Part Two: Below are additional excerpts adapted from the Rebbe’s sichos on Hey Teves 5748 (1988), the first anniversary of the victorious verdict regarding the Library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad:
The primary sefer – which is inclusive of all other holy texts – is, of course, the Sefer Torah. The Sefer Torah incorporates all the detailed laws of the Oral Torah, as the Rambam explains in his introduction to Mishneh Torah that “all the mitzvos given to Moshe at Sinai were transmitted together with their explanation… which is the Oral Torah.” In later generations, due to the circumstances of the exile, the Oral Torah was committed to writing in the Mishnah, Gemara, and all subsequent seforim.
Now, there is a biblical mitzvah for each individual to write, or commission, a Sefer Torah for himself, as the Rambam codifies (Hilchos Sefer Torah, 7:1). The Rosh, however, qualifies that this applied in the earlier generations when individuals would study out of a Sefer Torah. Nowadays, when the Torah is only read from in shul, the mitzvah obligation is to write seforim – such as Chumash, Mishnah, Gemara – that he and his children can study from. This is reflected in the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling (Yoreh De’oh, 270:2).
In the present age, there is no need to write these seforim ourselves, since we can easily purchase printed seforim. It is therefore plausible to say that we can fulfill the mitzvah by buying seforim, as this accomplishes the mitzvah’s goal – the study and knowledge of Torah.
The common concept of respect and vigilance for a precious, expensive item is to keep it out of reach, and at most, look at it once in a while. In contrast to this, Torah’s expectation for seforim is that they should be studied from as much as possible. The more they are used – even if this causes the seforim to become worn out, or even rip – this expresses more respect for the seforim. The seforim themselves demand that they be studied from, even at expense of their physical condition.
As mentioned, the purchase of seforim is related to the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah. Every Jewish home must contain fundamental Jewish books. In addition to a Chumash, Siddur, Tehillim – and in a Chassidic home, a Tanya – there must be books of Jewish law that detail the laws that apply on a day-to-day basis. These must be studied often in order to know how to conduct one’s life according to Torah.
When a chosson and kallah prepare to build a Jewish home together, besides arranging furniture and accessories for their new house, a priority should be ensuring the presence of holy seforim –to the point that house will be “filled, and permeated, with the seforim.”
Similarly, every Jewish boy and girl should have their own seforim, including a Siddur, Chumash, and Tehillim. These seforim should belong to them, and be in their bedroom. This will transform the child’s bedroom into a room of Torah and prayer – when the child studies and prays in the room. There should also be a charity box in the child’s room, where he or she can give tzedakah every day.
One should explain to the child that they shouldn’t worry that the seforim will get ruined if they are used. On the contrary, if the child uses them so much that they get ruined, the parents will buy new seforim to replace them!
All this will hasten the primary “Didan Notzach,” when the light of Torah and mitzvos will triumph over the darkness of golus, with the true and complete geulah through Moshiach!