"The third of Tammuz is the day on which the Previous Rebbe, R. Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, was released from imprisonment in 5687 (1927), on condition that on the same day he leave for the city of Kostrama for a three-year exile. Whilst there, he was informed by the authorities on the twelfth of Tammuz (which was his birthday) that he was to be freed, and that he would receive the necessary papers the following day, the thirteenth of Tammuz.
"It would appear that from several aspects there is more reason to celebrate on the third of Tammuz than on the twelfth and thirteenth. (It is significant that Seder Olam Rabbah (ch. 11) records that it was on the third of Tammuz that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still in Gibeon. The parallel between this event and the release of my father-in-law is explained at length in a sichah of Shabbos Parshas Korach, 5718.) After all, his release on the twelfth and thirteenth of Tammuz was a liberation from exile, and the contrast between exile and liberation cannot compare with the contrast between imprisonment and freedom (even freedom within exile); for one who finds himself imprisoned has no autonomy: all his activities are dictated by the authorities. (This is especially so in the case of the Previous Rebbe, who was initially under a death sentence which could have been reinvoked as long as he was imprisoned.)
"The fact that (notwithstanding the above) the Previous Rebbe did not institute the third of Tammuz as a day of celebration, but only the twelfth and thirteenth of Tammuz, could be explained as follows: In the case of a spiritual leader (nasi) and shepherd of Israel, his entire raison d'?tre is to promote the welfare of his contemporaries and to guide them. (His 'private' affairs are incomparably less important to him.) It is true that in the course of the [ten] days that he was in Kostrama he did a great deal to buttress the observance there of Yiddishkeit. Indeed, even before he arrived there he dispatched one of his chassidim to 'to prepare houses of study in Goshen' [cf. Rashi on Bereishis 46:28]; he founded a cheder where young boys studied Torah; the local mikveh was prepared for general use; and so on. Nevertheless, since in exile his ability to benefit and guide his contemporaries was severely restricted, he did not institute the third of Tammuz as a Yom-Tov.
"One could also perhaps explain this decision in the light of the ruling of the Alter Rebbe in his Birkas HaNehenin 13:5: 'One does not recite the blessing [of HaGomel in thanksgiving for being saved from threatening circumstances] until the danger has utterly passed.' This principle would not fully apply here, since this blessing cannot be recited twice, whereas in our case [both occasions could be celebrated]. Be that as it may, lack of space precludes elaboration.
"In truth, however, the bond of souls between chassidim and Rebbe, the hiskashrus between chassidim and nasi, should bind them to every component of his being - and how much more so since in the case of a neshamah klalis, a 'comprehensive soul,' his 'private' affairs are also relevant to all Israel. Accordingly, it seems to me that [in addition to the twelfth and thirteenth of Tammuz], chassidim should celebrate the third of Tammuz as well."
- (Back to text) Cf. sichah of Shabbos Parshas Korach (third of Tammuz, 5718), [reprinted in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, p. 114ff.].