83rd Birthday of the Rebbe, Yud-Aleph Nissan, 5745 (1985)

83rd Birthday of the Rebbe, Yud-Aleph Nissan, 5745 (1985)

 Email

1. The Alter Rebbe taught us the rule: “We begin with a benediction.” Why? Look into the Torah, you will see that the Torah starts with the letter “beis,” which is the initial letter of the word berachah — blessing. Thus our opening salutation tonight is:

Let him who comes be blessed with the Name of the L‑rd; we bless you from the House of the L‑rd. (Tehillim 118:26)

In this verse the first blessing is said in the singular form and the second blessing is plural. As each Jew arrives he receives the blessing of G‑d as an individual. As the individuals join together to form a community, a “kahal gadol,” the blessing is increased in quantity and quality.

And as the purpose of gathering is unity: “... and they will all form a single band to carry out your will with a perfect heart” (Amidah, Rosh Hashanah), the blessing is then bestowed in plural and in a much greater measure, the “great assemblage” (kahal gadol), engenders blessings from the aspect of “G‑d is great” (Tehillim 48:2).

This relationship of the “great assemblage” to the aspect of “G‑d is great” should be viewed through the perspective of Chassidic philosophy.

Generally when the concept of “great” is spoken of, it means to indicate the loftiness of G‑d and His infinite distance from all creation. In essence worldly matter bears no relationship to the existence of G‑d.

Of course from our perspective we fathom the greatness of G‑d only through His creations — as it says: “How great are Your works O L‑rd” (Tehillim 92:6). From creation we extrapolate the greatness of G‑d. The Rambam puts it this way:

When a person contemplates His great and wondrous works and creatures and from them obtains a glimpse of His wisdom which is incomparable and infinite ...,

all this leads one to exclaim “G‑d is great.”

But a deeper contemplation will reveal that this greatness is itself a diminution of the infinite, as it must deal with finite reality, which brings the realization that G‑d voluntarily concealed Himself in order to allow the force of tzimtzum (restriction, concealment) to make “place” for the temporal world.

Hence in relation to G‑d, the Ein Sof, (infinite) all existence is very far away.

The Torah tells us how the process of creation took place: “And G‑d said there shall be ... etc... and it was....”

The Ten Utterances which created the world were actually all included in the first word “Bereishis” — “At the beginning.” The initial point of creation was brought into being by one expression, one word. See now how insignificant all existence is in relation to G‑d!

The Alter Rebbe elaborates on this point in Tanya, Chapter 20:

When a man utters a word, this utterance in itself is as absolutely nothing even when compared only with his general “articulate soul” ... its faculty of speech, which can produce speech without limit or end; all the more so ... its faculty of thought which is the source of speech and its life-force; not to mention when it is compared with the essence and entity of the soul.”

Do you begin to fathom the greatness of G‑d?!

So why did the Holy One, Blessed be He, lower, conceal and restrict Himself, as it were, in order to create the worlds? Torah tradition teaches us: “The Holy One, Blessed be He, desired to have an abode in the lower worlds” (Tanya, chapter 36). To which we should connect a verse from Iyov: “(You) should have a desire to the work of your hands” (14:15). G‑d wants our actions to make an abode for Him in the lower worlds, and “I will dwell in their midst” — and in all creation.

The Jew can rise to the level of “great” by performing mitzvos and studying Torah. This then reveals the aspect of G‑d’s greatness.

Thus when there is an increase in the greatness of Jews — when a “great assemblage” gathers, this engenders a revelation of, and effulgence from, the greatness of G‑d; a bestowal of blessing on all existence.

This will help elucidate the difference in the source of the blessing mentioned earlier:

.. blessed with the Name of the L‑rd; we bless you from the House of the L‑rd.

Normally the blessing from above comes from the Name of G‑d. Just as a king rules by the invocation of his name, so too the rule of G‑d emanates from His Name, hence it is the source of blessing. But there is a higher level.

