Message from
The Lubavitcher Rebbe

2nd Day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5738

(Free Translation)

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A message delivered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita to the children of Camp Gan Israel at the Main Synagogue of the Lubavitch Headquarters, after Minchah, on the first day of the Week of Shoftim, second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5738.

(Recital of the Twelve Psukim and Sayings of our Sages).


Mention was earlier made about the importance of Chinuch (education), which, in essence, means — to quote the Baal Shem Tov — that from everything a Jew (or any person) hears or sees, one should learn a lesson, and educate oneself accordingly, how better to serve G‑d.

Although the thing one hears or sees is not part of a school schedule (nor in school hours) — nevertheless, the Baal Shem Tov declares, since this thing has come to the persons attention, its purpose is also to instruct and educate that person.

This is also the main purpose of your camping experience:

The “world” (the “man in the street”) generally thinks that going to camp is something that comes after the school year is over and done with, when it is time to take a break from learning (G‑d forbid); and that the summer camp has no other purpose than to strengthen the health of the body.

However, contrary to this mistaken view, the purpose of “Gan Israel” (and likewise of other truly Jewish camps) is to show that the time one spends in camp is also a time of education and spiritual advancement.

Moreover, since the commandment of “love your fellow as yourself” is the Golden Rule of the Torah — the child coming back from camp shares his, or her, experience with other children, and in addition to talking about it also shows a living example to other children, thus helping them in their education as well.

So that they, too, will know that camping time is a time for advancing in Torah learning and in the fulfillment of the Mitzvos, and in all matters of Yiddishkeit.

This, therefore, is the main purpose and achievement of every Jewish camp, and particularly of the camps bearing the name “Gan Israel” (“Garden of Israel”) — that during the camping season the camper is like a “fruit” in a “garden” — G‑d’s garden, growing and becoming better and nicer each day in G‑dly things, things that bring the camper closer to G‑d, namely, the Torah and Mitzvos and Yiddishkeit in general.

And the campers, on their part, must know that the purpose of staying at Camp Gan Israel and similar camps is to take along with them the experience of the camp — all that has been learned and achieved there — and use it throughout the year, in the everyday life, for their own benefit and for the benefit of others, in accordance with the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, as mentioned above.


What has been said above is by way of a general lesson that has to be learned from Camp Gan Israel as a whole, and at all times.

However, since the Baal Shem Tov emphasized that one must learn from every thing, not only from the thing as a whole, but also from its details, for the details of every thing are also connected with G‑d’s supervision, and He watches over each detail of human life,

It follows that each detail has an instructive lesson how better to serve G‑d in the daily life, a lesson that must be remembered throughout the year.

And this brings us to one such detail, which is in the fact that today — the day that marks the conclusion and sum-total of your camping season — is a day of “Rosh Chodesh.” We must therefore look for an additional lesson in this fact that your winding up your camping experience happens on a day of “Rosh Chodesh.”


The meaning of “Rosh Chodesh” (“New Moon”) — in the ordinary sense — is that it marks the time when the moon is “reborn” and begins to shine again after being invisible for a time.

The lesson that a camper from “Gan Israel” is to learn from Rosh Chodesh (and tell it also to his friends, and other Jewish children he meets) in this:

A Jewish child should be like a “New Moon” every day. In other words: When a new day begins, the child should begin to shine forth with a new light more than yesterday, and the day before that —

Reflecting the true light (which is the source of all lights), namely, the light of the Torah. For, as the Torah (which is called “Toms Emes” — because it tells the truth of everything) declares, “There is no light but the light of Torah, as is written, ‘A Mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah is light.’ ” It is the pure light of the Torah that lights up the Jew’s daily life, teaching him how to live by the “lamp” of Mitzvos.

Thus, every morning, as the Jewish child wakes up from his sleep, and he becomes aware that a new day has begun —

(Remembering that the Hebrew word for “day” — yom — means “light,” as he has learned in Chumash, “And G‑d called the light — ‘yom’ ”) —

He remembers at once that G‑d has given him an assignment (duty) to begin to shine forth anew with the light of Torah and Mitzvos — to learn Torah and do Mitzvos with a new enthusiasm, new joy and new devotion.

