"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Vayishlach, 5760
Kislev 17, 5760
November 26, 1999
Yud Tes Kislev
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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) The auspicious date of Yud Daled Kislev, the 14th day of
Kislev. This year's Yud Daled Kislev marks the 71st wedding
anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka.
2) The auspicious date of Yud Tes Kislev, the 19th day of
Kislev. This year's Yud Tes Kislev marks the 201st anniversary
of the Alter Rebbe's (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi), release from incarceration
in czarist Russia.
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
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
14 Kislev, 5760
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, describes the encounter between
Yaakov (Jacob) and his brother Esav, after Esav had sent 400 armed men announcing
his arrival. Their meeting, which threatened to be confrontational, actually
turned out amiable--"Esav ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on
his neck and kissed him; and they wept."
Why this change of Esav's intentions? Rashi explains: Esav's mercy was aroused
when he saw Yaakov prostrating himself before him so many times. Rashi continues
by quoting Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai: Despite the halacha (rule) that
Esav hates Yaakov, Esav's compassion was stirred at that time and he kissed
him with his whole heart.
Rabbi Shimon used the word halacha, which means religious law, to
emphasize something about the nature of Esav's hatred toward Yaakov: it is
as immutable and timeless as are the practical laws of Torah. Rabbi Shimon
wished to teach us that we should not try to rationalize Esav's hatred of
Yaakov by ascribing various reasons or motives to it; it is a hatred rooted
in Esav's very essence. If and when we find an instance of Esav's positive
behavior toward Yaakov, we should realize that it is an exception to the
rule--"his compassion was stirred at that time."
This saying of Rabbi Shimon also found its expression in his own personal
life. Rabbi Shimon lived under the yoke of Rome, and suffered under the harsh
decrees issued against the Jewish nation. He, in particular, suffered greatly
because of his own staunch opposition to the Romans, and was forced to hide,
together with his son, in a cave for 13 years. Yet it was precisely this
same Rabbi Shimon who traveled to Rome to have the anti-Jewish decrees rescinded,
and was successful!
The story of Rabbi Shimon illustrates both sides of the coin: the unchangeable
nature of Esav's hatred and persecution of the Jews, and the triumph of one
who was particularly renowned for his opposition to Roman rule.
We learn from this a valuable lesson in how to relate to our oppressors during
this long and bitter Exile:
On the one hand, a Jew must not rely on the mercy of the nations, because
we know that Esav's hatred toward Yaakov is a given fact. At the same time,
it is within the power of every Jew to command respect from the non-Jews
by maintaining his pride and adherence to the Jewish way of life.
When a Jew is unbending in his commitment to Torah and mitzvot, it
positively influences the nations, so that "Esav's compassion was stirred
and he kissed him with his whole heart." Not only does this command respect,
but it brings about Esav's cooperation and even assistance in helping the
Jew to keep his Torah.
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.
Tuesday, the 14th of Kislev (Nov. 23), is the 71st wedding anniversary
of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. Therefore we share excerpts from
the diary of a yeshivah student of that time about this event:
"The good news that the marriage of the Previous Rebbe's daughter, Chaya
Mushka, to the Rebbe would take place in Warsaw brought great joy to all.
. . .
"The hall was silent as the Previous Rebbe began a discourse before the wedding
ceremony: 'It is well known that at the time of a wedding, the souls of the
ancestors of the couple from three generations back come to bless the couple.
There are times, though, that ancestors from even earlier generations come.
As an invitation to our holy Rebbes and ancestors, I will say a discourse
that contains within it teachings from each of them.'. . .
"Following this introduction, the Previous Rebbe began a chasidic discourse.
. . . Then they went to the chupah, which was in the yeshivah's
courtyard. Over 5,000 people were in the courtyard.
"The wedding feast was in one of the largest halls in Warsaw and the Previous
Rebbe walked among the tables and said 'l'chaim' to everyone. He delivered
a talk to the yeshivah students and then afterwards danced with the
administrators and teachers of the yeshivah. The Previous Rebbe then
delivered another chasidic discourse that lasted until after midnight. Only
then did all of the guests begin their meal.
