1. A number of times, I have spoken on the unique significance of the 5th day of Chanukah. On that day, it is customary to make special increases in good matters over and above the practices connected with the other days of Chanukah. For example, the Rebbe Rashab would give Chanukah gelt on the fifth (or at times the fourth) candle of Chanukah.

Among the unique aspects of the fifth candle of Chanukah is that it falls on the 29th of Kislev which is Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves (the day before the first day of the month of Teves. Erev Rosh Chodesh is a day of special importance, it is called Yom Kippur Kattan — a small Yom Kippur). In certain communities that day is reserved for fasts, special prayers, etc.

There is a particular quality to the present Erev Rosh Chodesh which is not found at any other time. On this day Tachnun (the prayer that is connected to requesting forgiveness) is not recited. There are other times when no Tachnun is recited Erev Rosh Chodesh e.g. Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar (during the entire month of Nissan no Tachnun is recited). Erev Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan (in those communities that don’t recite Tachnun from Motzaei Yom Kippur until the end of the month ), and Erev Rosh Hashanah.

However, there is a higher quality that pertains to Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves that is not found in regard to the other days. Megillas Ta’anis, a text of the Talmudic period, explicitly mentions that no matter that is connected with sadness should take place on Chanukah. Therefore, no Tachnun should be recited Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves (the 5th candle of Chanukah). On the other hand, there is no Talmudic source for the custom of not reciting Tachnun on the other Ervei Roshei Chadoshim.

Furthermore, there is another specific quality possessed by this Erev Rosh Chodesh. Our sages explained that in Messianic times the celebration of all the holidays will be nullified with the exception of Chanukah and Purim. The reason Tachnun is not recited Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves is connected with the celebration of Chanukah. Therefore, it follows that it possesses an advantage over the other Ervei Roshei Chadoshim on which no Tachnun is recited because of their connection to other holidays.

The absence of the recitation of Tachnun reflects a positive state. It is contrary to Torah logic to suggest that the fact that Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves falls during Chanukah should detract from the level that could be achieved through the recitation of Tachnun. Rather, we are forced to say, that the same levels are achieved despite the fact that Tachnun is not recited. On these days, it is not necessary to say Tachnun to attain those levels.

There are two ways to explain the phenomenon: 1) Just as regarding Yom Kippur, there is an opinion which explains that Teshuvah is not necessary for atonement since “the essence of the day brings atonement.” Likewise, in the present case, the aspect of atonement generally achieved by reciting Tachnun etc. on Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves, is brought about by “the essence of the day” of these days of Chanukah. The Jewish people’s service during Chanukah itself brings about this atonement.

Each of these reasons possesses a unique quality that is lacking in the other. If we say the atonement is achieved by the essence of the day, it is accomplished in a full and perfect manner.1 However, according to the second opinion, the effects are produced through man’s service and as the Talmud (B. Metzia 38a) declares: “a person wants one Kav (a certain measure) of his own more than nine Kabim of his friend.” The first opinion relates to a higher level of service, but the second opinion is more desirable from man’s perspective since it evokes his power of achievement.

Since there is an advantage to both opinions, and the present time is one in which we have to add to the merits of the Jewish people; — it is a time during which G‑d seeks all means possible to add to the blessings of His nation and bless them with open and revealed good, it follows that Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves should include both qualities.

2. Since Erev Rosh Chodesh is called Erev Yom Kippur Kattan it is understandable that the service of this day must resemble that of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is “a time of Teshuvah...the appointed time for forgiveness and atonement for the Jewish people” (Rambam Laws of Teshuvah Ch. 2, Hal. 7). In general, there are two types of Teshuvah, Teshuvah that is connected with the recitation of Tachnun (i.e. related to sadness, etc). This is the lower level of Teshuvah in which one meditates on the undesirable effects that his deeds have brought about, regretting them thoroughly etc., to the point of reaching a contrite and broken heart.

These feelings bring about the second and higher level of Teshuvah. This aspect is connected with joy. After the sincere regret of our past actions, we are moved to fully accept Torah and Mitzvos in the future.2 We make a commitment to serve G‑d with feelings of love. This commitment brings about great joy.

On Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves, the first aspect of Teshuvah is not in place. Since Torah law proscribes the omission of Tachnun, we see that the service connected with regret over the past is inappropriate. All the undesirable aspects of our behavior were neglected (either because of the essence of the day or because of the service of Chanukah) in a complete manner. Therefore, our service should center on the higher level of Teshuvah, the Teshuvah that is connected with joy. Furthermore, since there is no need to divide our service of Teshuvah into two categories, — since as explained above it has already been fulfilled — we can concentrate completely on the higher aspect of Teshuvah.

Thus, Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves should motivate an increase in the service of the higher level of Teshuvah. This is connected with an increase in the study of Torah. In Tanya (Iggeres HaTeshuvah ch. 8-9) the Alter Rebbe explains that the higher level of Teshuvah is connected with Torah study. This study should be carried out in a manner that brings about deed i.e. the fulfillment of Mitzvos B’Hidur and even more so in a manner of Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin (in the most beautiful manner possible).3 (C) This particularly applies to the Mitzvah of Tzedakah.

These activities in turn, should effect the way one approaches the realm of “permitted things” — the area of behavior that is not governed by explicit prohibitions or commands. These efforts will cause “all your deeds to be for the sake of heaven” and allow one to “know G‑d in all your ways.” All the above aspects of service should be carried out with great joy.

As mentioned frequently, deed is the most important. Therefore, all the above must be brought down into deed and action. Everybody must immediately4 increase the quantity and quality of Torah study, both in Nigleh and Chassidus and to add to the fulfillment of Mitzvos (and particularly the Mitzvah of Tzedakah) in the most beautiful manner possible. This increase should begin directly after the farbrengen.5 The involvement in Mivtza Chanukah is not sufficient. Bringing another Jew to the joy of the fulfillment of Mitzvos is a great service, however, first one must “correct himself.” First there must be an increase in one’s study of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvos.

Furthermore, when involved with one’s own service one must concentrate in study to the point where one feels “the world was created for me.” He must feel that the entire world is dependent on his service. The Rambam declares that through one Mitzvah (in thought, speech, or action) “one can tip the balance and bring oneself and the entire world to the positive side, causing salvation.”

These increases will hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy “Zion will be redeemed through judgment (interpreted as a reference to Torah study) and its captives through Tzedakah.” Then even while in Golus, G‑d lightens up my darkness,” to the point that the darkness itself will shine.

May it be G‑d’s will that we enjoy a happy Chanukah, and joy in our service of Torah and Mitzvos. This will bring about joy in regard to our service in worldly matters. And then this service will lead to the eternal joy that will accompany the coming of Moshiach. May we soon go and greet Moshiach with a dance of happiness, proceeding with him to our Holy land and the Bais Hamikdosh, the source for light and joy in the world, speedily in our days.

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3. Trans. note: The Rebbe Shlita spoke about the situation in Israel. He explained that the situation has reached a point where rash action is necessary. Therefore, the Rebbe decided to take an action that even he considered rash. He declared his intention to open two new settlements despite the difficult economic and political situation that prevails in Israel at present. He mentioned that one should be opened in Yerushalayim and the other in another location still to be determined.

The Rebbe explained that he was fearful that his stand against returning of Israeli land to the Arabs might have angered certain government officials and might cause them to withhold the support usually given to the opening of new developments. However, he expressed the hope that they will appreciate the positive intentions motivating this action and not hold back the necessary funds. The Rebbe stressed that these developments should include the fundamentals of any Jewish settlement: a synagogue, a Torah school and a Mikveh.