In the Hayom Yom (a yearly calendar containing an aphorism for each day of the year compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe) for the 12th day of Tammuz, the birthday and day that the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson) was redeemed from a Soviet prison, the Lubavitcher Rebbe brings the letter that the Rebbe Rayatz wrote to the chassidim in honor of that day. The entry reads:
From a letter of the Rebbe (R. Yosef Yitzchak): During the forthcoming two Days of liberation, the 12th and 13th of Tammuz, Chassidim are to farbreng, for material and spiritual good and blessing, as instituted by our first father, the Alter Rebbe (may the memory of this holy tzadik be a blessing for life in the hereafter; his soul rests in the hidden exalted heights; may his merit protect us). During this farbrengen, chassidim are to talk to one another in a spirit of brotherhood about strengthening fixed times for Torah study. I send them my blessing that G‑d should favor them in body and spirit.
The Alter Rebbe’s New Teaching
In the letter above, the Rebbe Rayatz says that the 12th and 13th of Tammuz are auspicious days for chassidic gatherings, called farbrengens, in which words of Torah, chassidic melodies, food and drink are shared. He adds – importantly – that the entire concept and custom of farbrengens was introduced by the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch. This is a sign that there is something essential that connects the chassidic custom to hold farbrengens together with the Chassidut of Chabad and the Alter Rebbe.
There are a number of different parallels drawn between the sefirot and the Rebbes of Chassidut – beginning with the Ba’al Shem Tov and the Magid of Mezeritch. One of these draws a parallel between the Ba’al Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch and the Alter Rebbe and the intellectual attributes of wisdom, understanding and knowledge: The Ba’al Shem corresponds to wisdom – the sense of sight, the Magid of Mezritch corresponds to understanding – the sense of hearing, and the Alter Rebbe corresponds to knowledge – da’at, cognate to hitva’adut, the Hebrew for “farbrengen.” In Hebrew, da’at means connection, as is written in the Tanya.
From Love of Israel to Unity of Israel
The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that in order to bring the redemption, we need love of Israel and unity of Israel. Love of Israel alone is not enough. Rather, we must literally unite. We come to the farbrengen with love of Israel, and when sitting together we achieve the unity of Israel – the tool with which to bring the Redemption.
The ultimate purpose of learning together is to create unity of the Nation of Israel. This is especially true on days particularly auspicious for farbrengens, such as the 12th and 13th of Tammuz. The purpose is to farbreng together on these days of redemption, the day when the Rebbe Rayatz’s mazal shines particularly strong. The unity brought about by gathering in brotherhood and Torah learning brings the redemption.