A fascinating farbrengen about the deep meaning of “The Great Yud Alef Nissan” — 120 years — which is around the corner, and the appropriate way to prepare ourselves for this shining day, upon which we merited the revelation of the Rebbe’s light in this world.
By Rabbi Yosef Greenberg – Shliach of the Rebbe to Alaska
- Unique Events During Milestone Anniversaries with Our Rebbeim.
The celebration of milestones and the beginning of new time periods was uniquely important to our rebbeim in general, and to the Rebbe in particular.
At the farbrengen of 18 Elul, 5701, the Rebbe Rayatz told over that on 18 Elul 5508, which was the 50th birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, the Baal Shem Tov announced that “the Master of a Neshama” in Poland — referring to the Alter Rebbe — is today three years old, and just as Avraham Avinu recognized his Creator at three years old, and spread the knowledge of Hashem’s oneness around the world with self-sacrifice, so too the Alter Rebbe would need to walk in the path of self-sacrifice of Avraham Avinu in order to reveal the path of the avoda of G-d’s oneness and Divine personal providence.
Fifty years afterwards — the Rebbe Rayatz related — in the hundredth year since the birth of the Baal Shem Tov, the informer Avigdor did his despicable deed against the Alter Rebbe, demanding that the worst possible punishment — that given for treason — should be given to the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe was taken to the most terrifying prison in S. Petersburg, where his life was literally in danger. And on 19 Kislev in the hundredth year since the Baal Shem Tov’s birth was when the Alter Rebbe went victoriously free, and for Chassidus in general, and Chassidus Chabad in particular, that was when truth prevailed over falsehood.
Fifty years after that — the Rebbe Rayatz continued — in the 150th year since the birth of the Baal Shem Tov — in 5608, the law that had existed forbidding the publication of Kabbalah and Chassidus in Russia — which had been brought about by the libels of the Maskilim, the members of the “Enlightenment” movement — was repealed. At that time the Tzemach Tzedek printed the book of books of Chassidus Chabad: Likkutei Torah, which explains in detail the Baal Shem Tov’s true understanding of the fundamental concepts of the knowledge of Hashem and the love of one’s fellow Jew. In another sicha, the Rebbe Rayatz added that the Tzemach Tzedek said that the hints that suggested that Moshiach would come in 5608 were fulfilled in the printing of Likkutei Torah, which revealed the depth of Chassidus to the world.
During the farbrengen of 13 Tishrei 5705, the Rebbe Rayatz told over that Chassidim said that the Rebbe Maharash was born in 5594, which was 100 years since the Baal Shem Tov’s revealing himself to the world in 5494.
So milestone years have been unique times when new and special spiritual and G-dly light came to the world and continue to influence the world; events like Yud Tes Kislev, the printing of Likkutei Torah after the repealing of the law, the birth of the Rebbe Maharash and more. These wonderful things took place at those times because of the new spiritual light that shone into the world on these milestones.
In Adar 5697 the Rebbe wrote to his father-in-law the Rebbe Rayatz, suggesting that since that year would mark 40 years since the establishment of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, as well as 10 years since the Chag Hageulah of Yud Beis Tammuz, that these milestones be marked and celebrated in the periodical journal Hatamim. The Rebbe Rayatz accepted the Rebbe’s suggestion and indeed, two volumes of Hatamim (vols. 6 and 7) of that year were dedicated to celebrating the milestone of 40 years since the establishment of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, as well as 10 years since the Chag Hageulah of Yud Beis Tammuz.
In 5705 the Rebbe celebrated the threefold milestone of his father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz: 50 years from when the Rebbe Rayatz entered into the field of communal activism, 25 years of the Rebbe Rayatz’s nesius, and 18 years since the Chag Hageulah of Yud Beis Tammuz. The Kehot Publication Society published at that time a number of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s sichos and maamarim in honor of that threefold milestone.
In 5707 the Rebbe celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of the Rebbe Rayatz, and on each of the seven days following the anniversary, seforim which had been printed in Shanghai during the war, and which had arrived, by Divine personal providence, at that time were brought to the Frierdiker Rebbe. During the farbrengen on 14 Kislev, 5739, the Rebbe described how that had brought much nachas to the Rebbe Rayatz.
- The Shturem that the Rebbe Made at Milestone Celebrations
We saw over the years that the Rebbe also made a big shturem during the celebrations of milestones. We merited that the Rebbe celebrated the milestones of Yud Alef Nissan — especially the 70th and 80th anniversaries of the Rebbe’s birth — together with us. The Rebbe also celebrated the milestones of the day upon which the Rebbe accepted the nesius — Yud Shevat — including the 30th and 40th anniversaries of that day. The Rebbe also celebrated the milestones of his wedding anniversary on 14 Kislev, especially the 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries. (It’s noteworthy that the only letter from the Rebbetzin to N’shei Ubnos Chabad is from the celebration of the 30th wedding anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin.)
The Rebbe also made a big shturem over the years in celebrating the milestones of the rebbeim. For example, in 5720 the Rebbe made a big shturem to celebrate the 200th year since the passing of the Baal Shem Tov, and in 5723 the Rebbe made a unique shturem about the 150th year since the passing of the Alter Rebbe, to the extent that the Rebbe began the farbrengen on 24 Teves at 10:25 p.m. on Motzei Shabbos — the exact time at which the Alter Rebbe had passed away in 5573.
- The Celebration of the Rebbe Rashab’s 120th Birthday
In 5740 and 5741 the Rebbe celebrated — in a truly unique way — the 120th birthday of the Rebbe Rashab. The Rebbe’s words made it clear that the celebration of 120 years is far greater than any other milestone celebration. On 20 Cheshvan, 5740, when the 120th year since the Rebbe Rashab’s birth began, the Rebbe dedicated nearly an entire farbrengen to this, saying a number of sichos about birthdays in general and the 120th birthday in particular.
The Rebbe explained that the unique quality of the rebbe Rashab was spreading Torah through the establishment of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, in which nigleh and Chassidus are studied together, as one Torah. The Rebbe added that everyone should mark the 120th birthday by increasing in the spreading of Torah by establishing shiurim with two others in nigleh and Chassidus, and that the existing Yeshivos Tomchei Temimim should admit more students and open new branches. The Rebbe also explained a number of wondrous things we learn from kapital 120, which corresponded to the birthday.
Continuing on this theme, during the farbrengen of Motzei Shabbos Chayei Sarah, 27 Cheshvan 5740, the Rebbe spoke at length about how this was the eighth day since the date of the rebbe Rashab’s birth (and while the Rebbe Rashab’s bris was pushed off until the 2nd night of Chanukah, this day still holds special significance), and the Rebbe once again spoke about the new stage in spreading Chassidus which took place through the Rebbe Rashab’s establishing Tomchei Temimim. The Rebbe once more instructed that everyone establish shiurim with two others in nigleh and Chassidus, and that they should add to and expand the mosdos which the Rebbe Rashab had established, and all of their branches, both by increasing the number of students and increasing the studies themselves.
During the farbrengen of Shabbos Parshas Vayeitzei, the Rebbe also spoke about the unique connection between the Rebbe Rashab and the Mitteler Rebbe, in that their style of Chassidusis very similar and in that they both wrote a multitude of maamorim. The Rebbe repeated the instructions of the previous farbrengens and added that everyone should increase in learning Chassidus, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
On 20 Cheshvan, 5741, the Rebbe Rashab’s 120th birthday, the Rebbe once again dedicated an entire farbrengen to the topic, adding unique instructions both with regard to the personal, private avodah of chassidim — contemplating alone and imagining that one is standing before the Rebbe Rashab, and also to learn one of the Rebbe Rashab’s maamorim on one’s own — and with regard to the avodah of spreading Yiddishkeit: to increase in Mivtza Torah as well as Mivtza Mezuzah, which is particularly connected with kapital 121. The Rebbe also detailed numerous lessons from kapital 121 during this farbrengen.
On 2 Nissan, 5741, in an unusual event, the Rebbe began saying a short sicha while standing outside the door to the Rebbe’s Library at 766 Eastern Parkway. The Rebbe spoke again about the unique lesson we must take from the 120th birthday.
It’s well-known that Rebbe said a number of times about the Rebbe Rayatz that “pasak al atzmo” — “he ruled regarding himself” — in other words, that something he said regarding others could also be applied to himself. The same is true here: from the extraordinary farbrengens surrounding the Rebbe Rashab’s 120th birthday, we learn how to celebrate the Rebbe’s 120th birthday, and we learn that this milestone is greater than any other that has preceded it.
- Establishing the Yeshiva During The Rebbe Rayatz’s Chasuna — And its Connection to Our Celebration of 120 Years
It is noteworthy that out of all of the milestone celebrations that the Rebbe marked, the rebbe Rashab’s 120th birthday was different.
While on the one hand, the Rebbe dedicated entire farbrengens with incredible sichos and hora’os to this, on the other hand, it was different from the other milestones the Rebbe celebrated, such as 200 years since the Baal Shem Tov’s passing and 150 years since the Alter Rebbe’s passing. During those milestones, the Rebbe continued the celebration with practical action, such as an appeal and the establishment of a fund that would be filled with contributions in multiples of the number being celebrated, as well as splitting up the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch to be studied. And throughout the year, the Rebbe continued to encourage the campaigns related to the celebration of these milestones, and wrote many letters about them.
