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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, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
This week's issue focuses once again on the "Three Weeks."
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
12-13 Tamuz, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Pinchas, details the manner in which the land of Israel was to be apportioned between the Twelve Tribes. The Torah states: "According to the lot shall one's inheritance be divided." The lot determined which section of the Land of Israel each tribe would inhabit. It was not a rational process, but a method of dividing the land in which no logical reasoning was apparent.
Chasidic philosophy explains that the physical plane of existence is a reflection of its higher spiritual source. It follows that just as the division of the Land of Israel was accomplished by a lot, so are certain aspects of a Jew's spiritual service determined in a super-rational manner.
To explain: Every Jew is obligated to keep all the Torah's mitzvot. However, certain commandments are more relevant to some individuals than to others.
We are told of various Sages of long ago who were especially scrupulous in their performance of one mitzvah. Of course, being Tzaddikim, they observed all the Torah's commandments. But one mitzvah was more personally relevant than all the rest.
How do we explain this? That a particular mitzvah has special significance for a given individual is not something that can be explained rationally; the person himself doesn't necessarily perceive that this is so, either. In truth, it is a matter that transcends intellectual understanding, just like the process of choosing by lot. Indeed, the particular mitzvah that is most relevant to each of us is determined from Above. The Jew's function in life is to be especially careful in that one area, and to observe that mitzvah to the best of his ability.
The simplest way to determine which mitzvah is the most vital to us personally, is by examining the relative ease or difficulty we encounter in observing it. As a general rule, the mitzvah we find the most difficult to fulfill is the one that is most imperative on a personal level. In fact, the hardship we experience is proof of this, as our evil inclination, recognizing the mitzvah's special significance, spares no effort in trying to deter us. The machinations of the evil inclination increase in direct proportion to the mitzvah's importance.
The lesson to be learned is remarkable. Whenever we find it exceptionally difficult to do a certain mitzvah, or it seems that the effort required of us is greater than that required of other people, it is forbidden to throw up our hands in defeat. On the contrary, we must try even harder in that one area, as it is most relevant to us personally. Indeed, the mitzvah for which we must overcome the greatest number of obstacles is the one that can be said to have fallen to our lot.
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.
This summer, during the months of July and August, comes a very serious time for the Jewish people, when many terrible things happened throughout history. This period is called the "Three Weeks," or Bain HaMetzorim, which means "Between the Straits."
What happened during this time? On the 17th of Tamuz: 1) Moses descended from Mt. Sinai and smashed the two Tablets with the Ten Commandments when he saw the Jews worshipping the Golden Calf; 2) The Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem in 70 c.e.; 3) During the siege of Jerusalem the daily sacrifice was interrupted by Nebuchadnezzer; 4) Apostomus publicly burned a Torah scroll; and 5) An idol was erected in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. On the 9th of Av, both the First and Second Temple were destroyed, bringing terrible suffering upon the Jewish people.
The "Three Weeks" begins on the 17th of Tamuz (July 22), and continue until the 9th of Av (August 12).
There are two approaches to the present period of the "Three Weeks."
One approach is to dwell on the awesomeness of those tragedies and the difficulties suffered by our people in the exile that followed.
The other approach, while not minimizing the extent of our nation's loss, puts the emphasis on the purpose of the exile. Heaven forbid to say that destruction and exile are ends in and of themselves. Rather, within the ashes of the Temple's destruction was kindled the spark of the Future Redemption.
In an ultimate sense, this was the purpose of the exile--to prepare the Jewish people and the world at large for the higher and deeper level of fulfillment to be reached in that era.
There is no question that the second approach is the one more followed in the present age.
Our Sages declared, "All the appointed times for Moshiach's coming have passed; the matter is only dependent on teshuvah."
We have already turned to G-d with sincere teshuvah. Thus, when speaking of the readiness of our generation, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, used the allegory of a garment that is complete in all respects--"and all that is needed now is to polish the buttons."
Surely, the many years of vibrant Torah activity that have followed since the Previous Rebbe's statement was made, have been sufficient to accomplish that purpose.
We are standing on the threshold of the Redemption. Moshiach's coming is no longer a dream of a distant future, but an imminent reality that will very shortly become fully manifest.
Through living with the concept of Moshiach, we shall hasten his coming and bring about the era in which these "Three Weeks" will be transformed from mourning into the celebration of the Redemption.
May this take place in the immediate future.
We observe some aspects of mourning: Weddings do not take place, and playing musical instruments is prohibited, as is the buying and wearing of new garments. In addition, we do not cut our hair.
Also, we should try to be extra kind to one another. We should give extra charity, and learn extra Torah, and pray to G-d to end the Exile.
Jewish teachings explain that when we learn the laws of the Holy Temple, its structure, the services and sacrifices practiced there, it is as if we are rebuilding it.
Therefore, the Rebbe stresses that during the "Three Weeks" we should spend time studying what the Holy Temple will be like, and to learn all about it.
See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"
Thirteen years ago, on Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744/1984, the Rebbe spoke in a relatively unusual manner about his persistence and insistence on continuously discussing the coming of Moshiach. Let me share with you translated excerpts from that talk:
"Some people wonder: How can a person appear in public, week after week, and repeatedly speak on one subject--the coming of Moshiach?
"Furthermore, that person always stresses that he is not just speaking of the concept, but of the actual coming of Moshiach, here on this physical earth, and immediately, this very day. On each occasion he instructs those gathered to sing 'May the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days,' emphasizing that 'speedily in our days' should not be understood as 'speedily, tomorrow,' but as 'speedily, today'!
"Certainly, every Jew believes that Moshiach can come at any moment--after all, 'I await his coming every day' is one of the fundamental principles of Judaism. Still, they wonder, to believe that Moshiach will come at this very moment is hardly consistent with the reality of our lives. So why does this man speak incessantly about it, on every occasion, and with such single-minded intensity, as if to force the idea into the minds of his listeners?
"Their conclusion is that all this is a nice dream, nice, but not very realistic. So what is the point of speaking so much about one's dreams?
"Chasidic philosophy explains that our current state of exile is like a dream; in a dream one's sense of perception can tolerate the most contradictory and irrational things.
"In other words, our current 'reality' is a dream, while the world of Moshiach is the true reality. In a single moment, we can all wake up from the dream of exile and open our eyes to the true reality of our existence--the perfect world of Moshiach. Everyone present in this room can immediately awaken himself from his dream, so that today, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744, before we even say the afternoon prayers, in fact this very moment, we all open our eyes and see Moshiach, in the flesh, with us, here in this room."
May the Rebbe's words of thirteen years ago, and his prophetic promise of six years ago, that "the time of our Redemption has arrived," be fulfilled this very Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5757.
The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." We therefore present from the Rebbe's talks suggestions what we can do to complete his work of bringing the Redemption.
Study About the Holy Temple:
During the "Three Weeks," it is customary to study topics relating to the Holy Temple.
"This study should be carried out in anxious anticipation of the Holy Temple being rebuilt. We should study about the Holy Temple with the awareness that in the very near future we will see what we are studying about in actual reality."
The Rebbe, 24 Tamuz, 5751/1991
"G-d told the prophet Yechezkel that through studying the laws of the structure of the Holy Temple it is considered as if we have been involved in its actual construction.
"As we are so close to the Redemption, the subject must be approached as a present reality; at any moment the Third Holy Temple which is already built in the heavens will descend and be revealed on earth."
The Rebbe, 17 Tamuz, 5751/1991
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles
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, July 25, Erev Shabbat Parshat Pinchas:
Saturday, July 26, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas:
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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