1. When Jews take leave of each other the Holy One, Blessed be He, exclaims:

It is so hard for Me to part with you [lit. to see you travel apart]. (Rashi, Vayikra 23:36)

It follows that the same emotions are felt by Jews themselves when it comes to taking leave of one another. They, too, experience the feeling that “It is hard for me to part with you.”

This emotion is heightened when the leave-taking occurs at the end of the month of Tishrei. After all, the concept of difficult separations is referred to in the Torah regarding Shemini Atzeres, the last of the Tishrei holidays:

On the eighth day...to hold back...it is similar to the case of a king who invited his children to a banquet for a certain number of days, when the time arrived for them to take their departure he said, “Children, I beg of you, stay one more day with me; it is so hard for me to part with you.” (Ibid.)

Parting is so sorrowful and difficult when it follows a period of strong unity.

The month of Tishrei accentuates Jewish unity. The month begins with Rosh Hashanah, the “head” of the year, which is referred to in the verse:

Today you are all standing before G‑d your L‑rd. (Devarim 29:9)

Despite the different classes and categories of Jews, from the leaders of the tribes to the water carriers, they all stand together as one. The emphasis is clearly on unity, and from the beginning of the month this theme of unity carries through the ensuing days and holidays, becoming stronger through the month and affecting more details of life.

It is then, after the theme of unity has infused all the days of the month, through Sukkos, and all the varied facets of life, that the Holy One, Blessed be He, says, “It is hard for Me to see you part.”

How can something be “hard” for G‑d? And if it is “hard,” then let G‑d eliminate the parting!?

This may be compared analogically to the Talmudic adage “As hard as splitting the sea” (Pesachim 118a). How is this understood?

For whatever reason, G‑d wanted the world to function according to certain rules and laws; the sea is fluid and flows, it does not solidify and split! Having established such a rule in corporeal existence, any change in the nature of the world is considered “difficult.”

In our case, G‑d wanted all Jews to be unified and together in one place. And although their minds are different and distinct, His wish is that they should share a common desire and will, focused on G‑d Himself, and that this desire should penetrate the many different minds and unify them all.

Having desired this unity, any change will be “hard” for G‑d and cause disappointment Above. But who or what forces G‑d to allow the separation? — back to the splitting of the sea. Chassidus explains that it was necessary to split the sea as a preparation for Matan Torah. Just as the enslavement in Egypt and the subsequent Exodus served as preparation for Matan Torah, the sea also had to split in preparation for Torah study. For this reason we must also remember the splitting of the sea every day, along with the Exodus (see Tosefta, Berachos ch. 2).

Similarly here, in order that the Torah shall penetrate every place there must be parting and traveling to distant places, for then the Torah is carried to the distant corners of the globe. The end result, however, will be: “G‑d will gather you from there.” (See Devarim 30:5) This is the theme of “and Yaakov continued on his way.” (Bereishis 32:2)

Now we know that this dispersion is “hard” for G‑d and for this reason G‑d says: “Stay with Me one more day.” Take another day to absorb the influence of Sukkos, when “one ox and one ram” will be sacrificed — a reemphasis of the theme of unity — which gives us the potential to carry this unity with us even after the dispersion.

This Tishrei experience influences the entire year, so that whenever Jews gather with the good intentions of strengthening Yiddishkeit and spreading the wellsprings of Torah, and they subsequently disperse to actually do these activities, then the unity goes along with each person to his/her place.

This year-round potential is emphasized specifically at the end of Tishrei. There are, after all, several levels in this role of “Yaakov continued on his way” going into the activities of the weekday world: After Yom Kippur, after Simchas Torah, after Shabbos Bereishis and then at the close of the month Tishrei. In each case there is movement away from the more aloof activities of holiness and holy days — to the mundane affairs of the world. It is therefore only when we enter the month of MarCheshvan that we fully immerse ourselves in the full gamut of worldly affairs. It is then that “Yaakov” actually gets under way. The ultimate goal of this travel is to disperse and carry the wellsprings of Torah to the outside world. The world outside will not evaporate, and you cannot fulfill Torah in Gan Eden, but the fountain can still reach the outside and spreads its influence.

Thus “Yaakov” symbolizes the Jew who is immersed in matters of the Eikev, the lowly heel, (going out) and it is there that the Jew follows his path and way of Torah life in all aspects of living; using the physical world to serve G‑d (Tefillin are made of simple physical leather) and modifying all behavior to conform to the guidelines of Torah.