But when it came to the 120th birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, there was hardly any practical follow-up at the time — besides for a letter sent by Mazkirus on Motzei Shabbos, 20 Cheshvan 5740. That letter said that in continuation to the farbrengen, at which the Rebbe had instructed that that all the yeshivos increase the number of students and, as needed, to open new branches and sections for this — Mazkirus announced that the Rebbe was sending a grant of three times $120. But aside from this, there were almost no letters or directives from the Rebbe on this topic during these years of 5740-5741 — to the extent that in the Shalsheles Hayachas in the forward to Hayom Yom, which summarizes the salient highlights of each year of the Rebbe’s nesius, there is no mention in these years of 5740-5741 of the Rebbe’s celebration of 120 years of the Rebbe’s Rashab’s birthday.
An explanation we can give for this is based upon what we merited to hear from the Rebbe during the farbrengen of 20 Cheshvan, 5740. The Rebbe explained why the Rebbe Rashab didn’t found Tomchei Temimim at the start of his nesius, but instead waited a number of years until the marriage of his son, the Rebbe Rayatz, on 15 Elul 5657, at which time he announced that at the behest of all the rebbeim he would be opening Tomchei Temimim.
The Rebbe explained that only once the Rebbe Rayatz — the Rebbe Rashab’s only son — was married, was there the possibility for the Rebbe Rashab to have grandchildren and “the crown of the elderly are grandchildren.” The Rebbe went on to explain that this is connected with what Chazal teach us on the passuk, “it will not be taken from your mouth and the mouths of your children and the mouths of the children of your children, says Hashem, forever.” When there are three generations, Chazal teach, “the Torah returns to its host” and it is certain that this will be everlasting.
During this sicha, the Rebbe added something unique in connection with the task of the temimim — which, the Rebbe often elaborated, is made up of two primary missions: 1) “Toraso umnaso” — “Torah is their work” — to be dedicated to Torah study in nigleh and Chassidus. 2) To be “neiros le’hoir” — “lights that illuminate” — to influence and illuminate the surrounding environment and to kindle the “Candle of Hashem — the soul of Man” by way of spreading Judaism and Chassidus outward, and to battle those who “disgraced the footsteps of your Moshiach,” and to bring Moshiach.
The Rebbe said during that farbrengen — and it’s in the sicha that was edited by the Rebbe — that it was specifically at the wedding of the Rebbe Rayatz, which created the possibility for grandchildren, that the Rebbe Rashab established Tomchei Temimim, whose goal is “to create students (which are like children) and that those students be able to teach others (which are like grandchildren). This means that the true fulfillment of the second goal of the temimim — to be “lights which illuminate” is being fulfilled in Dor Hashvii — the generation of the Rebbe — the generation of the “grandchildren”.
(Parenthetically, it should be noted that the Rebbe often quoted the Rebbe Rashab’s saying that the job of temimim is to be “neiros leho’ir” — “lights that illuminate”. We haven’t yet found this saying in the writings of the Rebbe Rashab or the Rebbe Rayatz. Kuntres Eitz Chaim does say that temimim should “bring merit to the masses” and that they should be “tofeiach al m’nas lehatfiach” — “moist enough to make others moist” and that the yeshiva was established because of the negative circumstances in the world at the time. But the first mention of the saying “lights to illuminate” in connection with temimim is in the letter of the Rebbe from Adar 5697 to his father-in-law the Rebbe Rayatz, in which he recommends to the Rebbe Rayatz that he write a michtav klali — a general letter — to all of the present and former temimim in honor of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the yeshiva. The Rebbe makes his holy suggestion to the Rebbe Rayatz that the Rebbe Rayatz should write in this letter to the temimim about the “spiritual powers that have been invested [by the rebbeim] — and continue to be invested — in Tomchei Temimim … that the strength of the one who formed, founded and directs the yeshiva should be recognizable in those influenced by it … so that even if one is exiled to a strange place (strange within himself or externally), the Torah of life and the path of life enlivens him and supports him so that he will not falter, and he will also be a “neir leho’ir” — a light that illuminates — and a life that enlivens those around him.” Those holy words imply that the goal of the temimim is to be “lights that illuminate,” and that this is what the nesiim who established the yeshiva directed.)