"Far away, in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, the Rebbe's parents, Rabbi Levi
Yitzchok(1) and Rebbetzin Chana(2)
Schneerson, were celebrating with the people of their city. They had been
forbidden by the government to attend the wedding of their eldest son. The
entire night the festivities continued in their home."
Once, on his anniversary, the Rebbe said, "This is the time that I became
connected to you--the chasidim." May everyone soon experience the
complete connection to the Rebbe with the commencement of the messianic era.
With Moshiach, Vol. 180
With Moshiach, Vol. 142
Legal holidays, bank holidays, American holidays. For most Americans, Presidents'
Day and July Fourth, Memorial Day and Columbus Day conjure up images of long
weekends, no mail, 24-hour banking machines and sales.
In Jewish tradition, a holiday, special event, or the birthday or
yahrtzeit of a great person, has a different type of significance.
Chasidic philosophy reveals that every special day in the Jewish calendar
can have its own special impact on a person's life and the entire year.
From Passover, for instance, one receives the strength to break out of one's
own Egypt, one's own limitations. From the upcoming holiday of Chanukah,
we derive the ability to rededicate ourselves to G-dly service just as the
Hasmonian Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple after its desecration.
In the spiritual realm, the same forces in effect at the time of the original
event reassert themselves at the time of the anniversary of the event. This
makes an anniversary an opportune time to benefit from those forces.
Sunday, Nov. 28, is Yud Tes Kislev, the 19th day of the Hebrew month
of Kislev, a day of import to chasidim the world-over. But,
in keeping with the above comments, it has great significance for every Jew.
The 19th of Kislev is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Dov Ber, the
Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov. It is also the
day of liberation for Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Maggid's disciple
and the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman's arrest by the Russian government was instigated by
opposers to the chasidic movement and its teachings. His liberation, then,
meant freedom for the Chasidism.
"Every Jew is a brother, every individual Jew is important...A Jew is, by
his very nature, inseparable from G-d, regardless of how much circumstances
have temporarily overshadowed this connection." These were some of the basic
teachings of the Baal Shem Tov expounded upon and disseminated by his chief
disciple, the Maggid, and Rabbi Shneur Zalman.
The spiritual energy inherent in the 19th of Kislev gives each one
of us the strength necessary to explore the Baal Shem Tov's teachings. From
understanding and implementing the intrinsic unity of the Jewish people to
the more esoteric and mysterious aspects of the Torah as explained in chasidic
philosophy, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
Sunday, Nov. 28, is Yud Tes Kislev, the 19th day of the Hebrew month
of Kislev. This date marks a special day in the Chabad-Lubavitch calendar
in particular, and the Jewish calendar in general. It is the yahrtzeit
of Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, disciple and successor to
the Baal Shem Tov.
The 19th of Kislev is also the day on which Rabbi Shneur Zalman of
Liadi, the first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, and disciple of the Maggid,
was released from his incarceration in czarist Russia. He was imprisoned
on false charges of spreading anti-government sentiments.
On the simplest level, the event leading up to the Nineteenth of
Kislev was the arrest of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism.
His arrest was instigated by those who opposed the chasidic movement and
fabricated lies against Rabbi Shneur Zalman. His arrest threatened his life
and the survival of Chasidism.
The spiritual reality of the 19th of Kislev, however, was a charge,
in the Heavenly court, against Rabbi Shneur Zalman, for expounding Chasidism
and disclosing the mysteries of Torah.
Traditionally, the secrets of the Torah were studied only by a select few
whose piety matched their scholarship. The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the
chasidic movement, began disseminating the hidden aspects of Torah to even
the simplest, unlettered Jews. His successor, the Maggid of Mezritch,
continued in this vein. Both of these great leaders were faced with strong
opposition to their "innovation."
Rabbi Shneur Zalman, a disciple of the Maggid, revealed the mysteries
to an even greater extent than his predecessors, in order to reach every
Jew. In Heaven, this brought about a tremendous accusation, which was reflected
in the physical arrest and trial of Rabbi Shneur Zalman.
