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Parshat Lech Lecha, 5760

Cheshvan 12, 5760
October 22, 1999


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.


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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

3 Cheshvan, 5760
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Lech Lecha

There is a saying of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, quoted in the name of his father, the Rebbe Rashab:

"The first Torah portion, Parshat Bereishis, is a joyful Torah portion, for in it, G-d created the world and all of its inhabitants.

"Parshat Noach, however, relates the Great Flood. The week in which it is read is therefore a sad one, but it ends on a happy note with the birth of our forefather Abraham.

"Yet the week which is truly the happiest is the one in which the Torah portion of Parshat Lech Lecha is read. For each and every day of the week we live with Abraham."

Why is Parshat Lech Lecha, this week's Torah reading, considered the most joyful of the three?

Parshat Bereishis contains the narrative of Creation. This portion relates G-d's actions, and describes how He created the world in six days. The Torah portion tells us what G-d did, but it does not relate the deeds of the creations themselves.

Parshat Noach, by contrast, deals primarily with the actions of mankind. In this Torah portion we learn about the Great Flood, about the behavior of the people of Noach's generation, and about the deeds of the righteous Noach himself.

Thus each of the first two Torah portions concerns itself with an entirely different sphere. Parshat Bereishis revolves around G-d and G-dly matters, whereas Parshat Noach concentrates on the more mundane affairs of mankind. In neither of these Torah portions is the connection between G-d and man, the higher spheres and the lower spheres, expressed.

How do Jews create that connection? By carrying out the will of G-d and performing His mitzvot.

When Jews observe the Torah's commandments they draw nearer to G-d, binding themselves to Him with an everlasting bond. When G-d gave His holy Torah to the Jewish people, He thereby gave them the means to forge a connection between the "higher worlds"--G-d, and the "lower worlds"--human beings.

The preparation for the giving of the Torah began with Lech Lecha, when G-d gave Abraham the commandment to "go out" of his native land, and Abraham obeyed. Ignoring his own personal wishes and his natural proclivities and inclinations, Abraham set off to fulfill the will of G-d to establish a "dwelling place" for Him in the physical world.

Thus began the wondrous connection with G-d that continues and is strengthened with every mitzvah we perform.

This is why Parshat Lech Lecha is the most joyful of the Torah's first three portions. The first speaks solely of the higher worlds; the second, only about the lower. It isn't until the third portion, Lech Lecha, that the true connection to G-d first commences.


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.


Some people say that Avraham Avinu (Abraham our father) was the first Lubavitcher chasid. This might sound a little (or more than a little) self-serving. But, let us take a few moments to analyze Avraham's life; we might find that, in fact, there is much truth in this statement.

In this week's Torah portion, Avraham is commanded by G-d to go away from his home, leave his parents, and travel to a distant, unknown land. He always spoke to strangers, bringing them closer to an awareness of G-d, their Creator.

Now, isn't this, actually, what Lubavitcher chasidim are doing all over the world?

Avraham set up a huge tent in the middle of the desert. The tent had four doors, one in each direction, so that any person passing by would always be able to enter quickly. Doesn't that remind you of a Chabad House--Chabad-Lubavitch outreach centers on college campuses and suburban Jewish communities with an "open door" policy?

With Avraham as our role model and guide, let us make every effort to follow in his footsteps, setting up our own tents, and helping others set up tents for people to live and experience the beauty and warmth of Judaism.


Why all this hubbub about Moshiach? Why the constant talk, classes, publicity campaigns? Isn't focusing on it once a year--when we say, "Next year in Jerusalem" at the Passover seder--enough? Or once a week, as on Shabbat, which is sort of a taste of the Messianic Era? Or, let's say, even three times a day in our prayers? Isn't that enough?

By way of explanation, there is a story about Reb Mendel Futerfas, the mashpia, spiritual advisor of the Lubavitcher yeshivah in Kfar Chabad, Israel.

Reb Mendel was imprisoned in Soviet prisons for 14 years. He spent most of his free time in prayer and study. Nevertheless, he was not totally aloof from the non-Jews who shared his lot, and spent a few hours a day in conversation with them.

Included in this group were many types of people: political idealists, university professors, and many ordinary people jailed for "crimes," of which neither they nor others understood the criminal nature.

In the latter category was a circus performer whose claim to fame was his feats as a tight rope walker. He and Reb Mendel had a standing argument. For this was before safety nets had become standard circus practice, and Reb Mendel could not understand why a person would risk his life walking on a rope extended several stories above the ground. "There must be," Reb Mendel maintained, "some hidden ropes holding you in case you slip."

The tightrope walker, for his part, maintained that there was no need for ropes. It was not all that dangerous. A person began practicing on low ropes and once he gained experience, the chance of falling was minimal.

The argument continued for years until, after Stalin died, the prison authorities relaxed their rules slightly. Several months prior to May Day they allowed the prisoners to prepare a makeshift circus in celebration of the day. The circus performer suddenly came alive, becoming the center of attention in the prison. He organized various performances, with the highlight of the show his tightrope walk.

He made sure that Reb Mendel was in the audience. As the drums began to beat, he climbed the pole and approached the line. His first steps were somewhat hesitant; after all it had been several years since he had walked the ropes, but after a few seconds, he felt at home.

It all came back to him. He began to twirl a hoop and wave to his friends. As he reached the end of the rope, he hesitated for a moment, made a fast turn, and then proceeded to the other side. On his way back, he exuded confidence and performed several stunts. After he reached the end of the rope, he climbed down and ran to Reb Mendel.

"You see, no ropes holding me up," he gleamed in satisfaction.

"Yes, you're right, no ropes," agreed Reb Mendel.

"You're a smart man," the performer continued. "What is the trick? Is it in the hands, the feet?"

Reb Mendel paused to think. "You moved your hands freely and it appeared that your footwork was not the determining factor."

After reviewing the scene in his mind several times, Reb Mendel said, "It's the eyes. At all times, your eyes were riveted on the opposite pole."

The performer nodded in agreement, "When you see your destination in front of you, you know where to put your feet."

What is our destination that we must concentrate on and keep constantly in front of our eyes so that we don't lose our balance as we walk the tight rope of life? It is Moshiach and the Messianic Era for which we Jews have hoped and prayed for 2,000 years. It will bring a world of peace and unity, material and spiritual prosperity, and a knowledge of G-d and G-dliness never before experienced. It is the ultimate purpose--destination, if you will--for which the world was created.

Keeping your eyes riveted on Moshiach and the redemption is the only safe way to walk the tightrope.


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.

Encourage the Kids!

Do the doorposts of your children's rooms have mezuzahs on them? If they do, point them out to the children and encourage them to kiss or touch the mezuzah cover as they go in and out of the room. If not, purchase a hand-written mezuzah scroll from a reliable Judaica store or your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center. You can even let the child choose his or her own mezuzah cover.

The Rebbe explained, "We see that children have a unique attraction to a mezuzah, and kiss it eagerly several times a day. From the mezuzah, one goes from one's house to the world at large as the Rambam writes, 'Whenever one enters or departs, one will confront the unity of G-d's name.'"

(18th of Cheshvan, 5752/1991)


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. 22, Erev Shabbat Parshat Lech Lecha:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 5:49 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 23, Shabbat Parshat Lech Lecha:

  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:48 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.

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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