Every chassid has sichos which he remembers, for that talk contained an insight which he personally felt close to.
There are, however, certain sichos which stand out in the mind of the entire community, for they contained clear statements of the goals and directives the Rebbe set for all of us.
One of those sichos, that of Shabbos Parshas Shoftim, 5751, serves as the basis for the essay that follows.
There is no substitute for learning the entire sichah - in its original if possible, or at least in a full translation. 
What we have attempted to do in this adaptation is to mirror the process described in the sichah.
To complement the words of "our Rabbis, our kings"  with the communication skills of advisers, albeit those on a far lesser level than the ones described in the sichah.
It is our hope that the shortcomings of this adaptation will not obscure the message clearly proclaimed in the sichah: that "the time for Redemption has come,"  that Mashiach's coming is not a dream of the distant future, but rather a potential to be realized in the immediate present.
May every member of our people merit a kesivah vachasimah tovah in the year to come with abundant blessings in both the material and spiritual spheres. And may this year include the ultimate blessing, the coming of Mashiach and the fulfillment of the prophecy,  "And those who repose in the dust will arise and sing."
3 Elul, 5754
- (Back to text) See Sichos In English, Vol. 49, p. 171ff.
- (Back to text) Cf. Gittin 62a.
- (Back to text) Cf. Yalkut Shimoni, Vol. II, sec. 499, commenting on Yeshayahu 60:1.
- (Back to text) Isaiah 26:19.
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 213;
Sefer HaSichos 5749, p. 666;
Sefer HaSichos 5751, p. 780ff
Ever since his creation, man has felt the need to search for truth.
Simultaneously, however, he has also faced the bounds of his own subjectivity and the awareness that the insights he discovers are limited in scope.
By giving the Torah, G-d provided mankind with an absolute standard of truth.
In contrast to our subjective insights, the Torah gives us objective values, guidelines and principles that are eternally applicable, in all situations and in every place.
What is man's responsibility?
To subject himself and his surroundings to scrutiny and to determine what is the appropriate path of conduct prescribed by the Torah.
And then, he should act upon that judgment and endeavor to modify his life and environment accordingly.
In this way, he elevates himself and his surroundings, lifting them into a connection with G-d that transcends human conceptions of good.
These concepts are reflected in the name of this week's Torah reading, Shoftim, "judges," and its opening verse: 
"Appoint judges and officers at all your gates."
Placing the judges at the gates of a city reflects a quest that every element of the city's functioning conform to the objective standard of Torah law.
The judges will convey the Torah's dictates, and the officers will take the necessary steps to ensure that these directives are actually applied.
In this vein, the Rambam  uses this verse as the prooftext for the commandment to appoint judges and police in every city in Eretz Yisrael.
In an extended sense, the verse also serves as a lesson that each person must act as a judge and an officer in his own home, structuring his home according to the Torah's standards.
This concept is further amplified by the interpretation  of "your gates" as referring to our sensory organs, our eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
These organs serve as the "gates" through which we take in information from the outside environment and respond to it.
We are enjoined to "appoint judges" at these gates, so that our perception will be permeated by the guidance of the Torah.
Moreover, the Torah uses the singular form of the word "your gates," "She'arecha", implying that these efforts are incumbent upon every single individual.
Every person is "a city in microcosm,"  who should "appoint judges and officers" to control the varied expressions of his personality.
The judges within our communities - and similarly, the judging aspects of our personality - are not expected to be introverted.
On the contrary, our Sages state  that a judge must "gird his loins with bands of steel, lift his robes above his knees, and traverse from city to city... to teach the Jewish people." Nevertheless, this thrust toward outreach contains an intrinsic drawback.
What is a judge's authority?
The objective standard dictated by the Torah.
And since the Torah is fundamentally above mortal intellect, people may have a difficulty relating to the directives a judge delivers.
Even when they acknowledge the truth of these directives and recognize that they should be obeyed, there still may be a gap between this recognition and their own understanding.
And this gap may prevent those directives from being applied. There are two ways to resolve this difficulty.
The first is mentioned in the verse cited above: the appointment of enforcement officers, people who will compel others  to carry out the judges' rulings. 
There is, however, a shortcoming inherent to this approach.
For although enforced compliance to the Torah's standards ensures just conduct in the world at large, the person compelled to observe remains unrefined. He has been forced to conform to the Torah's standard, but that conformity is external and not part of his inner being.
A more comprehensive approach is suggested by a verse from Isaiah describing the Era of the Redemption, 
"And I will return your judges as in former times, and your advisers as at the beginning."
This implies that the standards which the judges dictate will be complemented by the communication gifts of "advisers."
An adviser does not issue mandates. Instead, as the name implies, he offers good constructive suggestions.
He is more or less on the same level as the person he advises, and speaks to him as a good friend, with whom he shares a commonalty.
The listener feels comfortable in hearing this advice and accepts it, not on faith, but with the understanding that it will benefit him.
When the "advisers" share and explain the rulings delivered by the judges, the dictates of the Torah which transcend mortal understanding permeate that realm, changing not only a person's conduct, but also his character.
The difference between these two roles can be illustrated by a comparison of the function of a judge with that of a prophet - a subject which is also mentioned in this week's Torah reading.
In the Introduction to his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam explains two functions which a prophet serves:
- to urge the people to observe the Torah and its mitzvos, as the prophet Malachi called out:  "Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant;"
- to give advice regarding conduct in worldly matters.
