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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
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We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
This week's issue focuses on the "Three Weeks."
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
12-13 Tamuz, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
Of all the prophecies in Scripture that refer to the messianic era, the one contained in this week's Torah portion, Balak, is most unusual in that it came from Bilaam, a gentile prophet. Bilaam, the foremost prophet of his time, was forced against his will to foretell the downfall of the nations of the world and the ultimate ascendancy of the Jewish people.
The very fact that this prophecy is included in our holy Torah indicates its special significance; indeed, it contains a distinct advantage precisely because it was said by a non-Jew. For when Moshiach comes the Jewish people will no longer be subservient to the nations; on the contrary, the gentile leaders will vie with one another for the privilege of serving the Jews! Thus, the prophecy of Bilaam concerning the Final Redemption not only gave the Children of Israel cause for rejoicing over their future, it actually afforded them a "taste" of the way things will be in the messianic era.
As far as prophecy itself is concerned, our Sages foretold its reoccurrence among the Jewish people before Moshiach's arrival according to the following chronology: Commenting on the verse in this week's Torah portion, "At the proper time shall it be said to Jacob and to Israel, what G-d has wrought," Maimonides noted that prophecy would return to Israel after "the proper time" had elapsed after Bilaam, i.e., after the same number of years as had passed since the creation of the world until his prophecy. Bilaam's prophecy was said in the year 2488; 2488 years after that, in the year 4976 (we are now in the year 5758), prophecy was destined to return to the Jewish people.
In fact we find that this was indeed the case, for it was then that prophetic luminaries began to appear on the Jewish horizon--Rabbi Shmuel Hanavi, Rabbi Elazar Baal "Harokeach," Nachmanides, the Ravad (Rabbi Abraham ben David), Rabbi Ezra Hanavi and Rabbi Yehuda the Chasid, and others.
More generations passed until the birth of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidus, and his successor, the Maggid of Mezeritch, about whom it was said that they "could see from one end of the world to the other." The following generation produced Rabbi Shneur Zalman, who formulated Chabad Chasidus. Had he lived in the times of our prophets he would have been on a par with them; moreover, this chain of prophecy continued from one Chabad leader to the next, until the present day, when the Rebbe has prophesied that Moshiach's arrival is imminent.
The return of prophecy to the Jewish people is therefore both a prerequisite and preparation for the messianic era, which is due to begin at any moment.
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.
A star steps out of Jacob and a scepter rises out of Israel (Num. 24:17)
Although one passage in the Jerusalem Talmud states that this verse refers to Moshiach, another interprets it as referring to every Jew.
This seeming contradiction is resolved by the Baal Shem Tov, who said that every Jew contains within him a spark of the soul of Moshiach.
Furthermore, this spark is more than just a latent aspect; every Jew is able to bring that spark out into the open, bringing about the actual manifestation of Moshiach by means of Torah and mitzvot, which effect a purification and refinement of the physical world.
This will be achieved in macrocosm with the coming of Moshiach, who will reveal the world's goodness and holiness.
This Shabbat is the 17th of Tamuz. Because it is also Shabbat, the fast usually commemorated on this date is postponed until the next day, and we neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise on Sunday morning, July 12th, until 40 minutes after sunset.(1)
The Rebbe explained that there are two ways of explaining the fact that the fast is put off: a) It is forbidden to fast on Shabbat, because no element of sadness should be associated with this day. In particular, this applies in regard to those fasts that commemorate national calamities. b) On a deeper level this postponement serves as a foretaste of the revelation of the true nature of the date of the fast that will surface in the Era of the Redemption, when, as Maimonides writes, 'all the fasts will be nullified ... and will be transformed into festivals and days of joy and rejoicing.'
"On an overt level, a fast day is obviously undesirable. The suffering endured on a fast is surely not pleasurable, nor appreciated. Nevertheless, the inner dimension of a fast is good, as the prophet states, 'It is a day of will unto G-d.'
"This contrast is openly expressed in regard to the 17th of Tamuz. On an obvious level it is associated with negative factors, the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, which led to the destruction of the Holy Temple. Nevertheless, its inner, essential quality is good. This is even alluded to in the date itself, for 17 is numerically equivalent to the word tov. This points to the intent of the exile, that it should lead the Jews to the Era of the Redemption.