Based on these words, we can understand why when the Rebbe celebrated the 120th birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, the Rebbe focused mainly on the activities that are unique to the Dor Hashvii. During the eventful years of 5740 and 5741, the Rebbe called for Lag BaOmer parades to take place throughout the world. The Rebbe also called for the founding of Kolel Tiferes Z’keinim Levi Yitzchok for the elderly, as well as youth organizations and children’s gatherings. In 5741, the Rebbe founded Tzivos Hashem, launched the “We Want Moshiach Now” campaign and began the campaign to write a Torah for Jewish children.
Because the entire intention of the Rebbe Rashab in the founding of Tomchei Temimim was for the actions and the mivtzoim that would be done by the “grandchildren” — the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin in Dor Hashvii, and that this should be everlasting until Moshiach comes.
And if all of the Rebbe’s sichos and instructions can be considered “he ruled regarding himself,” and contain instructions for each and every one of us today, then the Chassidisher feeling that anyone who learns and contemplates the Rebbe’s holy words, which were said in connection with 120 years since the Rebbe Rashab’s birth, is that here the Rebbe “ruled regarding himself” in a unique way: what the Rebbe said the about 120 years being a greater milestone than any before is something that applies to us as well, as we prepare to celebrate Yud Alef Nissan — 120 years.
- The Rebbe Knew Everything … and Prepared for Everything
The chozer R’ Yoel Kahan related that he traveled by ship to the United States and arrived about two weeks after Yud Shevat 5710, which was when he found out about the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz. He was very distressed about this, for the entire goal of his trip, and the years of preparations beforehand obtaining the paperwork needed to travel was all in order to see the Rebbe Rayatz. And now he had arrived, and the Rebbe Rayatz had passed away. Two weeks before Pesach, 5710, R’ Yoel went to the Rebbe and asked whether he should observe just one day of Pesach — as a resident of Eretz Yisroel would — because he planned to possibly return to Eretz Yisroel, because the Rebbe Rayatz had passed away. The Rebbe answered — in a tune that R’ Yoel would often repeat — “The Rebbe knew everything.” The Rebbe Rayatz knew what would happen, and if he told you to come to 770 from Eretz Yisroel, he certainly knew that the passing would take place, and his goal was not that you should come here for a few weeks.
During the first number of farbrengens in the months following Yud Shevat, 5710, the Rebbe often said “the Rebbe prepared for everything” and that when we examine the sichos and letters of the Rebbe Rayatz, we find that he answered in advance all questions and directed what to do in any situation.
The same applies to us: when we consider the Rebbe’s holy words spoken during the farbrengens of 20 Cheshvan 5740 and 5741, the chassidisher feeling is that the Rebbe prepared us also for this year’s celebration of 120 years.
- When He Was Born, the House — and the World — Filled With Light
What, indeed, is the significance of the birthday of the nasi hador? And what is especially significant at the 120th birthday?
During the farbrengen of 7 Adar 5745, the Rebbe explained the passuk about Moshe Rabbeinu, “And she saw that he was good,” and Chazal’s explanation, brought by Rashi, that “The entire house filled with light.” The Rebbe explained the extent to which this is remarkable — for we’re talking about the house of Amram, the greatest of that generation, to the extent that Moshe is often referred to as “the Son of Amram” — as if to say that his greatness was because he was “the Son of Amram”. Despite Amram’s greatness, the “house filled with light” only once Moshe was born!
Of course, there was already “light” in Amram’s home before Moshe was born. And not just any light, but light befitting the greatest individual in the generation. But light itself has many levels — just as physical light can be brighter or dimmer, such as the difference between candlelight and torchlight and daylight, and the yet-brighter light that will exist with the coming of Moshiach.
When Chazal said that when Moshe was born, the house filled with light, they meant that Moshe’s birth didn’t just brighten the light that already existed in Amram’s house, but that in comparison to the light that Moshe’s birth brought into the house, it was as if it had been entirely dark before.
The Maamar Basi Legani 5711 explains the chiddush of Moshe Rabbeinu in comparison to all the generations that preceded him: all of the tzaddikim who came before him, from Avraham Avinu to Amram, only brought the Shechina down to the First Firmament from the Seventh — but it was still in Shamayim. Moshe was the one who brought it into this world, which is why until Moshe’s birth, it was still dark in the world in comparison to when Moshe was born — because the Shechinah only came to the world then.
- “I Am 120 Today” — the Completion of Life
During the farbrengen of 20 Cheshvan 5740 the Rebbe explained that at each birthday, a new, heretofore unseen light comes down to the world, as the Tanya explains about Rosh Hashanah that each and every year brings the revelation of a heretofore-unseen spiritual light in the world. The same is true at each birthday.
