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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
Thank G-d that, with the current issue, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach, has begun its forth year of publication.
At this time, we take the opportunity to thank our supporters, who have helped us publish this weekly publication.
May G-d bless them, with health, happiness and success in all of their endeavors.
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)."
On Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751 (August 3, 1991), the Rebbe spoke about the printing of Chassidus in braille, for the blind.
The full text of the Rebbe's sichah (talk) was reprinted as an "Introduction" to Vol. 1 of the Moshiach - Holiday Series (Chanukah 5753/1992).
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.
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
3 Cheshvan, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
"And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned," we read in this week's Torah portion, Vayeira. "And Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him... and Sarah said... ''Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would have nursed children?'"
Rashi, the great Torah commentator, explains the use of the plural word children: "On the day of the feast, many princesses brought their babies to Sarah, and she suckled them. For they did not believe that she had actually given birth to Isaac, insisting that he was a foundling they had brought home from the marketplace. By nursing other babies as well as her own, Sarah demonstrated that she had indeed given birth. And she nursed them all," Rashi emphasizes.
What are we to learn from this narrative? If Sarah's intent had been only to prove that Isaac was her biological son, would it not have sufficed for her to nurse him alone? Why does Rashi stress that Sarah "nursed them all"?
In answer, one must look at the global picture, and understand a seemingly radical concept: the entire world was created solely for the purpose of the Jewish people. After the founding of the Jewish nation and the giving of the Torah, [the Jewish people] Israel became the means through which all of mankind is affected; no commandment from G-d can be conveyed to the world except through the Torah and Jewish people. It is for this reason that the Seven Noachide Laws(1) must be obeyed solely because G-d has so commanded, and not because one finds them intellectually compelling.
The Jewish nation's existence as a people commenced with the supernatural birth of Isaac, at which point its influence in the world began to be felt. The miraculous birth of Isaac therefore marked the beginning of an era of miracles and abundance for all of mankind.
The most tangible symbol of this occurred when Sarah was able to physically provide milk for the multitude of children who were brought to her to suckle, confirming the centrality of the Jewish people as the key to G-d's blessing. "Many barren women were able to conceive; many sick were healed on that day [in Sarah's merit]," Rashi adds. "Many prayers were answered, and there was much joy in the world." When Sarah "nursed them all," she demonstrated to the nations of the world that the Jewish nation had indeed been chosen and elevated by G-d.
Similarly, when Moshiach comes, the exalted position of the Jewish people will be revealed and apparent to all, for it will be obvious that the nations of the world receive their blessings solely in the merit of the Jewish people.
1. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 121, The Seven Noachide Laws.
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.
It is a Jewish custom to relate the events of the week to the weekly portion of the Torah, and thereby to derive true instruction from the Torah of Truth.
This week's Torah portion tells us of the birth and upbringing of the first Jewish boy, born of Jewish parents, namely Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, the first ancestors of our Jewish people.
The circumstances surrounding Isaac's birth were supernatural and miraculous. His bris (circumcision) took place when he was eight days old, and his upbringing was fraught with difficulties and trials.
Quite different was the case of Abraham's son Ishmael, whose birth was quite normal, and who was circumcised when he was thirteen years old, that is, at a mature age.
Yet it was Isaac whom G-d chose to be Abraham's true heir, from whom the Jewish people would descend.
Thus, the Torah teaches us that when new generations are to be born who are to ensure Jewish continuity and future, the approach must not be based on natural considerations and human calculations, for Jewish existence is not dependent upon natural forces, but upon G-d's direct intervention and providence.
Similarly, the education and upbringing of Jewish children is not to be determined by the same considerations and criteria as in the non-Jewish world.
Jewish parents do not wait until the child becomes mature enough to determine his behavior and find his own way to Judaism. He is given the strongest and fullest possible measure of Jewish training from infancy.
Only in this way is it possible to ensure the "everlasting covenant" with G-d, to come through all difficulties and trials with strength, and endowed with G-d's blessings, materially and spiritually.
* * *
. . . This significant event, taking place on the day after the reading of the weekly Torah portion of Vayeira, is indeed related to the concluding highlights of the portion, namely, the birth and upbringing of the first Jewish child, Isaac, born of the first Jewish parents, Abraham and Sarah.
The Torah tells us that Abraham made a "great feast" (when Isaac was two years old), at which the leading dignitaries of the era were present (Rashi, quoting the Midrash).
Some of those who attended thought the celebration unrealistic, seeing no future for a single Jewish child, surrounded by a hostile world.
Yet G-d promised that this child would be the father of a great and holy nation; a nation which, though overwhelmingly outnumbered, would not only outlive its enemies, but would be a leader and a guiding light to the rest of mankind.
A hint to the fulfillment of the Divine promise is to be found in the passage immediately following the above narrative, in which the Torah tells us of Sarah's heartfelt concern for Isaac's upbringing and proper environment even at that early age.
Thus, the Torah sets the pattern for Jewish education.
It teaches us that regardless of the odds, the future of the Jewish child, as of the Jewish people as a whole, is assured by Divine promise, provided the parents fulfill their responsibilities, even to the point of self-sacrifice, if necessary. Not the least, it teaches us that in matters of Torah and holiness, even "a small beginning flourishes exceedingly in the end."
Next Thursday, the 20th of Cheshvan (Nov. 20), we will be commemorating the birthday of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber (1860-1920), the fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Rashab.
A beautiful story is told about an important lesson that Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber taught his son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok, who was later to become his successor.
Once, when Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok set out on a journey, the Rebbe Rashab asked him to try to do a certain favor for one of the chasidim, a businessman, who was in need of help.
When Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok returned he told his father: "I did everything you told me to do, and the favor to that man I did meticulously."
"You err," said the Rebbe Rashab. "You did a favor to yourself, not to him. G-d did a favor to him, by arranging for an emissary, such as yourself, through whom the will of Divine Providence could be realized."
The Rebbe Rashab was teaching us a lesson that permeates the whole of Judaism. When we do a mitzvah, especially one that ostensibly allows us to help another person, we are G-d's emissaries. And, more than helping the other person we are, in essence, helping ourselves.
Tzedakah (charity) is a prime example. When we give tzedakah it should be with the knowledge and understanding that G-d has bestowed upon us a privilege--the privilege to administer His money in a righteous manner. Certainly, this is the reason why our Sages teach, "More than charity does for the poor person, it does for the rich person."
This attitude can and should permeate all "favors" we do for others. In addition to being the correct attitude, it stops us from feeling self-righteous!
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. 14, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayeira:
Saturday, Nov. 15, Shabbat Parshat Vayeira:
2. 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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