"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Shemot, 5760
Tevet 22, 5760
Dec. 31, 1999
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
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.
"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 the Rambam, whose yahrtzeit is on
Wednesday, the 20th of Tevet, Dec. 29.
Also, we focus once again on Y2K, from a Torah perspective.
The Jewish year that has recently 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
18 Tevet, 5760
Brooklyn, New York
One of Pharaoh's harshest decrees against the Jews in Egypt was his order
to throw every newborn male child into the Nile, as related in this week's
Torah portion, Shemot. The Passover Haggadah, read each year
during the seder, adds the following insight: " 'And our burden'--this
recalls the drowning of the male children, as it is said, 'Every son that
is born you shall cast into the river, but every daughter you shall keep
Our Sages explain that the word burden is equated with the raising
and educating of children, implying the preeminent responsibility resting
on the shoulders of Jewish parents. Our Sages understood that great effort
must be expended in order to rear Jewish children properly. Both parents
and teachers must share involvement in this holy task, investing much time
and energy to ensure a younger generation that will develop properly and
continue the Jewish way of life.
And yet, together with the recognition that raising Jewish children is hard
work, the Torah promises that the rewards we reap will be well worth the
effort. In fact, the more self-sacrifice a parent has on behalf of his children's
Jewish education, the more he is assured that his children will be strong
in their Judaism and untouched by Pharaoh's evil decree, whether thousands
of years ago or today. It was precisely those Jewish children born under
the threat of extinction in Egypt who were the first to recognize G-d at
the splitting of the Red Sea, declaring, "This is my G-d and I will extol
Why should raising Jewish children require so much effort? Because our children
are the foundation upon which the entire Jewish nation rests. "From the mouths
of babes and sucklings You have founded strength." This secret has long been
known to our enemies, who, from time immemorial, have sought to eradicate
Jewish schools. It was for this very reason that in communist Russia the
authorities tried especially hard to suppress Torah learning in schools attended
by the youngest of Jewish children. "They have plenty of time to learn Torah
when they grow up," the communists claimed, knowing full well that the Jewish
child's formative years spent in a Torah-true atmosphere posed the greatest
threat to the atheistic regime.
In the Talmud, a man by the name of Yehoshua ben Gamla is remembered for
all time because of his educational innovation--the institution of publicly
funded Torah classes for children, commencing at the age of five or six,
in all cities and lands where Jews dwelled. Thousands of years later his
name is still revered because of this accomplishment.
Jewish parents must therefore do all in their power--physically, spiritually
and monetarily--to ensure that their children are enrolled in schools where
they will be instilled with our timeless Jewish values. For the education
of our children is indeed our "burden"; at times, personal sacrifice may
In the merit of this, we will raise a generation of Jews who will again be
the first to recognize G-d, in the complete and Final Redemption with the
coming of Moshiach, speedily in our day.
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.
"From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses." The first Moses
to which this quote refers was the great prophet and Jewish leader, Moses.
The second was Moses Maimonides, otherwise known as the Rambam, an acronym
for Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon. Born on the day before Passover, 1135, in Cordova,
Spain, the Rambam passed away on the 20th of Tevet, 1204 (this year,
Wednesday, Dec. 29).
Maimonides was known in the Jewish world as a great talmudist and scholar.
He served as chief rabbi of Egypt, the land to which he moved in his early
thirties. He authored numerous books and treatises, including The Guide
for the Perplexed, a commentary on the Mishnah, and the Sefer
HaMitzvot (Book of Mitzvot).
15 years ago, the Rebbe urged all Jews to study every day a section of the
Rambam's magnum opus, Mishneh Torah (a code of Jewish law), or at
least the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot. Today, the Mishneh Torah,
or the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot, is studied daily by hundreds of thousands
of Jews--men, women and children--around the world.
