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המעשה הוא העיקר
HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar
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Tel: (718) 363-3448 Fax: (718) 467-6919
5768 - 2007
We are pleased to bring you this newly revised edition of a Call to Action. Translated from its Hebrew counterpart, HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar, this presentation is a collection of practical instruction from the Rebbes Sichos pertaining to the 20th of Teves (Yahrtzait of the Rambam) and the 24th of Teves (Yahrtzait of the Alter Rebbe).
HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar is a compilation of Horaos (directives) culled from the Rebbes talks in the years 5748 to 5752 (1988-1992), from both edited and unedited sources (Muga and Bilti Muga); we have expended great effort in our attempt to capture some of the Rebbes carefully calculated and instructive phrasing. This editions English translation was provided by Rabbi Yaakov Paley.
At this time, when Moshiachs arrival is imminent, the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, has emphasized the primacy of action. We are now beginning to experience the era when we will fully appreciate the superiority of deed above scholarship. May this take place completely and immediately!
Editorial Office of
HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar
Table of Contents
20th of Teves
Spread Torah, Mitzvos and study of Rambam............... 6
Join the study cycle........................................................... 7
Rambam encapsulates entire Torah................................... 8
Laws of Moshiach............................................................. 8
Influence all Jews to study Rambam................................. 8
Three chapter a day........................................................... 8
Farbrengens everywhere................................................... 9
Joint celebrations.............................................................. 9
Eretz Yisrael and Chutz Laaretz..................................... 10
24th of Teves
Brief History................................................................... 10
Add in all holy matters.................................................... 11
Tanya and Alter Rebbes Shulchan Aruch...................... 11
Chapter of Tanya before morning prayers...................... 12
Study the Chassidic Parshah............................................ 12
His other works............................................................... 13
From all the Rebbeim...................................................... 14
Combine Nigleh with Chassidus...................................... 14
Public study sessions....................................................... 14
Follow his directives....................................................... 15
With publicity................................................................. 15
Translated in the memory of Yitzchok Yosef ben Yaakov Mordechai.
Yahrtzait of the Rambam
Rambam (an acronym for Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon) was born in Cordova, Spain, on the 14th of Nissan 4895 (1135); he passed away on the 20th of Teves 4965 (1204) and was buried in Teveria.
Amongst his many outstanding works and great accomplishments for Jewry, Rambam is best known for his fourteen volume codification of the laws of the entire Torah (including both laws that are presently applicable and those that are not). Such a work had never been prepared before his time and has not been repeated since.
[The inscription on his tombstone attests to his prominence; it reads: From Moshe to Moshe, none rose like Moshe. In other words, history had not produced anyone like Rambam since the times of Moshe Rabbeinu.]
The Rebbe strongly encouraged a regular study of Rambams codification known as Mishneh Torah, Yad HaChazakah, or simply Yad with the intention that all Jews will cover the entire Torah (as encapsulated in the Yad) either annually or every three years.
The Rebbe further emphasized the association between Rambam and the Alter Rebbe [See below, 24th of Teves] an association that is highlighted by the proximity of their Yahrtzaits (the 20th and 24th of Teves, respectively); they both authored classic works on Jewish law and fundamental guides that point the way to divine service.
Spread Torah, Mitzvos and study of Rambam
· Rambam composed his masterpiece, Mishneh Torah, for the benefit of all Jewry. For that reason, his Yarhzait should be utilized to bolster Torah study and the observance of Mitzvah among all Jewry with foremost attention being given to the study of Mishneh Torah.
· A great number of Jews follow the systematic study of Rambam. If you have not participated in this study in the past, join in now; if you are already participating, bolster the practice.
· [There are three study cycles to choose from based on ability:]
A) Three chapters of Mishneh Torah per day [completing the entire book annually];
B) One chapter of Mishneh Torah per day [completing it once every three years];
C) A daily selection from Sefer HaMitzvos [that is arranged to parallel the topics being studied by cycle (A). Sefer HaMitzvos was written by Rambam as an introductory work to Mishneh Torah, and contains in brief each of the 613 commandments and their Scriptural source.]
Rambam encapsulates entire Torah
· One of the immense benefits of studying Mishneh Torah is that in covers all of Torahs laws, both those that are currently applicable as well as those that were relevant when the Beis HaMikdash still stood or, more importantly, which will again become pertinent with the arrival of the ultimate Redemption.
