While looking at the division of the shiur Tanya for this year beginning with Yud Tes Kislev we notice an anomaly. Throughout the week, while each day the shiur Tanya is a just few lines, on Shabbos it’s an entire perek. This unusual division shows us that the Rebbe wants Shabbos to be dedicated to learning Chassidus. While learning Chassidus one must consider the fact that the Rabbeim were not just speaking to their generation, but to those that follow, including our generation as well. The Rebbe explains in the introduction to Tanya that the Alter Rebbe is speaking to anyone who opens up a Tanya to learn. Therefore, as we learn the Tanya we realize and identify with the fact that the Alter Rebbe is speaking to me directly and personally. This enables the Rebbe’s words to penetrate. For this kind of study it takes time to enter; one cannot simply “run off” the words quickly. On Shabbos, after learning such a shiur, then beginning to daven with it, it comes alive. This is because it is with the awareness that it is speaking to me and I am speaking to Hashem. This is my connection to Hashem…it’s not just words. This is the reason why Chassidim dedicate their Shabbos to davening.
This week is the 32nd chapter (“Lev” = 32 which means “the Heart”) of Tanya. Each day is just a few lines. The Rebbe wants us to meditate on the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel. The Rebbe wants us to consider how much we think of our fellow Jew. The last Shabbos before the stroke was parshas Shekalim. The Sicha discussed that the mitzvah is to give a ½ shekel is because every Yid is only a half, and only together another Yid is he able to become whole.
That year, as this year, was a leap year in which we were learning the 32nd chapter of Tanya throughout parshas Vayakel-Pekudei. The connection between the 32nd chapter of Tanya and parshas Vayakel is seen in how Moshe Rabbenu gathered us together to unite us as one community. The Mishkon needed to be one unit not just a thousand different pieces. Everyone donated different items but they were all used for a singular purpose. So too in parshas Pekudei after all the pieces were prepared and ready, they needed to be erected and constituted into a singular entity. Hashem guided Moshe Rabbenu, the only one who was able to bind it all together as one. This is the unique power of a Rebbe to bind everyone together as one.
The Alter Rebbe in the 32nd chapter of Tanya gives us the tools we need to have Ahavas Yisroel. A Rebbe and a Chosid are two halves. In the Rebbe’s last edited maamar for now was VeAtah Tetzaveh. It discusses the concept of bringing oil to Moshe, which emphasizes that a Yid has the ability to bring koach-energy and elevation to Moshe Rabbenu! He is the head and we are the feet. We are one unit. Even now after so many years, our entire being is that we are united with Moshe Rabbenu and He is united with us.
There is an Hayom Yom that says that there was a time when the Rav was alone, and his students were alone. The revelation of Chassidus brought about a paradigm shift that brought out into the open the essential unity between the Rebbe and Chassidim. We are able to feel this unity by learning Chassidus and doing as the Rebbe instructs. Chassidus is not just a subject to learn or to teach, rather the Rebbe means me personally. If I am personally involved, then those few lines penetrate.
There is a story that illustrates how the Rebbe’s Ahavas Yisroel is well understood by a simple Yid. My brother Yossie O.B.M. went on Merkaz Shlichus in 1976. This was soon after the raid and rescue in Entebbe. At that time the Rebbe spoke about the importance of Mitzvas Mezuzah. Yossie together with Yossie Gerlitzky Y.L.T., went to the Far East, something unheard of at that time. Rabbi Mendel ShemTov agreed to pay for all of their expenses. They visited Japan, India, Iran and Thailand.
One Friday they visited the Israeli Ambassador to Japan in Kobe. After putting on Tefillin with him and putting up a Mezuzah on his door they approached another Yid in the office to put on Tefillin as well. He answered that they would have to hear his story first. This Yid said that after the Six Day War he met a Chabad Chossid at the Kotel who asked him to put on Tefillin. He answered him that he is a “medini- a nationalistic Jew and was there in honor of that and not to put on Tefillin. Many years later as he was in Midtown Manhattan walking down 5th Avenue another Chabad Chossid approached him asked him to come inside his truck and put on Tefillin. He answered; “If I was at the Kotel after the Six Day War and was approached by a Chabad Chossid and was asked to put on Tefillin, and refused to do so, don’t tell me that now, so many years later that I, a nationalistic Jew will put on Tefillin here in your truck in Midtown Manhattan!” The man went on to tell how some time later he was visiting the Liberty Bell when once again he met a Chabad Chossid who asked him to put on Tefillin. He similarly refused him as well. He then looked at both of them and said; “If the Lubavitcher Rebbe thinks of me to send two Rabbinical Students 10,000 miles away to put on Tefillin with me, could I say no to the Rebbe? Come, let’s put on Tefillin”. This Yid felt the Rebbe’s care for him in Japan. This is the Ahavas Yisroel of the Rebbe, then and now. L’Chaiyim and Good Shabbos.