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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, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue we focus on the Seven Noachide Laws.
The Jewish year that has just begun is the year 5758 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Taf-Shin-Nun-Ches. Over a decade ago, in the year 5742, the Rebbe stated that the Hebrew letters for that year were an acronym for "This should be the year of the coming of Moshiach."
Since that time, the Rebbe has publicized a phrase describing the year according to the acronym of its Hebrew letters. This year has been designated by the Rebbe's followers as "Hoyo Tihei Shnas Niflaos Cheiruseinu" meaning "It surely will be a year of wondrous miracles liberating us (from the material and spiritual problems of our exile)."
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 Tishrei, 5758.
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's Torah portion, Noach, we find the verse, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life...all the fountains of the great deep were split and the windows of Heaven were opened." The Zohar (the basic book of Jewish mysticism) explains that this refers to the beginning of the sixth century of the sixth millennium of Creation (the year 5500/1740, 258 years ago). At that time, the Divine fountains of knowledge would open up, both above in the celestial spheres and below in the physical realm, and the world would thus be prepared to enter the seventh millennium, the Messianic Age.
The Zohar describes the two types of knowledge that would be revealed during this time frame. The first is the opening of the "gates of knowledge above," referring to Torah and G-dly wisdom, and the second is the "fountains of wisdom below," referring to science and our understanding of nature and the physical world.
Indeed, we find that the world began to undergo great changes during that time, just as the Zohar prophesied. The amount of knowledge and understanding began to reach levels unprecedented in history. In the Torah world, this was the time when chasidic philosophy began to be revealed, and in the secular world, scientific discoveries and developments began a frenetic pace that continues to the present day.
This period of revelation of knowledge, both G-dly and secular, came about as a preparation for the seventh millennium and the days of Moshiach. It is easy to understand how increased revelation of Torah serves as preparation, for the Messianic Era is a time when "knowledge of G-d will cover the earth like the water of the sea." But what has this to do with scientific advances and the Industrial Revolution?
A fundamental innovation of Moshiach will be that our perception of reality will change. Chasidic philosophy explains that after Moshiach reveals himself, "all flesh will see" -- our physical flesh will be cognizant of the G-dliness that permeates and sustains the entire world.
Advances in scientific knowledge and understanding of the natural world are a preparation for this time. Medical, astronomic and nuclear discoveries have been revealed to man so that he can use this knowledge to serve G-d. As with everything else, we are given the free will with which to utilize these discoveries, as increased knowledge carries with it increased responsibility. When a Jew employs modern technology to serve G-d, perform mitzvot and further goodness in the world, he is utilizing these revelations properly.
We have been granted the increased understanding of the dynamics of the physical world so that we can elevate these elements as well. Furthermore, the greater our understanding of science, the greater our appreciation and understanding of the ultimate unity of G-d and Creation. We see in the progress of history the positive development of knowledge and how it leads to an understanding of G-d. In antiquity man believed in the divinity of each of the natural forces, and believed that physical matter was composed of many different elements. Modern science, however, is proving the existence of fundamental, atomic structure, proving yet another example of G-d's ultimate unity.
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 week's Torah portion is Noach. Therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to consider the implications of the Rebbe's campaign to disseminate, among non-Jews, the knowledge and observance of the Seven Noachide Laws.
The nations of the world were given a Divine code of conduct, the Seven Noachide Laws, which consist of six prohibitions against: adultery, murder, robbery, idolatry, blasphemy, cruelty to animals--and one positive command, to establish a judicial system.
The Rebbe has encouraged his emissaries around the world to meet with government officials and heads of state to sign proclamations encouraging the study and observance of the Seven Noachide Laws. Government proclamations, however, are not the Rebbe's only concern.
An important part of the Jew's task is to see to it that all people, not just Jews, acknowledge G-d as Creator and Ruler of the world and to therefore conduct themselves according to the Seven Noachide Laws. Each and every Jew has an important role to play in this task. But how can this be accomplished?
When a Jew conducts himself properly in all areas of his life--business, recreation, family, and religious--he will automatically influence the people around him. When the nations of the world see Jews acknowledging G-d as Ruler of the world, through prayer and by following His commandments, they, too, will come to realize the importance and truth of G-d's omnipotence.
"The future Redemption will apply not only to Israel, but to the whole world as well. In preparation for this Redemption, therefore, action needs to be taken so that the world at large will be ready for such a state. This is to be achieved through the efforts of the Jewish people to influence the nations of the world to conduct themselves in the spirit of the verse that states that G-d 'formed the world in order that it be settled' (Isaiah 45:18) in a civilized manner, through the observance of their seven mitzvot."
The Rebbe, 5743/1983
This week we read the Torah portion of Noach in which we find G-d's promise that the world will continue to exist forever; it will never end.
