By the Grace of G‑d
In the days between
10 and 15 of Shevat1
New Year2 For Trees,3
5747. Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere—
G‑d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

Coming from the 10th of Shevat,4 the Yahrzeit-Hilulo5 of my father-in-law, the Rebbe of saintly memory, we are still under the vivid impression of the keynote of that day, namely the eternity of the soul, especially the eternity of the soul of a Nassi (head) of our Jewish people, whose entire life on this earth was bound up and permeated with the eternal Torah and Mitzvos;6 especially, moreover, as the Baal HaHilulo has raised up a generation, and successive generations, of disciples and followers who walk in his path;7

All the more so, since the primary goal of his service and activity was centered on the dissemination of the Torah8 (the “revealed” and the “inner essence” thereof) and Mitzvos among the widest Jewish circles everywhere, inspiring individuals and communities, “with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters,”9 without exception; indeed, “all of us as one,”10 in a manner of “stand up ready all of you,”11 and proclaim to HaShem: “Na’aseh v’nishma12—we shall do, and obey—all the Mitzvos and all the Torah, forever!”

Hence the following suggestion and urgent request addressed to every Jew, man or woman, everywhere, with a brief foreword:

Every year,13 and from year to year, on the day of the Hilulo, all activities of the Baal HaHilulo should be, and are, stimulated not only to continue, but just as importantly to be renewed with even greater vigor and strength, as behooves all matters of goodness and holiness in keeping with the imperative of ma’alin b’kodesh14—to be constantly upgraded, particularly in general and essential areas.

Such renewal and innovation pertain also to activities that were carried on before; but till now the particular activity did not have the dimension of something basic, or it lacked the emphasis it now has in its renewed form. Hence the renewal evokes in people generally, and in Jews especially, new strength which is translated into action, the deed being the essential thing.15 Thus, the renewed (even though not new) activities are “like new,”16 and finally the renewal should be such that it makes them “really new.”17

* * *

It is in the nature of a human being, as created by HaShem, that anything encountered on a daily basis, or even not so frequently, but the thing comes with, or among, other things and is not the “centerpiece”—it will not command special attention, however important the thing is in itself.

It is different when a thing stands out as something of primary importance and, in addition, is presented with appropriate emphasis; then one’s attitude and response are altogether on a different level.

One subject that has been spoken of in the past, but not with the fullest emphasis it merits as a matter of such basic importance in the day-to-day life, is the following:

To make and upgrade every Jewish home as a mikdosh me’at,18 a “small sanctuary,” to reflect fully the inner purpose of HaShem’s command and promise:19Let them make Me a Mikdosh that I may dwell in the midst of them.”20 Our Sages explain21 that the text does not say, b’tocho, “in the midst of it” (singular, referring to the Mikdosh), but b’tochom, “in the midst of them,” (plural), meaning, in the midst of the makers of the Mikdosh, i.e. in the heart and soul of every Jew, man and woman, and within every Jewish home.22

Plainly stated: This is to urge all Jews most earnestly to make HaShem’s request to dwell in their midst the primary concern in their everyday life, with total dedication, in thought, speech, and deed, to its realization in the fullest measure.

More precisely and specifically: The mikdosh me’at in the heart and in the home of every Jew should in all respects reflect, as it were (kavyochol), the Beis Hamikdosh, which comprised within itself the source and reality of the Three Pillars23 on which the entire world is based: Torah, Avodah (prayer),24 and Gemilus Chassodim (good deeds).

Torah is emphatically represented in the first25 of the specified details of “Make Me a Mikdosh,” namely the Ark26 in which the Tablets of Testimony (with the Ten Commandments) were to be kept in the Holy of Holies.27 It was further underscored when, immediately 28 after the Written Torah was completed, the Sefer Torah was placed beside the Ark in the Holy of Holies.

Avodah—in the function of the Beis Hamikdosh as (My house29 shall be called) “a House of Prayer,” and the “Gate of Heaven,”30 since all prayers are directed toward the Holy of Holies, and “ascend” to Heaven through it.311

As the Rambam32 explains it, the Beis Hamikdosh was a Bayis (House) consecrated as the place where the Korbonos were offered to HaShem; and the inner content33 of a Korbon was to enable a Jew to come closest34 to HaShem through the vicarious experience35 of total “surrender” and self-sacrifice to HaShem, the equivalent of which, in prayer is the surrender of one’s will to HaShem, with all one’s heart and soul.

