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Standing With The Power Of A King
Sichos in English

Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-VaYeilech; 25th Day of Elul, 5750

1. Parshas Nitzavim is always read before Rosh HaShana. This year, this reading is enhanced by the addition of Parshas VaYeilech.

The Rebbe Rayatz communicated a unique teaching reflecting the uniqueness of this Shabbos, explaining why, despite the fact that this is the Shabbos before Rosh HaShana, we do not bless the month of Tishrei, in contrast to all the other months of the year, which are blessed on the Shabbos preceding them:

The Alter Rebbe related: "When I was in Mezeritch, I heard from my teacher and master, the Maggid, who heard from his teacher and master, the Baal Shem Tov: ‘The seventh month is the first of the months of the year. The Holy One, blessed be He, Himself blesses it on the Shabbos of Blessing (Shabbos Mevarchim)...and with the power of this blessing, the Jews bless the other eleven months of the year.’"

Why does this passage mention the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, and the Alter Rebbe? We find that although most of the Alter Rebbe’s teachings were based on the teachings of the Maggid and the Baal Shem, he generally did not mention them explicitly when relating these teachings. We find a similar incident in the Talmud. Rabbi Eliezer the Great explained that he did not mention the name of his teacher, Rabbi Yochanan, when relating a teaching because "he never related anything he did not hear from his teacher." Why then did the Alter Rebbe mention the Maggid and the Baal Shem when relating this particular teaching?

It is possible to resolve this difficulty based on another Talmudic passage. Our Sages say that, in the Beis HaMikdash, the priests would announce that the time for the morning sacrifices had arrived by proclaiming, "In the east, it is shining until Chevron." Why did they mention Chevron every day? To allude to the Patriarchs who are buried there.

We find a similar concept in our prayer service (which was instituted in place of the sacrifices). Every day during the week, on Shabbos and even on Yom Kippur, we follow a similar pattern and begin the Sh’moneh Esrei by praising G-d as "the G-d of Avrohom, the G-d of Yitzchok, the G-d of Yaakov."

Similarly, in regard to the teaching mentioned by the Alter Rebbe, which also contains an aspect of prayer that G-d grant abundant blessings in the new year, the Patriarchs of the Chassidic movement are mentioned. Mentioning their names brings about a more powerful revelation than merely having them in mind.

There is a further connection to the morning sacrifice. On the one hand, the morning sacrifice was the same each day. Every day of the year, the same rites were observed. But each day the intention of the sacrifice was different, appropriate to the uniqueness of that day. (For this reason, it was necessary to offer a new sacrifice each day.)

A similar concept applies in regard to each new year. The Hebrew word for year, "shana," is also related to the words meaning change and repetition. Thus, our Sages have explained that each year is a complete cycle which includes the entire series of changes and developments that transpire. The year that follows is merely a repetition.

Nevertheless, each year is also a new development. As the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, "Each year a new light that has never shone before descends and shines." A higher light than that which shone during the period of the Beis HaMikdash and even in Gan Eden is revealed this year.

The Alter Rebbe’s teaching continues:

The blessing is contained in the Torah reading: "You are standing all together today." The word "today" refers to Rosh HaShana, the Day of Judgment... You are standing victorious in judgment. Therefore, on the Shabbos before Rosh HaShana we read the parsha Atem Nitzavim. This is G-d’s blessing [conveyed] on the Shabbos that blesses the seventh month, which is a month of abundance and the source of abundant blessings for all of Israel for the entire year to come.

"You" refers to each and every Jew. "Are standing" implies a powerful and firm stance. Indeed, we find the root of the Hebrew word for standing, "nitzav," used in relation to a king. This implies that a Jew stands with the power of a king. Our Sages declare: "When the king speaks, mountains are moved." Mountains refer to our material concerns. They are not destroyed, but rather moved, transformed into holiness.

The portion continues, "today," the day of Rosh HaShana, "the day of great judgment." Although from one perspective, judgment is associated with limitation, from a deeper view, it is through judgment that "overwhelming energy" is conveyed. This energy will be expressed in the service of the Jewish people in Torah and mitzvos, which will ultimately permeate through and affect the material nature of the world, unifying existence in this material world with its source in G-dliness.

The passage continues, "all together" – the Jewish people stand as a single communal entity. This brings them "before the L-rd, your G-d," and causes them to be "victorious in judgment."

The above is enhanced by the influence of Parshas VaYeilech, which indicates that from the powerful stance of Nitzavim, a Jew must "proceed from strength to strength." This is further enhanced by the mitzva of hakhel mentioned in this portion. In hakhel, the Jewish people come together in union and are inspired by the king’s reading of the Torah.

