I Have a Letter in the Children's Sefer Torah

The Specialty of Children

While every Jew is included, young and old, men and women, not all are equal. Children, pure and unsullied, whose very breath is free of sin, take precedence over their elders.

Durin the Exodus, it was the children who first recognized G‑d and only afterwards did their elders follow. Just as it was then, so it will be at the final redemption. The final redemption will not come about through the efforts of the adults, rather it will be the youngsters who patiently guide their elders, awakening in their hearts the desire to return to G‑d.

Jewish Unity by Jewish Children

Jewish children are not all congregated in one place, but are scattered all over the globe. And other differences exist too, such as varying levels in religious education, differences between the more gifted and the less gifted. Even differences set by Torah exist: Kohanim, Levi’im, Yisraelim, and proselytes. Nevertheless, despite these differences, all Jewish children are united as soldiers in the Army of G‑d, sharing an identical goal: To light up their surroundings with Judaism.

Physically apart they may be, but never divided. They are all soldiers in the same army, serving under the same Commander-in-Chief--G‑d. No amount of miles can sever that connection, for the Commander-in-Chief is always with each and every soldier--"the whole earth is full of His glory." And the fulfillment of His commandments constantly strengthens their bond with Him. Mere distance can have no effect on such a bond for they are all one, together and united.

Unity Through Torah

But such emblems and insignias, useful as they are, are not enough. True unity is achieved only through Torah. But it must be expressed in a concrete form, comprehensible to a child.

The solution? A Sefer Torah, written on real parchment, with real ink, for all Jewish children under Bar/Bas Mitzvah age. Not for the elderly, not for adults, not even for teenagers; only for children.*

Jewish children, who learn Torah with their pure breath, untainted by sin, will individually own a letter in their own Sefer Torah, the holiness of which is forever. This is true unity: strong, enduring, eternal.

* In the context of his discourse on the Sefer Torah, the Rebbe explained many Halachic aspects pertaining to it, including the provision that ten adults should (each) buy a letter in the Torah, in order to remove any doubts concerning the halachic validity of a Sefer Torah written entirely by children.

Why the Children Should Pay for their Letters

Such a great privilege should not be given as a mere gift, unearned and therefore unappreciated. Each child should buy his or her letter with his or her own money--a dollar per child (or the equivalent in other currencies). No more and no less; all are equal.

How a Sefer Torah Expresses Jewish Unity

Each and every Jew, our sages tell us, has a letter in the Torah. A missing or unreadable letter in a Sefer Torah invalidates the entire Sefer Torah. A Jew missing from his people is a loss to the entire nation. But when all the letters are there together, the Torah is one, whole, indivisible.

When every Jewish child buys a letter in the Sefer Torah written especially in the name of all Jewish children, no greater unity can exist. The one indivisible Torah unites the one indivisible people.

The Specialty of this Sefer Torah

Think not that this Sefer Torah will be just one more addition to all the Sifrei Torah extant at present. It is greater than that, infinitely loftier.

A new Sefer Torah is identical to the very first Sefer Torah written by Moshe Rabbeinu. A wonderful thing indeed! For the Torah is the blueprint for the world, and the writing of the words "In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth" in a new Sefer Torah, renews the act of creation! This is indeed the true preparation to the fulfillment of G‑d’s promise: "the new heaven and the new earth which I will make" in the future redemption.

Where Should the Children's Sefer Torah be Written?

The best and most obvious place for this Sefer Torah to be written is in the Holy Land, that land which is so unique and precious that "the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year." (Deuteronomy 11:12)

And in the Holy Land itself, there is no place more fitting for it to be written than in Yerushalayim, the city of David, which is itself the symbol of unity. It is the "city that is united together" and, as our sages note, was not given to any one tribe, but equally to all Jews.

Furthermore, it is to be written in the "Old City," the original Yerushalayim, in the Tzemach Tzedek Shul, the only synagogue there which has remained intact from its inception.

A synagogue is a miniature Beis HaMikdash, and the durability of the Tzemach Tzedek synagogue represents the eternality of the third Beis HaMikdash to be built by G‑d in the future redemption. The equation is now complete: The Sefer Torah that will unite all children is being written in an enduring synagogue in our holy city of Yerushalayim in Eretz Yisroel. We can be sure that the unity produced by this Sefer Torah will be perfect.

Everyone Should Get Involved

All of us have the duty, and privilege, to participate in this Sefer Torah by encouraging children to buy a letter. We must utilize all means, and expend the greatest of efforts to ensure that all children everywhere are united through this project. Women, who have a greater influence than men on young children, are especially entrusted with this mission.

Its importance cannot be overemphasized, for how can one overestimate the importance of children? Today, with the alarming state of affairs in the world, the very security of millions of Jews in Eretz Yisrael is being threatened, and war looms ominously on the horizon. Now, more than ever, we need unity among Jewish children, whose pure and innocent utterances of Torah ensure peace and stability for Jews and the entire world.

The Kids Should Take a Leading Role - It's Their Torah!

It must be stressed that this is a children's Sefer Torah, and as much as possible should be done by children.

It should be their money which pays for their letter, and if this is not possible all at one time, they should contribute it in installments. Likewise, it should be the children who write out their name, mother's name, and address, to be sent to the Rabbinical committee in charge in Eretz Yisrael. It may take a bit longer, but the results derived will be so much greater.

A child is innocent of any guile and has not yet learned to be cynical; and the effort expended through the children writing out such details will be amply repaid. Let them furrow their brows and scratch their heads in harried effort. Let them decorate their letters with pictures as children are wont to do. Their toil in such a worthy cause is not a laughing matter to G‑d. He knows the purity of their thoughts, and their childish efforts bring nothing but sweet pleasure to Him. (Of course, if their writing is unreadable, parents should enclose the required details--but still send the children's efforts!)

Infants who are incapable of writing can have their letters bought for them by their parents. However, the parents should do so in front of their children, for this will leave an impression. Education begins from the moment of birth, and the surrounding environment affects even the newest born babe. Why not leave him or her the impression of such a holy thing as the buying of a letter in a Sefer Torah?

Time Is Of Essence

Children who are nearly Bar or Bas Mitzvah are still eligible to buy a letter in the Torah. However, they must do so before they turn Bar/Bas Mitzvah and hurry to make use of their privilege while there is still time.

Those living behind the Iron Curtain and in other places where freedom is restricted are also inheritors of our Torah and also must be united with their brethren. Those of us in the free world who have relatives in these countries have the great merit of buying for such children a letter in this Sefer Torah, noting that we do so because those children have not the freedom to do so themselves. They are Jews too, and they too have letters in the Torah. Let us not forget them.

The Children's Certificates

In general, it is customary when writing a new Sefer Torah to inform the participants which letter they have bought and this will be done with the children's Sefer Torah. But a Sefer Torah consists of many different words, ranging from G‑d's name to passages where the Jewish people are admonished for their sins. Let it be stressed that all words in the Torah are from G‑d and are of equal sanctity. But people, and especially children, are guided by their emotions, and to be told that their letter is in a word or sentence that talks of unpleasant things will cause them much anguish and distress.

Hence it would be advisable, when sending children their certificate informing them of which letter they bought, to write only which Sidra [Torah section] it is in. This way, no one will be disappointed over which word or sentence he has received, for any one Sidra contains many different words, including G‑d’s name.

Moreover, the letters should be assigned through a lottery, thereby avoiding any suspicion of favoritism. G‑d will have decided, and His choice cannot be faulted. [Parenthetically, it would be well to adopt this system of not informing the participants of exactly which letter they have bought, in all cases of writing a Sefer Torah.]

The certificate sent to the children should note when the child's request to buy a letter was received. An allusion to the five books in a Sefer Torah, should be printed on the certificate.

Such a certificate, printed handsomely as befits such a worthy project, will induce pride in its owners, and will be kept as one of their most treasured possessions. In addition, it will arouse their friends’ interest and they too will inscribe themselves in the Sefer Torah.

A Time of Unity

This is a year of "Hakhel," when Jews are commanded to "Gather the people together, men, women, children, and the stranger that is within your gates." Again, the idea of unity. And therefore the Sefer Torah should be started without delay, and finished before the end of this year. Erev Rosh HaShanah is on Monday, the birthday of the Tzemach Tzedek (in whose synagogue the Sefer Torah is being written), and the Sefer Torah should be read on that day.

We wait for Moshiach’s coming every day, and indeed, are sure that he will come before the Sefer Torah is completed. How glorious and joyful will be that day, when Moshiach himself will join the throng who have come to hear the reading from the Sefer Torah.

When this Sefer Torah is completed we will not rest idle, but will immediately start a new one. And do not worry lest there not be enough children to buy all the letters in this second Torah. Moshiach’s coming is associated with the time when all Jewish souls will have been born. We can be sure that in the coming months enough Jewish babes will be born to ensure the purchase of the letters in the second Sefer Torah.

Jewish children are called by Torah "Moshiach"--"do not touch My anointed ones." A Jewish king, including Moshiach, is commanded to have two Sifrei Torah. The two Sifrei Torah, who are called Moshiach, are (comparable to) the two Sifrei Torah of the Moshiach. May the writing of the Sefer Torah hasten the true redemption through our righteous Moshiach, when all of us will learn his Torah in the city of Yerushalayim built by G‑d.

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