1. This farbrengen is connected with Gimmel Tammuz which served (and serves) as a preparation for Yud-Beis Tammuz. In 5687, when the Previous Rebbe was arrested, his sentence was commuted from death to a 3-year exile in the city of Kostrama on Gimmel Tammuz.

At that time, it was still unsure whether that commutation represented a definite turning point towards good or not. While everyone agreed that the exile represented a tremendous improvement over the Previous Rebbe’s condition in prison, nevertheless Kostrama was situated in a remote part of Russia, in an area where few Jews lived. There, the Previous Rebbe would have had much less opportunity to carry out his work in spreading Torah. This work dominated his attentions and energies. It constituted his main service to G‑d and was the focal point of his life.

Furthermore, many were concerned that the exile was just a temporary maneuver to reduce diplomatic pressure and that at a later date, the Russians would again subject the Rebbe to further difficulties.

Therefore, though thankful for the immediate benefits, the Rebbe’s followers were unsure of the ultimate outcome of the events of Gimmel Tammuz. Only after Yud-Beis Tammuz, when through G‑d’s grace the Previous Rebbe was liberated and the Russian government itself proclaimed the legality of the service of spreading Torah and Mitzvos, was it revealed that Gimmel Tammuz had served as the first stage in this process.

The significance of Yud-Beis Tammuz can be understood through a comparison to Yud-Tes Kislev (the holiday commemorating the liberation of the Alter Rebbe). Yud-Tes Kislev’s importance was described by our sages with the following metaphor:

According to Halachah, a shtar (legal contract) need not be substantiated in a court of law. However, if the contract is disputed, it must be taken to court, verified, and substantiated. Thereafter, once a court validates a contract, that contract has greater legal power than a normal contract. A normal contract can be contested. Once the court has confirmed a contract, it can no longer be contested and must be honored immediately.

Likewise, in the spiritual spheres, Yud-Tea Kislev (and also Yud-Beis Tammuz)signified the heavenly court’s approval and substantiation of the service of Yafutzu Mayonosecha Chutza — the spreading of Chassidus until the outer reaches.

After Yud-Tes Kislev, the service of Yafutzu Mayonosecha Chutza began again with a new strength and impetus (to the degree that at times it is said that this service began after Yud-Tee Kislev). In a similar manner, Yud-Beis Tammuz affected the Previous Rebbe’s work of spreading Torah and Mitzvos. Then, it was openly declared that he and his followers could continue in the service. That proclamation gave them added strength in a manner similar to the additional strength received by a contract once it has been substantiated by the court.

2. Though the Geulah (the liberation) of the Previous Rebbe was not complete until Yud-Beis Tammuz (and in a larger sense not complete until after he left Russia1 ), its first and initial stage was Gimmel Tammuz. The name Geulah is used to describe not only for one person’s redemption, but also the redemption of the entire Jewish people (the same berachah “Go-el Yisrael” is recited). It follows that a connection exists between the two. The Geulah of one individual, in particular the Geulah of Gimmel Tammuz, parallels and serves as a preparation for Geulas Mashiach (the Messianic Redemption).

In this case the connection is obvious — the Messianic Redemption is dependent on the service of Yafutzu Mayonosecha Chutza. The Previous Rebbe was the champion of that cause, its leader and prime-mover. The commutation of his sentence on Gimmel Tammuz granted life not only to him as an individual, but to the service of spreading Chassidus and Yiddishkeit as a whole.

Every concept must have a practical application. In this case, no matter what has been done until now to add to the service of Yafutzu Mayonosecha Chutza before Yud-Beis Tammuz,2 still Gimmel Tammuz must serve as a spur to further increase and intensify that service.3

The Previous Rebbe often stressed the principle “deed is most essential.” Without a practical application any lesson is incomplete. Besides being aware of the lesson’s practical application, that lesson must be carried out in deed. Practically speaking, everyone must intensify their service of Torah and Mitzvos.