In addition, at every ten-year milestone an additional level of specialty is added, as the Mishna tells us “Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength,” etc. These milestones correspond to the additional spiritual level of light that is revealed at each of these milestone birthdays — entirely greater than anything that was revealed in previous years.
The greatest of them all is the 120th birthday, because this number refers to the truest completion of human life, as the passuk says, “And the days of his life shall be 120 years.” It’s clear therefore that the light that is revealed on a person’s 120th birthday is so complete and so elevated that it is entirely inestimably greater than anything that was revealed in previous years, to the point where the “Ein Sof” in it is completely revealed.
To put it simply: 120, in Torah, represents completion! In Bereishis it says that Man’s days will be 120, and Moshe Rabbeinu said on his 120th birthday, “Today my days and years have been completed.” The Rebbe mentions in the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Nitzovim-Vayeilech in 5740 that only four people merited this: Moshe Rabbeinu, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, Hillel and Rabbi Akiva.
So it’s clear that when we reach the 120th birthday, that means we’ve reached the completion of the goal of the descent of the Nassi’s neshama into the world, for from the moment he was born, “The entire house — and the entire world — filled with light,” to illuminate the world with the great light of his holy neshama. On Yud Alef Nissan this year, the completion of the Rebbe’s shlichus — as he was sent by Hashem — in the world will be attained in its entirety; the completion of the goal of Dor Hashvi’i, to bring the Shechina to this world and to bring the Geulah.
- On Yud Alef Nissan, the Savior of the Jewish People Was Born
The Rebbe Rayatz related that in 5662 there was intense persecution against the jewish people in Russia, and a few days before Pesach, that persecution disappeared miraculously. Chassidim always explained this by pointing out that that was when the Rebbe was born — on Yud Alef Nissan 5662 — and the entire world filled with the tremendous light of the Rebbe, and because of this, salvation came to the Jewish people miraculously.
On 14 Kislev 5689, on the day of the Rebbe’s chasuna, we merited the day that connected us with the Rebbe, and on Yud Shevat 5711 we merited that the Rebbe formally accepted the nesius, and announced in the Maamar Basi Legani the agenda of Dor Hashvi’i: to bring the Shechina down to this world through the work of shlichus in the style of Avraham Avinu, to spread Yiddishkeit everywhere, even in places where people don’t know Alef Beis, and even in places where people don’t know about Hashem’s existence, to put ourselves aside and bring every Yid close throughtrue Ahavas Yisrael, and through this work we will merit to bring the Shechina down here and to bring the Geulah speedily with the coming and revelation of Moshiach, now.
From then on, in each year of the nesius the Rebbe’s light was revealed more and more across the world, by way of the dissemination of his holy Torah — maamarim, sichos and letters — the shluchim and anash, men, women and children in spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidishkeit, by founding Chabad houses and doing mivtzoim in every corner of the world.
- The Proper and Expected Preparation for Everyone for Yud Alef Nissan
On Yud Alef Nissan this year — a date that represents completion — the Rebbe’s light will be revealed in its entirety in the world: on this Yud Alef Nissan, the purpose of the descent of the rebbe’s neshama into the world — to bring Moshiach — will be fulfilled, and we must only prepare and create the vessels to absorb this great light and to use it out in keeping with the Rebbe’s holy will, and to give the Rebbe nachas.
Simply said, this means that beginning from Yud Alef Nissan, 5782, the world should be ready to accept and to hear the Torah and the instructions of the Rebbe in a never-before-seen way. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon each of us and all of us, the “zar’o bachaim” — “descendants who are alive” — the hands and feet of the Rebbe, who demonstrate that “hu bachaim” — “He is alive” in this world — to mobilize ourselves with redoubled alacrity and do everything in our power to prepare ourselves and the world to bring the Rebbe’s words to every Yid in the world. We have been assured that the world is ready for this, and it will come easily and with tremendous unprecedented success.
Of course, the resolutions that shluchim and anash across the world did and will take on in the time leading up to Yud Alef Nissan, by establishing 1210 new mosdos and in doing mivtzoim inmultiples of 120, such as putting on tefillin with 120 Yidden this year, or giving out 120 Shabbos candles to Jewish women and girls, or giving out 120 matzos before Pesach, or learning 120 lines of Likkutei Sichos, Tanya, Mishnayos, or Gemara will certainly kindle the flame that will burn away the last vestiges of the Galus, and we will merit that on this Yud Alef Nissan the entire world will be filled with the light of the Rebbe with the Revelation of the Moshiach, and we will merit to meet the Rebbe down here and he will redeem us.
