"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Vayikra, 5759
Nissan 2, 5759
March 19, 1999
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"I BELIEVE WITH COMPLETE FAITH IN THE ARRIVAL OF THE MOSHIACH.
"AND THOUGH HE MAY TARRY, I SHALL WAIT EACH DAY, ANTICIPATING HIS
Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
THIS PUBLICATION IS DEDICATED
TO THE REBBE,
RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON
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.
This week's issue focuses on:
1. Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, whose
Yahrtzeit is on Beis Nissan, the second day of Nissan
(Friday, March 19).
2. The upcoming 8-day festive holiday of Pesach, "The Story of Passover,"
and "The Significance of Pesach."
This Jewish year, 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
publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing
us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb
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
27 Adar, 5759
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion is Vayikra, which begins the book of Leviticus.
The book of Leviticus, is also known as Torat Kohanim (the Laws of
the Priests) and the Book of Sacrifices.
Jews, as a people, and individually, are expected to behave like
kohanim (priests), as G-d has declared: "And you should be unto Me
a Kingdom of Kohanim." Just as the kohen has been selected
to dedicate himself to the Divine Service--and not only for his own sake,
but also for the whole Jewish people--so has every Jew been chosen to serve
G-d, with a responsibility also for his entire environment.
To serve G-d does not mean to withdraw from the world; it rather means to
serve G-d within this world and together with this world. The beginning of
this G-dly service is in one's own home-life, by conducting it in such a
way that G-d's Presence should dwell in it, as it is written: "They shall
make Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them."
This is accomplished by a way of life exemplified by the sacrifices of old.
The service of the sacrifices consisted in taking things from one's possession--a
lamb, flour, oil, wine, salt, etc.--and consecrating them.
This is the way a Jewish home should be conducted; every detail of one's
life should be consecrated to G-d. How is this accomplished? By bringing
spirituality into our daily lives and our homes through charity and good
deeds, communicating with G-d, and Jewish education. And then the Divine
Presence dwells there, and it is a home blessed by G-d, materially and
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that
"The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this
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.
Friday, Beis (the second day of) Nissan (March 19), is the
Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber (1860-1920), the fifth Rebbe of
Chabad-Lubavitch, known as the Rebbe Rashab.
The Rebbe Rashab lived in the town of Lubavitch in White Russia, which had
been the center of the Chabad movement. However, in 1915 the Rebbe and his
chassidim were forced to leave the town of Lubavitch as the battles of World
War I were approaching. They settled in the town of Rostov, which seemed
to be a safe distance from the fighting. But in 1920, the Communists tightened
their control over Rostov. This, however, did not discourage the Rebbe Rashab
from continuing with his work of inspiring and encouraging his fellow Jews
in all areas of Torah and mitzvot.
Only hours before his passing, the Rebbe Rashab told his chassidim, "I am
going to heaven, but my writings I am leaving with you." Although he wouldn't
be physically present, the chassidim could connect to him through his teachings.
There is a beautiful story concerning the Rebbe Rashab, illustrating the
high esteem in which he held every Jew.
One of the Rebbe Rashab's followers, Reb Monye Monissohn, was a wealthy gem
dealer. Once, when they were sitting together, the Rebbe spoke very highly
about some simple, unlearned Jews.
"Why do you make such a fuss about them?" Reb Monye asked the Rebbe.
"Each one of them has many special and noble qualities," explained the Rebbe.
"I can't see any of these qualities," said Reb Monye.
The Rebbe remained silent. A while later, he asked Reb Monye if he had brought
his package of diamonds with him. Indeed, Reb Monye had brought the diamonds,
but asked the Rebbe if he could display them later, when they could be seen
to their best advantage.
Later, Reb Monye took the Rebbe into a different room and arranged the diamonds
for him to see. Reb Monye pointed to one gem in particular, extolling its
beautiful color and quality.
"I can't see anything special in it," the Rebbe said.
