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Parshat Behar-Bechukotai, 5759

Iyar 21, 5759
May 7, 1999


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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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 Lag B'Omer, the 18th of 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 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

14 Iyar, 5759
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Behar

The first of this week's two Torah portions, Behar, contains the mitzvah of Shemita, the commandment to allow the holy land of Israel to lie fallow every seventh year. "When you come into the land which I give you . . . six years shall you sow your field . . . but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of rest for the land, a Sabbath for the L-rd: your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune."

As reward for this mitzvah, G-d promises to provide the Jewish people with sustenance in overwhelming abundance, more than enough to compensate for their cessation of labor for an entire year. "And if you should say, 'What will we eat in the seventh year? For behold, we are not permitted to sow, and we cannot gather in our harvest,' then will I command My blessing to you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth a harvest for three years." During the sixth year, sufficient crops will be harvested to last throughout the sixth, seventh, and even eighth year of the cycle.

Symbolically, the sixth year of the Shemita cycle alludes to the six thousand years of the world's existence; the seventh year alludes to the Messianic Era. The service of the Jewish people throughout the first six thousand years has served to ready the world for the ultimate Sabbath of the seventh millennium, when peace and tranquillity will reign triumphant.

We find ourselves now at the end of the six thousand year period. "What will we eat during the seventh year?" we ask. How can our lowly generation, which is on an infinitely lower spiritual level than that of our forefathers, possibly bring about the Final Redemption?

G-d reassures us that we need not worry: "I will command My blessing to you in the sixth year," we are promised. G-d has endowed our generation with special strengths and abilities, for despite our spiritual poverty, we have a merit previous generations did not--that extra measure of self-sacrifice necessary for preserving the spark of Jewishness throughout the darkness of the exile. This special power has been granted precisely to our generation, the last generation of exile and the first of Redemption, in order to prepare the world and sow the seeds of the great revelation of G-dliness about to begin.

When Moshiach comes, speedily in our day, G-d's promise to "bring forth a harvest for three years" will find ultimate fulfillment in the three distinct phases of the Final Redemption millennium itself: the Messianic Era, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the seventh millennium itself.


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.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

On the third day--twice blessed with "It was good"--
of the weekly portion of(1) Counting the Omer, 5735 [1975]

To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere

G-d bless you--

The auspicious day of Lag B'Omer is approaching, the day of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai's [known as "Rashbi"] simchah [rejoicing]; the day of which it is said: "On this day it is a mitzvah to celebrate Rashbi's simchah, and for those living in the Holy Land --to go to his grave and rejoice there greatly."

This year [5735/1975] Lag B'Omer significantly occurs on (Tuesday) the day on which the Creator expressed His special satisfaction by repeating "It was good" twice--an allusion to two "goods": good to Heaven and good to the creatures.

It is, therefore, surely an auspicious time--the day of Lag B'Omer itself, as well as the days immediately preceding and following it, which respectively serve as preparation for, and first-fruits of, Lag B'Omer--to rejoice greatly with the simchah of mitzvot, especially mitzvot that combine both "goods," good to Heaven (man's duties to G-d) and good to the creatures (man's duties to man). This includes, of course, the mitzvah of encouraging Jews to do mitzvot (or do them more devoutly), as this effort of spreading the observance of any mitzvah is also an act of loving-kindness.

And since influence in this direction generally--indeed, inevitably--involves quoting words of Torah and instructing in the laws of the particular mitzvah, it comes under the mitzvah of Torah-learning and teachings.

Thus both--the effort to encourage Jews to do mitzvot, and the manner of this effort--are mitzvot of "good to the creatures."

Hence it is an opportune occasion to remind everyone, again and again, that which has been urged for some time now, in regard to active promotion of the observance of mitzvot. Indeed, in light of the relevancy to Rashbi and Lag B'Omer, the special Mitzvah Campaigns that have been stressed lately(2) assume an added significance, as follows:

Torah Campaign--since the Torah was the vocation of Rashbi and his colleagues;

Tefillin Campaign--concerning which it is said in Rashbi's Book, the Zohar, that tefillin is a G-dly crown, and one who adorns himself with this "Supernal Sacred Crown" is given the title of King of the Earth, companion to the King in Heaven, the Holy One blessed be He.

Mezuzah Campaign--the Zohar says: "When a person affixes a mezuzah at the entrance to his house... he adorns himself with his Master's crown and keeps evil things away from his door."

Tzedakah Campaign--of which it is said in the Zohar: "Whoever shows heartfelt compassion for the poor... rules over all creatures of the world."

House Filled with Sacred Books--of Torah and Tefillah (Prayer)--of which it is said in the Zohar: "That studying Torah and worshipping G-d, command everybody's respect and awe."