The liberation of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, then, indicates the spiritual approval
of all the Rebbe's actions, on the physical and spiritual level.
We celebrate the Nineteenth of Kislev because it was the physical
liberation of the Rebbe; his life was no longer endangered. But, more
importantly, it is a day of celebration, for it shows Divine approval of
Why celebrate an event that took place 201 years ago to an individual in
According to Jewish teachings, the same spiritual forces functioning at the
time of the original event--whether a birth, wedding, yahrtzeit, or
victorious incident--reassert themselves at the time of the anniversary.
Therefore, it is an opportune time to benefit from those powers.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman was one of the chief proponents of the teachings of the
Baal Shem Tov. His vindication, therefore, was the vindication of the entire
fledgling movement. Through his release from prison, the teachings of chasidic
philosophy--the inner and mystical aspect of Torah--could be freely taught.
The spiritual forces operative on the original 19th of Kislev, and
the Nineteenth of Kislev in each subsequent year, are intimately tied
up with the dissemination and study of Chasidus.
May we all use this special time, and the unique spiritual forces it brings
with it, for the advancement of the study of chasidic teachings, especially
as elucidated by Rabbi Shneur Zalman and his successors.
Happy New Year!
Wait a minute. It's a little late for Rosh HaShanah.
Actually, on the 19th of Kislev (this year, Sunday, Nov. 28), we do
celebrate a "New Year," of sorts, the little-known Rosh HaShanah of
Chasidus. On that day, 201 years ago, the first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe,
who had been imprisoned on trumped-up charges, was released. To this day,
chasidim greet each other with a "Happy New Year" and other appropriate
salutations, on the 19th of Kislev.
But what, in fact, was so important about the first Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur
Zalman--and his release--that we make such a big hubbub about it?
Rabbi Shneur Zalman was imprisoned because he was teaching and making available
to all Jews Chasidus--the inner mysteries of the Torah.
Today, what with modern technology, "sharing" and honesty in relationships,
movies about ghosts and extraterrestrial beings, there don't seem to be many
mysteries left to unravel. But, when it comes to Torah, and in particular
to Jewish education, one big mystery still remains. It's the mystery of how
Jewish children in free countries continue to grow up with little or no Jewish
It would seem that, in the spirit of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's life work, this
"New Year" is the perfect time to be making resolutions about Jewish education.
So, break out the bubbly, put on a hat, toot a few horns, and let's figure
out how we can help that Jewish kid down the block learn something about
The question of decades ago, "It's ten p.m. Do you know where your children
are?" might bring more looks of exasperation today than in the past. Yet,
if someone directed a similar question to you--"Do you know where you
are?" we would think that the questioner is a bit daft.
Aside from visits to malls, zoos or amusement parks, when we often have to
refer to the map at the information center to find out "you are here," we
always seem to know where we are.
But do we really know where we are?
The first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was imprisoned on
trumped up charges of anti-government activities. During his imprisonment,
one of the czar's officers--having heard of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's keen intellect
and outstanding genius in all areas of life--engaged him in a conversation.
The officer had an unsolved question. "It says that Adam 'hid' after he sinned
by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. When G-d wanted to speak with
Adam, He asked him, 'Where are you?' Didn't G-d know where Adam was?" asked
Rabbi Shneur Zalman replied, "The Bible is eternal and its message is for
all times. G-d was inquiring of Adam, and of all his descendants for all
time, 'Where are you? Where do you stand in the fulfillment of your life's
mission? How much have you accomplished today and what do you intend to
accomplish tomorrow that will help you fulfill the special task with which
you have been entrusted?'"
The question "Where are you?" is asked every day of each one of us. Like
the question, "Who are you?" the answer has to come from a place that goes
beyond names and titles and positions and affiliations and job descriptions.
To be able to properly respond, our answer has to come from our very essence.
For G-d does not direct the question to Adam or Eve, to Michael or Jennifer.
