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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 110th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
This week's issue focuses on:
1) Yud Gimel Iyar, the 13th of Iyar.
2) Pesach Sheni, the 14th of Iyar.
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
First Day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's Torah portion, Emor, we are enjoined concerning counting the Omer: "And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the sheaf--omer--of the waving; there shall be seven complete weeks."
After the Exodus from Egypt the Jews were so eager to receive the Torah that they counted the days remaining to that great event. This was a prelude to the precept of "Counting the Omer" which they received later at Mount Sinai.
The counting of the Omer has always remained a preparation to receiving the Torah; when the 49 days of the Omer come to an end, the festival of Shavuot--celebrating the giving of the Torah--follows immediately.
The connection of Counting the Omer with the Giving of the Torah finds expression in the idea that both stress the individual. Each person, individually, must count the days of the Omer period as opposed to the communal counting of the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles (each 7th year was the Sabbatical Year, each 50th year was the Jubilee Year). In the Jubilee and Sabbatical year a number of special laws apply, and the mitzvah of counting the 7-and 50-year cycles was performed by the Jewish Court on behalf of all Jews. In contrast, the Omer is counted by each person individually.
In similar fashion, the giving of the Torah was not only a communal, collective experience; the Alm-ighty addressed each and every individual separately: "I am G-d your G-d." In Hebrew there are two ways of saying "Your G-d," the singular and the plural. Yet, when G-d addressed the entire Jewish nation, several million in number, the singular form was used. To each one of Israel individually the Alm-ighty gave the Torah; to each He commanded that they study and fulfill the mitzvot. And to each He infused Divinely-granted strength and ability to fulfill the Torah.
The lesson from this week's Torah portion and Counting the Omer is clear: Each day counts; each Jew counts; each mitzvah counts.
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.
Tuesday, Iyar 13 (May 20), is the 45th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's youngest brother, Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib.
The following is a brief biography, written by Rabbi Shimon Silman.
Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib (known affectionately as "Reb Leibel") was a Torah scholar of the highest caliber. He was a fascinating personality, totally devoted to the study of Chasidus, which he learned with legendary diligence.
As a young man, Reb Leibel was a member of the household of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, in Petersburg for several years. He was very popular among the chasidim, who approached him with difficult questions in Talmud and Chasidus. At that time he began studying mathematics in the academies of Petersburg where he organized groups of Jewish youth to learn Torah and observe mitzvot.
In the 1940s, Reb Leibel moved to Israel and married. He continued his research of mathematics and spent long nights studying Chasidus.
In 1948 he accepted a position in the Department of Theoretical Physics of the University of Liverpool in England. In this position he continued his research in mathematics and theoretical physics until he passed away on 13 Iyar, 5712/1952. He is buried in Safed, Israel.
Pesach Sheni, means the "Second Passover," and is observed one month after the first Passover.
Until the destruction of the Holy Temple, any Jew unable to bring the Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan--either because he was ritually impure, in a distant place, was prevented by unavoidable circumstances, or even if he intentionally did not bring it--could bring it on the 14th of Iyar.
Pesach Sheni was instituted the year after the Jews left Egypt while they were still in the desert. Before Passover of that year, G-d again commanded our ancestors to bring the special Pascal sacrifice. However, some of the Jews had become ritually impure in their desert travels and thus were not permitted to bring the offering.
They protested and posed a question to Moses and Aaron, crying: "Why are we kept back, that we may not offer the offering of the L-rd in its appointed season among the children of Israel?" And G-d told Moses that all those who were unable to bring the offering on Passover could bring it one month later. This date became known as the Second Passover.
They could have left well enough alone. After all, our Sages have taught, "If a person intended to perform a mitzvah and circumstances prevented him from it, it is regarded as if he had performed it!" Since they were forcibly kept from performing the mitzvah, they were still rightfully entitled to its reward.
But that wasn't enough for them. And due to their protest and great desire to fulfill this mitzvah to its fullest potential, they and all future generations were rewarded with "Pesach Sheni."
The complaint of the Jews to Moses and Aaron, "Why are we kept back..." teaches us an important lesson in how we are to approach those mitzvot that we currently can not perform because we are still in exile.
Why, G-d, are we kept back from offering the sacrifices in their right time?
Why are we kept back from seeing Your glory revealed?
Why are we kept back from performing each mitzvah to its optimum, as each mitzvah is incomplete while we are in exile?
Let us also not be content with the words of our Sages, that if we desire to perform these mitzvot it is enough. Like the Jews in the desert, let us rally together and cry out to G-d, "Why are we kept back...bring the true and ultimate Redemption that You promised us!"
And may G-d immediately heed our heartfelt cries as He did those of our ancestors!
Wednesday, Iyar 14 (May 21), is Pesach Sheni, the "Second Passover."
It is customary on Pesach Sheni to eat matzah (together with bread), in commemoration of the day.
The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, wrote: "The theme of Pesach Sheni is that it is never too late! It is always possible to put things right. Even if one was ritually impure, or far away, and even in a case when this impurity or distance was deliberate --nonetheless it can be corrected."
It's never too late! We can always make up for a past misdeed, omission or failing through sincere desire and making amends.
It's never too late! What an inspiring and optimistic thought! There's always a chance to improve, to become better, to learn and do.
This is truly a motto worth memorizing (and hanging on the refrigerator). Rather than muttering about yourself or another person, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," realize that it's never too late.
You didn't put on tefillin yesterday? Today's a new day and it's never too late.
You didn't light candles for Shabbat last Friday night? Do it this week; it's never too late.
You never went to Hebrew school, so you can't read Hebrew? Enroll in an adult education course; it's never too late.