3. The above lesson applies to Gimmel Tammuz of every year. This year, since Gimmel Tammuz falls on Shabbos, there is an added lesson.

The Talmud comments that the prevailing attitude on Shabbos should be “All your work is accomplished.” That statement applies throughout all existence, in the highest spiritual realms and in this physical world. A Jew, through his service of Torah and Tefillah seeks to develop a personal awareness of that truth.

On Shabbos, G‑d’s spiritual energies affect the Jew. Shabbos is a day which “You shall proclaim (Sabbath) a day of pleasure,” “a day which has no sadness.” The Jew must proceed to try to relate that level of spirituality to himself in his perceptions as they affect his everyday experience. That relation results in a perception of “all your work is accomplished,” i.e., even those aspects of the individual which are connected with work become absorbed in the Shabbos experience.4 Similarly, regarding the work and service demanded by Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Shabbos induces pleasure and an attitude of “all your work is accomplished” to these activities.

In addition, the Shabbos is a day of blessing and brings blessing into all aspects of an individual’s life, including his service of spreading Torah and Mitzvos. The Talmud explains that the Shabbos’s blessings are powerful enough to affect an individual’s physical as well as spiritual behavior. Therefore, when an individual becomes aware of the connection between Gimmel Tammuz and the Sabbath, senses that he has been given an explicit promise from G‑d that he will be successful in his work of spreading Torah and Mitzvos, he will apply himself to that task with more energy and excitement.

May it be G‑d’s Will that we fully utilize all the energies and potentials which have been provided to increase our service of spreading Torah and Mitzvos. May all the blessings wished by the Previous Rebbe come to fruition, including the greatest blessing of all, the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.

4. The Baal Shem Tov explained that a Jew must learn a lesson from everything that he sees or hears. Since the Hashgachah Protis which brings about that lesson is specific and particular, as the Baal Shem Tov remarked, “Even a leaf which turns in the wind, does so in response to the direct will of G‑d” — likewise the lessons derived cannot be only general, but must also touch on all the particulars of the given situation.

In reference to the above, not only can we derive a valuable lesson from the concept of Gimmel Tammuz (and an added lesson because it falls on the Shabbos), but also a unique point of instruction can be gleaned from the fact that on this Shabbos5 of Gimmel Tammuz, the portion of Korach was read.

Learning a lesson from Parshas Korach is problematic. On the surface, the portion speaks about Korach’s revolt, a negative influence, and its suppression. However, based on the Chassidic teaching that everything in the world (how much more so events connected with a Jew, and even more so events spoken about in Torah6 ) contains within a positive and good intent, it is necessary to conclude that even the story of Korach expresses positive and good elements.

The positive elements of Parshas Korach are related by Rashi. He quotes the Midrash, which draws a parallel to “a king who gave a field to a friend. He did not write a bill of sale or bring the contract to the recording officers. Another subject came and contested the king’s friend’s ownership of that field. Conscious of his friend’s concern, the king reassured him, “Let him come and contest your rights. If so, I will then write for you a bill of sale and take it to the recording offices.”

The Midrash then explains the connection — “Similarly, when G‑d bestowed the priesthood on Aharon, Korach came with loud protests. Therefore, the Torah granted Aharon 24 gifts of priesthood and an everlasting covenant of salt as a sign of reassurance.”

Even though Aharon’s priesthood had existed before Korach’s revolt (and had been invested by Moshe Rabbeinu with an ample measure of strength), still, as long as “a bill of sale had not been written and brought to the recording office,” he had not been endowed with full power. Through Korach’s revolt and the resulting gifts of priesthood,7 Aharon’s power was “signed and brought to the recording office.”

This explanation runs parallel to the concepts developed above comparing Yud-Beis Tammuz and Yud-Tes Kislev to a contract which has been questioned and then sustained by a court of law. However, though the concept is similar, the lesson from Parshas Korach adds a new dimension not dealt with by the lessons of Gimmel Tammuz and Shabbos.

