1. This Shabbos is described by two different names. It is called, “Shabbos Shuva” (a name derived from the Haftorah that begins Shuva Yisroel) and also Shabbos Teshuva (since it is one of the ten days of Teshuva).1 Each of these names teaches us a different lesson about the service of G‑d.

The word “Teshuva” means return to G‑d. Therefore the name “Shabbos Teshuva” implies that the service of that day is devoted to that goal. The word “Shuva” also means return. However, it implies that in addition to our own return or working with someone else to return, the service of Shabbos Shuva involves fusing both activities together in a single service. The concept of returning alone, as an individual, is particularly relevant to the ten days of Teshuva. The Talmud explains that during these days the prayers that we recite individually have the same power as those normally recited in a communal service. Nevertheless, even during these days, communal prayer has still a higher quality.2 For that reason, Torah law advises that even when it is impossible to pray with a Minyan, one should at least try to pray at the same time as a Minyan is praying.3

Since the name Shabbos Shuva” is derived from the Haftorah, while the name “Shabbos Teshuva” results from the entire period during which the Shabbos takes place, it follows that the day can be divided into two periods: 1) The time from the beginning of Shabbos until the reading of the (Torah and) Haftorah, then the name “Shabbos Teshuva” applies and our service is centered on one aspect of returning (to return ourselves or to cause that others should return[in general when the Rebbe spoke about one of the two aspects mentioned he usually was referring to the aspect of one returning himself and not taking out time to help another person return]); 2) the time after the reading of the Haftorah at which point the “Shabbos Shuva” assumes prominence and our service is extended to include both aspects of Teshuva — to return oneself and to see that others return as well.

The division revolves around a central principle. In order to reach out and work with someone else, we need added strength and power. That strength is derived from the Torah (or in this case, the Haftorah).4 Torah unites the Jewish people. Therefore our Sages declared: “One should not depart from his friend except with a point of Halachah.” Chassidic thought explains that the point of Halachah serves to insure that “one should not depart” i.e. that even though physically the two will be separated, they will still be united and bound together spiritually.

That oneness is emphasized by the reading of the Torah and Haftorah. In general, the Torah is divided into two realms: Torah Sheba’al peh, (the oral law) and Torah Sheb’ksav (the written law). Concerning Torah Sheba’al peh, each individual is obligated to study it according to the nature of his own intellectual abilities. This reflects the fact that differences exist between one person and another. On the other hand, concerning Torah Sheb’ksav, all Jews read the same passages.5 Even someone who doesn’t understand the meaning of the words he reads has merit equal to that of a scholar.6 Therefore, even though before the Torah reading each of us is a separate entity, the reading of the Torah and Haftorah unites us as a people and fuses one’s individual Teshuva and that of another Jew into one act of Teshuva. The power of Torah brings about self-nullification and self-transcendence which takes us beyond ourselves and into contact with our fellow Jews. The Torah not only produces unity between one Jew and another; it also unifies their service. Doing Teshuva oneself and working with someone else no longer remain two separate realms, but become fused into a single form of service.

How is this possible? Torah has the power to change the world. Our Sages declared, “The deeds of Tzaddikim are greater than the creation of heaven and earth.” In creating heaven and earth, G‑d created something from nothing. However, a Tzaddik takes something — a world of separation — and through the power of Torah brings about unity.7

The reward which G‑d bestows for this service is also great. In the introduction to Tanya, the Alter Rebbe writes that through working with someone else, “G‑d illuminates the eyes of both persons.” A higher level of light beyond the capabilities of either individual is attained. This can be seen from a point of Talmudic law. The Talmud (Sotah 34a) states that one person can lift up only one third of the weight he can carry when assisted by someone else. In our case as well, through working with others, we can reach heights beyond our own powers.

To bring the above to a practical message. In previous farbrengens and in previous years, I mentioned the stress the Rebbeim had placed on spreading Chassidus, spreading Torah and Mitzvos, spreading Judaism in general. Nevertheless, someone might think that in the ten days of Teshuva, it is better for us to be occupied with our individual service, with doing Teshuva ourselves. Shabbos Shuva teaches that while our personal Teshuva is important, we must in addition reach out to others. Furthermore, these two kinds of service should be regarded as one single activity and not two separate entities.

Now, we are in the midst of Shabbos Shuva, and the Haftorah has been recited. The potential for such unified service has been given. May we make the firm resolve to carry out this service. In Torah a firm decision is regarded with the same strength as actual deed.8 As a result, that service of Teshuva will bring the Messianic redemption, as the Rambam writes, “The Torah has promised that in the end of the Galus the Jews will do Teshuva, and then Moshiach will come immediately.”9

** *

(Trans. note: At this point the Rebbe elaborated on a number of points mentioned in the Siyum (concluding discourse) of the Tractate of Ediyot that he had made on Vav Tishrei. That Siyum and this sicha will be printed separately.)

* * *

2. On the verse in Devarim (32;39), “I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal; and none can save from My hand,” Rashi comments on the last phrase, “None can save from My hand” “those who sin against me” i.e. they are the people who cannot be saved. This commentary raises a number of questions. First what did Rashi gain by his addition? It’s self-understood that those who don’t sin need not to be saved from G‑d and those who do sin will be punished. What question or supposition did Rashi intend to answer with his comments. Furthermore, Rashi’s commentary is meant to answer all the questions that a beginner learning Chumash for the first time would ask. In this case, the verse, “None can save from My hand” is a continuation of the previous verses describing the punishment for sins. On the surface. a question arises. Nowhere does it find the necessity to add the reminder, “None can save...” Why in this instance is such an addition necessary? Why doesn’t Rashi comment on this fact?