Gemilus Chassodim is symbolically represented in the second specified item of the sacred furnishings of the Sanctuary, immediately following the Ark (with its details), namely, the Table of the Showbread,36 since the Beis Hamikdosh37 was the place from which HaShem dispensed all His acts of kindness “from His full, open, holy and ample Hand” for the entire world,38 and for Jews in particular.

* * *

In all the above, there is the Divine imperative: “You shall walk in His ways”39 to “imitate” HaShem. Hence, the mikdosh me’at of every Jewish home should incorporate within its precincts the said Three Pillars of the Beis Hamikdosh:

Torah: To make one’s home “a house where Torah is cultivated”40—studied regularly41 and increasingly, both quantitatively and qualitatively. This includes making it “a house full of seforim”42—holy books that are not for decorative purposes on bookshelves and bookcases, but filling the whole house43 with their content and spirit.

Tefiloh: “A house where prayer is cultivated,”44 beginning the day with the prayer Modeh ani—“I thank You,” and concluding the day with the prayer Hashkiveinu—“Cause us, O our Father, to lie down in peace,” recited in the Shema before going to sleep.

While the three daily prayers are recited with the congregation in Shul, the Modeh ani comes first, immediately45 upon waking from sleep; so is the last prayer of the day also recited at home before retiring for the night; and in between there are many prayers and blessing at home, such as before eating and after meals, etc.

Gemilus Chassodim: In addition to Tzedoko boxes, it is a house characterized by hospitality, including acts of kindness involving one’s soul, body and money,46 in behalf of individuals as well as the community at large, supporting Torah causes, houses of prayer, and institutions of Tzedoko and Chessed.

Such a home—mikdosh me’at—is comparable, so to say, to the “Mikdosh G‑d’s hands have established” (this week’s Sedrah),47 which is connected with the verse immediately following:48“HaShem shall reign for ever and ever.” It is a home where awareness of G‑d’s reign is ever present, and Modeh ani lefonecho is the ground principle that pervades49 the entire day’s conduct of the house and household to all eternity.50

Certainly, the said three elements, Torah, Tefiloh and Tzedoko, are present in Jewish homes; but these could be on an incomparably higher level, made essential and basic cornerstones of all activities of the household.

Inasmuch as HaShem demands51 of humans no more than it is humanly possible to achieve, it clearly follows that what He demands of a Jew, man and woman, is well within their capacity to carry out. HaShem does expect, however, that everyone should utilize one’s capacities in the fullest measure.52 Especially, in light of the well-known Rabbinic saying 53 that HaShem has not created anything in vain; hence He expects that the capacities—which He bestows 54—should be fully utilized.

These include also the capacities which a Jew receives from HaShem to carry out His imperative “to upgrade all things of holiness,” i.e. never to be satisfied with the present state, however satisfactory it be, but to proceed from strength to strength,55 rising ever higher and higher from time to time and from day to day, in all aspects of goodness and holiness.

* * *

Herein also lies the connection with the New Year For Trees, with its message in light of the Torah stating that a “human being56 is like a tree in the field.”57 The proof of a living tree is in its continuous growth,58 and the purpose of a tree is to produce good fruit,59 and the fruit of fruit,60 of the highest possible quality and quantity. This is what HaShem demands of an individual: that he should strive to grow steadily in all areas of the good, which come under the heading of, and are connected with, the Three Pillars, Torah, Prayer, and good deeds (Mitzvos).61

And inasmuch as all these matters are connected with HaShem, the Ein Sof (Infinite) blessed be He, they, too, are infinite,62 so that there is always room to do more and better. Here again, as mentioned, above, HaShem provides all the necessary capacities to add and improve; and, moreover, to act and achieve all these objectives with joy and gladness of heart.

* * *

May HaShem grant that everyone, man and woman, should have Hatzlocho in all above, thereby helping bring even closer the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh, which is alluded to in the verse, “the Mikdosh which Your hands, G‑d, have established,” with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu when also the immediately following prophecy, “G‑d shall reign for ever and ever,”63 will be fulfilled;

Fulfilled together with the prophecies: “You, O G‑d, have favored Your land ”;64our land will produce its fruit 65 for its inhabitants “to dwell with honor in our land,”66 with the fulfillment of “show us, O G‑d, Your chessed 67 and give us Your yeshuoh”—in a manner of “show us” (make us see), as “all flesh shall see,”68 perceived clearly by the physical eye.

With esteem and blessing for
Hatzlocho in all above,

/Signed: Menachem Schneerson/