This “going out” begins in the month of MarCheshvan and it is then that G‑d is truly “upset” about our dispersion, and at the same time bestows upon us the potential to carry out our mission and bring unity into the dispersion.

Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan is always two days, the first day is the final day of Tishrei and the second day of Rosh Chodesh is the first day of MarCheshvan; the night between the days bridges the two and carries the unity of Tishrei into MarCheshvan, and subsequently to the whole year. By gathering at a farbrengen on this night we emphasize the theme of unity in separation.

In the darkness one cannot discern the true nature of something. Even the unity of “one nation in the land” is lost. When we use the night to press the theme of unity, by gathering Jews prior to leave-taking on the connecting night of Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan, we then have a condition of “the night shines as the day.” This gives us the power to carry this unity with us even after we separate and go our different ways.

It is therefore appropriate to gather for a farbrengen at this juncture of Tishrei and MarCheshvan before taking leave of one another — to emphasize once again the importance of unity. Our dispersal will only be superficial, and in fact, its goal will be to effect greater unity. For although the separation will be real it will also contain the goal of spreading the wellsprings to those far outside places, thereby accentuating unity once again.

May it be the will of the Almighty that there be great success in all matters which cause you to take leave — spreading Yiddishkeit, starting with the Mivtzoim as general categories and continuing with all the details of Torah. Until it permeates all aspects of your daily lives as defined by the code of Jewish law and the Chassidic writings of the Rebbes, which apply to action, and beyond the minimum requirement of the basic rule, “You shall do that which is proper and good.” (Devarim 6:18) And especially those who have had the opportunity to visit the Tzion (graveside) of the Previous Rebbe and those who have studied his teachings and who follow his ways.

May this all be accomplished with joy, comfort and graciousness and may G‑d eliminate all problems and confusion so that we can fulfill all aspects of our Divine service with comfort and ease, joy and glad hearts. And may we speedily merit the promise:

Then shall the offering of Yehudah and Yerushalayim be pleasing to the L‑rd, as in the days of old and as in bygone years. (Malachi 3:4)

Through the true and complete redemption of our righteous Mashiach — with comfort and ease, joy and gladness. “In ease and rest shall you be saved.” (Yeshayahu 30:15)

2. Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan is always two days. Basically Rosh Chodesh should only be one day. In ancient times the Rosh Chodesh was stretched to two days in the unusual occurrence that the witnesses of the new moon did not reach the Bais Din in time. In that case the Rosh Chodesh was extended to two days — and therefore it represented a form of indecision.

Thus, a two-day Rosh Chodesh would seem to symbolize a negative aspect. Just as in the case of the second day of Yom Tov observed in the diaspora, which Chassidus explains represents a weakness, that the spiritual revelations of the holiday can be absorbed in Eretz Yisrael in one day, but need two-days in the exile. Similarly, regarding Rosh Chodesh, a two day Rosh Chodesh would represent the same weakness.

Since the second day in both cases is connected with a situation of uncertainty, it introduces another aspect of weakness. Everything associated with G‑dliness should always be certain and sure, if something is unsure it probably lacks holiness. Why, the word safek — uncertainty — has the same gematria (numerical equivalent) as Amalek! (The arch-enemy of the Jewish people who must be eradicated.)

Yet, at the same time we may discern a loftier quality — following the rule that every descent needs an ascent — the weakness of uncertainty will engender a greater quality.

Chassidus explains that the source of temporal unsurety is in a higher supernal level — even above the source of certainty. Thus, for example, it is commonly accepted that the quality of the Jewish people supersedes all else because they study Torah and observe mitzvos and even “the wicked are filled with mitzvos as a pomegranate is filled with seeds.” Yet the Midrash tells us that there is another level Above, where: “I still might notknow in which of these He delights.” (Bereishis Rabbah II:5)

On that level, G‑d’s choice of the Jewish people stems from pure free choice — not because of Torah study but — the free will of the Ein Sof.

In a like manner we may say that the uncertainty of the two-day Rosh Chodesh stems from a lofty supernal state.

This can be explained in simple terms. Rosh Chodesh is not a holiday, yet it does incorporate several aspects similar to holidays. We recite Mussaf and we do not say the penitential prayers — forgiveness is attained by the special qualities of the day itself.