· Of particularly significance is the study of the last two chapters of the final section of Mishneh Torah the Laws of Kings detailing the laws regarding Moshiach.6
Influence all Jews to study Rambam
· In addition to our personal study of Rambam, we should also spread this practice among the Jews around us men, women, and children in great numbers.6
· We should spread this practice in a manner that will inspire others to follow our example, so that they, in turn, will influence as many as they can to study Rambam.6
· On the day of the Yahrtzait, we should put far greater effort into promoting the study of three chapters of Mishneh Torah per day in order to complete the entire book in one year.
· We should add in Tzedakah in connection with the Yahrtzait.
· Every location should boast a Farbrengen in honor of Rambams Yahrtzait.
· Even those who have already announced that they will be holding a Farbrengen should not rest; they are able and expected to further increase their efforts in this regard.
· [The completion of the annual study cycle of Rambam sometimes occurs in close proximity to Rambams Yahrtzait. On one such occasion, the Rebbe said:] It would be worthwhile and fitting to celebrate the completion of the annual study of Rambam on his actual Yahrtzait.
Eretz Yisrael and Chutz Laaretz
· At least one celebration for completing the annual study of Rambam should be held in Eretz Yisrael, preferably by Rambams gravesite in Teveria.
· At least one celebration should be held in the Diaspora as well.
· If possible, there should be numerous celebrations, both in Eretz Yisrael as well as in the Diaspora.12
Yahrtzait of the Alter Rebbe
The Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) was the saintly founder of Chabad Chassidus. Amongst other teachings, he authored the (Alter Rebbes) Shulchan Aruch and the Tanya (the Written Torah of Chassidus).
The Alter Rebbe was born in Liozna, White Russia, on the 18th of Elul 5505 (1745); he passed away in Pyena on the 24th of Teves 5573 (1812) and was buried in Haditch.
The Yahrtzeit of every Tzaddik is highly significant for his followers and all of Jewry [See footnote 13]. In the Alter Rebbes case, however, this significance is greatly amplified for he was, in the words of the Baal Shem Tov, a brand new soul which descended into this world in order to illuminate it with the light of the revealed dimensions of Torah and (the light) of Chassidus26; it is a soul that will sacrifice itself for the good of Chassidus and whose accomplishments will bring about the era of Moshiach.
· This is a day in which we should add in all holy undertakings, and particularly matters that are associated with the actions, spiritual service and teachings of the Alter Rebbe.
· We should then continue these heightened activities throughout the rest of the year.13
Tanya and Alter Rebbes Shulchan Aruch
· It is worthwhile and fitting for each man and woman to set aside time on their regular schedules for the purpose of studying the teachings of the Alter Rebbe his Shulchan Aruch and holy book of Tanya. In our times, a greater need has arisen to promote such study.
Chapter of Tanya before morning prayers
· We should strengthen the common practice (for those who are up to it) of studying a chapter of Tanya daily either successive chapters per day or otherwise before the morning prayers, and even before Hareini Mekabel [I hereby accept, etc. the opening sentence of the morning service in the Chabad Siddur].
· In addition to our personal observance of this practice each according to their ability we should also publicize and bolster this daily study.
· We should increase our study of the Alter Rebbes Torah Or [on Bereishis and Shemos] and Likutei Torah [on Vayikra, Bamidbar and Devarim].
· In particular, we should focus on timely topics, by studying the Chassidisher Parshah each week the discourses on that weeks Torah portion.
· We should also study the Alter Rebbes Chassidic discourses that we have only recently merited to publish; as well as his works on the revealed dimensions of the Torah, such as his Shulchan Aruch.
· We should study the abovementioned along with their explanation that appear in the works of subsequent Chabad Rebbes.
· This includes to the explanations of the Alter Rebbes major works on the revealed dimensions of Torah: The Alter Rebbes own explanations, those of the Mittler Rebbe (whose book of Halachic rulings was only recently published), certainly from the Tzemach Tzedek [who wrote extensively on the above] and all his later successors as well as the explanations found in Chabad Chassidus.
· We should add in our study of the two lights [Shenei Or in Hebrew alluding to the first name of the Alter Rebbe, Shneur], namely, the light of Torahs exoteric teachings and the light of its esoteric dimension; studying them in a manner where they are interwoven and form a single entity.