Candle-lighting to usher in the holy Shabbat--of which Rashbi declares that it is a sublime honor for her (who lights the candles)... to be blessed with children... who will foster peace on earth, etc.

May G-d grant that through the said activities, in the spirit of all that has been said above, and within the framework of commitment to Torah and mitzvot in the daily life, beginning with the Torah Campaign (both the Revealed and Inner Torah), thereby removing the cause of the protracted Exile, namely, bitul Torah (neglect of Torah)--we will see the realization of "G-d is my King since the days of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."

And will soon merit the true and complete Redemption through the Melech HaMoshiach.

Then it will come to pass that "None shall any more have to teach the other... for all will know Me," as Rashbi explains, since everyone will be filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and valor, knowledge and fear of G-d.


1. Parshat Emor. Ed.

2. In subsequent years the Rebbe added the following Mitzvah Campaigns: Family Purity and Kashrut, in 1975; Love of a Fellow Jew and Jewish Education for Children, in 1976; Letter in a Torah Scroll, in 1981; Study of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, in 1984; and Intensification of the Moshiach Campaign, in 1991. Ed.


Tuesday, Iyar 18 (May 4), is Lag B'Omer. Lag B'Omer is the 33rd (lamed-gimel, hence lag in Hebrew) day of the Omer period (between Passover and Shavuot), is the anniversary of the passing--yahrtzeit--of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (commonly known by the acronym of his name, Rashbi), author of the Zohar.

Rashbi lived in the 2nd century b.c.e. He openly criticized the Roman government and was forced to go into hiding. He and his son hid in a cave and immersed themselves in Torah. Emerging after 13 years he founded an academy in the Gallilee. His esoteric teachings were recorded by his disciples in the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. On his yahtrzeit on Lag B'Omer, tens of thousands gather at his tomb in Meron, in northern Gallilee.


Before his death, Rashbi instructed his students to rejoice on the day of his yahrtzeit. The Holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria--one of the greatest scholars in the mystical aspects of the Torah--taught the great virtue of rejoicing on that day. Later the Baal Shem Tov and his followers strengthened the custom of rejoicing on the yahrtzeit.


According to tradition, rainbows (a symbol of G-d's promise to never send another flood) were not seen while Rashbi was alive because his merit alone was enough to protect the world against the calamity of a flood. Since "rainbow" and "bow" are both called keshet in Hebrew, the custom developed for children to play with bows and arrows on Lag B'Omer.


As in previous years, parades and outdoor events in honor of Lag B'Omer will take place on Tuesday, Iyar 18 (May 4), around the world. Organized by local Chabad-Lubavitch Centers, programs usually include live family entertainment, bonfires and an all-around good time for all.

For a Lag B'Omer program in your area, contact your local Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area: http://www.chabad.org/chabadir-access.html.
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


Lag B'Omer is a day of rejoicing and festivity. It is the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, who proclaimed the day of his passing as a day of celebration.

The celebration of Lag B'Omer has an effect on the entire world, even non-Jews, as Rabbi Shimon stated: "I can free the entire world from judgment..." --"the entire world" includes non-Jews as well. He was able to do this because, as Chasidus teaches, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was one of those unique individuals who were actually above the exile, and immune to it; G-dliness was not hidden from him, but rather, was fully revealed.

Thus, Rabbi Shimon was able to see the G-dliness and intrinsic worth of every Jew, and for that matter, every created thing, and was therefore able to find merit for its existence.

This is part of the task of each and every one of us in these last moments of exile. It is also the first stage in the G-dly revelation necessary to completely transform exile into Redemption.

The first stage is to reveal within the world that G-d is its Master. Since the world itself conceals the G-dliness within it (the word 'olam'--world--relates to 'helam,' concealment), a Jew must serve G-d in a way that reveals that everything within the world has G-dliness within it.

We must use everything in our world for its ultimate G-dly purpose, whether that be receiving Torah thoughts over the fax machine or enhancing our Jewish education via e-mail or jogging with a walkman that is playing a Torah tape.

The unique quality of our generation is that we have not only been given the wherewithal to make giant leaps forward in the area of technology, but that almost concurrently, we have devised Jewish applications for those technological breakthroughs.

May we begin revealing the G-dliness inherent in our lives, thus preparing ourselves for and hastening the total revelation of G-dliness with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!


Respect. Self-respect. Respect for other people. Respect for other's property and opinions.

Respect never goes out of style, it's always politically correct, and it does not become obsolete as technology catapults us toward the next millennium.

The revered and venerated Sage, Rabbi Akiva, is renown for his teaching, "Love your fellow as yourself. This is a great principle of the Torah." A lesser known teaching of his is: "Beloved is a person, for he was created in the image of G-d..." Keeping this second teaching in mind can help one act on the first teaching; when we remember that every person is a Divine creation can we do anything less than respect him or her?

