1. Collective Interdependence

It1 is stated in Likkutei Torah2 (and cited in a text3 written by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], in preparation for Parshas Nitzavim, 5707 [1947]), that “this passage [i.e., Parshas Nitzavim] is always read [on the Shabbos] before Rosh HaShanah.” This is always the case, whether or not it is coupled with the following reading, Parshas Vayeilech.

The reason for this is clear. Since4 every Shabbos is connected with and encapsulates the weekdays that follow it, on the Shabbos before Rosh HaShanah we read Parshas Nitzavim, because it shares the following connection with Rosh HaShanah.

This passage opens with the phrase,5 Atem nitzavim hayom - “You are standing firm this day….” Hayom (“this day”) alludes to Rosh HaShanah, as in the phrase,6 “the day of the great judgment.” And when that day of Rosh HaShanah comes, we ought to be in a situation in which “You are standing firm…, all of you” - a situation in which the souls of Israel must present themselves, all together, “before the L-rd your G‑d.” This requirement applies equally to all souls, from “the leaders of your tribes” to “the hewer of your wood” and “the drawer of your water.” Rashi7 explains that these latter categories of people were originally “Canaanites [who] came along and asked to be converted in the days of Moshe, in the same way as the Gibeonites [later] did in the days of Yehoshua” (and the latter were received into the community of Israel only because of an oath [which was secured by deceit]).8 Yet despite all that, they too are counted among those standing before G‑d, together with all the rest of the Jewish people - ”all of you,” becoming like one.9

These phrases - “all of you” and “becoming like one” - do not simply signify that all the individuals concerned tolerate each other, regardless of the fact that one is the head and another is a common man. Rather, it means that each of them receives something from the other. Each of them complements the other, just as in the human body the head and the foot complement each other, inasmuch as neither of them - neither the head nor the foot - is complete without the other.

In order that we should be able to arrive at this kind of avodah on “this day,” which is Rosh HaShanah, on the preceding Shabbos we first read: “You are standing firm this day, all of you, before the L-rd your G‑d - the leaders of your tribes…, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water.” For reading the passage from the Torah in itself empowers us to translate the concept into a reality.

This parallels the explanation given in Chassidus10 as to why on Rosh HaShanah we read the verses which speak of Malchuyos (“reigning”), Zichronos (“remembering”) and Shofaros (“sounding the Shofar). For by reading these verses we invoke evidence from the Torah itself that G‑d is obliged to reign and to remember - and it is the sounding of the Shofar that translates these concepts into reality.

2. A Superrational Commitment

After the above two verses,11 the Torah proceeds: “…so that you should enter into the covenant of the L-rd your G‑d.” In plain words, the avodah of “standing firm…, all of you,” is a preparation that enables us to “enter into the covenant” between G‑d and the Jewish people, which is sealed on Rosh HaShanah.

On the material plane, we observe that two faithful friends may choose to make a covenant to ensure that their friendship will not cease. Suppose this friendship is based on a reason - for example, mutual regard, or a desire on the part of either side to profit from reciprocated friendship. In such a situation, either party might be anxious in case the other detects a flaw he has observed in his own character, perhaps something serious enough to jeopardize or even reverse their present friendship. They may therefore decide, while their friendship is still vibrant, to make a covenant between themselves so that this friendship will endure forever. For a covenant is a superrational arrangement. It implies that both parties set reason aside and commit their very selves in such a way that nothing in the world will ever be able to dampen their love.

The same principle applies to the love between G‑d and the Jewish people. When Rosh HaShanah comes around, this love is at its most intense (since by then people have behind them the avodah of Elul, which erases the transgressions which would otherwise obscure this love). It is at this time that the covenant is made: the Jewish people bind themselves to G‑d in an elemental bond which transcends reason, so that no power on earth will be able to weaken it.

