1. Today the 18th day of Kislev is Erev Yud-Tes Kislev. On the surface, it is difficult to use that description on the present occasion. Today is also Shabbos. We refer to Shabbos as Kodesh (holy). In Hebrew, the word holy implies a state of uniqueness and separation. Therefore, it would seem that a day that has those properties should not be called “Erev” which implies that it prepares for and is considered secondary to another day.

Nevertheless, we see that Shabbos does serve as a preparation for the days of the coming week. The Zohar (Part II, 63b) teaches that all the days of the week to come are blessed from the Shabbos.1 This blessing is particularly related to the day that directly folic the Shabbos. In general, the Talmud (Pesachim 106a) calls the three days after Shabbos, “Basar Shabbata — following Shabbos.” Certain practices connected with Shabbos, e.g. Shnayim Mikra V’echod Targum (the recitation of the weekly portion twice in its Hebrew original and once in the Aramaic translation) and Havdalah, can be fulfilled until Tuesday if for some reason they were not carried out on Shabbos. This connection applies to a greater degree regarding Sunday, for the night connected with Sunday (according to the Jewish calendar, the day begins at night) is called Motzaei Shabbos.2 In this context, Shabbos can be called Erev Yud-Tes Kislev. The blessings for the entire week are drawn down on Shabbos and then spread through the entire week, particularly to Sunday. This does not diminish the importance of Shabbos; on the contrary: we can sense that Shabbos reveals a level high enough to bring blessing to Yud-Tes Kislev.

Thus, we can appreciate the unique level of this day, Shabbos Erev Yud-Tes Kislev. The previous Rebbe called Yud-Tes Kislev, “the holiday of holidays” and the Rebbe Rashab referred to it as “the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus.” Furthermore, this year, the nature of Yud-Tes Kislev is enhanced by a special connection with Shabbos. This year is a Sabbatical year, a year that is “a Shabbos unto G‑d.” Likewise, this year Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, fell on Shabbos. These events contribute a Shabboslike quality to all the other days of the year.

Shabbos brings out the truth and inner nature of everything. This quality is evident from a statement from the Talmud Yerushalmi (D’Mai Ch. 4) which declares that no one, not even a common person will lie on Shabbos. Even though one’s word might be questioned throughout the week, on Shabbos it should be accepted as true. Similarly, in regard to all elements of creation (and in particular to the commemoration of Yud-Tes Kislev), Shabbos brings to expression this inner truth.

The connection between Yud-Tes Kislev and Shabbos is particularly apparent now, after midday on Shabbos. Now, the effects of Yud-Tes Kislev can be seen in our prayers. We omit the prayer Tzidkascha Tzedek (Your righteousness is everlasting righteousness) from the Mincha prayers. On Yud-Tes Kislev, we do not recite Tachnun. Even beforehand, in our Mincha prayers, the day’s effects are visible.3

Therefore, since this Shabbos possesses all these qualities (and particularly since this farbrengen is being held in a holy place, a shul and a house of study — in fact, the shul and house of study in which the previous Rebbe prayed and learned), this is a time during which it is proper to make positive resolutions concerning those matters connected with Yud-Tes Kislev. Yud-Tes Kislev is the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus (both its study and its ways). Chassidus is the “soul of Torah.”4 Therefore, the Shabbos beforehand, the day on which Yud-Tes Kislev is blessed, is an appropriate time to make good resolutions. And through these efforts, we will proceed from the redemption of Yud-Tes Kislev, to the true and complete redemption led by Moshiach, speedily in our days.

