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Parshat Bamidbar, 5759

Iyar 28, 5759
May 14, 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 Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Sivan, therefore this week's issue focuses on Sivan.


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

Lag B'Omer, 5759
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Bamidbar

The name of this week's Torah portion, Bamidbar, which begins the Book of Numbers, means literally "in the wilderness." Indeed, there are many places that can be considered a wilderness, in the Jewish sense. Any locale lacking Jewish institutions of learning or where kosher food is hard to obtain is a desert, as far as the Jew is concerned. From a physical standpoint, these places may be the most beautiful garden spots on earth. But if they lack those things a Jew needs to survive, they are desolate and barren.

A Jew who finds himself in such a wilderness may think it impossible to lead a full Jewish life under such circumstances. At first he may give up those practices he sees as not absolutely essential to his spiritual well-being; slowly but surely, he is likely to abandon even those fundamental to his existence as a Jew. "But things are different out here in the desert," he may claim. "One cannot behave in a wilderness as one does in a Jewish environment!"

This week's Torah reading, however, underscores just how baseless this argument is. Bamidbar describes how the responsibility for setting up and carrying the Sanctuary and its numerous vessels and implements through the wilderness was divided up among the various Levite families. For forty years, no matter where their journeys led them, the children of Israel erected the Sanctuary each time they encamped.

How were the Jews able to do all this--in a desert, no less--a place devoid of human habitation, let alone conducive to Jewish practice?

The Torah teaches that G-d does not set boundaries for holiness, decreeing that it exist only within certain limits. No matter where a Jew finds himself, be it a spiritual desert or a Jewish enclave, he possesses the power to erect a Sanctuary to G-d and to imbue his surroundings with holiness. All he needs to do is to allow the G-dly light of his Divine Jewish soul to shine through, and he will see that all obstacles and difficulties disappear.

This teaching, which we learn from the erection of the Sanctuary in the desert, applies to each and every Jew, although most specifically to Jewish women. Generations ago in the wilderness, it was the women who first came forward, before the men, to donate their possessions to build the Sanctuary. This action was indicative of the special power women are granted to enhance their surroundings with holiness. Jewish women have always remained strong in the face of negative outside influences. The Jewish woman is the one who sets the tone in the home and to whom the education of the next generation is entrusted, no matter where the Jewish family may wander.


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.


Her plan was clear. She would go every day to the House of Prayer and the Houses of Study. Her child, though still unborn, would come to know the sounds of the holy words of Torah.

To her friends, she would explain: "I am going to the House of Prayer, so that my baby can hear the holy words."

On this particular cold, winter day, she sat immersed in her own prayer to the One Above to bless her child with wisdom and the ability to toil in His Torah. She sat until the scholars emerged. Shyly, she approached the first, "Please, bless my child with wisdom." The elderly sage smiled at the young woman whose presence no longer surprised him. "May your child shine with the light of Torah," he replied. She continued on to the various Houses of Study where she would sit beneath the open windows, the words of Torah permeating her essence.

The months passed. The young woman still made her early morning rounds, but now she was accompanied by her baby son, Yehoshua Ben Chananya.

She still visited both the Houses of Prayer and the Houses of Study, but now she propped up the baby in a cradle. And from the early morning until the heat of the day had passed, the tiny baby sat, dozed, ate, and dozed again while the sacred melodies of Torah learning filled the air, enveloping him and filtering into his consciousness.

* * *

Rabbi Yehoshua was tired. The road to Rome was long and difficult. But, praised be G-d, his mission had met with success. His nerve-wracking debates with the vicious Hadrian had yielded the hoped-for result--the severe decrees against the Jews had been rescinded. He could return home to Yavne in peace, with good news for his colleagues in the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court) and all his fellow Jews. For now, at least, the Jews could breathe more easily.

Rabbi Yehoshua's tremendous scholarship and his generous, kindly nature made him respected and beloved by all. As the years passed, he accumulated greatness and honor.

* * *

One day, already an old man, Rabbi Yehoshua sat with his students exploring a question in Jewish law. Was it incumbent upon the parents to bring their small children to hear the reading of the Torah once every seven years during the Hakhel year? Rabbi Yehoshua listened attentively to the discussion, and then, as if seeing some far-off vision, related the story of how his mother would rise before dawn to sit beneath the open windows and allow her child to absorb the feel and essence of the holy words. All his life, Rabbi Yehoshua continued, he recalled his mother with blessing, for it was she who instilled in him the holiness to which his soul became attached.

Rabbi Yehoshua's comment sealed the discussion with his own beautiful truth.

* * *

To those familiar with the Jewish view of the age at which one's Jewish education begins, a recent study, explored in Time magazine, comes as no surprise. Research on the brain has "discovered" the importance of stimulating a child's brain from birth, and that most of the growth and development of the brain takes place from birth to age three.

