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  Prison and Reform -- A Torah ViewRabbeinu Tam Tefillin  

On Shabbos Chazon, Parshas Devarim, 5746, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita referred to the verse in the Haftorah:

Tziyon shall be redeemed with judgment and those that return to her, with righteousness. (Yeshayahu 1:27)
He elaborated:

"Judgment" and "righteousness" will bring redemption to the Jewish people. Strong emphasis must be placed on Torah study -- especially Halachah; and mitzvos -- especially charity. Yeshivah students should increase their Torah study and people involved in worldly matters should increase their tzedakah. Everyone should have a teacher who will help evaluate his/her achievements in Torah and Yiddishkeit.
In his discourse the Rebbe Shlita propounded:

The establishment of Chabad Houses is very important, where the work of increasing Torah, prayer and good deeds will be organized. Reach out to all Jews in all languages and teach them Torah.
The Rebbe urged us to:

Increase Torah, establish Chabad Houses, provide Rav/teachers and complete siyum-studies of tractates of Talmud.
May all this bring the comfort of redemption.

Although this message was directed to the period before Tishah BeAv, yet it is timely and vital for the Jewish people throughout the year.

1. Shabbos Chazon (the Shabbos before Tishah BeAv) brings to mind the epigram of R. Hillel of Paritsh in the name of R. Levi Yitzchok of Barditchov, of blessed memory, that on Shabbos Chazon "every Jew is shown the future Temple from a distance."

This adage was explained by way of a parable:

A father once made an expensive suit for his beloved son. The child was not careful and tore the garment in several places. Once again the father had a suit tailored for the child and once again the child tore it. What did the father do? He made the child a third suit but did not give it to the child. Instead, he hid the garment and on rare occasions he brought out the garment and showed it to the child. When he showed the suit to his child he said: "See here, if you will behave properly you will be given this new suit to wear." (In that manner he was training his child to act properly and to modify his nature -- after which he planned to give him the suit to wear).
In our case, seeing the future Temple from a distance heightens our longing and thirst that the image of the future Temple will come down as the actual Third Beis HaMikdash in the temporal city of Yerushalayim.

Eliminate the Cause and the Galus Disappears

This longing will engender an improvement in our conduct in all areas of Torah and mitzvos which will then nullify the cause of the galus -- and when the cause disappears the diaspora will fade away and the Holy One, Blessed be He, will actually grant us the future Temple.

Begin with increased Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity. Since the cause of the destruction and exile was unwarranted hatred and jealousy, this love and unity will weaken and neutralize the cause of galus and the redemption will come.

Being a leap year, which is referred to as a "complete year," this year we can also reach a more "complete" state of "seeing" the Temple, nullifying the galus and bringing the redemption.

Scripture gives us a specific formula for salvation in the Haftorah of Shabbos Chazon:

Tziyon shall be redeemed with judgment, and those that return to her, with righteousness. (Yeshayahu 1:27)
Redemption and return will be effected by the two acts of "judgment" and "righteousness."

"Judgment" refers to involvement in Torah, especially the Halachah segment of Torah.

"Righteousness" refers to mitzvos in general, which are often called "tzedakah." Charity (tzedakah) itself, "is equivalent to all other religious precepts combined" (B. Basra 9a).

Consequently, the study of Halachah and the observance of mitzvos, especially charity, will bring the redemption.

Study Halachah, Bring Redemption

On the subject of Halachah, the Midrash states:

All the exiles will be gathered in only through the merit of the study of Mishnah. (In those days the Mishnah represented the final halachic rulings.) What is the reason? It is said, "Yea, if they engage in the oral learning (Halachah) among the nations, I will now gather them up" (Hoshea 8:10). (Vayikra Rabbah 7:3)
On Tzedakah the Gemara says:

Great is charity for it brings the redemption closer. (B. Basra 10a)
Therefore, during the "three weeks" and specifically during the "nine days," and most specifically, following Shabbos Chazon -- the week of Tishah BeAv, it is important to increase to a greater extent, the activities of "judgment," Torah study, which deals with current matters, the Laws of the Beis HaMikdash, and to increase tzedakah beyond the usual amount.

Masters of Torah: Master Torah!

Although this directive applies to everyone, since we are dealing with Torah study and charity, it would appear that the emphasis should be divided between the two groups of Jews, Yissachar and Zevulun, "masters of Torah" and "masters of good deeds."

Masters of Good Deeds: Master Mitzvos!

