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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 96th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
This week's issue focuses on the Seventh of Adar. The Seventh of Adar, Friday, February 14, is the birthday and yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu (Moshe our teacher).
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
25 Shevat, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Teruma, contains the commandment to fashion a menorah for the Sanctuary. "And you shall make a menorah of pure gold."
Maimonides, one of the greatest Torah scholars of all time, drew a detailed diagram of the menorah that greatly helps us understand what it looked like. The diagram shows us the shape of the menorah's branches, the location of its "flowers" and "bowls," and many other details.
Maimonides depicted the menorah's bowls (which were actually tiny cups) in the shape of triangles. A cup is similar to a triangle as it is usually wider on the top and narrower on the bottom.
Surprisingly, however, Maimonides drew the bowls of the menorah upside-down! All 22 of the bowls are depicted as inverted triangles, the wider part on the bottom and the narrower part at the top.
Thus, according to Maimonides' drawing, the bowls of the menorah were designed as if to pour their contents out.
What does this teach us? Why were the bowls of the menorah upside-down?
In truth, the bowls are symbolic of the function of the menorah and, by extension, the Holy Temple.
A regular menorah or candelabrum is designed to illuminate the inside of one's home. The menorah in the Sanctuary, by contrast, was designed to illuminate the outside. Even without the menorah the Temple was well lit. The reason it was kindled was to illuminate the world at large and demonstrate that G-d's presence rested upon Israel.
The windows of the Holy Temple were fashioned according to the same principle. These unique windows were opaque from within yet transparent from without. Unlike other windows they did not draw light inside, but carried the light of the Holy Temple outward.
Similarly, a regular cup is designed to contain liquid. But the bowls of the menorah were inverted, shaped like cups that pour their liquid out for those who are thirsty!
The true purpose of the Temple (and the menorah) was to shine the light of holiness upon the entire world, not to contain it within its walls. Both its windows and the bowls of the menorah expressed this concept, reflecting their primary function of imbuing the world with a holy illumination. For the Holy Temple is the place that lights up the entire world.
From this we learn an important lesson: The light of Torah and mitzvot must not be kept to ourselves. Rather, we must always strive to share it with others, thereby illuminating the world at large with holiness.
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.
The Seventh of Adar (Friday, February 14), is the birthday and yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu (Moshe our teacher).
The Rebbe has spoken numerous times about the significance of this date in our G-dly service. In one of the Rebbe's last public addresses, the Rebbe delved further into the significance of this date.
In a leap year, such as our current year, there is a difference of opinion as to whether we commemorate this date in the first or second month of Adar. Since both opinions are "the words of the Living G-d" it is appropriate to commemorate the date in both months.
On a person's birthday, "his mazal (source of influence) shines powerfully." If this concept applies to the birthday of any Jew, surely it applies with regard to the birthday of a nasi (leader) of the Jewish people. Nor is this relevant merely as an event in the past. Instead, each year, the positive influence associated with the Seventh of Adar is increased, reaching a level immeasurably higher than in previous years.
The birthday of a nasi affects every member of the Jewish people, for the nasi is the source of influence through whom G-d's blessings are drawn down for the entire people.
Seven is symbolic of a complete cycle. Thus, the Seventh of Adar should inspire every Jew to carry out his service in a complete manner. The positive influence of the month of Adar will facilitate the performance of this service.
Similarly, these positive influences will hasten the coming of the Redemption. It is of utmost importance that the Redemption come sooner, even a moment sooner, for the Divine Presence and the Jewish people are in exile. Therefore, it is important to hasten the coming of the Redemption; every single moment its coming can be speeded is significant. The potential for this certainly exists: the very next moment can be the last moment of the exile, and the moment that follows, the first moment of Redemption.
* * *
Jewish teachings (Shemos Rabba) state that "Moshe is the first redeemer and he is also the final redeemer." This does not mean that Moshe himself will be the "final redeemer." For, Moshe belongs to the tribe of Levi, while Moshiach is from the tribe of Judah.
However, many traditional sources view the redemption from Egypt as the prototype of the Final Redemption, based on the verse in our Prophets: "As in the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders."
In this way, Moshe--who was the leader of the Jewish people in his generation--is the prototype of every Jewish leader and ultimately, of Moshiach.
Thus, for example, in Egypt, first G-d appointed the redeemer--Moshe. He spoke to the Children of Israel, telling them that G-d had remembered them and that the time had come for them to leave Egypt. Only afterward did Moshe redeem the Children of Israel and take them out of Egypt. Similarly, first Moshiach informs us that the time of the Redemption has arrived, and only afterward does the actual Redemption take place (Sfas Emes).
