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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 99th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
This week's issue focuses on Parshat Shekolim.
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
14 Adar I, 5757
Brooklyn, New York
In the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Vayakhel, Moshe relates G-d's command to the Jewish people: "Six days shall work be done, and the seventh day shall be holy, a Sabbath of rest to G-d."
In order to observe Shabbat properly, in accordance with G-d's command, the groundwork must first be laid by the six days of the work week: "Six days shall work be done."
Significantly, the commandment is not "Six days shall you do work." The verse does not instruct us to toil laboriously. "Six days shall work be done"--as if the work is being done by itself. You needn't exert undue effort or invest too much of your energy, the Torah tells us. Rather, your work will be accomplished with a minimal amount of exertion.
This is a special blessing that G-d has bestowed on the Jewish people. Our Sages state, "When Israel does the work of G-d [when they serve Him properly], their work will be done by others." Not "Six days shall you do work," but "Six days shall work be done." Their work will already be completed.
This contains a lesson for every Jew to apply in his daily life. Yes, a Jew is obligated to work for a living, to provide for the members of his family, but only his most external powers and abilities should be invested toward this end. It states in Psalms (128:2): "You shall eat the labor of your hands; happy shall you be, and it shall be good for you." When is it good for man? When only his "hands" are involved in his work; when his head and his heart, his thoughts and emotions, are reserved for higher matters: the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot.
A Jew must never invest himself totally in his business affairs. For it is "the blessing of G-d that makes a man rich." A person's success is not determined by the amount of effort he puts into it. His efforts only create the vessel through which G-d bestows blessings. Thus a Jew must reserve his intellect and energy for spiritual matters, while his business must be viewed as if it is taking care of itself.
Approaching work in such a manner ensures that the Shabbat will be observed properly, that the Jew will be able to put aside his material concerns on the day of rest. If a Jew is overly preoccupied with his livelihood during the work week, his Shabbat will be disturbed by worry and anxiety: How can he earn more money? What should he buy and sell? On Shabbat he will find it difficult to disconnect from worldly matters. Thus "Six days shall work be done" is the most appropriate preparation for "the seventh day shall be holy."
In this manner all the days of the week will acquire a Shabbat-like quality, and the Shabbat itself will have an increased measure of holiness, as implied by the Torah's repetition, "Shabbat shabbaton--a Shabbat of rest."
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.
This Shabbat, in addition to the regular Torah portions read in shul, we will also read Parshat Shekolim, the Torah portion in which G-d commands Moshe to take a census of the Jewish people by collecting a half-shekel from each one.
The Rebbe explains that a census emphasizes the unique importance of each individual while at the same time reminding us that every Jew's existence is bound to that of his fellow man.
The concept of "loving your fellow man" is further emphasized by the fact that every Jew, no matter how rich or how poor, was required to give the exact same amount of money, a half-shekel.
Moreover, the half-shekolim that were collected were used to bring communal offerings on behalf of the entire Jewish people. And although we are in exile we can still fulfill the mitzvah of half-shekel by carrying out the custom of giving three half-dollars to charity before Purim.
These gifts will hasten the Redemption, for then "Moshe will gather," i.e., Moshe, "the first redeemer and ultimate redeemer," will gather every single Jew and proceed to Israel, to Jerusalem, to the Third Holy Temple.
Though we do not yet have the Third Holy Temple to which we could bring communal sacrifices, these mitzvot apply equally today. For, the Torah is infinite, not limited to time and place. While the physical Sanctuary was destroyed, the spiritual aspects of the service in the Temple are still carried out today through learning Torah and doing mitzvot.
When a Jew makes a contribution toward a sacred cause, it is immediately matched by a corresponding kindness from G-d to him. Sincere human effort is met halfway by Divine Grace, thus a goal that may at first seem unattainable to a person can actually be reached, because his goodness evokes a corresponding heavenly benevolence.
May our good deeds combined with G-d's benevolence finally bring us to attain our ultimate goal, the coming of Moshiach.
A chasid once approached the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, with a question. "What is the point of studying Chasidus, which deals with abstractions that no mortal mind can fully grasp? After all, when Moshiach comes even those who didn't study Chasidus will know G-d, as it says in Isaiah, 'For they will all know Me.'"
The Tzemach Tzedek replied: "A person listening to a conversation on the other side of a wall doesn't grasp everything. He only understands the general drift. But later, when the conversation is repeated in full, he understands everything he had heard previously. Every few moments he thinks, 'Ah! Now I understand all those connections and details!'
"Here, too," continued the Tzemach Tzedek, "it is true that someone who studies Chasidus grasps only part of the subject. But when Moshiach will teach it in the time to come, that person will be able to look back and say, 'Ah...!'
"And not only that, but someone hearing those teachings for the second time will understand them much more deeply than someone who will then hear them for the first time. As the above-quoted verse says, 'For they will all know Me, from their smallest to their greatest'--and it is obvious that the understanding of a young child cannot be compared to that of an adult."
Does this sound like Greek to you? If so, consider the following. Imagine you decide to become a printer. Even before you set foot in a printing shop you start finding out all kinds of fascinating facts about printing and presses. You become an expert in paper and ink. You avidly read a book that describes in detail how a four-color press works, complete with diagrams.
The big day comes when you're going to actually see a printing press. You invite a friend to come. The friend doesn't know even a fraction of what you do about printing, but he's a good friend so he comes.
You get into the printing plant and walk over to the biggest four-color press in the building. After only a moment of surveying it, you point to something. "Ah," you say excitedly, "this is where the ink goes!" An instant later you notice a row of buttons. "Ah," you say with animation, "this is the button you push to start the press." You walk around the machine pointing to levers, buttons, and thing-a-ma-jigs that you recognize from your "four-color-press-manual." And each time, you exclaim, "Ah"--as if to say, "I learned about it when itwas all theoretical, but now I really understand."
What about your friend, though? He's probably bored since he doesn't really know heads from tails in the printing business.
According to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus, the G-dly Light we will experience in the messianic era is a result of the quality of our performance of mitzvot and study of Torah before Moshiach's revelation.
So, a similar type of scene to the one described above in the printing shop will repeat itself when Moshiach comes. During this long exile, we study our manual--the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah. We learn that every time we do a mitzvah it strengthens our connection with G-d, but we don't quite understand why. We read that G-d created this world--and other worlds--but don't really understand how. We hear about the Holy Temple and wonder how it will look.
When Moshiach comes, and everything is revealed for our physical eyes to behold, we'll say, "Ah, now I see how my connection to G-d was strengthened through performing mitzvot. Ah, now I see how G-d created the world, and I even see the spiritual worlds that exist on non-physical planes that Kabbalah talks about. Ah, I recognize all these different furnishings of the Holy Temple that I learned so much about." The "Ah" will be directly proportional to the amount of effort and study we do now, in these last few moments before Moshiach!
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, March 7, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel:
Saturday, March 8, Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel:
*. 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.
**. Rosh Chodesh Adar II is on Sunday, March 9, and Monday March 10.
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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