And just as the moon’s purpose is to shine on all the earth, as it is said in Chumash, “to give light on the earth,” — so the child must do his best to light up everything around him: his home, and the street in which he lives, and the classroom in which he learns.

In this way it becomes brighter for the whole Jewish people (of which he is a member), bringing more light into the whole world as well.


A detail of this detail: Today’s Rosh Chodesh has an additional importance in that it is Rosh Chodesh Elul.

The importance of the month of Elul is explained by the Alter Rebbe: It is the time when “The King (G‑d) is in the Field,” having come out of His “Palace” to meet with every one (young and old); the time when “G‑d, the L‑rd, is showing us light” more than at any other time of the year.

This means that during the month of Elul we receive special encouragement from G‑d by His coming out to be close to every Jew (young and old) right there in the field, bringing light to them — so that they, in turn, can begin to shine forth anew with the light of Torah and Mitzvos, even more than on any other Rosh Chodesh, and keep on shining ever more brightly from day to day.


And this brings down G‑d’s blessings on the children, and through them also on their parents and teachers, and all the Jewish people,

Until the whole world becomes illuminated, in all aspects — and then comes peace to the world, both for Jews and for other nations, and most certainly peace in our Holy Land,

And the time becomes ripe for the fulfillment of the Divine promise, “And G‑d shall be unto you the light of the world,” which will come to pass with the coming of our Righteous Mashiach, very soon.

Now he comes — our Righteous Mashiach — and gathers together all Jewish children, “our young ones . . . our sons and our daughters,” and all Jews, the grownups also,

All who brought light into the world during the dark days of the Galus (Exile),

And he leads them speedily, in our time, to our Holy Land, all of them healthy in body and spirit, rejoicing with the true and complete Geuloh.


There is yet another detail connected with this day of Rosh Chodesh Elul marking the completion of the camping season: It is also the first day of the week of Shoftim.

In light of the Alter Rebbe’s well-known teaching that the section of the weekly Sedrah which corresponds to the particular day of the week sheds light on the events of that day, the said detail, too, is instructive:

We already had occasion last year to mention that the first verse of the Sedrah, “Judges and officers you shall appoint in all your gates” (while, plainly, it speaks of setting up Courts of Law, it also) has a personal message for every one, including young children. It is as follows:

Every one must appoint within himself “Judges and officers”: a “Judge” — that is the intellect (which has the ability to distinguish between good and bad),to let it decide what he must do and what he must not do; and also an “officer” — that is the willpower to carry out the “judge’s” judgment and decision in the everyday life.

And this appointment of “Judges and officers” has to be “in all your gates,” meaning, in all aspects of the daily life, involving action, words, and thoughts (for G‑d sees also a person’s thoughts, and nothing is hidden from Him).

For example: When a Jew wants to enjoy a certain food (or other enjoyment), he must first consult his intellect (the “judge”) whether, according to the Torah, he may (or should) eat it; and what blessing is to be said before eating it; and what thought goes with the blessing. On the other hand, if the “judge” rules that according to the Torah these things are forbidden for a Jew, a Jewish child — the “gates” must be closed — the lips must be sealed — not to permit anything that G‑d has forbidden to enter the mouth.

Thus, the commandment, “Judges and officers you shall appoint in all your gates,” is a reminder that every Jewish child is expected to have the good sense to judge (use his brains) as to what he may, or may not, do, and likewise what he may, or may not, say, and think; and that he will have his own inner “officer” — the willpower and determination — to enforce the decisions of his “judge” in actual conduct.