In Jewish tradition, a child's formal education does not begin until the age of three. Until that time a child's primary teacher, stimulator, nurturer, is his/her mother. Only once a child reaches the age of three, after the explosive development of the brain has slowed, does a child leave his mother's pushing, prodding, preparing, prompting, and parenting to begin conventional schooling.

Jewish continuity is Jewish motherhood. It is Jewish mothers instilling in their children, from birth and even before, a love of G-d, a love of the Torah, and a love of the Jewish people, which are all intricately connected and one.

Happy Mother's Day!


Our Sages relate that "in the merit of the righteous women, the Jews were redeemed from Egypt." Similarly, the Sages associated subsequent redemptions with the merit of Jewish women. Rabbi Yitzchok Luria emphasized that the future Redemption will follow the pattern of the Exodus, and thus will also come as a result of the merit of the righteous women of that generation.

From "Women as Partners in the Dynamic of Creation"

Based on the Works of the Rebbe

This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Sivan. The theme of the month of Sivan is intertwined with the main festival of the month, Shavuot.

On the first day of Sivan the Children of Israel encamped in the wilderness of Sinai ready to receive the Torah. Concerning this the Torah states, "And Israel encamped there..." using the singular form of the verb "encamped" regarding which our Sages teach us that this means that the people were like one person with one heart.

Though many other times when the Jews made camp there was strife and contention, when they encamped to receive the Torah they were totally united.

Thus, it is clear that one of the prerequisites for receiving the Torah--and every year at this time we prepare to receive the Torah once again--is to enhance and foster unity amongst the Jewish people.

The "easy way" to become more united with other Jews is to follow two essential teachings of our Sages: "Love your fellow as yourself; Judge every person favorably."

Where is the place to start? The place to start is with ourselves and our own families. This, of course, doesn't mean that we have to perfect these relationships before we can extend the teachings to others, but it is certainly the correct place to start as "charity begins at home."

If we keep these fundamental teachings in mind we will certainly foster Jewish unity in our own little world, which will ultimately impact on the entire world.


On Sunday, May 16, G-d willing, we will, be celebrating Rosh Chodesh Sivan, starting the new Hebrew month of Sivan.

Rosh Chodesh is celebrated as a mini-holiday, with special prayers and finer food and clothing. Jewish women, in particular, observe Rosh Chodesh more meticulously.

What is the reason for Jewish women's stricter celebration of Rosh Chodesh?

Rabbi Eliezer wrote: "When the men came to ask for their wives' gold earrings for the Golden Calf, the women refused to hand them over. They said to their husbands: 'We will not obey you in order to make an abomination that has no power to save!' G-d rewarded them in this world, giving them a greater degree of observance on Rosh Chodesh, and He rewards them in the World to Come, giving them the power of constant renewal that characterizes [the renewal of the moon on] Rosh Chodesh."

On a more general note, the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, and our people are compared to the moon. Although our light is sometimes eclipsed by that of other nations, like the moon we are always here--both at night and by day. Our nation's history has its share of growth and decline; like the moon we wax and wane. But ultimately, these are just phases. For, although at times we seem to be as unimportant or insignificant as the sliver of the moon when it reappears, this is just a veneer.

May we sanctify the new moon this year and celebrate Rosh Chodesh Sivan in the Holy Temple with Moshiach.


From letters of the Rebbe to participants at the annual
Lubavitch Women's Organization conventions

It is appropriate to reflect on the significance of Rosh Chodesh--the new month--in general, and Rosh Chodesh Sivan in particular, insofar as Jewish women are concerned. For, in some respects, Rosh Chodesh is even more significant for Jewish women than men, and that is why there are certain customs on Rosh Chodesh which apply to women only.

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the day when the children of Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah, recalls with special emphasis the particular spiritual quality of Jewish women, and their particular merit and privilege in connection with the receiving of the Torah and the first great trial soon after.

As our Sages have emphasized, the Jewish women were approached first to accept the Torah. Their consciousness of the responsibility for the preservation of the Torah boldly expressed itself during the first test of loyalty to G-d, soon after the Giving of the Torah. This took place when the women categorically refused to have anything to do with the construction of the Golden Calf, even through contributing any of their gold jewelry. For this reason, the day of Rosh Chodesh is a day of forgiveness for the Jewish women. On the other hand, when it came to the building of the Tabernacle in the desert, the Jewish women were once again first in contributing generously from their personal possessions toward the building of the Tabernacle.

Thus, both in the area of "Sur Meira--Turn away from evil," as well as in the area of "Aseh Tov--Do good," the Jewish women have excelled themselves, and they are the ones who are expected at all times to be first and show an example to the men. This also means that Jewish women have been endowed with special Divine gifts to be able to live up to these expectations.

* * *

The Torah tells us that on Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Jewish people finally reached Mount Sinai, where they attained a state of complete unity, as indicated in the words, "and Israel encamped there" (in the singular)--all of them as one, united and unified by the singular thought of receiving the Torah and mitzvot.