What is the “House of the L‑rd”? We have just explained that the true Divine service of a Jew is to provide an abode for G‑dliness in the world; then the true intrinsic greatness of G‑d will be manifest. At that point the blessing emanates from the “House of the L‑rd.”

Thus when many Jews gather with the purpose of increasing Torah and mitzvos — making an abode for the Holy One, Blessed be He, then the additional blessing invoked will descend from the “House of the L‑rd.”

Now this blessing is given in those areas which need it: children, life-health, and sustenance, and certainly G‑d bestows with a good eye — benevolently — as a father who bestows blessings on his child with true loving care.

When we gather together in the Month of Redemption, after Shabbos HaGadol, within the four days preceding Pesach, and on Tuesday, which always has the double blessing of “good for heaven and good for the creations,” the blessing which G‑d bestows will be permeated with the physical and the spiritual benevolence.

To this another point may be added: the connection to the Torah portion of the week Shemini, when Moshe noted to the Jewish people that the Shechinah would dwell in their handiwork — the Tabernacle — in a revealed way. Tuesday of Shemini emphasizes that the work we do and the G‑dly presence it causes will bring blessing in material and spiritual areas. Connected to this is the blessing of “... we bless you from the House of the L‑rd,” in each aspect of abundance in children, life and sustenance. For example, children who are healthy in body and spirit, from whom you will merit to see true nachas. Certainly, there will be no generation gap, rather a positive relationship:

And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers. (Malachi 3:24)

So that the youth and elders will be united in a great assemblage.

And yet, after attaining all of the above blessings in the fullest measure possible in galus, in a benevolent society, unhampered by difficulties and restrictions, Heaven forbid, where we are fully able to be involved in all aspects of holiness and light, without problems, we are still in Mitzrayim (Egypt). There are limitations and straits — and every day, all day, we hope for the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

Our sages assure us that we were redeemed in Nissan and the future redemption will be in Nissan. So if we increase the aspect of unity to receive an increase in G‑d’s blessings:

Bless us, our Father, all of us as one with the light of Your countenance, (Amidah, Sim Shalom)

it will include the blessing of the true redemption. As the Rambam rules, “immediately they are redeemed.”

When we proceed with our youth and elders, our sons and daughters, we become one great multitude and “return there” to our Holy Land.

It is a land constantly under G‑d your L‑rd’s scrutiny; the eyes of G‑d your L‑rd are on it all the time, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year, (Devarim 11:12)

and there to Yerushalayim the Holy City, “The great city of a mighty king” and to the Holy Mountain, the Temple Mount, and to the Bais HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary which Your hand O L‑rd, has established.” May this all be actual and immediate: “Come with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13), speedily and truly in our time.

2. There is a topic that should have been clarified a long time ago but it was thought to be self-evident. Nevertheless, since there might be a slight possibility of misconception, it should be clarified.

What is the reason for the farbrengen?

In the branches of Torah known as Mussar and Chassidus, the characteristic most negated is the trait of vanity, which is portrayed as being the source of all evil attributes.

The Rambam rules:

Under a ban be he who is proud, even in the smallest degree ... he must be shunned to the extreme.... (Laws of Ethical Conduct 2:3)

They also said that anyone who permits his heart to swell with haughtiness [it is as if he] has denied the essential principle of our religion, as it is stated: “And your heart will be proud and you will forget the L‑rd your G‑d” (Devarim 8:14). Truly shocking.

Is it possible that we would allow so many people to gather for a farbrengen associated with honoring a person? Even more shocking when it is associated with a Chassidic theme and in a holy place of prayer and Torah. In the month of redemption we should be redeemed from any negative aspect that smacks of Egypt, or Amalek — pride and vanity.

