The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.
Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
Click here, to see pictures
of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio) - Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos [talks]
which are relevant to the particular day.
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
Shabbat Parshat Vayeitzei, the ninth of Kislev (Sat., Dec. 28), is the birthday and yahrtzeit of Rabbi Dov Ber, the second Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Therefore, we present an article about his--and all the other Chabad Rebbes'--special relationship with the Holy Land of Israel.
The Jewish year that has just begun is the year 5759 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Tav-Shin-Nun-Tes. 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 T'hei Shnas Niflaos Tovoh" meaning "It surely will be a good year of wondrous miracles."
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
Second day of Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5759
Brooklyn, New York
"And Yaakov (Jacob) left Beer Sheva and went toward Charan," relates the Torah portion of Vayeitzei. When darkness fell, Yaakov had traveled as far as Mount Moriah. Placing a stone under his head for a pillow, he lay down and fell asleep. That night G-d revealed himself to Yaakov in a dream. "The land on which you are lying I will give to you and your seed," G-d said, promising Yaakov the land of Israel as the inheritance of the Jewish people forever.
To demonstrate just how effortlessly the land would be conquered by Yaakov's descendants, "G-d 'folded' up the entire land of Israel and placed it beneath him, alluding to the ease with which it would be acquired," comments Rashi, the great Torah commentator, citing the explanation given in the Talmud.
Generations before, a similar promise was made by G-d to Avraham (Abraham). "Arise, walk through the land in its length and breadth, for I will give it to you." According to the Talmud, this commandment was given to Avraham to facilitate his descendants' subsequent conquest of Israel. Avraham's sojourn through the land demonstrated his Divine claim on the territory and paved the way for his descendants years later.
It is interesting to note that whereas Avraham was commanded by G-d to perform an actual physical action ("walk through the land"), Yaakov was not. Lying on the holy ground of Israel was sufficient for G-d to reveal Himself and promise it to his descendants.
Furthermore, G-d "'folded' up" the land of Israel beneath Yaakov to emphasize that not only would it be easy for the Jewish people to conquer, as already alluded to Avraham, but its acquisition would require no more exertion than merely lying on the ground. The land of Israel would be given over into their hands without effort, without their having to perform any special feats or extraordinary actions.
In effect, G-d granted the Jewish people the ability to conquer the land of Israel without having to wage war. The Jewish claim on Israel was fixed as incontrovertible in the consciousness of all mankind forever and ever, as Divine right.
This potential could have been achieved immediately with Joshua's conquest had the Jewish people possessed sufficient merit. Because of the sin of the spies, however, this merit was taken away, and the Jews were forced to fight to acquire what would have otherwise become their possession immediately.
When Moshiach comes and ushers in the Final Redemption, this potential will be fully realized. The land of Israel will, at long last, be secured by the Jewish people for eternity, without their having taken the slightest overt action whatsoever.
Even now, before the Redemption, may it occur speedily in our days, when Jews stand firm in their Divine claim to the Holy Land, unequivocally and unashamedly declaring their G-d-given right to Israel, all the arguments of the Gentiles against the Jewish people are nullified, and the arrival of Moshiach and the Redemption is thereby hastened.
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.
Shabbat Parshat Vayeitzei, the ninth of Kislev (Sat., Dec. 28), is the birthday and yahrtzeit of Rabbi Dov Ber (5534/1773-5588/1827), the second Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, known as the Mitteler (or "intermediate") Rebbe. The following day, the 10th of Kislev, is the day on which the Mitteler Rebbe was redeemed from imprisonment (in 5587/1826).
In 5576/1816, Reb Dov Ber established a settlement of Chabad chasidim in Israel, in the holy city of Hebron. He encouraged the chasidim already living in other parts of Israel to resettle in Hebron. In addition, his own daughter and son-in-law moved with their family from Russia to Hebron.
But the history of Chabad-Lubavitch's support of people, institutions and settlements in the Holy Land predates even 5576/1816. For the first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, vigorously encouraged his followers to support the Jews in the Holy Land.
Each and every Rebbe of Chabad, up to and including the present Rebbe, has unequivocally supported the Holy Land and spoken out boldly concerning anything that might have the slightest impact on the security of the Jews there.
Our brethren in Israel know first-hand about the Rebbe's concern for them and their lives. During the Gulf War, the Rebbe's emphatic message, that "Israel is the safest place in the world, for G-d is constantly watching it," was continuously played on the radio. The hundreds of Chabad Centers that dot the Israeli landscape were deluged with callers during the Gulf War, asking, "What is the Rebbe saying now?"
Without a doubt, and everyone can be sure of this, the Rebbe's policy has not changed one iota in the past 48 years nor has it changed from that of his predecessors. Based on clear guidance from the Torah and Jewish law, the Rebbe reiterates:(1) No action can be taken that might negatively affect the safety of the Jews of the Holy Land!
In the merit of Rabbi Dov Ber, who established the first Chabad settlement in the Holy Land, may we be privileged to go together with Moshiach to the Holy Land, NOW.
* * *
About the Mitteler Rebbe it was said that he was so immersed in Chasidus that "if his finger would have been cut, it would have bled Chasidus instead of blood!"
When the Mitteler Rebbe was arrested by the Czarist government (in 5587/1826) on trumped-up charges of anti-government activities (he was later released on the 10th of Kislev of that year), even the governmental doctor, who was a prominent specialist, acknowledged that Chasidus was the Mitteler Rebbe's very essence and life. The doctor told the Russian authorities that they must allow the Mitteler Rebbe to give talks on Chasidus to his chasidim, explaining, "Just as you provide food for prisoners to ensure their existence, so, too, must you allow him to teach Chasidus. His very life depends on it."
The authorities saw that this was true when, while imprisoned, the Mitteler Rebbe's health waned. They agreed to let fifty chasidim enter his prison room twice weekly to listen to a chasidic discourse.
But the Mitteler Rebbe was not only concerned about the spiritual life of his fellow Jews; he also worked to better their situation materially as well. He encouraged thousands of Jews, both his chasidim and others, to settle on the land as farmers so that they would not have to be at the mercy of the anti-Semitic landowners or peasants. In 5575/1815 he established twenty-two Jewish farm settlements on land near the town of Cherson, which he had convinced the government to give for this purpose. Many of his chasidim, however, were reluctant to move so far away from their Rebbe. Thus, the Mitteler Rebbe promised to go to the trouble of travelling to them so he could teach Chasidus to them there.
The Rebbe spoke numerous times of the importance of celebrating the ninth and tenth of Kislev in a fitting manner, with gatherings that will foster brotherhood and lead to good resolutions.
May such gatherings this year be in Jerusalem, with the Rebbe and all of his predecessors presiding.
For a Tes/Yud Kislev gathering in your area, 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).
1. 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
Once a chasid 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 chasid 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 chasid 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 chasid 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 chasid 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.
Money is a funny thing. It is part and parcel of our day-to-day living. Yet, most people would sooner tell you their age or weight than how much they have in their bank account. Money is a very personal matter; the way we feel about it, the way we spend it, the way we earn it, differs from person to person.
It's not surprising that the commandment to give of one's money to tzedakah--charity--is considered a very great mitzvah indeed. So great, in fact, that throughout the Jerusalem Talmud it is called simply, "the commandment."
Giving charity is the core of the mitzvot of action, even surpassing them all, because a person invests his entire self--feelings, mind, body--to acquire money. So when you give tzedakah, it is not only the hand that writes out the check or puts the coin in the pushka that is involved; your entire body is doing a mitzvah as well.
Even if you didn't have to work hard to get the money--let's say you just happened upon an extra thousand or two--since it could have been used on yourself (for life's necessities or otherwise), giving part of this "found" money to charity is also of great merit.
Jewish teachings so strongly emphasize the virtues of charity that they say "It balances all the other commandments." And it also has the power to "tip the scales." Just imagine! There's this big scale with our mitzvot on one side, perfectly balanced or not tipping in exactly the direction we would like, and we add a check, or some cash on the side of mitzvot and good deeds and, voila, the scale tips effortlessly to that side!