In one of his kabbalistic works, Rabbi Chaim Vital describes Moshiach as a tzadik, a human being born of human parents, and writes that he will receive the soul of Moshiach that has been stored in the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Chaim Vital then explains how this may be compared to Moshe and his progression to self-perfection.
The Chatam Sofer, as well, describes Moshe, the first redeemer, and then compares him to the final redeemer, "And when the time comes, G-d will reveal Himself to him, and the spirit of Moshiach, which has been hidden in the higher worlds until his coming, will light upon him."
The story of Moses taking the Children of Israel out of the land of Egypt is well known, but long before he emerged as the redeemer of the Jewish people his life was full of wonders and miracles.
Times were bitter for the Jews. Their favored status as Joseph's people had long ago been replaced by the degradation of a harsh and cruel slavery. Pharaoh's star-gazers had foreseen the birth of a baby boy who would one day lead the Jewish slaves to freedom, but would die because of water. Pharaoh would forestall that possibility by ordering the death by drowning of every boy born to the Jews. He would make sure the Jews would never leave Egypt.
Jewish women refused to despair. They beautified themselves and went out to the fields where their husbands labored in the burning sun. "Do not despair, do not give up hope," they would tell their husbands. "G-d will not forget us forever." They gave birth in secret, hiding the babies as long as possible. Yocheved and Miriam, popular midwives, were commanded to kill the babies, but what could they do, they dissembled, "The Jewish women give birth quickly, before we can even get to them."
Soon, it was Yocheved's turn to hide her precious little boy. For a few months she succeeded, but she knew the attempt was futile. The Egyptians had spies everywhere. When there was the slightest suspicion, they would bring an Egyptian baby into the Jewish house and pinch it to make it cry. It was impossible to quiet the Jewish baby who would wail in response. Then the soldiers would seize the child from his helpless parents and toss him into the Nile.
Yocheved had an idea. In a desperate attempt to save her son's life, she set him afloat in a little reed basket, which she lovingly prepared to withstand the waters of the Nile.
"Go and watch your brother, and see what will happen to him," she instructed Miriam. Obediently, she stood on the banks of the Nile where she watched her beloved brother's fate unfold.
Batya, Pharaoh's daughter, had just come down to the river to bathe and, startled by a baby's cry coming from the direction of some reeds, she sent her servant girl to fetch the semi-hidden basket.
When she opened it, a bright light emanated from the child's face and he peered at her with a mature intelligence. She knew it must be a Hebrew child, but she couldn't bear the thought of this beautiful boy being killed.
"Go, bring me a wet-nurse," she commanded, but when the Egyptian woman arrived, the starving baby refused to drink. At that point Miriam saw her chance. "If you wish, I will bring a nurse from the Hebrew women," she offered, and without a moment's pause, Batya agreed.
And so, G-d's plan unfolded in unexpected ways. Yocheved was not only able to bring up her beloved child in her own home, but she had the explicit permission of Pharaoh's daughter--she was even paid for her "services."
Moses was a beautiful child--radiant, intelligent, the favored child on whom the princess lavished her love and attention.
One day, the young child was brought to a royal banquet--the first time he witnessed such a gala event. Everyone assembled sparkled in all their finery. Suddenly, baby Moses reached out his little hand and seized, of all things, the king's golden crown. And what's more, he set the glittering symbol of kingship on his own tiny head! The shocked gasps were audible throughout the great hall. The king's advisors saw that this act boded ill for the monarchy. "Put the child to death before he grows up and seizes your throne!" they said. But then one other voice was heard, that of Jethro, the Priest of Midian, a highly respected sage and great magician.
"Your majesty, it is a known fact that every child will reach out for a glittering object. Why should you assume that this child is intelligent enough to discern the great meaning of your majesty's crown. Why should you take away your daughter's beloved child if this is just a childish whim? I suggest that you put him to the test: Put before him a piece of burning coal and your crown. See which he will grab. If he reaches for the coal, which is shinier than the golden crown, you will know he has no understanding of his actions."
Jethro's advice seemed sensible enough, and a burning coal was brought and put in front of the child. Moses, however, was not a child like all others; he knowingly extended his hand toward the crown. Suddenly his hand moved, pushed by an angel, and he seized the coal and put it into his mouth. He screamed in pain, and Batya's heart jumped--Moses was hurt, but he would live. The proof was incontrovertible, the child simply liked glittering objects.
Moses, the great redeemer of the Jewish people, was raised in the king's palace, tutored in the ways of royalty and even bounced on his would-be murderer's own knee, until the time arrived for him to begin his mission.
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. 14, Erev Shabbat Parshat Teruma:
Saturday, Feb. 15, Shabbat Parshat Teruma:
*. 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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