In truth however, the answer is elementary, and there really should be no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

This farbrengen is not tied to an individual or a private person, rather to the total group, and its teachings; the desires, goals, and purpose of its efforts as an ongoing 200-year-old existence. To further the work of the Chabad Chassidus movement and the general Chassidic movement, which dates back even longer.

The leaders of the movement do not constitute the central point, on the contrary, the main thing for us is the health of the movement. In fact, the leaders bear the burden, as the Talmud relates: “Do you imagine that I offer you rulership? It is servitude that I offer you” (Horayos 10a).

An example of this would be:

There is well-known adage about the joy and singing and dancing of Simchas Torah. Really the Torah itself is joyous and dances. However being that it needs legs, the Jew takes hold of the Torah scroll, with the silent prayer that he is really worthy, and he becomes the legs for the Torah.

Similarly, in other aspects of Torah, since the Torah is here in the physical world it needs Jews of flesh and blood to fulfill its directives.

So too here, there is a need for someone to endeavor, with the help of others, to carry on the golden chain of Chassidus, to effectuate all the details and to fulfill the rule that “practice is of the essence.” To bring the teachings of Chassidus into reality. In this way the purpose of providing an abode for the Holy One, Blessed be He, will be fulfilled.

In order that the Divine service of the Jewish people be successful — to create an abode for G‑d in the lower worlds — it is necessary that we have unity “all together as one.” The distinctions between the “chiefs of your tribes” and the “wood choppers and water drawers” must be eliminated so that they all blend together as one great assemblage, “kahal gadol.”

The actual Divine service, of course, is to “spread the wellsprings to the outside.” This means not just teaching but “flooding,” that it must always be clearly connected to the wellspring — the source — and that as long as there is a spot on the globe where Torah has not yet reached, we must do everything possible to spread the wellsprings out to reach that place.

Why is the unity necessary? Because when we work in unison, then the blessing of G‑d is bestowed on us: “Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, with the light of Your countenance”; most importantly in the work of spreading Yiddishkeit. In order to effect this unity it becomes necessary for someone to unite the disparate forces and individuals who by nature are independent. This person will serve in the role of “If you will be a servant to this people” (Melachim II, 12:7), and reveal the teachings of G‑d as they are given from Sinai, for “Even what a faithful disciple would in the future innovate was all communicated to Moshe on Sinai” (Megillah 19b). Certainly this includes the leaders and Nesi’im of Chabad up to and including the previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation.

In our days, being that our Nasi, the previous Rebbe, is in the “World of Truth,” he requires “arms and legs” here in the physical world to be involved in spreading his teachings and bringing them into action. To be successful it must also be organized, therefore there is someone who serves as a “servant to this people,” whose role is to organize these activities. This being the case, it makes no difference who it is — what is of the essence is to continue the activities and the Divine service of the previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation.

In “cheder” they used to tell the story of one of the truly great rabbinic leaders of Israel who served as Dayan and Rav of a major Jewish metropolis in Europe. He was small of stature and very thin. Once a group of his antagonists ganged up on him and argued, “How is it proper that a short, scrawny Jew should be the Dayan and Rav of so large and illustrious a city?” He replied to them and said, “True, short and thin am I, but the chair on which I preside is very high!”

The “theme” of the previous Rebbe — his teachings, and activities — are very great, it matters not that the one who sits on the chair is small; the chair of the Nasi — the previous Rebbe — is great!

Consequently, the fact that a reason or cause was found, to connect this farbrengen to the birthday of a certain individual, is only a secondary reason and really nonessential; it is however important and helpful in raising and expanding the “chair” — encouraging more study of Chassidus and spreading the wellsprings to the outside.

Quite naturally, to approach a Jew and say, “Come join together with us in a farbrengen where we will hear about spreading Yiddishkeit and Torah and mitzvos,” it is only natural, that if it is not connected to some special event some people may participate while others will not.

