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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 91st issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, our feature presentation focuses on Reb Zusya of Anipoli, whose yahrtzeit is on Friday, Beis Shevat, Jan. 10.
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
20 Tevet, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Va'eira, opens with G-d's reply to Moses' question, posed at the end of last week's reading. "Why have You allowed so much evil to befall this people?" Moses added. "Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done more evil... You have not delivered Your People."
"I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob," G-d counters.
What kind of answer is this to Moses' seemingly legitimate complaint? Our Sages interpret this verse as a mild rebuke. "Your forefathers," G-d says, "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were repeatedly tested, yet none of them ever questioned My motives."
This exchange seems odd in light of the fact that, in general, the Torah goes out of its way to use only positive terms, even when referring to the lowliest beast. Every word in the Torah contains countless practical lessons to enhance our relationships with our fellow man and to apply in our service of G-d. We must therefore conclude that G-d's response to Moses must be of practical significance in our daily lives as well.
Moses, the greatest prophet who ever lived, certainly knew of the greatness of the patriarchs and their unquestioning devotion to G-d. In fact, because Moses stood on an even higher spiritual level than the patriarchs, his faith in G-d and trust in Him were likewise also greater. Yet if so, how could he have complained to G-d, "Why have You allowed so much evil to befall this people?"
Chasidic philosophy explains that Moses was on the spiritual level of chochma, intellect, whereas the patriarchs were the embodiment of midot, the emotions. Intellect always strives to understand; the nature of emotion includes the willingness to accept authority. The patriarchs were, therefore, unquestioning in their submission to G-d, whereas Moses argued and questioned in his desire to comprehend.
The practical lesson we may derive from this is twofold: On the one hand, we must always endeavor to emulate our forefathers, who, even in times of adversity, had complete faith in G-d and never questioned His actions. Likewise, in our own era, now is not the time for questions as we stand on the threshold of the complete and Final Redemption. Yet at the same time, Moses' demand of G-d is equally valid for us today.
Nowadays, as we find ourselves at the very end of our exile, an exile so bitter and confusing that the very boundaries between light and dark and between good and evil appear to be blurred, we must bear these two things in mind: The Jew must have utmost faith that all of G-d's actions are good, that the darkness itself is leading us toward Redemption, and, at the same time, he must beg and implore G-d with all his might to fulfill His promise to bring Moshiach.
Our cry, "How long, O G-d?" is not in contradiction to our faith; rather, our G-d-given intellect dictates that we demand, "Why have you done more evil to this people?" Both intellect and emotions must work in tandem, combining the faith of our forefathers with the cry of "We want Moshiach NOW!"
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, Beis Shevat, the second day of Shevat (Jan. 10), is the yahrtzeit of Reb Zusya of Anipoli, a disciple of Reb Dov Ber of Mezritch (the Mezritcher Maggid), and colleague of Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe.
The fact that illness and utter poverty were Reb Zusya's lot did not in the least affect his piety, humility, and love of G-d for which he was renowned.
A story is told of Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg, who approached Reb Dov Ber of Mezritch and asked him how it was possible to follow the injunction of our Sages to "make a blessing upon hearing bad news just as one would make a blessing upon hearing good news." Reb Dov Ber told Reb Shmelke to go to Reb Zusya, and he would answer his question.
Reb Shmelke went to Reb Zusya, upon whom poverty and illness had left their physical marks. When Reb Shmelke posed his question to him, Reb Zusya was surprised. He replied, "This question should have been brought to someone who has actually experienced unfortunate events, G-d forbid. Thank G-d, I have only had good things happen to me for my whole life."
The answer to Reb Shmelke's question was that someone should rejoice in his lot to the point that he is not even aware of harsh events. This was the hallmark of Reb Zusya's life.
Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi held Reb Zusya in such high esteem that before printing his magnum opus, the Tanya, he sent a copy of it with a special messenger to Reb Zusya for his approbation.
It used to be that instant potatoes, instant soup and instant oatmeal epitomized the fast pace of the American lifestyle. They weren't really so instant, though, as one still needed to first boil up the water, which took a good few minutes. But back in the days before instant international communication via fax machines and e-mail, a few minutes was instant enough.
Instant today is quicker than it was 20 years ago. But it's still not instant enough, as proven by computer advertisements that ask us what we do while we're "waiting" the minute or two for the computer to do an auto-sort or the laser printer is printing out the 16-page report (at a rate of eight pages per minute).
We're in the instant age, so it's no wonder that when someone tells us something is happening imminently we expect it now. But some things are worth waiting for, even if just for a few more moments.
* * *
A man once dropped a security bond worth many thousands of dollars into a huge box filled with scrap paper. He rummaged through the papers for hours trying to find his note.
Another man passed by and expressed his surprise at the fellow's eagerness and mounting excitement, even after hours of unsuccessful searching. "Quite the contrary," exclaimed the first man as he scrutinized each piece of paper. "Now that I am nearing the bottom of the pile I am more encouraged, because I know I'll find it very soon."
That person knew that his long search was worthwhile. He was not discouraged.
Now, imagine if he had found a hundred dollar bill at the top of the pile. Would he have said: "Oh, why bother to take so much time and effort to search for the lost bond?"
Of course not!
There's a big difference between cash and a security bond. Cash, as we know, is immediate money. A security bond is worth money later.
We like to be handed things now, immediately. When we want something, we want it right away. In this age of immediate gratification, some people get discouraged or are disappointed if they don't get results at once.
But we should never be discouraged by the long wait for Moshiach. Our neshamos (souls) can appreciate the value of a security bond. They are not disheartened by the wait. Like the person searching at the bottom of the box, our neshamos are encouraged and excited with anticipation the closer we get to Moshiach's coming.
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, Jan. 10, Erev Shabbat Parshat Va'eira:
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 4:29 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 11, Shabbat Parshat Va'eira:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:34 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
"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.
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