Insight on the Hayom Yom for Sivan 15

The Hayom Yom for Sivan 15 is about the Alter Rebbe’s teachings. It’s very interesting, and has plenty of potential for interpretation. You can read it online at Chabad.org.

I interpret it as carrying an inspiring message. Let’s look at the progression the Alter Rebbe experienced here. He went from delivering raw emotion to extremely elaborate teachings. It’s evident that the “k’tavim” required more intellectual capability than his “d’rachim”, which were easy to comprehend and easy to be affected by. Now, this isn’t to say that the early expositions were inferior. On the contrary, they were clearly very influential! But they didn’t carry the same sort of message as the writings did. Why, then, did the Alter Rebbe deliver his d’rachim? Does this really mean to say that he was initially unable to write something with the sort of intellectualism that his k’tavim carried?

I don’t think so. I might be misinterpreting here (if so, please drop me a line and let me know where I went wrong), but to my mind, the Hayom Yom for Sivan 15 reminds us of the all important “place and time”. The level of passion v.s elaboration in the Alter Rebbe’s teachings would depend on what was appropriate for the moment. While this might sound simple, it’s really easy to forget. Obviously, we wouldn’t use the same language and ideas when teaching a cheder class about Shabbes as we would at a women’s Rosh Chodesh group. This is a simple example, but let’s try a similar one; when you’re teaching someone about the beauty of Shabbes, and why they should keep it, you’re naturally going to use impassioned language. Not so when you’re discussing the pronunciation of a Yiddish word!

What’s this getting to? A large part of tznius is minhag hamakom. That means “custom of the community”. Even if you don’t normally cover your collarbone, you do in Shul, because everyone else does, and it’s respectful to do so. It’s the same with wearing stockings in Mea Shearim, or swapping your shaytel for a hat in a Sephardi community. But it doesn’t only apply to tzenua clothes. It applies to the way you act; the way you daven; the things you say. In short, minhag hamakom is about the way you live. It’s important to be respectful, to your fellows as well as the community as a whole, and that’s what minhag hamakom is about.

Yes, the progression part is important, but for me, the Hayom Yom for Sivan 15 brings to mind minhag hamakom- something we should all know about.

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