1. This is the first time that the majority of the participants in the commemoration of the yahrzeit of Chof Av are children.1 It is, therefore, appropriate to convey the message of that day in a manner that can be understood by children.

My father, (Rav Levi Yitzchok,) was deeply connected with Jewish children. He devoted himself with self-sacrifice to their education (as well as the education of adults who because of the difficulties imposed by the Communist regime in Russia were like children in terms of their knowledge of Yiddishkeit). For these efforts, he was arrested and exiled. Even while in exile, he continued to be active, to whatever degree possible, in spreading Yiddishkeit. The people he met in that remote corner of communist Russia were surely on the level of children in regard to their knowledge of Yiddishkeit.

The lesson we can learn from this great man is associated with his name, Levi Yitzchok. Contemplating the meanings of each of these names provides us with important lessons which we can apply in our daily lives.

The Torah relates that Leah gave the name Levi to her third son with the prayer that, “This time, my husband will become attached to me.” (Bereishis 29:34)

The relationship between G‑d and the Jews is compared to that of a husband and wife. When a Jew behaves in a desirable manner three times in succession, he establishes a chazakah (which establishes an assumption) that this will continue in the future. This causes, “my husband,” G‑d, who like the man in each home — directs the Jewish people, to “become attached to me,” to renew and reinforce the connection He shares with the Jewish people.

The name Yitzchok was given by Sarah, who, filled with happiness after giving birth to a son and bringing him (at the age of eight days) into “the covenant of Abraham,” declared, “Whoever hears will rejoice with me.”

Each Jew has a portion in “the covenant of Abraham.” When a Jew learns about this, when he discovers who he really is, he will identify with his people. He will be happy to be part of a nation who — provided they behave in a desirable manner — will become connected with G‑d (the lesson from Levi). It is unnecessary to force him to accept this role. On the contrary, he accepts it with pleasure and joy (the lesson from Yitzchok). This pleasure is unlimited in nature and thus, is shared with their parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters. G‑d, Himself, takes pleasure in the children’s deeds and everyone connected with them derives satisfaction from having children who behave in this manner.

There is added emphasis to all the above for children who attend Camp Gan Israel. The word gan means “garden.” In his last maamar, the Previous Rebbe explained how the world is G‑d’s garden, a place which grants Him pleasure, where He can watch fruits grow. Gan Yisrael means “a garden for Jews,” a place where Jews grow, a place intended to help Jewish children grow up as Jews.

G‑d watches these activities. He sees how each child affects the other children around him, bringing out the quality of Levi, strengthening their attachment with G‑d. This brings G‑d great pleasure and causes Him to grant the children success in everything that they do.2

My father, Rav Levi Yitzchok, spread Torah with mesirus nefesh despite the challenges of exile. Today, we are much closer to Mashiach’s coming. Therefore, when a Jew dedicates himself to spreading Torah with mesirus nefesh, he need not worry about torture or exile. On the contrary, these efforts will only bring greater happiness and pleasure to the children themselves, to their families, and to their entire surroundings.

2. My father’s entire life revolved around the study of Torah, studying himself and teaching others. He continued these efforts without any consideration of the dangers involved.3 Therefore, it is fitting that the commemoration of his yahrzeit involve the study of one of his teachings.

The teaching that is chosen, an explanation of one of the Mishnayos studied in connection with the yahrzeit, is relevant to children and will inspire them in their efforts to spread Yiddishkeit in the surroundings. It will also serve as an inspiration to adults when they dedicate themselves to these goals.

The concluding Mishnah in the seventh chapter of Mikvaos teaches:

When a needle is placed on the step [leading down to a mikveh] in a cave, and water is moved back and forth, as soon as the wave passes over it, it becomes ritually pure.

On a simple level, the Mishnah is describing how to immerse thereby and purify a needle. Since it is very small and might get lost if it was immersed in the center of the mikveh, it is placed on the mikveh’s steps. Afterwards, one causes a wave of water to pass over it and it becomes ritually pure.

This Mishnah can also be interpreted figuratively with each of the items mentioned in the Mishnah seen as a metaphor intended to teach us a lesson in the service of G‑d.