The Rambam's fame and influence transcended the Jewish world. He was also
internationally acclaimed as a philosopher and physician. In fact, he served
as royal physician to the court of Saladin. He authored over fifteen works
on the theory and practice of medicine, including one on asthma and another
When the Rambam passed away, he was mourned by Jews and Moslems alike in
Egypt, and Jews throughout the entire world. He was buried in the holy city
of Tiberias in the northern part of Israel. By studying his works we can
be united with his spirit.
* * *
A few years ago, the Rebbe discussed the following concepts:
"The name Rambam is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "I will
multiply My wonders in the land of Egypt," an allusion to the wonders associated
with Redemption. Similarly, the Rambam's spiritual service involved giving
Jews in Egypt--in the night of exile--a foretaste of the Redemption.
"Firstly, he lived in Egypt and it was there that he composed his magnum
opus, the Mishneh Torah (a code of Jewish law). As he explained in
his 'Introduction,' the Mishneh Torah was composed because of the
difficulties of exile, as the Jews were unable to derive halachic rulings
from the Talmud and needed an auxiliary source. Nevertheless, the text that
the Rambam composed gave the Jews a foretaste of the Redemption--reflected
in the fact that it includes laws that will only be relevant in the Era of
the Redemption when the Holy Temple will be rebuilt and in the conclusion
of the text that focuses directly on the Era of the Redemption.
"Since, on the yahrtzeit of a tzaddik, 'the totality of his
deeds, teachings, and service is revealed and... "brings about salvation
in the depths of the earth,'" it follows that the Rambam's yahrtzeit
grants us further potential to anticipate the Redemption.
"The above is particularly relevant in the present age when the Jewish people
have completed the service required of them in exile. Everything is ready
for the Redemption. All that is lacking is for G-d to open the eyes of the
Jews and allow them to realize that they are sitting at the feast of the
The Rebbe concluded: "There is no need for any further delay, and without
any interruption we shall soon proceed from the present era to the era of
the Redemption. The very next moment can be the last moment of the exile
and the first moment of that era. As a catalyst for this, we must reflect
an attitude of Redemption in our lives, showing how even within the exile,
we can experience Redemption."
The Rambam is probably best remembered for his encyclopedic codification
of all 613 commandments of the Torah in his magnum opus, the Mishneh
In the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam enumerates and details all of the
613 laws of the Torah. He places the laws relating to the Jewish king, and
Moshiach, at the very end of his work. In the introduction to these laws
he states that the Jews were commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon
conquering and entering the land of Israel: To appoint a king; to kill the
descendants of Amalek; and to build G-d's Chosen House, the Beis
HaMikdosh, in Jerusalem.
It would seem that these mitzvot should have been mentioned much earlier
in his work if they were, in fact, so important! However, the Rambam chose
to organize the Mishneh Torah in this fashion to emphasize that the
true and complete performance of all the mitzvot of the Torah will
be attained only when a king rules over Israel. The Rambam then defines Moshiach
as a king, who will not only redeem the Jews from exile, but also restore
the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot to their complete state.
For many, this would seem a rather novel approach. Yet, the Talmud states
that "the world was created solely for Moshiach." This being the case, we
certainly must do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for Moshiach's
What is within the power and reach of each individual, great and small? Good
deeds, charity, studying concepts and laws associated with Moshiach and the
Final Redemption, fostering peace between family, friends and co-workers,
and actively waiting for and anticipating his arrival each and every day.
The following story is told about how it was "decided" where the Rambam's
final resting place should be:
People from all over gathered in Egypt to attend the funeral of the great
Rambam. When the procession was over, a discussion erupted as to where to
bury him. The Rambam had only requested to be buried in the Holy Land. No
mention was made as to which city should be his final resting place.
Representatives of different cities in the Holy Land came forward, each one
arguing that the Rambam should be buried in their city. Because no solution
to the problem at hand was in sight, everyone agreed to begin taking the
coffin toward Israel, hoping that along the way they might come upon a solution
for this problem. The coffin was perched atop a sturdy camel and, with hundreds
joining the caravan, made its way toward the Holy Land.