Therefore, having found a cause and reason which will motivate many Jews to gather in order to increase and strengthen the spreading of Yiddishkeit, we may utilize these reasons in the manner that our sages prescribed:

A man should always occupy himself with Torah and good deeds, though it is not for their own sake, for out of doing good deeds with an ulterior motive there comes doing good for its own sake. (Pesachim 50b)

Thus, our main goal is to increase the study of Chassidus, and the observance of mitzvos with zeal and splendor. This means doing not only the basic requirement of Halachah, but also going beyond the rule of the law, with the “measure of piety,” in Chassidic fashion.

So when we speak of the birthday of an individual, we are merely introducing an irrelevant, extrinsic aspect which will explain even to the non-Jew what is special about this day. Why are these Jews suddenly gathering together to speak of spreading Yiddishkeit to the outside? An explanation has been found and presented, and at that point it may be discarded and forgotten.

If on the other hand there had been opposition to use this reason — out of genuine humility — true, that it would have screened away the potential for pride, but on account of that much would have been lost in spreading Torah.

In such a case the story of the Mitteler Rebbe applies. He used to urge his disciples and followers to review for others, the Chassidic discourses they heard from him, at every opportunity. One of the bright young men who constantly followed this request, felt that he might grow proud by continuing this practice, so he placed his dilemma before the Mitteler Rebbe. To which the Rebbe replied: “Become an onion, but continue to repeat the Chassidus.” What did he mean? An onion cannot be eaten whole at once; it is used as a spice or condiment to lend flavor to other food — a little at a time. It is true that you might be a “spice” for others by teaching them — and even if this brings you pride — it is a worthwhile price to pay for the dissemination of Torah, Chassidus and increasing the strict observance of mitzvos.

Actually though, there was no need for any explanations for today’s farbrengen — the greatest and most important reason is that today — tens, hundreds, thousands of Jews all over the world completed learning Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, therefore we have gathered here to hold a siyum — completion celebration and to participate in a “banquet in honor of completing the Torah.”

Must we elaborate on the greatness of the Rambam? It will suffice to repeat one line which serves as the epitaph at his tomb in Tiveriah — “From Moshe to Moshe, none arose like Moshe!”

There is simply no greater praise to be said for anyone. From the days of Moshe our teacher till Moshe ben Maimon of Spain — a period of 50 generations which saw Yehoshua, Elders, Prophets, Tannaim, and Amoraim, no one reached so lofty a level to be compared to Moshe, except for Moshe ben Maimon. This approbation is attested to by the fact that all of the greatest sages of Israel have agreed with the epitaph “From Moshe to Moshe....” Scholars who have debated many other points all agreed on this. Similarly, the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah fulfilled his own prophecy that he would be accepted by small and great alike who study and respect his Halachos. Similarly, it is about Tiveriah that the Rambam writes, that the “Sanhedrin is destined to be reconvened in the future”; how appropriate that his epitaph is engraved in stone in Tiveriah.

How fitting that we should all gather on this day to celebrate this completion of Torah and rededicate ourselves to start again in learning anew the code of the Rambam.

May G‑d grant that this good action will speed the fulfillment of the promise with which the Rambam concludes his work:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d, as the waters cover the sea. (Yeshayahu 11:9)

Then everyone will increase their study of Rambam and observance of all the Torah and mitzvos, starting with the mitzvah: “To know there is a G‑d,” of which the Rambam says:

The basic principle of all principles and the pillar of all sciences is to realize that there is a First Being. (Laws ... Basic Principles of the Torah 1:1)

In other words, not only irrational faith but also belief which penetrates into the level of conscious intelligence. This is knowledge! To know:

.. that there is a First Being who brought every existing thing into being. All existing things, whether celestial, terrestrial, or belonging to an intermediate class [the smallest mosquito in the bowels of the earth] exist only through His true Existence.” (Ibid)

This of course is the same theme as the conclusion of the Rambam:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the sea. (Laws of Kings 12:5)

By studying this Torah principle it will affect the reality, as the Zohar states:

The Holy One, Blessed be He gazed into the Torah and created the world ... when people observe the Torah they sustain the world.

