1. In general, there is a difference between a Jew’s behavior on Shabbos and during the other days of the week. That difference results from a similar variation that takes place on the spiritual plane, in the G‑dly forces that vitalize the world. The revelation of G‑dliness on Shabbos differs from the revelation of G‑dliness during the week. Those variations, each in turn motivate a different quality of service.

These differences are apparent in two areas of service: a) the elevation of the realm of permitted things. In this realm, the mundane must be added on to the holy through the service of “know G‑d in all your ways” and “all your deeds should be for the sake of heaven.” b) The realm of evil. The purpose of evil is to provide man with a choice — that his service to G‑d be earned. [Chassidus uses the term “bread of shame” to apply to objects or levels acquired without work.]

Both of these factors are relevant to the celebration of Yud-Bais Tammuz. There, the forces of evil were apparent. The Previous Rebbe was imprisoned and threatened by death and to overcome these forces a miracle was necessary.

The necessity of overcoming evil was obvious. The work began with the realm of the mundane, utilizing and thereby elevating all natural means to overcome these forces. When natural means were exhausted and the forces of evil remained obstinate, a miracle was necessary. Our sages declared, “G‑d does not make a miracle without a purpose.” If the nature of the world is not opposing holiness, there is no need for a miracle. When the world’s nature runs contrary to holiness however, and no other alternative is available, G‑d reveals a miracle which transcends nature.1

Yud-Bais Tammuz thus covers an entire range of levels. The lowest levels (the forces of evil that oppose Yiddishkeit) that attempted to detract the Jewish people from their study of Torah, performance of Mitzvos, and particularly the education of their children were totally transformed till they themselves brought about a holiday which causes an increase in holiness each year, (the highest levels.) Yud-Bais Tammuz is marked by a farbrengen and decisions to proceed further in the study of Torah and Mitzvos. These intentions were delineated in a letter released for the first celebration of Yud-Bais Tammuz in which the Previous Rebbe called for an increase in learning Torah and performing Mitzvos above and beyond the previous year.

When Yud-Bais Tammuz falls on Shabbos (as it does this year) these concepts are connected with pleasure. Shabbos is characterized by pleasure, for then, “all your work is finished.” The work of man completed, one can serve G‑d with one’s total being, a service that is permeated with pleasure. Pleasure is the highest of our soul power, so intense that it can make one’s actual bones expand (Gittin 56b). It is so high that it affects all our attributes, even having the power to elevate our feet, the lowest extremity of the body.

After this level, we can proceed to the week beginning with Yud-Gimmel Tammuz where we can utilize the advantages of the “six days of work.” Because the week is blessed by the previous Shabbos, the week that follows the Shabbos of Yud-Bais Tammuz is uniquely blessed. Both the Shabbos and weekday service must be directed to the goal of spreading Torah and Mitzvos as outlined by the Previous Rebbe in the aforementioned letter.2 May the good resolutions we make materialize into action, actions that are fulfilled completely.

* * *

2. [Trans. note: Within the context of the Rebbe’s explanation of Rashi’s commentary, he mentioned a specific connection between the well of Miriam and Motzaei Shabbos.]

The Kalbo (Ch. 41) states: “it is customary for the women to draw water Motzaei Shabbos directly after hearing Borchu. Why? Because the Aggadah declares that the well of Miriam rests in Lake Tiberia (Kinneret)3 and on Motzaei Shabbos it passes through all wells and springs. Anyone who is sick and drinks of the water...will immediately be healed.” He continues bringing an example from actual life. “One man was leprous. One Motzaei Shabbos his wife went to draw water. She tarried there a long time. The well of Miriam appeared for her and she filled her pitcher with its water. When she returned to her husband, he got angry (and caused) her to drop the pitcher. It broke, but a few drops of water sprinkled on his skin. Wherever the water reached, his leprosy was healed.”

The Ramah also comments in Shulchan Aruch (Aruch Chaim Ch. 299): “There are those that say one should draw water on Motzaei Shabbos, because then the well of Miriam passes through all the wells. Whoever finds it and drinks from it will be healed.” Likewise, the Alter Rebbe brings the same law in his Shulchan Aruch.4

Since the Alter Rebbe quotes this law in his Shulchan Aruch, it would appear that it is applicable today as well. I have never seen it carried out (not by my wife, my mother-in-law, or by her mother-in-law) however, from the Alter Rebbe’s text it would seem to relate to us as well.

Whatever the applications of the concept in a physical sense, in a spiritual sense it surely applies. When we learn the section in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch about Miriam’s well it affects that Motzaei Shabbos and the whole week to follow so that it may be a healthy week in both spiritual and physical terms.

3. In the fifth Perek of Pirkei Avos there is a Mishnah which is relevant to the present occasion, the hundredth anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s birth. The Mishnah states, “at the age of one hundred, it is as if one has died and passed away from the world.” The Tzemach Tzedek explains that the statement applies in a positive sense. The age of one hundred refers to a very high level, a level where “no matters of the world carry any importance for him. The veils and concealment of this world no longer stand before him.”

At this point on, he proceeds in service5 from level to level, negating each lower level until it is completely “dead” to him. This concept is exemplified in the Talmud’s story of Reb Zeira was fasted for a hundred days6 in order to forget the Babylonian Talmud; so that he could learn the Jerusalem Talmud. One who lives to be a hundred years of age continues as a soul in a body, but proceeding to such levels that his previous state of being no longer exists for him.

The Mishnah raises some questions, two being: 1) While the Mishnah lists a new stage of service for each ten years of a person’s life, it stops at one hundred. Since 120 years is the full span of life, why are there no new stages for the last twenty years?7 2) What do we learn about “pious behavior” from the statement, “At ninety, one is bent over?” Some commentaries interpret the Hebrew word “Lesuach” as “to speak” rather than “to be bent over.” According to this opinion, the power of speech in prayer and Torah-study increases as the power of deed decreases. It is clear however, from the Alter Rebbe’s text that he rejects that opinion; for he uses the word “Leshuach” — to be bent over. Therefore, the question remains, what can be learned from the statement?

The second question can be answered as follows. The state of being bent over is a positive one, referring to the service of self-subjugation. At ninety one has reached a level where the body is bent over and listens naturally to the demands of the soul. Though by nature, a Jew should feel proud and walk-upright. However, the “pious behavior,” taught by Pirkei Avos brings about an attitude of self-nullification. This attitude causes the body to be “bent over.”

An example of this principle (at a much earlier age) can be seen in the case of the Rebbe Rashab. Before his Bar Mitzvah he trained the limbs of his body to carry out the laws of the Shulchan Aruch naturally, without any conscious effort. The Talmud gives another example in the case of the recitation of “Modim” where a Jew’s body bows naturally.8

Thus, when a person reaches ninety years, his soul has achieved a state of self-transcendence. That state makes the body bend and become subservient.

The answer to the first question lies in the concept (mentioned above) that the expression “as if he was dead etc.” represents a state where one has overcome the limitations of this world. After such a level, it is no longer possible to categorize and describe the different levels of one’s service. Then the individual is no longer a personal entity. He is totally given over to G‑d. Therefore, even though he will be constantly proceeding further in the service of G‑d, as the Talmud said “the sages have no rest...even in the world to come9 ...they proceed from strength to strength,” it is impossible to define, qualify or label this service. Its infinite nature defies all limitations.