1. The Torah specifically mentions Rosh Chodesh Shevat, relating:

On the first day of the eleventh month in the fortieth year, Moshe spoke to the children of Israel regarding all that G‑d had commanded him for them.... Moshe began to explain this Torah, saying....

The Megillah states, “These days are remembered and carried out.” The AriZal explains that when a day is “remembered” properly, all the spiritual influences which were originally expressed are “carried out” again. Thus, by remembering the events of “the first day of the eleventh month,” we cause the spiritual influences of that day to be expressed again. Furthermore, based on the principle, “always advance in regard to holy matters,” we can assume that, each year, these influences are expressed on a higher level.

Based on the Alter Rebbe’s directive, “Live with the times,”1 it follows that we must learn a lesson from that narrative which is applicable to our own circumstances. Moshe’s address to the Jews was intended to prepare them to enter Eretz Yisrael.2 The opening verse of the book, “These are the words which Moshe spoke to all of Israel,” teach us an important lesson in this context.

The Hebrew word eileh, translated as “these,” refers to something which is openly revealed. Thus, “the words which Moshe spoke,” the entire Torah — all the levels of pshat, remez, drush, and sod which range from the simple meaning of the Torah until its deepest mystic secrets — must be revealed to “all of Israel,” every Jew, to prepare for the entry into Eretz Yisrael.3

Thus, each year, on Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the Moshe of each generation — and the spark of Moshe which each Jew possesses within his soul — declares that the service of receiving the Torah and the mitzvos has been completed and he is prepared to lead them into Eretz Yisrael in the true and complete redemption.

2. The above concepts are reflected in this week’s Torah portion, parshas Vaeira. The portion begins with G‑d’s reply to Moshe’s complaint, “[As of yet,] You have not saved Your nation.” In response to this complaint, G‑d promises to redeem the Jewish people. As a preface to this reply, however, He states, “I revealed Myself to the patriarchs, to Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov [in the name of] G‑d, Almighty, but My name Y‑H‑V‑H, I did not reveal to them.” Rashi explains, “I did not reveal My attribute of truth to them... I promised [to give them Eretz Yisrael], but did not fulfill.” Now G‑d states that He will immediately fulfill the promise to bring the Jews into Eretz Yisrael, after revealing to them that “I am Y‑H‑V‑H.”

Chassidic thought explains that, “I am Y‑H‑V‑H,” is associated with the revelation of the giving of the Torah. The patriarchs lived before the giving of the Torah and therefore, did not experience the full revelation of “I am Y‑H‑V‑H” which was revealed to the Jews at the giving of the Torah.

In this context, we can understand the connection between these two concepts: The promise to bring the Jews into Eretz Yisrael was not fulfilled until after the revelation of “I am Y‑H‑V‑H” at the giving of the Torah. At the giving of the Torah, the decree separating the “higher realms from the lower realms was nullified.” The nullification of this decree gives the Jews the potential to enter the land of Canaan and transform it into Eretz Yisrael. In a larger sense, this refers to our efforts to refine the entire world and transform it into Eretz Yisrael, to make it, “a dwelling for G‑d in the lower realms.”

Thus, each year when parshas Vaeira is read, G‑d’s response to Moshe’s protest is revealed. The Moshe of each generation — and the spark of Moshe in each Jew — protests (as explained in last week’s farbrengen): “From the time I have come to speak in Your name,” i.e., to fulfill Torah and mitzvos, “You have not saved Your people,” the redemption has not come.

This evokes a promise from G‑d: The Torah and mitzvos have already been revealed — indeed, each year, the revelation of Mount Sinai has been repeated for over 3300 years — and thus, the Jews have received the Torah and mitzvos in their entirety. Therefore, G‑d promises the Jews that He will immediately redeem them from exile and bring them into Eretz Yisrael.

These two concepts are reinforced when they coincide and, on a single Shabbos, the completion of the revelation of the giving of the Torah and immanence of the Messianic redemption are conveyed both by the day of the month and the weekly Torah portion.

