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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.
In this week's issue we once again focus on the Hebrew month of Elul.
We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a K'Siva Vachasima Tova, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
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)."
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.
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
8 Elul, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
Parshat Ki Teitzei
The first verse of this week's Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, seems to contain a grammatical error. "When you go forth to war against your enemies," it begins, "and the L-rd your G-d will deliver him into your hands." Why does the Torah begin the verse with the plural--enemies--and continue in the singular?
Every word in the Torah is exact, every letter conveying a multitude of nuances and meanings that teach countless lessons. This verse, which seemingly deals with the subject of conventional warfare, alludes to a different type of war, a spiritual war that is waged by every individual.
A Jew may face two types of enemies: one who threatens his physical existence, and one who threatens his special holiness as a member of the Jewish people--his Jewish soul. The Torah uses the word "enemies" to refer to both these threats, for the body and soul of the Jew work in tandem, united in their service of G-d. Whatever imperils one's physical well-being threatens one's spiritual equilibrium, and vice versa.
The Torah tells us how to emerge victorious over both types of enemy: "When you will go forth" a person must gird himself with the strength that comes from absolute faith in G-d, even before encountering the enemy. Next, one's approach must be that of ascendancy--"against (literally, 'over') your enemies." Know that G-d Himself stands beside you and assists you in your struggle.
Armed in such a manner, victory is assured, not only against conventional enemies, but against the root of all evil--the Evil Inclination, equated in the Talmud with "the Satan (enemy of the soul), and the angel of death (enemy of the physical body)."
When a Jew goes out to "war" fortified with the knowledge that there is no force in the world able to stand in the face of goodness and holiness, not only are external manifestations of evil vanquished, but its spiritual source is defeated as well. The Torah therefore uses the singular--enemy--to allude to the Evil Inclination, the origin and prototype of all misfortune.
The verse concludes with the words "and you shall take captives of them." If a Jew is not careful and falls prey to the Evil Inclination, all of his higher faculties, given to him by G-d to be utilized for good, also fall into its snare. The Torah teaches that sincere repentance has the power to redeem these captive prisoners, elevating them until even "willful transgressions are considered as merits."
Such warfare brings Moshiach and the Final Redemption closer, when the Evil Inclination will be totally vanquished and the victory over sin will be permanent
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.
25 Elul, 5719/1959
To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G-d bless you all!
Greeting and Blessing:
These days at the end of the outgoing year, and on the eve of the New Year, may it bring blessings to us all, call for self-evaluation in respect to the year about to end, and--in the light of this self-appraisal--for making the necessary resolutions for the coming year.
Such a "balance sheet" can be valid only if the evaluation of the full extent of one's powers and opportunities was a correct one. Only then can one truly regret, in a commensurate degree, the missed opportunities, and resolve to utilize one's capacities to the fullest extent from now on.
The period of time before and during Rosh HaShanah is not only the occasion that demands spiritual stock-taking in general, but it also begs for a profound inner appreciation of the tremendous capacities that one possesses as a man, the crown of Creation, and as a Jew whom the Creator has given His Divine Law of Life (Torat Chaim). For Rosh HaShanah is the day when Man was created.
* * *
When Adam was created, the Creator immediately apprised him of his powers and told him what his purpose in life would be:
"Replenish the earth, and conquer it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."
Man was given the power to conquer the whole world and to rule over it, on land, sea and in the air, and he was enjoined to so do; this was his task.
How was this "world conquest" to be attained, and what is the purpose and true meaning of it? This is what our Sages tell us and teach us in this regard:
When G-d created Adam, his soul--his Divine image--permeated and irradiated his whole being, by virtue of which he became the ruler over the entire creation. All the creatures gathered to serve him and to crown him as their creator. But Adam, pointing out their error, said to them: "Let us all come and worship G-d, our Maker!"
* * *
The "world conquest" that was given to man as his task and mission in life is to elevate the whole of nature, including the beasts and animals, to the service of true humanity, humanity permeated and illuminated by the Divine image, by the soul, which is veritably a part of G-d above, so that the whole of Creation will realize that G-d is our Maker.
Needless to say, before a man sets out to conquer the world, he must first conquer himself, through the subjugation of the "earthly" and "beastly" in his own nature. This is attained through actions that strictly accord with the directives of the Torah, the Law of Life--the practical guide in everyday living, so that the material becomes permeated and illuminated with the light of the One G-d, our G-d.
