, or the second day of Chanukah? At the occasion of the bris itself, certain factors arose which caused it to be postponed. However, in the years following, when those factors do not apply, should the bris be commemorated on its original date or on. its actual date?

A parallel question is found in the laws of the Sukkah. Boards that are too wide are prohibited for use as S’chach (covering) of the Sukkah. What would happen if these boards were turned on their sides, and in that position they would be of appropriate width; could they be used for S’chach? There are two opinions. One maintains that they are Kosher (fitting) S’chach, for in the present position they are of appropriate width. The other opinion maintains that they cannot be used, saying that, since in one position they are unfit, it is as if they are metal spits (a metal object is invalid in whatever position it is placed). [Sukkah 14b]

(Trans. note: This example is directly related to the case of the bris. The factors that prevented the bris from being carried out in its proper time parallel the extra width in the board which prevents its use. The fact that now those factors do not apply parallels the idea that once the board is turned on its side, its prohibitive width no longer has any relevance.)

Another example of this principle is seen in relation to the holiday of Shavuos. Today we celebrate Shavuos on the 50th day of the counting of the Omer. According to the way our calendar is structured, this day will always fall out on the sixth of Sivan, the day on which the Torah was given. However, the Torah was actually given on the “51st day of the Omer” (that year both Nissan and Iyar had 30 days, an impossibility in our times). Nevertheless we — do not celebrate Shavuos on the 51st day of the Omer, rather on the 50th day of the Omer which for us is the 50th day of the Omer.18 Here too, although on the first occasion, the event took place in a certain fashion (51st day), nevertheless, in the years afterwards, it is celebrated differently (on the 50th day).

Particularly at the present occasion, when we can derive a practical lesson from recalling the Rebbe Rashab’s bris, it seems more advantageous to favor the opinion which connects the bris’ commemoration with the 27th of Cheshvan. This position is reinforced by the fact that at that time, on the 27th of Cheshvan, no Tachnun was said (since they thought that the bris would be in its proper time); all the preparations for the bris had been made and the Tzemach Tzedek urged everyone to partake of the feast, and he recited a Chassidic discourse in honor of the occasion.

As mentioned in the previous farbrengen, the unique quality of the Rebbe Rashab was that he was able to bring about the unification of Chassidus and Nigleh (the aspect of Torah that deals with laws and practice) into one single study. When studying Nigleh, the effects of one’s previous study of Chassidus are seen, and likewise, when studying Chassidus, it is obvious that one has studied Nigleh. Though some people are more suited for one discipline than the other (and the greater quantity, or quality, of their study should be in that field), everyone should study in both areas and fuse them together so that they become “one Torah.”

There are those who may protest saying: “Why should everyone learn Chassidus? Our great grandparents did not learn Chassidus. To do so would break our tradition.” In reply, it is worthwhile to note that all the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidim and all the Baal Shem Tov’s Chassidim had to break their family’s tradition in order to become Chassidim. Nevertheless, they were outstanding individuals. Even though they knew the importance of tradition, they chose to become Chassidim.

Their change over was part of a greater process. Every aspect of the Torah has an appropriate time at which it is revealed. Just as the entire Torah was given 26 generations after the creation of the world, (and just as faithful disciples in every generation revealed new aspects of Torah) similarly, in the time of the AriZal, it became a Mitzvah to reveal Pnimiyus HaTorah. Later, after the Alter Rebbe’s arrest and release, the service of “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outwards,” began. Finally, the Rebbe Rashab established a Yeshiva, Tomchei Temimim, where Nigleh and Chassidus were studied together.19 [See farbrengen of Shabbos Parshas Vayeira (footnote C) for a detailed explanation of this concept.]

The above is connected with the concept of the “drying out of the earth,” and the command to “leave the ark” mentioned above. There was a time when Noach could not go out into the world — the world wasn’t for him, and he was not for the world — Then he had to be found in the “ark” (words), in “the words of Torah and prayer.” However, when the earth was dried out, — and the world was fit to be worked with — not only was Noach allowed to go out of the ark, he was commanded to leave the ark, and to take with him all the animals and plants that were with him in the ark. Since now the land was “dried out,” Noach was commanded to “be fruitful and multiply, to fill up the earth and conquer it.” He was charged with the mission of revealing that the world was created “for the Torah,” and “for Israel.”

Why did Noach have to wait? Why did he have to remain in the ark for such a long time? As mentioned above, the flood had a positive purpose — it purified the earth. Therefore, as long as the flood waters were present, Noach’s service was unnecessary. However, as soon as the flood waters dried up, Noach’s service was needed.20

The same principle applies to the study of Chassidus. In the time of R. Shimon Bar Yochai only a select few elite studied Pnimiyus HaTorah. In addition, with the exception of Rav Shimon none were able to fuse Nigleh and Pnimiyus HaTorah together. However now this fusion is demanded, and the potential is giver to everyone to carry out this service.

What is the rationale for this change in our service? Since the earth has become dried out, (i.e. there has been a decline in the world’s spiritual level), more light is necessary. Now is the time when we are commanded to “leave the ark,” to go out and to have an affect on the world, to the point, where, through Teshuva, we will bring about the Messianic revelation. May it come speedily in our days.

4. As a continuation of his statements at the farbrengen of the 20th of Cheshvan, the Rebbe called for the opening of new branches of Tomchei Temimim, and for the enlargement of the existing branches. He asked that more students be accepted and efforts be made to spread Chassidus to new frontiers.

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5. Trans. note: The Rebbe spoke at length about the serious situation in Israel, explaining that the return of the oil fields and the lack of settlement of the territories puts Israel in great danger. In connection with that he continued.

The situation has reached a point where it is proper to declare a public fast, even though the perspective of Chassidus is not to declare fasts; as explained in Tanya (p. 92b). And as we see that when someone fasts they cannot apply themselves to Torah study as they should. Even if when fasting, one would study the same amount of time, he would have less success. However, since the situation has become so serious, it is proper to declare a fast for half-a-day.21 I don’t want to be the one to initiate the action (and I don’t want to force Jews to be uncomfortable, even if it means missing only one meal). However, if there are those who will take it upon themselves to initiate the action, I (and everyone else) will join them. In regard to the second half-a-day, we should give (extra) Tzedakah, or make a fast from speaking, etc.

The Talmud Taanis 8b (and likewise the Shulchan Aruch) explain that making a good resolution is enough to annul harsh decrees. May that principle apply in our case and may this decision annul the decrees facing us. In fact, we are not faced by any decrees. It is merely that there are a few (men) who have mistaken opinions. May they come to regret all the undesirable things that have happened and then the severity of the entire situation will be annulled. Then even though “they conceive a plan it will be foiled, conspire a plot it will not materialize, because G‑d is with us.” Then in the last days of Golus “all the Jews will have light in their dwellings,” the light of Torah and Mitzvos, which in turn will bring about light in a physical context and blessings in regards to children, health, and wealth. And then may we go to greet Moshiach “with our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters,” (Shemos 10:9) speedily in our days.