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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
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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
15 Tamuz, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Pinchas, details the manner in which the land of Israel was to be apportioned between the Twelve Tribes. The Torah states: "According to the lot shall one's inheritance be divided." The lot determined which section of the Land of Israel each tribe would inhabit. It was not a rational process, but a method of dividing the land in which no logical reasoning was apparent.
Chasidic philosophy explains that the physical plane of existence is a reflection of its higher spiritual source. It follows that just as the division of the Land of Israel was accomplished by a lot, so are certain aspects of a Jew's spiritual service determined in a super-rational manner.
To explain: Every Jew is obligated to keep all the Torah's mitzvot. However, certain commandments are more relevant to some individuals than to others.
We are told of various Sages of long ago who were especially scrupulous in their performance of one mitzvah. Of course, being Tzaddikim, they observed all the Torah's commandments. But one mitzvah was more personally relevant than all the rest.
How do we explain this? That a particular mitzvah has special significance for a given individual is not something that can be explained rationally; the person himself doesn't necessarily perceive that this is so, either. In truth, it is a matter that transcends intellectual understanding, just like the process of choosing by lot. Indeed, the particular mitzvah that is most relevant to each of us is determined from Above. The Jew's function in life is to be especially careful in that one area, and to observe that mitzvah to the best of his ability.
The simplest way to determine which mitzvah is the most vital to us personally, is by examining the relative ease or difficulty we encounter in observing it. As a general rule, the mitzvah we find the most difficult to fulfill is the one that is most imperative on a personal level. In fact, the hardship we experience is proof of this, as our evil inclination, recognizing the mitzvah's special significance, spares no effort in trying to deter us. The machinations of the evil inclination increase in direct proportion to the mitzvah's importance.
The lesson to be learned is remarkable. Whenever we find it exceptionally difficult to do a certain mitzvah, or it seems that the effort required of us is greater than that required of other people, it is forbidden to throw up our hands in defeat. On the contrary, we must try even harder in that one area, as it is most relevant to us personally. Indeed, the mitzvah for which we must overcome the greatest number of obstacles is the one that can be said to have fallen to our lot.
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.
Fourteen years ago, on Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744/1984, the Rebbe spoke in a relatively unusual manner about his persistence and insistence on continuously discussing the coming of Moshiach. Let me share with you translated excerpts from that talk:
"Some people wonder: How can a person appear in public, week after week, and repeatedly speak on one subject--the coming of Moshiach?
"Furthermore, that person always stresses that he is not just speaking of the concept, but of the actual coming of Moshiach, here on this physical earth, and immediately, this very day. On each occasion he instructs those gathered to sing 'May the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days,' emphasizing that 'speedily in our days' should not be understood as 'speedily, tomorrow,' but as 'speedily, today'!
"Certainly, every Jew believes that Moshiach can come at any moment--after all, 'I await his coming every day' is one of the fundamental principles of Judaism. Still, they wonder, to believe that Moshiach will come at this very moment is hardly consistent with the reality of our lives. So why does this man speak incessantly about it, on every occasion, and with such single-minded intensity, as if to force the idea into the minds of his listeners?
"Their conclusion is that all this is a nice dream, nice, but not very realistic. So what is the point of speaking so much about one's dreams?
"Chasidic philosophy explains that our current state of exile is like a dream; in a dream one's sense of perception can tolerate the most contradictory and irrational things.
"In other words, our current 'reality' is a dream, while the world of Moshiach is the true reality. In a single moment, we can all wake up from the dream of exile and open our eyes to the true reality of our existence--the perfect world of Moshiach. Everyone present in this room can immediately awaken himself from his dream, so that today, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744, before we even say the afternoon prayers, in fact this very moment, we all open our eyes and see Moshiach, in the flesh, with us, here in this room."
May the Rebbe's words of fourteen years ago, and his prophetic promise of seven years ago, that "the time of our Redemption has arrived," be fulfilled this very Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5758.
Once a chassid went to his Rebbe and cried, "My son is about to be drafted to serve in the Czar's army! I have been informed that the draft board this time will be comprised of people from a different town. If a father brings a note from a doctor that his son is ill, the boy receives a three-month reprieve. I will bring a note saying my son is ill. In three months, when he has to appear before the board again, it will be comprised of local people with whom I am close and they will easily exempt him."
The Rebbe listened and then said, "I understand your plan, but I think your son should appear at this hearing."