Now, in order to arouse in G‑d, so to speak, a [reciprocal] desire to be bound with the souls of the Jewish people at a level which transcends reason, what is required is the avodah of [appreciating that one is a connected and dependent component of the collective] - ”all of you,” and “becoming like one.” This entails a dedication of oneself that transcends reason (for according to the dictates of reason there is no real connection or relation between “your leaders” and “the drawer of your water”). In response to this superrational self-dedication, G‑d for His part binds Himself likewise to the souls of the Jewish people, at a level which transcends reason.

This dynamic echoes a familiar teaching of Chassidus.12 When the Torah commands a Jew,13 “You shall love the L-rd your G‑d… with all your might,” it is true that this involves no more than “all your might.” Nevertheless, this very endeavor empowers the finite individual to draw on G‑d’s true might, which in essence is infinite.

3. Assessing Truthfully

However, one’s awareness of the above-described states of ”all of you” and “becoming like one” must be experienced truthfully.14 A person should realize that this is how things really are. It may well be that he considers himself to be one of “your leaders,” and the other fellow to be a common man. But first of all, he cannot know who is the “head” and who is the “foot”, because people generally underestimate others and overestimate themselves. Secondly, even if he really is the “head”, in a certain sense a foot is superior to a head, inasmuch as the head is complete only when it maintains its connection with the foot, as explained above.

This concept allows us to understand why it was specifically the Gibeonites who became hewers of wood for the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash.

Not all of the Jews were in the Beis HaMikdash, nor did they all live in Jerusalem. Yet, whereas the only Jews present in the Beis HaMikdash were the anshei maamad15 who represented the rest of the people, it was the Gibeonites whose service required them to be there. The explanation [for this paradox] is that true spiritual stature is the prerogative of the “foot”.

This explanation also serves to clarify why the episode of the Gibeonites involves an oath (i.e., the oath taken when they were accepted) - for an oath transcends mortal reason; it reaches into the very essence of the soul.16 And it is in the “foot” that the essence of the soul finds expression.

4. Self-Assessment

Suppose that a Jew considers that before the sounding of the Shofar on Rosh HaShanah17 he is going to make the request,18 “May He choose our heritage for us, the glory of Yaakov whom He loves eternally.” Now this individual knows that G‑d’s “choosing” implies a choice which is necessarily so and not otherwise. He considers, moreover, that this choice stems from Atzmus, G‑d’s very Essence, for it is this level of Divinity which, being utterly unshackled, is higher than all measurement and limitation. Suppose that this Jew further contemplates the utter incomparability that surrounds G‑d’s Essence:19 there is a lesser degree of incomparability between the World of Asiyah and the World of Atzilus, than there is between the World of Atzilus and the [infinite] Ein Sof; any conceivable relation of incomparability does not even serve as an analogy for the incomparability between the Creator and the created.

Now, having considered all the above, how can a man dare to confront Atzmus with his request, “May He choose our heritage for us”?

In a word, if one meditates upon the above and makes an assessment of himself, he won’t have any time left to make assessments of other people….

R.20 Hillel of Paritch21 yearned to see the Alter Rebbe22 - except that whenever he arrived at a town in which the Alter Rebbe had appeared he did not meet him, because the Alter Rebbe had already left. One day the young man decided to plan ahead, and when he heard that the Alter Rebbe was due to arrive at a certain place, he quickly saw to it that he would arrive first. And that wasn’t all. Since experience had taught him that whenever he tried to see the Alter Rebbe all kinds of obstacles popped up, he suspected that this time too he would not be granted admittance. The solution was simple: he found his way into the room which the Alter Rebbe was to occupy, and hid under the bed.

Now R. Hillel had prepared a learned query in Arachin, a tractate which deals with assessments of value for ritual purposes. This would provide material for a scholarly legal debate with the Alter Rebbe. But as soon as the Alter Rebbe entered the room, and before R. Hillel had managed to clamber out of his hideout, he heard the Alter Rebbe saying in his well-known singsong: “If a young man has a logical problem in Arachin (‘assessments’), he should first assess himself….”

R. Hillel fainted on the spot. By the time he came to, the Alter Rebbe had already left town.

(R. Hillel never again managed to meet the Alter Rebbe. He would travel to hear Torah from the mouths of [his successors,] the Mitteler Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek, but this was the only occasion on which he was in the presence of the Alter Rebbe, and even then he did not see him.)