· In addition to our personal study of the above, we should also hold public sessions to study the Alter Rebbes Shulchan Aruch and Tanya. Where such sessions already exist, we should add to their quantity and quality.
· Great is study because it leads to action we should increase our practical service that is based on the directives of the Alter Rebbe. This includes the service of Tzedakah whose great importance is elaborated upon in the Alter Rebbes Igeres HaKodesh and Igeres HaTeshuvah and in a general sense, the service of disseminating Chassidus.
· Nowadays, it is necessary to carry out all of these directives openly and with publicity not in a surreptitious manner; especially as it is a Mitzvah to publicize those who perform Mitzvos, in order that others will learn from our example and follow suit.
· In connection with the 24th of Teves, we should hold a Farbrengen where we will study some of the Alter Rebbes teachings and resolve to implement his directives.27
· Where a Farbrengen has already been held, they could surely repeat it with greater quantity and quality and accompanied with greater publicity.27
לכ"ק אדמו"ר מלך המשיח
יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד
. Likutei Sichos, vol.26, p.26.
. [Rambam produced a number of other fundamental works; among them: Pirush HaMishnayos (Explanation to the Mishnah); Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed clarifications on Torah and Jewish faith); Yud Gimmel Ikkarim (Thirteen Principles of Faith recited daily by many communities); Sefer HaMitzvos (Book of the 613 Commandments briefly outlining each of the Torahs commandments along with its Scriptural source).]
In the Holy Tongue
His main work was the Mishneh Torah [his fourteen volume code of Jewish law containing all of the Torahs laws]. Parenthetically, it was the only work that Rambam wrote in Lashon HaKodesh (Hebrew) [and not Arabic]. (Parshas Shemos 5751; Hisvaaduyos p.153)
. One book for all Jews
Rambam states in his Introduction to Mishneh Torah, I saw fit to author codifying the laws of the Torah in a clear and concise manner so that all the laws will be open and accessible for everyone, great and small alike.
It is for that reason, that I have called this work Mishneh Torah [for one need but read the Torah [i.e., the Chumash the Written Torah] and then read this compilation in order to gain knowledge of the entire Oral Torah. (Night following 29th of Teves 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.148)
. Heaven and earth light up on a Yahrtzait
As the Alter Rebbe explains in Igeres HaKodesh regarding a Tzaddiks Yahrtzait [known as a Yom Hilulah a day of celebration rivaling that of a wedding], all of his deeds, Torah-study and divine service that he performed throughout his lifetime is then revealed and shines forth in open revelation from Above and it creates salvations in the midst of the earth.
Translate into action
We could readily appreciate that the unique quality of this day should arouse us to increase our study of Torah and observance of Mitzvos. The main thing is [not the arousal, but] the practical implementation [of our decisions] in keeping with the principle that surrounds all Torah and Mitzvos, namely, The main thing is the deed!
[While this is true of every Tzaddiks Yahrtzait,] all the above is further underscored regarding the Rambams Yahrtzait since he composed his masterpiece, Mishneh Torah, for the benefit of all Jewry. Certainly, then, his Yahrtzait should produce an addition in the actual study of Torah and observance of Mitzvos by all Jewry. (ibid.)
Teacher of Jewry
This directive applies to each Jew. After all, every Jew lives with Rambam either 1) through studying his actual works; or 2) through studying the books upon which the Rambam based his works; or 3) studying books that are based on the Rambams works. This includes studying the source and foundation for the entire Torah, namely, the Written Torah [the Chumash]. (Parshas Shemos 5752; Sichos Kodesh p.523)
This is the principle directive that we are to take from this Shabbos and this Farbrengen: We should undertake to increase our study of Sefer HaRambam [Mishneh Torah], and do so in a manner of studying and teaching, i.e., studying on our own as well as with others. (ibid, p.529)
As we already mentioned, the chief directive from this Shabbos is to resolve to increase our study of Sefer HaRambam the more the better! (ibid, p.530)
. [In Sefer HaMitzvos, Rambam records each commandment, gives a short description, states its Scriptural source and often proves why he considers certain laws to be distinct commands which necessitates quoting Talmudic and Midrashic sources. Mishneh Torah, on the other hand, is a fourteen volume compendium containing a detailed description of the numerous laws governing each commandment.