G-d created one person and on this single person on earth He imposed the said duty and task. Herein lies the profound, yet clear, directive, namely, that one person--each and every person--is potentially capable of "conquering the world."
If a person does not fulfill his task, and does not utilize his inestimable divine powers--it is not merely a personal loss and failure, but something that affects the destiny of the whole world.
* * *
In these days of introspection, we are duty-bound to reflect that each and every one of us --through carrying out the instructions of the Creator of the World that are contained in His Torah--has the capacity of conquering worlds. Everyone must, therefore, ask himself how much he has accomplished in this direction, and to what extent he has failed, so that he can make the proper resolutions for the coming year.
G-d, Who looks into the heart, on seeing the determination behind these good resolutions, will send His blessing for their realization in the fullest measure--in joy and gladness of heart and affluence, materially and spiritually.
With the blessing of Kesivo Vachasimo Toivo
for a happy and sweet year,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Once in a while, for safety's sake, you can and should test your smoke-detector to make sure it's working properly. This is, of course, in addition to replacing the battery when it starts beeping once in awhile. When it starts beeping all the time, for your safety and sanity, you'd better replace the battery immediately. In addition, some smoke-detectors come with information about how often they should be tested and how often batteries need to be replaced.
There's another "safety contraption" in our homes that needs to be checked periodically--our mezuzot. It is customary and advisable to have a certified scribe check the mezuzah parchment (the actual mezuzah) during the Hebrew month of Elul. Though mezuzot don't actually come with pre-packaged instructions, the instructions should be followed all the same.
Since we are currently in the month of Elul, now is the time to check our mezuzot. It's also a good time to take a moment to learn about the place mezuzot (like smoke-alarms) hold in helping assure our safety.
The Zohar, which contains the more esoteric aspects of Judaism, explains that the effect of having a mezuzah on one's door is to provide protection by G-d from the time you leave home until you return.(1)
This aspect of "protection" is also hinted at by the Hebrew letter shin that appears on most mezuzah covers. The shin is the first of three letters, shin--dalet--yud, which spell out one of G-d's names. Those letters are also an acronym for Shomer Daltot Yisrael--Guardian of the Doors of Israel.
Finally, just as the blood placed on the doorposts of the Jewish homes in Egypt kept away the Angel of Death, so, too, the mezuzah has the effect of "not allowing the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you."
With all of the above in mind, however, we are told not to look upon the mezuzah as a charm or amulet; it is not a good luck symbol, garlic, etc., to be worn around one's neck. It is also not just a symbol or quaint ritual, to tell the outside world that this is a Jewish home. Of course, it does serve as a concrete reminder to the people living in the home, when coming in or going out, that the people in the home, in fact, are Jewish, though this is not its primary purpose.
How can we understand how the mezuzah protects us inside and outside the home and is yet not some sort of charm or amulet? A mezuzah can be compared to a helmet. A soldier wears a helmet to protect him from enemy bullets, and a mezuzah, too, protects us, our family and our possessions from harm.
Yet, "bad" things do sometimes happen to someone with mezuzot on his doors. How is this possible? If, while wearing a helmet, an enemy bullet does manage to wound a soldier, it is the enemy bullet, and the enemy bullet alone that has pierced him. The helmet provides added protection, but is not the only factor involved in the soldier's safety.
Similarly, a smoke detector offers a certain amount of protection in case of fire. However, if a fire does, G-d forbid, cause damage, it is the fire and not the smoke detector that has brought about the disaster.
Have your mezuzot checked soon.
If you don't have mezuzot or you need more, make sure to purchase them from a reputable Judaica store or certified scribe. Or call your local Chabad-Lubavitch representative for more information.
1. See also, Living With Moshiach, Vol. 137
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.
Preparations for the High Holidays:
"Our Sages state that thirty days before a holiday, we should learn the laws pertaining to it. It is already less than thirty days before the holidays of Tishrei begin and in this context, it is necessary to mention the importance of providing Jews with their holiday needs so that they will be able to celebrate Rosh HaShanah and the holidays that follow in the manner stated in the Bible, 'Eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those who do not have them prepared.'"
The Rebbe, Elul, 5750/1990
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, September 4, Erev Shabbat Parshat Ki Teitzei:
Saturday, September 5, Shabbat Parshat Ki Teitzei:
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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