This week we present a letter from the Rebbe to then Mayor of Burlington, Vermont Bernie Sanders thanking him for his proclamation in honor of the Rebbes birthday. Also this week, we present excerpts from a Chof Av Farbrengen in which the Rebbe stresses the unique power in the learning of children, and especially at this time. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
Lag B’Omer, 5743
The Honorable Bernard Sanders
City of Burlington
Burlington, Vermont 05401
Greeting and Blessing:
This is to acknowledge with thanks receipt of your official Proclamation, designating Yud Alef Nissan as a DAY OF EDUCATION.
I sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness in designating this Education day in honor of my birthday. I trust that your action will stimulate greater awareness of the vital importance of education, not only among all your worthy citizens, but also in the State of Vermont.
With prayerful wishes for success in your important and responsible position, for the prosperity of all your citizens, both materially and spiritually.
THE FOLLOWING IS A FREE ENGLISH RENDITION OF EXCERPTS FROM A RECENT PUBLIC ADDRESS BY THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE SHLIT’A, AT THE FARBREINGEN OF CHOF MENACHEM AV, 5736.
(from the archives of Nissan Mindel, NMP)
Since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh, there began a double ”Golus” (exile) for the Jewish people.
First there is the Golus of the Neshomo (soul) when it is sent down from Heaven to earth, to live in a body. Every Jew has a Divine soul which is a part of G-dliness Above. Before it comes down to earth, it is always in the presence of G-d, surrounded by pure holiness. When it comes down to earth, it becomes involved in ordinary things of the daily life, without which the body cannot exist, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. The soul itself does not need these things, for all it likes to do has to do with holy things, Torah and Mitzvos. But the soul cannot avoid the material things which the body needs, since it has to live together with the body. So what is left for the soul to do – and this is the purpose of its being sent down to earth – is to work together with the body to make holy things out of the ordinary things of the daily life, by saying a Brocho before eating, by learning Torah and doing Mitzvos. But there are all sorts of difficulties and temptations which make it difficult for the soul to have its way all the time. This is why the soul is said to be in “exile” in the body.
This Golus of the soul existed of course even while the Beis Hamikdosh stood in all it Divine glory and no outside enemy made life difficult for our people.
The second Golus was the result of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh , when our Jewish people was scattered in many parts of the world, among the nations of the world, to this day.
The nations of the world have generally not been friendly to Jews and some nations have been cruel to our people. Therefore, we need special protection so that our enemies could not be able to do us harm.
What is this special protection?
Generally, of course, the Torah and Mitzvos are our protectors, since G-d as promised that if we live by the Torah and Mitzvos , He will bless us and protect us.
But there is, in addition, a special protection which has been given us, and this is the Torah and Mitzvos of pure, innocent children. Up to the age of bar-Mitzvah and bas-Mitzvah, Jewish children are free of sin. Their Torah and MItzvos are therefore especially beloved and treasured by G-d and therefore have a special power and quality which no grown-ups have in the same measure. And so it is clearly written (in the holy Book of Tehillim): “From the mouths of infants and babes You, G-d, have founded strength… to put an end to any enemy and avenger.” (Psalms 8:3). This means that the breath of Torah learning of children has the power to overcome any and all evil forces that they should have no existence at all and indeed, even to change them form enemy to friend and ally.
For this reason, because of the power of Torah study by the pure breath of youngsters, children are not permitted to interrupt their Torah studies even for the purpose of helping to build the Beis Hamikdosh. At first glance, since the Beis Hamikdosh is the House of G-d, where the Shechinah (divine Presence) dwells and lights up the entire world, one would have thought that the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh is the most important thing in the world, more important also than the children’s learning Torah. But this is not so. For, in order to build the Beis Hakmikdosh, there must first be peace and security from all our enemies, when “the L-rd your G-d has given you rest from all your enemies.” (Deut.25:19). How can this be attained? Through the Torah study of little children which, as the Talmud (Shabbos11b) says, us greater even than the study of such great Sages as Abbaye and Rav Popo!
To accomplish this, especially in the present time, which is the ;ast stage of the long Golus, when the forces of darkness have doubled and redoubled, and on the other hand, when only the last details remain for us to speed up the true and final Geula (redemption), everyone must take part in promoting Torah-learning among children – whether they are children in age or “children” in knowledge. Everyone must also become a teacher and educator himself. Indeed, the Mishnah declares: “Who is wise? He who learns from every person.” Clearly then, every person can be a teacher and an educator.
In the remaining weeks before the beginning of the school- ear, the greatest effort must be made to insure that each and every Jewish child – boy or girl – should find himself or herself in a place filled with Torah-true, G-d-fearing atmosphere. This will surely help “to put an end to any enemy and avenger” and bring closer the true Redemption.
It should be explained to the children what great merit and what great responsibility are theirs. They should be given to understand that although their knowledge is yet limited, for they are only school-children, nevertheless they can accomplish what great Sages could not. Through their devotion to
Torah, “When you sit in your house and when you wall on the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” they can free themselves, the Shechinah, the Jewish people and their own parents from exile. Once they realize this, “the earth will split with the sound of their voice (Torah)” and the chains of the exile will be broken.
The task of the child is not to provide for his material needs – his parents do that. His task is learning Torah and conducting himself according to the Torah every day. He should be deeply impressed with the meaning and content of the general Brocho – shehako nihyah bidvoro. We he is asked, for example, about his bunk, “What is this?” he replies, “A camp bunk.” When asked further, “Where does it come from?” his answer is:”shehakol nihya bidvoro – everything comes into being by G-d’s word.” This attitude of the child inspires even adults, his father and mother, grandfather and grandmother and paves the way for the true redemption with the coming of Moshiach.