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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 fast day of the Tenth of Tevet.
The Jewish year that has recently 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 Kislev, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
With this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, we conclude the Book of Genesis. "So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old...and he was put into a coffin in Egypt" is its final verse.
This conclusion to the entire Book is somewhat surprising, in light of the principle that "one should always end on a positive note." Why couldn't Genesis have concluded a few verses back, when we learn that Joseph lived a long life and merited to see grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Why couldn't the description of Joseph's death have waited until the Book of Exodus?
We must therefore conclude that Joseph's passing is somehow related to the theme of Genesis itself. The primary difference between Genesis and the other four Books of Moses is that Genesis relates the early history of our Forefathers and the twelve tribes--the preparation for our existence as a distinct nation--whereas the other four books contain a narrative of our history as a people.
The Book of Genesis begins with an account of the creation of the world. The Sage, Rabbi Yitzchok, explained that although the Torah should have begun with a practical mitzvah, G-d chose to commence with the Creation to refute the arguments of the Gentiles, who would one day claim that the Jews had stolen the land of Israel from the seven nations who lived there prior to its conquest.
To counter their assertion, the Jews will say, "The entire world belongs to G-d; He created it and divided it as He saw fit. It was His will to give it to them [the seven nations], and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us."
Surely G-d did not change the entire order of His Torah just to supply an answer to the arguments of the Gentiles. The comments of Rabbi Yitzchok must therefore contain a more fundamental teaching for the Jewish people as a whole.
The nations of the world are already cognizant of the Jew's uniqueness and his special mission. Their claim, however, is that precisely because Jews are different, they should limit themselves to the spiritual service of G-d and not tie themselves down to a physical land.
Because Jews are a nation like no other, they have no right to claim ownership of a homeland. To the non-Jew, the spiritual and physical realms are incongruous and incompatible.
"The entire world belongs to G-d," the Jew responds--the worldly as well as the spiritual realm. Both require sanctification through the light of holiness--the sacred mission of the Jewish people.
With this concept the Book of Genesis begins, and on this note it concludes. Joseph's coffin remained in Egypt in order to give strength and inspiration to the Children of Israel in their Egyptian exile. The power of Joseph is symbolic of the ability of the Jewish people to overcome even the most difficult of obstacles, imbuing even the coarsest of physical matter with holiness and bringing the full and complete Redemption.
* * *
It has often been mentioned 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 hopes. Rather, the Rebbe has 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 correct!
On Shabbat Bereishis 5752/1991 the Rebbe said the following:
"Throughout the centuries, the Jews have been recognized as 'the chosen people.' In the world at large, and especially in the United States, Jews are allowed to serve G-d without persecution, indeed, in tranquillity and prosperity. Furthermore, the government offers assistance to the Jews here and to those in the Land of Israel, enabling them to advance in the service of G-d.
"This has been made possible by the activities of many of the Torah Sages in their relations with the gentiles, including the activities of the Chabad Rebbes.
"Based on the above, we can understand how inappropriate are the statements made by certain Rabbis that the Jews must comply with demands of gentile nations in regard to the Holy Land. These statements continue, stating that, Heaven forbid, such compliance is necessary because the existence of Jews in the Holy Land is dependent on the kindness of the gentile nations.
"The principle of 'Do not challenge the nations' is not relevant in this context, for this principle can never override an explicit instruction of Torah law. In this instance, we are clearly bound by the decision of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law - Orach Chayim, 329), that if gentiles threaten to attack a Jewish settlement we must take up arms and defend ourselves against them. And if that settlement is located on the border, we must take up arms against them even if they demand only 'straw and hay,' for by acquiescing to them, we 'open the entire land to them.'
"Since such statements were made, it is obvious that greater emphasis has to be placed on recognizing the uniqueness of the Jewish people and emphasis on their connection to the Holy Land.... And this will lead to the ultimate wonder in this 'year of wonders,' the coming of the Redemption. And then we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people to the Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Holy Temple."
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.
Thursday, Jan. 8, is the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, and we neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.(1)
This fast day commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the First Holy Temple.
The strength--both of the obligation to fast and its positive influences--of the Tenth of Tevet stems from the fact that it commemorates the first of the tragedies associated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.
Thus, this date begins the process of destruction. It is well known that the beginning of any process contains more power than the subsequent stages and for this reason, there is added power to the Tenth of Tevet. The positive influences of the Tenth of Tevet are connected to the fact that a fast day is a "day of will" when our prayers and teshuvah are more willingly accepted by G-d.
As we are taught that "the beginning is wedged in the end," and the ultimate "end" purpose of the destruction of the Holy Temples will be the rebuilding of the Third and Eternal Holy Temple, the Tenth of Tevet is an auspicious day to hasten the coming of the Redemption.
Of course, our most fervent prayer is that the Tenth of Tevet not be a day of mourning, but be turned into a day of celebration and joy with the coming of Moshiach. Thus, by our immediate decision to increase our acts of goodness and kindness, our performance of mitzvot, study of Torah, and specifically the giving of charity, which brings the Redemption closer, we are showing G-d that our actions are in consonance with our heartfelt prayers. May the realization of those prayers happen in the immediate future.
