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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.
This week's issue focuses on:
1) The Hebrew month of Iyar.
2) Beis Iyar, the 2nd of Iyar.
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
28 Nissan, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
In the beginning of the first of this week's two Torah portions, Tazria, the Torah states: "If a woman conceived seed, and bore a male child." According to the Ohr HaChaim's commentary, this verse alludes to the Jewish people and their Final Redemption with Moshiach. "A woman" is symbolic of the Congregation of Israel; "conceived seed" alludes to the Jews' service of mitzvot and good deeds; "and bore a male child" refers to the ultimate result of this process--the birth of the messianic era.
The Final Redemption is referred to as "male" as an expression of its strength, for after Moshiach redeems the world there will be no possibility of further exiles, and the messianic age will last forever. This same concept is expressed in a midrashic reference to the tenth and final song that will be sung by the Jewish people with Moshiach. The tenth song is called "shir," the masculine form, whereas the nine songs that have already been sung are termed "shirah," the feminine form.
In order to understand why the Jewish nation is symbolically a woman we need to examine the Hebrew word for woman. Eve was called isha ("woman") "because out of man ("ish") was this one taken." The word isha therefore expresses the woman's relationship with her husband, and reflects her innate desire to reunite with him.
Similarly, in the spiritual sense, G-d is "male," whereas the Jewish people is "female." Just as Eve was created from Adam, so too is every Jew's soul "taken" from within G-d himself, being a "veritable piece of G-d Above."
Accordingly, every Jew's innate desire is to reunite with G-d, the source of his being. Material wealth and physical pleasures can never satisfy the Jew's longing for G-d; neither can spiritual delights totally satiate this yearning. Consciously or not, throughout his life the Jew seeks this union with G-d; it is the driving force of his existence.
To continue the metaphor of the "seed," this innate desire to unite with G-d must be sown precisely in the ground, finding expression in practical mitzvah observance. A seed planted in the air will never sprout; good intentions and positive feelings toward Judaism alone will never yield the desired results. Only through actual Torah study and the observance of mitzvot does the Jew cultivate the "seed" and allow it to grow.
Of course, the underlying objective of the Jew's service in the world is its ultimate "germination"--the messianic era. Translating one's positive feelings into action--doing one more mitzvah, performing one more good deed for a fellow Jew--is what will bring the revelation of Moshiach and the redemption of the entire world.
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.
Monday, April 27, is the second day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar - and the first day of the Hebrew month of Iyar; therefore, let's consider just two of the numerous points about the unique quality of this month.
Iyar, as spelled in Hebrew, is an acronym for the verse, "I, G-d, am your Healer." Thus, this month is an auspicious time for personal and communal healing.
In addition, the Rebbe stressed many times the special quality of every single day of the month of Iyar, as each day has its own special mitzvah of sefira, or "counting."
The first time the Jewish people counted during this period between Passover and Shavuot was when they left Egypt and were preparing themselves to receive the great gift of G-d's Torah at Mount Sinai. At the time they were on a journey not only toward Mount Sinai and ultimately the Holy Land, but they were also on their own personal journeys of self-refinement and purification.
In future years "sefira" was connected to the counting of the omer, a measure of barley that the Jews brought as an offering in the Holy Temple on the second day of Passover.(1)
Even as we await the rebuilding of the Third and eternal Holy Temple, we recite the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah of counting the omer each evening from the second night of Passover until the eve of Shavuot. And as we do so, we, too, travel on our own personal journeys of self-refinement and purification, thereby drawing holiness into this world, and preparing it for the arrival of Moshiach.
This, then, is the essence of part of the uniqueness of the month of Iyar. Each day in this month has the mitzvah of counting (as compared to the previous month of Nissan and the next month of Sivan, which only have a few days with this mitzvah). And each day is filled with the longing and preparation for the giving of the Torah. Similarly, each day brings with it renewed introspection and the desire for character refinement and purification.
May we complete our personal and national counting in the Holy Temple with Moshiach, immediately.
* * *
Counting the omer teaches us that every day counts. It reminds us that each hour, each minute, should be filled with words, thoughts and deeds of which we can be proud. And, too, that we are held accountable for every precious second of life with which our Creator has blessed us.