You never knew that Judaism had so much to offer? Now that you know, do something about it, because it's never too late!
Her plan was clear. She would go every day to the House of Prayer and the Houses of Study. Her child, though still unborn, would come to know the sounds of the holy words of Torah.
To her friends, she would explain: "I am going to the House of Prayer, so that my baby can hear the holy words."
On this particular cold, winter day, she sat immersed in her own prayer to the One Above to bless her child with wisdom and the ability to toil in His Torah. She sat until the scholars emerged. Shyly, she approached the first, "Please, bless my child with wisdom." The elderly sage smiled at the young woman whose presence no longer surprised him. "May your child shine with the light of Torah," he replied. She continued on to the various Houses of Study where she would sit beneath the open windows, the words of Torah permeating her essence.
The months passed. The young woman still made her early morning rounds, but now she was accompanied by her baby son, Yehoshua Ben Chananya.
She still visited both the Houses of Prayer and the Houses of Study, but now she propped up the baby in a cradle. And from the early morning until the heat of the day had passed, the tiny baby sat, dozed, ate, and dozed again while the sacred melodies of Torah learning filled the air, enveloping him and filtering into his consciousness.
* * *
Rabbi Yehoshua was tired. The road to Rome was long and difficult. But, praised be G-d, his mission had met with success. His nerve-wracking debates with the vicious Hadrian had yielded the hoped-for result--the severe decrees against the Jews had been rescinded. He could return home to Yavne in peace, with good news for his colleagues in the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court) and all his fellow Jews. For now, at least, the Jews could breathe more easily.
Rabbi Yehoshua's tremendous scholarship and his generous, kindly nature made him respected and beloved by all. As the years passed, he accumulated greatness and honor.
* * *
One day, already an old man, Rabbi Yehoshua sat with his students exploring a question in Jewish law. Was it incumbent upon the parents to bring their small children to hear the reading of the Torah once every seven years during the Hakhel year? Rabbi Yehoshua listened attentively to the discussion, and then, as if seeing some far-off vision, related the story of how his mother would rise before dawn to sit beneath the open windows and allow her child to absorb the feel and essence of the holy words. All his life, Rabbi Yehoshua continued, he recalled his mother with blessing, for it was she who instilled in him the holiness to which his soul became attached.
Rabbi Yehoshua's comment sealed the discussion with his own beautiful truth.
* * *
To those familiar with the Jewish view of the age at which one's Jewish education begins, a recent study, explored in Time magazine, comes as no surprise. Research on the brain has "discovered" the importance of stimulating a child's brain from birth, and that most of the growth and development of the brain takes place from birth to age three.
In Jewish tradition, a child's formal education does not begin until the age of three. Until that time a child's primary teacher, stimulator, nurturer, is his/her mother. Only once a child reaches the age of three, after the explosive development of the brain has slowed, does a child leave his mother's pushing, prodding, preparing, prompting, and parenting to begin conventional schooling.
Jewish continuity is Jewish motherhood. It is Jewish mothers instilling in their children, from birth and even before, a love of G-d, a love of the Torah, and a love of the Jewish people, which are all intricately connected and one.
Happy Mother's Day!
Most of us don't spend much time thinking about umbrellas, unless we're stuck without one and it's raining. But, if you've ever had the edifying opportunity to contemplate an umbrella, you might come to realize the similarity between umbrellas and Jewish education.
The obvious place to start is at the level of not having any umbrella (or Jewish education). We don't even realize the deficiency until we need it. This usually doesn't happen until we are stuck in a storm. A raging storm of emotions can be set off by a tragedy, or more positively, a Jewish simchah (festive occasion) such as a wedding, brit, bar/bat mitzvah. In many of these cases, without a sound Jewish background, we have no idea of customs, laws, history, protocol, etc.
Then, of course, there is the umbrella that you pick up on the street for $3.99 when it is already raining. Even if it doesn't last more than a week, at least it will keep us dry today, we think. But with strong winds it turns inside out, or the spokes start coming undone from the cloth. It's not much use, but it gives us a false sense of security.
That's the Jewish education we get when we begrudgingly attend Sunday school or Hebrew school just until the bar/bat mitzvah or confirmation. It gives us a sense of security to think that at least we know something about our 3,300-year-old Jewish heritage.
Then there is the sturdy, long-lasting umbrella, the kind we might even go back for if we think we may have left it behind. Once upon a time, this umbrella came only in basic black. But today, you can find it in every shape and color. Once upon a time, a Jewish education might, in fact, have seemed rather dull and stodgy, like the basic umbrella. But today it comes in every version one can imagine. Exciting teachers, innovative material, reputable schools, and a plethora of courses for adults and children who can't study full time all contribute to the wealth of Jewish educational opportunities available in the '90s and into the next millennium.
Today, more than ever, there is no reason whatsoever, for any Jew to be stuck at a bus shelter waiting for a storm to pass. Pick up a sturdy Jewish education. You'll be amazed at how it's always there when you need it.
The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." Hence, we present suggestions from the Rebbe's talks of what we can do to complete the Rebbe's work of bringing the Redemption.
Enroll your child in a Torah Summer Camp
The Rebbe spoke many times about the unique learning opportunity for Jewish children afforded by the months of summer vacation. Without the pressures of tests, homework, etc., children enrolled in camps permeated with a Torah atmosphere eagerly learn about their heritage and are instilled with pride in being Jewish. Creative methods are used to make Judaism come alive. The soul is nourished as the body and mind are strengthened through sports, crafts, etc.
If you don't have camp-age children, help sponsor a child in a Torah camp. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for more information.
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, May 16, Erev Shabbat Parshat Emor:
Saturday, May 17, Shabbat Parshat Emor:
1. 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.
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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