The significance of this episode in terms of avodah can be explained in a way that is relevant to us.

The ritual assessments called arachin are not based on rational criteria. As we see, the law prescribes that the ritual value of any particular individual is determined by his age, not by his relative qualities; all men of the same age have the same ritual value.23

At first glance, one could imagine someone proposing a logical protest: “Here I am, having invested all my years in Torah and avodah, doing things that have gladdened the Holy One and all the hosts of heaven; in fact, even mortal understanding appreciates that my deeds have been praiseworthy. If so, my years are valuable indeed - unlike the years of So-and-so, which have been frittered away on nonsense; indeed, ‘it would have been better had he never been created.’24 Is it right, I ask you, that his years and mine should be adjudged as equal?!”

The answer to this objection we have just seen: When someone has a logical query in Arachin (“assessments”), he should first assess himself - properly, and then his logical query will automatically vanish.25

5. The Bread I Gave You Is Yours!

The name of the month of Elul is indicated comprehensively by the initials of the phrase,26 אני לדודי ודודי לי - “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” In addition, there are particular acronyms that highlight the various ways in which “I am my Beloved’s.” Broadly speaking, these correspond to the three main directions in man’s spiritual endeavors - Torah study, avodah, and the practice of kindly deeds.

(a) The first phrase,27 אנה לידו ושמתי לך , [appears in a verse which speaks of an unintentional manslaughterer: “But if a man did not lie in wait, but G‑d] allowed it to happen to him, then I will appoint you [a place to which he shall flee].” This acronym alludes to Torah study because, [like a City of Refuge,] the Torah affords protection to those who study it.28

(b) The second phrase,29 איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים , [appears in a verse which says that the days of Purim are to be made into “days of feasting and joy, and of sending choice portions,] each man to his fellow, and gifts to the poor.” This acronym alludes to gemilus chassadim, the practice of kindly deeds, and, by extension, to the mitzvah of tzedakah.

(c) The third phrase,30 ומל ה׳ אלקיך את לבבך ואת לבב זרעך, [speaks of the removal of one’s spiritual insensitivity: “And the L-rd your G‑d will circumcise] your heart and the heart [of your children].” This acronym alludes to avodah, (including both prayer and teshuvah,) in keeping with the continuation of the verse: “so that you will love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart….” For, as is explained at the beginning of Kuntreis HaAvodah, at the core of the avodah of prayer lies the love of G‑d, rather than awe.31

The inner meaning of Torah study and avodah has been explained on another occasion.32 What will now be discussed is the meaning of tzedakah - the mode of divine service hinted at in the acronym, “[…sending choice portions,] each man to his fellow, and gifts to the poor.”

Something here requires explanation. Since the allusion to tzedakah is contained in the words לאביונים ומתנות (“and gifts to the poor”), why are the initials of the words לרעהואיש (“each man to his fellow”) counted as part of the acronym, when they refer to the “choice portions” [of food which people send each other as gifts on Purim], and not to tzedakah? And conversely: Why should only the initials of these latter two words, איש לרעהו (“each man to his fellow”), be counted as part of the acronym, and not the initials of the preceding two words, משלוח מנות (“the sending of choice portions”)?

This could be understood as follows.

The phrase here translated “and gifts to the poor” ends with the word evyonim, as distinct from aniyim. A poor man described as an ani (עני) is neither rich nor even of middle means - but he does own something. The poor man described as an evyon (אביון), by contrast, is so called because, as in the etymology which Rashi explains,33 he “hankers after everything” (שתאב לכל דבר). Having nothing whatever, he desires even trifles.34

Moreover, “hankering after everything” can also apply at the opposite extreme: a poor man can yearn for even the greatest of things, because [in more fortunate times] he was accustomed to them. Indeed, our Sages speak of35 “even a horse to ride upon,” and the like: since such an individual yearns for this, and without it he is unable to carry out his mission in this world, one is obliged to give it to him.

