Happy Birthday Rebbe
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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 106th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
This week's issue focuses on, Yud Alef Nissan, the Rebbe's 95th birthday.
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind
2 Nissan, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan the Jews in Egypt were commanded to take a lamb into their homes and to guard it until the fourteenth of the month, when it was to be slaughtered as the Passover offering. When their Egyptian neighbors became curious, the Jews explained that the sacrifice was preparatory to the tenth and final plague G-d would visit on the Egyptians--the slaying of the firstborn.
Hearing this, the firstborn sons panicked. They stormed Pharaoh's palace, demanding that he free the Jews. When he refused, civil war broke out in Egypt. Sons fought against fathers and many died, as it states in Psalms, "To Him Who struck Egypt through its first-born"--the Egyptian firstborn sons themselves were the instrument of Egypt's destruction.
This miracle is commemorated each year on Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat immediately preceding Passover, as the miracle itself took place on Shabbat that year. Yet ever since then, Shabbat HaGadol does not necessarily fall on the 10th of Nissan; the deciding factor in commemorating the miracle is that it be on Shabbat.
This commemoration differs from all other celebrations on the Jewish calendar, which are generally determined according to the day of the month. What is so special about Shabbat HaGadol that it follows a different pattern?
An essential difference exists between the days of the week and of the month. The seven days of the week are determined by the sun, according to the natural order G-d put into motion during the seven days of Creation. The days of the (Jewish) month, however, are determined by the phases of the moon, whose movements are not subject to nature in the same way.
These two ways of determining the passage of time, solar and lunar, reflect the two ways G-d oversees the world--within and outside of nature--the seemingly natural occurrence and the miracle. In fact, the Hebrew word for "month"--chodesh--expresses this concept, for it is related to the word chadash ("new"), signifying that the lunar phases are subject to change. For this reason, Jewish holidays are celebrated according to the day of the month, as they commemorate G-d's supernatural intervention with the laws of nature.
The miracle of Shabbat HaGadol, however, was not supernatural, but of an entirely different sort, one in which evil itself fought to eradicate its own existence. Fearing for their own lives, Egyptian fought against Egyptian, waging war in order to free the Jewish slaves.
A miracle such as this, occurring within nature, is therefore connected to the day of the week and not the day of the month. This concept will be better understood when Moshiach comes, speedily in our days, for the G-dliness that exists within nature will then be openly revealed and not seen as a separate entity.
1. See below footnote #3. Ed.
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.
Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.
What marks the birth of a child? The moment the child is freed from the constraints and limitations of the womb. And what marks the birth of the Jewish people? When we were freed from the physical limitations of Egyptian slavery and the spiritual constraints of the idolatry and culture we had adopted during our exile in Egypt!
And so, because of the magnitude of the change from one status to another, we celebrate. We celebrate our birthdays on the anniversary of the day we were born and we celebrate the birth of the Jewish people on Passover.
The Talmud teaches that on your birthday good fortune is on your side. In addition, Jewish mysticism explains that on the anniversary of an event, the divine forces that were present on that day are present once more.
This means that on Passover, the divine forces that helped us lift ourselves out of slavery of mind, soul and body can be harnessed to help us lift ourselves out of these constraints and limitations once more.
A few days before Passover, the birthday of the Jewish people, we celebrate the ninety-fifth birthday of the Rebbe.
Celebrating a birthday in a traditional Jewish manner involves using the day for the greatest spiritual benefit. This is done through giving money to charity; sharing words of Jewish thought and content with friends and family; reflecting on the year gone by; making good resolutions for the future.
On his birthday, the Rebbe has regularly devoted his time to giving. He has given blessings, he has distributed holy books as gifts to thousands of followers and admirers, and he has shared his time and his vast knowledge of Torah concepts.
Nevertheless, many people will want to give gifts to the Rebbe on such a special occasion.
What gifts can we give the Rebbe? A single good deed. A few moments specially set aside for Torah study. A coin in a tzedakah--charity --box each weekday. A determined effort to grow Jewishly. Any Torah study or mitzvot performed with the intent of preparing for and hastening the long-awaited Redemption for which the Rebbe has devoted his life.
