1. An event that reoccurs year after year can be viewed from two perspectives:

1) It is simply a continuation of the events of the previous year — that is each year adds to the last. This would relate to our sages’ declaration, “Always ascend in holy matters.” According to this point of view, no radical change occurs — the present is merely a continuation of past events.

2) The event is perceived as something entirely new. Although the event was celebrated in previous years, it is relived not as an episode of the past, but, rather, as a present-day, entirely new, occurrence.

The aforesaid applies to our celebration of Yud-Bais Tammuz, which date commemorates the liberation of the Previous Rebbe from prison. It has become customary to celebrate that event by gathering Jews together and relating the story, or at least its high points, of the events of Yud-Bais Tammuz; and — in accord with our sages’ statement that “the deed is the very essence” — by making resolutions for the future as regards the spreading of Torah and Yiddishkeit.1 It is possible to view the celebration of Yud-Bais Tammuz as a continuation of the celebration of the previous year, and of previous years before that, stretching back to the date of the Previous Rebbe’s release. Such an approach implies an addition from year to year. No matter how good the past was, a person must, since he is a live Jew connected to the living G‑d, increase his understanding and good deeds each year. But, these increases are still related to the events of the previous year.

However, a person may also follow the second approach and celebrate Yud-Bais Tammuz as an entirely new event. Even though it commemorates events of the past and has been celebrated each year since the original occurrence, he will nevertheless, not content himself merely with continuing the traditions of the past, but will, rather, approach Yud-Bais Tammuz as something entirely new.

Every individual has been given the choice of these two approaches and may select whichever he desires. Yes — even the second approach is within the potential of every individual. A Jew’s potential is not limited. He does not possess only “my power and the strength of my hand” — i.e., his finite human potential . He is rather, through the medium of Torah connected to the infinite G‑d. Hence, since an individual is not bound by his nature, it is possible for him to begin a new service, higher than even the greatest levels of the previous service.

Everyone has the choice of taking one of these two approaches at the anniversary of a meaningful event. However, when a new time period, or cycle, begins, as it does this year — for this year marks one centenary since the Previous Rebbe’s birth — it is necessary to approach the event as a new occurrence. There is an unbridgeable difference between 100 and 101. We must, therefore, this year begin a totally new type of service in spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit.

The tractate Chagigah (9b) describes the difference between 100 and 101; in this way: “One who reviews his studies 100 times is not like one who reviews them 101 times.” The latter is called “a servant of G‑d,” and the former, “one who does not serve Him.” In Tanya (Ch. 15), the Alter Rebbe explains this concept as follows: In the days of the Talmud, it was customary for each student to review his studies 100 times in order to fix them firmly in his memory. Hence, one who studied no more than 100 times was called “one who does not serve Him,” for he simply followed his normal routine. However, when he studied a concept for the 101st time and thus broke “the habit in which he was trained from his youth,” he became worthy of being called “a servant of G‑d.”

We see, therefore that the number 101 is associated with a new approach in the service of G‑d, an approach which places one’s previous service competitively on the level of “one who does not serve Him.” And so in this case, as we are now beginning the 101st year since the Previous Rebbe’s birth, we must begin a new approach in the service of G‑d.

This concept is further explained by a statement of the Alter Rebbe in Likkutei Torah. He explains that the concept of reviewing one’s studies 101 times is related to the concept of “Wisdom is found from nothingness.” [Trans. note: The term “nothingness” in this context has a positive meaning, indicating a level too high to be revealed or perceived.] The Alter Rebbe declares that “Nothingness is the number 101.”

We can now understand the difference between the numbers 100 and 101. Wisdom represents the ultimate level of completion for a man, and, particularly, for a Jew. It represents a person’s highest conscious powers. However, the soul possesses potentials that are more elevated than wisdom. These levels are described as “nothingness,” for they transcend the reach of our understanding and wisdom. We can see, then, that the number 100 represents the level of wisdom — the ultimate level of completion within the world;2 and that the number 101 represents the source of wisdom — the level of nothingness, which transcends the world.

Also, again in Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe connects the concept of reviewing one’s studies 100 times with our sages’ statement that “V’Samtem [can be broken up into two words:] Sam Tom: a perfect drug. Torah is compared to a drug of life.” This level of Torah is related to the number 100, for the numerical equivalent of the word sam which means drug, is 100.