Now, a person might think that he is the rich man, and that when he gives the poor man something great or small he is giving him something of his own. This is why the acronym in the above verse juxtaposes the two pairs of words, איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים (“each man to his fellow, and gifts to the poor”) - to teach us that even one’s “gifts to the poor” are really given by “each man to his fellow”: the recipient is the donor’s fellow, and is in the same situation as he is in. In fact neither of them is beholden to the other, for the donor is not giving anything of his own: he is merely returning to the recipient the deposit which has been entrusted to him for safekeeping.36 It was in this spirit that the early chassidim in the days of the Alter Rebbe used to say,37 “The slice of bread which I have is yours just as it is mine” - and they said “yours” before they said “mine”. Thus, too, our Sages teach,38 “More than the householder does for the pauper [at his door], the pauper does for the householder.” So, too, our Sages teach,39 “You have [now] sustained… the life of the pauper…; tomorrow, when your son or daughter…,40 I [G‑d] shall save them….”

6. Everyone Has Something to Give

Since41 man comprises both body and soul, there is also tzedakah to be practiced on a spiritual plane.

First of all, just as on the material plane every individual Jew, even the poorest of men,42 is obliged to practice tzedakah, so too with spiritual tzedakah: every individual Jew, even one who is poor in ruchniyus, is obliged to practice tzedakah - because every single Jew has something to give. The mere fact that one encounters any particular individual constitutes a directive that one is obliged to help that individual and give him something. This must necessarily have been the Divine intent, for everything that happens is an expression of Divine Providence,43 and G‑d created nothing in vain.44

And just as with material tzedakah, one is not really giving anything to anyone, but doing oneself a favor, as explained [in sec. 5] above, so too with spiritual tzedakah: by being spiritually benevolent to another,45 one receives something from him - for, as explained [in sec. 3] above, completeness can be attained only when the “head” and the “foot” both appreciate the fact that they are interdependent.

7. A Loan of Five Rubles

The Tzemach Tzedek was once extolling the virtue of tzedakah. He explained that helping a fellow Jew to earn his livelihood, for example, advances one’s divine service by sensitizing one’s mind and heart to the revelations which come from above. In this connection he once told his son, the Rebbe Maharash, of his own experience:46

“On my way from Dobromisl to Lubavitch I was gratified by the closeness which my grandfather (the Alter Rebbe) had been showing me, and I hoped that on my arrival there I would be privileged to gaze upon his luminous face. [I.e., as a vision, for this episode took place many years after the passing of the Alter Rebbe.] In the meantime I organized in my mind a number of queries which had arisen in the course of my studies, both in nigleh, the revealed plane of the Torah, and in Chassidus.

“As soon as I arrived there, I went straight to the place concerning which my grandfather had told us (on our way to Liadi) that [in his youth] he had studied in the shul that had once stood there. As I have already told you, at this time the plot stood vacant, after the fire that had taken place. My father-in-law, the Mitteler Rebbe, had once said about this spot that 57 years earlier the Alter Rebbe had made of Lubavitch a place suited to the leadership of Chabad chassidim for long and everlasting years until the coming of Mashiach.

“At any rate, from the moment I arrived in Lubavitch the Alter Rebbe hid himself from me. I felt very downhearted, as if I had fallen from a lofty height into a deep pit. After all that anticipated closeness, I was now confronted with such a distance. Deeply distressed, I scrutinized my deeds in search of a possible cause, so that through teshuvah I would be privileged to behold my grandfather’s holy face and hear from him teachings in Torah and avodah.”

The Tzemach Tzedek went on to recall that at that time, on Wednesday, the twentieth of Elul, he had set out to shul to daven. On his way there, a local villager called Reb Pinchas asked him for a loan of three rubles, so that he could buy and sell something at the market and earn what he needed for Shabbos. The Tzemach Tzedek asked him to come to his home after his prayers, and then he would give him the loan.

