And Yakov Went on His Way
From a letter of the Rebbe 7 Marcheshvan, 5737
We have concluded the month of Tishrei, which is designated in our sacred texts as a "comprehensive month" for the entire year, and which is filled with a variety of festive days and experiences embracing all areas of a Jew's spiritual life throughout the whole year.
The month begins with awe and submission to the Heavenly Reign, the main point of Rosh Hashana: teshuva [repentance], the essence of the Ten Days of Return, and Yom Kippur; the performance of mitzvot with diligence and joy, culminating with the highest expression of joy with the Torah -- the essential aspects of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.
It is time to recall the custom that was prevalent in many communities to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."
The point of this custom was to call attention to the fact that, inasmuch as the time has come to return to the routine of the daily life ("his way"), it behooves a Jew to know that he is Jacob, a Jew, and that he has his own way, a way that originates in Simchat Torah and is guided by the joy of Torah and mitzvot.
This means that whatever a Jew undertakes, even his ordinary day to day affairs, must always be conducted in the spirit of "All your actions should be for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him (and serve Him) in all your ways."
The month of Tishrei is a "comprehensive month" also in the sense that in this month the Jew acquires "goods" for the whole year.
Immediately afterwards one must begin to "unpack" and draw from one's stock according to the needs of each day in all details.
One cannot consider himself free from further obligation on the basis of the accomplishments of the comprehensive month.
Similarly, there are also "comprehensive mitzvot," although each and all mitzvot have to be fulfilled with the fullest measure of diligence and excellence. A comprehensive mitzva should be performed with still greater excellence and still greater diligence, for its performance is of greater concern to all Jews and the Jewish people as a whole.
One of the main comprehensive mitzvot is the mitzva of ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow-Jew).
Of this mitzva it has been said that it is a "great principle of the Torah," and the "basis of the entire Torah."
The basis of this mitzva is the fact that all Jews constitute one entity, like one body, so much so that every Jew sees every other Jew as "his own flesh and blood."
Herein is also the explanation why the fulfillment of a mitzva by every individual Jew affects the whole Jewish people; how much more so the fulfillment of comprehensive mitzvot...
May G-d grant that all the good wishes which Jews wished one another for the new year should be fulfilled, that it be a good and sweet year in every respect, with the realization of the above-mentioned pattern of Jewish conduct:
"And Jacob" -- an appellation that includes all Jews, not only those who have already attained the higher status of "Israel" and "Jeshurun";
"Went" -- in accordance with the true concept of motion, namely, moving away from the previous state to a higher state; (for however satisfactory a state is, one should always strive to advance to an every higher state in all matters of Holiness);
"On his way" -- that "his way," even in non-obligatory matters, becomes a G-dly way, as stated immediately after:
"And G-d's angels met him" -- in keeping with every Jew's purpose in life to be an "angel" messenger -- of G-d, to make for Him an "abode" in this earthly world.
May all the above be done with joy, derived from Simchat Torah, and Jacob "will sing (and praise) the G-d of Jacob," and merit the speedy fulfillment of the continuation of the verse, "The glory and strength of the tzadik will be uplifted," the coming of our righteous Moshiach.