This Friday, 11 Nissan (April 18), we celebrate the Rebbe's 95th birthday.
It is customary to recite daily the chapter in Psalms corresponding to one's years. Chasidic tradition encourages that one recite daily the Psalm of the Rebbe, as well. Thus, Jews the world over will begin reciting Psalm 96 this Friday in the Rebbe's honor.
King David recited Psalm 96 when he brought the Holy Ark back from its captivity in Philistine exile and he sang joyously upon the Ark's redemption. Similarly, when Israel is finally redeemed, the Jews will go to Moshiach and exult with King David's opening words to this Psalm: "Sing to G-d a new song; sing to G-d everyone on earth."
Let us take a look at how a few commentators explain some of the verses in this magnificent Psalm.
"Sing to G-d a new song; sing to G-d everyone on earth." The commentator, Radak, explains that in the time of Moshiach, every person will arouse his neighbor to praise G-d with these opening words. This is the reason why these words are the introduction for many of the Psalms that speak of the future Redemption.
"Sing to G-d, bless His name." We are blessing G-d for the kindness He will display when gathering the exiles. (Sforno)
"Tremble before Him, everyone on earth." The nations who failed to fear G-d throughout the millennia of history will recognize His greatness in the Messianic Era and will tremble before Him. (Radak)
"He will judge the nations with righteousness." G-d will bring lasting peace to the world in the Messianic Era. He will also render judgment concerning each country's final recompense: the deserving nations will be duly rewarded, and the guilty ones will receive fair punishment. (Maharam Markado)
"The heavens will rejoice and the earth will be exult." This is a figurative allusion to the happiness that will sweep the universe at the advent of the Messianic Era of eternal peace. (Radak)
Even nature will signify its joy by carrying out the functions assigned to its various components by G-d. The heavens will give abundant rain and dew; the earth will give generous crops. (Ibn Ezra)
"Before G-d [they shallrejoice], for He arrives, for He arrives to judge the earth." "He arrives," is repeated twice because G-d's "arrival" will serve a dual purpose: First, He will redeem the Jews in the diaspora. Second, He will punish the nations who tormented the Jewish people (Ibn Yachya)
As is obvious, Psalm 96 is full of references to the times of Moshiach. Our Sages taught, "In Nissan we were redeemed and in Nissan we will be redeemed in the future." May the commencement of the recitation of Psalm 96--which is replete with references to the Messianic Era--be the last push we need to get us out of exile and into the Days of Moshiach, with the Rebbe leading us to the Holy Temple, NOW!
by Esther Altmann
Passover had almost arrived and in New Haven, Connecticut, a Seder was being planned for Russian immigrants. Arrangements were made for a young couple, who had recently come to New York from Russia, to travel to New Haven and conduct the Seder in Russian.
On the afternoon of the eve of Passover, the Rebbe began to distribute hand-baked shmura matzah. Thousands of Chasidim waited in line to receive the matzah--a piece for each family, or several for a community.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Stock, a shliach (emissary) of the Rebbe in Bridgeport/Fairfield County, Connecticut, was waiting in line to get the matzah for his community. He was approached by a friend who explained that the ride for the Russian couple had fallen through. "Can the young Russian rabbi wait in line with you to get matzah from the Rebbe for New Haven and then, with his wife, travel to Bridgeport with you?" the friend asked Rabbi Stock. From there, a ride would be arranged to New Haven. Rabbi Stock readily agreed.
Rabbi Stock recounts the unusual developments that followed: "The Russian rabbi was in line directly ahead of me. He spoke in Russian, and told the Rebbe that he was going to New Haven to make a communal Seder there for Russian Jews. The Rebbe shrugged his shoulders, and turned to me, saying in Yiddish, 'I don't understand what he is saying. Do you understand what he is saying?'
