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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
Thank G-d that, with the current issue, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach, has begun its third year of publication.
At this time, we take the opportunity to thank our supporters, who have helped us publish this weekly publication.
May G-d bless them, with health, happiness and success in all of their endeavors.
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
11 Cheshvan, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's Torah portion, Vayeira, we read of Avraham's attempt to save the wicked city. When G-d told Avraham He was going to destroy the city of Sodom, Avraham tried everything he could think of to dissuade Him, as the Torah tells us, "And Avraham drew near and said, 'Will You then destroy the righteous with the wicked?'"
Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, explains the meaning of this verse: "Avraham attempted all these methods: speaking harshly, appeasement, and prayer."
Avraham was willing to do anything in order to save the city of Sodom. His first approach was to "speak harshly" to G-d. When that wasn't effective, he tried to appease Him, and when that didn't work he resorted to prayer and supplication. All possible means were attempted in Avraham's bid to persuade G-d to avert the decree.
Our Patriarch Avraham was referred to by G-d as "Avraham, the one who loves Me." How then could Avraham have had the audacity to address G-d harshly? Also, why did Avraham begin his attempt to dissuade G-d from carrying out His plan with harsh words, rather than first trying to appease G-d in a more conciliatory manner, or with prayer? Wasn't Avraham characterized by his great kindness?
The key to understanding this lies in the fact that Avraham was faced with a matter involving the saving of lives. G-d had already issued His decree; the angels had already been dispatched to destroy the city. Thus Avraham saw no other choice but to demand that G-d change His mind, even if harsh words were required.
At such a time, Avraham did not allow himself the luxury of taking personal considerations into account. No method of persuasion was off-limits or out of bounds. The only thing that mattered was that the city of Sodom not be destroyed, and Avraham tried with all his might to prevent it from happening. Speaking harshly to G-d was the antithesis of Avraham's nature; nonetheless, he did not refrain from doing so in the hope that it would bring about the desired effect of saving the city and its inhabitants.
We, the descendants of Avraham, must learn from his example and emulate his ways.
Whenever the saving of a Jewish life is involved, be it in the physical or spiritual sense, bringing him closer to Torah and mitzvot, we cannot stop to weigh our choices or to calculate our options. The thing to do is act, and to act immediately. All of our efforts, all of our strengths and energy must be used to that end, even if it is contrary to our nature and even if harsh words are required. For all methods are permissible when it comes to saving the life of a fellow Jew.
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.
Saturday, Shabbat Parshat Vayeira, the 20th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan (Nov. 2), is the birthday of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber (1860-1920), the fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Rashab.
Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber was the founder, in 1897, of the first Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah, which was the forerunner of the international Lubavitch Yeshivah system which exists today and has educated tens of thousands of Jewish children and young adults around the world.
After the deposition of the czar in the early 1900s, the Rebbe Rashab was an honorary member of the council which was formed to help establish the new government's policy toward the Jews. In 1918, he traveled to Petersburg to participate in a council meeting. At one of the stops on the journey, he sent his attendant to buy a newspaper. Returning with the newspaper, the attendant read to the Rebbe Rashab: "The Communists have taken over, and the council has been abolished."
The Rebbe Rashab responded, "We must now establish yeshivot in every city. I do not see their [the Communists'] end, but ultimately, their end, too, will come..."
In the Soviet Union, as the Communist arm stretched forth with ever-increasing strength, the Lubavitcher yeshivot went underground. Today, there are thousands of people all over the world who were educated in those underground yeshivot. In the last eight years, since Glasnost, yeshivot have been established in nearly two dozen cities in the CIS.
Dozens of Tomchei Temimim Yeshivot continue to educate young Jews in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Venezuela, and throughout the United States.
The Rebbe Rashab called the students in these yeshivot Chayalei Beis David--Soldiers of the House of [King] David. He explained that they would help fight the spiritual battles necessary to bring about the reinstatement of King David's heir--Moshiach.
Just as we now see how visionary were the Rebbe Rashab's words concerning the ultimate demise of communism, may we imminently see the culmination of the spiritual battles of Chayalei Beis David with the revelation of Moshiach.
It's that time of year again. The candidates have finished shaking hands, kissing babies, even debating. The main focus now is getting out the vote. (In some states, such as New York, a "motor voter" option was even instituted to make it easier to register: Just sign up when you renew your driver's license!) So, with the election just days away, the importance of every single vote is being emphasized.
This accent on the importance of each individual's vote brings to mind a similar idea with regard to our actions as Jews.
Moses Maimonides, the 12th century philosopher, doctor, Jewish legalist par excellance, explains that every person must consider himself and the whole world as if it were perfectly balanced between good and evil. Through one good deed, one word or one thought, a person can swing himself and the whole world to the side of merit and bring redemption to himself and the whole world.
That's a pretty powerful concept. After all, one wonders, does my mitzvah really matter? So I put a penny or two in a tzedakah--charity --box every day. At the end of the year there will be maybe seven or ten dollars. That isn't going to clothe many orphans.
But those pennies do matter! Those two pennies that you put in the tzedakah box today just might tip the balance of the scale.
But one shouldn't err in thinking that we have to perform an actual physical act to tip the scale. By refraining from making a not-so-nice comment about a co-worker, we tip the scale. And even by stopping ourselves from dwelling on an inappropriate thought, we affect the world in a real, positive sense.
Each and every action we do causes a reaction. Long before the Law of Conservation of Matter was proposed, Judaism taught that nothing is ever lost. Every bit of energy we expend, whether thinking, speaking or doing, stays in this world.
Yes, each mitzvah we do does matter. A kind word, a smile, a penny in a pushkah, another Shabbat candle, etc., any of these actions might be the one that tips the scale and brings Redemption not only for the doer, but for the entire world.
Every mitzvah is a vote for a better world, the best world, the world of good and Moshiach.
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.
Encourage the Kids!
Do the doorposts of your children's rooms have mezuzahs on them? If they do, point them out to the children and encourage them to kiss or touch the mezuzah cover as they go in and out of the room. If not, purchase a hand-written mezuzah scroll from a reliable Judaica store or your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center. You can even let the child choose his or her own mezuzah cover.
The Rebbe explained, "We see that children have a unique attraction to a mezuzah, and kiss it eagerly several times a day. From the mezuzah, one goes from one's house to the world at large as the Rambam writes, 'Whenever one enters or departs, one will confront the unity of G-d's name.'"
(18th of Cheshvan, 5752/1991)
About the coming of Moshiach, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch), said that it will be written up in the newspapers.
That is just an expression. The actual meaning is that every single Jew will be ready for the coming of Moshiach exactly as if it were written in the newspaper that Moshiach is already on the way!
("Torat Sholom" of the Rebbe Rashab)
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, Nov. 1, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayeira:
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 4:34 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2, Shabbat Parshat Vayeira:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:35 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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