- Eliminating the Horrible Situation in the World Through Joy — “From Where Will My Help Come”
During that farbrengens of 20 Cheshvan 5740 and 5741, the Rebbe spoke at length about kapital 121, which is said starting on the 120th birthday “A song for ascents. I shall raise my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come?”
And the answer that Yaakov Avinu — who composed this kapital — gives is “A song for ascents” — song and joy — we must strengthen our joy, and this is done by recognizing that the help that the Jewish People need comes from the very high level of G-dliness known as “Ayin” — “Nothingness,” which is higher than Hashem’s four-letter name “Havaye,” as it is a level that cannot be alluded to with any letter or tip of a letter, the level of “open eyes.” This level of G-dliness brings us special protection as it says in kapitel 121, “Behold the Guardian of Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
This kapital gave Yaakov Avinu the strength to withstand the difficulties and pain of Galus, as he said “I lift my eyes,” because Yaakov “saw” the true purpose of Galus, which is that there should be additional light that comes out of the darkness.
This is a lesson for every Yid, that they should lift their eyes and realize that even though we are in the difficult, horrible darkness of Galus, they can be joyous with true, limitless joy. Through serving Hashem with joy, we are promised that “your enemies will weaken before you.” This is because the person is bringing into the world — which is a limited place — limitless joy which is beyond the world’s restrictions, and through this one can repair the world.
The joy that is demanded of us is not just joy of doing a mitzvah or learning Torah, but also simply joy in everything, because joy breaks through barriers, and through joy we can break through the barriers of Galus and eliminate the terrible situation in which we find ourselves, where “darkness covers the land and deep darkness covers the nations.”
These holy words, spoken 42 years ago, are as if they were said specifically for our times, for the war now taking place in Ukraine, which broke out within 60 days before Yud Alef Nissan. These words plant within us the trust that “Behold the Guardian of Israel will neither slumber nor sleep,” and that through increasing in joy, which breaks through barriers, we can eliminate this terrible situation of war, with all of the terrible effects it has had in many countries, and we will merit the complete Geulah very soon.
- The Unique Strength Embedded in 120 Years
Four more points will add a geshmak in the celebration of 120 years:
- During the farbrengen of 20 Cheshvan 5741, the Rebbe explained the concept of 120 years, which the Zohar brings on the passuk (Bereishis 6, 3) “Bishegam hu bassar” — “Inasmuch as he is flesh, and his days are 120,” which refers to Moshe Rabbeinu, who gives life to every Yid from the Tree of Life, and ״בשגם״ — “inasmuch” — has the same gematria as “Moshe.” This means that Moshe gives the Jewish people the blessing of long life.
The Zohar goes on to explain that this is because, as Chazal say, “Moshe lo meis” — “Moshe did not pass away” — and therefore he can give life to others, because death did not affect him. The commentaries on the Zohar connect this with what the Gemara says about Moshe’s not passing “ma l’halon …” — “Just as before he stood and served, so too now he stands and serves.”
In the maamar “Vayihyu Chayei Sarah” which was said during that farbrengen, the Rebbe added that just as it is with Moshe Rabbeinu, the “Shepherd of Faith,” so too it is with regard to the shepherds of Israel in every generation, until the Rebbe Rayatz.
And as the Rebbe Rayatz wrote in a letter about his father — which of course applies to him as well — the shepherds of Israel do not separate from their flock. This is like the saying of Chazal that “Just as before he stood and served, so too now he stands and serves.”
Now, too, he — the Rebbe Rashab, and his successor, the Rebbe Rayatz — is advocating for the merit of every Yid, and gives themblessings for success and salvation, including bringing down for them spiritual life from the level of the “Tree of Life,” along with physical long life to each and every Yid..
These holy words give us liveliness and joy, as we know that on Yud Alef Nissan, the Rebbe will advocate on our behalf, among all Yidden, and bring us blessings for success and salvation as well as long life. And Yud Alef Nissan is a day that is especially propitious to increase our connection to the Rebbe, who is the “Tree of Life” with new liveliness and in true completion.
- During the farbrengen of 20 Cheshvan 5740, the Rebbe explained about the passuk, “And his days shall be 120 years” that Rashi explains that “I will be patient for 120 years, and after that I will bring the Flood.” Hashem gave the world 120 years to do teshuva, and only then did He bring the Flood.
As Rashi explains, at the beginning of the Flood it was “rain” because “when the [rains] fell, they fell with mercy, and if they were to do teshuvah, they would have been rains of blessing.”
So even once the Flood had begun they could still have done teshuva.
The Rebbe told us that “this shows the power of 120 years — that they can nullify even a decree like that of the Flood, and change it to rains of blessing.”
