Text Only

Parshat Bereishis, 5760

Tishrei 28, 5760
October 8, 1999


The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.



Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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 feature a letter of the Rebbe, explaining the custom that was prevalent in many communities, to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."


It is with tremendous pain and sorrow that we dedicate this issue of Living With Moshiach to the loving memory of a dear friend and supporter, Mrs. Silva Golde Bas Reb Meir Yosef Botnick, who passed away, at the age of 58, on Shabbat Parshat Ha'azinu, 8 Tishrei, 5760 (Sept. 18, 1999).


The Jewish year that has just begun is the year 5760 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Tav-Shin-Samech. 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 acrostic of its Hebrew letters. This year has been designated by the Rebbe's followers as "Hoyo T'hei Shnas Segulah," meaning "It will surely be an auspicious year."


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

24 Tishrei, 5760
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Bereishis

The Torah begins with the word Bereishis--"In the beginning," the first letter of which is the letter beis.

Beis is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, yet G-d chose to begin His Torah precisely with this letter. One would think that the Torah would start with the letter alef, as everything in the Torah is arranged in an orderly fashion. Thus, at first glance it would seem more logical for the Torah to have opened with the word Elokim--"G-d created in the beginning the heavens and the earth," rather than with Bereishis.

What are we to learn from the fact that the Torah begins with the letter beis?

Nothing in the Torah is unintentional or accidental. Rather, the specific use of the second letter of the alphabet alludes to the fact that, for the Jew, the actual study of Torah must be the second stage in his approach to G-d's wisdom.

Before learning G-d's Torah, the Jew must prepare himself appropriately. Only after he has done so will his learning be conducted in the proper manner G-d has prescribed.

How is a Jew to prepare himself? By contemplating the special holiness that the Torah contains. A Jew must always remember that G-d gave us His holy Torah for the express purpose of connecting ourselves to Him. Learning G-d's Torah is the means by which we may do so.

If a person does not think about G-d before he studies, he is liable to look upon the Torah as a collection of narratives, a guide to our conduct, or perhaps merely a book which contains great wisdom. Without the proper preparation, he may forget that the Torah is sacred, and that its main objective is to allow us to connect ourselves with the Giver of the Torah.

To remind himself, the Jew must recite a blessing over the Torah every morning before he commences learning. By saying "Blessed are You L-rd, Who gives the Torah," we place the One Who has given us the Torah foremost in our minds.

Only then do we arrive at the second stage, the stage of actual study, through which we attach ourselves to G-d. And the more Torah we learn, the more connected we are to Him.

Thus the letter beis serves to teach us that the Torah is G-d's Torah, and that the primary purpose of its study is to connect ourselves to Him.


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.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

7 Cheshvan, 5737/1976

We have concluded the month of Tishrei, which is designated in our sacred texts as a "comprehensive month" for the entire year, and which is filled with a variety of festive days and experiences embracing all areas of a Jew's spiritual life throughout the whole year.

The month begins with awe and submission to the Heavenly Reign, the main point of Rosh HaShanah: teshuvah (repentance), the essence of the Ten Days of Return, and Yom Kippur; the performance of mitzvot with diligence and joy, culminating with the highest expression of joy with the Torah--the essential aspects of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.

It is time to recall the custom that was prevalent in many communities to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."

The point of this custom was to call attention to the fact that, inasmuch as the time has come to return to the routine of the daily life ("his way"), it behooves a Jew to know that he is Jacob, a Jew, and that he has his own way, a way that originates in Simchat Torah and is guided by the joy of Torah and mitzvot.

This means that whatever a Jew undertakes, even his ordinary day-to-day affairs, must always be conducted in the spirit of "All your actions should be for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him (and serve Him) in all your ways."

The month of Tishrei is a "comprehensive month" also in the sense that in this month the Jew acquires "goods" for the whole year. Immediately afterwards one must begin to "unpack" and draw from one's stock according to the needs of each day in all details. One cannot consider himself free from further obligation on the basis of the accomplishments of the comprehensive month.

Similarly, there are also "comprehensive mitzvot," although each and all mitzvot have to be fulfilled with the fullest measure of diligence and excellence. A comprehensive mitzvah should be performed with still greater excellence and still greater diligence, for its performance is of greater concern to all Jews and the Jewish people as a whole.

