There is something extraordinary about the very date of this holiday. Surprisingly, it is celebrated in the month of Tammuz, just a few days before the fast of the 17 of Tammuz (and the following “three weeks”, leading to the fast of Tisha B’av).
The Rebbe emphasizes that in fact it’s a genuine “chiddush” – an innovation of our generation. For many years, the character of the month of Tammuz was shaped by the five tragic events that occurred on the 17th day of this month (beginning with the breaking of the Tablets – ‘luhot ha-brit’ – in the year of 2448).
However, in our time, instead of being a period commemorating destruction and exile, the month of Tammuz has became a month of light. Not we call it “The month of Geula (Liberation)”.
The Rebbe reveals:
– According to all the signs mentioned by our Sages regarding the coming of the Mashiach, ours is the last generation of exile and the first generation of the redemption. Therefore, it is appropriate that we look at the period of the Three Weeks, not as a time associated with exile, but rather as part of the preparatory stages leading to Mashiach’s coming! (From the Rebbe’s talk on Shabbat Parshat Balak, 17th Day of Tammuz, 5751/1991)
… The month of Tamuz, 5687 (1927). After a few weeks of confinement in the infamous Shalerno prison, the Rabbi Rayats is exiled to the city of Kostroma. The head of the generation, the Sixth Rebbe of Chabad, has been sent here on charges of spreading the Torah in the USSR. Every morning, according to the law, he must report to the local G.P.U. to confirm his location.
“On Tuesday, the 12th of Tammuz (July 12) — the Rebbe’s 47th birthday — the Rebbe appeared at the headquarters of the G.P.U., accompanied by Rabbi Althaus, for his obligatory weekly appearance. The local G.P.U. official greeted him genially and informed him of his release: “You are totally freed from the need of any further appearances. The order has been received to grant you full freedom, and I regard it as a personal privilege to be the first one to inform you of your complete amnesty.”
Rabbi Althaus reacted with intense emotion; his face went from deep livid to palest white and back; the Rebbe had to calm him and help him regain his composure.
The Rebbe’s daughter Chaya Moussia called the family in Leningrad by telephone to inform them of the liberation, with the added warning to keep the information secret. She also sent a telegram to make sure they understood clearly. They signed the telegram, in the place of the name, “Bli Pirsum” – “without publicity.”
In Kostroma, news of the Rebbe’s release spread with lightning speed. Even before he returned to his lodgings, the news was already known. Upon his arrival, the Rebbe viewed an unusual and moving spectacle — the chassid Reb Michael Dworkin was dancing round the house, in his hand a bottle of wine, and upon his lips a melody with Russian words, singing with great feeling: Nyet, nyet nikavo (“Nothing, nothing exists aside from G‑d!” The small son of the chassid danced about in somersault fashion, his feet flailing above and his hands firmly placed against the fence.
On that very day, the 12th of Tammuz, a large gathering of Jews assembled in his lodging in Kostroma and he delivered the Maamar (chassidic discourse), “G‑d is Among Those That Help Me”…” (Read more in the book “Heroic Struggle”)
… From that day on, the Holiday of Geulah comes back to us every year in advance of the fast of Tammuz, creating a new, bright and joyful atmosphere for the whole month. Moreover, it lasts not one, but two days (the 12th and 13th of Tamuz). On both of these days it is customary to rejoice and arrange Hasidic ‘farbrengens’.
This way the Holiday of Geulah seems to remind us that today we have the strength to reveal the light even there where it seems impossible.
The Rebbe explains:
– In the previous generations, Tammuz was associated with unfavorable events. However, the liberation of my revered teacher and father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz, has caused the month of Tammuz to be associated with redemption and happiness.
Furthermore, this redemption was not individual in nature. As the Rebbe Rayatz writes in his famous letter:
The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem me alone on Yud-Beis Tammuz. Rather, [the redemption included] all those who hold our holy Torah dear, those who observe its mitzvos, and all those who are called by the name Israel.
Since all redemptions are interconnected, his redemption brings us closer to the ultimate Redemption… (From the Rebbe’s talk on Shabbat Parshat Balak, 17th Day of Tammuz, 5751/1991)