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2. The concept of Shabbos as the source of blessings for the entire week does not only establish a connection between Shabbos and the particular days of the week; it also reveals an intrinsic connection attribute of Shabbos itself. From this we can understand how Shabbos becomes a collective entity containing within itself the potential for all of the six succeeding days. A frequently given example of this concept is the manner in which the head contains within it the energy for all the other limbs of the body. Also, since the energy for all the limbs emanates from the head, the head controls all the limbs and directs the functioning of the entire body. In a similar manner, since Shabbos includes within itself the potential for all the days of the coming week, it also “blesses” them all.5

The blessing of Shabbos also affects the succeeding Shabbos. This principle can be derived from the Talmud’s statement, “Whoever works (to prepare) on Erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos.” (Avodah Zora 3a) Erev Shabbos refers to the entire week. Since the blessing for the days of preparation for Shabbos comes from the previous Shabbos, it follows that the previous Shabbos affects the succeeding one.

The succeeding Shabbos in the present case begins the holiday of Chanukah.6 Chanukah has a unique connection to the above concept. All the eight days of Chanukah are included in the first day. Therefore, the House of Shamai maintained that on the first day eight candles should be lit, stressing how the potential for all eight days is present that day.7

The concept of potential and actual existence can be understood on a larger scale. The Eitz Chaim (a Kabbalistic text authored by the AriZal’s student, Rabbi Chaim Vital) explains that G‑d’s motive in creation was “to reveal the perfect nature of His powers.” The Rebbe Rashab objected to the simple interpretation of that concept because it implies a deficiency in G‑d’s power, Heaven forbid. On the physical plane, potential lacks something that is completed by actual expression. However, G‑d is the ultimate perfection and lacks nothing, not even the advantage gained through actual expression.8 Nevertheless, we see that actual expression is necessary. The fact of creation the existence of this physical world and the entire order of spiritual worlds, show that G‑d intended that His creative potential be actually expressed.

From the above, we can see the unique quality of this Shabbos, for it contains the potential for Yud-Tes Kislev. Therefore it is a fitting time to make resolutions that are connected with Yud-Tes Kislev. And may the resolutions be drawn down from potential into actual deed. Then, through the service of “spreading Chassidus outwards,” Moshiach will come.

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3. It is also necessary to derive a lesson concerning the unique significance of the fact that Yud-Tes Kislev falls on Sunday. As mentioned above, (note footnote B) “on the first day of creation, all the creations of the heavens and the earth were formed.” Each week, the original cycle of creation renews itself. Therefore, before the song of the day, we say, “Today is the first day of the week.” Even though thousands of years have passed since the creation of time, each week repeats the creation’s first pattern. On Sunday, it is clearly visible how the world is created anew.9

The above is particularly relevant to Yud-Tes Kislev. The Alter Rebbe writes in a letter describing his redemption that “G‑d worked great wonders on the earth” and that then “the furthest corners of the earth saw the salvation of our G‑d.” These letters show that he placed emphasis on the fact that his redemption was felt in the earth i.e. it was perceived within the content of the world itself. Since G‑d’s creation of the world is not apparent in an obvious way, it is difficult for the world within its own context to recognize spiritual events. To use the case at hand, it is difficult to make Yud-Tes Kislev felt in the world. However, when Yud-Tes Kislev falls on Sunday, a day when G‑d’s creative powers are more openly revealed, that task is easier to accomplish.

When it comes to making positive resolutions concerning Yud-Tes Kislev, we must realize that it doesn’t matter what our situation was a moment ago. Yud-Tes Kislev is the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidus: the past doesn’t matter. This is particularly true this year, when Yud-Tes Kislev falls on Sunday. Since Sunday emphasizes the fact that the world is constantly created anew we realize how we can also begin anew. Likewise, special potential is given to us to make Yud-Tes Kislev, and the great wonders that are connected with it, felt on the earth.

Therefore, it is clear that now we are given unique potential (and a promise that we will succeed) in our task of refining the world and spreading forth the wellsprings of Chassidus. Through this service, all darkness will be negated and, furthermore, transformed into light with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

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4. On the verse (Bereishis 33:4) “And Esav ran to meet him and he embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him and they wept,” Rashi comments:

“And he kissed him” — (this word) is marked with dots. In the Beraisa of Sifri there is a difference of opinion on this matter (the reason for the dots). Some interpreted the marking of the dots to mean that he did not kiss him wholeheartedly. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai declared, ‘The Halachah is well known that Esav hates Ya’akov. However, at that moment, his mercy was moved and he kissed him (Ya’akov) with all his heart.’

