Text Only

Parshat Vayigash, 5760

Tevet 8, 5760
Dec. 17, 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 focus on the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, Sunday, Dec. 19.


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 Tevet, 5760
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Vayigash

This week's Torah portion, Vayigash, contains the verse, "And [Jacob] sent Judah...before him to Goshen--l'horot--to make preparations." According to the foremost commentaries, Judah was sent to establish a yeshivah. (L'horot is from the same root as hora'a, which means "instruction.")

When G-d told Jacob to go to Egypt, Jacob first ensured the presence of yeshivot. G-d promised Jacob He would be with him in the Egyptian exile. Yet, only once the yeshivot were established did Jacob bring his family with him to Egypt, for Jewish education is the foundation and mainstay of Judaism.

In all times and places where Jews lived, even in the terribly harsh exile of Egypt, there were centers where Torah was studied, for Torah study is the life of the Jewish people.

The Egyptian exile was the most severe of all exiles, including the present one, for several reasons. However, regardless of all the difficulties, Jews were never without yeshivot.

The Torah is not a history text-book. Every subject and episode, every letter of the Torah, offers direction for all times and places.

Some people claim that this is not the time to be sending children to Jewish day schools; today, afternoon Hebrew schools or Sunday schools are sufficient.

The Egyptian exile and this week's Torah portion thus instruct us: Conditions in Egypt were far more difficult than those at present, but were disregarded and Torah was studied. They disregarded not only the severe physical conditions of the exile, they also dismissed the fact that, because the Torah had not yet been given collectively to all the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, they were not capable of reaching the tremendous heights to which we can aspire today.

All of the above applies, too, to the question of support for Jewish education. There are those who claim that financial conditions are worse than ever. When conditions improve, they will support Jewish education and maybe even have the self-sacrifice to send their own children to a yeshivah.

We must all remember, in Egypt the exile was far worse. There, our ancestors did not have even stubble for bricks and had to wander through a foreign land to search for it while Pharaoh's taskmasters stood over them, lashing out with their whips. They had no straw, but they had a proper Jewish education!


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.


Tuesday, the 5th of Tevet (Dec. 14), is a day of celebration and rejoicing known as Didan Natzach--"Victory is Ours."

It is the day, 13 years ago (in 5747/1987), when Federal Court Judge Charles Sifton rendered his legal decision on the ownership of the enormous and valuable library of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. For three weeks during the previous winter, the judge had listened to testimony concerning whether the Previous Rebbe's library was a personal possession, subject to the laws of inheritances, or if it was the possession of Chabad.

Judge Sifton was tremendously influenced by the statement of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, of blessed memory, daughter of the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe's wife, that "My father belonged to the chasidim just as the books belong to the chasidim."

There was great rejoicing on the day of the verdict, lasting for seven days. Each evening the Rebbe spoke publicly and expounded on the spiritual ramifications of the victory.

In one of these talks, the Rebbe said: "At the time of his imprisonment and redemption, the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) found a Divine lesson in everything that had occurred. One of his conclusions was the need to increase with renewed vigor and strength the dissemination of chasidic philosophy. The eternal Divine connection [of the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment and subsequent release] to this event is obvious. Thus, especially because the charge was brought against Agudas Chasidei Chabad as a living and vital organization, we must strengthen even more the dissemination of the teachings of our Rebbes, learning them privately and in groups amidst great joy and enthusiasm, joy that breaks all boundaries...."

May we witness the ultimate breaching of limitations with the end of the exile and the ultimate joy of being united as one in the true and complete Redemption.


The 5th of Tevet, is the anniversary of the return of stolen books of the Previous Rebbe to the Library of Agudas Chasidei Chabad as per the ruling of the U.S. Court. As part of the Previous Rebbe's library still remains in Russia, the Rebbe has urged that we purchase Jewish books to spiritually energize the process of the redemption of those books as well.

"Our efforts to show regard for Jewish holy texts will have an effect on the future of the Previous Rebbe's library. By purchasing comparable texts, such as the ethical and philosophical literature of Chabad Chasidus... we can hasten the return of that library to its rightful owners. Even little children should be given books as gifts, in the hope that what is not yet fully appreciated today will be studied before long."

(The Rebbe, eve of the 5th of Tevet, 5752)


Sunday, Dec. 19, is the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, and we neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.(1)


This fast day commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the First Holy Temple.

The strength--both of the obligation to fast and its positive influences--of the Tenth of Tevet stems from the fact that it commemorates the first of the tragedies associated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.

Thus, this date begins the process of destruction. It is well known that the beginning of any process contains more power than the subsequent stages and for this reason, there is added power to the Tenth of Tevet. The positive influences of the Tenth of Tevet are connected to the fact that a fast day is a "day of will" when our prayers and teshuvah are more willingly accepted by G-d.

As we are taught that "the beginning is wedged in the end," and the ultimate "end" purpose of the destruction of the Holy Temples will be the rebuilding of the Third and Eternal Holy Temple, the Tenth of Tevet is an auspicious day to hasten the coming of the Redemption.

Of course, our most fervent prayer is that the Tenth of Tevet not be a day of mourning, but be turned into a day of celebration and joy with the coming of Moshiach. Thus, by our immediate decision to increase our acts of goodness and kindness, our performance of mitzvot, study of Torah, and specifically the giving of charity, which brings the Redemption closer, we are showing G-d that our actions are in consonance with our heartfelt prayers. May the realization of those prayers happen in the immediate future.


