"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Re'eh, 5759
Menachem-Av 24, 5759
August 6, 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.
In this week's issue we focus on:
1) Chof Av, the 20th of Av, Monday, Aug. 2--when we commemorate
the 55th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok.
2) The upcoming Hebrew month of Elul.
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
15 Menachem-Av, 5759
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Re'eh, speaks about a master's obligation
to bestow gifts upon his servant when the latter's years of servitude are
complete. "You shall furnish him liberally from your flocks, and of your
threshing-floor, and of your wine press," the Torah states. Maimonides classifies
this obligation as falling under the category of charity--the gifts are in
addition to the regular wages the master is required to pay.
Every facet of the Torah contains stores of wisdom for us to apply to our
lives. The above verses are symbolic of the relationship between any two
parties not on equal footing: The one on the higher level is always obligated
to share his wealth and blessings with those who are less fortunate.
The terms "master" and "servant" may also be applied, in the spiritual sense,
to the relationship between teacher and pupil. We see that this is not merely
symbolic, as a student is required to serve his teacher in the same way a
servant must attend his master. And a teacher's task is to instruct the pupil
until the student grasps the concept on his own.
But what about concepts that are far beyond the ability of the student to
comprehend, wisdom beyond the pupil's understanding? The commandment to bestow
gifts above and beyond what is required applies here as well. A good teacher
must ensure that his student acquires an appreciation of the deeper and more
esoteric knowledge, in addition to the basic requirements of the syllabus.
The teacher is obligated to share whatever knowledge he possesses with the
student, who possesses less.
This principle also applies to the relationship between Jews who are more
knowledgeable about Torah and mitzvot and those who are just beginning
to learn about their heritage. It is not sufficient to impart only those
Jewish concepts that are viewed as fundamental--the awesome depth and scope
of Judaism must be shared as well.
A basic principle in Judaism is that G-d behaves towards man according to
man's actions, measure for measure. When we share our wealth and bestow extra
charity--both physical and spiritual--upon our fellow man, G-d responds in
kind, granting us an abundance of His blessings.
For we are all G-d's servants, and He is the ultimate Master. The six thousand
years of creation parallel the six years of servitude a servant must work;
the seventh year parallels the freedom and redemption that follow--the Messianic
Era and the Final Redemption. By increasing our love for our fellow Jew and
demonstrating that love with concrete actions, G-d will surely bestow an
even greater measure of His infinite goodness upon us than ever before, with
the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.
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.
On Monday, Chof Menachem-Av, Menachem-Av 20, Aug. 2, we commemorate
the 55th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson,
known affectionately as Reb Leivik.(1)
A Torah prodigy from his early youth, he was granted rabbinic ordination
by some of the greatest rabbis of his time. A great scholar, teacher, and
community leader, much has been written about his books, commentaries and
letters, which he wrote under most unusual circumstances. Very little, however,
has been written about his great personality, partly because few who knew
him survived the Russian conditions and the war. Partly, too, because his
is an enigmatic personality whose essence it is difficult to grasp, for there
was a certain simplicity about him that belied his inner grandeur.
He was an outstanding scholar in Kabbalah, an area that is "closed"
even to most accomplished scholars. His knowledge of Kabbalah was
quite unusual in that it was not just a theoretical or esoteric scholarship,
but had practical application. Not that Reb Leivik used it to perform miracles,
although some earlier great kabbalists had demonstrated that that was possible.
He used it to better understand various halachic and talmudic passages and
coincidences that are usually not included in ordinary scholarly discussions.
Reb Leivik was concerned with these minute "abandoned" phenomena in Torah.
He knew the reasons and the explanations so well and so clearly that the
reader of his works cannot help marveling as he learns the Torah secrets
that are revealed on every page of our sanctified texts.
Reb Leivik was also able to explain various events that transpired in his
life according to Kabbalah. When he was imprisoned in 1939, for teaching
Judaism in Stalinist Russia, he was moved from prison to prison and from
city to city.
This is only one of the many rare aspects of this great tzaddik. A
man who, suffering great thirst and hunger because of water and food scarcities,
took the small ration of water and used it to wash and sanctify his hands,
a man who, after standing in a breadline with other prisoners during a famine,
came home and cried that he wasted so much time waiting for a tiny piece
of chametz, instead of preparing for the impending festival of
Passover--this was Reb Leivik.
Throughout his entire stay in prison, in fact, Reb Leivik's greatest anxiety
was not food, clothing, or shelter, but paper and ink. His greatest need
was to write, to reveal more and more secrets of Torah so that others might
share and draw inspiration from the depths and beauty of the words of our
That urge to give of what was dearest to himself--his kabbalistic Torah
insights--he expressed in the long talks that he delivered at every occasion.