Korach’s revolt centered around the priesthood. The most fundamental (and also the most frequent) function performed by a priest is the Priestly blessings. In all times and in all places (even now in Golus), the Torah commands a priest to bless the Jewish people. It follows that the power of blessing is intrinsically related to the nature of priesthood, expressing its essence.

Therefore, Korach’s revolt can be considered a protest against that power of blessing. Likewise, the added strength which Aharon’s priesthood received after the controversy’s resolution contributed an added intensity and power to those blessings.

The Torah commentaries have offered many varied and sophisticated interpretations of the priestly blessings. However, Rashi’s commentary focuses most intently on the simple interpretation of the verse (and our sages have commented “a verse never departs from its simple interpretation”). Concerning the versa “May G‑d bless you,” he explains “with money,” i.e., though the blessings arouse spiritual energies their effects are also visible in physical things, including money. The verse’s conclusion “and keep you,” he interprets as “protect you from thieves,” i.e., even if the blessings arouse the envy of thieves, the Jew will be safeguarded by G‑d’s protective shield. He similarly explains the other blessings as referring to material benefits, including the most valuable blessing, the blessing of peace.

The relationship of the priestly blessings to material concerns is the main thrust of the lesson derived from Parshas Korach. That lesson contributes a new dimension to the lessons previously derived from the concepts of Gimmel Tammuz and Shabbos.

Gimmel Tammuz concerns a Jew’s service in spreading Torah and Mitzvos. Superficially, at least, it has no relation to a Jew’s behavior amid his material concerns. Even Shabbos, which teaches you that “all your work is completed,” and thus refers to a Jew’s physical activities, deals with those activities from the perspective of Shabbos. It doesn’t deal with work, in its active, busy routine. Rather, it teaches you to transcend that routine.

The priestly blessings deal with work, money, and the other elements of a Jew’s everyday reality. The blessings concern material affairs, teaching a Jew that even in the practical realm his success is dependent on G‑d’s blessings. That concept causes the Jew to change the manner in which he approaches his worldly affairs. In general, that new approach is summarized by the adage of the Alter Rebbe “G‑d gives the Jewish people material blessings and the Jews transform the material into spiritual.”

A deeper view of the Torah’s perspective on material blessings can be seen from the Rambam’s description of the Messianic times. He writes, “material pleasures will then be as abundant as the dust of the earth.” The obvious intent of his statement is to show how plentiful material pleasures will be. However, his use of the metaphor of dust, rather than another expression communicates a second concept that the Jews will regard the material pleasures as dust. Their attention will be focused on the knowledge of G‑d and the study of Torah, and though they will indulge in the material pleasures, those pleasures will have no real importance.

In the priestly blessings, the name of G‑d used is Hashem.8 Hashem refers to the unlimited, transcendent aspects of G‑dliness (as opposed to Elokim, which though also a name of G‑d, refers to G‑dliness as it expresses itself within the limits of the world). Therefore, the blessings which emanate from the level of Hashem, even as they are revealed in this world of limitation, are unlimited and unbounded.

Likewise, the priestly blessings are effected in a manner of “his words run swiftly.”9 Generally, in order for a blessing ‘to reach this world from its source in the spiritual realms, it has to pass through various different intermediate levels. Often, blessings become delayed or at times totally obstructed when passing through these many different levels. Bircas Kohanim passes these levels without difficulty, in a manner of “his word runs swiftly.”

This concept, how the priesthood (which has the power to affect physical deeds) was “written up and brought to the recording offices,” is the central concept of Parshas Korach. It is of such great importance, that to communicate that concept, Hashgachah Protis created a situation which resulted in Korach’s rebellion.10

The 24 priestly presents,11 the sign that the priesthood was “written up and brought to the recording offices,” must be given with joy, a joy which can be felt even in the physical world. Likewise, they bring blessing into the physical world, including the most important blessing, the blessing of peace.

5. It is customary during a summer farbrengen to explain a Mishnah from the weekly readings of Pirkei Avos in detail. This week that Mishnah is the sixth Mishnah of the fourth Perek.