1. In New York City, at 5:10 p.m.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

5 Tevet, 5736/1976

In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions in connection with the forthcoming Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, in view of the situation in and around Israel--

You will surely be instructed by the rabbi of your congregation. However, since you have also approached me in this matter, I will set forth at least several suggestions--after the following introductory remarks:

Regrettably, there are people who claim that it is necessary to think and act "big," in terms of global dimensions and stupendous undertakings, etc. Surely they mean well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical and are actually carried out--they are very helpful in improving the situation.

Yet, we must never overlook--indeed, rather greatly emphasize--the so-called "small and unsophisticated" things that each modest congregation, moreover each individual, can and must do--beginning with the old, yet ever-anew, Jewish way, collectively as one people and also as individuals. This is the action of "the voice is the voice of Jacob"--Torah and prayer--which G-d Himself has shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the power of "the hands of Esau"--in whatever shape or form they are raised against us.

Certainly this should find the fullest expression in a day that the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) declares to be a day of fasting, one to which the prophet Isaiah refers to as a "chosen fast...a fast and time favored by G-d."

Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet is specially connected with the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem), my suggestion--in addition to the regular "observances" on fast days, as set forth at length and in detail in Poskim [halachic adjudicators] and in books of Musar and Chasidus--is as follows:

During this day--expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Holy Land, materially and spiritually, and for the material and spiritual benefit of all Jews wherever they are--in the Holy Land as well as in the Diaspora--and particularly for the benefit of our brethren behind the "Iron Curtain"(2)--a special effort should be made in the areas of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah (charity).

Especially after prayer (both in the morning and at the afternoon service) one should learn (and where there already are daily study groups, to add) a subject in Torah, including final ruling of Jewish law. Immediately following the prayers, even before learning, one should say several chapters of Psalms (in addition to the regular portion).

Before and after praying--one should give tzedakah (in addition to the regular donation), including tzedakah for a sacred cause or institution in the Holy Land, the "Land of Living."

Needless to say, one who repeats the above again and again in the course of the day is to be praised.

And the more one does it (in quantity and quality), the more praiseworthy it is.

And, as in all matters of holiness, it is desirable that all the above be done b'tzibbur (with at least a minyan).

May G-d accept, and He will accept, the prayers and supplications of Jews wherever they are.

And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise be fulfilled that "These days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness," with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.


2. This letter is dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976. Ed.


The Holy Temple lay in ruins, its resplendent beauty plowed under by the conquering Roman Legions. The remnants of the population were in despair. The Talmud relates that four great rabbis were walking along a road in The Land of Israel. Suddenly they heard a rumbling sound rising from the distance. One rabbi inquired of the others, "What is that noise?"

"That is the sound of a multitude of Romans far away in the distance," replied another.

Three of the rabbis began to weep; the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, began laughing. The others were surprised by their colleague's reaction and asked, "Akiva, why are you laughing?"

He countered: "Why are you three crying?"

They said: "Here we see that the Romans, who worship idols and burn incense to them, are living in safety and prosperity. And we [who worship the true G-d], the House which is G-d's footstool [the Holy Temple] lies burned in fire. Why shouldn't we weep?"

Rabbi Akiva replied: "That is precisely why I'm laughing. For, if this is the lot of those who violate the will of G-d, how much more joyous will be the future for us Jews who do His will?"

On another occasion the same four Sages were traveling together to Jerusalem. When they reached the point of the Mount of Olives, they tore their clothes [in mourning] as is prescribed by Jewish law. Proceeding further they arrived at the desolate Temple Mount, and as they gazed toward the Holy of Holies--where the sacred incense had been offered to the Al-mighty--they saw a fox emerging. Three of the rabbis began to weep at the sight of the degradation of the holy place. Rabbi Akiva, however, laughed. They turned to Akiva and asked, "Why are you laughing?"

He asked in return, "Why are you weeping?"

They answered him, "This is place of which it is written, 'And the stranger who approaches will surely die.' Yet, now we see foxes strolling about. Why should we not weep."

Replied Akiva, "That is precisely why I am laughing. In the prophecy of Uria it says, 'Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will be desolate and the Temple Mount will be a forest.' The prophecy of Zecharia says, 'Aged men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.'

"Before I saw the prophecy of Uria fulfilled I worried that the prophecy of Zecharia would not be realized. But now that I have witnessed the fulfillment of the first, I know surely that the second will come to pass as well."

They turned to him and said, "Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva you have comforted us!"


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.

The Fast of Tevet 10:

"In addition to the regular observances of fast days...expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Land of Israel, materially and spiritually...a special effort should be made in the area of Torah study, prayer and charity...specifically: to learn or add to one's learning after the morning and afternoon prayers; to say several chapters of Psalms after the prayers (even before study); to give charity before and after prayers, including charity for a sacred cause or institution in Israel."

(From a Letter dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976
- the full text is printed above)


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, Dec. 17, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayigash:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(3) by 4:12 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 18, Shabbat Parshat Vayigash:

  • 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

Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing

"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.

Back to "Living With Moshiach" Home Page