May it come speedily in our times, with joy and gladness of heart.

3. In the section of this week’s Torah portion — Shemini — assigned to Tuesday, we find:

Fire came forth from before G‑d and consumed the burnt offering and the choice parts on the altar. When the people saw this, they raised their voices in praise and threw themselves on their faces. (Vayikra 9:24)

It concludes:

You will also be able to render decisions for Jews in all the laws that G‑d has taught you through Moshe. (Ibid 10:11)

Let us find a connection between this narrative and the subject discussed earlier.

The last verse in the previous section of Shemini had told of Moshe and Aharon’s supplication that the Shechinah should actually come to rest on their handiwork. Scripture relates:

Moshe and Aharon went into the Communion Tent and when they came out they blessed the people. (Ibid 9:23)

Rashi explains on that verse, that seeing that after seven days of inauguration the Shechinah had still not come to rest on the Mishkan (Tabernacle), they prayed for mercy that G‑d should accept their work and reveal the Shechinah. As a result the Shechinah “came down” for the Jewish people.

It is in sequence to this narrative that the Torah tells us, “Fire came forth ... etc.” What did the revelation of the Shechinah effect? that the physical sacrifices, which included animal, vegetable and mineral were transformed and sublimated from physical existence and were enveloped in the “heavenly fire.” They became an “appealing fragrance,” of which G‑d says: “It is pleasing to Me, for I commanded and My will was done.”

It is this same theme that was introduced at the time of Matan Torah, the revelation at Sinai. Torah study had existed before Matan Torah, as the Talmud relates:

Avraham fulfilled the whole Torah even before it was given, as it says: Because Avraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My decrees and My laws. (Yoma 28)

The Gemara further relates:

From the days of our ancestors we never lacked scholars’ council (yeshivah); when they were in Egypt they had yeshivah with them. (Ibid)

Yet at that time Torah was in the form of a “radiation” from above, not influencing and permeating the physical world.

Matan Torah introduced the theme of influencing the physical reality of the world, and raising the mundane to the ethereal, exactly what the Shechinah effected when it was revealed on that momentous day, the fire of G‑d enveloped and sublimated everything.

Now we can see a relationship with the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. For it is a work of Halachah, having gathered all the rulings of the Oral Tradition, so that all the details are clear to the small as well as the great. Thus its scope includes the details of Torah which influence the world, and uplift the materialism to a higher level. This is encapsulated in the closing verse of this section: “To render decisions for the Jews ...”; to give halachic rulings, which are the content of the Rambam’s work. The verse actually states: “... all the laws that G‑d has taught you through Moshe,” meaning Moshe ben Amram, but also hinting at Moshe ben Maimon the Sephardi (from Spain), of whom it is said: “From Moshe till Moshe there arose none as great as Moshe.” One who seriously studies Mishneh Torah will truly know the whole Oral Torah.

Since we are speaking of the section of Chumash learned today it is appropriate to remind and encourage everyone of the daily study pattern established by the previous Rebbe: Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, which brings us also to the Mivtzoim:

Ahavas Yisrael, which brings to Jewish Unity, caused by Jewish self-education and education of others, which is connected to Mivtza Torah, and from that to Mivtza Tefillin which is compared to the whole Torah. Also Mivtza Mezuzah, tzedakah, and house filled with Jewish books. Also, those mitzvos especially designated for Jewish women: candle lighting, kashrus, family purity. Also, the inscription of a letter in the Sefer Torah.

And now Mivtza Pesach and Maos Chittim, which is part of Ahavas Yisrael.

Finally, to make the proper resolutions to study Rambam, and after completing the first cycle, to commence again immediately with cycle two, and thus bring double strength and the spreading of Torah to the outside.