What is a needle used for? To sew clothes, to connect one part of a garment, for example, a sleeve, with the rest of the garment. In this manner, beautiful clothes, clothes laden with jewels, can be fashioned. Metaphorically, this applies to our mission of connecting the material aspects of the world with G‑dliness. To take an example from the life of a child, before taking a drink of water, a Jewish child makes a blessing declaring that “everything was created by His word.” This establishes a connection — “sews together” — the water with G‑d.

Establishing this connection requires personal strength. The G‑dly life-force maintaining the water is not openly visible. Indeed, others pass the same river and drink without reciting a blessing. Every Jew, even a young Jewish child, has the personal strength to overcome the challenges of the mundane. He is G‑d’s “messenger” and can penetrate the material nature of the world through the recitation of the blessing.

To return to the metaphor of a needle: For a needle to sew, it must be sharp enough to pierce through the garment. Metaphorically, this refers to the power and force of the Jewish soul which allows one to pierce holes in the material nature of the world.

Piercing holes alone is not sufficient to sew. One must have thread. This alludes to the threads of the tzitzis4 (and the entire body of Torah and mitzvos which they represent). The Torah and mitzvos are the means which connect the world with G‑d. For example, when making tzitzis, one makes holes at the corners of a garment and then, puts the strands of the tzitzis through these holes, this makes the garment “a garment of mitzvah,” and thus a beautiful garment, fit for a prince to wear.

Such a “needle” becomes pure, i.e., it becomes connected with G‑d, the source of all purity, as alluded to in the verse, “the Mikveh of Israel is G‑d.”

To accomplish this a Jew must be in exile. When a Jew is in the Holy of Holies or in the Beis HaMikdash, he has no contact with a mundane world and is not aware of those aspects of the world which are not connected with G‑dliness. Because G‑d wants each Jew — and Jewish children especially — to achieve the ultimate purity, He sends them into exile — a place associated with impurity where they must serve as a “needle.” There, He provides them with an opportunity to “undergo an immersion” which will prevent the exile from affecting their Yiddishkeit.

[On one hand, in exile a Jew comes in contact with impurity and there is the potential — on the superficial level — for this impurity to adversely effect him. Nevertheless, the experience of exile can also bring the Jews to the highest level of purity, a level which lifts them out of all possibility of impurity.

Thus, the exile serves as a mikveh whose “waters” have two opposite connotations. On one hand, they stand for the difficulties associated with living in this material world, the “many waters” which threaten one’s connection with G‑d. Conversely, they also represent “the waters of pure wisdom,” the waters of Torah in which a Jew immerses himself.]

To allow for such an immersion, G‑d places the Jews, the “needle,” “on the steps” of the mikveh.5 There, the immersion will not be dangerous, one will not fall into the depths of the water. The waters of exile will merely pass over him, i.e., they will effect him only temporarily without causing him severe aggravation. On the contrary, they will bring him to purity, to the waters of Torah.

Once the wave has passed over the needle, it is declared pure. We will emerge from the mikveh, the exile, and proceed to the Messianic redemption when we will witness the fulfillment of the prophecy, “And I will pour pure waters upon you and you will be purified.”

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3. We will conclude the gathering with a joyous niggun: a niggun connected with the Messianic redemption (אך צדיקים) and my father’s Simchas Torah” niggun.6 Afterwards, money will be distributed: one coin which each of you will, serving as a shliach, give to charity and one coin to keep for whatever purposes you desire. May the gifts to tzedakah hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption as promised by our Sages. Then, we will proceed together with Mashiach, riding the clouds to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Temple Mount.

Since it is already after the 15th of Av, I would like to wish you all, as is customary, a kesivah vachasimah tovah. May you be inscribed for a happy and a healthy year, a year which as implied by its number, תש"נ, will be a year of miracles. Even before that year begins, we will proceed with great celebration to the Messianic redemption.

[The Rebbe gave dollars and dimes to the counselors to distribute to each camper — one dollar and two dimes. Afterwards the Rebbe distributed one dollar to all assembled, men, women and children.]