1. A fast day is “a time of will.” Therefore it is an appropriate time for Divrei Kivushin, “words which motivate teshuvah.” This is particularly true after the afternoon service, when most people have concluded their work. Thus, in the Talmudic era, it was at this time that the community was free to listen to Divrei Kivushin.
The term Divrei Kivushin also alludes to the expression Kovaish Avon, “suppress sin”; i.e., the intent is not to tell a Jew unfavorable things about his conduct, but rather to emphasize how G‑d will “cast all sins to the depths of the sea.” Furthermore, there is the potential that the sins themselves become transformed into merits, indeed, merits of a uniquely elevated nature for they come from the transformation of the lowest levels.
In particular, there is an emphasis on nullifying and transforming negative qualities associated with this fast, because the date of the Seventeenth of Tammuz fell on Shabbos and the fast was postponed until the present day. The Talmud teaches that there was an opinion — and indeed, the author of this opinion was Rebbi, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, the author of the Mishnah — that “since a fast is postponed, it should be nullified entirely.” Moreover, not only should the fast be nullified, but — especially in light of our service throughout these many years — the fast should be transformed into a positive factor. As the Rambam writes, in the Era of the Redemption, all the fasts will be transformed into festivals.
The above receives greater emphasis since many years have already passed since the Previous Rebbe1 announced that we have finished “polishing the buttons,” and we must “stand together prepared” to greet Mashiach.
Added emphasis also comes from the fact that Tammuz is referred to as “the month of redemption.” Since it is associated with the redemption of a Nasi and as Rashi writes, “the Nasi is the entire people,” every Jew shares a connection with this redemption. Thus the Previous Rebbe writes, “The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem me only, but also… all that are called by the name Israel.” The latter term includes even those Jews on the furthest peripheries of Jewish involvement;2 even they have a share in the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz.
The connection to the redemption is further emphasized by this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Pinchas. Our Sages identify Pinchas with Eliyahu, the prophet who will announce the redemption. It is possible that Eliyahu has already come and has seen the coming of the Mashiach, but that his announcement has not reached us as of yet. The ultimate redemption is unique, for when it comes, it will come in a complete and total manner. In this, we see a contrast to the other redemptions from exile. The previous redemptions came in stages, while the future redemption will be immediate and total.
Our Sages explain that the different redemptions experienced by the Jews are alluded to in the passage dealing with the Red Heifer. The Red Heifer was used to purify the Jewish people, “And I will pour pure water upon you and you will be purified.” This refers to the highest level of teshuvah, teshuvah which unites a person with an inner bond of joy with G‑d and therefore, has the potential to transform undesirable elements into good.
This inner bond is established through Torah study. Thus it relates to the coming of Mashiach who in addition to being the king of the Jewish people, will also serve as their teacher, exposing them to “the new [dimension of the] Torah that will emerge from Me.”
This will lead to a renewal of the heavens and the earth and then together with the entire Jewish people, we will proceed “on the clouds of heaven” to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd, established by Your hands.”
To hasten the coming of this, three dollars will be distributed to each individual to be given to tzedakah. On these bills, it is written “In G‑d We Trust.” Trust implies more than faith. It is faith so strong that one invests all that one has. Similarly, our faith in G‑d must encompass our entire being.
And this will lead to the era when we will achieve a higher level of faith. “The world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d” and thus, having achieved this level of knowledge, our faith will be focused on even higher levels of G‑dliness. And in that era, there will be no strife or war, for “delicacies will be available like dust,” i.e., they will be so plentiful that they will have no more importance than dust. A foretaste of this wealth will be granted at present, even before Mashiach comes and then, in the immediate future, we will hear the announcement of Pinchas, i.e., Eliyahu, that Mashiach has come.
(Translation by Sichos in English)
1. Another connection to the redemption is seen in the Previous Rebbe’s name Yosef which refers to the verse Yosef Hashem,… “G‑d will again stretch forth His hand to gather His people.” Similarly, the name Yosef is associated with Rachel’s prayer, “May G‑d add on to me another son,” which Chassidus interprets as referring to the service of transforming “another,” a person who is alienated from his Jewish roots, into a son. This is possible for, in truth, as the Baal Shem Tov explains, each Jew is as dear to G‑d as an only son born to parents in their old age.
2. This is alluded to by the Hebrew term yichuneh, which as explained in the halachic literature connected with gittim (“bills of divorce”), refers to the name which is not used prominently. Even when the way a Jew is most prominently referred to is not “Israel,” as long as that is part of his identity — and it surely is for, “Even if a Jew sins, he remains ‘Israel’ ” — he shares in the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz.