From a speech delivered to his students in the wake of the attack on the Holy Land (transcribed and edited lightly for style).
by Rabbi Yossi Paltiel

To deliver a speech like this, to discuss such a topic at a time like this, doesn't require a smart person. In fact, I know some very smart people who are actually quite ignorant. Because a moment like this requires wisdom. What is wisdom? Wisdom is knowledge from life, not from books, not from ideas. Wisdom is truth. And moments like these require "emes" (truth). To speak wisdom, you need a wise person. And you don't become wise just from studying a lot. You become wise because you've lived. You learn in a very firm school, which spends so much time talking to you about what you need to make of yourself: your character traits ("Midos"), your religious teachings ("Torah"), and your philosophy of life. All of these things are wisdom. And a person who doesn't just learn these lessons but lives them is in a position to stand up on a day like today and speak the truth.

Genuine people, those who are true, can't help but speak from the heart. And when you speak from the heart, you reach others' hearts. I'm not sure if I'm wise. I'm a teacher, but I question my own wisdom. But I'll do my best. I'll share what I am thinking, feeling, and trying to process, just like everyone else.

The first thing is fear. I'm also afraid. We're all afraid. We're afraid because of recent events. Afraid because they make us question our perceptions of ourselves, the world, and our safety. If you're not afraid, I would question your honesty. Everyone's afraid, whether they're smart, profound, or wise. It's okay and normal to be afraid. But there's a line between fear and "yiyush" (despair).

We see this sentiment often in people at various life stages and under different conditions. Everyone faces challenges. And sometimes, faced with a challenge, one might feel, "I don't care. I give up." That's despair. It's quitting. It's exiting the game. But quitting isn't in our nature, it's not in our wisdom paradigm.

Sometimes, to discern between fear and despair, we need to limit our information intake. Almost everyone here has a phone, and you want to stay informed. But sometimes, continuously collecting information can make us distraught, so overwhelmed that we can't assist others.

Take Covid for instance. People were scared. Yet, there was a stark difference in how young people reacted versus older individuals. Young folks, their entire being became engulfed with fear because that was their reality, especially with their family cautioning them. With age, you don't necessarily get smarter. You might become a tad wiser. You'll learn that adults can let you down. And someday, you might let your children down.

Youngsters, especially the very young, don't require excessive information. They need to understand the situation, but not be defined by it. Remember that for your siblings. And if you've got a speck of humility, recall it for yourself. You genuinely don't need excessive information. It's crucial to distinguish between fear, a natural protective instinct given by Hashem (God), and paralyzing dread.

What is the Rebbe saying now? That's on everyone's mind. Is he repeating what he said during past crises, like the Six-Day War or the Yom Kippur War? Or is it worse now? Or is it different now?

Of course, I don't know what the Rebbe is saying right now. But he's not saying anything different. You know why? Because the Rebbe is not just a smart man. He's a wise man. The Rebbe doesn't speak ideas. The Rebbe speaks truths. And truth never changes. It's very simple. That's the good thing about truth. You don't have to be smart. You have to just be humble to know the truth.

And here are some truths, undeniable truths of the Rebbe.

Number one, good deeds make a difference. Good deeds make a difference. One of the parts of the video you just watched was about the Six-Day War, two weeks before it began. The Rebbe spoke on Sunday at the Lag BaOmer parade and encouraged every Jew in the world.

I remember my teachers asking: when did the Rebbe transition from being seen as just the Lubavitcher Rebbe to being universally acknowledged as the Rebbe? The answer was the Six-Day War. The Rebbe, addressing children, spoke about how Hashem has always protected, is protecting, and will always protect our brethren globally, especially those in the Holy Land. But the Rebbe urged the children, "Noch ein posuk chumash merrer" (One more verse from the Torah). One more chapter of Tehilim (Psalms).” You might wonder, what difference does it make? But it truly does matter!

It doesn't matter on the intellectual scale, on the smart scale. It matters on the truth scale, on the wisdom scale. If each person makes a "hachlata tova" (good resolution), to take an actionable step in their life for the foreseeable future, until we see how all of this leads to the incredible miracles of "HaKadosh Baruch Hu" (The Holy One, Blessed be He), Who has loved, loves, and always will love the Jewish people. Understand that even your smallest action, which may seem insignificant to you, truly matters.

This is an undeniable truth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When you go out on the street and put "tefillin" (phylacteries) on a "Yid" (Jew), it can save a life. When someone does something as simple as saying an extra "kapitol tehilim" (chapter of Psalms), it matters. Do not undervalue yourself. Do not undervalue the "Maasim Toivim" (good deeds) that each and every one of us can do. These actions make a tangible difference. We are a holy nation, living in a relationship with God, a relationship that is above "Teva" (nature). When we perform sacred acts, we infuse the world with added sanctity, bringing about genuine and significant change. Never undervalue how the positive actions you take in the coming days can make a real impact.

Another point the Rebbe often addresses is related specifically to the Yom Kippur War. I was eight years old when the Yom Kippur War started. I lived in Crown Heights, and the whole summer I was being told that I am such a big "tzaddik" (righteous person). I didn't believe it for one minute. But the entire summer, the summer of 1973, the Rebbe emphasized the power of "kinderlach" (little children). The Gemara refers to them as "Hevel She'ein Bahem Chet" (breath that has no sin).