Another important point. Women refrain from certain creative work on Rosh Chodesh. They were given this semi-holiday as reward for not contributing to the golden calf. Thus men are engaged in their work just like any other weekday — while women celebrate a partial rest on Rosh Chodesh.

In this case we may see the special quality of a two day Rosh Chodesh — we say Mussaf on two days — and the women celebrate two days, etc. And although as with Yom Tov — both days count as one, regarding the reward for observance, at the same time the opportunity to say an additional Mussaf Amidah is something of really great value.

If so, the question now facing us is: How can we lose these important factors when Rosh Chodesh is only one day?!

We must therefore deduce that the substance and context of a two-day Rosh Chodesh is also available in a one day Rosh Chodesh. Although we only say Mussaf once, nevertheless, it carries a sampling of the double Rosh Chodesh. The Zohar says: “There are two heads to every month.” Chassidus goes on to explain that the “birth” of the new moon represents a new union of sun and moon and that the two heads referred to in the Zohar are associated with the two days of Rosh Chodesh, and even when Rosh Chodesh is only one day the “two heads” are present but not revealed.

In the Divine service of every Jew the sun represents Torah and mitzvos, things which are never diminished, and each mitzvah carries infinite spirituality, which is only limited by the physical ramifications of the mitzvah.

The moon, however, symbolizes those things which diminish — worldly matters which need the revelation of the true G‑dly light.

Since the purpose of creation is for the Jews to observe the Torah — all worldly matters must also conform to Torah. On Rosh Chodesh of the month of MarCheshvan we see these two aspects very clearly — Tishrei is the month filled with holy days — and in Cheshvan we begin dealing with mundane matters. Thus, on the first day of Rosh Chodesh, in Tishrei, you deal mostly with Torah and mitzvos — the sun. In Cheshvan you deal with mundane matters — the moon.

The unification of sun and moon which occurs each Rosh Chodesh is especially pertinent on Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan which leads to the Divine service of the entire year.

The Zohar says that these two aspects are also represented by Yaakov — “face of the sun” — and Yosef, the ruler of temporal matters — the moon.

In our generation the (first name of the) Nasi of our generation, Yosef, revealed all the teachings of the earlier leaders down to the level of the lowly, restricted galus. Even in Mitzrayim there can emerge the enthusiasm of spreading the wellsprings to the outside. Certainly, G‑d gives us the ability to carry this out, and to convert the Mitzrayim into Eretz Yisrael — this speeds the promise: “Eretz Yisrael is destined to spread out over all the lands” and “Yerushalayim will spread out over all of Eretz Yisrael.”

All together in unity, with the complete Torah and mitzvos we will come to our Holy Land, to the Holy City, Yerushalayim, to the holy mount, to the Bais HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies. In this three-ply manner — the holy nation with the holy Torah in the holy land, we will merit the revelation of the three-part Torah as Mashiach will reveal it. May it all come with joy and glad hearts — speedily and truly in our days.

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3. In today’s Torah portion we read the story of the deluge in its entirety, which brings a puzzling question to mind. The Torah clearly indicates that the flood was a one time occurrence and G‑d promised that He would never again bring such a devastation upon the earth — if so, how can this story have an eternal message for us?

The Talmud uses the terminology — “what was, was.” That which took place in the past has no bearing on the present, especially when G‑d swore not to allow a recurrence of some particular phenomenon.

At the same time we say to everyone that every story in Torah is eternal, with an eternal message — this is especially true when in one section of Chumash we find a complete story.

There is another difficulty with a story such as the flood. Since Torah “preceded” the world, it would seem that Torah should be immune from negative narratives. Torah should only relate happy stories. We can, however, view Torah in an exclusively good way and filter out all negative aspects — we can see Torah as it stands “before” the world.

There is a story told of the Alter Rebbe. He used to read the Torah portion in the Shul of Liozna every Shabbos morning. Once, on Shabbos Ki Savo he was not in Liozna and someone else read the admonitions (Tochechah) in the portion of Ki Savo. The Mitteler Rebbe was a young boy at the time and when he heard the Torah portion being read he took to heart the curses enumerated in the Scripture and he became very upset and emotionally and physically ill. He suffered so much that on Yom Kippur the Alter Rebbe was doubtful if he should allow the boy to fast. Some people asked the Mitteler Rebbe why the reading of the warnings in Ki Savo had affected him so strongly this year? He responded, “When father reads you don’t hear any curses!”

