September 6, 2016
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1037, Elul, Moshiach & Hakhel

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

The summer months have come and gone. We are now in the special month of Elul, the month when the “king is in the field,” and we have special powers to strengthen our connection with the Ribbono Shel Olam.

Throughout the weeks leading up to Elul 5748, a year of Hakhel, the Rebbe kept on highlighting one very important point: Let’s not forget that Elul is still part of Shnas Hakhel!

The natural tendency is that we feel that: 1) We already have done enough for the “Hakhel campaign,” and 2) Elul is about preparing for the next year. This is why it is so important to internalize that we still have a tremendous opportunity that should not be missed.

The Rebbe (Seifer HaSichos 5748, page 595) says: People do not like to feel “left out of the action.” When a person sees another person running to and “grabbing” an opportunity, they usually join in as well. They also start running and grabbing, as they feel that if they do not get involved now, there will be nothing left for them. This is the way that the activities of “Hakhel” should be done in the month of Elul. It should be done with such excitement and enthusiasm that others will join in and realize that they must “grab” the last opportunity to receive the tremendous blessings associated with being involved in the activities of Hakhel.

In addition to the general call to strengthen the campaign of Hakhel, there were a few other directives that the Rebbe said at those farbrengens:

1. Each institution should appoint a committee of three people (“Beis Din”) - who are not part of the existing leadership or faculty of the institution - that will do “check-ups” on the institution. They can have an open and honest (impartial) view and perspective on the continuous growth of the institution. They will be able to see in action if the great ideas and resolutions were actually implemented.


2. To strengthen the custom of blessing in person and in writing “K’siva Va’chasima Tova” to all Jewish people, as is brought down in sifrei Halacha and minhag.

3. To encourage as many people as possible to fulfill the custom (see Matte Ephraim, Orach Chaim 581:10) that one should have their T’fillin and Mezuzos checked during the month of Elul. It is a special custom that brings special blessings to the home.

This Shabbos is the Shabbos of Parshas Shoftim. There is a chassidic saying that goes as follows: Why are there no Maamarim in Likkutei Torah on Parshas Shoftim? Because the Rebbeim want us to be focused on the Sicha of Shoftim 5751!

That was a historic farbrengen. The Rebbe spoke at length about prophecy in our times.

[Parenthetically, I want to share something that I heard from Rabbi Yossi sh’yichyeh Paltiel: It is well known how seriously the Rebbe takes his takana of learning Rambam every day. The Rebbe is seen holding and learning Rambam on the way to the Ohel. If you read the diaries of the bachurim of that year, 5751 (printed in the weekly publication “Beis Chayeinu”), there is an observation that during the months leading up to that sicha, the Rebbe was seen learning the Rambam “Mada” even though the cycle of Limud HaRambam was holding many s’farim later. After the Sicha of Shoftim 5751, it became clear that the Rebbe was learning the laws of Prophecy, which are printed in Seifer Mada of Rambam.]

The Rebbe gives us a very direct and open message to spread to the world:

In the last moments of exile, the lesson for everyone of Shabbos Parshas Shoftim can be understood. There must be a Divine service appropriate, measure for measure, to the situation of Redemption:

One must publicize to one’s self and to all whom he can reach the necessity to internalize the lessons and advice of “your judges” and “your counsellors” of our generation. In general, these leaders are the rabbis, as in the statement: “Who are the kings? The Rabbis.” More specifically, it is the leader of our generation, the judge, counsellor and prophet of our generation and the continuation of our Rebbeim who preceded him.

The obligation to receive the words of the leader is rooted in the commandment of the Torah: “I will raise up a prophet for them from amongst their brethren like you and will put My words in his mouth and he will speak to them all that I command him… To him you will listen.”

According to the ruling of the Rambam mentioned above, if one has the qualifications and perfection required of a prophet, when this same person performs signs and wonders, “We do not believe in him because of the signs alone, but because of the mitzvah Moshe commanded in the Torah when he said, ‘if he gives you a sign, listen to him.’” The sign is, “He will tell you things to come and his words will prove true,” as we have seen and continue to see the fulfillment of the blessings of my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our generation.

And furthermore: “A prophet about whom another prophet testifies that he is a prophet is presumed to be a prophet and the second one needs no examination.” This applies to the leader of our generation, and continues in the next generation through his disciples. One must immediately obey him even “before he gives a sign.” Similarly, “it is forbidden to have doubts about him and question his prophecy, that maybe it isn’t true, and it is forbidden to test him overmuch, as it says, ‘Do not test the L-rd your G-d as you tested Him at Massa…’ But since it is known that he is a prophet, believe in him and know that G-d is in your midst. Do not doubt or question him…” One believes in the words of the prophet not because it is the prophet’s speech, but because it is G-d’s speech through this prophet!

…One must make known to all members of the generation that we have merited that G-d has chosen a person endowed with free choice, who is incomparably higher than the members of his generation, to be “your judge,” “your counsellor,” and the prophet of the generation. This chosen leader will provide the instructions and advice relevant to the service of all Jews and all people of the generation, in all matters of Torah and mitzvos, and daily conduct in the manner of “in all your ways, know Him” and “all your deeds (should be for the sake of Heaven).” [His counsel has] extended to the essential prophecy of “immediate Redemption” and instantly “Behold he (Moshiach) comes.”


Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
See website for complete article licensing information.