The Mishnah reads, “Rav Yosi said, ‘He who honors the Torah, his body is given honor by the creations. He who dishonors the Torah, his body will be dishonored by the creations.”

A number of questions arise from this Mishnah: a) Pirkei Avos is supposed to be guidelines for “pious behavior, actions beyond the measure of the law.” The concept of honoring the Torah is a primary and fundamental requirement of Jewish law. How can it be considered in the realm of “pious behavior”? b) The Mishnayos which precede and follow this Mishnah also speak about reward and punishment. However, in those Mishnayos, there is no difference made between the soul and the body, the reward or punishment is for both. Why in this Mishnah is the body dealt with apart from the soul? (Particularly, since the question revolves around the honor or dishonor of the Torah, it would seem that if anything, the reward or punishment would be more appropriate for the soul than for the body.) c) On the verse in the Haggadah, “Chochem Ma Hu Omar,” the Previous Rebbe commented that the Hebrew original contains the flexibility to be translated as “The wise son — what he is, he says,” i.e., that his speech communicates and expresses who and what he really is. Similarly, the Talmud gives examples of certain sages, e.g., Eliezer Mokshawei, who were named according to one statement that they made.12

Particularly, when we are speaking about Pirkei Avos, where it is infrequent for a sage to be mentioned often, those statements which are recorded in his name must be considered characteristic, reflecting his very essence and truest self-perception. Therefore, an intrinsic connection must be found relating Rav Yosi to the Mishnah he authored.

To understand the above question, we must conclude that the type of honor to the Torah referred to by Rav Yosi is not the same honor to the Torah required by Shulchan Aruch. From the above it appears that the honor due to the Torah advised by Rav Yosi differs from that required by Shulchan Aruch. Rav Yosi asks to honor the Torah in situations where the limits of Shulchan Aruch would not obligate one to perform such behavior.

This concept is illustrated in several stories in the Talmud which record conversations between Rav Yosi and a Roman noblewoman. The noblewoman had a number of questions on Torah subjects which she posed to Rav Yosi.

(At that time, the knowledge of the Torah had spread considerably throughout the nations, reaching even the highest circles of Roman society. Onkelos, who translated the Torah into Aramaic was a nephew of the Emperor Hadrian. Likewise, many other aristocratic families of Rome were attracted to Judaism.)

In such a case, a legitimate question can be asked: Was Rav Yosi correct in discussing these questions with that woman? Should he have revealed Torah concepts to a non-Jewish woman? The question is particularly applicable considering that the question discussed had nothing to do with the seven Mitzvos of the non-Jews (or even the laws pertinent to Jewish women).

Had Rav Yosi ignored the Roman woman the honor of Torah would have been affected. However, to answer her properly (since the answer that “this is what the Torah says” would not have been acceptable as a non-Jew requires an answer that is logically and rationally acceptable), he would have to overstep the normal limits of teaching Torah.

The solution to this dilemma is communicated by our Mishnah. Rav Yosi counsels to honor the Torah even in those cases when there would be no obligation from the Shulchan Aruch. Rav Yosi felt that even a non-Jew should be taught to recognize the wisdom and depth of Torah. Through such behavior, Torah itself receives greater honor. This statement is characteristic of Rav Yosi. He, himself, frequently conducted such discussions with non-Jews.

The reward for this behavior is specified in the Mishnah — “his body is honored by all creations.” All creations13 refers to non-Jews. Since they perceive the depth of Torah, they feel the necessity to honor the Jewish people. (The Mishnah uses the expression “his body is honored” because a non-Jew can only relate to a Jew’s body. He has no point of relation to a Jewish soul.)

Since Rav Yosi made an effort to ensure that even a non-Jew would understand Torah, it is logically understandable that he felt it even more necessary that Jews should also comprehend its depth. For that reason, as the Gemara relates, he would always teach the reason and the motivating principles of the laws under discussion.

