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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.
Passover is less then 30 days away. To help you prepare, this week's issue focuses on Pesach.
This Jewish year, 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
Brooklyn, New York
Nothing in the Torah occurs by chance, including its division into Torah portions. The Torah is divided into 53 weekly readings, and each one has a unique theme. Even in years when two portions are read together, the individual portions retain their own unique character.
Thus the two Torah portions that are read this week, Vayakhel and Pekudei, each makes its own distinct point, although both speak about the Sanctuary and its vessels.
In the Torah portion of Vayakhel we read about how Moses gathered the Jewish people together and told them of G-d's command to build the Sanctuary. In this portion we are told that the Jewish people obeyed G-d's instructions.
In the Torah portion of Pekudei Moses tallies the contributions that were made for the Sanctuary, anoints its vessels with the anointing oil and offers its sacrifices. We are then informed that these activities caused the Divine Presence to rest in the Sanctuary: "And the glory of G-d filled the Sanctuary."
Vayakhel is focused primarily on the service of man and his actions within the context of the physical world. The Jewish people contributed to the construction of the Sanctuary by giving of their personal wealth (donating gold and silver, etc.), by physically participating in its erection (actually bringing their contributions), and with their souls (investing their higher faculties and contributing in a heartfelt manner). Vayakhel thus concentrates on a Divine service that flows in an upward direction, a service that commences in the physical world and proceeds upward toward G-d.
Pekudei, by contrast, speaks of a drawing down of G-dliness from above to below, of G-d's causing His Divine Presence to descend from the higher spheres to dwell in the physical Sanctuary. In the Torah portion of Pekudei, G-d descends to man and makes Himself near.
Each of the two portions thus concentrates on a different aspect of our Divine service. The first is the service of G-d's creations, the upward striving of Vayakhel. The second aspect is the arousal that originates above and flows downward, the drawing down of the Divine Presence of Pekudei.
This year, as in many others, both Torah portions are read on the same Shabbat, which also reveals a unique lesson: Both thrusts, from below to above and from above to below, must be combined in our service of G-d. For this type of service is the most appropriate way to prepare ourselves for the revelations of the future Redemption with 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.
This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevorchim, the Shabbat before the new month. Literally translated, it means a Shabbat in which we bless the upcoming month. This Shabbat Mevorchim is special because it is the Shabbat before the month of Nissan, which is often referred to as "the month of Redemption."
On the surface, calling Nissan the month of Redemption is explained by the fact that Nissan is the month in which we celebrate Passover, the holiday which commemorates the Jews' redemption from Egyptian slavery. But the month of Nissan is also connected to the Final Redemption, as our Sages say, "In Nissan, our people were redeemed, and in Nissan, they will be redeemed in the future."
This Shabbat represents the transition from the month of Adar to the month of Nissan. Both months contain within them commemorations of miraculous events. In Adar we celebrate the downfall of Haman and the victory of the Jewish people, and in Nissan we celebrate our freedom from slavery.
The difference between the events is that the miracles of Purim occurred within the natural order of the world, while the miracles of Passover transcended the natural order. The story of Purim can be traced through a natural sequence of events. But by cloaking miracles in the natural order of the world, we are actually elevating the natural order.
That is our true purpose on this earth, to elevate the physical to the spiritual and have G-dliness revealed on this plane.
Another concept that the two months have in common is redemption. Adar celebrates redemption from Haman's wicked decree, and Nissan celebrates the redemption from Egypt. Shabbat is also a kind of redemption, a weekly redemption from mundane cares and worries to a place of light, joy, song and Torah-study.
May all of these redemption's be stepping-stones to our complete, final, and ultimate Redemption, the coming of Moshiach.
Springtime happens to bring with it one of the most colorful, widely observed, and vividly recalled Jewish holidays--Passover. In fact, one of the three names by which Passover is mentioned in the Bible is "the Holiday of Spring."
Our Sages enjoin us to begin preparing for each holiday thirty days before the holiday begins. When our Sages made this suggestion, they had in mind learning the laws pertaining to the holiday. The holiday of Purim falls thirty days before Passover, which serves as an easy reminder of when to start preparations. Many people use Purim, and the thirty-day guideline as a reminder that it's time to start getting serious about cleaning the house, and getting the chometz (leavened foods) out of the house, for Passover.