In the Torah, dots always signify a deviation from a verse’s simple meaning. According to the first explanation, since the verse states, “He embraced him etc.,” it would seem to imply that he did kiss him with all his heart. Therefore, the dots teach us that he did not kiss him with a full feeling. According to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai’s opinion, since it is well-known that Esav hates Ya’akov, we would think that the verse means that he did not kiss him wholeheartedly. The dots teach us that this is a special case and that Esav’s feelings were aroused to the point where he departed from character and kissed him with all his heart.

Rashi’s explanation raises a number of questions: a) Whenever Rashi brings two explanations, there is a question left unanswered by each of the explanations which forces him to bring a different interpretation. In this case, what deficiency exists in these two interpretations? b) Why does Rashi have to add the expression, “There is a difference of opinion on the matter”? Since he himself brings both interpretations, why does he need to introduce the concept? c) Why does Rashi quote by name the source where the disagreement is found? [Generally, Rashi will quote from the Talmud, Midrash, etc. without mentioning his source.] Furthermore, why does Rashi use the term “Beraisa of Sifri”? Generally, that text would be referred to as the “Sifri”. d) Why does Rashi mention that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai is the author of the second opinion? Rashi will not mention a sage’s name unless he enhances his commentary by doing so. e) Why does Rashi use the expression, “The Halachah is well-known”? It is true that he quotes from the Sifri; however, Rashi will often change a quotation to adapt it to his commentary. Therefore, the fact that he chooses to leave this expression unchanged reveals that it helps us understand the simple meaning of the verse.

Rashi’s interpretation can be explained as follows: The first interpretation, that Esav did not kiss Ya’akov wholeheartedly, seems to be lacking something because it appears to contradict the entire thrust of the narrative. The Torah relates how Esav “embraced him and fell on his neck,” how afterwards he and Ya’akov cried together, how Esav wanted to journey together with Ya’akov and offered him helpers, etc. This description leads to the conclusion that Esav was actually moved.10 Therefore, Rashi brings the second interpretation. However, that interpretation also raises a question. If the narrative clearly emphasizes that Esav was moved by genuine feelings, why is it necessary to use dots to stress that point? The answer is that dots generally change a narrative’s intent rather than reinforce it. Therefore, both explanations are necessary.

Furthermore, both interpretations are equally acceptable. Generally, when Rashi brings two interpretations, he considers the first one closer to the verses simple meaning. However, when he introduces the verse by the expression “there is a difference of opinion on the matter,” he implies that he considers both interpretations equal. The only reason he quotes one before the other is that it is impossible to write them down at the same time.11

Rashi uses the expression, “The Halachah is well-known” to answer a question that a intellectually well-endowed student might ask. At first, Esav seemed firmly opposed to Ya’akov. His hatred was so great that he gathered together 400 men to wage war against him. How could his feelings change so suddenly? The use of the term, “Halachah” answers that question. In Halachah, there is a principle of “Horoas Shah” (a decree for a specific time alone). For example, after the Temple was built, it was forbidden to bring sacrifices outside of Yerushalayim. Nevertheless, Elijah the prophet brought a sacrifice on Mt. Carmel (Kings I, 18:23). He received a “Horoas Shah” at that time. The beginning student has also seen the example of this principle. When Ya’akov came to Laban, he declared, “I am his brother in deception.” How was Ya’akov capable of such behavior?-Only in that he had received a specific directive that this behavior was necessary at that time. Likewise, Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai explains that Esav’s behavior in the case at hand was extraordinary, a “Horoas Shah.” He emphasizes this point by using the expression, “The Halachah is well-known that Esav hates Ya’akov.” Since Esav’s hate is well-known, it is obvious that his behavior was related to the specific moment and circumstance.