Soon after, standing in shul with his tallis on his shoulder, preparing himself for prayer, he recalled Reb Pinchas, and realized that since the market was open in the morning, he no doubt needed the money immediately. He put down his tallis, went home, and brought the villager a loan of five rubles so that he could do his little bit of business.

As soon as returned to shul and washed his hands in readiness for prayer, the Alter Rebbe appeared to him, his face all radiant, and answered all his learned queries.

8. A Mitzvah in the Marketplace

From this episode we see how tzedakah affects even the spiritual plane.

We are speaking of the Tzemach Tzedek, with all his exalted qualities, and with all the marks of nearness which the Alter Rebbe had shown him at the time of his passing, when they were alone. ([As to his three uncles, the sons of the Alter Rebbe:] The Mitteler Rebbe was then in Kremenchug; R. Chayim Avraham47 was then unwell; and R. Moshe48 remained on the other side of the line of battle and was unable to cross it.) Yet despite all those marks of nearness, and despite his various attempts to see the Alter Rebbe, nothing helped.

However, he met a Jew in the street - not in the “four cubits”49 of the Tzemach Tzedek (i.e., this villager did not come to see the Rebbe in his study), but in the villager’s own “four cubits.” Moreover, the Tzemach Tzedek met this villager not when the latter was reciting Tehillim, or the like, but when he was thinking of how to secure a loan so that he could earn a little something. And for this the Tzemach Tzedek set aside his prayer (and this was the prayer of the Tzemach Tzedek, no less) - even though the time of prayer is50 “a time at which the Supernal Intellect above is in a sublime state, and likewise below,” and even though prayer enjoys a superiority over Torah study since it brings about changes on the material plane, whereby G‑d heals the sick and blesses the years (as explained in Iggeres HaKodesh51). And through setting aside his prayer so that he could do a material favor to a fellow Jew, he was privileged to behold the countenance of the Alter Rebbe.

9. Practical Application

Yeshivah52 students have a double advantage over others: (a) They have much to give, since they spend their time in the four cubits of the Torah. (b) They have the gift of youthful energy (which is why a young man is called elem, signifying vigor53). Accordingly, it would be proper and worthwhile for them to visit shuls on Rosh HaShanah in order to address and arouse our fellow Jews.

Rosh HaShanah has two days, each with its distinctive merit. The First Day is a time of “stern judgment,” while the Second Day is a time of “gentle judgment.”54 The First Day is deoraysa, ordained explicitly in the Torah, whereas the Second Day is miderabbanan, ordained by the Sages. Since55 “the ordinances of the Sages are more stringent,” each day has a point of superiority over the other, and they complete each other, to the point that together they become56 yoma arichta - “one long day.” Accordingly, our Yeshivah students should visit shuls on both days.

It could well be that someone might argue: I have a long and complicated account to settle from the whole year, I don’t know what has been motivated by the Good Inclination and what has been motivated by the Evil Inclination, and now I have been given forty propitious days during which to work out all my accounts; how, then, can I devote this time of mine to others? The answer to this lies in the words, איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים (“each man to his fellow, and gifts to the poor”). As explained above, even “gifts to the poor” are given from “each man to his fellow”: the young man who goes out to rouse his fellow Jew, will himself be enhanced by the exchange.

Every one of us wants to see the Rebbe - my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] - so that he will solve his queries. For every single individual has queries (and that includes those who do not know that they have queries), and in order to solve them one needs to see the Rebbe. The way to do that, is to go out on Rosh HaShanah to visit shuls and to address and arouse our people, souls garbed in bodies. A young man who does this fulfills the will of the Rebbe, and having done so it will be granted him that the Rebbe, as a soul garbed in a body, will solve his queries.

10. Dragging the Horse to the Trough

With regard to visiting shuls: In former generations there were times when the locals asked such visitors to their shul, “Where are you from?” and they would answer, “From Dokshytz,” or wherever. They were afraid that if they answered, “From Lubavitch,” they would be thrown out…. Today, however, there is no need to be overawed, and one can say clearly: “We had - and we have - a great Rebbe (i.e., my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz]), and we have come as his emissaries.”