Furthermore, it would seem logical that the scholars should put their efforts into increased Torah (Halachah) study, while the "masters of good deeds" should increase their performance of mitzvos and tzedakah.

Among the scholars, "masters of Torah," yeshivah students have a special role. They have no involvement in worldly matters, they do not have to worry about earning a living -- all their needs are cared for -- they must only study Torah, for it is their entire occupation. It therefore follows that the yeshivah students should be singled out as the ones who must increase their Torah study at this time, which hopefully will bring the redemption close.

Here the emphasis must be made, to study more Halachah and to direct their analytical study to practical halachic rulings.

On them also lies the onus of responsibility to study Torah for those "masters of good deeds," who support the scholars and thereby share in their Torah. Not only must the yeshivah students study for themselves, they must also study for all those who support the yeshivos.

Students of Tomchei Temimim: The Front Line

This concept is especially true for students of Tomchei Temimim. For the Previous Rebbe quoted his father, the Rebbe Rashab, that the students of Tomchei Temimim are "soldiers of the House of Dovid" whose mission it is, to sally forth to the "wars of the House of Dovid"; to reveal the light of Mashiach in the world, through disseminating the fountains to the outside, and not to be intimidated by:

They who taunt, they are Your enemies O L-rd, that they taunt the footsteps of Your anointed one [Mashiach]. (Tehillim 89:52)
This verse is followed by:

Blessed be the L-rd forevermore. Amen and amen. (Ibid.:53)
The Midrash says that this is G-d’s oath (as it were) that the wars of the House of Dovid will be victorious.

It becomes crystal clear that the additional Torah which will nullify the galus and bring Mashiach ben Dovid, is in the realm of the students of Tomchei Temimim, the soldiers of the House of Dovid, who do battle with those that "taunt the footsteps of Mashiach."

Now is the time for this increased diligence and assiduity -- to study especially the "judgment" -- Halachah of Torah. So that "Tziyon shall be redeemed with judgment."

The Call: Study Harder and Longer

It is therefore my request to all yeshivah students and especially students of Tomchei Temimim to increase their Torah study, especially in the areas of Halachah, and bring the nullification of the galus.

In the places where the "three weeks" occur during the vacation period [there should really be no vacation from Torah study], I urge the students to voluntarily gather in every location and organize increased study groups.

Test Your Mettle!

Another suggestion. It would be proper that the students take examinations from time to time to test their level of knowledge. Knowing that there will be periodic testing will increase their enthusiasm and vigor in their studies.

It would also be advisable to transmit the result of the testing in writing. This will make the students even more zealous to attain even better grades, for, "the jealousy of scribes (scholars) increases wisdom" (B. Basra 22a).

Hopefully, the first set of tests will be administered even before Tishah BeAv, when the emphasis is that "Tziyon shall be redeemed with judgment," and completed no later than the 15th of Av, which has a unique association with Torah.

As the Gemara relates:

From this day onward [the nights grow longer, and] he who increases [his knowledge through increased Torah study] will have his life prolonged. (Taanis 31a; Rashi, loc. cit.)
Having explained that the role of "redeeming" Tziyon through Torah is mainly the job of the scholars, "masters of Torah," while the "return" through tzedakah applies mainly to the "masters of good deeds," people who are involved in the more temporal aspects of life, it is, nevertheless, self-evident that both aspects of Divine service really apply (with different emphasis) to both groups. Thus the yeshivah students must also increase their tzedakah and their good deeds during this period, which also includes disseminating Torah and the wellsprings of Chassidus to the outside.

On the other hand, the worldly people, "masters of good deeds," who must mainly increase tzedakah and good deeds, should also increase their Torah study during this time. They too, should study the laws of the Beis HaMikdash.

Additional Study for the "Doers"

I therefore address this soulful request also to the "masters of good deeds," the business people, professionals and working people, that they should gather for regular additional study sessions to study Halachah, from now through the 15th of Av, and onwards.

To add an aspect of urgency to this request it would be proper also to connect this directive with the concept of "testing."

The Mishnah teaches, "Provide yourself with a teacher" (Avos 1:6). Every Jew should seek out and designate for himself/herself a teacher, a Rav whose words he will rely on. One must learn from all people, but every Jew should also have one Rav. Being biased to one’s own shortcomings one cannot rely on him/herself, so we need someone who is objective, wise and sensitive to help us evaluate our accomplishments. This must be someone whom we look up to and whose words and advice we will follow.

"Teacher, Test Me!"

