On Shabbos Noach, the sixth of MarCheshvan, 5746, the Rebbe again emphasized the themes of Chabad Houses, Jewish Unity and appointing Rav/Teachers. He connected these themes with the story of the flood, and the close of the Tishrei holiday period.
During the time of the Beis HaMikdash the period of the Sukkos pilgrimage lasted till the sixth of MarCheshvan. Today, the themes and blessings of Tishrei continue into Cheshvan. Carry the holiness of Tishrei into the mundane affairs of the year; Torah must take primary importance; Chabad Houses for Torah, prayer and acts of lovingkindness should be established everywhere.
The unity of the holiday time must also be carried into the ensuing year; unity also enhances outreach. How to reach unity? "Provide yourself with a teacher" -- who will guide you and teach you.
The Chabad Houses will serve as "arks" to protect you from the raging waters of worldly problems.
The sixth day of MarCheshvan constitutes the close and conclusion of the holiday period of Tishrei.
The significance of this day is alluded to in the Mishnah:
We begin to pray for rain...on the seventh of MarCheshvan, [that is] fifteen days after the feast so that the last Israelite (who comes on pilgrimage to Yerushalayim for Sukkos) may reach the Euphrates. (Taanis 10a)
Evidently it took until the sixth of Cheshvan for the distant travelers to reach home, and so the prayer for rain was postponed until the seventh of Cheshvan, so as not to catch the travelers in the rain while they were still on the road.
For this reason the Sukkos pilgrimage was not considered complete until the sixth of Cheshvan:
For it seemed to them as if they were still in Eretz Yisrael involved in matters of the Festival. (Shach, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, 43:47)
And so, the period of the festival pilgrimage must be counted until, and include, the sixth of Cheshvan.
Although the Beis HaMikdash no longer stands -- this factor may still pertain in a commemorative way; just as the symbolism of the sacrifices continues on in the prayers we say -- so, too, can the theme of the gathering of the pilgrims continue symbolically in our times.
Moreover, in the laws of contracts we find that when someone uses the phrase "after the festival," it is to be understood as "the sixth of Cheshvan," a further reference to the extension of the festival period. Therefore, the special aspect of the sixth of Cheshvan is still emphasized even in modern times. This theme of the conclusion of the period of pilgrimage -- the Aliyah L’regel (literally -- "going up to Yerushalayim by foot,") dominates the month of Tishrei and does not fade from the scene until the sixth of Cheshvan.
In contemporary times, when we gather during the festival period, in a synagogue and House of Torah study we can again symbolically carry on the spirit of the pilgrimage and "go up" to the "state" of Yerushalayim (see Likkutei Torah, Berachah 98b). This is particularly true when the synagogue in question has some special qualities such as the synagogue of the Previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation.
So, when hundreds of "pilgrims" leave the comforts of their homes to spend the holidays of the month of Tishrei in the precincts of our Nasi -- this is analogous to the Aliyah L’regel at the time of the Beis HaMikdash.
Being that many did not rush home immediately after Sukkos but remained until this Shabbos, the sixth of Cheshvan, it lends greater emphasis to the special theme of this day.
It therefore behooves us to reiterate and emphasize the continued significance of the holidays and themes of Tishrei, the pilgrimage, and the transferal to the period of regularity, embodied in the theme of "And Yaakov went on his way."
Of primary importance are the blessings generated during Tishrei. They, too, continue after Sukkos and reach their state of completion on the day which closes the season of pilgrimage -- the sixth of Cheshvan.
Another vitally important subject to carry over into the coming month is the actual Divine service of Tishrei. The holiness of the month is obviously one of its main themes. During Tishrei everyone concentrates on matters of holiness, especially those who have left their homes. This holiness must be carried over into the Divine service of "Yaakov went on his way" throughout the year.
What does this mean?
During the year when a person is involved in worldly matters -- "weekday pursuits," there are still times when he rises above the corporeality of the material dimension and undertakes "spiritual pursuits." He then rises in a manner of Aliyah L’regel
to the Beis HaMikdash, from which he draws the power to radiate G-dly rhyme and reason on all his mundane affairs -- so that:
In all your ways acknowledge Him, (Mishlei 3:6)
Let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven. (Avos 2:12)
Although most of the day he will be involved in material, mundane affairs, nevertheless, during the time that he does set aside for learning Torah he will be so uplifted that he will create a dwelling place for G-dliness similar to the dwelling place of the Shechinah in the Tabernacle and Beis HaMikdash. When one learns Torah nothing else exists in the world.
Our sages have taught:
Make your study of the Torah a fixed habit (and your work less habitual). (Avos 1:15)
This means that even though quantitatively you may devote more time to business or work, and less time to studies, nevertheless, the Torah should be your main involvement (habit-forming). A Jew must know that Torah is his true being and essence and the source of all blessings.
