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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 95th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
As this year is a leap year on the Jewish calendar, an entire extra month* is added between the months of Shevat and Adar. This Shabbat is the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar I. Therefore, this week's issue focuses on a lesson we can learn from the leap year.
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 Shevat, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
*. This month is known as Adar Rishon--Adar I, and the second Adar is known as Adar Sheini--Adar II.
This year's conference, taking place in the month of Adar I, brings to mind the significance of our leap year and its relevance to our daily life. For, although our Jewish calendar year has a basic logic of its own, it, too, like everything else in Jewish life, must be related in a practical and tangible way to our personal lives and responsibilities.
The fundamental reason for adding an extra month in our leap year is, of course, the fact that the Torah requires our calendar to be based on the lunar year, which is shorter than the solar year by approximately eleven days. At the same time it requires that our festivals take place in their due season (Passover in the spring, Sukkot in the autumn, etc.). This necessitates an adjustment once in two or three years, in order to make up the deficiency of the lunar year in relation to the solar year.1
The lesson contained in this calendar arrangement is that a person can in one year make up for deficiencies in past years.
Furthermore, just as the leap year not only makes up the deficiency, but also provides an "advance" on the future, so must the individual from time to time not only make up what he has failed to accomplish, in the past, but also make a special and extra effort to go a step forward as a reserve for the future.2
In addition, the Jewish leap year has a special relevance to Jewish women, mothers and daughters. The sun and the moon were created as "the two great luminaries," but each has been given its own place and function. The moon acts as a reflector and transmitter of the sun's light. In this way it has a special quality in that it transmits the solar light and energy to those areas in nature where direct sunlight would be too intense to be beneficial.
Similarly, the Jewish wife, in many respects, must reflect and transmit the Torah way of life to the entire household, and it is in this way that she fulfills her great responsibility and privilege of being the akeret habayit--foundation of the home.
In taking stock of your accomplishments in the past, you will find much to be gratified with, but these very accomplishments will also reveal that with a little more effort, a great deal more could have been accomplished. It is, therefore, to be hoped that you will resolve not only to make up the "deficiency," but in keeping with the spirit of the leap year, also make an advance on the future. After all, true progress cannot be limited to making up deficiencies. It is necessary to forge ahead steadily and, from time to time, to also advance by leaps and bounds.
* * *
In accordance with the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, to the effect that every experience should serve as a lesson toward better service of G-d, the leap year serves to remind us that everyone has an opportunity to make up for any deficiency in the past, and sometimes even to accumulate a little reserve for the future, as in the case of our leap year.
Chabad Chasidus emphasizes this point in a very basic manner, since by definition Chasidus is a way of life that demands a little more effort than called for in the line of duty--a little more dedication, a little more depth, a little more enthusiasm; and enthusiasm itself provides a breakthrough in overcoming limitations.
1. The lunar month is 29 or 30 days. One lunar cycle is 354 days, while one solar cycle is 365 days. An extra month is inserted 7 times in 19 years in order to allow the holidays to fall in their correct seasons.
2. At times the additional month actually makes the year longer than 354 days, thereby giving an "advance" toward the upcoming year.
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.
Our Sages have taught that, just as when the month of Av begins we lessen our joy, so, too, when the month of Adar begins, we increase our simcha--joy and happiness.
In talks delivered immediately preceding and during the two months of Adar, 5752/1992, the Rebbe emphasized the importance of simcha in turning the darkness of exile into the light of Redemption.
The Rebbe also stressed that, being as there are two months of Adar this year, there are 60 days during which we are to increase our simcha. More importantly, in Jewish law, the quantity of 60 has the ability to nullify an undesirable presence. Specifically, this concerns food, as we see that if a quantity of milk, for instance, has accidentally become mixed with meat, if the meat outnumbers the milk by a ratio of 1:60, the milk is nullified and we may eat the meat.
Similarly, explains the Rebbe, 60 days of simcha have the ability to nullify the darkness of the present exile, allowing us to actually turn the darkness into light.
Concerning the kind of things that should be done to arouse simcha, the Rebbe suggested that each person should proceed according to his level: a child, for instance, should be made happy by his parents; a wife by her husband, and visa versa.
The bottom line is that the Rebbe did not let up on encouraging an increase of simcha in all permissible manners during the entire month.
We must hearken to the Rebbe's words and utilize simcha, especially during this month, to turn darkness into light, sadness into joy, and pain and tears into rejoicing with Moshiach in the Final Redemption; may it take place, as the Rebbe so fervently prayed, teichef umiyad mamash--immediately, literally.
At a chasidic gathering nearly 20 years ago, the Rebbe told the following story:
One of the tzadikim of Poland, when still a little boy, asked his father for an apple. His father, however, refused to give it to him.
The enterprising youngster proceeded to recite a blessing over the apple: "Baruch atah...borei pri haetz--Blessed are You... Who created fruit of the trees!"
The father could not possibly allow the blessing to have been recited in vain. And so, he promptly handed the youngster the apple.
The Rebbe used this story to illustrate the following point:
In our situation today, if the Jewish people begin now to rejoice in the Redemption, out of absolute trust that G-d will speedily send us Moshiach, this joy in itself will (as it were) compel our Father in heaven to fulfill His children's wish and to redeem them from exile.
Needless to say, the Rebbe was not suggesting the use of mystical incantations or the like to "force" the premature advent of the end of the exile. "We are simply speaking of serving G-d with exuberant joy," the Rebbe explained.
The month of Adar I brings with it not only the injunction to increase in joy, but with every command we are also given the power and energy to fulfill that command.
So, right from the start of the month, let us increase in our happiness, do mitzvot with more enthusiasm, and rejoice NOW in the imminent Redemption.
* * *
What benefit does joy bring us?
Chasidic teachings use the example of two individuals who are wrestling, to teach us the advantage of joy.
When two individuals are wrestling with each other, each striving to throw the other, if one is lazy and sluggish he will easily be defeated and thrown, even though he may be stronger than his opponent. Similarly, when we are trying to correct our bad habits or encourage spiritual growth, etc., it is impossible to accomplish any of these goals with a heavy heart or sluggishness, which originates in sadness. Rather, we are most successful at "overthrowing" our character flaws when we use alacrity that is derived from joy.
The Tzemach Tzedek, the third Chabad Rebbe, received a letter from one of his followers, complaining that it was difficult for him to be "joyous." The Tzemach Tzedek's advice to him was that he think only positive and happy thoughts, that he be careful not to speak of sad or depressing matters, and to behave as if his heart was full of joy. "Ultimately," concluded the Tzemach Tzedek, "this will be the reality."
As we enter the first month of Adar, a month when we are enjoined to increase our joy over and above our regular mitzvot to "serve G-d with joy" and "to be joyous constantly," may we celebrate the greatest joy of all, the revelation of Moshiach and the ingathering of all Jews to our Holy Land, NOW!
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.
Make Renewal Gatherings:
The Jewish calendar is based on the moon's cycle. The beginning of each Jewish month is a mini-holiday and affords a perfect opportunity to make gatherings.
Serve some special foods, study about the holidays in the upcoming month, celebrate the imminent Redemption when the Jewish people will be totally renewed.
"The renewal of the moon after its concealment is used an analogy for the Redemption and the complete renewal of the Jewish people 'who will in the future be renewed as [the moon] is renewed.' " (The Rebbe)
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, Feb. 7, Erev Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim:
First day of Rosh Chodesh Adar I.
Light Shabbat Candles,* by 5:01 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8, Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim:
Second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar I.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:04 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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