Whose money is it, anyway? Jewish teachings explain that when a person gives charity, he is acting as the hand of G-d. As everything truly belongs to G-d, we are but conduits for dispensing G-d's bounty and sustenance. So we should feel humbled that G-d has entrusted us with this job of giving away His money. By the way, even one who is on the receiving end is supposed to give charity, even if only a few pennies. We needn't think that only the multibillionaires who can afford to have buildings named after them are required to give charity. Every single one of us, great or small, rich or poor, is expected to participate in this mitzvah.
There's another benefit to consider concerning charity. The Talmud states that charity brings the Redemption nearer. In addition, it states that the Jewish people will be redeemed through giving charity. So let's start giving, today. Figure out what you feel comfortable giving and then give a little more.
Imagine brushing your teeth once a year for three days straight, or once a week for an hour, rather than the prescribed minimum of twice daily.
The benefits of tooth brushing would certainly be lost on such a regime, and it might even be detrimental to the gums or other tissue (let alone your arm muscles and social life if you opted for the annual approach).
Or contemplate calculating your monthly requirements of vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., and consuming them on the first Tuesday of each month. Without even considering the possible toxicity of ingested vitamins and minerals in such large quantities, would there be any nutritional gain in such an approach?
Even the old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," whether it bears any truth, would certainly fail to keep the doctor away--and probably necessitate a trip to the doctor--if one ate seven apples once a week.
Just as making hygiene, a balanced diet, or exercise a part of our daily schedule is touted by experts far and wide, so too is the importance of giving tzedakah--charity--daily (except Shabbat and holidays) commended by Judaism.
Jewish teachings are replete with references, inferences, recommendations and requirements concerning charity. From Maimonides' well-known ladder of tzedakah-giving (giving begrudgingly is the lowest level; helping a person get a job so he needn't require tzedakah is right there at the top) to the plethora of inspiring stories about giving tzedakah, to the detailed and exacting laws about how much tzedakah to give, we find tzedakah very much a part of the fabric of Jewish life.
Writing out a check to a Jewish institution yearly is a great deed. Giving donations to every organization that make a request is also exemplary. And if the first or second option mentioned above were to equal 10% of one's income (the amount we are required by Jewish law to give to charity annually) we would be fulfilling the "letter of the law." We would also be activating the talmudic teachings that "charity saves from death" and "great is charity for it brings the Redemption closer."
Yet, like hygiene, nutrition, exercise, or any other number of daily activities--the full benefit of which are felt when performed on a daily basis--tzedakah, too, should be performed daily.
One of the unique benefits of giving charity is that the act of giving reminds us that we are, thank G-d, in the enviable position of being able to give rather than receive, i.e., there are others less fortunate than us. Giving tzedakah can help sensitize us to the needs of others and helps strengthen the trait of loving-kindness inherent in every Jew.
A news item citing a recent study noted that in the U.S., it is the poor who give the most to charity! Those families who earn less than $10,000 per year give a much higher percentage of their income than people who earn $20,000, $50,000, $200,000, or even millions annually! It would seem that those who have not are more sympathetic to the plight of others in a similar or even more desperate situation.
Making tzedakah part of our daily routine has tremendous benefits. A few coins a day in a tzedakah box of your choice (in addition to those more sizable donations) is a great way to stay spiritually fit.
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.
Awaken Your Core This Month:
"Awakening the core of our being must be reflected in a concern for the fundamental existence of every Jew. This should be expressed in efforts to provide our fellow Jews with the necessities required to celebrate the holidays of the month of Kislev [the 'Chasidic New Year' on the 19th of Kislev and Chanukah] with happiness and joy. Similarly, they should have the means to fulfill the custom that the Rebbes followed of giving Chanukah gelt to the members of their household."
(1 Kislev, 5752/1991)
Simply stated, this means that as we think about our own family's holiday celebrations this month, we should make sure to help provide for other, less fortunate people in the greater Jewish family.
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, Nov. 27, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayeitzei:
Saturday, Nov. 28, Shabbat Parshat Vayeitzei:
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.
Back to "Living With Moshiach" Home Page