For the sake of harmonizing the study cycles, Chabad has published books of Sefer HaMitzvos; instead of presenting all the Positive Commands followed by all the Prohibitions (as per the original Sefer HaMitzvos), they re-arranged the order so that the laws studied in brief by those following the Sefer HaMitzvos cycle will parallel the laws being studied that same day in detail in the Mishneh Torah (three chapter per day) cycle.]
Learn Rambam, bring Moshiach
Nowadays, the Jewish peoples spiritual service should be geared towards preparing ourselves and others for the days of Moshiach
Primarily, this includes in connection with the Rambams Yahrtzait bolstering and increasing our study of Mishneh Torah, as well as joining one of the daily cycles in the study of Mishneh Torah. (Parshas Shemos 5752; Hisvaaduyos p.107)
. Laws pertaining to the Holy Temple
As a preparation for the immanent era of Redemption, we are required to study topics that relate to the Third Beis HaMikdash so that we will know how to go about constructing it, or exactly how to participate by contributing towards the Beis HaMikdash and so forth. For example, we should study Hilchos Beis HaBechirah [the initial chapters of Rambams Sefer Avodah, concerning the design of the Beis HaMikdash].
In recent years, the custom to study Rambam daily has spread throughout Jewry. (Night following 29th of Teves 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.148)
. Enlist G-ds help in studying Rambam
We should connect this practice with giving Tzedakah, in keeping with the teaching of our Sages, He would first give a coin to a pauper and only then pray. [If Tzedakah is necessary in order to pray successfully, then] how much more so [is it indispensable] for succeeding in our study of the laws of the entire Torah whose success is dependant upon blessing from Above (as we recite upon completing Rambam, Just as You helped me complete this book, so may You help me to complete additional books). [To receive this divine assistance in study] we certainly need to give Tzedakah. (Night following 29th of Teves 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.149)
. Night following 29th of Teves 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.148.
Ideally three chapters a day. (Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.161)
See also Parshas Shemos 5751; Hisvaaduyos p.153
Since this Shabbos follows and is therefore a continuation of the 20th of Teves (Rambams Yahrtzait) and the 24th of Teves (the Alter Rebbes Yahrtzait), it is extremely fitting and worthwhile for each of us to increase in matters that relate to Rambam and the Alter Rebbe, via giving extra Tzedakah.
The great significance of Tzedakah is explained in the Alter Rebbes Igeres HaKodesh and Igeres HaTeshuvah). (Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.161). See footnote 9 above.
. Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.153 in main text and footnote 48.
. Generate merit for all Jewry
Since we may acquire something positive or meritorious on behalf of a fellow Jew even in his absence [although he is unaware of our action on his behalf], those celebrating the completion the entire book of Rambam on the day of his Yahrtzait also create merit for all Jewry wherever they are even including those who already celebrated the completion over the last few days (or are only scheduled to celebrate it in a few days from now).
This way, all Jewry will attain the lofty virtue and auspicious affect (Segulah) of having celebrated the completion the book of Rambam on the auspicious day of his Yahrtzait the 20th of Teves. (Parshas Vayechi 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.158)
. Powerful day
For it is now that all the deeds, Torah study and divine service that he performed throughout his lifetime rises [further] on High and is [simultaneously further] revealed Below to the extent that it create salvation in the midst of the earth. (Parshas Shemos 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.186)
Take the hint
This is just a hint to the wise of what is required in the proper utilization of the Alter Rebbes Yahrtzait. Each person should take the hint and add further to these directives according to their understanding and ability. (ibid, p.188)
. Woman should study Chassidus
Women are also obliged to study those Torah laws that are applicable to them as well as to study Chassidus.
In fact, my own mother, of blessed memory, was the one who transcribed with great precision and speed the Chassidic discourses that would arrive at the home of her father, who was an adherent of the Rebbe Maharash.
(It was customary in those times for people to eagerly await the arrival of a Chassidic discourse from the town of Lubavitch [i.e., the arrival of a Chassid who just returned from a visit to the Rebbe and could repeat the new discourses he heard there]. They would immediately transcribe these discourses and produce a number of handwritten copies.)
Receive and publish all Maamarim
May it be Hashems Will, that we should merit the full revelation of the Alter Rebbes Torah teachings extremely soon (both the books he actually authored as well as the manuscripts he penned or that others copied from his original manuscripts) and that all the manuscripts currently in our hands will now finally go to print. (Parshas Vayera 5751; Hisvaaduyos p.175)
. Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.161.