Let everyone, man, woman and child therefore fulfill the words of the Mishnah: "Provide yourself with a teacher," even if it involves bother and tedious work to find him/her. We speak of a Rav-teacher, counselor or mashpia, and women and girls must also appoint for themselves "mashpios." In this way, from time to time you will visit your rabbi/mashpia and be examined and evaluated. How are you progressing in Torah study, what about tzedakah, and your general Divine service? Are you careful that all your actions should be for the sake of Heaven? This evaluation will lead to helpful and wise advice.

Knowing that you must report and be "examined" from time to time will sharpen your desire to advance even more.

This system is very important all year round and my suggestion and soulful request is to publicize this widely, so that all Jews, men, women and children will fulfill the directive of the Mishnah, "Provide yourself with a teacher," and from time to time will be "tested" in their level of Divine service. This will certainly magnify and increase all areas of holiness and goodness in an ever-increasing way.


Chabad Houses -- Spreading the Light of Torah

2. Another aspect of redemption and salvation will come about by establishing houses of prayer, houses of Torah study and houses of good deeds and charity, or, houses which will include and combine all three aspects such as the "Beis Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch -- Beis Chabad."

From these edifices the light of Torah will emanate to the world.

These houses will organize the work of Torah and mitzvos that will bring the redemption to Tziyon, which will build and reveal the Beis HaMikdash of the future.

This theme may be related to the portion of Devarim which is always read on Shabbos Chazon:

On the first of the eleventh month.... Moshe began to explain this law (Torah), (Devarim 1:3-5)
on which Rashi comments:

He explained it to them in 70 languages. (Rashi, loc. cit.)
To which the Arizal adds:

Moshe began a review of all that was taught in the first four Chumashim. (Ta’amei HaMitzvos Arizal, in the portion Haazinu)
It is the general role and purpose of the Chabad Houses to reach out to all Jews, even those who do not know the Holy Tongue, and teach them Torah in their native languages -- carefully and properly.

When we read the portion of Devarim which includes this narrative, just before Tishah BeAv, we understand that the redemption of Tziyon depends on the dissemination of the teachings of the Torah to the outside.

The Distant Temple in Close Focus

Then that distant and blurred vision of Shabbos Chazon will be complete and clear, "our eyes will behold" -- not a distant blurred vision of the Temple, but a clear, real, close and down to earth, reality.

This is all included in the interpretation of the words "Beis Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch -- Beis Chabad."

Beis -- house -- it must be settled and organized like a home.

Yosef Yitzchok -- the name of the Previous Rebbe -- the one who encourages, urges, pleads and blesses. For he was the one who paved the way for every Jew with his personal style and outlook in all three areas of Torah, avodah and good deeds; in each he fulfilled "with all your might."

Lubavitch -- symbolizes love ("luba" in Russian means ("love"). The labor of disseminating Torah and Yiddishkeit must be permeated with Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity, then the destruction and galus will evaporate.

Beis Chabad -- Chabad Houses -- all the work will be intensive, integral and essential, permeated with the powers of wisdom, understanding and knowledge (Chabad) and disseminated according to the teachings of Chabad Chassidus in a "progressive" way, with comprehension and understanding in the depth of the intellectual soul.

Practice is Essential:

  1. In the coming days increase the study of Halachah of Torah, especially laws of the Beis HaMikdash.

  2. Encourage people to provide themselves with a Rav/teacher and evaluate their level of Divine service.

  3. Do more to establish Chabad Houses.

  4. May this all be done with joy and glad hearts -- as the Shulchan Aruch directs.

  5. Efforts should be made to complete study of tractates of the Talmud and similar siyumim during the "nine days," for then festive meals may be celebrated.

May G-d grant that by accepting these resolutions it will effect the promise that "Tziyon shall be redeemed with judgment and those that return to her with righteousness." May it come speedily and immediately. Then we will have the double consolation of:

Comfort My people, comfort them, says your G-d. (Yeshayahu 40:1)
Even before Tishah BeAv, for we will now read Vaeschanan -- the Haftorah of which is -- "Comfort My people."

Then we will have the promise:

And I will restore your judges as at the first and your counselors as at the beginning, (Yeshayahu 1:26)
the great Sanhedrin, and we will merit to study Torah from the Sanhedrin and from Moshe, the first redeemer, and from Mashiach, the ultimate redeemer, for he will be a king as well as a Rav.

All this will come when we increase our good activities with joy and glad hearts, for joy pierces the boundaries of the galus. Speedily and truly in our times.


  Prison and Reform -- A Torah ViewRabbeinu Tam Tefillin  

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