"The end is near." What does this phrase mean? Certainly not the end of the world but the end of the bitter days of exile. The end of oppression and hatred, poverty and sickness, war and crime.
Why should we be afraid that the end is approaching? Should that thought truly place fear in our hearts? Or should we not be excited that "the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean"?
Fear is not necessarily the appropriate feeling. Rather, possibly a sense of regret, as the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, stated, "When Moshiach comes, then we will long for the days of exile." Why? Because at that time we will look back at a replay of our lives and see all of the instances when we could have done more good, more mitzvot, judged less harshly, been more generous. Thus, we might look toward the imminently approaching days of Moshiach with a little anxiety. But the positive anticipation should far outweigh our trepidation.
Would the Jews, from our greatest leaders to the simplest person, have looked forward to, longed for, prayed, begged and beseeched G-d for 2,000 years if the Redemption would not be good for everyone? In fact, we are told that this redemption for which we wait anxiously is called the "geula ha-amitit v'hashleima"--the true and complete redemption--because every single Jew, as well as all righteous gentiles, have a portion in the Redemption.
Let us take one more lesson from this week's Torah portion and relate it to the topic of Redemption as well. Noach was a tzaddik, a righteous person. But he had one major failing. He was commanded by G-d to build an ark, which he did obediently and gladly. But he did not actively seek to help the people of his generation return to G-d. He was content to save himself and his family.
Let us all make sure not only to prepare ourselves and to feel positive and anxious about the imminent redemption. Let us make sure to influence those in our surroundings as well.
Reb Zalman Estulin, an elderly chasid, told this story many years ago at a chasidic gathering--a farbrengen.
Once, there were two brothers, Avraham and Shlomo, who exhibited unbelievable brotherly love. As children they never fought. They studied Torah together and eventually, after they married fine, Jewish women, they settled down in the same city.
Sad to say, the brothers got into a foolish argument as is bound to happen. Things went from bad to worse until it got to the point where as friendly and loving as the brothers had once been they now hated and abhorred each other.
Years passed in this way until the time came when Reb Avraham was going to marry off his eldest daughter. Despite the fact that they had not spoken for over a decade, Reb Avraham wanted his brother to share in his happiness.
And so, he sent Shlomo a letter of apology for all past wrongs and an invitation to the wedding. When no reply came, Avraham sent a messenger. But the messenger came back with the message that Shlomo would not even consider coming to the wedding.
The evening of the wedding arrived, and though Reb Avraham was happy, his joy was tinged with sadness in knowing that his brother would not attend the wedding.
For his part, Reb Shlomo had scheduled his evening in such a way that feelings of remorse would not get in his way of staying home. He had a huge, seven-course meal, took a long, relaxing bath, got into his pajamas and went to bed early.
The wedding on the other side of town was in full swing when the violinist, an extremely talented musician who could change people's moods through his music, noticed that Avraham's joy was not complete.
The violinist approached Avraham and asked if there was anything he could do: "My reputation will suffer if I can't make the father of the bride happy."
Avraham told the violinist that he was saddened by his brother's absence. "I will go and bring him here," the violinist offered.
And so, the violinist went to Reb Shlomo's house. He stood outside of Shlomo's bedroom window. Half asleep, Shlomo came to the window to see who was playing. He was so intrigued and entranced by the violinist's recital that he opened his door and went outside.
In this manner the violinist and Shlomo walked through the town until they reached the wedding hall.
Slowly, slowly, they approached the wedding until Reb Shlomo found himself in the middle of the dance floor at the wedding hall. He looked around and saw everybody so beautifully dressed. Then, he looked at himself and realized, with quite a bit of embarrassment, that he was hardly dressed as befits the uncle of the bride. Indeed, he was a sorry state in his pajamas!
"Brothers," Rabbi Estulin concluded, "we're all going to be there in the middle of the dance floor when Moshiach comes. Because, as our Sages teach us, the Redemption is like the consummation of the wedding ceremony between G-d and the Jewish people, which took place at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
"The Torah and mitzvot that we do are like the clothing of our souls. It is up to us to come to the wedding dressed as befits the uncle of the bride, and not in our pajamas!"
The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." We therefore present from the Rebbe's talks suggestions what we can do to complete his work of bringing the Redemption.
The Seven Universal Laws of Noah:
Influence non-Jews to observe the seven universal laws commanded to Noah and his descendants.
The Seven Noachide Laws, consist of six prohibitions against: adultery, murder, robbery, idolatry, blasphemy, cruelty to animals--and one positive command, to establish a judicial system.
For more information on the Seven Noachide Laws, go to:
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:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Friday, Oct. 31, Erev Shabbat Parshat Noach (first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan):
Saturday, Nov. 1, Shabbat Parshat Noach (second day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan):
1. 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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