One of the most difficult and dangerous parts of desert travel was the constant
fear of being overtaken by one of the many bands of highway robbers who attacked
As it began to get dark, the pace of the caravan quickened. Everyone hoped
that they would find a relatively safe place to camp for the evening. Their
fears were well founded though, for within a short while, the sound of hoof
beats were heard, coming closer and closer. "We're being attacked," cried
out the leader of the caravan. Many of the people panicked and scattered
in different directions. A few remained with the coffin to guard it. But,
they, too, were frightened away as the gang of vicious bandits came charging
The bandits approached the camel with the coffin. They assumed that the box
contained a huge treasure since so many people were guarding it. As much
as they tried, though, the box could not be taken off the camel.
"Grab the camel's reins," shouted the leader of the bandits. "We'll take
it with us." Their efforts met with no success, and they could not get the
huge animal to budge.
"Open the box," commanded the leader.
One of the gangsters swaggered over to the box and began to pry off the lid.
"There's a body in this box," he shrieked, as he ran away. The other bandits,
too, became frightened at the thought of a dead body in a box in the middle
of the dark desert and quickly made their exit.
Upon seeing that the bandits had left, the people from the caravan made their
way back toward the camel. But, to their surprise, the camel began moving
determinedly, as if it had a specific destination in mind.
The caravan leader cautioned the other people not to go near the camel. "It
seems almost as if something is guiding the camel. Let us see what direction
it takes." Soon it was obvious that the camel was heading straight for the
border of Israel.
The caravan followed from a distance. By now, everyone was certain that the
problem of where to bury the Rambam was solved.
After reaching the borders of Israel, the camel continued to travel steadily.
It came to the city of Tiberias in the northern part of the country. It continued
on through the narrow streets of the city until it suddenly stopped and knelt
down on the ground.
The people understood that this was the place where they should bury the
Rambam. Carefully, they removed the coffin from the camel's back and placed
it on the ground, then immediately began digging the grave. All who witnessed
this strange event were amazed to see the wonderful miracle.
The people of the city of Tiberias built a beautiful structure over the spot
where the Rambam was buried. And every year, on the anniversary of his passing,
thousands of people from all parts of the world come to visit his holy grave.
by Tzvi Freeman*
I design software. Like the rest of us, I don't really know what's going
to happen on January 1, 2000. I don't know who's telling the truth about
the Y2K Bug and who's just covering themselves. One thing is certain, however.
January 1, 2000 is Shabbat.
Shabbat is a state of mind. And on that Shabbat, we'll need
to sit down and talk about entering a new state of mind. Personally, I don't
believe we can continue with a mindset that consciously coded the entire
technological framework of civilization to simultaneously sabotage itself;
the very mindset that also brought us an unsustainable relationship with
our environment and a sterilized human culture.
We are at the end of an era. The Era of Progress. The era to begin goes beyond
that. Beyond Progress.
For most of history, we've had two primary modes to follow: stand still or
progress. You either took your canoe 'round and 'round the lake, not really
going anywhere, or you pressed forward along one of Time's promising rivers.
Lately, Progress has been travelling some awesome whitewater rivers. So rapid,
we lost contact with where we came from. So all-consuming, we stopped thinking
about what's around the next bend. No past. No future. Just now. Now. Now.
Take us techno-gurus, for example. We saw our job as rendering everybody
else's work obsolete, and we accepted the fact that in a few years' time,
whatever we had done would be obsolete as well. Go back to 1970-something,
when we were writing all that code your tax dollars are now paying us to
fix. If you had tried try to tell us that the future would inherit the mess
we were making, we'd have given you a condescending smile. Or maybe we'd
have just called you stupid. "There's just no way our code will be around
by the year 2000," we'd say. As late as 1990, some of us were still chanting
With that mindset, where the past undergoes a perpetual burial in the backwash
of a runaway future, there is no legacy, no permanence, no responsibility
for the future. It is a mindset that says, "We have buried the past and the
future shall bury us."