"That is because you have to be a "maven" to know how to look at
diamonds!" explained Reb Monye.
"Every Jew, too, is something beautiful and extra-ordinary," the Rebbe said.
"But you have to be a "maven" to know how to look at him."
The story of Passover began with the arrival of Jacob and his family in Egypt
to be with his son Joseph who had become Viceroy of all Egypt.
When Joseph and his brothers died and the Children of Israel multiplied in
the land of Egypt, King Pharaoh chose to forget all that Joseph had done
for Egypt--transforming it into the wealthiest country in the world at the
He decided to take action against the influence and growing numbers of the
Children of Israel.
He summoned his council and they advised him to enslave these people and
oppress them before they grew too powerful.
Pharaoh embarked upon a policy of limiting the personal freedom of the Hebrews,
putting heavy taxes on them and recruiting their men into forced labor battalions
under the supervision of harsh taskmasters.
The Children of Israel were forced to build cities, erect monuments, construct
roads, work in the quarries and hew stones or burn bricks or dies.
But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Children of Israel
multiplied. Finally, when King Pharaoh saw that forcing the Hebrews to do
hard work did not succeed in suppressing their growing numbers, he decreed
that all their newly born male children be thrown into the Nile River. Only
daughters were permitted to live.
Jacob's great-grandson, Amram, who married Yocheved, had a daughter Miriam,
later to become a great prophetess, and a son named Aaron, who later became
the High Priest. When Yocheved bore a third child, she placed him in a basket
that she hid amongst the reeds at the edge of the Nile River in order to
escape the king's soldiers who were snatching all the male babies and casting
them into the Nile.
When Pharaoh's daughter came to bathe in the Nile she discovered the baby
and, seeing his unusual radiance, recognized that this child was someone
She called him Moshe and decided to raise him herself in the palace. She
hired the baby's mother Yocheved to be his nurse, who also taught him about
his rich Jewish heritage.
When the Children of Israel could no longer endure their terrible suffering
at the hands of their cruel overlords, their cries for help coming from the
very bottom of their hearts, pierced the heavens.
G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and decided to
deliver their descendants from bondage.
Moshe was 80 years old and his brother 83 years old when they entered the
palace of King Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the two brothers what they wanted.
The message sounded like a command: "The G-d of Israel said, 'Let My people
go, that they may serve me.'" Pharaoh refused, saying that he had never heard
of the G-d of the Israelites. He further accused Moshe and Aaron of a conspiracy
against the government and of interfering with the work of the Hebrew slaves.
At Moshe's suggestion, Aaron then performed the miracles G-d had enabled
him to perform, but Pharaoh was not greatly impressed, for his magicians
could do almost as well.
When Pharaoh continued to refuse to liberate the Children of Israel, Moshe
and Aaron warned him that G-d would punish both him and his people. First,
the waters of the land of Egypt were to be turned into blood.
This was followed by the plague of frogs that covered the entire land.
The third plague had lice crawling forth from the dust to cover all of Egypt.
Although Pharaoh's advisors pointed out that this surely was Divine punishment,
he hardened his heart and remained relentless in his determination to keep
the Children of Israel in bondage.
The fourth plague consisted of hordes of wild animals roving all over the
country destroying everything in their path. Only the province of Goshen,
where the Children of Israel dwelt, was immune from this as well as from
the other plagues.
As with the previous plagues, Pharaoh promised faithfully to let the Jews
go on the condition that they would not go too far. Moshe prayed to G-d and
the wild animals disappeared. But as soon as they had gone, Pharaoh withdrew
his promise and refused Moshe's demand.
Then G-d sent a fatal pestilence that killed most of the domestic animals
of the Egyptians.
In the sixth plague, boils burst forth upon man and beast throughout the
land of Egypt.
Now Moshe announced to the king that a hailstorm of unprecedented violence
was to sweep the land; no living thing, no tree, no herb, was to escape its
fury; safety was to be found only in the shelter of the houses.