"The connection to the Redemption also relates to Shabbat, which is a foretaste of 'the era that is all Shabbat and rest for eternity.' Moreover, the mitzvah of delighting in the Shabbat by partaking of material delicacies is also paralleled by 'the feast that the Holy One, blessed be He, will make for the righteous in that future era.' That feast will be an actual physical meal. For, as Chasidus explains, the ultimate reward of the Era of the Redemption will not be on the spiritual plane. Rather, it will be experienced within this material world, as the souls are enclothed within the body."
May this take place immediately!
1. In New York City, at 9:07 pm.
In general, on Shabbat it is a mitzvah to take pleasure in material delights. This Shabbat it is an even bigger mitzvah to eat delicious foods as it is the "fast day" of the 17th of Tamuz; since it is Shabbat we push off the fast until Sunday.
"The Shabbat meals, and the meal of Melave Malka (eaten Saturday night) should be held with perhaps more happiness and celebration, thus emphasizing the connection of Shabbat and the Melave Malka to the Era of the Redemption when the fast will be transformed into a day of celebration in a full and complete manner."
This summer, during the months of July and August, comes a very serious time for the Jewish people, when many terrible things happened throughout history. This period is called the "Three Weeks," or Bain HaMetzorim, which means "Between the Straits."
What happened during this time? On the 17th of Tamuz: 1) Moses descended from Mt. Sinai and smashed the two Tablets with the Ten Commandments when he saw the Jews worshipping the Golden Calf; 2) The Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem in 70 c.e.; 3) During the siege of Jerusalem the daily sacrifice was interrupted by Nebuchadnezzer; 4) Apostomus publicly burned a Torah scroll; and 5) An idol was erected in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. On the 9th of Av, both the First and Second Temple were destroyed, bringing terrible suffering upon the Jewish people.
The "Three Weeks" begin on the 17th of Tamuz (July 11, 1998), and continue until the 10th of Av (August 2, 1998).
Normally these days are fast days. This year, however, they fall on Shabbat, and the fast days are pushed off until Sunday.
The 17th of Tamuz this year is on Shabbat, the 11th of July, and Tisha B'Av is three weeks later, on the 1st of August. (If, Heaven forbid, Moshiach does not come by then, the fast days will be on Sunday, July 12, and Sunday, August 2).
But, once the fast days are pushed off, we pray they will be pushed off for good, and instead we will feast with tremendous joy and happiness, not just because it is Shabbat, but because Moshiach will have come!
Then we will have the Bais HaMikdosh again, and we will be able to observe the laws of the Torah in its entirety, as we have not been able to for almost 2,000 years!
We observe some aspects of mourning: Weddings do not take place, and playing musical instruments is prohibited, as is the buying and wearing of new garments. In addition, we do not cut our hair.
Also, we should try to be extra kind to one another. We should give extra charity, and learn extra Torah, and pray to G-d to end the Exile.
Jewish teachings explain that when we learn the laws of the Holy Temple, its structure, the services and sacrifices practiced there, it is as if we are rebuilding it.
Therefore, the Rebbe stresses that during the "Three Weeks" we should spend time studying what the Holy Temple will be like, and to learn all about it.
See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"
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 About the Holy Temple:
During the "Three Weeks," it is customary to study topics relating to the Holy Temple.
"This study should be carried out in anxious anticipation of the Holy Temple being rebuilt. We should study about the Holy Temple with the awareness that in the very near future we will see what we are studying about in actual reality."
The Rebbe, 24 Tamuz, 5751/1991
"G-d told the prophet Yechezkel that through studying the laws of the structure of the Holy Temple it is considered as if we have been involved in its actual construction.
"As we are so close to the Redemption, the subject must be approached as a present reality; at any moment the Third Holy Temple which is already built in the heavens will descend and be revealed on earth."
The Rebbe, 17 Tamuz, 5751/1991
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, July 10, Erev Shabbat Parshat Balak:
Saturday, July 11, Shabbat Parshat Balak:
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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