September 27, 2016
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1040, Moshiach & Hakhel, Rosh HaShana

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

After last week’s article in which we went through some of the practical applications of Hakhel, I thought the Hakhel series was completed.  Yet, after learning the sichos of Erev Rosh HaShana 5749, the last day of the Hakhel year 5748, and once again seeing the Rebbe’s non-stop shturem about Hakhel, I decided to write up some of the points of that Sicha.

I must point out here that while it takes much work and effort to learn the Sichos and write up these articles, I thank each of you, my loyal readership, for giving me this opportunity. Knowing that I had to perform each week gave me the strength and determination to continuously go through the Sichos of Hakhel this year. This experience did not just help me have the information to write the articles; it gave me a much stronger enthusiasm in my own Hakhel activities! The message was clear to me: If I want something to be internalized, I must take upon myself to teach it to others! This is a lesson for all of us.

We see this clearly in the Sicha of R’ei 5751 where the Rebbe demands that we teach Moshiach to others, even if the idea of Moshiach has not yet been completely internalized within ourselves!  By teaching it to others, it will transform us too. The Rebbe stated:

“It should be announced and publicized in all places with heartfelt words that G-d says through His servants, the prophets, to each and every Jew: ‘Behold I am placing before you today a blessing,’ so much so, that literally, today, we will see with eyes of flesh the blessing of the true and complete Redemption.

“This announcement must be made even by those who argue that they have not completely absorbed its full meaning. Since their faith is intact, they are able to and consequently are required to publicize these matters to others, first and foremost to their own family members. Certainly they don’t need to suffer from his lack of comprehension of this matter.

“They should also spread the word to all those within their environment and ultimately to each and every Jew. Undoubtedly, the appropriate effort will be well received and it will have its intended effect on others, as well as inspiring the one making the announcement and doing the publicity that he too should internalize the message.

This Sicha was said on Erev Rosh HaShana after Mincha. At that point, with just a few hours to Shnas Hakhel, the Chassidim would have thought that the campaign was over and finished. After all, they were just hours away from the new year, 5749, which the Rebbe had named “Shnas HaBinyan,” the year of building. The Rebbe pushed for expansions of homes and institutions. As a matter of fact, it was then that the Rebbe instructed that everyone should at least make a Pushka and affix it to the wall of his home, as opposed to just having a pushka in the home, as a first-step in the expansion!

One of the main themes of that special year, 5749, was the Pasuk (D’varim 15:3): “From the foreigner you may exact; but what is yours with your brother, your hand shall release.” This Pasuk is referring to the debts owed when it comes to the year of Shmita. During that year, all old debts are null and void. The Rebbe explained that we have debts to Hashem. Those debts are our sins. The year תÌÇשÑÀמÅט has the same letters as תÌÇשÑÀמÅט יÈדÆךÈ, Hashem will forgive our debts/sins. If our sins are forgiven, then the exile, which is a direct result of our sins, as we say “Because of our sins we were exiled from our land,” should become null and void! (See footnote to Michtav Klali – General letter, from 6 Tishrei 5749.)

During that Sicha, the Rebbe told the surprised audience that the activities and spirit of Hakhel should continue into at least the night of Rosh HaShana!

This idea, that even though the day is over things should still continue, is derived from the Mitzva of Korbanos. When one brings a sacrifice, there are many parts of the animal that must be offered on the alter. While the sacrifice must be slaughtered during the day, the service of offering the fats and limbs on the altar can be done all night.

This is discussed in the very first Mishna of Brachos, the first tractate of the Mishna and Talmud. “Burning the fats and limbs of the sacrifices, on the Temple altar – their precepts may be performed until the break of dawn. And another example: all sacrifices which may be eaten for one day – their precepts of eating them can be performed until the break of dawn. If that is so, why did the Sages say that this must be performed ‘until midnight’? It was in order to distance a person from transgression.”

We learn something very important about Avodas Hashem from this Mishna.  Korbanos (sacrifices) represent our Avodas Hashem. The word Korban comes from the Shoresh (root word) of “Kiruv,” meaning coming close, implying closeness to Hashem. That is the goal of all our Avodas Hashem, to come closer and to deepen our relationship with Hashem. This ought to continue well into the night after the official day is over. Thus, we can apply this idea to the special campaign of Hakhel. Even though the year of Hakhel officially finishes when Rosh HaShana of the next year enters, we still continue to focus on it well into the night.

As mentioned in our previous articles, the goal of Hakhel is for it to continue and to be internalized in our lives, into the following years as well. The Rebbe speaks about this very clearly in the sichos of the beginning of the year 5749. This can be seen in Toras Menachem 5749 Cheilek 1, page 12 (second day Rosh HaShana) and page 21 (Tzom Gedalya).

I would like to add a personal note connected to the above.  The first Parsha that we read in the upcoming year is Parshas VaYeilech. Parshas VaYeilech is the shortest Parsha of the Torah. Many people overlook this small Parsha. Yet, which Parsha has the mitzva of Hakhel in it? Parshas VaYeilech!

This should be a reminder to us that we are not done with the activities of Hakhel. We must make sure that we continue our enthusiasm and activities of unity and connection to our king. This also may be hinted in the name of the Parsha, VaYeilech. The word VaYeilech means going.

The Rebbe always connects everything that is written in a Parsha to the name of the Parsha. How can we understand that the mitzva of Hakhel is in a parsha whose name means going? This should be the lesson: Hakhel is not a once-in-seven-year event; rather it is something that continues going. It is the injection of inspiration and Yiras Shamayim that we must take with us for the coming years as well.

In addition, we may add the following point. The idea of Hakhel is that we should become a “Mehalech” in our Avodas Hashem. The famous HaYom Yom of 6 Iyar states: “Our sages said: ‘One should not take leave of his friend other than with a parting word of Torah-law, a d’var halacha.’ Our forefathers, the saintly Rebbes, explained: The parting word should be the kind of Torah-teaching that transforms the listener into a mehaleich. Progress, hiluch, means to rise from level to level, with one ascent after another. Such progression embodies the superiority of the human soul over the angels, for this ascent is greatest through an act of goodness – extending a favor to another – a material favor in general, a spiritual favor in particular.”

In the merit of all our Hachlatos and activities of Hakhel, may we merit the Hisgalus of the Rebbe in the Beis HaMikdash for the ultimate Hakhel now!!


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/).
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