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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 87th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we once again highlight Chanukah in a special feature presentation.
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
22 Kislev, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's portion, Mikeitz, the Torah describes how Joseph carefully amassed a great quantity of grain during Egypt's seven years of plenty, later sustaining the entire nation during its seven years of famine. This grain was stored in a very special way to make sure it did not spoil: "The food of the field, which was roundabout every city, he laid up within it," the Torah relates. Rashi, the great Torah commentator, explains that Joseph took some earth from each place the grain was cultivated and mixed it in together with that grain, preserving it and preventing it from rotting.
"The deeds of the Forefathers are a sign for their children." Joseph's actions comprise an eternal lesson for us, his grandchildren, to apply in our lives. For like our illustrious ancestor, every Jew must accumulate "sustenance" in order to satisfy the spiritual "hunger" of his surroundings. How? With the very same admixture of earth that Joseph utilized.
The true sustenance of every Jew is the Torah; it constitutes our very lives. The Torah is called sustenance because, like food, it penetrates one's entire being and becomes an actual part of it. The duty of the Jew is to accumulate this vital substance by learning as much Torah as he possibly can.
To continue the analogy, we must be careful that the Torah knowledge we accumulate does not "spoil" and decay. Our Sages have said that Torah study, if not done in the proper manner, can lead to negative consequences. In order to prevent this, a Jew needs to add some "earth" to his Torah learning. Earth is symbolic of humility and nullification before G-d, as it states, "May my soul be like dust to all." A truly humble person is assured that the Torah he learns will last forever.
Furthermore, as we learn from Joseph, this earth must be from the very "dust of that place"--the Jew's humility must come from the Torah learning itself. Not all humility is positive and productive. A Jew must never feel humbled in the face of the outside world, which scoffs at his beliefs and his Torah lifestyle. The Jew must take pride in his Judaism and hold his head high, never apologizing to those he fears might be offended by the Torah's principles and teachings.
Authentic humility, attained when the Jew studies Torah with the realization that he is partaking of G-d's eternal wisdom, is the key to preserving what he has learned. Just as G-d is infinite and eternal, so too is His Torah. The greatest scholar's knowledge is but a drop in the vast ocean of G-d's immeasurable and endless wisdom. Pondering this truth will lead the Jew to true humility, yet instill an enduring pride that enables him to effectively spread Torah and Judaism to those who hunger for spiritual sustenance.
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.
As Chanukah draws to a close, we can reflect with joy on the historic issuing of the first Chanukah stamp by the United States Postal Service.* No longer do Jews have to feel second class or bulk rate during the winter holiday season when all of America is festooned with the thinly disguised "secular" trappings of the holiday of the majority religion.
The revolution began with the public Chanukah menorahs championed by the Rebbe several decades ago, instilling pride in tens of thousands of Jewish people as they finally encountered some recognition of their faith and traditions strolling along Union Square in S. Francisco, Central Park in New York or on Main Street, USA. The modern-day custom spread to exotic locations like the Kremlin and the Eiffel Tower, with the same message proclaimed all over: After centuries of persecution in country after country, generation after generation, finally a Jew need not hide his identity, and even more so, he can proudly publicize his faith, practice his religion freely and even shout it out on the steps of City Hall.
This message of religious freedom and the right to hold one's head high is the true meaning of the public menorahs. Of course, some opposed the Rebbe's innovation, whether because they were not secure in their own Jewishness, at least in public, or because to join rather than fight would have meant an admission of defeat in their own fruitless campaign to purge American public life of the observance of the non-Jewish winter holiday. Once the courts had found a way to cast trees and wreathes as "secular," their battle was truly lost, and nitpicking over which displays were secular and which religious, led only to a few legal victories but to no real benefit in the psyche of the young Jewish child who walked down the street in December, feeling overwhelmed and ignored.
Then, in a masterful stroke of cynicism, the opponents of public menorahs became the guardians of religion, arguing that Lubavitch was secularizing Chanukah. They were caught in the legal fiction of denying the religious origins of Dec. 25, which Christian America had used to preserve the public displays of their holiday in the face of court challenges. What they failed to understand is that a menorah can at once be a religious symbol and conveyor of a secular message of history, culture, tradition and, above all, freedom.
The Rebbe's solution is first-class all the way. It is both visionary and practical. Let us use the holiday that celebrates our religious freedom from Syrian-Greek oppressors to exert our own freedom to celebrate as Jews in benevolent America and restore Jewish pride to its proper place. How warm a Jewish commuter feels coming to a toll booth and seeing it adorned with a menorah shouting out its message of welcome. Not only welcome to live freely, but welcome to practice one's faith freely in private and in public.
So, as we tuck away a few stamps with the Chanukah gift-wrap to be used next year (when the stamps will surely be obsolete, as all Jews will be reunited in the Holy Land with Moshiach and we will be posting our Chanukah greetings from there) let's adopt the motto of the U.S. Postal Service of years gone by: Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night...will deter us from practicing our Jewishness openly and proudly.
*. For more information about the Chanukah stamp by the United States Postal Service, go to:
Sunday, the fifth of Tevet (Dec. 15), is a day of celebration and rejoicing known as Didan Natzach--"Victory is Ours."
It is the day, ten years ago (in 5747/1987), when Federal Court Judge Charles Sifton rendered his legal decision on the ownership of the enormous and valuable library of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. For three weeks during the previous winter, the judge had listened to testimony concerning whether the Previous Rebbe's library was a personal possession, subject to the laws of inheritances, or if it was the possession of Chabad.
Judge Sifton was tremendously influenced by the statement of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, of blessed memory, daughter of the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe's wife, that "My father belonged to the chassidim just as the books belong to the chassidim."
There was great rejoicing on the day of the verdict, lasting for seven days. Each evening the Rebbe spoke publicly and expounded on the spiritual ramifications of the victory.
In one of these talks, the Rebbe said: "At the time of his imprisonment and redemption, the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) found a Divine lesson in everything that had occurred. One of his conclusions was the need to increase with renewed vigor and strength the dissemination of chassidic philosophy. The eternal Divine connection [of the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment and subsequent release] to this event is obvious. Thus, especially because the charge was brought against Agudas Chasidei Chabad as a living and vital organization, we must strengthen even more the dissemination of the teachings of our Rebbes, learning them privately and in groups amidst great joy and enthusiasm, joy that breaks all boundaries...."
May we witness the ultimate breaching of limitations with the end of the exile and the ultimate joy of being united as one in the true and complete Redemption.
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.
Buy Jewish Books!:
Sunday, Tevet 5 (Dec. 15), is the anniversary of the return of stolen books of the Previous Rebbe to the Library of Agudas Chasidei Chabad as per the ruling of the U.S. Court. As part of the Previous Rebbe's library still remains in Russia, the Rebbe has urged that we purchase Jewish books to spiritually energize the process of the redemption of those books as well. "Our efforts to show regard for Jewish holy texts will have an effect on the future of the Previous Rebbe's library. By purchasing comparable texts, such as the ethical and philosophical literature of Chabad Chasidus... we can hasten the return of that library to its rightful owners. Even little children should be given books as gifts, in the hope that what is not yet fully appreciated today will be studied before long" (The eve of the 5th of Tevet, 5752).
. . . and May this Festival of Lights bring
Blessings upon You and All Your
Loved Ones for Happiness, for Health, a
nd for Spiritual and Material Wealth,
and May the Lights of Chanukah
Usher in the Light of Moshiach
and a Better World for All of Humankind.
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, Dec. 13, Erev Shabbat Parshat Mikeitz:
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 4:11 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14, Shabbat Parshat Mikeitz:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:16 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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