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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 77th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue we focus on Chof Hei Tishrei, the 25th of Tishrei, Tuesday, Oct. 8, --when we commemorate the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev.
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.
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
13 Tishrei, 5757.
Brooklyn, New York
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"In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth." With these momentous words the Torah begins the very first chapter of Bereishis, establishing G-d's Kingship over all of creation.
The Torah, however, is not a history book. The Torah is the guide by which we live our lives, applying its teachings to every aspect of our existence. The ancient Sage, Rabbi Yitzchok, raises a pertinent question. "Why does the Torah open with the story of Creation?" he asks, as quoted by Rashi in his commentary. "Why didn't G-d begin with the words, `This month is to you,'--the first commandment containing practical implications?"
"The might of His deeds He told to His nation; to bequeath to them the heritage of the nations," Rabbi Yitzchok himself answers. "If the nations of the world will one day accuse the Jewish people of being thieves, having `stolen' the Land of Israel from the seven nations who formerly inhabited it, they will counter, `The entire earth belongs to G-d! He is the One Who created it and bequeathed it to whom He saw fit. It was His will to give the land to the nations; it was His will to take it from them and give it to us.'"
According to this explanation, the entire order of the Torah's portions was changed solely to refute the world's complaint that the Jewish people misappropriated their land. But is their accusation really so important that G-d would change even one letter in His holy Torah for its sake? Would not a refutation in the Oral Tradition have been sufficient to counter whatever complaint Gentiles would one day lodge against the nation of Israel?
In truth, the Torah's choice of language holds significance not only for the nations of the world, but for Jews themselves. "In the beginning" contains an important lesson for every Jew to apply in his daily life.
In general, the life of a Jew may be divided into two realms: the religious and the secular. The Jew willingly observes his various religious obligations because the Torah requires him to. When, however, he is asked to also sanctify those mundane aspects of daily existence that seemingly fall outside the domain of religious observance, he balks, rejecting this demand as an invasion of privacy.
The secular realm of a person's life, pertaining to the physical and material domain, metaphorically belong to the "seven nations." Yet it is precisely this realm that the Jew is called upon to conquer, elevating his every action by performing it solely for the sake of heaven.
"You are thieves!" the world cries out against the Jew. "How dare you conquer the domain of the seven nations and blur the distinction between religious observance and the mundane!" To which the Jew replies, "All of creation belongs to G-d." Every realm of existence is part of the Divine plan and can be made holy.
Indeed, such is the mission of every Jew--to transform wherever he may be into a spiritual Land of Israel. Judaism demands that we sanctify even the lowest aspects of the material world, thereby imbuing all of creation with holiness and demonstrating the unity of the One Creator.
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Let us read carefully and take to heart the words that the Rebbe said on Shabbat Bereishis five years ago, in 5752/1991:
"Throughout the centuries, the Jews have been recognized as `the chosen people.' In the world at large, and in particular, in the United States, the Jews are allowed to carry out their service of G-d without persecution, indeed, amidst rest and prosperity. Furthermore, the government offers assistance to the Jews here and those in the Land of Israel, enabling them to progress in the service of G-d.
"This has been made possible by the activities of many of the Torah Sages in their relations with the gentiles, including the activities of the Chabad Rebbes.
"Based on the above, we can understand how inappropriate are the statements which certain Rabbis have recently made that the Jews must comply with the demands of the gentile nations in regard to the Holy Land. These statements continue, stating that, heaven forbid, such compliance is necessary because the existence of the Jews in the Holy Land is dependent on the kindness of the gentile nations.
"The principle, `Do not challenge the nations,' is not relevant in this context, for this principle can never override an explicit teaching of Torah law. In this instance, we are clearly bound by the decision of the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chayim, 329), that if gentiles threaten to attack a Jewish settlement we must take up arms and defend ourselves against them. And if that settlement is located on the border, we must take up arms against them even if they are demanding `straw and hay' for by acquiescing to them, we `open the entire land to them.'
"Since such statements were made, it is obvious that greater emphasis has to be placed on recognizing the uniqueness of the Jewish people and emphasis on their connection to the Holy Land.... And this will lead to the ultimate wonder in this year of wonders, the coming of the Redemption. And then we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people to the Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Holy Temple."
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
Chof Hei Tishrei, the 25th of Tishrei, 5757 (Tuesday, Oct. 8, 1996), is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, the paradigm of ahavat Yisrael, beloved by the Jewish people for the tremendous and all-encompassing love he had for them.
At the very moment Reb Levi Yitzchok was born, miles away, the Baal Shem Tov served his disciples food and a made a "l'chaim," saying: "A soul has just come into this world that will be a good advocate for our fellow-Jews."
And, in fact, stories abound about Reb Levi Yitzchok's tremendous ahavat Yisrael--love for every Jew. It was Reb Levi Yitzchok who, even when he saw a Jew openly transgressing, would find a way to judge a person meritorious and report the positive verdict to the Supreme Judge.
Reb Levi Yitzchok was very close to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the "Alter Rebbe"), the first Chabad Rebbe; the two became "mechutanim" (in-laws) when their grandchildren married. At that wedding, the Alter Rebbe delivered a discourse which ended, "G-d is righteous in all His ways": G-d is the Tzaddik Above, and Reb Levi Yitzchok is the tzaddik here below."
The Alter Rebbe was also known to say about Reb Levi Yitzchok that because of his abiding love of the Jewish people, whenever a Jew while reciting Psalms mentions Reb Levi Yitzchok's name, the letters of the Psalms will go up to the chamber of "merits" and will awaken mercy for that person and his entire household.
May we all emulate Reb Levi Yitzchok's boundless ahavat Yisrael, thereby enjoying a foretaste of the love we will exhibit toward our fellow Jews in the Messianic Era, and may it commence immediately.
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, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Friday, Oct. 11, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bereishis:
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 6:04 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 12, Shabbat Parshat Bereishis:
Blessing of the New Month, Cheshvan. **
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 7:03 p.m.
*. 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.
**. Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is on Sunday, Oct. 13, and Monday Oct. 14.
Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind
Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing
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