This means that one must understand that the physical work only creates a conduit to bring the blessing (from Torah) to the individual:
The blessing of G-d, that makes one rich. (Mishlei 10:22)
Consequently, it would be illogical that a person should interrupt his Torah study for some mere business matter! After all, in order to bring down G-d’s blessing into the business or profession one must do it through
Similarly, in the case of prayer, when you are engrossed in prayer, you stand before the "Supreme King of kings; the Holy One, Blessed be He," in a condition aloof from corporeal matters, comparable to the state of sacrificial offerings at the Beis HaMikdash; for the prayers were established in place of the sacrifices. This must influence and permeate your entire day -- so that you become a vessel for the in-dwelling of the Shechinah. Then your tzedakah will also be enhanced, for it, too, takes the place of sacrifices.
The result will be that the influence of the Tishrei holidays will infuse the rest of the year, so that even then you will feel that your true home is in the Beis HaMikdash. Why are you out somewhere in the world involved in worldly pursuits? Well, this condition is only temporary, for a special purpose, to make a dwelling place for the name of G-d, by drawing the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash into the rest of the world. This is done by every individual in carrying out the Biblical injunction:
They shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among them, (Shemos 25:8)
just as the Beis HaMikdash radiated light all over the world. This effect will crystallize through your Divine service of Torah, prayer and good deeds -- the true pillars of the world.
More specifically, it will materialize when special houses for Torah, prayer and acts of lovingkindness will be established everywhere. Especially when they will all be imbued with the teachings of Chabad Chassidus, thereby creating a "Chabad House."
In this manner the holy light of the Beis HaMikdash will shine all over the world until we merit the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash.
It is therefore the proper time now to once again encourage and mobilize everyone concerning the establishment of such houses of Torah, prayer and good deeds in every place.
Following the elevation of the pilgrimage, the light of holiness from the Beis HaMikdash should be drawn into the whole world, and the sixth day of Cheshvan, the close of the period of pilgrimage, is the appropriate time when these powers and potentials are assumed and transmitted.
The activity in this direction must begin, however, with "First adorn yourself...." Each individual must be permeated with Torah, prayer and tzedakah, infused by the teachings of Chabad Chassidus so that his/her own home becomes a "Chabad House" by being a home for the gathering of scholars, prayer and acts of lovingkindness. Such a home will radiate the light of holiness to the whole neighborhood.
Then each of you can be part of establishing new Chabad Houses or sharing in the expansion of existing Chabad Houses.
These two aspects must actually work in tandem, for by strengthening the private "Chabad" house you also add power to the communal "Chabad House" and vice-versa.
The practice of Aliyah L’regel, also brought out the inner power of Jewish unity. This was effected by the revelation of the Shechinah in the Beis HaMikdash, which caused all Jews to unite.
All the souls disappeared as a candle held up to a torch.... When a candle is held up to a torch its light leaves the candle (is not seen independently) and it joins and is absorbed by the torch so that they unite as one. (Likkutei Torah, Berachah 98b)
This unity would spread over the entire year so that after the people returned home they still retained that condition of unity.
In contemporary times when we come to a close of a period in which the unity of the Jewish people was greatly accentuated, it is important to reiterate the need to continue this unity into the coming days.
There is a well-known adage concerning Simchas Torah and Shemini Atzeres: "Your leave-taking (parting; disunity) is very hard for Me." This means that we must work to eliminate any cause of separation among Jews, and the unity and cooperation that was experienced when they all stood before G-d should carry over into the rest of the year back home.
In relation to the other aspects of Divine service which were mentioned earlier, preventing disunity will also provide the proper atmosphere for the individual’s Divine service to prosper.
- In a personal way it will provide a framework of unity between the powers of the soul, intellect, emotions, and deed. So that through study first, followed by proper feelings, we will come to proper action.
- The involvement of the individual with the community, enhances prayer, Torah and tzedakah. But even moreso, unity enriches every aspect of a Jew’s Divine service. The Mitteler Rebbe put it this way:
When two Jews discuss some aspect of serving G-d and reach some positive conclusion you then have two G-dly souls against one animal soul [since the animal soul of one person is not interested in the negative activities of another.]
Similarly, in the Chassidic discourse Heichaltzu
there is a discussion of this subject:
When people discuss [spiritual improvement], each one proposes means of correcting [flaws], and they can jointly resolve to correct certain aspects of their behavior. A resolution reached by two or more people is more lasting than a resolution made by one person alone. (Heichaltzu, ch. 10)
The importance of unity will also be seen in outreach to others through "Chabad Houses," as we see in general communal work where unity is so important. For, when Jews gather with mutual respect, love and unity in a manner that: "They helped everyone his neighbor" (Yeshayahu 41:6), and "In a multitude of counselors there is safety (salvation)" (Mishlei 11:14), then all their actions will meet with much greater and even amazing success.