The next time Moshe and Aaron came before Pharaoh, he appeared somewhat
relenting, and asked them who was to participate in the worship the Israelites
wanted to hold in the desert. When they told him that everyone without exception,
young and old, men and women, were to go, Pharaoh suggested that only the
men should go and that the women and children, as well as all their possessions,
should remain in Egypt.
Moshe and Aaron could not accept his offer and Pharaoh became angry and ordered
them to leave his palace. Before leaving, Moshe warned him of new and untold
suffering. But Pharaoh remained adamant, even though his advisors counseled
against further resistance.
As soon as Moshe left the palace, he raised his arms toward heaven and an
east wind brought swarms of locusts into Egypt, covering the sun and devouring
everything green that had escaped the hail and previous plagues.
Then followed the ninth plague. For several days all of Egypt was enveloped
in a thick and impenetrable veil of darkness, which extinguished all kindled
lights. The Egyptians were gripped with fear and remained glued to their
places wherever they stood or sat. Only in Goshen, where the Children of
Israel dwelt, there was light.
Finally at midnight on the 15th of Nissan all firstborn in the land
of Egypt began dying, from the firstborn of King Pharaoh unto the firstborn
of the cattle, exactly as Moshe had warned.
There was a loud and bitter wail, for in each house a loved one lay fatally
stricken. Then Pharaoh called for Moshe and Aaron during that very night
and said to them: "Arise, go out from among my people, both you and the Children
of Israel; and go, serve G-d as you have said, and go, and bless me also."
At last the pride of the stubborn king was broken and he realized that there
indeed was a G-d.
Meanwhile, the Jews had been preparing for their hasty departure. With beating
hearts, they had assembled in groups to eat the roasted paschal lamb, together
with the unleavened cakes (matzahs).
The sun had already risen above the horizon when, at the word of command,
the whole nation of the Hebrews poured forth from the land of Egypt.
Thus the Children of Israel were liberated from the yoke of their oppressors
on the 15th day of Nissan, in the year 2448 after the creation of
There were 603,550 men between 20 and 60--military age--who, with their wives
and children and flocks, crossed the border of Egypt as a free nation. Many
Egyptians and other non-Israelites joined the triumphant Children of Israel,
hoping to share their glorious future. The Children of Israel did not leave
In addition to their own possessions, the terrified Egyptians had bestowed
upon them valuables of gold, silver and clothing in an effort to hasten their
departure. Thus, G-d fulfilled in every detail His promise to Abraham that
his descendants would leave their exile with great riches. Leading the Jewish
people on their journey during the day was a pillar of cloud, and at night
there was a pillar of fire, giving them light. These Divine messengers not
only guided the Children of Israel on their way, but also cleared the way
before them, making it both easy and safe.
After three days, Pharaoh received word of the progress of the Children of
Israel. The unexpected direction of their march made him think that they
were lost in the desert. Pharaoh now regretted that he had permitted them
to leave. He mobilized his army and personally took the lead of his choicest
cavalry and war-chariots, in hot pursuit of his former slaves. He reached
them near the banks of the Reed Sea and pressed them close to the water,
in an effort to cut off their escape.
Moshe led the Israelites onwards until they came to the very borders of the
Reed Sea. The pillar of cloud now changed its position, retreating from the
front to the rear of the Hebrews, floating between the two Camps.
Then G-d spoke to Moshe: "Lift up your rod, stretch out your hand over the
sea and divide it; and the Children of Israel shall go into the midst of
the sea on dry ground." Moshe did as G-d ordered and a strong east wind rose
and blew all night and the waters of the Reed Sea were divided and gathered
into a wall on either side, leaving a dry passage in the midst. The Israelites
marched at once along the dry path that extended from shore to shore and
reached the opposite side in safety.
The Egyptians continued their pursuit, but Moshe stretched forth his staff
and the waters resumed their usual course, closing over the whole army of
Thus, G-d saved the Children of Israel from the Egyptians and Israel saw
His great power; they recognized G-d and believed in Him and in His servant
Moshe--the first redeemer of Israel.