One of the main comprehensive mitzvot is the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew).

Of this mitzvah it has been said that it is a "great principle of the Torah," and the "basis of the entire Torah." The basis of this mitzvah is the fact that all Jews constitute one entity, like one body, so much so that every Jew sees every other Jew as "his own flesh and blood." Herein is also the explanation why the fulfillment of a mitzvah by every individual Jew affects the whole Jewish people; how much more so the fulfillment of comprehensive mitzvot....

May G-d grant that all the good wishes that Jews wished one another for the new year should be fulfilled, that it be a good and sweet year in every respect, with the realization of the above-mentioned pattern of Jewish conduct:

"And Jacob"--an appellation that includes all Jews, not only those who have already attained the higher status of "Israel" and "Jeshurun";

"Went"--in accordance with the true concept of motion, namely, moving away from the previous state to a higher state (for however satisfactory a state is, one should always strive to advance to an ever higher state in all matters of holiness);

"On his way"--that "his way," even in non-obligatory matters, becomes a G-dly way, as stated immediately after: "And G-d's angels met him"--in keeping with every Jew's purpose in life to be an "angel" messenger--of G-d, to make for Him an "abode" in this earthly world.

May all the above be done with joy, derived from Simchat Torah, and Jacob "will sing (and praise) the G-d of Jacob," and merit the speedy fulfillment of the continuation of the verse, "The glory and strength of the tzaddik will be uplifted," the coming of our righteous Moshiach.


Chof Hei Tishrei, the 25th of Tishrei (Tuesday, Oct. 5), is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, the paradigm of ahavat Yisrael, beloved by the Jewish people for the tremendous and all-encompassing love he had for them.

At the very moment Reb Levi Yitzchok was born, miles away, the Baal Shem Tov served his disciples food and a made a "l'chaim," saying: "A soul has just come into this world that will be a good advocate for our fellow-Jews."

And, in fact, stories abound about Reb Levi Yitzchok's tremendous ahavat Yisrael--love for every Jew. It was Reb Levi Yitzchok who, even when he saw a Jew openly transgressing, would find a way to judge a person meritorious and report the positive verdict to the Supreme Judge.

Reb Levi Yitzchok was very close to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the "Alter Rebbe"), the first Chabad Rebbe; the two became "mechutanim" (in-laws) when their grandchildren married. At that wedding, the Alter Rebbe delivered a discourse which ended, "'G-d is righteous in all His ways': G-d is the Tzaddik Above, and Reb Levi Yitzchok is the tzaddik here below."

The Alter Rebbe was also known to say about Reb Levi Yitzchok that because of his abiding love of the Jewish people, whenever a Jew, while reciting Psalms, mentions Reb Levi Yitzchok's name, the letters of the Psalms will go up to the chamber of "merits" and will awaken mercy for that person and his entire household.

May we all emulate Reb Levi Yitzchok's boundless ahavat Yisrael, thereby enjoying a foretaste of the love we will exhibit toward our fellow Jews in the Messianic Era, and may it commence immediately.


The town of Berditchev was buzzing with the news of the death of a certain very wealthy Jew. The townspeople, however, didn't shed a tear, for this man, who had been so blessed in his life, shared not a penny of his great wealth.

The Chevra Kadisha (burial society) planned to compensate the community for his miserliness; they would charge the man's heirs a high price for the burial. When they presented their demands to the man's children, they were shocked at the sum, and insisted that the case be heard by the rabbi of the town--none other than the saintly Rabbi Levi Yitzchok.

When the heirs and the representatives of the Chevra Kadisha appeared before Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, they were surprised to see the depth of his grief at the passing of the rich man. He not only ruled in favor of the heirs, but he said that he would be sure to attend the funeral.

Of course, when the news spread throughout the town that the Rabbi would be attending, every other Jew made certain that he would be there as well. As a result, the entire town closed up and every able-bodied man and woman came out to accompany the deceased to his final rest. Needless to say, they were full of curiosity as to why this stingy man was receiving so much respect.

When the funeral was over, people approached the rabbi and asked the reason for such a show of honor to such a person. "No one knew him as I did," was his reply. "Everyone took him to be a miser, but I came to discover his true character through three legal cases which I was called upon to decide. If you have the time, I will tell you about it.