3. To understand the above concepts in greater depth, it is necessary to understand their connection with the fact that Moshe made his address to the Jewish people in the fortieth year after their leaving Egypt. The revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai was “from above to below,” G‑d revealed Himself to the Jews. In contrast, Moshe’s address to the Jewish people was made “in his own words.” Thus, our Sages state that Moshe related the book of Devarim independently. This is not to be interpreted to mean that this book is not a revelation of G‑d’s Torah. Surely, it is. Rather, our Sages’ intent was that, in this instance, G‑d’s Torah enclothed itself within Moshe’s intellect to the point that the words he spoke were simultaneously G‑d’s and his own. This, in turn, made it possible for these words to be grasped and comprehended by the intellect of the Jewish people and, in this way, to permeate through their powers of comprehension.

The potential for this is connected with the concept of forty years, which is associated with G‑d’s granting, “A knowing heart, eyes that see, and ears that hear,” or as our Sages stated, “After forty years, a student can attain [a full grasp of] his teacher’s knowledge.”4 Thus, after the forty years in the desert when the Jews lived with the revelation of Mount Sinai, they were able to internalize it and appreciate it, not only as a revelation from above, but rather, as an aspect of their own service.

The internalization of the giving of the Torah in the fortieth year is an appropriate preparation for the Messianic redemption which is also alluded to by the number forty. Thus, our Sages explain that there is an allusion to the redemption in the final mem (numerically equivalent to forty) of the word misrah in the verse, “for the increase of the sovereignty and for peace without end.”5 Similarly, the Rambam ends the Mishneh Torah by quoting a description of the Messianic era, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover up the ocean bed.” In Hebrew, the last three words of this verse conclude with a final mem.

In particular, there is a special emphasis on the above concepts in the “eleventh month of the fortieth year,” the month of Shevat. Chassidus explains that the number eleven is connected with the inner dimensions of the level of kesser, a rung that transcends the ten sefiros, “You are one, but not in a numerical sense.”

After the service of the first ten months of the fortieth year — and in particular, after the service of the tenth month, “the tenth will be holy,” revealing the yud, the spark of G‑dliness present in every entity — we come to the eleventh month, in which the level of Kesser is revealed.6

This new phase begins with a new revelation in Torah. After reaching the completion of the quality of ten, which is associated with the quality of forty (a full expression of the four intellectual potentials), we proceed to the level of eleven, the inner dimension of Kesser.7

Similarly, the number eleven is connected with the concept of redemption and the entry into Eretz Yisrael as evidenced by the fact that Moshe began to address the Jews in the eleventh month. The revelation of the eleventh level brings about redemption from all boundaries and limitations, bringing the true and complete redemption.

[The name of the eleventh month, Shevat, is also connected with the Messianic redemption. Shevat has the same letters as the word, Shevet, which is interpreted as a reference to the Mashiach as our Sages commented on the verse, “A shevet will arise in Israel,” “This refers to the Messianic king.”]

Added emphasis on the uniqueness of the eleventh month of the fortieth year comes this year when Rosh Chodesh Shevat falls on Shabbos Vaeira. As explained above parshas Vaeira relates to the beginning of the revelation of the giving of the Torah. The full dimension of that revelation came on the “first day of the eleventh month,” when the revelation of the giving of the Torah permeated through the full range of the Jews’ conscious powers.8

The above is also related to the fact that Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos. Shabbos is connected with the weekly cycle that is dependent on the movement of the sun which is a mashpia (“a source of influence”) which reflects revelation from above. Rosh Chodesh is dependent on the daily cycle which is dependent on the movement of the moon which is a mekabel (“a recipient”), which reflects the service of man.

[In particular, both of these concepts are reflected within Rosh Chodesh itself. In describing the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month, the Rambam writes that the sanctification of the month depends on the new moon being seen by witnesses (the revelation from above) and also the calculations of the court (the service of the Jews9 and the use of their intellectual powers). Significantly, the fusion of these two influences is seen in this mitzvah, “the first mitzvah which the Jews were commanded to fulfill.”]