This is the story of Passover--or Pesach--that recounts the birth
of the Jewish people as a nation--a nation called by G-d "a beloved
treasure"--whose ultimate goal is to be a "light unto the nations."
This will become evident in the immediate future when Moshiach--the final
redeemer--gathers us together from throughout the world and brings us to
the promised Land of Israel, "and all the earth will be filled with the knowledge
of G-d as the waters cover the sea."
The story of Pesach is well known: . . . how the Jewish people were
slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt . . . how Moses led us out of bondage and received
the Torah on Mount Sinai . . . and how, after forty years in the wilderness,
we entered into the Promised Land. Less well known, however, are our Sages'
interpretation of the spiritual dimension of these events: what does the
Exodus mean to us today? And what does the "Festival of Liberation" teach
us about the future liberation of all humankind, in the messianic age? The
following is just a smattering of the Rebbe's answers.
Liberation from Mitzrayim
For the Jews, "Egypt" represents more than just a place on the map. Egypt
is a state of mind. The Hebrew name for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which
is related to the word Maytzorim--meaning boundaries and limitations.
For the Jewish people, to "escape from Egypt" means to overcome those natural
limitations that impede the realization of our fullest potential.
The innermost essence of the soul is a spark of G-dliness--infinite and
unbounded. But the soul is in exile, in "Egypt"--restricted within this finite,
material world. One person's Egypt may be most apparent in his selfish and
base desires; another person may be enslaved to the constraints of his rational
mind. Pesach is an opportunity to transcend our limitations and realize
the infinite spiritual potential in every aspect of our lives.
When G-d commanded Moses to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt, He proclaimed
His ultimate purpose: ". . . that they shall serve G-d upon this
mountain." Our liberation was not complete until we received the Torah
on Mount Sinai. G-d's Torah and commandments are the key to achieving true
freedom--freedom not just from physical enslavement, but from all our limiting
beliefs and behavior. The Torah shows us how to avoid the pitfalls that life
presents us, and teaches us how to make this world a place of peace, harmony
and happiness for all humankind.
Matzah and Chometz
Pesach is known as the "Festival of Matzot." We are commanded
to eat matzah on the first night of Pesach, and to rid ourselves
of chometz--all bread and leavened food products--for the entire eight
days of the holiday. This important commandment offers us great insight into
the true nature of liberation.
The difference between leavened bread and matzah is obvious: whereas
bread rises, the Pesach matzot are not permitted to rise at all. Our
Rabbis explain that the "puffed up" nature of chometz symbolizes the
character trait of arrogance and conceit. The flat, unleavened matzah
represents utter humility.
Humility is the beginning of liberation, and the foundation of all spiritual
growth. Only a person who can acknowledge his own shortcomings and submit
to a higher wisdom can free himself from his own limitations. On
Pesach, we are forbidden even the minutest amount of chometz .
. . we should rid ourselves from the arrogance and self-centeredness from
within our hearts. By eating the Pesach matzot, we internalize the
quality of humility and self-transcendence that is the essence of faith.
Splitting the Sea
On the seventh day of Pesach, we commemorate the miracle of the splitting
of the Reed Sea--the culmination of the Exodus from Egypt. With the Egyptian
charioteers in hot pursuit, the Jewish people plunged into the sea; G-d "turned
the sea into dry land," thereby creating walls of water on both sides, and
allowed His people to pass through. Upon their crossing the sea, the water
returned to its normal state, drowning the Egyptians.
Our Sages explain that the splitting of the sea symbolizes yet another phase
in our spiritual journey toward true freedom. Just as the waters of the sea
cover over and conceal all that is in them, so does our material world conceal
the G-dly life force that maintains its very existence. The transformation
of the sea into dry land represents the revelation of the hidden truth that
the world is not separate from G-d, but is in fact one with Him.