This might seem absurd, of course the Alter Rebbe read the Tochechah in the proper way — with the proper intentions that applied to one who behaves in the listed manner. Why did he not hear the curses? One possible answer is that the Alter Rebbe read the Torah as it stands before descending to the world; in the world, yet in the world of Atzilus. Chassidus explains that this was the case regarding Avraham and Moshe on various occasions. Their presence in the world was illuminated with the aura of Atzilus.

Thus, although the Alter Rebbe read the words of the Tochechah, he was on the level of the world of Atzilus. As Torah stood before the world was created. So you did not hear the curses.

Therefore, in the flood, too, there is the pure good in the Torah narration of the story of the flood on the level of Torah as it stands before the world was created.

Can we discern and appreciate the goodness of the flood? Does Chassidus analyze this positive aspect of the Torah story on the level of the average student of Torah?

The Torah tells us:

There was a flood on the earth for forty days. (Bereishis 7:17)

Chassidus explains that this symbolizes the mikveh (ritualarium) which must have 40 se’ah (a measurement) of water. The mikveh effects taharah (ritual purity and holiness) and the flood effected purification of the world. Now that we speak of taharah we can see the flood in the role of being a good occurrence.

Taharah need not even be connected to something tameh (ritually impure). Everyone knows the Kohen Gadol immersed himself five times in a mikveh on Yom Kippur, clearly we think of the mikveh as adding holiness of higher degrees. So the purity of the flood may likewise have dealt only with loftier levels of holiness.

Rashi also hints at this positive aspect of the flood (mabul) in his commentary, when he says:

When He poured down the water at first He made it fall in mercy (gently), in order that if the people would repent it might prove a rain of blessing. (Rashi, Bereishis 7:12)

Further thought will reveal that the flood reestablished a state that existed when the world was created. In its pristine form the earth was completely covered with water; it was a benevolent deluge, which gave way to the creation of the world. In the Midrash we find that at the time of the flood G‑d said that the world should revert to that primordial state. If so, we should expect not only the same condition as before — but [since the righteous improve the world] the state of purity caused by the waters should have been even more intense than the original state of purity.

Having established the great quality of the flood we must explain the importance of the conclusion of the flood and G‑d’s promise never to flood the world again!

The explanation is that after all, the world was created to be inhabited in a normalmanner and that all the lofty goals must be attained in a normalway.

Rashi tells us that the world was created for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of the Jewish people. We know that Torah and Jewish souls existed before the world came into being, if so, why do we need the world?!

Let the Jews study Torah without the need to create the world! But clearly there is a loftier goal than Jewish study of Torah. It is to create a world and then for Jews to control,modify and improvetheworldthroughTorah.

Likewise, the flood may have reintroduced the primordial state of benevolent deluge, but the purpose and goal of the world is to function in a normal environment and therefore:

The earth dried: It became hard as is its normal condition. (Rashi, Bereishis 8:14)

This plan for the world is so important that G‑d promises never again to bring so unnatural an occurrence, which interrupted the cycles of day and night, planting and reaping. In fact it became a new world, representative of the new world of the times of Mashiach.

In a person’s Divine service the waters of the flood are symbolic of “Many waters cannot extinguish the fire of this love.” (Shir HaShirim 8:7) For the “many waters” are synonymous with the flood waters in two ways:

(A) The “many waters” represent the “troubled waters,” problems of earning a living and other headaches of worldly existence. Nevertheless, they will not drown out the inherent love for G‑d in the heart of every Jew.

(B) The “many waters” represent the positive powers of meditation in the greatness of G‑d which evoke the love of G‑d “with all your heart...so that the soul thirsts for G‑dliness with infinite longing.”

Having explained the lofty aspect of the flood, it now appears to be congruous with the second meaning of “many waters,” the longing for G‑dliness.

Despite this lofty condition, it can only be seen as temporary. A person who sanctifies himself in a mikveh cannot remain in the mikveh for ever! He must rise from the mikveh, dry and dress zealously — putting on his tzitzis and going out in to the public domain, to the shul, to put on Tefillin and give tzedakah; attach a mezuzah to his doorpost etc. He must do all these matters dealing with the world.

