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Parshat Shemini, 5760

24 Adar II, 5760
March 31, 2000

Please pray for the immediate and complete recovery of
Horav Chaim Yehuda Kalman Ben Rochel Marlow Shlita,
head of the Bet-Din (Rabbinical Court) of Crown Heights


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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 highlight one of the Rebbe's Mitzvah Campaigns, "Mivtzah Kashrut--The Jewish Dietary Laws."

Making sure her home and family keep Kosher, is one of the three special mitzvot entrusted to the Jewish Woman.(1)


This Jewish year, 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

22 Adar II, 5760
Brooklyn, New York


1. The other two are "Lighting Shabbat Candles," and "Family Purity," (which will be discussed, G-d willing, in a future issue).

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Shemini

A large part of this week's Torah portion, Shemini, discusses the Jewish dietary laws, kashrut. We read about the kosher animals a Jew may eat and the non-kosher ones that are forbidden. The Torah gives us two signs to distinguish a kosher animal: it must chew its cud and have split hooves.

One of the reasons certain foods are prohibited is that the food we eat becomes part of our physical bodies, transformed into our flesh and blood. The Torah prohibits us from ingesting certain foods to protect our bodies from their negative influence. Keeping kosher enables a Jew to avoid the spiritually harmful effect of these non-kosher substances.

We must also "chew our cud" and have "split hooves."

The hoof is the lowest part of the animal's body, coming in direct contact with the earth and separating it from the ground. Even an animal, whose head is closer to the ground than man's, must maintain a certain distance and separation from the earth to be considered kosher.

A Jew must also guard this distinction between the "earth"--his corporeal nature--and his higher spiritual faculties. Even the lowest levels of his soul, analogous to the foot, must not come into direct contact with the ground. We should never become completely involved in our material affairs, but maintain a certain detachment in the way we relate to them.

The hoof of a kosher animal is cloven, consisting of two parts. So too must the Jew's involvement in worldly affairs--analogous to the "hoof" that connects him with the ground--consist of two simultaneous but opposite thrusts: his "right hand draws near" while his "left hand pushes [negative influences] away." With the "right hand" the Jew learns Torah, performs mitzvot and draws his fellow Jews closer to Judaism. The "left hand" helps him to avoid negative influences.

The distinction between "right" and "left" is very important. One cannot hope to obtain goodness without shunning evil. Good and evil must never be confused, just as the kosher animal's hooves are split into two distinct halves.

The second characteristic of a kosher animal is that it chews its cud. Likewise, a Jew must "chew over" his every step and consider it carefully before acting. When we subject our behavior to this scrutiny, all our actions will be pure.

The Torah gives us several signs by which we can recognize kosher birds, but in this instance we are not allowed to rely only on these characteristics. Only birds explicitly regarded as kosher by our holy tradition are permissible.

From this we learn that a Jew must never rely solely on his own intellect, as his guidelines in life must be derived from our holy tradition. In addition to his own intellectual achievements, the Jew must connect himself to the leader of the generation in order for his service to be pure.


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.


This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevorchim, the Shabbat before the new Jewish month. Literally translated, it means a Shabbat in which we bless the upcoming Jewish month. This Shabbat Mevorchim is special because it is the Shabbat before the month of Nissan, which is often referred to as "the month of Redemption."

On the surface, calling Nissan the month of Redemption is explained by the fact that Nissan is the month in which we celebrate Passover,(2) the holiday that commemorates the Jews' redemption from Egyptian slavery. But the month of Nissan is also connected to the Final Redemption, as our Sages say, "In Nissan, our people were redeemed, and in Nissan, they will be redeemed in the future."

This Shabbat represents the transition from the month of Adar II to the month of Nissan. Both months contain within them commemorations of miraculous events. In Adar II we celebrate the downfall of Haman and the victory of the Jewish people, and in Nissan we celebrate our freedom from slavery.

The difference between the events is that the miracles of Purim occurred within the natural order of the world, while the miracles of Passover transcended the natural order. The story of Purim can be traced through a natural sequence of events. But by cloaking miracles in the natural order of the world, we are actually elevating the natural order.

That is our true purpose on this earth, to elevate the physical to the spiritual and have G-dliness revealed on this plane.