"But, hold on a minute!" one might silently shout. "I'm just finding out about this now. I've already missed out on making the past 20 days (or 20 years) count. What can I do to rectify the situation?"
The answer to this heartfelt cry lies in the uniqueness of the month of Iyar and the mitzvah with which it is intertwined. Each day holds a separate mitzvah, a unique opportunity, a particular mission. True, you might have passed up prior chances, but today's and tomorrow's minutes and hours are still available for you to fill with meaningful moments. And by making our days count from now on, we can, in truth, rectify that which we were missing in the past.
1. See The Story of the Omer, printed in Living With Moshiach, Vol. 132.
The Rebbe has spoken often of how important the Land of Israel is to the Jewish people.(2) At a gathering in 5750/1990 the Rebbe spoke about the importance of maintaining possession of every inch of the land, saying:
"Just as the Jews are G-d's chosen people, Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] is G-d's chosen land, a holy land given to the Jewish people, those living on the land at present, and those who are presently living in the Diaspora.
"No one is entitled to give up any portion of Eretz Yisrael to gentiles. Maintaining possession of these lands is the only path to peace. Succumbing to the pressure to surrender them will only invite additional pressure, weakening the security of the Jewish people and exposing them to danger. Heaven forbid that the government in Eretz Yisrael should consider surrendering any portion of Eretz Yisrael that G-d has granted us."
The Rebbe's approach to Eretz Yisrael could almost be described as that of "L'chatchila Ariber." L'chatchila Ariber means, "to begin with, go over."
This concept was innovated by the fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel, known as the Rebbe Maharash, whose birthday is celebrated on Tuesday, Iyar 2 (April 28).
The approach of L'chatchila Ariber teaches that if we come upon an obstacle to a task we are involved in, or an obstacle to a mitzvah or project or good deed which comes our way (or we pursue), we should overcome the obstacle in the most direct manner. The Rebbe Maharash explained that while some people propose that when confronted with an obstacle the best route is to go around, or under it--l'chatchila ariber--from the start, go over it.
In these auspicious days of the Rebbe Maharash's birthday and the Shabbat following it, may our pursuit of Torah and mitzvot be in a manner of "l'chatchila ariber." Surely this fortitude and persistence will have its desired effect, true peace in the Land of Israel, and throughout the entire world, with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!
* * *
The Rebbe Maharash mentioned this concept--which has been the constant battle cry of Lubavitch outreach workers all over the world--in reference to one who finds himself faced with an obstacle. "The whole world says, first try to go under or around an obstacle. If this doesn't work, then go over it," the Rebbe Maharash noted. "But I say, 'In the first place, go over,'" he declared.
What does it mean to go over an obstacle right away rather than trying another method to pass an obstruction? In confronting obstacles to all good endeavors, one should take the most ambitious and aggressive approach. One cannot remain passive, hoping that the situation will change by itself or that the obstruction will magically disappear. It must be approached as a challenge. And, as such, it should be afforded one's utmost attention and energy.
In addition, when working at overcoming obstacles, we have to keep uppermost in our mind only positive thoughts and the image of the endeavor successfully accomplished. For this, too, will aid in our ultimate triumph and success.
2. See "EYES UPON THE LAND" - The Territorial Integrity of Israel: A Life Threatening Concern. Based on the Public Statements and Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Adapted by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger (1997: Sichos in English). http://www.truepeace.org/book.html
See also: REBBE'S VIEWS http://www.truepeace.org/rebbeview.html
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.
Study Ethics of the Fathers
We read one chapter of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) each Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, because these are the days leading up to the Giving of the Torah and Pirkei Avot contain ethics and moral exhortations to help us improve ourselves so that we are worthy of the Torah.
The Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters, but also actually studying them.
The weekly chapter of Pirkei Avot with the Rebbe's commentaries, are available electronically via the Internet, by sending your subscription request to: firstname.lastname@example.org - Subscribe "G-5."
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, May 1, Erev Shabbat Parshat Tazria-Metzora:
Saturday, May 2, Shabbat Parshat Tazria-Metzora:
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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