He directs it to you: "Where are you?"
An important start in being able to answer the question is to understand
who "you" are. The chasidic teachings of Rabbi Shneur Zalman--the dissemination
of which was the true cause for his imprisonment--explain that "you" are
comprised of a G-dly soul and a body chosen by G-d at Mount Sinai. Torah,
primarily as elucidated by chasidic teachings, can help us fully understand
these two components of ourselves. Together with that understanding comes
the ability to begin to answer the age-old and ageless question, "Where are
The New Year of Chasidus commences on the 19th of Kislev. Make
a New Year's resolution that "you" will never regret. Join a Torah class
that includes chasidic teachings. Find out where you really are.
Chasidus classes are available for people of all ages and backgrounds.
For information, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
Adapted from Letters of the Rebbe
The Baal Shem Tov writes in a letter to his brother-in-law that on Rosh
HaShanah of the year 5507/1746, his soul ascended to the heavenly realms
where he was granted the privilege of entering the palace of the soul of
Moshiach. He asked Moshiach, "Master, when are you coming?" Moshiach responded,
"When your wellsprings [teachings] will be disseminated outward."
To this end, the Rebbe has always stressed the importance of studying
chasidic philosophy and teaching it to others to hasten Moshiach's coming
and to prepare ourselves for the messianic era.
What follows are excerpts of letters from the Rebbe about the importance
of disseminating Chasidus.
The destiny of the teachings and the message of the Baal Shem Tov--that they
should be disseminated to the furthest reaches of the world--must be fulfilled.
Accordingly, no corner of the globe inhabited by Jews should remain untouched
by this message.
And since we are now in the era in which we hear the approaching footsteps
of Moshiach, who "is standing behind our wall," waiting only for the finishing
touches to our refinement of this physical world, it is thus imperative that
Chasidus be studied in Australia, too. This applies not only to the
Russian-born chasidim who were sent there as emissaries; it should
likewise permeate the local Jewish population. And since this is something
that must happen, all the necessary resources will no doubt be forthcoming.
* * *
I was pleased to read of your decision to engage in the diffusion of the
light of Chasidus, and so on. It is a pity, though, that you are deferring
this for some time, when "behold, [Moshiach] is standing behind our wall,"
and is being delayed only because the wellsprings are not yet sufficiently
widespread. Can anyone measure [the Jewish people's] anguish with every
additional moment of exile, or [their] bliss in every additional moment of
the Era of the Redemption?
* * *
It is my obligation (and my privilege) to make you aware of the great necessity
of studying the inner dimensions of the Torah, which in these latter generations
have been revealed within the teachings of Chasidus. And if this study
is a necessity for every Jew, how much more is this true of a person who
is in a position to influence others, and who is thus (in the words of the
Mishnah) "himself meritorious and causes many others to attain merit."
Moreover, from this affirmative statement one can infer [that the reverse
is true when one does not take steps to be meritorious].
Especially in this period of the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, when
"behold, he is standing behind our wall" and everyone should be prepared
every day for his coming, every single individual must do his duty. For,
as the King Moshiach himself stated, he will come "when the wellsprings will
be widespread." Heaven forfend that the exile be prolonged, even for the
shortest time, by reason of any inactivity in this task of dissemination,
or even by incomplete activity. For this is an exile both of G-d and of the
House of Israel, since "when they were exiled to Edom the Divine Presence
* * *
From the perspective of this world, today's world needs a more intense light
and a greater diffusion of light, because of its lower standards (as the
Sages write, "If the early generation were like angels, we are like mortals;
if they were like mortals, we are like donkeys"), and because of the seriously
depleted numbers of our Jewish brethren (as a result of the events of recent
From the heavenly perspective, year by year, in every era, a new and lofty
spiritual light that has never yet radiated is drawn down to this world each
year from a higher realm. This obliges us to provide additional "vessels"
for this light. In this era in particular, we are coming ever closer to the
time of which we have been promised, "In its time I will expedite it." This
verse refers to the time of the coming and revelation of Moshiach. The "vessel"
for this revelation is the light of Chasidus; the condition for this
revelation is the dissemination of the wellsprings of Chasidus. It
follows that this light must radiate even to places that until now were "outside"
and that everywhere, vessels to contain the light of Moshiach should be expanded.