But in prison and in exile he was in isolation; this exacerbated his suffering
and made his need to write down his thoughts even stronger.
When he was blessed with his Rebbetzin's arrival to share his exile--a
long and excruciating episode recorded in detail in her diary--he was extremely
happy with the holy books she was able to bring with her. Even before, though,
he had quoted from them in his writings, citing exact chapter, page, etc.
His joy at getting his beloved books was doubled, now, for besides being
able to study them, he would use their margins to write his insights, which
poured forth in tremendous volume. But he lacked ink, which was unavailable
in the area. Thanks to his Rebbetzin's genius and devotion, some ink
was manufactured from local herbs and plants.
Reb Leivik's unpretentiousness is also found in his writings, where he almost
never uses the style common to most scholars.
Reb Leivik made his comments directly, without any remarks or apologies,
without elaborating on the difficulty inherent in the quoted passage. But
what he said in his commentaries and in his letters is so profound and so
brilliant that one can feel justifiably proud just understanding it. One
must be a substantial scholar to merely comprehend even his simpler remarks,
let alone to question or analyze them.
While Reb Leivik accepted the Divine will that allotted him suffering Soviet
incarceration, he was not depressed or paralyzed spiritually. On the contrary,
he flourished spiritually under the most adverse conditions. Reb Leivik
concentrated on accomplishing the utmost in Torah learning and interpretation.
Chasidic philosophy teaches that from the nature of the reward for a
mitzvah we may glimpse the meaning of its essence. This is perhaps
true of people; from their reward we may perceive their greatness. Reb Leivik's
reward is his son, the present Rebbe.
1. He was the great-grandson of the third Rebbe, and was born on
Nissan 18, 5638/1878. He served as Chief Rabbi of the city of
Dnepropetrovsk (Yekatrinislav) in the difficult years of communistic, anti-Jewish
persecution. He was arrested in 1939, and then exiled to Asiatic Russia where
he endured terrible suffering for his staunch, uncompromising stand on all
matters of Jewish religious observances. He passed away Menachem-Av
20, 5704/1944, while still in exile.
This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Elul, a particularly
auspicious month that possesses a unique dimension. For during this month,
G-d is especially close to us and we are granted an extraordinary capacity
As every Torah portion has particular relevance for the time of year in which
it is read, let us examine the connection between the month of Elul
and the Torah portion, Re'eh, which we read this Shabbat.
Our portion begins with the words, "See! This day I give to you a blessing
and a curse." Every word in this verse contains an allusion to the special
nature of the service of the month of Elul, and the Divine assistance
we are given to fulfill it.
"See!:" The first thing a Jew must do is to open his eyes. Our sense
of sight affords a much more definitive verification of facts than does our
sense of hearing; when a person sees something with his own eyes he cannot
be dissuaded. A Jew's G-dly service must be performed with this same level
of absolute confidence and conviction.
But how are we, mere human beings living in a physical world, supposed to
attain this level? G-d provides the answer in the next word of the verse:
"I" ("Anochi"): The word Anochi relates to the Essence
of G-d, an aspect of G-dliness that is higher than Names. The reason we are
able to achieve these lofty spiritual heights is because the power to do
so is derived from this highest of Sources. The Torah continues:
"Give:" G-d gives us this Divine assistance according to the principle
of "He who gives, gives generously;" His gifts are bestowed willingly and
in great abundance.
"To you" ("Lifneichem"): This word is related to the Hebrew
word penimiyut, meaning "inside" and "within." The special boost we
receive from G-d during Elul is not superficial, but involves the
sum and substance of the Jew and enables him to connect with G-d on the deepest
"This day:" Lest anyone think that this Divine assistance is granted
only once, the Torah tells us that G-d's help is ongoing, enabling us to
serve G-d with renewed strength every day of the month.
And how are we to properly utilize this added dimension in our service?
"A blessing and a curse:" This refers to the observance of the Torah's
positive commandments and the avoidance of its prohibitions.
Directing our added capacity for teshuva in these two directions will
result in a good and sweet new year and a favorable inscription in the Book
This Shabbat we bless the Hebrew month of Elul, and we celebrate
Rosh Chodesh Elul, on Thursday, August 12, and Friday, August 13.
In addition to being the name of a Jewish month, the word Elul is
an acronym for five verses from the Bible which are connected to the five
different types of service, each identified with our new month.
The Rebbe enumerated these five verses:
Prayer--"I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." For it is through
prayer, the "duty of the heart," that our relationship with G-d is enhanced
Torah study--"It chanced to happen and I set aside for you a place."
This verse describes the Cities of Refuge to which a person who killed
unintentionally can flee. But it also refers to Torah study for "the words
of Torah provide refuge."