We've already passed the thirty-day mark. So, certainly, it's not too soon to make plans for where you'll be spending the seders. Also, check out your local supermarket or grocery store and see if they'll be stocking the kosher-for-Passover food that have a reliable Rabbinical supervision that you will need for the eight-day holiday. If they don't have everything, find out who does.
In addition, call your local Rabbi, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center to order shmurah matzah--special hand-made matzah just like the Jews used when they came out of Egypt--at least for the two seders.
With the first crocuses starting to peep their heads up, even through the frost, it's really time to start thinking about Passover. This year, bring the "Holiday of Spring" into your thoughts, now.
When it comes to getting ready for Passover; teamwork is essential to do the job right. If you consider the task of removing all traces of chometz from your possession as an adventure, it makes it more fun and rewarding. And when you're having fun, everyone wants to join in.
Start early enough--traditionally we start preparing for a holiday 30 days before the festival--and consider cleaning according to the ABC's.
Attack the attic. Go through all of those storage spaces that accumulate chometz during the year.
Beware of bedrooms, books and even briefcases. Even if your policy is no food in bedrooms, crumbs wind up there. Chometz also wedges itself in books if you eat while you read.
Clear the cabinets, chairs, car and closets of chometz. This is a perfect time to have the carpets cleaned, too.
Deal with the drawers and desks.
Eliminate your ego. What does ego have to do with Passover and chometz? To make a long chasidic discourse short, chometz contains leaven and rises. Matzah doesn't have any leaven and therefore remains flat. As we rid our physical surroundings of leaven, we should try to eradicate our pompous, haughty and self-righteous aspects, those parts of our personality which grow and rise.
Face the freezer and all furniture. And, if you've contemplated cleaning your upholstery, now is the time.
Go for the garage, garbage cans and wastebaskets.
Hide the high chair. Unless you still need to use it. If so, thoroughly scrub it, and cover the trays.
Ignore the idea to quit. You're nearly half-way through!
Joyously de-chometz the jig-saw puzzles and all other toys. It's easy not to be happy when you have 300 pieces of Lego to clean--all with Cheerios meshed in. But think of all the quiet playtime these toys encourage. And think of all the joy that the children give you when you're playing with them--the kids, that is, not the Lego.
Keep at the kitchen and kitchen appliances. The kitchen is "not within the scope of this article." Ask a rabbi or rebbetzin how to do it!
Lather the luggage. Go through your suitcases and carry-on bags.
Make-over the medicine cabinet. Many non-prescription medicines contain chometz and should be dealt with properly. If you must take medicine during Passover, consult your rabbi (probably a nice guy who would love to hear from you).
Nurture your needs. Take a break. Sit down with a drink and relax for a few minutes. While you're relaxing, peruse one of the many interesting Haggadahs available today and you'll be preparing yourself mentally for the holiday, as well.
Overtake your office. Unless you're taking the whole week off, you have to clean your office for Passover.
Peruse your pockets, purse and porch for chometz.
Quarantine your quarterback. Or, for that matter, anyone who goes running through your ready-for-Passover rooms with chometz.
Ready the refrigerator. Use up all those open jars and then clean it well.
Scrub the stroller. If you don't have one, help someone who does.
Tackle the telephone. It's probably sticky if you talk while you're eating.
Unclutter the utility room.
Validate the vacuum cleaner by throwing out or emptying the bag after you vacuumed the last chometz.
Wash the wall where all the cake batter splatters when you bake.
Xerox your favorite recipes which can be used for Passover since your cookbooks are probably so full of chometz that they are unsalvageable.
Yield chometz from your yacht. Although, if you have a yacht you're probably not doing most of the cleaning, anyway.
Zee, it wasn't zo bad after all!
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.
"Purim is thirty days before Passover. As Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi writes in his Code of Jewish Law, thirty days before Passover, we should begin studying the laws of the holiday.
"Similarly, since the celebration of the Passover holiday involves many expenses, it is proper that efforts be made to provide everyone who lacks with their Passover needs.
"Although there are organizations involved with these activities throughout the entire year, there must be an increase in these efforts in connection with the Passover holidays, providing them with both food and clothing so that they can celebrate the holiday in an ample manner, as befits 'free people.'"
(The Rebbe, 16 Adar, 5751)
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, Mar. 20, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei:
Saturday, Mar. 21, Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei:
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.
2. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is on Saturday, March 28.
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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