Another concept that the two months have in common is redemption. Adar II celebrates redemption from Haman's wicked decree, and Nissan celebrates the redemption from Egypt. Shabbat is also a kind of redemption, a weekly redemption from mundane cares and worries to a place of light, joy, song and Torah-study.

May all of these redemption's be stepping-stones to our complete, final, and ultimate Redemption, the coming of Moshiach.


2. This year, Passover begins on Wednesday night, April 19. Ed.


This Shabbat is one of the four special Shabbats preceding the Yom Tov of Pesach. It is called Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh. We read a special Torah portion from the book of Exodus which states: "This month shall be the head month for you. It shall be the first month of the year."

Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh always falls either on the Sabbath when we bless the month of Nissan or on the first day of Nissan itself.

The month of Nissan is special in that it is a month of miracles--not the everyday miracles of human existence, or hidden miracles such as those that took place on Purim. But, rather, Nissan contains revealed miracles that are higher than nature itself.

With the command that the month of Nissan, a month of revealed miracles, be designated as the first and "head" of the months, the Torah emphasizes that in all the months of the year, whether we see open miracles, miracles in the cloak of natural events, unusual success or a seemingly unchangeable cycle of nature, we must realize that G-d is the Creator of the Universe, the sole Master of the world, who directs and cares about even the smallest detail of the world and each individual person.

If each and everyone of us would sit down for only a brief few moments and pay close attention to what has happened to us personally, we will detect minor and major miracles that happen in our personal lives.

Many times we are just too busy to stop for a moment and take stock of what has happened. But we shouldn't pass it off as another "natural" happening. It is a miracle of G-d, whether it has occurred in the month of miracles, or in an average day.


In this week's Torah portion, Shemini, we aren't just told what constitutes a kosher animal--e.g., split hooves and chewing its cud --we also learn that these animals and birds are specifically mentioned in the Torah.

Although thousands of years have passed since the Torah was given, and many new species of animal have been "discovered" by man since then, not one animal or bird has been found possessing the kosher characteristics besides those enumerated in our Torah portion.

There was a time when people used to brush aside the laws of keeping kosher as outdated, food storage and production being much more sanitary than in former years. But the G-d-given commandment to keep kosher was never dependent upon sanitary conditions. At one period in history, the extra cleanliness of kosher food might have been an added benefit of observing this important mitzvah, but it was never the reason for keeping kosher.

In fact, keeping kosher is in the category of mitzvot known as chukim--decrees. We are given no explanation by the Torah or our rabbis as to why we were given these "decrees." But, since our Creator knows what's best for us--which oils, fluids, fuels, etc. make the mechanics of our soul run the smoothest--it is prudent and wise to follow His operating instructions assiduously.

Give keeping kosher a chance. You might want to start out slowly, but once you get your engine revved up, you won't be able to imagine any other way to keep your soul fine-tuned.

Good luck!


To change a non-kosher home to kosher is, admittedly, a major undertaking. Any worthwhile change is bound to be difficult. In recognition of this fact, Chabad-Lubavitch has formed a Kashrut Committee to assist anyone sincerely interested in converting hers/his to a kosher kitchen.

For more information, please call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area: http://www.chabad.org/chabadir-access.html.
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


"And just as the Redemption was brought about in the days of Mordechai and Esther (through the meticulous observance of Kashrut), so too, the Redemption will be brought about in our days through the meticulous observance of Kashrut."

(The Midrash)


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.

Make Others Happy:

As we are now in the 60 days of happiness comprised of the two months of Adar, we should endeavor to make others happy.(3)

The Rebbe explained, "We should proceed to spread joy and happiness in the most literal sense, making efforts to assure that the members of one's household and similarly, all of those with whom one comes in contact, experience great joy. And this will lead to the ultimate joy, the coming of the Redemption. May it take place in the immediate future."


3. See Living With Moshiach, Adar 5760.


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, March 31, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shemini:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 6:01 p.m.

Saturday, April 1, Shabbat Parshat Shemini:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Nissan.(5)
  • Parshat HaChodesh
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 7:03 p.m.


4. 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.

5. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is on Thursday, April 6.

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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