Deeds of Kindness--"A person [gives presents] to his friends and
gifts to the poor." In this verse the concept of deeds of kindness is clearly
Teshuva--"And G-d your L-rd will circumcise your heart and
the hearts of your descendants." For the service of teshuva--returning
to G-d wholeheartedly, is primarily the service of changing one's inner self,
the feelings of one's heart.
Redemption--"And they said, 'We will sing to G-d'" This phrase is
taken from the Song of Redemption sung at the Red Sea.
The first three services are identified with the three pillars of man's service.
These services must be permeated by the service of teshuva and by
the service of redemption and thus, they will be endowed with a boundless
quality that surpasses the limits of a person and the world at large.
A Month of Mercy
In the generation of the Exodus from Egypt, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three
The first was to receive the Torah.
The second was to plead with G-d for His forgiveness, after the Jewish people
sinned in worshipping the golden calf.
Then, on the first day of Elul--the month immediately preceding
Tishrei--Moses ascended the mountain a third time, to invoke G-d's
abundant mercy for our complete atonement.
He remained there for forty days, until Yom Kippur, when G-d
cleansed us completely, as though we had never sinned.
Since then, these days are marked as a special period of Divine grace, during
which our sincere prayers are sure to find favor in the eyes of G-d.
* The Shofar(2) is sounded every weekday morning,
except on Shabbat, and the last day of Elul, Erev Rosh
* Psalm 27 is added to the daily morning and afternoon prayers.
* It is customary to give additional charity each weekday.
* During the entire month of Elul we greet friends with the traditional
blessings of, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year."
It is customary to send friends and relatives New Year's greetings with blessings
for the coming year.
* It is customary to have our mezuzot and tefillin checked
to make sure they are still fit.
* To be more careful about keeping kosher.
* Beginning Saturday night, September 4, and on the following weekday mornings
until the eve of Rosh HaShanah, Selichot(4) (special
penitential prayers) are recited.
* Elul is an appropriate time to reflect on our actions and attitudes
of the previous year, and resolve to correct our shortcomings. We increase
our good deeds and try to be more meticulous in our observance of those
mitzvot that we already perform.
* * *
Why do we do all of this in the month of Elul? Can't it wait until
we're closer to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur--most of us "work" better
under pressure anyway!
These questions can be explained by a beautiful parable given by Rabbi Shneur
Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch:
Once each year, a very mighty king leaves his palace, his guards, his finery,
and goes out into the field to meet with his subjects. At that time, they
can ask of him anything they wish. They do not need to wait in long lines,
go through security checks, be announced ceremoniously. They can speak with
him without hesitation. When the king returns to his palace, his subjects
will once again have to go through all kinds of protocol to meet with him.
So, of course, his subjects make the most of the opportunity.
During the month of Elul, G-d is "in the field." We don't need to
go through all kinds of red tape to reach Him. We need only to come out to
meet Him, as it were, with a humble heart, and He will listen to us. He will
accept our repentance and consider our requests most carefully.
The King will soon be in the field. Make sure not to miss this opportunity.
2. Maimonides explains that the shofar is blown as the means of stirring
the Jew to repentance. He says the call of the shofar is: "Awaken,
you sleepers, from sleep, you slumberers from slumber; search your actions
and return in penitence."
3. To differentiate between the shofar sounding of Elul, which
is custom and that of Rosh HaShanah, which is prescribed by the Torah.
4. The Sephardic custom is to recite them during the entire month of
Elul. According to the Ashkenazic custom, they are recited beginning
on the Saturday preceding Rosh HaShanah after midnight and thereafter each
morning until Rosh HaShanah.
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.
Facilitate an increase in Jewish education for
A few years ago, near the end of the month of Av, the Rebbe explained:
"We are nearing the close of the month of Av, a month associated with
the destruction of the Holy Temple. Removing the cause of the Holy Temple's
destruction--'Jerusalem was destroyed solely because the Torah study of the
children was nullified'--will cause the effect, the destruction and the exile,
also to cease, and bring about the revelation of the Third Holy Temple. One
should assure an increase in the area of the education of Jewish children."
You can start by enrolling your child in a Jewish day school or afternoon
school program or giving a donation to an institution dedicated to Jewish
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, August 6, Erev Shabbat Parshat Re'eh:
Light Shabbat Candles,(5) by 7:48 p.m.
Saturday, August 7, Shabbat Parshat Re'eh:
Blessing of the New Month, Elul.(6)
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 5 of
Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(7)
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:52 p.m.
5. 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.
6. Rosh Chodesh Elul is celebrated on Thursday, August 12, and Friday,
7. 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 "G-4."
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.