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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 78th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue we focus on the Seven Noachide Laws.
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
25 Tishrei, 5757.
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Noach, contains the narrative of Noach and the Great Flood that covered the earth in his generation.
After many months "at sea" in his ark, Noach opened the window to check on the sodden and water-logged world, to see if it had finally dried.
"In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month," Noach found that the earth was indeed "perfectly dry."
It was then that G-d spoke to Noach and issued the command: "Go forth from the ark, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you."
Why did Noach need a special command from G-d to induce him to leave the cramped quarters he had endured for so long? Why didn't Noach exit the ark joyously of his own accord as soon as he saw that the land was dry?
Noach's reluctance to leave may be understood in light of the great miracle that occurred inside the ark itself:
All the animals within it, the ferocious and the tame, miraculously co-existed peacefully with each other, contrary to their natural inclinations and instincts.
Just imagine the hundreds of different species sharing their relatively small living space (the entire ark was only three hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide) for an entire year--yet no animal caused harm to another the whole time!
Chasidic philosophy explains that the atmosphere in Noach's ark was akin to what will happen when Moshiach comes, when "the lion will lie down with the lamb" and peace will reign on earth.
Noach, his family and all the animals in the ark enjoyed a peace that will return to the world only with the Final Redemption and the Messianic Era, speedily in our day.
Understandably, therefore, Noach was hesitant to leave the peaceful environment of the ark for the natural order that had existed before the Flood.
The earth may have finally dried, but Noach preferred the messianic existence within the confines of the ark to returning to the vast expanse of dry land that beckoned.
He therefore needed G-d's encouragement to disembark, to begin the next chapter in mankind's history and to fulfill the purpose of creation--the establishment of a dwelling place for G-d down below in the physical world.
"Go forth from the ark" is likewise G-d's counsel to every Jew.
The Jew is enjoined to go out of his "four cubits," no matter how rarefied and holy, to fill the earth with G-dliness and holiness according to the Divine plan, through the learning of Torah and the observance of mitzvot.
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 week's Torah portion is Noach. Therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to consider the implications of the Rebbe's campaign to disseminate, among non-Jews, the knowledge and observance of the Seven Noachide Laws.
The nations of the world were given a Divine code of conduct, the Seven Noachide Laws, which consist of six prohibitions against adultery, murder, robbery, idolatry, blasphemy, cruelty to animals--and one positive command, to establish a judicial system.
The Rebbe has encouraged his emissaries around the world to meet with government officials and heads of state to sign proclamations encouraging the study and observance of the Seven Noachide Laws. Government proclamations, however, are not the Rebbe's only concern.
An important part of the Jew's task is to see to it that all people, not just Jews, acknowledge G-d as Creator and Ruler of the world and to therefore conduct themselves according to the Seven Noachide Laws. Each and every Jew has an important role to play in this task. But how can this be accomplished?
When a Jew conducts himself properly in all areas of his life--business, recreation, family, and religious--he will automatically influence the people around him. When the nations of the world see Jews acknowledging G-d as Ruler of the world, through prayer and by following His commandments, they, too, will come to realize the importance and truth of G-d's omnipotence.
This week we read the Torah portion of Noach in which we find G-d's promise that the world will continue to exist forever; it will never end.
"The end is near." What does this phrase mean? Certainly not the end of the world but the end of the bitter days of exile. The end of oppression and hatred, poverty and sickness, war and crime.
Why should we be afraid that the end is approaching? Should that thought truly place fear in our hearts? Or should we not be excited that "the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean"?
Fear is not necessarily the appropriate feeling. Rather, possibly a sense of regret, as the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, stated, "When Moshiach comes, then we will long for the days of exile." Why? Because at that time we will look back at a replay of our lives and see all of the instances when we could have done more good, more mitzvot, judged less harshly, been more generous. Thus, we might look toward the imminently approaching days of Moshiach with a little anxiety. But the positive anticipation should far outweigh our trepidation.
Would the Jews, from our greatest leaders to the simplest person, have looked forward to, longed for, prayed, begged and beseeched G-d for 2,000 years if the Redemption would not be good for everyone? In fact, we are told that this redemption for which we wait anxiously is called the "geula ha-amitit v'hashleima"--the true and complete redemption--because every single Jew, as well as all righteous gentiles, have a portion in the Redemption.
Let us take one more lesson from this week's Torah portion and relate it to the topic of Redemption as well. Noach was a tzaddik, a righteous person. Buhe had one major failing. He was commanded by G-d to build an ark, which he did obediently and gladly. But he did not actively seek to help the people of his generation return to G-d. He was content to save himself and his family.
Let us all make sure not only to prepare ourselves and to feel positive and anxious about the imminent redemption. Let us make sure to influence those in our surroundings as well.
Reb Zalman Estulin, an elderly chasid, told this story many years ago at a chasidic gathering--a farbrengen.
Once, there were two brothers, Avraham and Shlomo, who exhibited unbelievable brotherly love. As children they never fought. They studied Torah together and eventually, after they married fine, Jewish women, they settled down in the same city.
Sad to say, the brothers got into a foolish argument as is bound to happen. Things went from bad to worse until it got to the point where as friendly and loving as the brothers had once been they now hated and abhorred each other.
Years passed in this way until the time came when Reb Avraham was going to marry off his eldest daughter. Despite the fact that they had not spoken for over a decade, Reb Avraham wanted his brother to share in his happiness.
And so, he sent Shlomo a letter of apology for all past wrongs and an invitation to the wedding. When no reply came, Avraham sent a messenger. But the messenger came back with the message that Shlomo would not even consider coming to the wedding.
The evening of the wedding arrived, and though Reb Avraham was happy, his joy was tinged with sadness in knowing that his brother would not attend the wedding.
For his part, Reb Shlomo had scheduled his evening in such a way that feelings of remorse would not get in his way of staying home. He had a huge, seven-course meal, took a long, relaxing bath, got into his pajamas and went to bed early.
The wedding on the other side of town was in full swing when the violinist, an extremely talented musician who could change people's moods through his music, noticed that Avraham's joy was not complete.
The violinist approached Avraham and asked if there was anything he could do: "My reputation will suffer if I can't make the father of the bride happy."
Avraham told the violinist that he was saddened by his brother's absence. "I will go and bring him here," the violinist offered.
And so, the violinist went to Reb Shlomo's house. He stood outside of Shlomo's bedroom window. Half asleep, Shlomo came to the window to see who was playing. He was so intrigued and entranced by the violinist's recital that he opened his door and went outside.
In this manner the violinist and Shlomo walked through the town until they reached the wedding hall.
Slowly, slowly, they approached the wedding until Reb Shlomo found himself in the middle of the dance floor at the wedding hall. He looked around and saw everybody so beautifully dressed. Then, he looked at himself and realized, with quite a bit of embarrassment, that he was hardly dressed as befits the uncle of the bride. Indeed, he was a sorry state in his pajamas!
"Brothers," Rabbi Estulin concluded, "we're all going to be there in the middle of the dance floor when Moshiach comes. Because, as our Sages teach us, the Redemption is like the consummation of the wedding ceremony between G-d and the Jewish people, which took place at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
"The Torah and mitzvot that we do are like the clothing of our souls. It is up to us to come to the wedding dressed as befits the uncle of the bride, and not in our pajamas!"
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. 18, Erev Shabbat Parshat Noach:
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 5:53 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19, Shabbat Parshat Noach:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:52 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.
Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind
Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing
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