"I was taken aback. The Rebbe understands Russian fluently. I don't know a word of Russian. The Russian rabbi started all over again in Russian (he later told me that he always communicates with the Rebbe in Russian!), telling the Rebbe that he is going to New Haven to make a Seder for Russian Jews there. The Rebbe looked at him and then at me and then back at him. 'Aha, you're traveling with him,' the Rebbe said to the Russian rabbi. 'You're traveling to Bridgeport to make a Seder for Russian Jews.' The Rebbe finally gave him the matzah, saying, 'This is for a Seder in Bridgeport.'"
The Russian rabbi took the matzah for Bridgeport and proceeded to ask for matzah for New Haven. The Rebbe reluctantly gave him the matzah for New Haven. Rabbi Stock's turn was next and the Rebbe gave him the matzah together with a blessing for a "kosher and happy Passover."
Traffic was very heavy on the way to Connecticut and Rabbi Stock and the young Russian couple arrived only 40 minutes before sundown. If the couple would set out for New Haven now, there was little chance that they would arrive before the holiday began. They had no choice but to stay in Bridgeport.
For the Jews of Bridgeport it was a windfall. The large number of Russian families that were coming to the communal Seder in Bridgeport would now be able to hear explanations and insights on the Passover Haggadah in their native tongue. The Rebbe's words were fulfilled to the letter.
New Haven, however, in addition to being without the young couple, was also left without the very special and much desired matzah from the Rebbe. So, Rabbi Sholom Ber Levitan, a shliach in New Haven, decided that he would walk to Bridgeport and bring the matzah back to New Haven, so that at least at the second Seder they would be able to partake of the Rebbe's matzah.
It was the morning of the first day of Passover when Rabbi Levitan started walking. He brought matzah with him and set out on the 30-mile hike. He knew which road led directly to Bridgeport, but somehow, when he passed the town of Milford, he realized that he was briskly walking down an unknown road, leading, he wasn't sure where. He calculated the time so far spent walking--four hours, the time remaining until sunset--not very long, and deduced that he couldn't possibly make it to Bridgeport and back to New Haven before the second day of Yom Tov began.
Up ahead, he spotted a large building that turned out to be a hospital. Having personally experienced numerous times that "G-d directs the footsteps of man," Rabbi Levitan knew that though this was not a Jewish area, there might be some Jewish patients in the hospital who needed matzah.
Rabbi Levitan went into the hospital and inquired at patient information if there were any Jewish patients. He received an affirmative answer--there was one Jewish patient, a woman. Rabbi Levitan headed straight to her room, matzah in hand.
"Hello," he said, standing in the doorway. "My name is Rabbi Levitan. I wonder if you need matzah?" To the woman lying in the bed, Rabbi Levitan's appearance was far more than a pleasant, unexpected visit, for when she got over her surprise at seeing the black-hatted, bearded Jew, she told him how she had spent the entire previous night.
"Rabbi, I can't believe you are here! Here I was in the hospital for Passover, and I wanted matzah for the holiday so much. I had no one to bring it to me so I asked the hospital to get me some. I was very disappointed that they hadn't gotten me any. All last night I was thinking, 'Tonight is the first Seder and I don't even have matzah!' I started praying to G-d that He would somehow send me some matzah, so I could celebrate Passover, too. And here you are standing with matzah in your hand!"
Rabbi Levitan gave the woman the matzah, wished her a "good Yom Tov." He turned around for the four-hour walk back to New Haven, all the way thinking about his surprising mission. It was just time to begin the second Seder when he arrived home in New Haven, with no matzah from the Rebbe to show for his full-day walk, but with a fascinating tale of Divine Providence reaching out to a Jewish woman in a hospital somewhere in Connecticut.
"What more can I do to motivate the whole world to cry out and demand the Redemption?... I have done all I can; now you must do whatever you can. May it be G-d's will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the complete Redemption, immediately!" (The Rebbe, 28 Nissan, 5751/1991)
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Friday, April 18, Erev Shabbat Parshat Metzora:
Saturday, April 19, Shabbat Parshat Metzora:
2. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.
3. A portion of the Haggadah, beginning from Avodim Hoyinu ("We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt") until likaper al kol avonoseinu ("to atone for all our sins") is recited on this Shabbat after Mincha, the Shabbat afternoon service.
Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind
Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing
"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.
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