An undercurrent of excitement surges and almost surfaces as this volume progresses. It covers Tishrei to Teves, 5711 [late 1950] — the critical months from the first Rosh HaShanah after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz on Yud Shvat, 5710 [1950], until just before the first yahrzeit. On that day the Rebbe finally delivered a formal maamar. With this he indicated that he had acceded to the insistent pleas made by repeated delegations of elder chassidim; he had consented to wear the weighty mantle of Rebbe of Lubavitch.

Before that time the chassidim had grown to anticipate the demands that were already being made of them. Recurring themes, always derived from current dates or Torah readings, included kabbalas ol and hiskashrus, and obligations in Torah, avodah, and outreach. For example, it must have been very clear to the chassidim who attended the Rebbe’s farbrengen at “770” on the very first Shabbos Bereishis after Yud Shvat that however strenuously they exerted themselves in their personal avodah, the Rebbe was always going to expect more of them.

But these expectations were always rooted in optimism and encouragement. On the above occasion, for example, the Rebbe explained how an involvement in the pnimiyus of the Torah can enable a Jew — while still living and hitherto grounded in this temporal world — to leap over the bounds of time, and thereby to savor a foretaste of the World to Come.

Another uniquely uplifting farbrengen took place on the Shabbos preceding Yud-Daled (14) Kislev, the anniversary of the wedding of the Rebbe and the Rebbitzin Chayah Mushka, in 5689 [1928]. At this farbrengen, the Rebbe graphically mapped out the road that a young man should take as he prepares himself to leave the sheltered repose of yeshivah life and step out into the wide world. And since the first major step along this road is getting married, this sichah is a reservoir of counsel and encouragement on how a young couple should build a warm and luminous Jewish home. That, of course, is of especial interest to those of our readers who have yet to build their homes. As for those of us who have already built our homes, reading and rereading this farbrengen will give us endless reservoirs of counsel and encouragement on how we can renovate them.

Predictably, interwoven with every single theme that is touched upon, the Rebbe’s assurances of the imminent Redemption light up every farbrengen.

Though these teachings are already 48 years old, they sound as if they were expressly written for us in our present situation. And our present situation, such as it is, is ripe for change. In the words of the Divine prophecy relayed to us by Yeshayahu, “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with abundant mercy shall I gather you together.”

Nor do we have to face the unhurrying length of this brief moment alone. For there is a well-known teaching of the Sages concerning the passing of Moshe Rabbeinu: “Just as there [i.e., at Mount Sinai] he stands and serves on high, so too here [i.e., after his passing] he stands and serves on high.” And to this the Rebbe adds: “Moreover, he stands and serves not only ‘on high,’ but down here as well.”

Small wonder, then, that today, too, an undercurrent of excitement is surging and almost surfacing. As we say in the morning prayers, “You will arise and have mercy on Zion, for it is time to be gracious to her; the appointed time has come.”

Sichos In English

Yud Shvat, 5759 [1999]

Credits

As with its predecessors, this volume too was translated and annotated by Uri Kaploun; the layout and typography were in the able hands of Yosef Yitzchok Turner; Avraham Weg designed the cover; and the book was seen through all its publishing stages by Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English.