A chasid once approached the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem
M. Schneerson, known as the Tzemach Tzedek, with a question. "What
is the point of studying Chasidus, which deals with abstractions that
no mortal mind can fully grasp? After all, when Moshiach comes even those
who didn't study Chasidus will know G-d, as it says in Isaiah, 'For
they will all know Me.'"
The Tzemach Tzedek replied: "A person listening to a conversation
on the other side of a wall doesn't grasp everything. He only understands
the general drift. But later, when the conversation is repeated in full,
he understands everything he had heard previously. Every few moments he thinks,
'Ah! Now I understand all those connections and details!'
"Here, too," continued the Tzemach Tzedek, "it is true that someone
who studies Chasidus grasps only part of the subject. But when Moshiach
will teach it in the time to come, that person will be able to look back
and say, 'Ah...!'
"And not only that, but someone hearing those teachings for the second time
will understand them much more deeply than someone who will then hear them
for the first time. As the above-quoted verse says, 'For they will all know
Me, from their smallest to their greatest'--and it is obvious that the
understanding of a young child cannot be compared to that of an adult."
Does this sound like Greek to you? If so, consider the following. Imagine
you decide to become a printer. Even before you set foot in a printing shop
you start finding out all kinds of fascinating facts about printing and presses.
You become an expert in paper and ink. You avidly read a book that describes
in detail how a four-color press works, complete with diagrams.
The big day comes when you're going to actually see a printing press. You
invite a friend to come. The friend doesn't know even a fraction of what
you do about printing, but he's a good friend so he comes.
You get into the printing plant and walk over to the biggest four-color press
in the building. After only a moment of surveying it, you point to something.
"Ah," you say excitedly, "this is where the ink goes!" An instant later you
notice a row of buttons. "Ah," you say with animation, "this is the button
you push to start the press." You walk around the machine pointing to levers,
buttons, and thing-a-ma-jigs that you recognize from your
"four-color-press-manual." And each time, you exclaim, "Ah"--as if to say,
"I learned about it when it was all theoretical, but now I really understand."
What about your friend, though? He's probably bored since he doesn't really
know heads from tails in the printing business.
According to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus,
the G-dly Light we will experience in the messianic era is a result of the
quality of our performance of mitzvot and study of Torah before Moshiach's
So, a similar type of scene to the one described above in the printing shop
will repeat itself when Moshiach comes. During this long exile, we study
our manual--the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah. We learn that every
time we do a mitzvah it strengthens our connection with G-d, but we
don't quite understand why. We read that G-d created this world--and other
worlds--but don't really understand how. We hear about the Holy Temple and
wonder how it will look.
When Moshiach comes, and everything is revealed for our physical eyes to
behold, we'll say, "Ah, now I see how my connection to G-d was strengthened
through performing mitzvot. Ah, now I see how G-d created the world,
and I even see the spiritual worlds that exist on non-physical planes that
Kabbalah talks about. Ah, I recognize all these different furnishings
of the Holy Temple that I learned so much about." The "Ah" will be directly
proportional to the amount of effort and study we do now, in these last few
moments before Moshiach!
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.
Gatherings should be held in every Jewish community, in honor of 19
Kislev--the "New Year of Chasidus" and anniversary of the
liberation of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe.
Participate in as many gatherings as you can. They needn't be huge assemblies;
begin with yourself (i.e., a gathering of one's own strengths and powers
At these gatherings an emphasis should be placed on inspiring each other
to increase in Torah, prayer and deeds of kindness.
(The Rebbe, 16 Kislev, 5752/1991)
For a Yud Tes Kislev gathering in your area, contact your local
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, Nov. 26, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach:
Light Shabbat Candles,(3) by 4:13 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 27, Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:17 p.m.
3. 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
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.