The significance of that moment is pointed out by our Sages of blessed memory, declaring that the unity of the Jewish people, was the condition for receiving the Torah.

It has been often emphasized that there are crucial moments in the life of our people, especially in the area of Torah and Judaism, where the Jewish woman plays a most important role. One of such areas is the unity of the family. Here the woman holds the main keys of harmony between the parents and the children, the parents vis-a-vis each other, and the children in relation to one another. In this area the wife and mother clearly has a decisive role, and in most cases an even more decisive role than that of the husband and father. This is one of the reasons why the Jewish woman holds the title of Akeret HaBayit--Foundation of the Home.

It is likewise clear that Jewish unity in a broader sense--unity between one family and another, and unity on a national level--is dependent upon harmony within the family unit. Where harmony is lacking, G-d forbid, within the family, surely no harmony can prevail between such a family and another.

However, even where there is complete harmony within the family, there still remains the problem of achieving unity on the national level. Let us remember that the basis for true Jewish unity is the Torah and mitzvot.

If throughout the ages it hasn't been easy to achieve unity, the problem has become much more complicated in this age of "freedom" in the "free" countries of the world, where people are not restricted in their choice of domicile, occupation, educational facilities, free expression of opinions, ideas, etc.

All these diversities and dispersions--geographic, social, cultural, etc.--are by-products of the contemporary "free" society in which we live. The newly created conditions have produced new problems and difficulties, which, however, must be viewed as challenges. With the proper approach and a determined will, they can be resolved.


Sunday, May 16, is Rosh Chodesh Sivan. On this day, 3,311 years ago, the Jewish people came to the Sinai desert and encamped there, ready to receive the Torah.

The Torah tells us, "In the third month after the departure of the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on this day they came to the wilderness of Sinai. They had departed from Refidim and had arrived in the Sinai desert, camping in the wilderness. And Israel camped there opposite the mountain."

Interestingly, the use of the word camp the second time here is in the singular form in Hebrew, though still speaking about all of the Jewish people.

The singular form of the verb is used because the Jewish people were united as one--"like one person with one heart"--our Sages tell us. And it was precisely this unity that prepared and allowed the Jewish people to receive the Torah and experience the revelation of G-dliness on Mount Sinai.

The unity of the Jewish people preceded the revelation of the Torah. Uniting and unifying our people today can and should be a preparation for the Final Redemption when we will have the ultimate revelation of the goodness and holiness of every single Jew.

The Rebbe expressed this concept in a talk, a number of years ago:

"The Redemption will unify all of Israel, from the greatest to the smallest. For not a single Jew will remain in exile: 'You, the Children of Israel, will be gathered in one by one.' Moreover, the multitudes who will then be gathered in are referred to in the singular: 'A great congregation will return--in the singular-- here.'

"In preparation for this state, therefore, one should make every endeavor to unify all Jews, in a spirit of the love of a fellow Jew, and of the unity of all Israel."

There are times when arguments are waged for the sake of Heaven, and many great things are thereby attained. But for the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai, there had to be unity of the Jewish people. And as a preparation for the revelation of the Torah Chadasha--new and deeper Torah, which will be revealed in the Messianic Era--we would do well to heed the Rebbe's words and work towards unity and love of all Jews.


Vacation time is drawing near. Will you opt for a relaxing summer in a quiet cabin in a secluded spot, or something more exotic and interesting?

Whatever our vacation plans might include, most of us put much time and thought into making sure that the "time off" will be a success. We consider which clothing to take, what food to bring along (and what can be purchased locally), cost, accommodations, and much, much more.

While you're making your vacation plans, consider the following: Summertime brings with it a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. This special ambiance creates the perfect opportunity to give children and young people, in particular, a positive Jewish experience.

The huge network of day and overnight camps sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world are expert in creating just such a positive, warm, authentic Jewish environment.

Undoubtedly, in nearly every city where you might find yourself this summer, there will be a Chabad camp to which you can send your child(ren). Whether for a week or an entire summer, the Jewish experience the children will have cannot be duplicated.

So, when you're writing to the Chamber of Commerce in city X, or telephoning the visitors' information center in city Y, make sure to get in touch with the Chabad-Lubavitch representative in city X or Y and find out about their camp program. It's one part of your summer plans you'll never regret.


The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." Hence, we present suggestions from the Rebbe's talks of what we can do to complete the Rebbe's work of bringing the Redemption.

Get Ready for Shavuot

"The coming days must be used in preparation for 'the season of the giving of our Torah.'

"In particular, based on the concept that our children are the 'guarantors of the Torah,' efforts should be made to bring all Jewish children, even those of a very young age, to shul on Shavuot(1) to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. Even though the children may not appreciate what they hear, their presence has an influence on the source of their souls."

(The Rebbe, 24 Iyar, 5750/1990)


1. This year, on Friday morning, May 21.


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 14, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, May 15, Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Sivan.(3)
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 6 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:53 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 Sivan is on Sunday, May 16.

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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