These words plant within each of us new hope, especially in the abnormal times we are in after two years of pandemic and all sorts of physical and spiritual concerns: we must know that Yud Alef Nissan – 120 Years can eliminate all negative decrees and bring rains of blessing upon us.
- On Shabbos parshas Nitzavim-Vayelech 5740 the Rebbe asked about what it says that on Moshe’s 120th birthday, “נסתמו ממנו מעיינות החכמה” — “the wellsprings of wisdom were stopped up for him.” The Rebbe asked how this was possible, for this was on his birthday, when he is elevated even higher — and especially since this was the 120th birthday, which is the highest elevation, which only four people merited to achieve.
The Rebbe explains that the term “stopped up” refers to the fact that on that day, Moshe reached the level known as “the most hidden of the hidden” (״סתימא דכל סתימין״) a level which is so high that it could not be revealed down here — much like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who on the day of his passing on Lag B’Omer was elevated to his root and source.
On the other hand, the Rebbe asked, how then could it be that on this day, Moshe taught many parshiyos in Torah, including Haazinu and Vezos Habracha, which include many mitzvos such as Hakhel, writing a Sefer Torah by the king and more? The Rebbe explains that “this proves that the things in those parshiyos are from this level of ,the most hidden of the hidden,, which were revealed in the world.”
This increases our understanding of the greatness of Yud Alef Nissan this year, when we mark 120 years, when a light that is so high that it is from the level of “the most hidden of the hidden,” a level much higher than what was revealed in previous years, will be revealed.
- During the farbrengen of 13 Nissan 5746, the Rebbe explained about the Tzemach Tzedek’s 120th yahrtzeit, saying that since we see that 120 represents the completion of a person’s life, as it was for Moshe Rabbeinu, it is clear that the same applies to the “shleimus” — completeness — of the yahrtzeit — when we reach 120 elevations, the neshama reaches a level of “shleimus” — completeness — that is so great that the “Ein Sof” is revealed in it.
All of these elevations in the tzaddik affect his students and those who go in his ways as well, and in order to absorb this light, we must create vessels for it, which we do by learning his Torah and going in his ways, and through this we are connected with the Rebbe in such a way that the salvation are brought down here, practically, until the ultimate salvation with the coming of Moshiach.
These words of the Rebbe inspire us with the importance of making the proper vessels to absorb the great light which will be revealed on Yud Alef Nissan (“the whole house — and the whole world — was filled with light”), and to use it out in accordance with the Rebbe’s wishes.
- Hashem, in His Kindness, Gave Us an Extra Month to Prepare for Yud Alef Nissan
During the farbrengen of Yud Shevat, 5733, the Rebbe spoke again about establishing 71 new mosdos. The Rebbe said that every year has two months from 11 Shevat to 11 Nissan, but Hashem, who is merciful, added another month this year — in 5733, which was a leap year — and the Rebbe added that we should indeed use out the extra month to fulfill all the positive resolutions that had already been taken, and to add twice as many positive resolutions, or four times as many. The Rebbe mentioned the expression that the Rebbe Rayatz would say that when a Yid resolves to do something good, even if in practice, he doesn’t have the capability of fulfilling the resolution, the very act of making the resolution opens a new pipeline of blessing that enables him to fulfill his resolution in its entirety.
This year — 5782 — is also a leap year, so we were given an extra month before 11 Nissan. The days remaining before Yud Alef Nissan must be days of thought and action in fulfilling the Rebbe’s ideas in an unprecedented way, so that we will create the vessels to absorb the great light of the Rebbe on Yud Alef Nissan.
As Chassidim and mekusharim — individuals connected to the Rebbe — we will prepare ourselves for Yud Alef Nissan in a more elevated way than in previous years, because this year, which marks 120 years, will have an especially significant completeness. We, too, will be elevated through the Torah and the mivtzoim of the Rebbe, much more so than in other years.
- The Rebbe Thinks About Each of Us — An Amazing Story
During the farbrengen of Yud Shevat, 5721, the Rebbe said that the rebbeim were accustomed to mentioning privately those who were connected to them, and to contemplate their love and hiskashrus. This would cause the person who was being thought about to be awakened in their own connection to the Rebbe, “as water reflects a face, so is the heart of man”.
The Rebbe added that when a chossid’s feelings of hiskashrus towards the Rebbe are awakened, this is because the Rebbe is thinking about him — and as this is true when the tzaddik is alive in this physical world, how much more so is it true after his passing.
We see that the whole world is awakened to prepare for Yud Alef Nissan, and so it is clear that this comes from the Rebbe, and that the Rebbe is thinking about each of us individually, among all Yidden.