What is the significance of mentioning Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai’s name? In so doing, Rashi alluded to the concept of transformation. Esav underwent a total change of feelings: from one end of the spectrum to the other. By mentioning Rabbi Shimon Rashi alluded to the idea that even the lowest aspects of the world could be transformed into good. This concept is evident from the Talmud’s description of Rabbi Shimon’s behavior after being forced to hide in a cave for 13 years. When he and his son Rabbi Eliezer emerged, the Talmud (Shabbos 33b) relates “wherever Rabbi Eliezer wounded (with a glance of his eyes) Rabbi Shimon healed.” [Rabbi Eliezer destroyed everything he saw, because he could not see how the world could exist only for the sake of material things. Rabbi Shimon healed everything that Rabbi Eliezer destroyed. He was able to appreciate how G‑d’s will could be served by utilizing the material as well as the spiritual.] He saw how everything (even evil) could be transformed into good. Therefore, Rashi alluded to this concept by mentioning his name when describing Esav’s change of feeling.

Why does Rashi quote the source for these interpretations, the Beraisa of Sifri? Because the Midrash Rabba (78:15) brings a third opinion, that Esav bit Ya’akov (that opinion is based on the phonetic relationship between the words “Vayishakayiu — and he kissed him — and “Vayinashkayiu” — and he bit him — ). Rashi cannot accept that opinion, as stated above the entire narrative seems to imply that Esav was completely moved by his meeting with Ya’akov. Therefore, it is impossible to say that he bit him. According to the approach of study used by the Midrash, such an interpretation is acceptable. However, Rashi’s commentary is based on the verse’s simple meaning. Within that context this explanation is not acceptable.12

5. [Trans. note: In the farbrengen of Parshas Vayeitze, the Rebbe explained Rashi’s commentary on the verse (Bereishis 30:43) “And the man (Ya’akov) increased exceedingly and had large flocks, maid servants, men servants, camels and donkeys.” During the farbrengen, he continued to explain certain questions related to that verse. Among them was a question related to this week’s portion, Vayishlach.]

When Ya’akov sent messengers to Esav, he told them to announce, “I have oxen and donkeys, flocks, men servants, and maid servants.” Later, when Ya’akov sent a gift to Esav, he sent oxen, sheep, goats, donkeys, and camels. Why did he not send him servants as well?

That question can be answered as follows: When a Jew owns servants, they are more than property. He is responsible for their religious and moral life. This can be seen from the fact that from Avraham’s time on, a Jew had to circumcise his servants. Ya’akov surely carried out these practices. Therefore, after Ya’akov announced to Esav, “I lived with Laban,” interpreted by Rashi (who based his commentary on the numerical relationship between the word, “I lived” — Garti in Hebrew — , and the number 613) to mean, “I lived with Laban and kept the 613 commandments,” it is understandable, even to Esav, that Ya’akov could not have given him servants. Esav’s standards of morality were not fitting for someone who had been a servant of Ya’akov.

This explanation itself raises a question: If Ya’akov did not want to send Esav servants, why did he announce to him that he had obtained them during his stay with Laban? In particular, since he states that he was trying to “find favor in Esav’s eyes,” why would he declare that he had slaves if he knew he could not send them to Esav?

This question can be answered simply. Ya’akov sent his gift with servants. He had to send his servants as shepherds to make sure that the herds of oxen, goats, camels, etc. would be led to Esav in an organized manner, “every herd by itself.” Therefore, he told Esav he had obtained servants so that Esav would see that, aside from the servants, he had sent him gifts from among all his other possessions.