The air that comes from the mouths of little children when they speak is pure. I remember thinking to myself, "I'm the biggest sinner in the world. I fight with my brother; I make my mother angry all the time." Yet the Rebbe was saying I'm a "tzaddik." The pinnacle of that period for us was the Shabbos before Tisha B'Av when the Rebbe wanted to see all the children. The Rebbe poured a little wine into my cup. I remember it as if it were yesterday, and so does my younger brother. And my grandfather walked over to the Rebbe and said, "Das is mein Abbas" (This is from my father), noting that my father's name is Abba. "This is my son Abbas' children," marking our first genuine personal encounter with the Rebbe. To those with younger siblings: don't scare them. But do share with them the "koyach" (strength) that the Rebbe spoke of 50 years ago, and I firmly believe it remains pertinent today.

Undeniable truth number three: The Yom Kippur War began on a Shabbos, and people were understandably in a panic. Now, listen to this account. A group of Hasidim approached the Rebbe during Sukkot with a "pidyon nefesh," a petition or "pan," voicing concerns about the dire situation in Israel. The Rebbe, responding in Yiddish, said, “Ich halt bizman simchaseinu, un ich vill eich nit lozen, mir sterren,” which translates to "I am currently in the time of joy, during the festival of Sukkot, and I won't let you unsettle me." The Rebbe suggested that if they wanted, they could take the "pidyon" to the "Frierdiker Rebbe's ohel" (the grave of the previous Rebbe), as he himself wouldn't accept it.

Now, this might seem unusual. But for us Hasidim, we trust him – entirely, in every regard. My deep conviction is that we must remain "b'simcha" (in joy), not merely "b'bitachon" (in trust), but genuinely joyful. How can we be buoyant amidst such a catastrophe? The gravity of the situation is almost incomprehensible. It truly boggles the mind.

I truly believe that the Rebbe's response, both then and now, is rooted in "simcha," which means pure joy. Simply trust that Hashem will help and always remain positive. Embracing such positivity can be a challenge, but its power is undeniable. When individuals confront adversity without succumbing to it, that resilience emanates from their "neshama" (soul). This joy, originating from a profound place within, positively influences the world around them. While it's essential to be sincere and transparent about the situation, Hasidim might seem to react unexpectedly, but that's the Rebbe for you. He sets the guidelines, and we, as followers, adhere.

The Rebbe explicitly emphasized that our response to challenges, both from five decades ago and presently, should be one of "simcha." He didn't restrict this sentiment to just Sukkos but extended it from Yom Kippur through the end of Tishrei. That’s more than a week, and if you take the Rebbe's words to heart, Tishrei doesn't conclude until "Zayin," making it two full weeks. Our role as Hasidim is to navigate a way to be authentically joyful, trusting wholeheartedly that Hashem will safeguard "Chayot Yisroel" (the Jewish people) wherever they might be.

Undeniable truth number four: Anyone who risks their life to shield another Jew is, in the eyes of faith, a consummate "tzadik" (righteous individual). When the Divine gazes upon the young soldiers in Eretz Yisroel, it sees youths, individuals around your age or a little older. Their youth implies limited worldly wisdom, yet they are the ones plunging into battle, putting their lives on the line, and in some heartbreaking cases, sacrificing their very existence to protect their brethren. To the Divine, these soldiers are viewed as flawless "tzadikim." Their judgments are on par with the Divine's criteria for a righteous soul. The Rebbe frequently highlighted that wartime necessitates an extra infusion of "kedusha" (holiness).

The Divine presence, the Ebishter, roams in the camp of soldiers, those brave souls risking their lives for our protection. Remember, we are Jews, and these events represent a direct assault against our people. Without a doubt, the Ebishter gazes upon each of these soldiers, even the most righteous among them, bestowing upon them a supernatural protection ("shmira").

It's our prayer that they return to their families alive, healthy and whole. We implore the Ebishter to guide them in the daunting task that lies ahead, ensuring its completion with both wisdom and success. Echoing a sentiment the Rebbe often shared, it's imperative to see things through to the end. It's in everyone's best interest - Jews and Arabs alike. Because once something is concluded, it's truly done, eliminating uncertainties about the future. It’s crucial to grasp that this tone, this very essence of speech, epitomizes the Rebbe's stance on such matters.

While we never wish harm upon any non-Jew, it's only right that they hold a sense of reverence, even fear, towards a Yid.

Truth number five: Hashem's boundless love encompasses every Jew. Each man, woman, boy, and girl is, according to the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov in halacha, regarded as a "ben yochid” — an only child born to elderly parents who had never had children before.

This deep-seated love is not predicated on any merit of our own; rather, it is an immutable truth: Hashem’s affection for every Yid is unwavering, and He bestows upon us His blessings and love. In times of confusion, even when we struggle to understand, the Rebbe's love for us remains steadfast. We pray to Hashem to grant us the ability to not only feel and see this love but to reciprocate it. May each of us deeply sense the Eibishter's love, and in turn, offer our love back to Him. This love should manifest as health, protection, and blessings for every member of the Jewish community.

Regarding the incomprehensibility of the Yom Kippur war, one might not claim to interpret it in the name of the Rebbe. It's genuinely difficult to wrap one's mind around, given its complexity and the pain it wrought. The teachings, such as "the king’s heart is in the hand of Hashem,” which suggest that the actions and fates of rulers are governed by Hashem, raises the question: does this also apply to a Yid? And it's genuinely hard to find clarity on this, considering the circumstances. It may seem harsh to express, but one might wonder if all these events unfold because the Ebishter wills it so. While the reasons may be inscrutable and the suffering hard to comprehend, perhaps there's faith that in the culmination of all events, blessings and miracles (nisim v'nefloys) will be revealed. May Hashem grant us the privilege (zeicha) to witness these blessings in a manifest and evident manner (b'teva nivra venigla).