Free Translation

By the Grace of G‑d
6th of Tishrei, 5740
[Sept. 27, 1979]
Seventh Year, Shabbos unto G‑d
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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

Greeting and Blessing:

Now that we have entered the new year, encouraged and strengthened by the reassuring thought that the Almighty “Who hears the sound of teruah [the shofar blasts] of His people in mercy” has accepted the prayers and good wishes that Jews wish one another for the new year,

Especially that it is the “Seventh Year, Shabbos unto G‑d,” which, moreover, began with (the first day of Yom Tov [the holiday of] Rosh Hashanah occurring on) Shabbos, which Torah designates, “You shall call Shabbos a delight,” thus further strengthening the certainty that it will be a delightful year, filled with delightful things in each of its days;

And in these days between Shabbos-Rosh Hashanah and Shabbas-Shabboson [the Sabbath of Sabbaths] of Yom Kippur

It is the proper time to reinforce, and add to, the good resolutions and their actual implementation in the everyday life, which we began in the days of Elul by way of preparation and induction into the new year, and continued into the beginning of this year.

In the context of the above, and pursuant to the letter of Chai Elul in which the discussion centered on the similarity of content which the Seventh Day and the Seventh Year have in common, as a “Shabbos unto G‑d,” we shall dwell here on a further point, namely, the different and distinctive character of each, and what instructive lesson we can, and ought to, derive from it.

The Seventh Day, Shabbos, and the Seventh Year, Shemittah, represent, respectively, an integral part as well as a completion of two general periods of time:

The day of Shabbos—which is a “memorial to the work of Creation”—belongs to and completes the period of preparation and formation of a definite order embracing the universe, which G‑d brought into being in the days of Creation, with the day of Shabbos being the soul that animates all the days of the week, to the extent that the entire week is sometimes referred to as “Shabbos.”

The act of Creation itself is described as “which G‑d created to make,” i.e., to complete and make perfect. This is to say that G‑d created the world in a way that requires further completeness and perfection—a task that has been entrusted to man, the “chosen one” of all creation, whom G‑d created in the “image of G‑d,” with a Divine soul, endowed him with all necessary capacities, and provided for him the means needed to carry out the Divine Plan of Creation in its completeness.

Then begins the period of time in years of “seedtime and harvest, and of cold and heat, and summer and winter”—the time of carrying out and bringing to fruition the plan in the fullest measure of the preconceived perfection. This period is represented by the seven-year cycle, with the Sabbatical Year dedicated to G‑d being the vitalizing spirit that animates all the years of the Shemittah cycle, just as Shabbos vitalizes all the days of the week. Indeed, the entire seven-year period is likewise sometimes referred to as “Shabbos of the Years.”

Also in human life generally, the said two periods of time are discernible:

There is the period corresponding to the “Days of Creation”—the period characterized by laying the foundation for the entire life, namely, the period of Chinuch (education). It is followed by the period of “seedtime and harvest,” the adult years, when the seeds of acquired knowledge are planted and brought to fruition in the form of a good and fitting everyday life, whereby the individual carries out his plan of living, in complete harmony with G‑d’s Plan “to make” an abode for G‑d in this material world—through studying His Torah and fulfilling His Mitzvos, in the true fashion of Jewish living as it should be.

More specifically: Each good action and human intellectual activity is carried out according to a deeply thought out and preset plan as to what is to be done, how to accomplish it, and the necessary sources are mobilized for this purpose; then comes the “planting” of them in the right place and in the proper way; and then comes the good “harvest” in terms of fruits—accomplished deeds.

Similarly, also in the everyday life there are the two said periods: The day is begun, first thing in the morning, by way of preparation for the rest of the day’s activities, with prayer, Torah study, and a donation for Tzedoko [charity]. Then, guided by the light of Torah (Torah Or), the knowledge of what is right and wrong, “man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening,” both in the plain sense of ערב evening, as well as in the deeper sense of ending to perfection his activities, having made them “sweet” (erev, from the word areivus, “sweetness”), since he complied with the instruction “All your activities should be done for the sake of Heaven” and “Know Him in all your ways,” sweetening his labor and his surrounding with the knowledge of G‑dliness.

The above discussion provides also an explanation of the difference in the kind of work that is prohibited on the day of Shabbos, when all work is prohibited, as compared with the prohibition of work during the Sabbatical year, which is confined to the more strenuous work of plowing and planting, etc.

The explanation is as follows: The period of time in days, with its hallowed day of Shabbos (Shabbos-Kodesh), represents and symbolizes (as noted above) the formative period of a deeply thought out and fully prepared precise pattern of living. Hence, when preparing such a plan and blueprint, which is to serve as the very foundation for the entire “structure” of the future life, it calls for the utmost care that each detail be perfect, without injection of anything extraneous, since even a small error in the blueprint, a minor deviation of a small line, might cause a radical fault in the structure.

On the other hand, when it comes to the execution of the plan according to the precise blueprint, i.e., its actual implementation in the everyday life, it is necessary to ensure only those activities which entail more strenuous effort that might lead one to imagine that “my strength and the power of my hand has amassed me this fortune,” namely, that his Parnosso [livelihood] is due to his own prowess and initiative. And this is what the Sabbatical Year precludes, since it reminds the individual that “all the earth is Mine (G‑d’s),” and that it is the Almighty who “sustains all” and promises, “I shall command My blessing unto you.”

To sum up:

Having entered the new year, a year designated as “Shabbos unto G‑d,” which also commenced with the day of Shabbos, and since every Jew belongs to the “Wise and Understanding People,” everyone will surely realize and keep in mind that it is necessary to set up his, or her, pattern of life for each day of the week and for the entire year in the fullest accord with the spirit of Shabbos-Kodesh—both in respect of the general conduct of the home, particularly in regard to the Chinuch of the children, so that everything is imbued with pure holiness, in accordance with G‑d’s will and request: “Let them make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell with them”—within the Jewish home that is made a fitting “sanctuary” for the Divine Presence (Shechinah); as well as in respect of the environment—to do everything within one’s ability to spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit [Judaism] all around; and, as stated, to upgrade all matters of Torah and Mitzvos, over and beyond the usual rule of Maalin b’Kodesh, keeping things of holiness on the ascendancy. And follow up all this in actual practice and in full measure, since “the essential thing is the deed.”

May G‑d grant that the setting up and living up to the said pattern of life in keeping with the meaning of the Shabbos day and Shabbos year, reflecting as it does the resolve and readiness to fulfill the laws of Shemittah and Yovel and all other Divine laws connected with our Holy Land, will bring about the fulfillment of the promise: That through the “land’s favoring her Shabbos years” (i.e., complying with the laws of Shemittah), “G‑d will favor His land” and “will return the returnees of Jacob,” since “for the sake of this, Israel will be redeemed promptly,” and, as in the case with the redemption from Egypt, “G‑d will bring them into His Holy Land, to the Beis HaMikdosh [Holy Temple] which His right hand made; He will restore His Beis Hamikdosh, as the heavens, and as the earth which He founded, forever”—very soon indeed.

With esteem and with blessing for a
Chasimo uGmar Chasimo Toivo for
a good and sweet year, both materially
and spiritually.

/Signed: Menachem Schneerson/