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6. Trans. note: During a Shabbos farbrengen, the Rebbe Shlita generally explains a passage from his father’s commentary on the Zohar. This week, he chose the passage that begins: “He asked for life from you and you granted it to him — this verse refers to David.” The passage explains that David should have been stillborn. He lived seventy years because Adom, the first man, gave him seventy years of his life (Adom should have lived 1,000 years but lived only 930). Likewise, Avraham, Ya’akov and Yosef gave him a total of seventy years. The Rebbe’s father and the Tzemach Tzedek focus on the obvious question: if he was given 70 years twice, he should have lived to 140. The Rebbe explained that though the terminology used by his father and the Tzemach Tzedek are different, their explanations express a common idea. David is representative of the Sefirah of Malchus (royalty). Malchus has two aspects: its own existence and its effects on the worlds below it. Therefore, David needed twice seventy years, one gift for each aspect of Malchus.

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7. In a previous farbrengen (Vayeitze) I mentioned the statement of our sages, “In the previous generations, their sin was revealed, and so was the time of their redemption; in the case of the latter generation, their sin was not revealed, nor was the time of their redemption made known.” (Yoma 9b) It was explained that the deception in the latter generations causes the lengthening of Golus.

This principle explains why Ya’akov was able to refine Esav in one day while it took him 20 years to refine Laban. Laban was a master of deception, and therefore he could not be refined as quickly.

Likewise, in the present Golus, the Talmud declares, “All the appointed times for the redemption have passed and yet Moshiach has not come.” It’s many more than 20 years since the Golus began, and we still have not been redeemed!

There is another concept that makes the reason for the length of the Golus difficult to understand. The reason for Golus is connected with the refinement of 288 sparks that fell during the breaking of the vessels of Olam HaTohu. Concerning the redemption from Egypt, the Torah declares, “A great multitude arose with them.” (Shemos 12:38) Chassidus explains that the Hebrew word for great, “Rev,” has a numerical equivalent of 202. When the Jews left Egypt, 202 sparks were elevated. Only 86 sparks (the numerical equivalent of the name of G‑d, Elokim) were left to be elevated. The exile in Egypt lasted only 210 years, yet they were able to elevate 202 sparks. The other exiles have lasted for thousands of years, and all that has still been necessary is to elevate 86 sparks.

It has been explained that the sparks they elevated in Egypt were of a general nature, while those with whose elevation we are charged become subdivided again and again. Still, that is not a sufficient explanation for the length of this Golus, especially since over the centuries many Jews have sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of G‑d’s name (and have done so with happiness)...

And still, after the great length of Golus, we are now found in an awesome and terrible situation. The darkness of Golus is very great, from both the spiritual and physical perspectives.

Therefore, in a previous farbrengen (Chayei Sarah), I mentioned that even though Chassidim oppose serving G‑d through fasts, if other rabbi’s will take the initiative to declare a public fast for a number of hours, I will support their action.

I didn’t send any emissaries to the rabbis because, as I stated then, I don’t want to be responsible for causing a Jew pain. However, since the rabbis did make such a decision, I will support their action. Those who live in this neighborhood are bound by the decision of their rabbinic authority,13 who has declared a half-day fast. Those who do not live in this neighborhood are not bound by that decision. However, since they share a connection to me, and I will fast, the fast is also important for them.

Furthermore, it is appropriate that everyone try to influence nine other Jews to accept this fast. In that way, they will form a community and their fast will have greater effects. (This is particularly true if the rabbinic authority will publicly declare a fast.) All of the above applies to Jews in Israel as well. The fast should be accompanied by an increase in Torah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah, which have the power of annulling.... This is particularly true since the present situation has not come about because of a decree, but because of the free choice of certain people. May “a spirit from above rest on them” and cause them to regret the foolish deeds that they have done, deeds that oppose logic and reason and, more importantly, opposite to Torah. May the merit of the many bring them to do Teshuva as well.

It is also appropriate to make an addition in our daily recital of Tehillim (psalms). During World War II, the previous Rebbe asked that Psalms 20, 22, and 69 be recited daily. Such an addition would be appropriate at this time.

And may this negate all the undesirable matters, bringing out “the higher quality of wisdom from foolishness” and “the higher quality of light from darkness,” leading to the time when “night will shine as day” with the true and complete redemption led by Moshiach very speedily.