When it occurs that "one passes away1 on the eve of
Shabbos"2 it becomes a "good sign"3 (if
there is still any need for "signs") that the Divine service of the emissaries
(shlichus), to refine and purify secular matters, has already been
completed and perfected. This was done in a manner of "a wolf that tears"
through "the offspring of Yosef" (my sainted father-in-law, the leader of
our generation) who are compared to fish.4 Everything is
prepared for the festive meal of the time to come ("a day that is all Shabbos
and rest, in the world to come"5), when there will be a
complete consumption of the fish6 (after completion of
all the preparations on the eve of Shabbos) "from the
flesh7 of Livyosan," and also the Shor HaBar and
(From the talk of Shabbos Parshas Vaeira, 28 Teves,
Blessing of the New Month of Shvat, 5752 (2))
1. Kesubos 103b.
2. The passing of the venerable Chassid Rabbi Moshe Yitzchok Hecht this evening
before Shabbos. See in the talk at length (publisher's note).
3. When it says "a good sign for him," this describes not just a
particular individual, but also describes his role as a member of the community
of students and emissaries of my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our
4. [This talk was delivered in honor of Rabbi Hecht. The name "Hecht"
in Yiddish is the same as the word for fish (specifically, a pike). The Rebbe
here discusses the connection between the family name ("Hecht") and eating
fish on Shabbos. More precisely, the pike is a "fish that tears" (which is
nevertheless kosher). The Talmud teaches that for every creature on dry land
there is a corresponding creature in the sea. Thus the "hecht" (pike) corresponds
to the wolf, since both are creatures that tear. The tribe of Binyomin is
compared to a wolf, and the Rebbe points out that Binyomin tore for kedusha,
that is, he "snatched" things from this world and elevated them to kedusha,
holiness. The evening before Shabbos is, of course, a time for preparing
the Shabbos meal, including fish, which is traditionally eaten on Shabbos.
Furthermore, our Sages teach that one should add to the time of Shabbos,
both its beginning and its conclusion, from the weekday. In other words,
one should tear time from the week for Shabbos, just as a wolf tears. This
indicates the conclusion of the Divine service of the six days of work, namely,
the purification and elevation of the things of this world so that they will
be included in the holiness of Shabbos. Therefore, fish is prepared before
Shabbos (and this corresponds to the wolf's (Binyomin's) Divine service of
"snatching"). The preparation of the fish before Shabbos (and the "tearing"
of time from the week) result in the eating of the fish on Shabbos (the time
of rest). Translator's note.]
5. Tamid at the end.
6. [We may explain the comparison as follows: those who are likened to
fish will be rewarded with a festive meal of the great fish, Levyasan, in
the days of Moshiach. Translator's note.]
7. Bava Basra 75a.