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Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech, 5759

Elul 22, 5759
September 3, 1999


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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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

18 Elul, 5759
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech

The first of this week's two Torah portions, Nitzavim, speaks about the mitzvah of teshuvah. "And you shall return to the L-rd your G-d and obey His voice according to what I command you this day...with all your heart and with all your soul."

The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus, elucidated on the meaning of repentance in his Igeres HaTeshuvah. Teshuvah, he wrote, does not mean fasting or mortification of the body. Nor does it entail merely confessing our transgressions. The simple definition of teshuvah is "the return to G-d through the abandonment of sin."

How do we "abandon sin"? "A person must wholeheartedly resolve that he will not repeat the folly of rebelling against G-d's sovereignty, that he will never again disobey the King's commands, both positive and negative mitzvot."

The "abandonment of sin" is thus synonymous with the re-acceptance of the yoke of heaven. When a person accepts G-d's kingship, it prevents him from committing any and all sins, not just the particular sin he has already committed.

When a Jew resolves to do teshuvah, it's not enough for him to renounce a singular transgression. He must promise to keep all of G-d's commandments, positive observances and negative prohibitions alike.

Take, for example, a Jew who has committed the sin of lashon hara (slander). Is regretting his misdeed and resolving to never again speak negatively about others sufficient? No! True teshuvah requires that his acceptance of the yoke of heaven be felt so sincerely and deeply that it precludes him from committing any sin in the future.

The reason for this is that when a person sins, the damage it causes is two-fold. In the general sense, by acting contrary to G-d's will, the individual has rebelled against G-d and thrown off the yoke of His authority. Yet on a more personal level, his individual G-dly soul has been impaired.

When a Jew accepts G-d's kingship and rededicates himself to the totality of Torah and mitzvot, he rights both wrongs at the same time. His teshuvah goes beyond correcting his individual failure, and nullifies the underlying potential for transgression at its source.

The Torah enjoins us, "And you shall return to the L-rd your G-d," demanding that we accept G-d's authority in all facets of our lives. Rather than making amends for individual transgressions, genuine teshuvah requires that we rededicate ourselves to obeying all of G-d's commands, with renewed acceptance of the yoke of heaven.


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.


Since the beginning of the month of Elul we've been doing teshuvah, getting rid of negative baggage and "cleaning up our act" before Rosh HaShanah. But this Saturday night, Sept. 4, after midnight, we're going to really get down to business, as Jews around the world go to the synagogue to recite Selichot ("prayers for forgiveness"). These special penitential prayers are the next stage of our preparation for the High Holidays.

Chasidic philosophy makes the following distinction:

During the month of Elul, we concentrate on improving our thought, speech and deed. But when we say Selichot, we focus on an even deeper level of the soul and correct the emotive powers themselves.

Though it sounds serious, Chasidim have always approached Selichot (like everything else!) with a sense of joy, rather than sadness and gloom. We look forward to the opportunity to reach even higher levels of holiness and sanctity.

The Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, quoting Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus, explained one of the lines in the Selichot thusly: "The needs of Your people are great, and their knowledge is narrow and limited." Our needs are many precisely because our knowledge is limited. If our knowledge were "wider," our needs would be fewer.

The pursuit of luxuries, adds the Rebbe, can even diminish the "regular" measure of blessing a person would otherwise receive. Because our "knowledge is limited" we demand too much, over-inflating our importance and assuming that G-d "owes" us. Our "needs" tend to multiply when we put too much emphasis on material rather than spiritual concerns.

Nonetheless, the Rebbe concludes, "Our request from G-d is that He fulfill all the needs of His people, even though what we ask for stems from a deficiency in knowledge. And may every single Jew lack for nothing."


Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

25 Elul, 5719/1959

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G-d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

These days at the end of the outgoing year, and on the eve of the New Year, may it bring blessings to us all, call for self-evaluation in respect to the year about to end, and--in the light of this self-appraisal--for making the necessary resolutions for the coming year.

Such a "balance sheet" can be valid only if the evaluation of the full extent of one's powers and opportunities was a correct one. Only then can one truly regret, in a commensurate degree, the missed opportunities, and resolve to utilize one's capacities to the fullest extent from now on.

The period of time before and during Rosh HaShanah is not only the occasion that demands spiritual stock-taking in general, but it also begs for a profound inner appreciation of the tremendous capacities that one possesses as a man, the crown of Creation, and as a Jew whom the Creator has given His Divine Law of Life (Torat Chaim). For Rosh HaShanah is the day when Man was created.

* * *

When Adam was created, the Creator immediately apprised him of his powers and told him what his purpose in life would be:

"Replenish the earth, and conquer it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

Man was given the power to conquer the whole world and to rule over it, on land, sea and in the air, and he was enjoined to so do; this was his task.

How was this "world conquest" to be attained, and what is the purpose and true meaning of it? This is what our Sages tell us and teach us in this regard:

When G-d created Adam, his soul--his Divine image--permeated and irradiated his whole being, by virtue of which he became the ruler over the entire creation. All the creatures gathered to serve him and to crown him as their creator. But Adam, pointing out their error, said to them: "Let us all come and worship G-d, our Maker!"

* * *

The "world conquest" that was given to man as his task and mission in life is to elevate the whole of nature, including the beasts and animals, to the service of true humanity, humanity permeated and illuminated by the Divine image, by the soul, which is veritably a part of G-d above, so that the whole of Creation will realize that G-d is our Maker.

Needless to say, before a man sets out to conquer the world, he must first conquer himself, through the subjugation of the "earthly" and "beastly" in his own nature. This is attained through actions that strictly accord with the directives of the Torah, the Law of Life--the practical guide in everyday living, so that the material becomes permeated and illuminated with the light of the One G-d, our G-d.

G-d created one person and on this single person on earth He imposed the said duty and task. Herein lies the profound, yet clear, directive, namely, that one person--each and every person--is potentially capable of "conquering the world."

If a person does not fulfill his task, and does not utilize his inestimable divine powers--it is not merely a personal loss and failure, but something that affects the destiny of the whole world.

* * *

In these days of introspection, we are duty-bound to reflect that each and every one of us --through carrying out the instructions of the Creator of the World that are contained in His Torah--has the capacity of conquering worlds. Everyone must, therefore, ask himself how much he has accomplished in this direction, and to what extent he has failed, so that he can make the proper resolutions for the coming year.

G-d, Who looks into the heart, on seeing the determination behind these good resolutions, will send His blessing for their realization in the fullest measure--in joy and gladness of heart and affluence, materially and spiritually.

With the blessing of Kesivo Vachasimo Toivo
for a happy and sweet year,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson


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.

Say the Special Selichot Prayers

On Saturday evening, Sept. 4, after midnight, the first Selichot ("prayers for forgiveness") are said in synagogues throughout the world.

From Monday, Sept. 6, through the eve of Rosh HaShanah, the Selichot prayers are said every weekday, in the early morning. Go with the whole family Saturday night, let the kids stay up late! This is a real, hands-on Jewish experience that is bound to be remembered for months, if not years.


Call your local synagogue, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center for the exact time and location nearest you.


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, September 3, Erev Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 7:08 p.m.

Saturday, September 4, Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech:

  • Shabbat Selichot.
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapters 5 & 6 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(2)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:08 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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