The Alter Rebbe expands on this theme, explaining that the letters of the word Sam — Samech and Mem — are connected with a unique miracle. Our sages explain that the letters of the Ten Commandments were carved through from one side of the tablets to the other. Hence, the Samech and final Mem, which are similar in form to the English letter “O” stood in the tablets in a miraculous manner, for their inner circle stood in place although it hung unsupported in space. Thus, we see that the number 100, the numerical equivalent of Mem and Samech, represents the ultimate level of Torah study — for the entire Torah was included in the Ten Commandments, and the Mem and Samech represent the highest aspect of the Ten Commandments — a miraculous level. And the number 101 represents a still higher level — a connection to G‑d, Giver of the Torah,3 which transcends intellect.

Our sages declared that the “deed is the very essence.” On a person’s birthday, “the spiritual source of his soul shines in an overpowering manner.”4 Furthermore, as stated earlier, this year completes the hundredth year since the Previous Rebbe’s birth. And so, the practical result of this Farbrengen must be an increase in the study of Torah and in the fulfillment of Mitzvos. Furthermore, that increase must represent a new approach totally beyond one’s previous efforts. If a person attempts to strive for the goal, G‑d will surely give him the powers necessary to carry out his resolve.

On a practical level, everyone must realize that, as the Previous Rebbe writes in his letter, “G‑d did not redeem me alone on Yud-Bais Tammuz,” but, rather, every single segment of the Jewish people. Therefore, we must use these auspicious days to make positive resolutions in connection with Yud-Bais Tammuz — we must begin a new phase of service and go beyond our habitual limits in all matters of holiness. Surely, once a person has made such resolutions he will do all that he can to carry them out. G‑d will open new pathways of spiritual influence to allow him to fulfill his resolutions to the fullest degree. This, will in turn, lead him to a new goal, for, as our sages commented, “Whoever has 100 desires 200.”

May we soon “join one redemption to another,” and from the redemption of Yud-Bais Tammuz proceed to the redemption from exile — both the redemption of each Jew from his internal exile and also the redemption of each individual and the entire Jewish people from the external exile, when we will greet Moshiach and go with him to our holy land, may the day come speedily in our days.

2. In connection with the previously explained difference between 100 and 101 it is important to note that although the number 101 represents a new level — a radical advance — one still possesses the hundred. One’s past is not regarded as being of no consequence, with no bearing on either the present or the future. Rather, one begins a new service based on the foundation established in the past. This concept is borne out in the previously-given example: To reach the level of being “a servant of G‑d,” a person must first study a subject 100 times to fix it firmly in his memory — only then can he study it a 101st time.

This applies equally to our service of G‑d. The Mishnah divides that service into three categories: Torah, prayer, and deeds of kindness. These are the pillars upon which our world stands. All three are necessary. Our sages declare, “Whoever says, ‘All I have is Torah,’ doesn’t even have Torah.” Furthermore, the three services must be interconnected. When a person studies, it must be obvious that he has also prayed and practiced deeds of kindness.

The order of the three services is also important. The Talmud declares that one should “give a penny to a poor man (a kind deed) and afterwards pray.” After his prayer a person should proceed, in the words of the Shulchan Aruch, “from the house of prayer to the house of study.” The penny that a person gives to the poor man has an effect on his own prayer. The Rambam writes that whenever a Jew feels that he needs something, he should pray to G‑d.5 When a Jew gives a penny to a poor man, he does so not to pay a debt for work performed by the poor man, but because he feels that the poor man needs something and he wants to fulfill that need. Afterwards he prays and asks for his own needs. G‑d repays him measure for measure and fulfills all that he lacks.

Similarly, a person’s prayer influences his study of Torah. Our sages stress that before studying Torah a person must “bless the Torah,” that is, pray to G‑d to give him the knowledge to study Torah and understand it properly. Prayer brings a person to the proper consciousness and thus assures that his study of Torah will be successful. Even though the Torah is G‑d’s Torah and is called His “hidden treasure” and “a delight6 before Him,” nevertheless, when a Jew blesses the Torah, he can grasp it with his limited intellect.7 Therefore, before studying Torah a person must go to the house of prayer. The Hebrew word for prayer — Tefillah means connection. After establishing that connection, one can study Torah and unite with G‑d, the Giver of the Torah.8 Thus we see that giving charity affects one’s prayer, and then, together with the influence of prayer, affects one’s Torah study.