The chassid left the Rebbe's room bewildered, for his plan was completely logical. He went home and decided to continue as planned. He procured a doctor's note and appeared at the scheduled hearing. Upon entering the room he nearly fainted: it was the local board! He had no choice but to hand them the note and receive the three-month grace period. But he knew that when he appeared in three months time before the board of strangers, his son would surely be taken.
The distraught father came to the Rebbe again and pleaded with the Rebbe for help. "Have pity on a poor fool. Should my innocent son suffer because he has a father such as me?" he wailed. The Rebbe thought for some time and then said, "Get your son a false passport and send him far away."
The father nodded. "But that leaves me with another big problem," he related. "When a draftee runs away, the father is fined three hundred rubles, which I don't have! They will take my small children as hostages, until I pay."
The Rebbe fell deep into thought again, then answered: "Don't worry. There is a project in the works."
The chassid was relieved. He bought a passport on the black market and sent his son off to safety. But what of the fine? He wondered. He tried to put his questions and doubts out of his mind.
Three months passed. A soldier came to his store, and handed him many official-looking papers, announcing: "Sign these and appear at the bureau in twenty-four hours."
The chassid was shaking as he entered the lawyer's office. He could not read Russian, and so he was unable to read the documents. The lawyer, a local Jew, studied the pages closely. Then he looked up with a smile. "Do you know that they have given you their entire file on your son? Were you to throw it into the fire, nothing would be left; it would be over." With that, he tossed the papers into the fire, and the chassid suddenly understood his Rebbe's words, which had been so unintelligible at the time: "There is a project in the works."
* * *
The Rebbe has told the world that "There is a project in the works"--the time of the Redemption has arrived. And though, at times, it might appear that things are going in a different direction, there really is "a project in the works."
We needn't accept on blind faith that there is a "project." The Rebbe has shown us how the world is changing and moving toward the Redemption. He has pointed out examples of the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. Nor should we be discouraged by temporary setbacks, for these, too, have their precedents: Even after we had gone out of Egypt amidst great wonders, some wanted to turn back when faced with adversity. Later, though the journey to the Holy Land had already commenced, Moses was hidden from us as he studied the most sublime aspects of G-d's Wisdom, in order to ultimately share it with the Jewish nation.
"I ask that they not act foolishly and add their own explanations and interpretations to my words, e.g., that I really meant such and such, etc. . . I say what I mean."
The Rebbe, 21 Menachem Av, 5744/1984
Some people still ask, "What did the Rebbe really say about Moshiach and the Redemption." The following quotes from the Rebbe were said at public gatherings, in front of thousands of people. Some are from transcripts of the Rebbe's talks while others are from published essays that were edited by the Rebbe after being adapted from his public talks.
"Just as until now it was clear to each one of us that the Rebbe would lead us to greet our righteous Moshiach, so should it be clear now. That which happened is only from our material point of view. It is nothing more than a trial, one of the trials of the birthpangs of Moshiach that need to occur before the arrival of the righteous Redeemer. The sole purpose of these trials is to conceal the truth."
Shabbat Teruma, 5710/1950
"Since Jacob was mourned and buried as prescribed by the Torah, because it appeared to them that he died, this draws down the potential for every one to reach the Resurrection of the Dead through the service of refining and purifying the body--negating the body--via its return to the dust. Through the process of negation (which, as explained, can be fulfilled through the spiritual service of "My soul will be as dust to all," in which case there is no need to actually return to dust), we come to the Resurrection of the Dead in the true and ultimate Redemption."
"As such the Al-mighty's Redemption is actually brought about through His emissary, the righteous Moshiach, with all eight names attributed to him. This includes also "His name is Menachem" in a way that "One points with his finger and exclaims, 'Behold! Here he is! Here is Menachem, our righteous Moshiach!'""
1 Menachem Av, 5749/1989
"Every single Jew must perform his Divine service in a manner similar to and befitting the days of Moshiach and the subsequent era of the Resurrection of the Dead. This is exhibited first and foremost through faith, anticipation and knowledge that supernatural events will occur in the days of Moshiach, namely, the Resurrection of the Dead. Belief in these concepts must be with certainty, and must be as unshakably firm as the belief in the Ten Commandments.