See also Parshas Shemos 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.186.
. This was the good custom of Chassidim in our times as well as in former times. (Parshas Acharei 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.68)
. Tanya before Siddur
[The Rebbe smiled and said:] I did not inquire of them, whether this study was done entirely before prayer, i.e., even before reciting Hareini Mekabel or only after it
It is logical to presume that this study took place before prayer and before Hareini Mekabel in other words, they first studied a chapter of Tanya and only then opened a Siddur and recited Hareini. (Parshas Acharei 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.75)
. Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.161.
Its our custom too
It is rather peculiar that this custom has not received proper publicity; after all, Chassidim have continued this practice into our present generation as well as I have personally witnessed. (Parshas Acharei 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.75)
. By fulfilling this practice, they are fulfilling a positive command of the Torah, namely, to study (the Oral) Torah. (Parshas Acharei 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.69)
. On Shabbos
Many Chassidim have the custom to study the Chassidisher Parshah (Chassidic Torah portion) of the week especially on Shabbos.
During the winter Shabbosos they would study Torah Or and during summer as well as towards the end of the winter season they would study Likutei Torah.
With the family
Many even had the custom to study these works, superficially at least, with their household and even with their children of Bar Mitzvah age or younger. (Parshas Lech Lecha 5749, footnote 29; Hisvaaduyos p.315)
First priority for a Chassid
Simply put: It is impossible that a Chassidisher Yid would not study the Chassidisher Parshah and do so, in fact, even before drinking his mug of tea or coffee
Lost en route?
For some reason, this custom never quite made it to the shores of America. Perhaps it did make it here yet remained unknown because it was practiced in a surreptitious manner
After all, all Jews are assumed to have acted properly [and we should give them the benefit of the doubt, by assuming that they did not disregard this practice upon arriving in America].
Practice in public
However and we have already discussed this point on numerous occasions unobtrusive conduct [in Yiddish: Zitzen bai zich unter paplitz] is absolutely not the way to do things nowadays
Quite the opposite everything, nowadays, should be done with enthusiasm and commotion in order to further disseminate Torah and Judaism. (ibid, p.321)
Like the study of Rambam
Practically speaking: We should promote this practice, i.e., that just as we study the entire Sefer HaRamabam because it contains all the laws of the Torah, so should we study Torah Or and Likutei Torah [all their sections, until the very conclusion Hisvaaduyos 5752, p.299].
Higher level each time
And after completing this study once, then, in the spirit of the prayer, Just as You helped me complete this work, so may You help me to begin, etc., we should begin the study again naturally, on a higher level than our first study. (Parshas Chaye Sarah 5752; Sichos Kodesh p.324)
. Parshas Shemos 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.186.
. Maamarim of all Rebbeim
Our study of the Alter Rebbes teachings should include the Chassidic teachings of the Chabad Rebbes who succeeded him, beginning with the discourses of the Mittler Rebbe who wrote, in the introduction to his works, that his discourses are in fact the teachings of his father, but with greater elucidation; as well as the explanations and notations of the Tzemach Tzedek [on the Alter Rebbes discources].
The same applies to the discourses of the subsequent Rebbes, until our own Rebbe, the Leader of our generation. (Parshas Shemos 5749 Hisvaaduyos p.188)
. Parshas Vayera 5751; Hisvaaduyos p.175.
. Parshas Shemos 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.186.
. Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.161.
Illuminate time and space
To the extent that is has an effect on the realm of time (the Alter Rebbes second name, Zalman, contains the Hebrew letters Lazman time). In other words, the study has an effect on the very dimensions of physical time and space, so that the world itself is permeated with the two lights (The Alter Rebbes first name, Shneur, contains the words Shenei Or, two lights) [ the Alter Rebbe having authored two fundamental and innovative works: 1) Shulchan Aruch (the light of the revealed dimension of Torah) and 2) Tanya (the light of the esoteric aspect of Torah)]. (Parshas Shemos 5749; Hisvaaduyos p.186)
. Benefits of publicity
Particularly since it is a Mitzvah to publicize those who perform Mitzvos and competition between authors produces an increase in wisdom in addition to the virtue of a resolution made publicly and with publicity, i.e., that it creates greater incentive as to its fulfillment. (Parshas Shemos 5750; Hisvaaduyos p.161)