In this manner, the three services are interwoven to form one cord and, as our sages declared, “The three-fold cord9 will not be easily snapped.” Not only do each of the services constitute a strand of its own, but all three are linked together, thus reinforcing each other. This holds true even though, seemingly, the three services must be carried out at different times. There is no way one can give Tzedakah, pray and study simultaneously. However, a connection can exist between the three services. When someone gives Tzedakah with all his soul and in a pleasant manner, which shows that he has invested his entire life-energy into giving Tzedakah, then — although on a revealed plane he might become involved in either Torah study or prayer — from a deeper perspective, the inner aspects of his soul, which is the most important element of a person, remain connected to Tzedakah.10 In a similar manner, he links his prayer to the inner aspects of his soul. Prayer must be directed to G‑d’s Essence. As our sages stated, prayer must be “to Him and not to His attributes.” To pray in such a manner, a person must tap his own inner resources. Similarly, as regards the study of Torah, through “blessing the Torah” a person experiences that G‑d is the Giver of the Torah at the present moment, that when he studies, “G‑d reads and studies opposite him.” Since he has involved the very essence of his soul in all of these services at a high level at which there can be no differentiation between them, all three services are combined as one.

Thus, a threefold cord is established, and then, even if there are scorners, “the threefold cord will not be easily snapped.” Even if a person is, like the Previous Rebbe, subjected to the challenges of imprisonment by a mighty nation which pitted its entire might against him, that cord will remain strong.

In this manner, a person will overcome all obstacles. Not only will he be “unashamed before the scorners,” but he will force them to assist him in his efforts. The Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment and redemption are the best example of this. He was jailed for spreading Torah and Mitzvos and confronted by a death sentence. Nevertheless, within a few days he was redeemed and began a new phase of spreading Torah.

This concept is alluded to in the verse (Tehillim 80:9) “You have brought a vine out of Egypt.” Our sages explain that the vine is representative of Israel. Just as a vine’s growth is improved when it is uprooted and planted in another place, so when a Jew is taken away from his natural environment and placed in another, he will grow and succeed.

The verse continues, “You have cast out nations and planted it.” We are to drive away the power that the gentile nations have over the matters of this world. Each Jew drives away “goyishkeit” — a secular attitude — from his portion of the world and plants in its stead a vine — Israel. Judaism begins to grow. It continues growing and produces “wine that brings joy to G‑d and man.”

Thus, the farbrengen of Yud-Bais Tammuz gives us the potential to endure the double darkness of Golus. Even though “the appointed time — for the coming of the Moshiach — has come, and we still have not been saved,” and gentiles and a gentile culture surround us, we still persevere. The Torah tells us, “you are the smallest of the nations,” but that is true only quantatively. Qualitively, a Jew is connected with G‑d and that lifts him beyond all comparison to other nations.11

Therefore, we have the potential to carry out all the resolutions we have taken upon ourselves. When we take upon ourselves a resolution regarding deeds of kindness, we must resolve to carry it out in the manner of “Love your fellow man as yourself” our fellow-man’s needs must affect us as if they were our own. In our resolution on prayer we must aim to connect ourselves to G‑d to the point of becoming one with Him. And concerning Torah study, we are to realize that when we study, G‑d reads and studies opposite us.

It was the hope and request of the Previous Rebbe that when we go into the street and meet a Jew on the fringe of Jewish commitment12 that we involve him in Torah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah.13 To do this properly, we must ourselves have studied Torah and given Tzedakah14 beforehand. Then we will be able to carry out the positive resolutions we have made and do so in an organized fashion, one matter at a time.

Even though it is necessary to proceed one step at a time, when we spread Torah to someone else, that person must be brought to realize that although he is presented with only one Mitzvah, that Mitzvah is representative of all 613. Some people spread Mitzvos, but, because they don’t want to frighten the other Jew, tell them that this one Mitzvah he just learned is all there is to Torah. This approach is false and leads to confusion. Although it is impossible to teach someone all 613 Mitzvos at one time, and one must start with one Mitzvah, he must explain that that one action includes other Mitzvos which will be explained later. And so, by fulfilling one Mitzvah, a person is related to all the others for, as Rav Saadia Gaon declared, “when you grasp part of the essence, you grasp its entirety.” The other Jew will become connected with the essence of Mitzvos. Then one Mitzvah will lead to another. Furthermore, he himself will also spread Torah to other Jews and thus “drive out the gentile nations” and gentile culture from his portion of the world.