This year, the above concepts are given greater emphasis: The giving of the Torah is also related to the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic dimension). Thus, the Torah declares that the miracles wrought in Egypt were performed, “so that you will know that I am the L‑rd.” The mitzvah of knowing G‑d — described by the Zohar as, “the first of all commandments,” comes by studying Pnimiyus HaTorah in a manner in which all of one’s intellectual potentials are used. This, in turn, will bring about the Messianic redemption as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was told, “With your text, the Zohar, Israel... will leave exile in mercy.” Similarly, the Mashiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he will come when, “the wellsprings of your teachings spread outward.”

In particular, the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah began with the AriZal who declared that, at present, “it is a mitzvah to reveal this knowledge.” It was intensified in the year 5500, “the dawn of the sixth day” as our Sages’ state, “G‑d’s day is one thousand years” — (according to other conceptions,10 this year represents “midday on the sixth day”) — with the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus by the Baal Shem Tov.

Greater impetus came from the revelation of the teachings of Chabad by the Alter Rebbe, particularly after Yud-Tes Kislev when, “the service of spreading the wellsprings outward began.” In each subsequent generation, this service was intensified including also the unique contributions of the Previous Rebbe, the eighth of the Nesi'im (when one begins counting from the Baal Shem Tov).

In particular, the Previous Rebbe’s activity can be divided into two periods, one including the years he lived in this material world, the eighth generation as above; and one after his passing,11 the ninth generation, the final generation of exile. This will become the first generation of redemption, the tenth generation.

Thus, this Shabbos marks “the first day of the eleventh month12 in the fortieth year,” the time when we are granted, “a knowing heart, eyes that see, and ears that hear,” to “attain the [full grasp] of the teacher’s knowledge” and thus, to complete the service of the ninth generation.

The Moshe of the generation, the Previous Rebbe, declares, “You have remained on this mountain for too long.” We have completed the service required of us and any undesirable influences have been corrected through Teshuvah. Now is the time to, “Turn and head toward the mountains... Come, occupy the land which the L‑rd swore He would give to your ancestors.” We are ready to enter Eretz Yisrael in the Messianic redemption.

The above is reinforced by the unique nature of the present year, תש"נ, “a year of miracles.” Furthermore, it is — according to the two opinions mentioned above, either midday or mid-afternoon on the sixth of G‑d’s “days,” a time directly connected with the seventh day, Messianic era, “the day which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity.”

Throughout the entire exile, the Jews have believed in Mashiach and waited anxiously for his coming.13 In particular, the present exile, the exile of Edom has been extended endlessly for reasons which — seemingly — defy explanation. All the omens the Sages have mentioned in connection with Mashiach’s coming have been seen. Even in the era of the Talmud, our Sages declared, “All the appointed times for Mashiach’s coming have passed.” Similarly, in the subsequent generations, many great sages have predicted dates for Mashiach’s coming and these too have passed without Mashiach coming.

Nevertheless, our faith in Mashiach’s coming has not waned. On the contrary, we have strengthened our calls to G‑d Ad Masai — “Until when?” — and intensified our requests that He bring the redemption immediately. Thus, the present is a highly appropriate time for each individual to do what is dependent on him to bring the Messianic redemption. This involves strengthening one’s faith and that of others in Mashiach’s coming, encouraging the demands that he come, strengthening our observance of Torah and mitzvos, and in particular, spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.

Everyone should also increase his gifts to tzedakah, and — in connection with the fortieth anniversary of the Previous Rebbe’s passing — do so in multiples of forty. I will be the first to do so, promising a multiple of forty to every institution that is under the direction of the Nesi'im and dedicates itself to service in the three vectors of Torah, service, and deeds of kindness. Efforts should be made to open at least forty new institutions of this nature in the next year. Forty is not a limit. May many new institutions be opened until we reach a number of 1000 institutions, thus recalling the verse, “The least one shall be a thousand...” which is connected with the Messianic redemption as the verse continues, “I the L‑rd will hasten it in its time.”

May these gifts to tzedakah “bring close the redemption,” and may we, in the immediate future proceed “with our youths and elders, with our sons and daughters,” to Eretz Yisrael in the Messianic redemption.