And when each one of you and all of us, together with all our people, everywhere, will set up these inner “judges and officers” to see to it that the personal life, and the life at home and in the community, and Jewish life everywhere is conducted according to the “law and order” of the Torah,

Then we will merit to see the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of appointing judges and Officers in all cities of our Holy Land, with the Supreme Sanhedrin (High Court) in the Beis HaMikdash that will be rebuilt very soon, with the true and complete Geulah (Redemption) of our people through our Righteous Mashiach,

When also the whole world will be inspired to have “judges and officers” to see to it that people everywhere conduct themselves in keeping with the laws of justice and fairness.


As we have now entered the month of Elul, it is also good to remember that the appointment of personal “judges and officers,” as mentioned above — to ensure the proper conduct and to carry out all good resolutions, in spite of temptations and discouragements by the Yetzer (evil inclination) —

Will ensure also the good outcome of the judgment by the G‑d “G‑d of Justice,” as which begins in the month of Elul and concludes on the day of Rosh Hashanah — that G‑d will bless every Jew and all the Jewish people, and through them the whole world with a Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah, to be inscribed for a good and sweet year, materially and spiritually — good and pleasant for the body as well as for the soul;

That the new year be filled with Jewish content and with true happiness and blessing,

And that your parents and relatives, and all our Jewish people, should have true Yiddishe Nachas from each and all of you, for many good and healthy years.


Mention was made above (ch. II) that a person’s every experience should serve as a lesson and education how better to serve G‑d. And since the Torah teaches and instructs to serve G‑d with joy,

It is fitting to conclude this assembly, taking place in the synagogue and Beis Midrash which is dedicated to Divine service (praying to G‑d and learning G‑d’s Torah) — with a Niggun of Simcha (joyous melody), especially one that is connected with a Possuk (verse) that emphasizes and inspires strength to follow the instructions of the “judges and officers” in matters of Torah and Yiddishkeit, without being affected by the Yetzer and other enemies that attempt to discourage and hinder.

It would therefore be fitting to sing the Niggun of “Utzu Eytzo Vesufor” — “Let enemies plan a scheme, but it will be foiled; let them plan a plot, but it will not be; for G‑d is with us.”

(Everyone joined in the singing).


Since G‑d’s blessing is needed in everything, and, at this time, our whole Jewish people and our Land of Israel need a special blessing for Hatzlachah (success) in all things: the wholeness of the land — that our entire Holy Land should be whole and wholesome (materially and spiritually); together with the wholeness of our people; both of which are linked with the wholeness of the Torah — that the whole Torah, with all its Mitzvos, are observed fully and completely —

All this largely depends on Jewish children. For, when Jewish children pray for our people, young and old, and for our Jewish Land, and for the Torah, and bless all three joyfully — it brings down a great and mighty blessing from G‑d that preserves the wholeness of all three things: our Land, our People and our Torah —

In a state of peace, and in a manner of “I will lead you upright,” with every Jew taking pride in G‑d, in the Torah and Mitzvos, and in the Land of Israel — all united in one.

Indeed, all three things — the wholeness of the Land, the wholeness of our People, and the wholeness of our Torah — were given together to our people with the Torah at Sinai, and even before — to Abraham our Father, the first Jew, to whom “All the land of Canaan (was given) as an everlasting possession,” forever — in joy, and peace and completeness.

It is fitting, therefore, to follow up the previous Niggun with that of “Hoshioh es amecho” — “O G‑d, help Your People, and bless your inheritance, sustain them and lift them up forever —

Beginning from this day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and through all days ahead — forever,

Including the time when Mashiach will come, when everyone will see and realize fully that our people came out from the Galus (Exile) whole, wholesome in Yiddishkeit, and finding the Land of Israel whole, peaceful and secure —

So be it for all of us.

(Everyone joined in singing the Niggun of “Hoshioh es amecho”).


The Rebbe then gave to the Madrichim copies of the Message to Children of Day Camps of 2nd of Elul 5737, and ten-cent coins, to be distributed to the children (two dimes each, one for Tzedakah and one to keep).

Then he requested to sing (again) “Torah Tzivo,” and, finally, to call out loud and clear the blessing, “Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah.”