Often, after "leaving Egypt"--after we overcome our limitations and ascend
to a higher level--we experience a rude awakening. We may have left Egypt,
but Egypt is still within us: We still view life in terms of the values of
a materialistic world. We must strive to become more fully aware of G-d's
constant presence and influence in our lives, until the "sea splits" and
our liberation is complete.
"I Will Show You Wonders"
In the words of the Prophet Michah, G-d proclaims, "As in the days when
you left Egypt, I will show you wonders." The Exodus from Egypt is the
prototype for the final Redemption, when Moshiach will come, and slavery
and suffering will be banished forever from the face of the earth.
Why, our Rabbis ask, does the verse say, "As in the days when you left
Egypt," when in fact the Exodus took place on one day?
The answer is that true liberation is an ongoing process. The first steps
out of "Egypt" are only the beginning. "In every generation," the Sages tell
us, "and on each and every day, one is obligated to see himself as if he
had gone out from Egypt that very day." All the lessons of Pesach
must be applied daily: we must rid ourselves of arrogance and become humble;
we must deepen our awareness of G-d, as though the Reed Sea has split; and
we must strive to improve our conduct, as befits the nation that received
the Torah on Mount Sinai. Every step we take toward Torah and mitzvot
brings us closer to the revelations of the messianic age.
The Final Redemption
The eighth day of Pesach is traditionally associated with our fervent
hope for the coming of Moshiach. The Haftorah (Prophetic reading)
for that day contains Isaiah's famous prophecies about the messianic era:
"The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie with the kid...
They shall do no evil, nor will they destroy . . . for the earth shall be
filled with the knowledge of G-d, as the waters cover the sea."
Maimonides (the "Rambam") cites the belief in Moshiach as one of the
thirteen essential principles of our faith. He explains in his codification
of Jewish Law that Moshiach is a Torah Sage, who will lead the multitudes
of Jewish people to the faithful observance of the Torah way of life. Eventually,
he will rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, gather in the exiles to Israel,
and usher in an age in which there is no hunger, no war, no jealousy or strife.
Signs of Hope
In today's chaotic world, one may find the concept of imminent Redemption
difficult to accept. We can take heart, however, from the story of
Pesach. Then, despite our abject subjugation at the hands of the world's
most ruthless and powerful nation--a nation from which not even a single
slave had ever escaped before--Redemption came swiftly, "in the blink of
an eye," and we were free.
In recent times, we have witnessed remarkable events that even secular leaders
have termed miraculous . . . the fall of communism, the Persian Gulf War,
the Exodus and ingathering of Jews to Israel from places of former oppression.
Today, the wealth of nations is turning from creating weapons of destruction
into means of construction and cooperation--the proverbial "sword into
plowshares." Such developments--long prophesied as harbingers of a messianic
age--strengthen our faith in Moshiach's imminent approach.
The last day of Pesach is a uniquely appropriate occasion for our
heartfelt prayers for Moshiach: ". . . Even though he may tarry, still I
anticipate his arrival every day." It will be a time of peace and plenty
for all humankind . . . a time when, as Maimonides goes on to say, we will
no longer have to struggle for a livelihood. "Delicacies will be as plentiful
as the dust, and we will all be free to engage in spiritual pursuits--to
deepen our knowledge of G-d."
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.
"Purim is thirty days before Passover. As Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi writes
in his Code of Jewish Law, thirty days before Passover, we should begin studying
the laws of the holiday.
"Similarly, since the celebration of the Passover holiday involves many expenses,
it is proper that efforts be made to provide everyone who lacks with their
"Although there are organizations involved with these activities throughout
the entire year, there must be an increase in these efforts in connection
with the Passover holidays, providing them with both food and clothing so
that they can celebrate the holiday in an ample manner, as befits 'free people.'"
(The Rebbe, 16 Adar, 5751)
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat
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).
Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ
Friday, March 19, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayikra:
Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 5:47 p.m.
Saturday, March 20, Shabbat Parshat Vayikra:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:49 p.m.
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
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.