The fact is that a person can’t hide his Lubavitcher identity. Even if he dresses impeccably57 according to the dictates of local custom (matching the socks to the tie, sporting a cigar, and speaking a flawless English), people will recognize him and identify him as a Lubavitcher. So he might as well tell the truth from the outset.

A certain adherent of the so-called “Enlightenment” movement once went out of his way to vex the Rebbe Maharash,58 who applied to him a certain epithet.

“How do you know that?” asked the maskil.

The Rebbe Maharash explained: “When a little Jewish boy is brought into the covenant of Avraham Avinu, they sometimes take the foreskin and stick it on his nose…. So I identified you by your nose!”

And since59 “the measure of goodness is greater [than its opposite],” it is even more certain that the more a Lubavitcher tries to hide, the more clearly will he be recognized and identified as a Lubavitcher.

As to a person who is afraid that he will be thrown out because he is a Lubavitcher, the truth is that he would be thrown out not because he is a Lubavitcher - for60 “If a man has in him the awe of heaven, his words are listened to” - but because his external appearance does not match the pnimiyus, the inner content, that has been implanted in him. That is why the excuse he is given is also false - that he is being thrown out because he is a Lubavitcher.

[Chassidim addressing other shuls] should simply tell the truth: they are visiting as emissaries of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz]. They should speak with self-assurance,61 and not be overawed by anyone - as in the parable (that appears in Chassidus62) of a sage, in whose eyes those who are not sages are of no account…. Of course care must be taken not to offend anyone; besides,63 דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים - “The words of sages are heard in tranquillity.” At the same time, however, one should assume a confident stance and be overawed by no one.

When Toras Shmuel [of the Rebbe Maharash] was published, there were those who complained that it was reproduced in cursive manuscript instead of being reset in a regular typeface,64 which would be easier to read, especially in America. When the complaints reached me, as the one responsible for their publication, I told my revered father-in-law that people were complaining: as well as toiling to grasp the subject matter, they would have to toil to read the handwriting.

The Rebbe [Rayatz] replied: “The trough has been dragged to the horses long enough; it’s time to drag the horses to the trough!”

What is the difference between the two approaches?

When you drag the horse to the trough, you’re acting against his will: he thinks you’re trying to dehorse him,65 or at least to make him a little less horse than he was. He therefore insists loudly that he wants to remain in every respect a horse. So what do you do? - You drag the trough to the horse. At the time, he doesn’t realize that you want to dehorse him - and later, he won’t at all mind that he’s no longer a horse….

But after all is said and done, the time has come (as my revered father-in-law said) not to be overawed by the horse, but to drag him to the trough and to dehorse him.

11. Words that Ignite

Towards the end of the maamar of the third day of Selichos,66 my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], cites the parable of the king in the fields that appears in Likkutei Torah,67 but with slight changes, as follows:

“By way of a parable: Before the king comes to town, the townsfolk go out to meet him and greet him in the fields. At that time, whoever so desires is permitted and able to go out and greet him, and he receives them all with a friendly countenance and shows a smiling face to them all. When he enters the town they all follow him, but once he arrives at the royal palace one can be admitted to the king’s presence only after extensive preparations, and only with permission, and even this is reserved for the select few among the people.”

The differences from the wording of Likkutei Torah are the following: (a) Where Likkutei Torah says that “whoever so desires is permitted to go out and greet him,” the Rebbe [Rayatz] writes “is permitted and able…”; (b) where Likkutei Torah says that “when he enters the town they follow him,” the Rebbe [Rayatz] writes that “when he enters the town they all follow him”; and (c) where Likkutei Torah says that “once he arrives at his royal palace one can be admitted to the king’s presence only with permission,” the Rebbe [Rayatz] writes that “once he arrives at the royal palace one can be admitted to the king’s presence only after extensive preparations, and only with permission.”

One might well ask: Since the Rebbe [Rayatz] does not express the parable in his own words, but chooses to use the phraseology of Likkutei Torah, why introduce the above changes?

