Editors note: The Rebbe, of righteous memory, would periodically issue a pastoral letter in preparation for the Shavuot holiday. Below we bring you one such message addressed to youth.


Dear Friend,

Following Pesach — the Festival of Our Liberation — comes Shavuot — the Festival of the Receiving of Our Torah. The days of Sefirah (Counting of the Omer), beginning immediately on the morrow of the first day of Pesach and ending on the eve of Shavuot, connect these two great festivals.

Many significant lessons can be learned from this, of which I will point out but one:

Our Sages tell us that when Moshe was about to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he told them of G‑d's promise to give the Torah to His beloved people following their liberation from bondage. At once they asked when would that happy day be, and Moshe replied that it would be fifty days later. Every day the children of Israel counted: One day is gone, two days, three, and so on, and eagerly looked forward to the fiftieth day. The children of Israel understood that there could be no real freedom — freedom from any fear of oppression by others, and freedom from one's own evil inclinations — except through laws of justice and righteousness, which only the Creator of all mankind could make, because He knows best what is good for them. It is not surprising, therefore, that they were so eager to receive the Divine Torah, containing those wonderful laws to guide them and all the world.

Let us also remember that we cannot be truly free men, nor would we be worthy of such freedom, unless we take upon ourselves to observe and do all that G‑d commanded us in His holy Torah. Like our ancestors at Mount Sinai, we also must proclaim: Naaseh vnishmah — we will do and learn; and only then will we have lasting freedom. Indeed, it was their determination, while still in Egypt, to accept the Torah that merited them their liberation from enslavement. Likewise at this time, our return to the Torah and its observance, while awaiting for the Redemption, will hasten the coming of Mashiach and merit us the true and complete Redemption in our own day.

Wishing you a happy Shavuot,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson