1. When many Jews gather at a convention and their goal is to increase Torah and Yiddishkeit it is truly an important occasion.

The Previous Rebbe once quoted the Alter Rebbe in explaining the importance of a farbrengen and gathering of Jews. When our Father in heaven sees the conduct of His children, the children of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov and the daughters of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, in a loving and caring manner with peace and pleasantness, He is filled with joy, happiness and satisfaction, and automatically increases His blessings to them, qualitatively and quantitatively.

As this convention takes place over the weekend of Shabbos Mevarchim Sivan the theme of Jewish unity is even more emphasized, for, concerning Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Torah tells us:

In the third month...on the first of the month they came to the desert of Sinai...Israel camped opposite the mountain. (Shmos 19:1-2)

To which Rashi adds (loc. cit.): ‘As one man with one mind.’

The Midrash explains:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, said ‘...since the Jewish people have shown that they despise divisive strife and they love peace and have become one in their encampment, this is the hour at which I am giving the Torah to My children.’ (cf. Vayikra Rabbah 9:9)

From the time of the Exodus till their arrival at Sinai the Jewish people had camped several times. Their earlier encampments had not always been harmonious. The closer they got to Sinai the more their unity increased, so that when they finally encamped opposite the mountain they were as one man with one mind.

The ‘One Torah’ was given by the ‘One G‑d’ to the ‘One People’ in order to effect ‘oneness’ in the world. The unifying principle of existence is to make the world a dwelling place for G‑dliness. It was therefore axiomatic that the prerequisite for receiving the Torah was the attribute of unity. If the Jews must generate unity in the world they must first reveal it in themselves, one nation as one man with one mind.

Their intense attachment and unity with G‑d has given the Jewish people the power to stand as ‘one nation’ even in the ‘land’ where they are buffeted by diverse forces and even when they are occupied in worldly matters. Even then, all their actions are dedicated to loftier principles.

This brings about peace in their individual lives, peace between the holy and the profane, between Shabbos and the days of the week, between light and darkness. For the truth is that even those things which seem not to radiate outwardly with the light of holiness are also inwardly filled with the true purpose of carrying out G‑d’s will according to the ‘One Torah.’

Then the Oneness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, will be revealed in the world and we will be ‘a light unto the nations’ as the Rambam ruled:

Moshe our teacher commanded us, by Divine ordinance, to compel all human beings to accept the commandments enjoined upon the descendants of Noach. (Rambam, Laws of Kings 8:10)

Ultimately this will bring the world to be a true dwelling place for G‑dliness.

In all this, women play a vital role. The indwelling of G‑dliness in the world demanded by Torah was effected through the Tabernacle from which G‑d’s light radiated to the whole world.

Actually this indwelling comes about when individual Jews make themselves and their lives mini-Sanctuaries for the Shechinah, when everything in and about the home reveals G‑d’s unity in the world. The revelation of G‑d’s unity is precipitated by the kinetic unity of the Jewish people.

Every Jewish woman is an Akeres HaBayis, (similarly every girl will also be an Akeres HaBayis when she will marry), she is the foundation of her home and she is the essence of the home. Consequently, the mission of making the house a mini-Sanctuary rests mainly on the Jewish women and girls.

This is a reality of daily life. The husband is involved in earning a living and in matters outside the home and the woman’s involvement is with matters of the home. And even when she is involved in outside pursuits her main focus is on her home.

She seeks out wool and flax....She is like the merchant ship...She makes linens and sells them....She holds out her hand to the poor and extends her hand to the destitute....

Even while she is involved in all of these enterprises of business and charity, still:

She watches the conduct of her household.... (Mishlei 31:13 ff)

Clearly, everyone will see that this home is managed by a mother and wife whose heart is a mini-Sanctuary and who acts according to Torah. All her children and her husband, likewise, live their lives dedicated to making the home a dwelling place for G‑d.

Peace and unity reign supreme and all aspects of their lives are permeated with holiness and G‑dliness. This living example then radiates light to the whole neighborhood and even the gentiles are motivated to seek peace. Despite the strife and destruction in the rest of the world, they seek peace and unity and observe the Seven Noachide Laws, all because they see the peace and goodness in the Jewish home.

This peacefulness is also generated by lighting Shabbos and Yom Tov candles. Thus when Jewish women make their homes mini-Sanctuaries — the world will be filled with peace and G‑d will find a dwelling place in the lower worlds.

This year the theme of your convention is, ‘Make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among you,’ which underscores the role of women in making the Jewish home a dwelling place for the Shechinah. The convention further emphasizes the three pillars of Torah, prayer and charity on which the world stands, including also the mini world — man. The home must also have these pillars which will influence its power of reaching the non-Jews. For, although Torah, prayer and acts of loving kindness are all included in the role of Jews — when the Jew practices this with sincerity and Chassidic warmth he will also have the power to influence the nations. Then they will also perform the commandments given to them, the Seven Noachide Laws, including also the necessary study and charity on their part.

We thus can appreciate the special role of women in making the world a dwelling place for G‑d.

You must therefore use this opportunity to strengthen and encourage one another in all areas of action in making your individual homes mini-Sanctuaries for yourselves and examples for others.

Eventually this will influence all Jewish women to convert all the Jewish homes into Sanctuaries dedicated to G‑d and it will speed the construction of the all — encompassing Third Bais HaMikdash.

Do this diligently, wholeheartedly, for yourself and in influencing others. Do it with a smile and a pleasant countenance, with an open hand and a benevolent spirit — learn from the Holy One, Blessed be He, who helps everyone from ‘His full, open, holy and abundant hand.’

When everyone will carry out G‑d’s mission then, just as G‑d is the One ruler of the world, He will give this power of dominance to Jewish women, daughters of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah who fulfill His mission in the world and they will bring peace to the world.

Then in these final days of the galus we will merit to the realization of the blessing, ‘and I will bring peace to the land,’ the true and perfect peace — with the coming of our righteous Mashiach and then,

..nations shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Yeshayahu 2:4) For there will be neither famine nor war, neither jealousy nor strife blessings will be abundant, comforts within the reach of all.... (Rambam, Laws of Kings 12:5)

Speedily and truly in our days.

2. The Rambam has been called the ‘Guide’ for the perplexed of all generations. In the course of normal life there are times when a person is troubled by a problem or unable to make a decision for himself or regarding others. Sometimes this uncertainty will lead to inaction. In the various works of Maimonides you will find the answers to your dilemmas, and clearly, the custom of studying Rambam daily has caught on among Jews all over the world.

Because women are the foundations of their homes they do not have enough time to devote to studying three chapters of Rambam every day — they therefore study Sefer HaMitzvos. But clearly they hope for the opportunity to be able to study more on a regular basis.

Let us therefore touch upon a subject in Rambam which is in the portion studied today.

The Rambam explains a general principle concerning the honor that mitzvos deserve:

For reverence is due...to Him who had issued them, blessed be He, and had delivered us from groping in the darkness by making His commandments a lamp to straighten out the crooked places and a light to teach us the path of uprightness. And so indeed Scripture says: ‘Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Tehillim 119:105) (Rambam, Laws of Shechitah 14:16)

This leaves us a bit puzzled. The Holy One, Blessed be He, created an absolutely ‘perfect’ world. How is it possible that in such a world there should be crooked things that need to be straightened out?

The explanation is that, on the contrary, the perfect creation includes the axiom that G‑d made the world ‘to do’ (Bereishis 2:3), meaning to improve and repair. (see Bereishis Rabbah 11:6) Being the essence of goodness and wanting to bestow benevolence, He wanted every Jew the be ‘a partner with G‑d in creation.’ (Shabbos 10a) How can one attain this role? by struggling to rectify that which is crooked, then the person will appreciate all that he receives not as bread of shame, but as earned reward, as the Mishnah states it: ‘The reward is commensurate with the pain.’ (Avos 5:21)

It is the Divine service of fulfilling mitzvos — seen as ‘candles’ and ‘light’ which illuminates the path of man and rectifies the crooked ones. This is the Rambam’s intention in quoting Dovid HaMelech:

‘Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’

The order is from strength to strength, first a candle then the light; ever-increasing light. This candle illuminates ‘my feet’ the lowest part of the body, alluding to worldly enterprise. The ‘light on my path’ — a path is not a broad, paved road — yet even on the side roads and by paths of life — mitzvos bring illumination. This is because every aspect of a person’s life and activity may be transformed into a dwelling place for G‑dliness, big or small.

Both the candle and the light are generated by ‘Your word,’ the ‘words’ of the Holy One, Blessed be He, meaning that which G‑d reveals to us; this brings the illumination of the light of the mitzvos. Since mitzvos effect unity between G‑d and man the light becomes even more intense. For then, ‘G‑d will be for you as an everlasting light.’ (Yeshayahu 6:19)

Here we may glean a lesson from the Rambam for the convention. Since the mitzvah of candle lighting deals specifically with light, the responsibility for women to increase light is again emphasized, as well as their role in making a sanctuary. Furthermore, when the three pillars of the world are buttressed, both in the microcosm and the macrocosm — man and world, then G‑d’s mission is fulfilled through Torah, prayer and acts of loving-kindness.

May it be G‑d’s will that through the activities of Jewish women in making the world a Sanctuary for G‑d, and the home a mini-Sanctuary, we will merit very speedily the Third Bais HaMikdash, with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach very soon.

Our sages have told us that the synagogues and study houses of Babylon will be established in Eretz Yisrael. We will go out of the exile and take our study houses with us. So, too, the mini-Sanctuaries.

So may it be, with our youth and elders, sons and daughters we will go to greet Mashiach and we will take the synagogues and mini-Sanctuaries along. And we will come to the Holy City and the Holy of Holies.

To speed this up we must increase our charity, so we will conclude with the mitzvah of tzedakah, to give each of you a dollar and make you all agents of a mitzvah, to give this dollar to tzedakah and add some of your own.

May G‑d’s blessings be increased for each according to her/his needs and the final blessing of peace, and walking with heads held high, in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, speedily and truly in our days — Amen, so may it be.

The Previous Rebbe taught that when Jews meet close to Shavuos one should extend the salutation: ‘May you receive the Torah joyously and intrinsically.’ Then the entire year will be a year of Torah.

Since Torah is a ‘cup of blessing’ may we merit to all the blessings materially and spiritually — a blessed and good year in all aspects and especially a year of true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

A healthy and happy summer.