Here we understand that the “many waters,” the meditation alone cannot satisfy the longing and thirst, you must go back to Torah and practical mitzvos.

This thought may be transposed from the period of holiness to the mundane activities of Cheshvan, for in fact it indicates that one must rise out of the “mikveh” and go out to function in the material world carrying along the holiness of Tishrei.

Now that we stand about to take leave of one another, remember that you are on a mission to the outside, where the earth has dried and there you must make a dwelling place for G‑d. As the Baal Shem Tov taught, the Divine Presence leads a person to a specific place for the purpose of bringing G‑d’s Name to that place. Where do you take the strength for this mission? From Tishrei, the month which is blessed and satiated with all the good blessings, for all Jews, for the whole year. G‑d’s blessing for children, life, health and sustenance with abundance.

May everyone fulfill the resolutions accepted during Tishrei and even add more accomplishment. For G‑d gives us the potential to carry out our undertakings and he who increases is praiseworthy.

Then the blessings of the Holy One, Blessed be He, are bestowed quickly, strongly and completely, speedily and truly in our time.

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4. In today’s Rambam section we learn:

If utensils are made from the bones of a fish or from its skin they are not susceptible to any tumah at all, either on the authority of Scripture or on the authority of the scribes. The same rule applies to utensils made from a weed that grows on water, or the like; for nothing that is in the sea is susceptible to tumah.... (Laws of Corpse Tumah 6:1)

Both animal life and vegetable life which grow in the sea do not become tameh. There is a connection here to the Chumash portion which spoke of the purification wrought by the flood waters.

Chassidus explains that fish are unique among all creatures because they are always inside of their life environment in the water. They cannot leave the water even for a moment; they feel and know that the water is their life.

The spiritual counterpart of this would be that the created being recognizes that its source is G‑dliness and therefore does not separate from G‑dliness even for a moment.

Consequently, all that is in the sea is tahor. When you knowyoursourceoflife, as the fish in the sea, then you cannot do something against that taharah — against G‑d’s will. The nature of self-preservation would not allow an anti-G‑dliness act; it becomes second nature.

Approach even the average person and say: “Suppose you would see and feel the G‑dly life-force which enlivens you at every instant, would you be able to do anything that is not according to the will of G‑d?” His answer would be: “Of course not!” There is no need to seek intellectual proofs, just as one knows that without air you do not live, so, too, the life force of G‑d is fundamental.

What is the cause of forgetting this taharah and transgressing the will of G‑d? — because we do not feel the source of life at every moment. In fact, knowing is not enough, it must be felt at every moment, just as he senses that he cannot live without air. This we learn from the law of the purity of the sea — that a Jew must feel that the source of his life is G‑dliness.

On Shabbos Bereishis a question was left unanswered pertaining to fish of the sea. The Torah tells us:

G‑d had formed every wild beast and every bird of heaven out of the ground. He [now] brought [them] to the man to see what he would name each one. The man named every livestock animal and bird of the sky, as well as all the wild beasts. (Bereishis 2:19-20)

The obvious question pops up here — did Adam name the fish of the sea? If he did, why is it not mentioned and if not — why not? Can it be that all creatures need names except for fish?!

The five-year-old Chumash student knows that the purpose of a name is that the caller gets the attention of the one who is called. Well, the creatures of the land and air can be called — and they will hear and respond. But the sea-creatures will not hear the call from the land, for they are covered by the sea.

However, this does not answer the question completely for Chassidus explains that the purpose of a name is also to provide a conduit through which the being receives its life force from G‑d, for the name “creates, enlivens and sustains that which is called by the name.” (see Shaar HaYichud chapter 1)

So why did G‑d not bring the fish to Adam for naming? At the same time we should also inquire why in the chariot of Yechezkel we do not find a representative of the sea?

[These questions were not answered at this Farbrengen.]

After this Torah study we will include the prayerful song — “Sheyeboneh Bais HaMikdash” and as is customary we will include the third pillar of tzedakah by distributing dollar bills to all the assembled on the condition that they be given to tzedakah at the appropriate time with an addition by the giver.

May it be the will of G‑d that through the three-ply cord of Torah, prayer, and charity, we will merit the Third Bais HaMikdash in the third redemption through a third-born — Moshe our teacher — from the third tribe, Levi, for the first redeemer is the ultimate redeemer.