1. In New York City, at 5:24 p.m.
5 Tevet, 5736/1976
In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions in connection with the forthcoming Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, in view of the situation in and around Israel--
You will surely be instructed by the rabbi of your congregation. However, since you have also approached me in this matter, I will set forth at least several suggestions--after the following introductory remarks:
Regrettably, there are people who claim that it is necessary to think and act "big," in terms of global dimensions and stupendous undertakings, etc. Surely they mean well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical and are actually carried out--they are very helpful in improving the situation.
Yet, we must never overlook--indeed, rather greatly emphasize--the so-called "small and unsophisticated" things that each modest congregation, moreover each individual, can and must do--beginning with the old, yet ever-anew, Jewish way, collectively as one people and also as individuals. This is the action of "the voice is the voice of Jacob"--Torah and prayer--which G-d Himself has shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the power of "the hands of Esau"--in whatever shape or form they are raised against us.
Certainly this should find the fullest expression in a day that the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) declares to be a day of fasting, one to which the prophet Isaiah refers to as a "chosen fast...a fast and time favored by G-d."
Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet is specially connected with the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem), my suggestion--in addition to the regular "observances" on fast days, as set forth at length and in detail in Poskim [halachic adjudicators] and in books of Mussar and Chassidus---is as follows:
During this day--expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Holy Land, materially and spiritually, and for the material and spiritual benefit of all Jews wherever they are--in the Holy Land as well as in the Diaspora--and particularly for the benefit of our brethren behind the "Iron Curtain"(2)--a special effort should be made in the areas of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah (charity).
Especially after prayer (both in the morning and at the afternoon service) one should learn (and where there already are daily study groups, to add) a subject in Torah, including final ruling of Jewish law. Immediately following the prayers, even before learning, one should say several chapters of Psalms (in addition to the regular portion).
Before and after praying--one should give tzedakah (in addition to the regular donation), including tzedakah for a sacred cause or institution in the Holy Land, the "Land of Living."
Needless to say, one who repeats the above again and again in the course of the day is to be praised.
And the more one does it (in quantity and quality), the more praiseworthy it is.
And, as in all matters of holiness, it is desirable that all the above be done b'tzibbur (with at least a minyan).
May G-d accept, and He will accept, the prayers and supplications of Jews wherever they are.
And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise be fulfilled that "These days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness," with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
2. This letter is dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976. Ed.
The Holy Temple lay in ruins, its resplendent beauty plowed under by the conquering Roman Legions. The remnants of the population were in despair. The Talmud relates that four great rabbis were walking along a road in The Land of Israel. Suddenly they heard a rumbling sound rising from the distance. One rabbi inquired of the others, "What is that noise?"
"That is the sound of a multitude of Romans far away in the distance," replied another.
Three of the rabbis began to weep; the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, began laughing. The others were surprised by their colleague's reaction and asked, "Akiva, why are you laughing?"
He countered: "Why are you three crying?"
They said: "Here we see that the Romans, who worship idols and burn incense to them, are living in safety and prosperity. And we [who worship the true G-d], the House which is G-d's footstool [the Holy Temple] lies burned in fire. Why shouldn't we weep?"
Rabbi Akiva replied: "That is precisely why I'm laughing. For, if this is the lot of those who violate the will of G-d, how much more joyous will be the future for us Jews who do His will?"
On another occasion the same four Sages were traveling together to Jerusalem. When they reached the point of the Mount of Olives, they tore their clothes [in mourning] as is prescribed by Jewish law. Proceeding further they arrived at the desolate Temple Mount, and as they gazed toward the Holy of Holies--where the sacred incense had been offered to the Al-mighty--they saw a fox emerging. Three of the rabbis began to weep at the sight of the degradation of the holy place. Rabbi Akiva, however, laughed. They turned to Akiva and asked, "Why are you laughing?"
He asked in return, "Why are you weeping?"
They answered him, "This is place of which it is written, 'And the stranger who approaches will surely die.' Yet, now we see foxes strolling about. Why should we not weep."
Replied Akiva, "That is precisely why I am laughing. In the prophecy of Uria it says, 'Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will be desolate and the Temple Mount will be a forest.' The prophecy of Zecharia says, 'Aged men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.'
"Before I saw the prophecy of Uria fulfilled I worried that the prophecy of Zecharia would not be realized. But now that I have witnessed the fulfillment of the first, I know surely that the second will come to pass as well."
They turned to him and said, "Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva you have comforted us!"
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 Fast of Tevet 10:
"In addition to the regular observances of fast days...expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Land of Israel, materially and spiritually...a special effort should be made in the area of Torah study, prayer and charity...specifically: to learn or add to one's learning after the morning and afternoon prayers; to say several chapters of Psalms after the prayers (even before study); to give charity before and after prayers, including charity for a sacred cause or institution in Israel."
(From a Letter dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976
- the full text is printed above)
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, Jan. 9, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:
Saturday, Jan. 10, Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:
3. 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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