"G-d granted us prophets in the place of astrologers, sorcerers, and diviners, so that we can ask them matters of a general nature, and those of a particular nature."
In this vein, King Shaul went to the prophet Shmuel to enquire about his father's donkeys. 
With regard to the determination of Torah law, the Rambam continues:
The Holy One, blessed be He, did not permit us to learn from the prophets, but rather from the Sages... It does not say: "And you will come to the prophet who will be in that age," but rather "And you will come to... the judge who will be in that age." 
Here we see a pattern resembling the one described above.
The Sages and judges teach the dictates of Torah law, prescribing norms of conduct. And the prophets convey G-d's word to people on a level more closely related to their ordinary experience, encouraging them to make G-dliness a part of their daily lives.
To emphasize the importance of prophecy, the Rambam states: 
"One of the fundamentals of [our] faith is to know that G-d sends His prophecies through people."
Since this is a "fundamental of faith," we can understand that it applies at all times.
Our Sages state  "that from the time the later prophets, Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi died, the spirit of prophecy departed from Israel."
Nevertheless, the word "departed" does not mean that it was abolished completely. The spirit of prophecy did not cease, but rather ascended to a higher plane.
Indeed, even after the era of the Biblical prophets, the spirit of prophecy permeated many people.
For this reason, in the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam includes a lengthy discussion of the subject of prophecy,  without mentioning the cessation of prophecy, or that the spirit of prophecy can flourish only in a specific time.
And in his Iggeres Taimon, the Rambam speaks about several prophets in his own time. 
These are not subjects for history texts, but rather concepts particularly relevant to the present time.
As a foretaste of the fulfillment of the prophecy: "And I will return your judges as in former times, and your advisers as at the beginning," in the age before Mashiach's coming, we have been granted judges and prophets  to provide us with direction and guidance. 
And often these qualities have been personified in a single individual,  as manifest in the Nesiim of Chabad until the present age. 
These leaders have, like judges, given us a directive regarding the nature of the present time: to borrow an expression of the Previous Rebbe,  "all the buttons have been polished," and we are in the final moments before the Ultimate Redemption. And like advisers, they have provided us with the insight to anticipate the Redemption in our lives, and prepare a setting for this spirit to spread throughout the world at large.
[For additional insight to this see Toras Menachem # 7]
- (Back to text) Deuteronomy 16:18.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaMitzvos, positive commandment 177; Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Sanhedrin 1:1.
- (Back to text) Sifsei Cohen to Deuteronomy, loc. cit.; Or HaTorah, Shoftim, p. 822.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, ch. 9, et al.
- (Back to text) Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, ch. 11.
- (Back to text) Similarly, within one's own personality, there are times when a person must enforce the law, even when it runs contrary to his natural tendencies and/or his understanding.
- (Back to text) This indicates that there is no independent purpose to having officers, the object is merely to supplement the judges' power. The officers are given "a rod and a lash" to enforce the rulings the judges deliver. As such, the appointment of officers is not counted as an individual mitzvah in the reckoning of 613 mitzvos. Instead, it is included as part of the mitzvah to appoint judges.
- (Back to text) Isaiah 1:26. A similar expression is used in the weekday prayers (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 55): "Return our judges as in former times, and our advisers as at the beginning."
Significantly, in neither of these sources is reference made to officers. In that era, "the spirit of evil will be removed from the earth (Zechariah 13:2)," and there will be no need to compel people to accept the Torah's laws. Even in that era, however, the gentle encouragement provided by advisers will serve a purpose.
- (Back to text) Malachi 3:22.
- (Back to text) I Samuel 3:20. In his Introduction to the Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam also mentions a third function of the prophets: to convey commandments from G-d relevant to the immediate situation of the time: e.g., Elisha's command to Yehoram not to slay the soldiers of Aram he brought to Shomron (II Kings 6:22), or the command for the Jews not to return to Eretz Yisrael until the conclusion of the seventy years of the Babylonian exile (Jeremiah 29:4-10).
- (Back to text) Deuteronomy 17:9 (in the continuation of our Torah reading).
In this vein, the Torah commandment [Deuteronomy 18:15 (also in the continuation of our Torah reading)]: "G-d will set up for you a prophet from your midst, from your brothers, like me, and you shall hearken to him," must be understood as applying to the particular directives a prophet conveys and not to the determination of Torah law.
- (Back to text) Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 7:1.
- (Back to text) Yoma 9b.
- (Back to text) Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, ch. 7-10.
- (Back to text) A discussion of the potential for prophecy in the present era is also found in Shaar HaKedushah (authored by Rav Chayim Vital), sec. 3, ch. 7, and Rav Reuven Margolios in his introduction to Responsa From Heaven.
- (Back to text) Note the Rambam's statements in Iggeres Taimon that "as a preparatory step for Mashiach's coming... prophecy will return to Israel."
- (Back to text) See also the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 1:3) which states that the prophecy of this verse will be fulfilled in the era immediately before Mashiach's coming, even before the Era of the Redemption.
- (Back to text) As they will be in the person of Mashiach who will be "a great prophet, approaching the level of Moshe" (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2) and also the supreme teacher of Torah law, teaching even Moshe and the forefathers (Tanchuma, Toldos sec. 14; Sefer HaMaamarim 5730, p. 210).
- (Back to text) And the Nesiim have also served as "advisers" providing counsel with regard to both spiritual and material concerns.
- (Back to text) Sichos Simchas Torah, 5689.