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Parshat Matos-Masei, 5759

Tamuz 25, 5759
July 9, 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 the upcoming Hebrew month of Menachem-Av.


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

20 Tamuz, 5759
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Matos-Masei

In the Torah, two different names are used to refer to the tribes of Israel--shevatim and matos (as in the name of the first of the two Torah portions we read this week, Matos). Shevet, literally a staff, and mateh, literally a rod or stem, both denote the branches of a tree. The difference between them is that a shevet is a supple branch, attached to a living tree, whereas a mateh is a hardened stick already cut from the trunk.

The two names used to denote the Jewish tribes have spiritual significance, and refer to the type of connection every Jew has with G-d, symbolized by the tree. When the connection between the Jewish soul and its G-dly source is open and revealed, the word shevet is used. When, however, the bond between the Jew and G-d is hidden and obscured, the word matos is used to describe the Jewish people.

In general, the first description refers to the Jewish soul as it exists before coming down into the physical world. The soul, united with G-d, is directly connected to its source, just as the branch is still connected to its source of life, the tree.

After the soul makes its descent into a physical body, however, it more closely resembles the mateh which has been severed from the trunk. The vital connection to its source, to G-d, is no longer easily perceived and apparent, so much so that the soul may feel as if it has been totally cut off, G-d forbid. The afflictions of the physical body and the demands of the material world harden the tender soul, making it tough and less sensitive to spirituality.

Yet despite the fact that the shevet is still connected to its source, it is not as strong and rigid as the superior mateh, which has been tempered by its experience. The branch, while attached to the tree, is green and flexible. Only after it is cut off does it become a sturdy and dependable rod.

This, in essence, is the purpose for which the soul is sent down into this world and distanced from its G-dly source--to uncover the soul's hidden strengths and enable it to reach an even higher level of spiritual closeness to G-d than before. When the soul overcomes the challenges of the Evil Inclination and the hardships of a physical existence, its bond with G-d becomes infinitely stronger and deeper.

The distinction between shevet and mateh exists on another level, too. When the Holy Temple existed and G-dliness openly illuminated the world, the Jewish people were on the level of shevet. After the destruction, however, and the advent of the dark and bitter exile, we find ourselves on the level of mateh. For almost two thousand years the Jewish people have had to develop its hidden resources and stand strong in the face of suffering. When Moshiach comes and the G-dliness that is concealed within all of creation is revealed, the Jewish people, through having uncovered the mateh within their souls, will enjoy an even closer relationship with G-d, the true purpose of the entire exile.


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.


Looking up toward the stars on the Fourth of July, one can hardly miss the breathtaking sight of fireworks exploding all over the summer sky. Eyes darting here and there, exclamations of "oohs" and "ahhs" escaping the lips, fireworks are a special treat for young and old.

Did you ever wonder why we are supposed to say a blessing over every piece of food we eat? Or why the Shema is written on a piece of animal skin (parchment) and stuck up on the doorpost? Or did you ever think it a bit strange that the Torah spends so much time discussing the sacrifices or exactly which part of one's fields must be left available for the poor?

The answer is, spiritual fireworks!

Chasidic philosophy explains that G-d created everything with a spark of holiness. The holiness started out as one entity that "exploded." The sparks of the explosion scattered everywhere and were buried within every part of Creation. This explosion was no cosmic accident, though. It was part of G-d's master-plan for the world and His creations.

When we say a blessing over a piece of food, we are elevating the spark of holiness within the food. By using the energy that we derive from the food to do a mitzvah--like helping old lady carry her bags, we are further elevating the spark.

That we are ultimately elevating holy sparks by doing mitzvos does not negate the fact that we are also gaining from performing the mitzvos. Saying a blessing is good manners; it teaches us to be thankful to the One who has given us the food. Helping a little old lady can further refine our character and encourages us not to take for granted our good health and strength.