How do you strengthen unity? by carrying out the directive of the Mishnah, "Provide yourself a teacher" (Avos 1:6).
The expression: "Parting from you is very hard for Me" (Rashi, Bamidbar 29:36) has been interpreted to mean that G-d says to the Jewish people, when He sees "parting" and division among them, "[Your] parting (disunity) is very hard for Me." But there is yet another interpretation of this adage, that when Jews part and are in a state of disunity it is very hard for G-d (as it were) to do anything about it and He leaves it up to us to bring back unity. This is similar to the Talmudic dictum:
Everything is in the hands of Heaven except fear of Heaven. (G-d removes Himself, as it were, from influencing our process of free will.) (Berachos 33b)
How do we reach that unity? "Provide yourself with a teacher!" Every Jew, young and old should accept and appoint a Rav for himself/herself and accept the advice and directives of that Rav/teacher.
The wording of the Mishnaic dictum: "Provide (lit. make) yourself a teacher" is very precise.
- "Make" means to impose the rule of the Rav upon yourself (and your evil inclination); no room for choice. Rather, you must force yourself to accept the guidance of the Rav on the right path.
- "Yourself" addresses this directive to you. Do not feel you have done your duty by influencing others to find a Rav -- you must do it yourself.
- The teacher must be accepted as a Rav, whose advice must be followed just as you follow the halachic rulings of a Rav.
By following this directive it will be much easier to reach greater unity for self and others. Therefore, at this time, when we reiterate the theme of the difficulty of "separation" we must be careful of the directive to provide a teacher.
All of these subjects receive emphasis in the portion of Noach.
- In speaking of the flood the Torah informs us of the beneficent aspects of the flood. The result of the deluge was of course positive. At the beginning Rashi also reveals to us that the rain began falling in a gentle manner so that if the people should repent the rain would have become "rains of blessings." The sixth of Cheshvan was the day the pilgrims reached the farthest boundaries and immediately afterwards the prayers for rain began. This emphasizes the ultimate form of "rains of blessings" -- that no one would be inconvenienced.
- G-d commanded Noach to enter the ark. The Baal Shem Tov interpreted the term "teivah-ark," to mean the words (teivah = word) of prayer and Torah. How can a person save himself and protect his family and himself from the negative forces of the world? by "going into" the words of Torah and prayer. Since the period of travel after Sukkos does not end until the sixth of Cheshvan -- the full involvement in worldly pursuits obviously also starts at that same time. This transposition from the holiday state to the involvement in worldly matters of earning a living are compared to the "waters of the flood."
So that the transition should be safe and productive, one should enter the teivah
-- "the ark" of prayer and Torah, and become completely absorbed and immersed in matters of Torah, prayer and acts of kindness -- at least at certain set times of every day. This will carry over the attachment which he felt to G-dliness during the holidays -- into the rest of the year.
This brings back to mind the "Chabad Houses" of prayer, Torah and charity which will serve as "arks" to ward off the dangerous flood waters of the world and bring purity and cleansing to the world.
It will also evoke a renewal of creation as was the case after the deluge.
- In Noach we also read of the "generation of dispersion" -- at the Tower of Bavel. What was their power? unity. Although, they used it for an evil purpose they met with initial success because of their unity.
The Gemara also tells us about the people of the generation of Achav, who were idolatrous but waged successful wars, because they had unity. Thus, from our adversaries we can learn the power of unity and if we see that among those involved in Torah there is a lack of unity then we must take heed and correct our ways -- with unity.
Finally. Now is the time to strengthen all areas of Torah and mitzvos for the coming year, by radiating the light and potentiality of Tishrei. Draw the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash to every home and to the Chabad Houses. Increase Jewish unity and Ahavas Yisrael. Both of these will be speeded up by carrying out the directive of appointing a Rav.
May it be G-d’s will that everyone accepts these good resolutions, to be involved in all these matters with joy and glad hearts. This will increase all aspects of Divine service to the point of bursting all restrictions of the negative forces. On Shabbos the joy is greater, and in the afternoon still greater, without limitations.
Then the blessings will be generated in a benevolent manner, so that we will have a good and blessed year, materially and spiritually; and especially the blessing of redemption which will be given to us by our righteous Mashiach when he will lead us with our heads held up high. Then we will go on the pilgrimage "every Shabbos and every Rosh Chodesh" -- and we will have the actual sacrifices once again.
At which time we will see the fulfillment of the prophecy, "and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea."
That will come after the preparation brought by "Noach’s waters." But then it will be in a manner of true perfection.