The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.
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 88th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet.
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
Rosh Chodesh Tevet, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Vayigash, contains the verse, "And [Jacob] sent Judah...before him to Goshen--l'horot--to make preparations." According to the foremost commentaries, Judah was sent to establish a yeshivah. (L'horot is from the same root as hora'a, which means "instruction.")
When G-d told Jacob to go to Egypt, Jacob first ensured the presence of yeshivot. G-d promised Jacob He would be with him in the Egyptian exile. Yet, only once the yeshivot were established did Jacob bring his family with him to Egypt, for Jewish education is the foundation and mainstay of Judaism.
In all times and places where Jews lived, even in the terribly harsh exile of Egypt, there were centers where Torah was studied, for Torah study is the life of the Jewish people.
The Egyptian exile was the most severe of all exiles, including the present one, for several reasons. However, regardless of all the difficulties, Jews were never without yeshivot.
The Torah is not a history text-book. Every subject and episode, every letter of the Torah, offers direction for all times and places.
Some people claim that this is not the time to be sending children to Jewish day schools; today, afternoon Hebrew schools or Sunday schools are sufficient.
The Egyptian exile and this week's Torah portion thus instruct us: Conditions in Egypt were far more difficult than those at present, but were disregarded and Torah was studied. They disregarded not only the severe physical conditions of the exile, they also dismissed the fact that, because the Torah had not yet been given collectively to all the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, they were not capable of reaching the tremendous heights to which we can aspire today.
All of the above applies, too, to the question of support for Jewish education. There are those who claim that financial conditions are worse than ever. When conditions improve, they will support Jewish education and maybe even have the self-sacrifice to send their own children to a yeshivah.
We must all remember, in Egypt the exile was far worse. There, our ancestors did not have even stubble for bricks and had to wander through a foreign land to search for it while Pharaoh's taskmasters stood over them, lashing out with their whips. They had no straw, but they had a proper Jewish education!
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.
Friday, Dec. 20, is the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet. This fast day is unique in that it is the only fast day in the Jewish calendar that can occur and therefore be observed even when it falls on a Friday.
We neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.1
This fast day commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the First Holy Temple.
The strength--both of the obligation to fast and its positive influences--of the Tenth of Tevet stems from the fact that it commemorates the first of the tragedies associated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.
Thus, this date begins the process of destruction. It is well known that the beginning of any process contains more power than the subsequent stages and for this reason, there is added power to the Tenth of Tevet. The positive influences of the Tenth of Tevet are connected to the fact that a fast day is a "day of will" when our prayers and teshuvah are more willingly accepted by G-d.
As we are taught that "the beginning is wedged in the end," and the ultimate "end" purpose of the destruction of the Holy Temples will be the rebuilding of the Third and Eternal Holy Temple, the Tenth of Tevet is an auspicious day to hasten the coming of the Redemption.
Of course, our most fervent prayer is that the Tenth of Tevet not be a day of mourning, but be turned into a day of celebration and joy with the coming of Moshiach. Thus, by our immediate decision to increase our acts of goodness and kindness, our performance of mitzvot, study of Torah, and specifically the giving of charity, which brings the Redemption closer, we are showing G-d that our actions are in consonance with our heartfelt prayers. May the realization of those prayers happen in the immediate future.
1. In New York City, at 5:11 p.m.
5 Tevet, 5736/1976
In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions in connection with the forthcoming Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, in view of the situation in and around Israel--
You will surely be instructed by the rabbi of your congregation. However, since you have also approached me in this matter, I will set forth at least several suggestions--after the following introductory remarks:
Regrettably, there are people who claim that it is necessary to think and act "big," in terms of global dimensions and stupendous undertakings, etc. Surely they mean well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical and are actually carried out--they are very helpful in improving the situation.
Yet, we must never overlook--indeed, rather greatly emphasize--the so-called "small and unsophisticated" things that each modest congregation, moreover each individual, can and must do--beginning with the old, yet ever-anew, Jewish way, collectively as one people and also as individuals. This is the action of "the voice is the voice of Jacob"--Torah and prayer--which G-d Himself has shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the power of "the hands of Esau"--in whatever shape or form they are raised against us.
Certainly this should find the fullest expression in a day that the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) declares to be a day of fasting, one to which the prophet Isaiah refers to as a "chosen fast...a fast and time favored by G-d."
Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet is specially connected with the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem), my suggestion--in addition to the regular "observances" on fast days, as set forth at length and in detail in Poskim [halachic adjudicators] and in books of Mussar and Chassidus--is as follows:
During this day--expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Holy Land, materially and spiritually, and for the material and spiritual benefit of all Jews wherever they are--in the Holy Land as well as in the Diaspora--and particularly for the benefit of our brethren behind the "Iron Curtain"2--a special effort should be made in the areas of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah (charity).
Especially after prayer (both in the morning and at the afternoon service) one should learn (and where there already are daily study groups, to add) a subject in Torah, including final ruling of Jewish law. Immediately following the prayers, even before learning, one should say several chapters of Psalms (in addition to the regular portion).
Before and after praying--one should give tzedakah (in addition to the regular donation), including tzedakah for a sacred cause or institution in the Holy Land, the "Land of Living."
Needless to say, one who repeats the above again and again in the course of the day is to be praised.
And the more one does it (in quantity and quality), the more praiseworthy it is.
And, as in all matters of holiness, it is desirable that all the above be done b'tzibbur (with at least a minyan).
May G-d accept, and He will accept, the prayers and supplications of Jews wherever they are.
And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise be fulfilled that "These days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness," with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
2. This letter is dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976. Ed.
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. 20, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayigash:
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 4:13 p.m.
The fast of Tevet 10 ends at 5:11 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 21, Shabbat Parshat Vayigash:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:19 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
Back to "Living With Moshiach" Home Page