4. On the 11th day of Nissan the portion of the Nasi which is read is the Nasi of the tribe of Asher, as we find in Shulchan Aruch HaRav: “It is customary that from Rosh Chodesh [Nissan] and onward we read daily the Torah portion of the Nasi who brought his sacrifices on that day.”

On Asher’s sacrifices the Midrash relates: Asher, then, was given his name in allusion to Israel’s redemption, as you may infer from the quotation: “And all the nations shall call you happy, for you shall be a land of delight, says the L‑rd of hosts.” (Malachi 3:12)

In allusion to this praise you may infer from the quotation: “Happy is the people whose lot is thus; happy is the people whose G‑d is the L‑rd (Tehillim 144:15), (Midrash Bamidbar 14:10).

The name Asher thus includes the meaning of happy and pleasing or pleasurable. As Leah said at his birth: “It is my happiness, young girls will consider me happy” (filled with pleasure).

Which connects this day of Asher with the completion of the Rambam, where he writes: “In that era ... all pleasures will be abundant like the sand of the earth” (Laws of Kings 12:5).

Now if all the luxuries of the world will be abundant, as the Rambam says, they will lose their value and will be equated with sand! The person will not experience delight from those pleasures. A question then arises: How will the human sense of pleasure operate at that time? Certainly if G‑d created it, it must have some function.

But the answer is, as the Rambam continues to explain: “... the one preoccupation of the whole world will be to know the L‑rd” (Ibid). In other words, the pleasure of that era will be in knowing G‑d. As Dovid HaMelech said: “To behold the pleasantness of the L‑rd” (Tehillim 27:4), and as the verse says: “Then shall you delight yourself in the L‑rd ...” (Yeshayahu 58:14).

The Rambam says that everyone’s preoccupation [“esek”] will be to know G‑d. By using the term esek [which is the word normally used for business] he means to indicate that there will be a steady profit and increase. In other words, in the pleasure of beholding G‑d there will be a steady increase, to the point of “dveikus.”‘ The Tzemach Tzedek attributes this level of dveikus to the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe once paraphrased the verse in Tehillim: “For whom shall I have in Heaven one day, and beside You I have no other desire on earth.” On this the Alter Rebbe said:

That which is beside You I don’t want, I want not physical pleasures, I want not spiritual pleasures, I want not the lower Gan Eden or the higher Gan Eden, not the world to come; I want not anything which is only beside You, I want You alone.

The Rambam alludes to this in Laws of Repentance:

It was the standard of the Patriarch Avraham whom G‑d called “My beloved,” because he served only out of love ... one’s soul shall be knit up with the love of G‑d and one should be continually enraptured by it, ... till he is continuously and thoroughly possessed by it and gives up everything else in the world for it. (Laws of Repentance 10:4-10)

If such a level is attainable in this world how much more so when Mashiach comes, when all desire will be only in G‑d.

The number eleven also has a special significance which can be related to this matter.

Normally the attributes (Sefiros) add up to ten. There is, however a case where the number eleven comes into play. This would be the level of Kodesh HaKodoshim, (Holy of Holies) or the “crown.” “You are One but not in the numerical sense” (Tikkunei Zohar, Introduction II), meaning not in the normal order of ten, rather eleven!

We would associate the eleventh level with the Divine service of baalei teshuvah, who reach above the system of development of the worlds, where even tzaddikim don’t stand.

Chassidus teaches us that in the future G‑d will cause the tzaddikim to rise to the level of teshuvah, thus, then, all will reach to the same level of eleven!

Which also connects all these thoughts with the theme of today’s Torah reading where we are told that Moshe and Aharon entered the Communion Tent to burn the incense and then the Shechinah came to rest in the Tabernacle.

The incense was composed of eleven different spices and symbolized the aspect of teshuvah, which brings the revelation of: “You are one but not in the numerical sense” (above the Ten Sefiros).

