Erev Shabbos Kodesh,
13 Elul, 5710 [1950]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

…The1 unique content of Chai Elul2 is explained at several points3 in the talks of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] (May I serve as an atonement for his resting place). This date is the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov (in the year 54584 [1698]); it is the date on which his holy mentor, Achiyah HaShiloni, revealed himself to him (in the year 5484 [1724]); the date of the revelation of the Baal Shem Tov (in the year 5494 [1734])5 ; the birthday of the Alter Rebbe (in the year 55056 [1745]; and the day that marks7 “the beginning of the avodah of the newly approaching year.”

Concerning the third day of Selichos, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], once recounted8 that this day was “the day set aside by the Alter Rebbe (and likewise for his successors) for the private delivery of a maamar in the presence of his illustrious son, the Mitteler Rebbe (and when my great-greatgrandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, was about ten years old he delivered it for him, too), with the instruction that no one was to know of it. On the third day of Selichos the Tzemach Tzedek used to deliver a maamar of the Alter Rebbe in the presence of the Rebbe Maharash, with the instruction that no one was to know of it. On the third day of Selichos the Rebbe Maharash used to deliver a maamar in the presence of my father, the Rebbe [Rashab], and on the third day of Selichos, 5655 [1895], my father delivered this maamar9 for me, instructing me to keep this a secret until he told me otherwise.”

Regarding the avodah that is appropriate in the days beginning with Chai Elul, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], once explained that10 “the month of Elul is the time at which there are revelations [of the content] of the verse,11 אני לדודי ודודי לי - ‘I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.’ The preparations for these revelations vary according to the kind of revelation… - teshuvah and a contrite heart in the twelve days from Chai Elul to Rosh HaShanah. The first evening of Rosh HaShanah is a time at which the very essence of Ani leDodi (‘I am my Beloved’s’) becomes manifest, with a self-sacrificing acceptance of the yoke of heaven, after due preparation. The twelve days should be a time of spiritual stocktaking for the twelve months of the year, a day for each month. Chai Elul is the day of cheshbon hanefesh for the past month of Tishrei; erev Rosh HaShanah is the day set aside for taking stock of the [present] month of Elul. This is the last preparation for one’s avodah on Rosh HaShanah, through which one is inscribed and sealed for a good year in the study of the Torah, in the observance of the mitzvos, and in the avodah of the heart [viz., prayer], together with a good and sweet year materially, too.”

For many years the content of Chai Elul and the third day of Selichos were hidden away. Now permission has been given to make them known, and, indeed, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], has made them known in all corners of the earth. One might well ask,12 “But is this generation worthy?!” And the response will be that for this very reason these things should be made public. Because there is such an increasing obscurity and screening of spiritual light in this generation [that can hear the approaching] footsteps of Mashiach,13 “even the store-houses of precious treasures that [until now] were hidden and locked away from all eyes are opened up.”14

Now especially, after the histalkus, it is the task of every single man and woman among us to strengthen himself and to bond himself with the Tree of Life - with our Nasi, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] - with ever-increasing intensity. With the help of his treasures and the treasures of his forebears which he opened up and transmitted to us, [it is our task] to remove the obscurity and the screens. And this, too, readies us to be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Menachem Schneerson