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Parshat Ki Tavo, 5759

Elul 15, 5759
August 27, 1999


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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[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 issue we focus on Chai Elul, the 18th of Elul, next Monday, August 30.


We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a K'Siva Vachasima Tova, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


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

11 Elul, 5759
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Ki Tavo

The Torah portion of Ki Tavo is always read close to Chai (the Eighteenth) of Elul, the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov - founder of Chasidus in general and Rabbi Shneur Zalman - founder of Chabad Chasidus in particular. In fact, Ki Tavo and Chai Elul share the common theme of ahavat Yisrael, loving our fellow Jew.

Ahavat Yisrael is a fundamental precept of Chasidus, as revealed by the Baal Shem Tov. It is also the "heart" of Chabad Chasidus, as we see from Rabbi Shneur Zalman's treatment of the subject in chapter 32 in Tanya (32, lamed-beis in Hebrew letter equivalent, spells lev - heart.)

Ahavat Yisrael is also stressed in the beginning of this week's Torah portion: "And it shall come to pass when you come into the land...and take possession of it and dwell therein...you shall take the first of all the fruit of the soil [bikurim]...and you shall come to the priest...and rejoice in every good thing which the L-rd your G-d has given you."

Comments Rashi: "This teaches that the Jews were not required to bring the bikurim until they conquered and divided the land." Until all of the Land of Israel was possessed by the entire Jewish people, those who had already received their portion of land were not required to bring the bikurim offering.

A question is asked: If the apportionment of land was gradual, and those who received their portion were permitted to immediately cultivate it, why did they have to wait until everyone had received his portion? Why couldn't they offer their first fruits as soon as they were able?

The answer is that the mitzvah of first fruits must be observed with joy and gratitude, rejoicing in the land of Israel and its produce, as it states, "And rejoice in every good thing which the L-rd your G-d has given you." As long as even one Jew remained who had not yet received his portion of land, the happiness of all Jews was incomplete. For how can any Jew take pleasure in G-d's generosity, knowing that his fellow Jew cannot participate? In truth, a Jew is truly joyous only when all his brethren are equally blessed.

Consequently, until their happiness was complete, the Jews could not offer their first fruits, as bringing them is an expression of perfect joyousness. All Jews are interconnected with one another; they thus had to wait until every single member of the Jewish nation had received his allotment to be able to rejoice fully.

This is the epitome of true ahavat Yisrael. The love Jews have for each other is so all-encompassing that the happiness of one Jew is dependent on the happiness of another. If even one Jew is lacking, it impacts the entire Jewish people.

May our efforts to love every single Jew without distinction bring the Final Redemption, and with it, the opportunity to again observe bikurim in the literal sense.


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.


Next Monday (August 30) is Chai (the 18th of) Elul, the "birthday" of the greater Chasidic movement and of Chabad Chasidus in particular.

The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the greater Chasidic movement, was born on Chai Elul. On that date 26 years later, Achiya Hashiloni began to teach him Torah "as it is studied in Gan Eden." Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Chasidus, was also born on Chai Elul.

As the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn explained, Chai Elul introduces an element of chayut, vitality, to our Divine service during Elul, the month in which we correct and make amends for past misdeeds. In the merit of our repentance, G-d grants us a good and sweet year. By infusing our service with vitality, Chai Elul helps us do teshuvah with enthusiasm, not just by rote or out of habit.

Superficially, vitality and teshuvah may seem contradictory. Vitality is associated with joy, whereas repentance is associated with bitterness, regretting past actions and resolving to do better. Those these seem to be opposite emotions, in Elul we feel both, and at the same time!

Every mitzvah we do should be performed with joy, for by observing that mitzvah, we fulfill the will of G-d. As teshuvah is a mitzvah like any other, we experience joy for having been given the privilege.

However, Chasidus gives us another reason to be happy while doing teshuvah, by explaining how bitterness and joy can exist simultaneously.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman describes this in the Tanya as "weeping on one side of the heart, and joy on the other side." When we do teshuvah, we rage against our Evil Inclination and of failure to withstand temptation. Yet at the same time we are happy, for we know that we are becoming closer to G-d.

Chai Elul (and by extension, Chasidus) thus transforms the entire month of Elul into a labor of love and joy.


Reb Zalman Estulin, an elderly chasid, told this story many years ago at a chasidic gathering--a farbrengen.

Once, there were two brothers, Avraham and Shlomo, who exhibited unbelievable brotherly love. As children they never fought. They studied Torah together and eventually, after they married fine, Jewish women, they settled down in the same city.

Sad to say, the brothers got into a foolish argument as is bound to happen. Things went from bad to worse until it got to the point where as friendly and loving as the brothers had once been they now hated and abhorred each other.

Years passed in this way until the time came when Reb Avraham was going to marry off his eldest daughter. Despite the fact that they had not spoken for over a decade, Reb Avraham wanted his brother to share in his happiness.

And so, he sent Shlomo a letter of apology for all past wrongs and an invitation to the wedding. When no reply came, Avraham sent a messenger. But the messenger came back with the message that Shlomo would not even consider coming to the wedding.

The evening of the wedding arrived, and though Reb Avraham was happy, his joy was tinged with sadness in knowing that his brother would not attend the wedding.

For his part, Reb Shlomo had scheduled his evening in such a way that feelings of remorse would not get in his way of staying home. He had a huge, seven-course meal, took a long, relaxing bath, got into his pajamas and went to bed early.

The wedding on the other side of town was in full swing when the violinist, an extremely talented musician who could change people's moods through his music, noticed that Avraham's joy was not complete.

The violinist approached Avraham and asked if there was anything he could do: "My reputation will suffer if I can't make the father of the bride happy."

Avraham told the violinist that he was saddened by his brother's absence. "I will go and bring him here," the violinist offered.

And so, the violinist went to Reb Shlomo's house. He stood outside of Shlomo's bedroom window. Half asleep, Shlomo came to the window to see who was playing. He was so intrigued and entranced by the violinist's recital that he opened his door and went outside.

In this manner the violinist and Shlomo walked through the town until they reached the wedding hall.

Slowly, slowly, they approached the wedding until Reb Shlomo found himself in the middle of the dance floor at the wedding hall. He looked around and saw everybody so beautifully dressed. Then, he looked at himself and realized, with quite a bit of embarrassment, that he was hardly dressed as befits the uncle of the bride. Indeed, he was a sorry state in his pajamas!

"Brothers," Rabbi Estulin concluded, "we're all going to be there in the middle of the dance floor when Moshiach comes. Because, as our Sages teach us, the Redemption is like the consummation of the wedding ceremony between G-d and the Jewish people, which took place at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

"The Torah and mitzvot that we do are like the clothing of our souls. It is up to us to come to the wedding dressed as befits the uncle of the bride, and not in our pajamas!"


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.

Preparations for the High Holidays:

"Our Sages state that thirty days before a holiday, we should learn the laws pertaining to it. It is already less than thirty days before the holidays of Tishrei begin and in this context, it is necessary to mention the importance of providing Jews with their holiday needs so that they will be able to celebrate Rosh HaShanah and the holidays that follow in the manner stated in the Bible, 'Eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those who do not have them prepared.'"

The Rebbe, Elul, 5750/1990


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.chabad.org/shabbos

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 27, Erev Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 7:19 p.m.

Saturday, August 28, Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapters 3 & 4 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(2)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:20 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. 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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