"Obviously the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead requires that same degree of certainty and anticipation. This must be emphasized so much more in our present generation, when many Messianic signs are unfolding. These constitute a clear indication that Moshiach is already present in the world. Moreover, he is already a prominent Jewish leader, "a king from the House of David, deeply absorbed in the study of Torah," etc.
"Therefore, in our present generation, great emphasis must be placed on the belief in the coming of Moshiach and anything that relates to it."
Shabbat Acharei, 5746/1986
"We see in recent years how the verse "And Moses gathered the Jews" is occurring literally--the ingathering of the exiles of Jews from all over the world, who are returning to the Holy Land. The number of people moving to the Holy Land is incomparably greater than those of previous generations."
Shabbat Vayakhel, 5752/1992
". . . The suggestion is the study of Torah on the topics of Moshiach and the Redemption. For it is within the ability of Torah to transform human nature. It is possible that one may be, heaven forfend, "outside" and far removed from the concept of Redemption as far as one's own perception is concerned (since he has not yet emerged from his own internal exile). Yet, through Torah study in the topics of Redemption, he uplifts himself to a Redemption state of mind, and begins to "live" with the concept of Redemption, amidst the realization and recognition that "Behold, here he comes!""
Shabbat Balak, 5751/1991
"Although in chronological order, the advent of Moshiach will precede the Resurrection of the Dead, special individuals will nonetheless be resurrected prior to Moshiach's coming. First and foremost, the Rebbe, my father-in-law, will once again enclothe himself in a body, and return. (In reality, it makes no difference how he comes, whether through the door, the window, or the roof . . .) He will then gather all the Jewish people together and proclaim, "The time has come to leave Exile. Come, let us go to our Holy Land!""
2nd day of Shavuot, 5710/1950
"There needs to be an increase in life, through the action of the people who proclaim "Yechi HaMelech!--May the king live." For the meaning of this proclamation is that the time has come for [the resurrection, regarding which it is stated] "Awake and give praise, those who rest in the dust," of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, the leader of our generation, and up to and including the wakening and giving praise of the Davidic King Moshiach!"
2 Nissan, 5748/1988
"True, we currently find ourselves in the extreme darkness of Exile. Yet, nonetheless, since Exile is merely a "dream" (in which contradictions can co-exist), the current situation can instantly be reversed, from one extreme to another. This means that we emerge from this dream of Exile and arrive at the true reality, the actual Redemption!. . .
"True, Maimonides explains that there is a natural order in the process . . . However this is only if the Redemption materializes in a normal manner. If the Jews merit, and certainly in present times when the appointed time for the Redemption has long since passed, we have merited that the Redemption will come instantly, above and beyond all natural limitations!
"It is within the ability of every single Jew to bring the Redemption right away, not tomorrow or the day after, but quite literally today, so that at this very moment, a person opens his eyes and sees that our righteous Moshiach is present with us in this very House of Prayer and Study, in his physical body, down on earth!. . .
"Some people argue that this in itself is difficult to appreciate. It has already been many years since the leader of our generation announced "Immediate Redemption" and nevertheless, he still has not come!. . .
"This question stems from being consumed with and engulfed in the Exile frame of mind. Hence people are unable to free themselves of this "dream" of Exile and perceive that the true reality is otherwise, a state of being awake, the actual Redemption!"
Shabbat Pinchas, 5744/1984
"One may wonder, "What will the world say if a Jew performs his Divine service . . . particularly trying to speed the Redemption? Seemingly," he argues, "in order to succeed, one must take into consideration how the world will view it." The answer is that the world is ready and prepared! When a Jew goes about his Divine service properly, rising above all limitations and constraints, yet doing so in a way that his service can be enclothed in the vestments of nature, he will see how the world, nature, and non-Jews are indeed aiding him in his service."
Shabbat Korach, 3 Tamuz, 5751/1991
"A question has been asked with regard to the recent statements that the Redemption is coming immediately. Some might suggest that it would not be so easy for this message to reach people and convince them. People are uncertain of how their families and the world at large will react to it. The response is that such concerns would only be valid if the idea of Redemption was an innovation. However, the Redemption is nothing new. Rather, all its elements have already begun, and have already been brought down and accepted in the physical world, the level beyond which there is nothing lower. Therefore, it should be of no surprise when, immediately, the Redemption arrives."