May it be the will of Heaven that by speaking of Torah study and observance of mitzvos, especially teshuvah, we will merit very soon to fulfill the “... command of Your will,” [the sacrifices etc.] and effect the supernal satisfaction “... that I gave commands and that My will was executed” (Rashi, Vayikra 1:9), which is the supernal pleasure of the Creator.

Being that the Jewish people and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are united in a special unity, then the pleasure of G‑d is our pleasure and since we are as G‑d’s firstborn, then our pleasure is G‑d’s pleasure.

And as the Halachah follows the ruling of the sages in the material world, when we say “Mashiach Now” it has to be effected, and it must come true now, without any delays! Truly and actually, speedily in our time.

5. When we speak of the legacy of the great sages of old, in addition to the knowledge we garner from their written works there is also much to be gleaned from studying their biographies and their talks, customs and lifestyles. As the Talmud tells us: “From the casual conversation of R. Gamliel we have learned ...” and “... even the casual conversation of scholars demands study.” How much more so, can we learn from their actions and regular activities.

From the life story of the Rambam we may learn much in the way of actual Halachah, “guidance,” for the perplexed, and we may also observe the real, down to earth, application of his teachings.

First, what special matters do we find in his Code? In the Rambam’s Code there are two special, unique and overwhelming aspects which are important to note and which single his work out among all the other codifiers. The first is the fact that Rambam includes all the laws of the Torah in his Code, including the laws of the Bais HaMikdash and even the laws of Mashiach. The second is the fact that Rambam teaches us and gives the Halachic details of the Seven Noachide Laws, introducing them by stating:

Moreover Moshe, our teacher, was commanded by G‑d to compel all human beings to accept the commandments enjoined upon the descendants of Noach.... A heathen who accepts the Seven Commandments and observes them scrupulously is a “righteous heathen” and will have a portion in the world to come. (Laws of Kings and Wars 8:10-11)

This concept of course is a bit revolutionary, for there are those who disagree, yet the Rambam includes the gentile nations in his Code and teaches us how to deal with them and speaks of their reward!

Of course this opinion is also found hinted at in the Torah: “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen ...” (Yeshayahu 11:5), or as the Rambam brings at the end of the Laws of Kings that Mashiach:

.. prevails upon Israel to walk in the ways of the Torah and repair its breaches, and fights the battles of the L‑rd ... rebuilds the Sanctuary on its site and gathers the dispersed by Israel.... He will prepare the whole world to serve the L‑rd with one accord, as it is written: “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the L‑rd , to serve Him with one consent” (Tzephaniah 3:9). (Code, Laws of Kings 11:4)

Just as it is the responsibility of a Jew today to see that the world is civilized and G‑d-fearing, so too will Mashiach bring the perfection, that all the nations will “... serve G‑d with one consent.”

This we find in the Code.

Similarly, in his daily life we find his regular custom was to assist all people, Jews and non-Jews alike.

There is the well-known letter of the Rambam in which he describes his difficult daily schedule and he writes:

[after returning home from his daily visit to the Sultan’s palace] ... I find all the foyers and waiting rooms filled with people, non-Jews and Jews are there ... I then go out to treat them, to write prescriptions and medical advice to heal their sickness ... till late at night ... and I reach a state of utter weakness and exhaustion....

In the Rambam’s daily lifestyle, which serves as a living example for us, how we are to help those who need our help, he shows us that it must be done without consideration for the difficulty of the service, to the point of self-sacrifice. For the Rambam set aside many hours every day for helping others, without being concerned for his own well-being.

Therefore, in addition to learning in the Code of Maimonides how one must act to improve the world and civilization we also learn a lesson from the Rambam’s personal daily activity, that he toiled and dedicated his life to helping everyone, Jews and gentiles, dealing with the most basic of all assistance, their health.

When people will gather to celebrate the siyum — completion of the Rambam — it is appropriate that this lesson shall also be taught. We must improve the world and the level of civilization, by teaching the heathen the Seven Noachide Laws — and in our personal lives we must extend help to all, wherever and whenever we can.

