1. On the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Vayikra, 19:18), Rabbi Akiva commented” ‘This is a very important principle of the Torah.”

In order to create a more powerful impression, and also to provide an example of how to carry out the Mitzvah in a practical sense, stories of how the Baal Shem Tov and the Rebbeim that followed him, including the Previous Rebbe, the leader of our generation, fulfilled the Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel were told (by the previous speaker).

At this point a question arises: The stories were told about Torah giants, sages whose level in Torah and Mitzvos far surpasses our own. How can we apply stories of them to our lives? This question is particularly applicable when the stories are told to young children, boys before Bar Mitzvah age, and girls before Bas Mitzvah age. How can they derive a lesson from the behavior of these greats?1

This question can be answered through analyzing our power of faith. Jews are called “believers, the children of believers:’ This title applies to all Jews, even those who are not on the level of the Baal Shem Tov and his students, even those who are of a very young age.2 Faith implies belief in G‑d, His Torah, and His emissaries,3 the leaders of the Jewish people in each generation; e.g., Moshe in his generation,4 the Baal Shem Tov in his generation, and the Previous Rebbe in our generation.

Each and every Jew, even a young child, possesses this power of faith. These powers are not limited by the confines of time and space. On the contrary, they transcend those boundaries and connect all Jews together. By sharing the same power of faith a Jew is tied with the entire Jewish people, the Torah giants and (the young children as well, with Jews from the present as well as with Jews from the previous generations. The soul is eternal and will return to life in this world in a physical body, as our sages (Sanhedrin 90a) declared: “All of Yisroel has a portion in the world to come,”5 as it is written, “Your nation are all righteous; they will inherit the land forever. They are the sproutings from My planting; the work of My hands, in which to take pride.” Therefore, through the soul’s power of faith all Jews are connected.

Based on the above, it follows that when a young girl wakes up in the morning and begins her day by reciting “Modeh Ani,” expressing her faith in G‑d and her service to G‑d, and she lives with that faith through all the events and occurrences of the day, in her thought, speech and action, she connects herself with all of the Jews and all of the Torah giants throughout the entire continuum of Jewish history. Therefore, it is no wonder that we tell a young girl to learn from the examples that were shown by Torah greats. She has the power of faith and can bring that power down into her daily life through the Torah which is “a Torah of life,” and “our life, and the length of our days.”6

When a Jewish girl makes the decision that she will live in such a manner, she has the guarantee, “You will work and you will achieve.”

Then she serves as a living and a happy example for all the other children that are found around her. Likewise, her parents, teachers, and counselors will see what one Jewish girl can accomplish through her power of faith; as it is revealed through Torah. One thus connects herself to all the Jews of the previous generations.

This must be done with joy, as the Book of Psalms proclaims (149:2): “Israel will rejoice in its Maker.”7 We will realize how “It is very close to you [to follow Torah], in your mouth and in your heart to do it.”8 Torah is not far removed from us, rather it is very close. Therefore, we will surely be able to successfully accomplish in its performance. Then we fulfill G‑d’s request — G‑d stands over him....and looks upon him searching his innards and his heart [to see] if he is serving Him as is fitting.” Hashem derives pleasure when He sees us behave as we should. This, in turn, further intensifies G‑d’s blessings for all the things that we need, and in particular, it adds to the blessings that are connected with the month of Elul which prepares us for the New Year9 and insures that we are inscribed for a good and sweet year.

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2. Previously, it was mentioned that every Jew, even young children, can achieve great things. This concept is reinforced by the Rambam who writes (Hilchos Teshuvah Ch. 3, Hal. 4): that with one Mitzvah a Jew can “turn the scale of merit in his favor and in the favor of the entire world, and bring about salvation.” This is the general lesson that is applicable to the behavior of a Jew at all times. However, in addition, the present month and the present day, each possess their own unique aspect and lesson.10 The lesson of the month of Elul is connected with the preparation for the new year. That is when we correct and bring to a complete state all the deeds that we carried out in the year that is ending. Therefore, the service of the month of Elul is more important and more essential than the service of the other months.

In Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe describes the service of the month of Elul with a parable of a king and his subjects. Before the king enters his city, its inhabitants go out and greet him in the field. At that time anyone who wants to can greet him. He receives them all with good spirits and shows a smiling countenance to all. The parable teaches a lesson in regard to our behavior in mundane, day-to-day situations. The field serves as a metaphor for those instances, because our behavior in a field is different then our behavior within a city. In a field, we are involved with simple tasks, plowing, sewing, etc., which do not require any special knowledge and wisdom. In a city, however, we are found among all kinds of people. We therefore, dress differently, our actions being more carefully calculated. This is particularly true with regard to the capitol city, the city in which the king is found. When we are found in the field, it is possible to forget that we belong to the king. (In the relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people, we are in fact like the son of the King. Yet in the field it is possible to forget that relationship as, well.)

In order that we don’t forget that we are the sons of the King, there is a time, the month of Elul, when the King. goes out of his palace, leaves His capitol city, and comes to the field. There he meets all his children and smiles to them. He asks them to receive Him and to request their needs. He greets them with “good spirits” and fulfills their requests.

This is the particular lesson from the month of Elul. Even when we are found in the midst of the weekdays, we should not be frightened to carry out the service of the month of Elul. We are all “children of the King.” The King receives us all with “good spirits” and smiles at us, fulfilling all our requests.

This is the general lesson from the month of Elul. However, in particular, every day has a unique lesson of its own. That lesson can be derived from the portion of Torah connected with that day, as the Alter Rebbe commented: “We must live with the times — with the Torah reading appropriate for that time.”

Today’s Torah reading is connected with the verse: “The statements of your life you shall keep and perform” i.e. that we should fulfill the vows that we take upon ourselves.

In the morning each Jew “takes a vow.” He recites “Modeh Ani” as soon as he gets up from his sleep. He must keep that “vow,” remembering it and having it influence his behavior throughout the entire day. This will have an effect on those who are found around him, causing them to remember that they also recited Modeh Ani. Also, it will bring success and joy into his daily life. Through these efforts “all who see them will recognize that they are the seed that G‑d has blessed.” Through them, G‑d will bless their parents and the entire Jewish people with both material and spiritual wealth.

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3. There is also a specific lesson that is connected with this particular year. During this year, the month of Elul serves as a preparation for a year that is set aside from other years by the fact that its Rosh Hashanah comes out on Shabbos. This fact is particularly connected to Jewish women. This fact is particularly connected to Jewish women who are entrusted with making the preparation for Shabbos by lighting the candles. The light of their candles prepares us for Shabbos and makes Shabbos a day of light.

Since Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos, on Erev Rosh Hashanah every Jewish girl will light candles together with her mother and sisters (and together with all Jewish women and girls throughout the entire world), and recite the blessings over “the candle of Shabbos and the Day of Remembrance (Rosh Hashanah).” Afterwards they will recite the blessing “Shehechiyanu.” Also before lighting candles, it is a Jewish custom to give Tzedakah.11 Just as you all have lit candles before the Shabbos and festivals in the past, you will surely do so in the future, and when Erev Rosh Hashanah comes you will do so with more joy.

Lighting candles before Shabbos or Yom Tov causes those days to be filled with light. Through lighting candles Erev Rosh Hashanah we cause the entire year to be full of light, because Rosh Hashanah is the head of the year.

In light of the above, I have a special request for all those girls who are assembled here today: Ask and try to influence your friends and relatives, and through them all the Jewish women and girls in the entire world, to fulfill the Mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles, beginning now in Elul and proceeding further to Erev Rosh Hashanah and to all the Shabbosim and festivals that follow. May the above be carried out with vitality and with joy, in a manner in which “Israel rejoices in its Maker.”

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4. Our sages have taught that “deed is the most essential.” Therefore, every concept must be connected with an actual deed. Two coins will be given to every child: One is to give to Tzedakah and the other is to use as desired, (of course, in a Jewish manner.) Also the pamphlet containing last years’ address will be distributed.

Also it is fitting to mention that each girl should have her own Shabbos candle holder and her own Tzedakah pushka. (And also, as mentioned in the past, her own Siddur.) This will stimulate her to perform the Mitzvah with more energy and feeling.12

It is also proper to blow the Shofar now, as is done throughout the month of Elul. This brings to Teshuvah and recalls the Shofar blowing at Mt. Sinai. Also to announce loudly “L’Shana Tova Tikaseivi V’sayChaseimi.” May you be inscribed for a good year together with all Jewish women and girls and the entire Jewish nation.