In this way we will proceed to the true and complete redemption. Through their connection to “the light of Torah and the candle of Mitzvos,” the Jews will become “a light to the nations” and show them how to serve G‑d as they were commanded. At that time, with the coming of Moshiach, these forthcoming three weeks before Tisha B’Av will be transformed from a period of mourning to “festivals and holidays.” May the day come speedily in our days.

3. The previous Sicha explained that in order for a human being to understand Torah properly, he must first give charity and then pray. Only after such preparation can he grasp the true meaning of Torah. Without these preparatory steps, the limited intellect of a human being cannot grasp G‑d’s unlimited Torah, just as an elephant cannot pass through the eye of a needle.

At this point, a question arises: If a Halachic decision is made, even though its author did not go through the above-mentioned process of preparation, no one questions its authenticity. Furthermore, a non-Jew must study Torah15 to learn the seven Mitzvos he is obligated to fulfill. How can he grasp Torah without undergoing the process of preparation described above? Yet we see that there have been gentiles who have explained Torah concepts in a manner similar to that of Torah sages.

The answer is connected to the concept of free choice. Even though G‑d gave the Torah only to the Jewish people, and a non-Jew who studies Torah must be put to death, G‑d has, nevertheless — to allow for free choice — provided the possibility of a person understanding Torah with no preparation at all — even if he is a gentile. If the Torah was understandable only to Jews, and then only after giving charity and praying, there would be no possibility of choice. The truth would be openly revealed to all. G‑d desired that man “choose life” — accept Torah through a process of independent decision-making.16 In order to give man free choice, G‑d caused the Torah to descend low enough as to be understood by non-Jew as well as Jew. G‑d wants a Jew to study Torah after preparing himself through Tzedakah and prayer and realizing that G‑d is the Giver of the Torah, now as well as at Mt. Sinai. He wants the Jew to choose this three-stranded approach, but to make choice possible, the Torah had to undergo such a great descent.

Thus, we can see how important a Jew’s free choice is to G‑d. Torah is G‑d’s “hidden treasure,” His “delight.” Nevertheless, it has descended “from a high peak to a deep pit,” to a level so low that it can be grasped and understood by a non-Jew, or a Jew who wants to do the opposite of G‑d’s will. Torah is one with G‑d — in Rambam’s words, “He is the knowledge, He is the known.” Nevertheless, it has lowered itself to the point that it can be grasped and also unified with the intellect of a non-Jew or someone who transgressed G‑d’s will. What is the reason for this descent? That a Jew can “Choose life” and make a free choice to devote himself to Torah.

Free choice is man’s highest power. Only G‑d’s essence and man in the physical world have the potential to make a free choice.

Therefore, if a person uses the power of choice for an undesirable objective, or even if he uses it to become excited about something which the Torah permits but which is not a Mitzvah, he is doing more than wasting some small amount of time or money. He is wasting a great and vast treasure, one of the most precious things G‑d has given him, on something of no importance — if it is permitted by Torah — or on a source of damage — if it is forbidden. We must be conscious that at every moment every tiny challenge posed to us by the Yetzer Hora is not a small matter. Rather, it affects our highest potential, the power of choice. A person takes the most precious thing that G‑d has given him and throws it into the garbage pile or, at the very least, wastes it on something which is permitted yet is inappropriate for a Jew17 (for anything that has no value in Torah has no value for a Jew since “Israel, Torah and G‑d are one”).

Furthermore, a person cannot argue that that act will take only a few minutes or a small amount of effort. Such rationalizations cannot justify the tremendous injustice he does to himself.

In this context, we can understand the emphasis placed by the Previous Rebbe on going out into the street and trying to bring back other Jews to Yiddishkeit. On the surface, what is the problem? What’s so terrible if, for a short while, they waste their time on valueless things? This question is particularly cogent if they don’t commit transgressions, but are involved in permitted things, merely forgetting a few customs. But we must realize that a person’s every act affects his powers of choice. At every moment, the choice and the potential are given to each individual to follow G‑d’s will or not. A person is constantly involved with “the head of the King,” with his own highest potential and the deepest point of his soul. When he wastes this on valueless things, he disrupts the order of the world and does the greatest damage possible to his own self.

The awareness of the above encourages a person and reinforces the promise that if he meditates on the lesson that can be learned from the Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment and liberation — particularly on this day when “the spiritual source of his soul shines in an overpowering manner” and when the one-hundred year milestone has been passed — then he has the power to carry out his mission completely and, thus, prepare for the true and complete redemption led by the Moshiach, may he come speedily in our days.