The 5 Tevet Farbrengen will take place on Sunday, December 17, 2023 at 8:00 p.m.
at JRCC Willowdale - 17 Church Av.


In the Chabad-Lubavitch community, the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet is marked as a most special and joyous day. The day celebrates the "victory of the  sefarim"--the victory of the Torah books.

On this date in 1987, a US Federal court issued a ruling regarding the Chabad-Lubavitch library housed at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. Several books, many of them priceless, rare volumes, had been wrongfully removed from the library. When the case went to court, what was at stake was not just the part of the collection that had been removed but ownership of the entire library. What was on trial was our collective relationship to the library and the teachings they represent.

The court's decision—upheld in subsequent appeals—was that the library does indeed belong not to any individual but to the Chabad-Lubavitch community. The pivotal testimony, delivered with absolute sincerity, was the statement of the Rebbetzin, daughter of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe and wife of the Rebbe. In response to the question as to whom the books belong, she answered "The books, like my father, belong to the Chassidim."

The books, the court affirmed, are not the property of an individual but rather of a communal library—and by extension, everyone who makes use of that library.

The Rebbe never regarded this victory as a personal, or even a Chabad-Lubavitch victory. He regarded it a victory for all of the Jewish people. More than that, he regarded it a victory of the books themselves, and even more so, as he stated on the first anniversary of the decision, for those bedecked Torah scrolls we honor every Shabbat.

The real completion of a Sefer Torah--the Rebbe said—is in the sefarim, the printed Torah books—books such as the ones returned to us on the 5th of Tevet. Books that you carry around with you, stealing a few moments to learn from while you wait for the train or stuck at a red light. Books that you read with your kids over cereal and warm mugs of cocoa. Books that you use to bribe them into brushing their teeth. Books you curl up with as soon as your work, for this day at least, is done.

It is only to the extent that we use our books that we complete—in a spiritual sense—the books themselves, and the Torah scroll whose words they are based on.

Upon the Rebbe's instructions, Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim have a tradition of celebrating the 5th Tevet not only with Chassidic gatherings but also with book sales. Because the real victory for the books—for the Torah itself—is when we fill our homes with volumes of Jewish books, and our days with their teachings.

Here are some suggestions, adapted from the Rebbe’s own directives or conduct of the time:

1. Build Up: It was not a coincidence that this victory happened around Torah books.We must use this opportunity to buy Jewish books and build up individual collections of holy books.

Visit the JRCC Bookstore to purchase Jewish books in English and Russian.

2. Spread Out: The era of Hei Teves marked a new era on the Rebbe’s urging of expanding the global network of “Chabad Houses.”

The Rebbe also emphasized how every Jewish individual could and should establish their personal home as a “Chabad House”—a warm and welcoming place that fosters Torah and Yiddishkeit. Today is the perfect time to set up your personal “Beis Chabad,” spreading the light of Torah and mitzvot to your family and surroundings.

3. Reach In: The Talmud’s declaration that hu bachayim (“he is alive”) is interwoven with the reality that zaro ba’chayim (“his children are alive”). “Children” in this case broadly connotes anyone who benefits from the Rebbe’s teachings, and the immense outreach activities he modeled and set into motion.

This day is an auspicious time to reach into our inner soul, infuse it with the life of Torah, and especially the extraordinary teachings and directives of our dear Rebbe to our entire generation.

It is surely opportune and advisable to utilize the vitality of this time to visit the Ohel in person or to send one’s prayer requests by email or fax to be placed there, thus restoring our own spirit together with the Rebbe, who lives on “in us, with us and through us.”