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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 feature a letter of the Rebbe, explaining the custom that was prevalent in many communities, to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."
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
28 Tishrei, 5758.
Brooklyn, New York
Parshat Lech Lecha
This week's Torah portion, Lech Lecha, describes G-d's promise of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. It also describes Abraham's travels through the land whereby he acquired it for his descendants forever. Abraham's traversing of the land was not a necessary prerequisite for his taking possession of it as G-d's promise itself sufficed to transfer ownership of the Holy Land to Abraham.
It has been mentioned numerous times that the Rebbe's statements regarding the Holy Land, and his staunch position not to give back even one inch of land to the Arabs, has nothing to do with biblical promises or messianic visions. Rather, the Rebbe has made these statements and taken this position because of Pikuach Nefesh--the imminent danger to life--of Jews in the Holy Land.
Unfortunately, the Rebbe's stand has been shown to be absolutely true. And yet, of course, there are spiritual as well as mundane lessons to be learned from this week's Torah portion. There are spiritual implications, the Rebbe explains, of G-d's promise to the Jewish people via Abraham:
"There is a particular relevance to G-d's promise in the present age, the era immediately preceding Moshiach's coming. For G-d promised Abraham the lands of the ten nations, including not only the land of the seven Canaanite nations conquered by the Jews after the exodus from Egypt, but also the lands of the Keini, the Kenizi, and the Kadmoni people. G-d promised--and thus gave--the Jewish people all these ten lands at the same time. Nevertheless, in the present era, we were granted only the lands of seven nations and the fulfillment of this promise in its full sense will not be until the Era of the Redemption.... In the Era of the Redemption, by contrast, not only all the Jews of that generation but also all the Jews of all previous generations who will arise in the Resurrection, will live there."
With the situation as it is now in Israel, the only solution is that G-d fulfill His promise and give possession of the entire Holy Land to the Jewish people under the leadership of Moshiach.
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.
7 Cheshvan, 5737
We have concluded the month of Tishrei, which is designated in our sacred texts as a "comprehensive month" for the entire year, and which is filled with a variety of festive days and experiences embracing all areas of a Jew's spiritual life throughout the whole year.
The month begins with awe and submission to the Heavenly Reign, the main point of Rosh HaShanah: teshuvah (repentance), the essence of the Ten Days of Return, and Yom Kippur; the performance of mitzvot with diligence and joy, culminating with the highest expression of joy with the Torah--the essential aspects of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.
It is time to recall the custom that was prevalent in many communities to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."
The point of this custom was to call attention to the fact that, inasmuch as the time has come to return to the routine of the daily life ("his way"), it behooves a Jew to know that he is Jacob, a Jew, and that he has his own way, a way that originates in Simchat Torah and is guided by the joy of Torah and mitzvot.
This means that whatever a Jew undertakes, even his ordinary day-to-day affairs, must always be conducted in the spirit of "All your actions should be for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him (and serve Him) in all your ways."
The month of Tishrei is a "comprehensive month" also in the sense that in this month the Jew acquires "goods" for the whole year. Immediately afterwards one must begin to "unpack" and draw from one's stock according to the needs of each day in all details. One cannot consider himself free from further obligation on the basis of the accomplishments of the comprehensive month.
Similarly, there are also "comprehensive mitzvot," although each and all mitzvot have to be fulfilled with the fullest measure of diligence and excellence. A comprehensive mitzvah should be performed with still greater excellence and still greater diligence, for its performance is of greater concern to all Jews and the Jewish people as a whole.
One of the main comprehensive mitzvot is the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew).
Of this mitzvah it has been said that it is a "great principle of the Torah," and the "basis of the entire Torah." The basis of this mitzvah is the fact that all Jews constitute one entity, like one body, so much so that every Jew sees every other Jew as "his own flesh and blood." Herein is also the explanation why the fulfillment of a mitzvah by every individual Jew affects the whole Jewish people; how much more so the fulfillment of comprehensive mitzvot....
May G-d grant that all the good wishes that Jews wished one another for the new year should be fulfilled, that it be a good and sweet year in every respect, with the realization of the above-mentioned pattern of Jewish conduct:
"And Jacob"--an appellation that includes all Jews, not only those who have already attained the higher status of "Israel" and "Jeshurun";
"Went"--in accordance with the true concept of motion, namely, moving away from the previous state to a higher state (for however satisfactory a state is, one should always strive to advance to an ever higher state in all matters of holiness);
"On his way"--that "his way," even in non-obligatory matters, becomes a G-dly way, as stated immediately after: "And G-d's angels met him"--in keeping with every Jew's purpose in life to be an "angel" messenger--of G-d, to make for Him an "abode" in this earthly world.
May all the above be done with joy, derived from Simchat Torah, and Jacob "will sing (and praise) the G-d of Jacob," and merit the speedy fulfillment of the continuation of the verse, "The glory and strength of the tzaddik will be uplifted," the coming of our righteous Moshiach.
Some people say that Avraham Avinu (Abraham our father) was the first Lubavitcher chasid. This might sound a little (or more than a little) self-serving. But, let us take a few moments to analyze Avraham's life; we might find that, in fact, there is much truth in this statement.
In this week's Torah portion, Avraham is commanded by G-d to go away from his home, leave his parents, and travel to a distant, unknown land. He always spoke to strangers, bringing them closer to an awareness of G-d, their Creator.
Now, isn't this, actually, what Lubavitcher chassidim are doing all over the world?
Avraham set up a huge tent in the middle of the desert. The tent had four doors, one in each direction, so that any person passing by would always be able to enter quickly. Doesn't that remind you of a Chabad House--Chabad-Lubavitch outreach centers on college campuses and suburban Jewish communities with an "open door" policy?
With Avraham as our role model and guide, let us make every effort to follow in his footsteps, setting up our own tents, and helping others set up tents for people to live and experience the beauty and warmth of Judaism.
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.
Encourage the Kids!
Do the doorposts of your children's rooms have mezuzahs on them? If they do, point them out to the children and encourage them to kiss or touch the mezuzah cover as they go in and out of the room. If not, purchase a hand-written mezuzah scroll from a reliable Judaica store or your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center. You can even let the child choose his or her own mezuzah cover.
The Rebbe explained, "We see that children have a unique attraction to a mezuzah, and kiss it eagerly several times a day. From the mezuzah, one goes from one's house to the world at large as the Rambam writes, 'Whenever one enters or departs, one will confront the unity of G-d's name.'"
(18th of Cheshvan, 5752/1991)
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, Nov. 7, Erev Shabbat Parshat Lech Lecha:
Saturday, Nov. 8, Shabbat Parshat Lech Lecha:
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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