* * *

On Tuesday, Iyar 18 (May 4), we celebrate the special day of Lag B'Omer. One of the events commemorated on Lag B'Omer is the suspension of a plague that had been afflicting the students of Rabbi Akiva. The plague, we are told, was caused by the students not displaying enough respect for one another.

A disciple is one who follows in the ways of his teacher. Is it possible that disciples of one whose entire life was consumed by the axiom, "Love your fellow as yourself"--so much so that this teaching is synonymous with the name "Rabbi Akiva"--did not display enough respect for each other?

An amazing insight of the Rebbe on this question is as follows:

Each of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students was so infused with love for his fellow that this love was all-consuming. He was not able to give his colleague "space." He loved his friend so much that he wanted to not only share his insights, opinions and interpretations, but also to convince his peer of their validity until the peer adopted them as his own.

Remember, we're not talking about a person who is opinionated, arrogant, narcissistic, or condescending. We are talking about someone who loves the other person so much that he wants the other person to share his Truth (with a capital "T").

And this is where the hint of a suggestion of a lack of respect comes in. Respect includes giving another person space. It means allowing for divergent opinions. It acknowledges that G-d created every person differently for a reason. Yes, we can learn to harmonize, modify, accommodate, adapt, perfect. But we cannot expect to become the same, otherwise G-d would have created us that way.

* * *

Most of us don't have to worry that our lack of respect for another is caused by such an all-encompassing love. We're still working on the regular, run-of-the-mill respect.

The way to encourage such respect is to begin looking at our fellow person as one who is created in the image of G-d.


The(3) outer yard surrounding the room where the graves of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son were buried was jammed with Jews from all over Israel. They had come to Meron on Lag B'Omer--the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the 33rd day of the counting of the omer with their whole family. Today, they would cut their three-year-old sons' long hair for the first time--leaving only the side-locks.

The voices of thousands of Jews could be heard as they recited Psalms. There were Jews of all types, whose ancestors came from all over the world. All were praying and begging G-d to help them raise their children in Torah and good deeds in the merit of Rabbi Shimon.

It was already after midday on Friday and time to get ready for Shabbat. The visitors from Tiberias, Tzfat, Haifa and the residents from other cities and towns in the Galilee started to leave for their homes in order to arrive before Shabbat.

Many of the visitors, though, especially the ones from far away Jerusalem, remained for Shabbat.

On Friday night, the beautiful melodies of the various groups praying reached the heights of the nearby mountains. Their hearts were overflowing as thousands of Jews joined together to dance and sing.

Shabbat morning arrived and the men gathered in large groups to descend the valley to the small Meggido Lake where they immersed themselves to prepare for the morning prayers. The last minyan had finished the morning prayers when a scream pierced the Sabbath atmosphere. A woman who had brought her son just yesterday for his first haircut was crying hysterically.

Her son had suddenly become sick and died. Doctors who were sent from the British government to the area immediately put the entire section under quarantine. No one could come and no one could leave.

Suddenly, the mother gathered the boy in her arms and went into the room where Rabbi Shimon was buried. She placed the dead child on the Rabbi's grave and started crying, "Oh great tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon. I, your servant, came in your honor to cut the hair of my child. I came to make my son, my first and only child, into a good Jew. I kept my promise to come here on Lag B'Omer. Only yesterday I held him here and cut his hair in song and joy. Now, great tzaddik, how shall I return home in great pain without my child? How can I bear to go on?"

In the midst of her prayers, the mother arose and said, "Tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon, I am laying my child on your grave as he is. I beg of you, with tears, do not shame me. Give me back my child just as I brought him here. Let the great name of G-d be exalted along with the name of the great tzaddik. Let everyone know that there is a G-d ruling over this world."

The woman concluded her prayers and left the room, leaving her dead son on the grave of Rabbi Shimon. The doors of the room were closed as everyone left the room.

A few moments later a child's scream was heard from behind the closed door. The mother ran into the room and in shock and disbelief she saw her son standing on his feet and crying for a glass of water. Happiness and commotion filled the room. The local doctors examining the child announced in wonder that this was not a natural or normal incident, but rather a miracle that must have happened in the merit of the great tzaddik Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

The governmental agents immediately reopened the gates and the masses once again poured inside. Everyone seeing the revived child pronounced the blessing "Blessed be G-d who revives the dead."


3. Adapted from Hilulai D'Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai--the author of which witnessed the scene 54 years ago with his own eyes.


Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles

For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
or: http://www.knowledgengineers.com/Havienu/html/vestibule/hebcal.html

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, May 7, Erev Shabbat Parshat Behar-Bechukotai:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 7:38 p.m.

Saturday, May 8, Shabbat Parshat Behar-Bechukotai:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 5 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:45 p.m.


4. 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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