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Parshat Vayechi, 5760

Tevet 15, 5760
Dec. 24, 1999


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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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 Y2K, from a Torah perspective.


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

13 Tevet, 5760
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Vayechi

No words in the Torah are chosen arbitrarily, least of all the names of the weekly Torah portions. The name of a particular Torah portion expresses the essence of that section and tells us something about its content. This being the case, why is this week's portion entitled Vayechi ("and Jacob lived"), when it deals exclusively with the events which led up to his passing?

The answer to this question lies in understanding the true meaning of life. Is life our temporal existence in this world, where we are constantly faced with extinction from numerous forces threatening us at every turn? Or is true life something even greater?

Only G-d, the source of all life, can rightly be termed "alive," for He is never changing and exists forever. In this sense, only G-d truly lives, for His existence does not depend on outside forces. But human beings may also attain eternal life, by cleaving to that which is Eternal. G-d is the only entity which lives forever; attaching oneself to Him enables mere mortals to do the same.

"And you, who cleave unto G-d--all of you therefore live today." This is the reason that the Jews are called "alive" by our Sages, for they cleave unto the Eternal Living G-d.

This is demonstrated most clearly when a Jew encounters difficulties and obstacles lying in his path, which serve to make his passage through life all the more challenging. Leading a carefree existence unencumbered by problems is no test of our attachment to G-d; successfully overcoming life's hurdles is what reveals our true devotion and commitment to serving G-d. It is only then that we may be considered "alive."

This illustrates why this week's Torah portion is named Vayechi. It was precisely just prior to Jacob's passing in Egypt that the meaning and purpose of his life was fully revealed. The years Jacob had spent in the Holy Land, although fraught with various trials and tribulations, were insufficient to adequately demonstrate his true devotion to G-d. It was only on his deathbed, in the lowest and most abominable land on earth at the time, that Jacob's true "life" could be recognized by all.

The Talmud states that "Jacob did not die...as long as his seed is alive, he lives, too." The continued existence of the Jewish people and their adherence to G-d and His Torah follows in the footsteps of their forefather Jacob and ensures his eternal perpetuation.

Furthermore, it is precisely now, at the very end of our long and bitter exile, that our adherence to Torah and our faith in the imminent coming of Moshiach demonstrates the attainment of true and eternal life.


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.


by Rabbi Israel Rubin*

Just when we thought we had everything figured out and under control, the year 2000 looms and heads the confusion of the Century. having entrusted our destiny to computerized technology, people around the world are worried about the approaching Y2K calamity.

Yea, as we walk into the shadow of Y2K, doomsday alarms are already ringing. Behold, all the wise men have been summoned to save us from the scourge of the upcoming plague, computer wizards concoct and input formulas to placate the powers that be. Alas, time is short, and all men, women and dot.coms in the land scurry hither an hither to avert being struck on that fateful day when 99 changes to 00.

Virtual Nothing

Let us not underestimate the potential power of 00. It doesn't amount to anything in today's digitalized world, yet 00 is full of meaning and symbolism.

To the mathematician, 0.0=0x0=02 represents an enigma: how can a round, rolly polly zero ever be a square?

To a jeweler, 00 is a symetrical set of bangles, while to a prisoner they are tight handcuffs. To the sports minded, 00 designates a bike path, or a game in which neither team scored, while a bird watcher sees two wise owl eyes.

Joking aside, Y2K syndrome in our mind-set and attitude. Our problem goes beyond misprogrammed computers, for it involves misguided people and misplaced values.

Basically, the Y2K problem is a failure to recognize value in 00. Expecting instant gratification, we discard seemingly "worthless" items without seeing the full picture and broader connection.

Obsessed with zeroes, the Nihilists lose sight of the larger number, which quickly add up to hundreds, thousands and even millions. They don't realize that the humble, non-pretentious and self-effacing zero enhances the value of it's peers tenfold. Even people with six figure salaries will gladly welcome an extra zero that happens to roll in.

In the beginning, G-d created the world ex nihilo, something out of nothing, but the Nihilists turn around and make nothing out of something. let us work in the reverse, as did many of our immigrant grandparents who arrived here in the beginning of the century. They came to this country without a penny in their pockets, and sweated their way to success.

May the memory of their positive work ethic to make something out of nothing, prevent us from foolishly turning something into nothing. Judaism believes that everything in life, however small or insignificant, has purpose and meaning, and we look forward each day to Moshiach and the Redemption, the commencement of which is anothing but nil.


*) Rabbi Rubin is the director of Chabad of the Capital District, Albany, New York and editor of The Jewish Holiday Consumer from which this article was reprinted.


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. 24, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 4:15 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 25, Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:

  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:21 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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