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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 upcoming Hebrew month of Menachem-Av.
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
25 Tamuz, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
The second of this week's two Torah portions, Masei (meaning "journeys"), delineates the various travels of the Jews in the desert.
When the Jews left Egypt, they were beginning one long journey. Their departure from Egypt and their travels in the desert were all so that eventually the Jews would enter the Land of Israel. It would seem, then, that each of the forty-two stops they made along the way between Egypt and Israel was not really that significant. The stops presented an opportunity for the Jewish camp, comprised of millions of people, to take care of their various needs.
Yet, each and every stop the Jews made in the desert is mentioned separately, and each one is considered its own journey. Didn't the Jews reach the desert--and freedom--immediately upon leaving the borders of Egypt?
In every generation, in each individual's life, there must be an exodus from Egypt, a departure from one's own boundaries and limitations. However, simply "leaving" Egypt is not enough. We must know that even after working on ourselves and spiritually leaving Egypt, we are not finished. No matter what spiritual level we have attained, we can still go further, we are still bound by our "Egypt." We must begin a new "journey," getting stronger and stronger as we go along.
There is a twofold lesson from these "journeys." Even when one has already attained a high level, one must never be content with what one has already achieved. Our whole purpose is to move in an upward spiritual direction--never to stagnate and remain in the same place. Each day that is granted to us by G-d should be utilized for fulfilling this mission. However, we must be cognizant that, in relation to what is above us and what we can still achieve, we are still in Egypt.
On the other hand, one must never despair of all there is left to achieve and of one's lowly spiritual state. One must remember that it is possible, through work, to leave "Egypt" immediately, with only one journey. We must never think that our toil is in vain; with one move we can elevate ourselves and reach the "good and wide land"--the Land of Israel.
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.
During the Nine Days between the beginning of the Jewish month of Av and the 9th of Av (July 24 - Aug. 2), mourning intensifies. We abstain from eating meat and drinking wine except on Shabbat and for a Seudas Mitzvah (meal associated with a mitzvah such as a bris, or upon completing the study of a tractate of the Talmud). Lawsuits should be postponed, pleasure trips should be avoided.
Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem it says, "Everyone who mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will be privileged to see its rebuilding." We are not discussing here the obligation of the community at large, but rather the obligation of each and every individual. Each one of us has to mourn Jerusalem. And, although we have been promised that the Bais HaMikdosh will be rebuilt, we are obligated to help rebuild it.
The completion of this task requires not only the participation of the community in general, but also the participation of each individual in particular.
The Rebbe has said that, in order to aid in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and bring Moshiach closer, every individual must increase in Torah study, prayer and charity. An increase in charity is especially appropriate at this time, as we are told that charity brings the final Redemption closer, and "Zion--Jerusalem--will be redeemed through . . . tzedakah--charity."
May each and every one of us draw on that inner strength bestowed upon every Jew that will enable us to increase in all of the above-mentioned matters, bringing about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the complete and final Redemption through Moshiach, NOW!
Friday, July 24th, is the first day of the month of Av. With the beginning of Av, the three-week mourning period over the destruction of the Temple intensifies.
The First of Av was also the day on which Aaron, the High Priest, passed away.
Concerning his passing, the Torah tells us that "All of the House of Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days." But for Moses, only the men wept, not the women. Why was this? Because Aaron made peace between husband and wife, and between friends.
It is a phenomenal example of Divine Providence that Aaron, who was known as a "pursuer of peace," passed away just on the day when, hundreds of years later, we would be intensifying our mourning over the destruction of the Temple. His life's work, evident even at his passing, shows us how to rectify the reason for which the Temple was destroyed.
The Second Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred among Jews. Hatred and divisiveness are equal to the sins of idolatry, adultery and murder, for which the First Temple was destroyed.
Especially at this time, we have much to learn from Aaron. We must try to emulate his wonderful example, by doing everything in our power to bring peace and harmony amongst our people. When this happens, we will no longer mourn the passing of Aaron, nor the destruction of the Holy Temples, for we will all be united, together as one, in the Third and everlasting Holy Temple, may it be rebuilt NOW.
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!"
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.
Make Torah Celebrations:
As a further preparation for the messianic era, to reveal the positive qualities and joy that are latent in these Three Weeks, conclusions of Torah works (siyyumim) should be held on each of the Nine Days (July 24 - Aug. 2), including Shabbat, and this year, including the Shabbat of Tisha B'Av, Shabbat Parshat Devarim, August 1.
"These activities will hasten the transformation of these days into days of celebration, when with true and complete joy we shall proceed together with Moshiach, to the Holy Land, in the true and ultimate Redemption."
The Rebbe, 18 Tamuz, 5751/1991
For a siyyum in your area, contact your local rabbi or Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
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 24, Erev Shabbat Parshat Matos-Masei:
Saturday, July 25, Shabbat Parshat Matos-Masei:
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.
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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