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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.
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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
2 Nissan, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's Torah portion, Tzav, we read the verse: "A perpetual fire shall always be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out." The priests in the Holy Temple were required to light a fire upon the altar in preparation for the G-dly fire which descended from Above to consume the sacrifices. Without this preparation, the G-dly fire would not come down from heaven.
The fire that descended from Above came from G-d. Thus, unlike a fire that is kindled by human beings, it was unlimited in nature. Human beings, by contrast, are finite creatures; their abilities are likewise limited. Nonetheless, the priests had to first invest their own efforts in order for the G-dly, infinite fire to descend from on high. Thus we see that the service of limited, finite creations is a necessary condition to attain a level that transcends limitation.
When a person does all he is capable of doing, G-d grants him additional powers from Above. He becomes a "perpetual fire that burns always," enabling him to transcend his natural limitations.
Every Jew possesses an inner, spiritual "Holy Temple" in which G-d's Presence dwells, as it states, "I will dwell in their midst." When a Jew invests the maximum amount of effort in kindling his spiritual flame, he merits a G-dly fire to descend from Above--the bestowal of additional powers and an infinite abundance of blessing.
What is the spiritual fire that burns in the inner Sanctuary of every Jew? None other than the warmth and enthusiasm he feels in his service of G-d. In the spiritual sense, observing the Torah and its commandments with enthusiasm is the equivalent of lighting a fire in one's inner Sanctuary.
This vitality must extend to all three dimensions of Torah and mitzvot: the study of Torah, the service of prayer, and the performance of good deeds.
Torah: Learning Torah at fixed times is not enough if there is no enduring connection to the Torah throughout the day. Torah study must be so intense and vital to the Jew that it permeates his being and surrounds him constantly.
Prayer: A person mustn't pray by rote or simply out of habit. Indeed, the service of prayer is "the supplication for mercy and entreaty before G-d."
Good deeds: G-d's commandments are not to be performed merely to discharge our obligation. Rather, we must always endeavor to observe them in the most beautiful manner and to the best of our ability.
When a Jew does the above with enthusiasm, the fire he kindles upon his inner altar is whole. Such a person will merit that G-d's fire--an unlimited fire--will descend from Above, and he will see G-d's blessing in everything.
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.
On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan the Jews in Egypt were commanded to take a lamb into their homes and to guard it until the fourteenth of the month, when it was to be slaughtered as the Passover offering. When their Egyptian neighbors became curious, the Jews explained that the sacrifice was preparatory to the tenth and final plague G-d would visit on the Egyptians--the slaying of the firstborn.
Hearing this, the firstborn sons panicked. They stormed Pharaoh's palace, demanding that he free the Jews. When he refused, civil war broke out in Egypt. Sons fought against fathers and many died, as it states in Psalms, "To Him Who struck Egypt through its first-born"--the Egyptian firstborn sons themselves were the instrument of Egypt's destruction.
This miracle is commemorated each year on Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat immediately preceding Passover, as the miracle itself took place on Shabbat that year. Yet ever since then, Shabbat HaGadol does not necessarily fall on the 10th of Nissan; the deciding factor in commemorating the miracle is that it be on Shabbat.
This commemoration differs from all other celebrations on the Jewish calendar, which are generally determined according to the day of the month. What is so special about Shabbat HaGadol that it follows a different pattern?
An essential difference exists between the days of the week and of the month. The seven days of the week are determined by the sun, according to the natural order G-d put into motion during the seven days of Creation. The days of the (Jewish) month, however, are determined by the phases of the moon, whose movements are not subject to nature in the same way.
These two ways of determining the passage of time, solar and lunar, reflect the two ways G-d oversees the world--within and outside of nature--the seemingly natural occurrence and the miracle. In fact, the Hebrew word for "month"--chodesh--expresses this concept, for it is related to the word chadash ("new"), signifying that the lunar phases are subject to change. For this reason, Jewish holidays are celebrated according to the day of the month, as they commemorate G-d's supernatural intervention with the laws of nature.
The miracle of Shabbat HaGadol, however, was not supernatural, but of an entirely different sort, one in which evil itself fought to eradicate its own existence. Fearing for their own lives, Egyptian fought against Egyptian, waging war in order to free the Jewish slaves.
A miracle such as this, occurring within nature, is therefore connected to the day of the week and not the day of the month. This concept will be better understood when Moshiach comes, speedily in our days, for the G-dliness that exists within nature will then be openly revealed and not seen as a separate entity.
1. See below footnote #3. Ed.
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!"
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, April 3, Erev Shabbat Parshat Tzav:
Saturday, April 4, Shabbat Parshat Tzav:
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.
3. A portion of the Haggadah, beginning from Avodim Hoyinu ("We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt") until likaper al kol avonoseinu ("to atone for all our sins") is recited on this Shabbat after Mincha, the Shabbat afternoon service.
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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