So the Y2K problem is not "a bug." That's a cop-out. It's just a matter of
bad design. We designed our code to become obsolete. Not much unlike the
way we designed our entire society.
Good design transcends the boundaries of time. Good design--even in its most
maverick form--always resonates with what came before. And becomes legacy
itself. The Macintosh Desktop. The VW Beetle. Corn Flakes. Beethoven's 9th.
Enviro-friendly manufacturing. And of course, Shabbat. Shabbat
is the paradigm of good design. A model of a world Beyond Progress.
On Shabbat, my PowerBook G3 has a rest. So does my ADSL portal to
the Net. On Shabbat, I walk through a door into a place where the
rivers of time converge. Adam and Eve are still in the Garden, and we are
there with them. Abraham and Sarah sit at our table. So do our ancestors
from Poland, from Baghdad, from Babylonia, from the Temple of ancient Jerusalem.
Moses teaches us Torah and when we sing, David sings with us. And when the
sweet, rich kiddush wine passes our lips, we drink in the sweetness
of all that river. All of it, all at once.
On Shabbat, the present is reconciled with the past. So too, lifestyle
is reconciled with the ecology that nurtures it. I do not build, I do not
tear down. I do not plant or reap or sort or order or pull any of my passel
of techno-magic tricks. I am relegated to the role of observer. I must say
to Nature, "I am not your ultimate master. I am a part of you as well. Let
us both bow down before the wonder of the Infinite that brings us every moment
into being from the void."
It's considered uncool these days to keep traditions just because your
grandparents did. But traditions are neat. Ritual is good. It's just another
sign of the obsolescence-by-design mindset that got us into this Y2K mess
and company. Now we're going to grow up and get past that. Beyond bad design.
In the flawed mindset of progress and "planned obsolescence" we are all isolated,
autonomous cells, without origin, without destiny, sealed cars on an endless
highway. In the Shabbat mindset, we are rivers, streams and tributaries,
fed and nurtured by what came before us upstream, gushing forth to the one
ocean where all our waters will mingle once again.
Precious treasures traveled this river with us. There is deep wisdom in the
past from whence we came. It's okay to do something just because your
great-grandparents did it. That's beautiful. We don't need to make up new
wisdom just because we've progressed to WebTV and video conferencing. We
can go beyond time. We can have all their wisdom and all ours, too. And we
can hand that legacy down to our children. We can have it all. We can go
Beyond Progress. It may be the only way for civilization as we know it to
January 1, 2000. The world might be going berserk. Or it might be okay. Whatever
happens, I'll be observing Shabbat. My grandparents observed it in
the Old World. I observe it in a New World. My grandchildren will observe
it in a world I cannot yet imagine. And it was/is/will be just as relevant
to all of us. As a matter of fact, Shabbat has already passed its
own Y5K plus a couple of hundred years, in virtually every geo-socio-political
circumstance of global history. Now that's good design. That's beyond progress.
*) Tzvi Freeman is the author of
Heaven Down to Earth / 365 Meditations of the Rebbe.
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.
Study the Rambam's works daily:
"In honor of Rambam's yahrtzeit we should reinforce our study of the
Rambam's works according to the three-pronged plan of study: three chapters
or one chapter a day in the Mishneh Torah, or the parallel portions
of Sefer HaMitzvot. Not only should one study these works himself,
he should also influence others to do so."
(The Rebbe, 21 Tevet, 5752)
One can study one chapter a day in the Mishneh Torah and/or the daily
lesson in Sefer HaMitzvot, via telephone # (718) 953-6100, except
on Shabbat or yom tov.
The daily portion of Sefer HaMitzvot is also available electronically
via the Internet by sending your subscription request to:
firstname.lastname@example.org Subscribe "D-3."
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, Dec. 31, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shemot:
Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 4:20 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 1, Shabbat Parshat Shemot:
Blessing of the New Month, Shevat.(2)
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:26 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 Shevat is on Shabbat Parshat Va'eira, Jan.
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.