"The first case concerned a wine merchant who acted as an agent for all the other merchants in the town. They would give him the money to purchase the wine, and he would receive a commission for his trouble. Well, once, just as he was about to go to make his purchase, he realized that the money was missing.

"The shock of losing the money of so many others affected him so badly that he went into shock and passed out. A doctor was summoned, but the poor man could not be revived. Suddenly a man stepped out of the crowd and announced that he had found the missing money. The merchant was instantly revived by the good news.

"Not too long after, another man came forward and said that he had really found the lost money, but he had succumbed to his evil inclination and kept it. When he heard about the person who had claimed to have found it and had in actuality parted with such an enormous sum in order to save the life of a stranger, his conscience troubled him. Now, he wanted to return the money to the generous donor.

"That man, however, refused to accept it. He didn't want to relinquish his mitzvah of saving a person's life. The culprit insisted that I hear the case and make a ruling. My decision was that the donor--the man whose funeral we just attended--was not required to accept the money.

"The second time I met him was when a man came to me with a similar demand. He wished to repay a generous benefactor, but the benefactor refused to accept the money. In this case, a poor man had fabricated a story to placate his wife while he would be away in a distant town trying to 'strike it rich.' It so happened that he had no money to support his family and he told his wife to go to a certain wealthy man in the town and demand payment every week for a fictitious 'salary.'

"She innocently went and asked for what she thought was her due, and the rich man, understanding the delicacy of the situation, paid her for many months. When the husband returned, having succeeded in making his fortune, he insisted on repaying his benefactor. He, however, replied that his business was solely with the wife, and he had nothing to do with the husband. Again, I ruled in his favor; he was entitled to keep his mitzvah.

"Finally, the third time I met him was after a very wealthy man who had gone bankrupt asked this man for a loan. 'Who will be your guarantor?' the rich man asked.

"'My only guarantor is G-d Al-mighty,' he replied.

"With a smile, the rich man said, 'He is a Guarantor I can really trust!'

"When the day arrived for the man to repay his loan, he failed to appear. Several months later, however, he did come, begging forgiveness for his lateness. 'You owe me nothing,' the rich man answered. 'Your Guarantor was very honest, and He paid me very well with a large, unexpected profit. Therefore, you owe me nothing.'

"Again, the recipient of his largesse appealed to me, but I, once again, ruled in favor of the deceased. He was not required to accept repayment of his loan, if he refused to do so.

"So, my friends, you see, your assessment of the deceased was very wrong. He was no miser. On the contrary, he was a great and saintly person who practiced the giving of charity on the highest level--that of giving quietly, with no fanfare and no public acknowledgment. Just as the deceased stood in my court and accepted my verdicts three times, he is now standing before the Heavenly Court, accompanied by his mitzvot, which are testifying to his saintliness before that highest court."


The Chabad Rebbes taught that Shabbat Bereishis is a special day that has an influence on the entire year. In fact, a Jew's conduct on Shabbat Bereishis determines his conduct throughout the entire year to come.

Why Shabbat Bereishis? Because the foundation of a Jew's service the whole year long is the perpetual remembrance of "In the beginning G-d created."

G-d created the world from absolute nothingness, and continues to create it every second anew. The miracle of creation wasn't a one-time event, but an ongoing miracle by which each individual creation is constantly being sustained.

The world doesn't exist by virtue of its own right. The only reason it continues to exist is that G-d chooses to re-create it every minute.

A Jew may sometimes feel that keeping Torah and mitzvot is difficult. So many problems and obstacles threaten to hinder his Divine service! But when he reminds himself that "In the beginning G-d created," that G-d is perpetually creating the world and preventing it from falling back into nothingness this very minute, he will come to understand that nothing can deter him from serving the Creator. As every creature receives its vitality directly from G-d, nothing has the power to prevent him from observing G-d's commandments.

When a Jew thinks about "In the beginning G-d created," his personal concerns will soon be forgotten. He will realize that G-d is the one true Source of everything, and that only good can come from Him. And in that way he will merit to receive G-d's blessings in all of his endeavors.


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, Oct. 8, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bereishis:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 6:10 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 9, Shabbat Parshat Bereishis:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Cheshvan.(2)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 7:09 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 Cheshvan is on Sunday, October 10, and Monday, October 11.

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.

Back to "Living With Moshiach" Home Page