The Rebbe [Rayatz] once said68 that there is a difference between delivering a chassidic maamar with which one has become utterly fused and integrated69 (“through such a maamar one can ignite a fellow Jew”) and delivering a maamar with which one has not become utterly fused and integrated (where despite its delivery, a fellow Jew is not ignited). In our context, the changes introduced in the wording of the original text serve to highlight the speaker’s fusion and identification with it. Why, then, were these changes made?

12. What of Those Who Don’t Mirror the King’s Smile?

It could well be that these changes match the changes that have taken place between the generation of the Alter Rebbe and our generation: in his times there was less need to spell out [words of encouragement] explicitly.

In the words of one of the chassidim who lived in the times of the Alter Rebbe and also of the Mitteler Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek: “In bygone days the teachings used to be brief” (for even the long maamarim of the Alter Rebbe are brief in comparison with the maamarim of the Rebbeim of the following generations), “but they used to permeate you all the way through - whereas today,….” And if this was true in those days, how much more relevant is it today!

To explain the above points that are spelled out explicitly:

(a) In the Alter Rebbe’s generation it sufficed to say that “whoever so desires is permitted to go out and greet [the king]”; in our generation it must further be stated that “whoever so desires is permitted and able to go out and greet him.”

(b) Here, likewise: In the Alter Rebbe’s generation it sufficed to say that “when he enters the town they follow him,” and it is self-evident that “they” refers to those who had been spoken of. For our generation, however, the generation in which the Rebbe [Rayatz] lived and lives, he adds in the maamar which he sent to all the corners of the world that “when [the king] enters the town they all follow him.” He wanted to make it clear beyond all doubt that he is speaking of literally everyone, including those to whom the king related with a smiling countenance yet it left no imprint. They, too, all of them, follow him.

(c) Here, where Likkutei Torah says that “once [the king] arrives at his royal palace one can be admitted to the king’s presence only with permission,” is the Rebbe [Rayatz] so unkind (G‑d forbid!) that he adds the condition that “once [the king] arrives at the royal palace one can be admitted to the king’s presence only after extensive preparations, and only with permission”?!

We may understand this added phrase as being helpful advice on how to secure the requisite permission. Even though the authority of the courtiers (from whom one has to receive permission) derives entirely from the fact that they are the king’s officials, nevertheless, when they attain authority and have to be asked for permission for entry, they can conceivably withhold it. This is why the Rebbe [Rayatz] also speaks of “extensive preparations,” for these preparations - cherishing and husbanding every single minute and investing it with the letters of Torah and prayer - are relevant to every single Jew. Every single Jew can thus argue: “Since it was the Rebbe who told me to make these preparations, it is unthinkable that they should go to waste….”

(Besides, preparing oneself in this way increases one’s attainments in Torah and mitzvos. As it is written,70 the Angel Michael would be prepared to give away everything - in exchange for one mitzvah.)

With an argument like that, a man will surely be granted admittance to the king’s palace.

13. Transcendent Sovereignty

There is one further subtle difference between the two texts: where Likkutei Torah says, “once [the king] arrives at his royal palace (uהיכל מלכות) …,” the Rebbe [Rayatz] writes, “once [the king] arrives at the royal palace (היכל מלכות)….”

It could be that in this way the Rebbe [Rayatz] wished to indicate that he was speaking of entry to a place or level in which G‑d’s sovereignty transcends any possible descriptive epithet.

A similar teaching is found on a verse that speaks of Yom Kippur:71 כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם - “For on this day He will atone for you.” Likkutei Torah explains72 that for a similar reason, the verse does not state explicitly Who will atone.

14. The Basic Blessing

At the conclusion of the above-quoted maamar, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], writes that “by arousing the innermost and deepest point of one’s heart in teshuvah, one becomes a pure vessel that is able to receive Rosh HaShanah’s flow of blessings for the entire year.”

[At this point the Rebbe wept and said:] “And the basic blessing is - that the Rebbe [Rayatz] should take us out from material exile and spiritual exile, and lead us towards the true and complete Redemption.”