Shabbat Shoftim, 5751/1991
"We are immediately going to merit the fulfillment of the messianic promise, "As in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders," with the coming of Moshiach, whose name is "Menachem," like the name of the Tzemach Tzedek--may he come and redeem us, and lead us proudly to our land. For inasmuch as the prophetic promise, "Awaken and sing, those who rest in the dust" will soon take place . . . there will then be a realization of the meaning of "Menachem--King Moshiach.""
Eve of Rosh Hashana, 5744/1984
A footnote added by the Rebbe to an edited version of a talk after mentioning the third Chabad Rebbe, known as the Tzemach Tzedek:
"His two names, Tzemach and Tzedek (which are the numerical equivalent of 'Menachem Mendel') are the names of King Moshiach."
12 Sivan, 5751/1991
by Rabbi Avraham Kotlarsky*
The fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel (the Rebbe Maharash), had a chassid who was a successful businessman. Before undertaking any significant deal, he always consulted the Rebbe and followed his instructions.
One time, the chassid was offered a fabulous opportunity. If successful--and most certainly it would be--he would make millions. The deal, however, required that he invest almost his entire fortune. Before the chassid would make such a major move, he set off to the city of Lubavitch to seek the Rebbe's advice.
After hearing the details of the proposition the Rebbe Maharash told him that he should not go through with the deal.
The chassid was stunned. He tried to convince the Rebbe that this was a sound proposal; he described all of the great profits to be made, but to no avail. The Rebbe's answer was final: NO!
A few days later, the would-be business partners came to the chassid. When they heard that he was not interested, based upon the Rebbe's answer, they began to laugh at him. "Certainly you didn't understand the Rebbe's words," they told him. "And anyway, maybe there were some important details you left out that would solicit a different answer. After all," they said, "isn't there a saying that 'according to how you ask, that is how you're answered'? Go back to the Rebbe and make sure to tell him all the details. You'll see, the answer will be different this time."
Back to Lubavitch the chassid went. "Rebbe," he pleaded, "obviously I did not explain myself well enough last time. We're talking about tremendous sums of money. I can become rich overnight and give much tzeddaka [charity] as well..."
The Rebbe listened patiently once again, and at the end of the presentation his answer was simple and direct: "No. It's not worthwhile."
The chassid made his way home, thinking about all the money he could have made, if only the Rebbe would have agreed. "The Rebbe doesn't even explain his reasons," thought the chassid.
But his friends and family wouldn't let up. "It's forbidden to lose such an opportunity," they cried. "Go back to the Rebbe again and certainly the answer will be different."
In his third attempt, the chassid tried everything, even begging the Rebbe to let him make the deal, but the Rebbe answered once again: "No."
When the chassid came home, he couldn't stand up to the pressure of family and friends, and contrary to the Rebbe's advice, he signed the deal. He quieted his conscience by telling himself that he would now really give a lot of tzeddaka.
Unfortunately, things did not go well. In a short while, the chassid lost all his money.
The chassid realized how wrong it was to not follow the Rebbe's instruction. Full of regret, he made his way back a fourth time to see the Rebbe.
The chassid spent a long time in private with the Rebbe. When he came out, he revealed only one thing the Rebbe had told him.
"There are people," said the Rebbe, "big businessmen among them, who come to ask my advice concerning important matters. Sometimes the issues are quite complex; matters which I have never engaged in, nor did my ancestors. So then why do they ask me my advice, and follow my instructions and counsel?
"There are three answers, each one matching a different type of Jew who comes to me.
"One person thinks, 'It's very simple. The Rebbe has Ruach HaKodesh--Divine Inspiration! The Rebbe is a G-dly man, a prophet. It is G-d's words coming from his mouth and therefore we must follow him, no questions asked!'
"Another type," continued the Rebbe, "is a person who operates on a different level, somewhat more down to earth. 'The Rebbe studies Torah all the time and serves G-d with his entire being. His intellect is totally nullified to G-d's Will. Therefore, everything he says stems from Torah and certainly his words will be fulfilled.'
"The third type," explained the Rebbe, "says, 'The Rebbe meets so many people, from all over the world and from all walks of life. He has acquired an incredibly broad knowledge of worldly matters. With this knowledge and his ability to see things from many different angles, the Rebbe sees what others cannot. Therefore, we must listen to him.'
"Whichever group you might belong to," the Rebbe Maharash concluded, "you should never have gone through with the deal after hearing from me not once, not twice, but three times clearly 'no!'"