Likewise, the first clause of the verse also seems to require added explanation. The Talmud (Pesachim 68a) explains that the phrase, “I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal” is a reference to the rebirth of the dead. To prove that point, it explains that from the statement, “I kill and I make alive” the concept, “I wound and I heal” could logically be derived. If so why does the Torah state it explicitly? To teach that the phrases “I wound and I heal” and “I kill and I make alive” both deal with the same person. This demonstrates how the Torah itself refers to the rebirth of the dead. Such a logical progression as this is far to complicated for a beginner to understand without explanation. Why doesn’t Rashi deal with this concept at all?

The answer to the latter question brings up a basic concept in understanding Rashi’s approach to learning Chumash. Rashi intends to convey the Pshat (simple meaning) of each verse. [That Pshat might and often does differ with the interpretation of the verse in the Talmud. Such a difference is acceptable, since the guidelines governing the two modes of study also vary. In the present case, as well, Rashi (in Pshat) interprets the verse differently from the Talmud.] The Book of Exodus (21:19) states, “V’Rapoh Yirapay” (he shall be thoroughly healed). On the doubling of the word “Rapoh,” Rashi comments, “From here we learn that a doctor was given permission to heal.” If so, then the verse, “I wound and I heal” in fact introduces a new concept. It teaches that healing can come from G‑d directly without the intermediary of a doctor.

This concept does not contradict the principle that, “Permission is granted to a doctor to heal.” G‑d heals directly when “I (G‑d) wound”: when the sickness comes through supernatural means. However, when the sickness comes from natural means, then the healing is brought about through an intermediary, a doctor.10

This concept helps explain the reason for Rashi’s addition, “Those who sin against Me.” Rashi wanted to emphasize that the punishment came for rebellion against G‑d. Therefore, when the punishment comes from powers beyond the natural order, it can only be healed by similar powers.

Regarding the other issue mentioned above, how will the beginning student appreciate the proof for the revival of the dead? This matter is also self-understood according to the governing principles of the study of Pshat. The beginning student doesn’t need any proof that G‑d is the source of life. He has learned the verses, “In the beginning, G‑d created the heaven and the earth,” “Hear 0 Israel, G‑d is our G‑d; G‑d is one,” “There is nothing else besides Him,” etc. From these he appreciates that G‑d gives life. If so, the verse, “I kill and I give life” must be dealing with a different concept, namely that the same person dies and comes alive, i.e. the revival of the dead.

This line of logic cannot be accepted by the student of the Talmud. The Talmud teaches that in many matters G‑d controls the world through intermediaries. In fact, the Talmud states that there are only three keys that G‑d didn’t give over to intermediaries. For this reason, the idea that “I make alive,” that life comes directly from G‑d, would also have been considered a new concept. Therefore, without the support of “I wound and I heal”, it would have been impossible to arrive at the concept of the revival of the dead. However, the study of Pshat is meant for a beginner. He does not know about the existence of intermediaries and needs no proof that life comes directly from G‑d.

* * *

3. [Trans. note: Within the context of the Rebbe Shlita’s discussion of his father’s commentary on the Zohar, he mentioned some fundamental points about the study of Gematria (Torah numerology).]

Gematria is a unique method of Torah study. Like any other method of study, it is governed by certain fundamental principles. One of the foremost basic rules is that Gematria can only be used when an intrinsic connection exists between the two objects. Gematria cannot simply be derived by anyone who is clever and is good with figures. Such people will make connections between concepts that are very far apart.

In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe writes-that the Hebrew word “Aven” (stone) in Gematria (53) equals the Divine name “Ban” (52) with an ‘Aleph’ (1) added to it from another name for a reason known to its Creator. An internal connection exists between these two concepts. “Ban” is the same of G‑d that refers to the Sefirah of Malchus . [Trans. note: Often, the ten Sefiros are broken up into four categories which parallel the four forms of being: inert matter, the plant kingdom, animals, and man.] In that classification, Malchus corresponds to the realm of inert matter; hence the connection between “Aven” (stone) and “Ban.” Similarly, all other Gematrios must have an internal connection.

* * *

4. Today is a unique day in the Jewish calendar. It is the eighth of Tishrei, the day on which King Solomon initiated the dedication of the Bais Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim.11 The Temple is connected with the service of Teshuva. For that reason it was constructed of stone, showing the relationship to the service of “the elevation from below.” The First Temple, whose construction was aided by Chiram King of Tyre, emphasized that quality of elevation. His participation demonstrated (even the) elevation of the gentiles.

This concept is also obvious in comparing the Bais Hamikdosh to the Sanctuary built in the Desert. The Sanctuary represented the service of Tzaddikim; therefore, its dedication was in Nissan, a month of revelation from above. The Bais Hamikdosh represented the service of Ba’alei Teshuva; therefore, its dedication was in Tishrei, a month which emphasizes man’s service.12

The service of Teshuva brought about the great joy and celebration which marked the dedication of the Bais Hamikdosh. In fact the joy was so great that the Jewish people ate and drank on Yom Kippur. Later, when they questioned their behavior, a heavenly voice answered, “A portion for all of you is reserved in the world to come.” Their celebration with food and drink was able to bring about a greater effect13 than the normal service of fasting.