This leads to the conclusion of the portion, "And Moshe spoke the words of this song so that all the community of Israel would hear until its end." The Hebrew for "until its end," can also be interpreted "until they became perfect." This prepares them for Parshas Haazinu, which, as our Sages explain, reflects a situation when one is "close to heaven and far removed from the earth." Although this level was achieved by Moshe alone, each Jew has a spark of Moshe within him. Hence, this teaching is relevant to him, as well. This prepares us to enter the year 5751, a year when "I will show you wonders," including the greatest wonder, the Messianic Redemption, which will be considered wondrous even in comparison to the miracles of the exodus from Egypt.


2. This is the final Shabbos of the "Seven Shabbasos of Consolation," which begin with a two-fold measure of comfort, "Comfort you, comfort you, My people." Based on the principle, "advance in holy matters," we can assume that from Shabbos to Shabbos, particularly on this, the final and concluding Shabbos, this consolation increases and grows.

Following Shabbos begins the Ten Days of Repentance. These ten days can be seen as a summation of the Seven Shabbasos of Consolation and the three Shabbasos that preceded them.

This Shabbos is also the last Shabbos of the month of Elul, the month of mercy, when "the King is in the field." This is reflected in the fact that although usually on the Shabbos when a new month is blessed, the passage "Av HaRachamim" (All-Merciful Father) is not recited, on this Shabbos, when G-d blesses the coming month, it is said, reflecting the all-encompassing influence of Divine mercy.

This leads to the prayer, "Happy are those who dwell in Your House," in the Beis HaMikdash, and then to the conclusion of the prayers, "The upright will dwell in Your presence." The word "Your presence" can also mean "Your inner dimension," for G-d’s inner dimension is related to the inner dimension of the Jewish people.

This, in turn, gives the Jewish people the power to declare, "Give ear heavens...listen earth," i.e., a Jew reveals how he has control over the heavens and the earth.


3. It is customary to conclude with directives for action. As mentioned several times this year, efforts should be made to gather Jews together on Shabbos in synagogues to study Torah and discuss directives for action. When a Jew enters a synagogue, he feels he is "in the presence of the King." If many Jews come together, then "Among the multitude of people is the glory of the King." Even a child who enters a synagogue sees the ark and the Torah scrolls and is impressed.

At present, it is important to concentrate on efforts to provide all the needy with their holiday needs so they can "eat succulent foods and drink sweet beverages" on Rosh HaShana. This need is further emphasized by the fact that Shabbos follows directly after Rosh HaShana and thus there are three consecutive days where holiday meals must be served. This applies in both Eretz Yisroel and in the Diaspora.

There is another unique aspect to the present year. Since Shabbos follows Rosh HaShana, the Fast of Gedalia is pushed off another day. This is significant because, at the outset, the Fast of Gedalia is not held on the day of Gedalia’s murder. He was slain on the second day of Rosh HaShana, but because of the festive nature of the day, the fast was postponed. This year it is postponed still another day, giving the potential for it to be pushed off completely and indeed, turned into a day of celebration with the coming of the Messianic age when the fast days will be transformed into festivals.

The fact that the Shabbos after Rosh HaShana is being held on a date that normally would be a fast is a further indication of the need to provide people with the potential to celebrate it in a full manner. This will lead to the holidays of Sukkos and Sh’mini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, when (in the Diaspora) there will also be three consecutive festive days.


4. According to the Chabad custom of studying Pirkei Avos throughout the entire summer, on this Shabbos we study the fifth and sixth chapters.

Both of these chapters are connected with the present date, the 25th of Elul, the day on which the world was created. The fifth chapter begins, "The world was created with ten utterances," and the sixth chapter concludes, "Everything the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created only for His glory." This reflects the state of Creation on the first day. Then, the entire host of the heavens and earth were brought into being, but they were still united with G-d. This is implied by the Torah’s description of the first day of Creation as "one day." Structurally, the expression "the first day" would have been more appropriate. The Torah, however, calls it "one day" to imply that it was a day of oneness. "G-d was one with His world." It was openly evident on that day how "everything was created for His glory."

May we be able to stand with the power and firmness of "Atem Nitzavim," the power of a king, and as implied by Parshas VaYeilech, "proceed from strength to strength" until "we appear before G-d in Zion."



A Jew stands with the power of a king. Our Sages declare: "When the king speaks, mountains are moved." Mountains refer to our material concerns. They are not destroyed, but rather moved, transformed into holiness.






On the Shabbos before Rosh HaShana we read Parshas Nitzavim. This is G-d’s blessing on the Shabbos that blesses the seventh month, which is a month of abundance and the source of abundant blessings for all of Israel for the entire year to come.



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