Some years ago, a Yid from London visited us in Alaska. He related a story about his father-in-law, who had lived in Geneva and dealt in diamonds. This was during the early years of the nesius — around 5712 — when this individual’s father-in-law took a business trip to Italy. Upon disembarking from the train in Milan, he realized that his case, which was filled with diamonds and cash, had been stolen, and he didn’t even have the fare for a ticket to return home. He sat in the train station and sobbed.
Suddenly, a Chabad chassid from Tel Aviv approached him, handed him a sefer, and said, “The Lubavitcher Rebbe sent you this sefer.”
The man looked back at him in confusion: “How could the Rebbe send me a sefer — the Rebbe doesn’t know who I am!”
The chassid answered that he had just come from New York, where he had been in yechidus, and before he left yechidus, the Rebbe gave him this sefer and said that he should give it to the first Yid he met who appeared to need help. “You were the first Yid I met, and I see that you’re crying, so I feel that the Rebbe sent this for you. Stop crying, because you have a bracha from the Rebbe, and everything will be good.” “How can everything be good,” the father-in-law asked, “when I don’t even have the fare for my trip home?” When the chassid heard this, he gave the man money to cover the trip, and when the man returned home, his business really picked up, to the point where he became very wealthy.
“That chossid — who was also in the diamond industry — offered a partnership to my father-in-law,” our guest concluded. “and they’ve been partners ever since.”
This story reminds us of the extent to which the Rebbe is concerned with each and every Yid.
- Practical Instructions in Connection With the 120th Birthday
During the farbrengens of 20 Cheshvan 5740 and 5741, we merited to receive many practical instructions on how to celebrate the 120th birthday:
- To add to and to expand the mosdos that the Rebbe founded (Yeshivos Tomchei Temimim and their subsidiaries) — to expand the existing ones in terms of students and studies, and to open and establish new branches in every place.
- To strengthen our study of the Rebbe’s Torah and our following in the Rebbe’s ways.
- Strengthening Mivtza Torah, which is connected to 120, which refers to Moshe Rabbeinu, whose essence is Torah, who lived to 120 — to influence two people to add in Torah study in nigleh and Chassidus, to establish a shiur with two people in nigleh and Chassidus.
- Strengthening our study of the Torah of the Rebbe whose birthday it is — his holy sichos and maamarim.
- Increasing our study of Chassidus quantitatively, as the Rebbe Rashab wrote vast quantities of Chassidus.
- Strengthening Mivtza Mezuzah, which is connected to kapital 121, which we start to say this year, which includes the passuk, “Hashem will guard your comings and goings” which is connected to mezuzah.
- Strengthening the dissemination of Torah — and all the mivtzoim!
- Strengthening in joy, which is connected to kapital 121 (as above).
- To spend several minutes on the birthday alone in a room, with closed eyes and deep contemplation, to forget oneself and imagine that one is standing before the Rebbe, and that his entire being is that he is a chossid of the Rebbe (and to do this from time to time: at least once a week, and once a day would be even better).
- On the birthday, to learn a maamar of the Rebbe whose birthday it is, into which he put his neshama, which connects us with the Rebbe. Through contemplating and learning the maamar, one will redeem oneself from one’s personal Galus and that will bring the whole world out of its Galus as well.
- Preparations for Yud Alef Nissan – 120 Years: Learning His Torah and Distributing Matzah
Vaad Or Vechom Hahiskashrus organized a mivtza to prepare ourselves for Yud Alef Nissan, and is emphasizing two points which are within reach for everyone:
- To try and join in Mivtza Matzah, primarily by giving out matzah to anyone with whom you have a connection — and to do this more than any other year, because this year is a year of “completeness.” In addition to participating themselves, those who are able to should sponsor others in this, so that every member of Anash should be able to participate.
- To choose a maamar of the Rebbe and learn it according to your ability — to understand the maamar and to contemplate it until you truly know it, and through this maamar, to “live with the Rebbe” during this time.
This is how we can connect ourselves with the Rebbe — by learning his Torah and by connecting other Yidden through Mivtza Matza.
We are certain that these actions will bring nachas to the Rebbe, and there are no gifts greater than this — and we can only imagine the nachas that our letting the Rebbe know what we have done will bring to the Rebbe.
In the merit of these positive resolutions as part of this massive preparation for the shining and holy day that is approaching, we will merit to celebrate Yud Alef Nissan – 120 Years together with the Rebbe down here in this world, and we will merit to see the shining holy countenance of the Rebbe — “melech beyofyo techezena einecha” — and to hear his holy words — “Torah chadasha me’iti teizei” in our days, mamash!