"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Shemini, 5759
Nissan 23, 5759
April 9, 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 Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Iyar, therefore this week's
issue focuses on Iyar.
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
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Shemini, opens with a description of the
eighth and final day of the consecration of the Sanctuary, the day when the
Divine Presence first rested therein. The name of the Torah
portion--Shemini--means "eight" and alludes to the special significance
held by the number eight. Eight symbolizes that which is above the laws of
nature and the boundaries of our physical world. It stands for that aspect
of G-dliness that exists even beyond the realm of our human powers of
One would think that the contents of so lofty a section of the Torah would
deal with correspondingly lofty subject matter--philosophy, belief in G-d,
metaphysics--but we find that Shemini delineates the laws between
kosher and non-kosher animals. Why such a mundane subject for
a Torah portion that is supposed to express so high a level of holiness?
In many instances, a fine line exists between that which is kosher
and that which is forbidden. A kosher animal whose windpipe and esophagus
are only partially severed when slaughtered is not fit for consumption. A
difference of only a fraction of a centimeter can determine whether or not
the flesh of the animal is kosher or not, as Jewish law prescribes
that both windpipe and trachea be more than half severed with one movement
of the knife.
In our own lives, we also occasionally must make decisions that are as fine
as a hair's breadth. Choosing between good and evil when the choices are
obvious and blatant is much easier than making a decision between two extremely
fine points. For such decision-making, extra help from Above is necessary.
The Evil Inclination sometimes disguises itself in a "robe of holiness."
It discourages a person from performing a mitzvah through guile and
doubt, presenting all sorts of seemingly plausible and erudite excuses. A
person may become confused when the two paths of action before him both seem
to have merit. The Evil Inclination can even make a sin appear to be an actual
How are we to overcome the wiles and cunning of the Evil Inclination? How
can we be sure that the decisions we make are the right ones? By learning
the lesson that is taught in Shemini.
Man alone, bound as he is by the laws of nature and the limitations of the
human intellect, cannot always overcome his Evil Inclination. But when a
person gives himself over to G-d, who is not bound by any natural law and
is infinite, and asks His help to "distinguish between the unclean and the
clean," one can indeed conquer the Evil Inclination and avoid falling into
A Jew's connection to G-d is so strong that it cannot be split asunder by
any power on earth. When a Jew does a mitzvah--mitzvah comes
from the Hebrew word for binding together and connecting--he
ties himself to G-d with a supernatural strength. Armed with this power,
we can see through the mask of the Evil Inclination when we are presented
with even the finest points of contention.
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.
In this week's Torah portion, Shemini, we aren't just told what
constitutes a kosher animal--e.g., split hooves and chewing its cud--we
also learn that these animals and birds are specifically mentioned in the
Although thousands of years have passed since the Torah was given, and many
new species of animal have been "discovered" by man since then, not one animal
or bird has been found possessing the kosher characteristics besides
those enumerated in our Torah portion.
There was a time when people used to brush aside the laws of keeping
kosher as outdated, food storage and production being much more sanitary
than in former years. But the G-d-given commandment to keep kosher
was never dependent upon sanitary conditions. At one period in history, the
extra cleanliness of kosher food might have been an added
benefit of observing this important mitzvah, but it was never
the reason for keeping kosher.
In fact, keeping kosher is in the category of mitzvot known
as chukim--decrees. We are given no explanation by the Torah or our
rabbis as to why we were given these "decrees." But, since our Creator knows
what's best for us--which oils, fluids, fuels, etc. make the mechanics of
our soul run the smoothest--it is prudent and wise to follow His operating
Give keeping kosher a chance. You might want to start out slowly,
but once you get your engine revved up, you won't be able to imagine any
other way to keep your soul fine-tuned.
To change a non-kosher home to kosher is, admittedly, a major
undertaking. Any worthwhile change is bound to be difficult. In recognition
of this fact, Chabad-Lubavitch has formed a Kashrut Committee to assist
anyone sincerely interested in converting theirs to a kosher kitchen.
For more information, please call 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).
"And just as the Redemption was brought about in the days of Mordechai and
Esther (through the meticulous observance of Kashrut), so too, the
Redemption will be brought about in our days through the meticulous observance
of Kashrut." (The Midrash)
This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Iyar; therefore,
let's consider just two of the numerous points about the unique quality of
Iyar, as spelled in Hebrew, is an acronym for the verse, "I, G-d,
am your Healer." Thus, this month is an auspicious time for personal and
In addition, the Rebbe stressed many times the special quality of every single
day of the month of Iyar, as each day has its own special
mitzvah of sefira, or "counting."
The first time the Jewish people counted during this period between Passover
and Shavuot was when they left Egypt and were preparing themselves
to receive the great gift of G-d's Torah at Mount Sinai. At the time they
were on a journey not only toward Mount Sinai and ultimately the Holy Land,
but they were also on their own personal journeys of self-refinement and
In future years "sefira" was connected to the counting of the
omer, a measure of barley that the Jews brought as an offering in
the Holy Temple on the second day of Passover.(1)
Even as we await the rebuilding of the Third and eternal Holy Temple, we
recite the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah of counting the
omer each evening from the second night of Passover until the eve
of Shavuot. And as we do so, we, too, travel on our own personal journeys
of self-refinement and purification, thereby drawing holiness into this world,
and preparing it for the arrival of Moshiach.
This, then, is the essence of part of the uniqueness of the month of
Iyar. Each day in this month has the mitzvah of counting (as
compared to the previous month of Nissan and the next month of
Sivan, which only have a few days with this mitzvah). And each
day is filled with the longing and preparation for the giving of the Torah.
Similarly, each day brings with it renewed introspection and the desire for
character refinement and purification.
May we complete our personal and national counting in the Holy Temple with
* * *
Counting the omer teaches us that every day counts. It reminds us
that each hour, each minute, should be filled with words, thoughts and deeds
of which we can be proud. And, too, that we are held accountable for every
precious second of life with which our Creator has blessed us.
"But, hold on a minute!" one might silently shout. "I'm just finding out
about this now. I've already missed out on making the past 20 days (or 20
years) count. What can I do to rectify the situation?"
The answer to this heartfelt cry lies in the uniqueness of the month of
Iyar and the mitzvah with which it is intertwined. Each day
holds a separate mitzvah, a unique opportunity, a particular mission.
True, you might have passed up prior chances, but today's and tomorrow's
minutes and hours are still available for you to fill with meaningful moments.
And by making our days count from now on, we can, in truth, rectify that
which we were missing in the past.
1. See The Story of the Omer, printed in Living
With Moshiach, Vol. 164.
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 Ethics of the Fathers
We read one chapter of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) each
Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, because these are the days
leading up to the Giving of the Torah and Pirkei Avot contain ethics
and moral exhortations to help us improve ourselves so that we are worthy
of the Torah.
The Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters, but
also actually studying them.
The weekly chapter of Pirkei Avot with the Rebbe's commentaries, are
available electronically via the Internet, by sending your subscription request
to: firstname.lastname@example.org - Subscribe
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, April 9, Erev Shabbat Parshat
Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:09 p.m.
Saturday, April 10, Shabbat Parshat
Blessing of the New Month, Iyar.(3)
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 1 of
Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:12 p.m.
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 Iyar is on Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17.
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.