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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 Shabbat we bless the new month of Elul,(1) therefore this week's issue focuses on Elul.
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
15 Menachem-Av, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
1. Rosh Chodesh Elul is celebrated on Tuesday, September 2, and Wednesday, September 3.
This week's Torah portion, Re'eh, speaks about a master's obligation to bestow gifts upon his servant when the latter's years of servitude are complete. "You shall furnish him liberally from your flocks, and of your threshing-floor, and of your wine press," the Torah states. Maimonides classifies this obligation as falling under the category of charity--the gifts are in addition to the regular wages the master is required to pay.
Every facet of the Torah contains stores of wisdom for us to apply to our lives. The above verses are symbolic of the relationship between any two parties not on equal footing: The one on the higher level is always obligated to share his wealth and blessings with those who are less fortunate.
The terms "master" and "servant" may also be applied, in the spiritual sense, to the relationship between teacher and pupil. We see that this is not merely symbolic, as a student is required to serve his teacher in the same way a servant must attend his master. And a teacher's task is to instruct the pupil until the student grasps the concept on his own.
But what about concepts that are far beyond the ability of the student to comprehend, wisdom beyond the pupil's understanding? The commandment to bestow gifts above and beyond what is required applies here as well. A good teacher must ensure that his student acquires an appreciation of the deeper and more esoteric knowledge, in addition to the basic requirements of the syllabus. The teacher is obligated to share whatever knowledge he possesses with the student, who possesses less.
This principle also applies to the relationship between Jews who are more knowledgeable about Torah and mitzvot and those who are just beginning to learn about their heritage. It is not sufficient to impart only those Jewish concepts that are viewed as fundamental--the awesome depth and scope of Judaism must be shared as well.
A basic principle in Judaism is that G-d behaves towards man according to man's actions, measure for measure. When we share our wealth and bestow extra charity--both physical and spiritual--upon our fellow man, G-d responds in kind, granting us an abundance of His blessings.
For we are all G-d's servants, and He is the ultimate Master. The six thousand years of creation parallel the six years of servitude a servant must work; the seventh year parallels the freedom and redemption that follow--the Messianic Era and the Final Redemption. By increasing our love for our fellow Jew and demonstrating that love with concrete actions, G-d will surely bestow an even greater measure of His infinite goodness upon us than ever before, with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.
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 Shabbat we bless the month of Elul, and we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul, on Tuesday, September 2, and Wednesday, September 3.
In addition to being the name of a Jewish month, the word Elul is an acronym for five verses from the Bible which are connected to the five different types of service, each identified with our new month.
The Rebbe enumerated these five verses:
Prayer--"I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." For it is through prayer, the "duty of the heart," that our relationship with G-d is enhanced and intensified.
Torah study--"It chanced to happen and I set aside for you a place." This verse describes the Cities of Refuge to which a person who killed unintentionally can flee. But it also refers to Torah study for "the words of Torah provide refuge."
Deeds of Kindness--"A person [gives presents] to his friends and gifts to the poor." In this verse the concept of deeds of kindness is clearly expressed.
Teshuva--"And G-d your L-rd will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants." For the service of teshuva--returning to G-d wholeheartedly, is primarily the service of changing one's inner self, the feelings of one's heart.
Redemption--"And they said, 'We will sing to G-d'" This phrase is taken from the Song of Redemption sung at the Red Sea.
The first three services are identified with the three pillars of man's service. These services must be permeated by the service of teshuva and by the service of redemption and thus, they will be endowed with a boundless quality that surpasses the limits of a person and the world at large.
A Month of Mercy
In the generation of the Exodus from Egypt, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three times.
The first was to receive the Torah.
The second was to plead with G-d for His forgiveness, after the Jewish people sinned in worshipping the golden calf.
Then, on the first day of Elul--the month immediately preceding Tishrei--Moses ascended the mountain a third time, to invoke G-d's abundant mercy for our complete atonement.
He remained there for forty days, until Yom Kippur, when G-d cleansed us completely, as though we had never sinned.
Since then, these days are marked as a special period of Divine grace, during which our sincere prayers are sure to find favor in the eyes of G-d.
* The Shofar(2) is sounded every weekday morning, except on Shabbat, and the last day of Elul, Erev Rosh HaShanah.(3)
* Psalm 27 is added to the daily morning and afternoon prayers.
* It is customary to give additional charity each weekday.
* During the entire month of Elul we greet friends with the traditional blessings of, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year." It is customary to send friends and relatives New Year's greetings with blessings for the coming year.
* It is customary to have our mezuzot and tefillin checked to make sure they are still fit.
* To be more careful about keeping kosher.
* Beginning Saturday night, September 27, and on the following weekday mornings until the eve of Rosh HaShanah, Selichot(4) (special penitential prayers) are recited.
* Elul is an appropriate time to reflect on our actions and attitudes of the previous year, and resolve to correct our shortcomings. We increase our good deeds and try to be more meticulous in our observance of those mitzvot that we already perform.
2. Maimonides explains that the shofar is blown as the means of stirring the Jew to repentance. He says the call of the shofar is: "Awaken, you sleepers, from sleep, you slumberers from slumber; search your actions and return in penitence."
3. To differentiate between the shofar sounding of Elul, which is custom and that of Rosh HaShanah, which is prescribed by the Torah.
4. The Sephardic custom is to recite them during the entire month of Elul. According to the Ashkenazic custom, they are recited beginning on the Saturday preceding Rosh HaShanah after midnight and thereafter each morning until Rosh HaShanah.
When the king is enthroned in his palace, he is not easily accessible; audience is granted only to those who have merited his attention. But when the king is in public, anyone may approach him.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, compared the month of Elul to a time when a king, returning to his palace, passes through the surrounding fields and greets his subjects with a shining countenance.
During Elul, G-d--the "King of the Universe"-- is available to anyone who turns to Him...and He graciously accepts our petitions and grants our requests.
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, August 29, Erev Shabbat Parshat Re'eh:
Saturday, August 30, Shabbat Parshat Re'eh:
5. 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.
6. Rosh Chodesh Elul is celebrated on Tuesday, September 2, and Wednesday, September 3.
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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