Like real fireworks, we can't see with the "naked eye" exactly where the spiritual sparks go once they've been released. But, when we do mitzvos, we can be assured that the sparks have been elevated. And, can you imagine what a beautiful sight it must be Above when those sparks are released?


During the Nine Days between the beginning of the Jewish month of Av and the 9th of Av (July 14 - 22), mourning intensifies. We abstain from eating meat and drinking wine except on Shabbat and for a Seudas Mitzvah (meal associated with a mitzvah such as a bris, or upon completing the study of a tractate of the Talmud). Lawsuits should be postponed, pleasure trips should be avoided.


Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem it says, "Everyone who mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will be privileged to see its rebuilding." We are not discussing here the obligation of the community at large, but rather the obligation of each and every individual. Each one of us has to mourn Jerusalem. And, although we have been promised that the Bais HaMikdosh will be rebuilt, we are obligated to help rebuild it.

The completion of this task requires not only the participation of the community in general, but also the participation of each individual in particular.

The Rebbe has said that, in order to aid in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and bring Moshiach closer, every individual must increase in Torah study, prayer and charity. An increase in charity is especially appropriate at this time, as we are told that charity brings the final Redemption closer, and "Zion--Jerusalem--will be redeemed through . . . tzedakah--charity."

May each and every one of us draw on that inner strength bestowed upon every Jew that will enable us to increase in all of the above-mentioned matters, bringing about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the complete and final Redemption through Moshiach, NOW!


Wednesday, July 14th, is the first day of the Hebrew month of Av. With the beginning of Av, the three-week mourning period over the destruction of the Temple intensifies.

The First of Av was also the day on which Aaron, the High Priest, passed away.

Concerning his passing, the Torah tells us that "All of the House of Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days." But for Moses, only the men wept, not the women. Why was this? Because Aaron made peace between husband and wife, and between friends.

It is a phenomenal example of Divine Providence that Aaron, who was known as a "pursuer of peace," passed away just on the day when, hundreds of years later, we would be intensifying our mourning over the destruction of the Temple. His life's work, evident even at his passing, shows us how to rectify the reason for which the Temple was destroyed.

The Second Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred among Jews. Hatred and divisiveness are equal to the sins of idolatry, adultery and murder, for which the First Temple was destroyed.

Especially at this time, we have much to learn from Aaron. We must try to emulate his wonderful example, by doing everything in our power to bring peace and harmony amongst our people. When this happens, we will no longer mourn the passing of Aaron, nor the destruction of the Holy Temples, for we will all be united, together as one, in the Third and everlasting Holy Temple, may it be rebuilt NOW.


See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"

Also, the text of the book: "Seek Out The Welfare Of Jerusalem" [Analytical Studies by the Rebbe, of Rambam's rulings concerning the Holy Temple], published by Sichos in English - is available on-line at: http://www.chabad.org/seekout.html, and is divided into a special study program.


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.

Make Torah Celebrations:

As a further preparation for the messianic era, to reveal the positive qualities and joy that are latent in these Three Weeks, conclusions of Torah works (siyyumim) should be held on each of the Nine Days (July 14 - 22), including Shabbat.

"These activities will hasten the transformation of these days into days of celebration, when with true and complete joy we shall proceed together with Moshiach, to the Holy Land, in the true and ultimate Redemption."

The Rebbe, 18 Tamuz, 5751/1991


For a siyyum in your area, contact your local rabbi or Chabad-Lubavitch 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).


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, July 9, Erev Shabbat Parshat Matos-Masei:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 8:10 p.m.

Saturday, July 10, Shabbat Parshat Matos-Masei:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Menachem-Av.(2)
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 1 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(3)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:19 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.

2. Rosh Chodesh Menachem-Av is on Wednesday, July 14.

3. The weekly chapter of Pirkei Avot with the Rebbe's commentaries, are available electronically via the Internet, by sending your subscription request to: listserv@chabad.org - Subscribe "G-4."

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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