Another subject which should be mentioned at this point.

Our duty to “compel all human beings to accept the commandments enjoined upon the descendants of Noach,” does not mean that we are supposed to convert gentiles to Judaism. On the contrary even when a non-Jew expresses his desire to convert we try to dissuade him from doing so.

It goes without saying, that to fool a gentile (and thereby his offspring) and tell him that by a meaningless ceremony he will become a Jew, with the full knowledge that this is against Halachah — certainly this is against the will of G‑d and has no validity. This matter is not subject to opinions or parties or interpretations. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: “All souls are mine,” and when G‑d places a soul in the newborn child no human has the right to say that although G‑d gave you the soul of a non-Jew I will give you a document which says your soul is Jewish! Because of the “ceremony.”

And those who carry out this falsehood really know the truth, that it is worthless, but their evil inclination gets the better of them, and they perpetuate an immeasurable falsehood. How so? because all the children and grandchildren of this person will not be Jewish — and even if and when they will want to correct the problem it will be too difficult to locate all the misguided souls!

They are causing damage to those gentiles for they will live a constant lie, thinking themselves to be Jews, when everyone knows that the ceremony was worthless!

Instead of adding another Jew, they are adding another Jew-hater, for the goy will finally be told that his “conversion” was a farce. And instead of improving our relations with the nations of the world — whose cooperation we need now — we will be bringing upon ourselves hatred and derision from the gentile nations.

Why does this happen? Since there are Jews who stand in permanent servitude to the gentile world, they think that by defrauding a goy and making him a Jew their fear of the gentile world will be dissipated.

Falsehood cannot stand and as the moment passes it is lost: “But a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Mishlei 12:19).

And this brings us to the importance of organizing programs in honor of the Rambam even among non-Jews.

As we see that Morocco, Spain, Egypt and the U.N. have designated times and activities to honor the Rambam, recognizing him as the Great Codifier and Prince of the Jews — being that he was appointed as Nasi over the Jewish community in Egypt, etc.

Thus it is important to encourage non-Jews to honor the 850th birthday of the Rambam. It should be stressed that the Rambam cared for everyone, Jew and non-Jew alike, so that in his Code he presented the Laws for them (Seven Noachide Laws), and in his daily life he extended a caring and helping hand for all.

This will increase the knowledge of the Rambam in the world and will bring an improvement in the civilization of the world. All efforts should be expended to organize meetings and celebrations among the nations of the world to honor the Rambam. Similarly, the issuing of postage stamps with the Rambam’s name or likeness is likewise a form of honor for the Rambam and will spread the teachings of the Rambam and the improvement of civilization in the world.

As we have seen in the city of Fez in Morocco, where the home of the Rambam still stands, that through proper requests the government permitted a siyum to be conducted in the Rambam’s house, with the participation of ten Jews and the study of his works, so that even some of the “mashke” from that gathering has been brought here.

Through all this work, of teaching the laws of Noach to the nations of the world, which is a preparation for the work of Mashiach, may we merit the ultimate and complete goal of perfecting the world with the fulfillment of the promise: “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the L‑rd to serve Him with one consent.”

A free translation from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. The content on this page is provided by our content partner, Chabad.org. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Browse Book
Translated excerpts of talks delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, at his periodic public addresses.
About the Publisher
Sichos In English
Sichos in English has published hundreds of volumes of Chassidic books on Chassidism and its way of life. They can be reached by writing Sichos In English 788 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11213 or calling 718.778.5436.
Related Topics

Cheshvan Bestsellers

  • A Knowing Heart.jpg A Knowing Heart.jpg Mazal Tov.jpg
  • A Knowing Heart.jpg A Knowing Heart.jpg Mazal Tov.jpg
  • A Knowing Heart.jpg A Knowing Heart.jpg Mazal Tov.jpg

GET Updates

support our work