When teaching Chukim or laws of the category of Halachah L’Moshe MiSinai, he did not give a reason (because these laws are not able to be understood by human reason). However, where the law itself provided for rational explanation, Rav Yosi would convey those explanations to his students. As the Talmud explains, “If the law must be accepted because of tradition, we will accept it, but if there is room for logical interpretation, we will seek that interpretation.”

Other sages did not necessarily teach in that fashion. They were often willing to teach the law without delving into its rationale. However, Rav Yosi always sought to convey the reason.

The major difference between these two approaches is their effect on the students. Regardless of whether they understand or not they will follow the law; however, if they understand the law, their appreciation of the depth of Torah, and therefore their honor of Torah, will be enhanced.

The above explanation also brings out the connection of this Mishnah with the preceding one. That Mishnah makes the statement “Don’t make Torah a crown to boast about or an axe to chop with.” The crown, or the axe referred to is obviously not a crown or axe forbidden by Torah (if it was forbidden by Torah, this prohibition would not be included in Pirkei Avos, a tractate which discusses “pious behavior” — actions beyond the measure of the laws). However, when an individual becomes conscious of the honor of the Torah he would never consider using Torah as an axe or crown even if Shulchan Aruch permits.

6. It has been mentioned often that the summer months of vacation should not be wasted. This statement particularly applies when a person takes a vacation, i.e., voluntarily goes into exile; in such a case he should follow the Mishnah’s advice and “seek exile in a place of Torah.”

The entire concept of a person accepting this kind of voluntary exile is difficult to conceive. Why would a person leave behind all the comforts of his home and go to the country? At home, he has a regular pattern and comfortable facilities for eating, sleeping, and drinking. Yet, he is willing to sacrifice them to go to the country. There, he has much more difficulties. Still, he accepts those difficulties with joy and happily embarks on his self-imposed exile.14

Exile is considered the most severe of all punishments. However, after a person has convinced himself that this exile will bring him both physical and spiritual health, he accepts his exile willingly and pays dearly for the few weeks he goes away. In fact, he pays much more than he pays for the comforts of his home.

Whatever the explanation for this behavior, it has already been accepted by hundreds, even thousands of Jews.15 They are willing to go into exile and they return to the city happier, healthier, more ready to do a Mitzvah, learn Torah, give tzedakah, and indulge in other Torah activities.

When a person is looking to go into exile, then, as mentioned above, he should follow the Mishnah’s advice and “seek exile in a place of Torah” or take the steps necessary to ensure that the place he is going to will be transformed into a place of Torah.

The expression “a place of Torah” implies that not only is Torah considered important in that place, but that the place is Torah’s place. Torah is the controlling factor in that place.

The most simple sign that Torah is the controlling factor is the existence of fixed times for Torah study. However, the fixation of Torah study should not be only in time but also in soul. Torah must be considered the most important and most essential aspect of the community. Even if in fact, other affairs take up more time each day, still the place must revolve around Torah. Torah must be considered the central factor of the community.

The practical request is for all those who are seeking a place of exile to “seek exile in a place of Torah.” If one’s plans include going to a place which is already a place of Torah, then each new person should try to add to and intensify the Torah atmosphere there. If the place is not already a place of Torah, it must be transformed into a place of Torah.

The same request applies to the summer camps. The directors of a summer camp are responsible to provide for the needs of all children enrolled. Those needs are not only physical: eating, drinking, and recreation, but also spiritual. The directors are responsible and must feel a necessity to transform the environment into a place of Torah.

A person who doesn’t take the proper steps to ensure his physical health is considered by Torah to be damaging himself. Likewise, if he is entrusted with the responsibility of caring for others, if he ignores their health he is considered liable for damaging their health. The same concept applies to spiritual health. If he neglects caring for the spiritual health of those individuals who have been entrusted to his care, he is also liable for damage.

When the Jews left their first exile in Egypt, the Torah relates how they left heavily laden with riches. Similarly, those who return from “an exile to a place of Torah” will also return laden with riches.