* * *
I remember the morning of Gimmel Tammuz 5754/1994, when I walked into the Chabad House for Sunday morning services. One of the people who had come to pray asked me, "What do we do now?"
What do we do now? The Rebbe told us that the Redemption is at the door; that we must prepare ourselves and the whole world for the revelation of Moshiach. It was true that even while the Rebbe was critically ill we believed that G-d would heal the Rebbe; that the Redemption we so eagerly awaited and anticipated would be heralded in with the revelation of the Rebbe as Moshiach, and that he would miraculously lead us to the Holy Land.
What now? Who will lead us on? Was the Rebbe wrong? Is the Redemption, after all, a beautiful dream to take place in another time, another place, but not in this "real" world of sorrow and pain?
Some people see in the Rebbe a great charismatic leader. Others see a Torah genius. Others emphasize the Rebbe's knack for finding the right button to push in the hearts of his followers, his admirers, or any stranger who approached him at Sunday dollars.(1) Others speak of the Rebbe's organizational skills and his foresight that has put him light-years ahead of prevailing thought.
The final word is that the Rebbe is a G-dly man. The Rebbe is not "us-plus," so to speak, a person who is merely more brilliant, more sensitive, more insightful, more spiritual, and capable of leadership than we. Rather, his teachings and personal life reveal him to be carved from a different substance altogether. His every word--carefully chosen and full of meaning; his every move--calculated, corresponding to Divine Emanations in a world concealed from our sight; someone transplanted from another world, to bring light to a darkened world, to lead the final generation of exile to Redemption.
The Rebbe is revealed to each person as he perceives the Rebbe. Like the three types of Jews who came to the Rebbe Maharash, every individual relates to the Rebbe on a different level.
Not once, not twice, nor three times, but literally hundreds of times--publicly and privately, in writing and verbally--the Rebbe has told all Jews of this generation what we must do in these last moments before the Redemption:
"Do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now." (28 Nissan, 5751/1991)
"...Publicize to all people that we have merited that G-d has chosen and appointed an individual incomparably greater than all other people in this generation as the judge, adviser and prophet of the generation to give instructions and advice in both the Divine service and daily activities of all Jews ... up to and including the main prophecy, "Redemption is imminent" and "Moshiach is coming." (Shabbat Shoftim, 5751/1991)
"All the service that was expected of the Jewish people in exile has been completed and perfected and we are now ready to receive Moshiach ... Moshiach not only exists, but is also revealed. All that remains is for us to receive and greet Moshiach in actual fact." (Shabbat Vayeira, 5752/1991)
"Every sheliach [emissary of the Rebbe] must prepare himself and all the Jews of his neighborhood, city, etc., to greet Moshiach through explaining the concept of Moshiach, as discussed in the Written and Oral Torah, in a way that each and every individual can relate to .... Since this is the necessary service of the time, it is self-understood that this is incumbent upon every single Jew, without any exception." (Shabbat Chayei Sarah, 5752/1991)
The Rebbe has told us to learn more about Moshiach and the Redemption; to start "living with Moshiach" by increasing our acts of kindness and mitzvot; to share this message with others.
Whatever group we belong to, regardless of how we define ourselves and at what level of faith we may operate, we should listen to the Rebbe.
There is no question that all that the Rebbe said will be fulfilled. There is no question that what the Rebbe said is not open now to reinterpretation. There is no question that we will see the Redemption very soon unfold before our eyes, precisely as the Rebbe said. There is no question what we must do now, for everything the Rebbe has said to us, all of the directions that he has given to this generation, must continue on and with greater strength, with more vigor and vitality.
We are the generation of the Redemption. And we will make it happen. Let us commit ourselves to fulfilling the Rebbe's directives, and then we will be able to see the realization of the Rebbe's most important prophecy, the revelation of Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption.
*. Executive Director, Chabad Lubavitch of Rockland, NY.
1. In the years 1986-1992, the Rebbe, every Sunday, personally distributed to each of the thousands of visitors who came to receive his blessings a dollar to give to charity.
See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"
Also, the text of the book: "Seek Out The Welfare Of Jerusalem", published by Sichos in English - is available on-line at: http://www.chabad.org/seekout.html, and is divided into a special study program.
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 17, Erev Shabbat Parshat Pinchas:
Saturday, July 18, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas:
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. Rosh Chodesh Menachem-Av is on Friday, July 24.
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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