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Parshat Behar, 5760

Iyar 14, 5760
May 19, 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


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[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 Lag B'Omer, the 18th of Iyar.


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

11 Iyar, 5760
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Behar

This week's Torah portion, Behar, deals with shemitah--the commandment to allow the land of Israel to lie fallow every seventh year.

It also discusses the laws of the yovel--jubilee--year, when all inheritances return to their rightful owners. If you keep these mitzvot properly, G-d promises, "The land shall yield its fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell in safety in it."

Interestingly, it is only after a detailed list of these laws that the Torah mentions a concern that might arise.

"And if you should say, 'What will we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we are not permitted to sow, and we cannot gather in our harvest!' " G-d promises that the sixth year's harvest will be so plentiful that it will be sufficient for three years--the sixth, seventh, and even eighth year of the cycle.

Why isn't this question included in its logical place, with the rest of the laws of shemitah?

Furthermore, the verse "What will we eat?" appears immediately after G-d has already promised that the land will yield its fruit. If so, why is the question even asked?

We must therefore conclude that the question "What will we eat?" contains a deeper significance than merely inquiring about the agricultural yield of Israel.

The question is asked by one who wishes to uncover the inner, spiritual meaning of the mitzvah; it therefore appears separately, after the details of the commandment have been delineated.

In truth, the question is how G-d's blessing will be manifested, not if His promise will be fulfilled.

Will G-d cause manna to fall as in the desert, or will He perform a different miracle to sustain the Jewish people?

For, in essence, the blessing of the shemitah year not only transcends natural law, but utterly contradicts it! According to the laws of nature, every successive year the earth is sown serves to deplete it of its nutrients and goodness; during the sixth year of the cycle, the land would naturally be at its lowest ebb.

This, then, is precisely G-d's special blessing: Despite the fact that according to nature the earth is at its weakest point, the land of Israel will nonetheless yield bountifully.

In the spiritual sense, the six years of working the land are symbolic of the six millennia before Moshiach; the seventh year is symbolic of the Messianic era.

As we are now nearing the end of the sixth millennium, just prior to Moshiach's arrival, we ask the same question as that of the shemitah year: How is it possible that our own spiritually-inferior generation will be able to bring the Redemption?

Once again, the answer lies in G-d's promise to the Jewish people: When we serve Him in a manner that totally transcends logic and understanding, He will surely send us the bounty of Redemption, 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 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.


Have you heard the one about how many Jewish mothers it takes to change a light bulb? "That's O.K.," the Jewish mother says, "I'll sit in the dark."

This is our modern-day stereotype of the Jewish mother--self-sacrificing, a bit of a martyr and a little manipulative. And, your therapist might add, responsible for all your problems.

Though martyrdom and manipulation are not traits that we might want to emulate, what about self-sacrifice and selflessness--two qualities that have been getting a lot of bad press over the last couple of decades?

Most of us would not be where we are today had it not been for our mothers' selflessness: waking up at all hours of the night, nursing us back to health when we were sick, putting their own needs and desires on hold in order to help fulfill ours. True, dear old mom might remind us of these things a little more often than we'd like to hear, but are mothers deserving our recognition, and more, for their self-sacrifice?

In fact, they deserve limitless appreciation and recognition! According to Jewish tradition, our debt of acknowledgment toward our parents can never be repaid. The commandment to show honor toward another is mentioned in the Torah concerning our parents and G-d. The reason for the commandment to "Honor your father and your mother" is the fact that our parents were partners with G-d in giving life to us, though Mom probably had more sleepless nights from us than either of the others two partners.

Where would the Jewish people be without the self-sacrifice of countless Jewish women throughout the ages?

Jewish tradition teaches that it was because of the self-sacrifice and righteousness of the women that the entire Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt! When Pharaoh enslaved the Jewish people, the men refused to have more children. "Why should we bring children into the world to be slaves and suffer like us?" they asked.

The Jewish women, however, though shouldering the same burden of slavery and suffering as their husbands, purposely sought out ways to endear themselves to their spouses. They were responsible for the birth of a new generation, a generation fit to be redeemed. The women reasoned, "True, our children will suffer hardships like us, but, soon G-d will fulfill His promise to them and deliver them out of the land of Egypt."

In every generation, whenever all seemed hopeless, it was the righteous, self-sacrificing Jewish mothers who inspired their families and communities to have faith and look toward better times.

We shouldn't just set aside one day a year to honor mothers. We should remember them every day--it's a mitzvah!


Her plan was clear. She would go every day to the House of Prayer and the Houses of Study. Her child, though still unborn, would come to know the sounds of the holy words of Torah.

To her friends, she would explain: "I am going to the House of Prayer, so that my baby can hear the holy words."

On this particular cold, winter day, she sat immersed in her own prayer to the One Above to bless her child with wisdom and the ability to toil in His Torah. She sat until the scholars emerged. Shyly, she approached the first, "Please, bless my child with wisdom." The elderly sage smiled at the young woman whose presence no longer surprised him. "May your child shine with the light of Torah," he replied. She continued on to the various Houses of Study where she would sit beneath the open windows, the words of Torah permeating her essence.

The months passed. The young woman still made her early morning rounds, but now she was accompanied by her baby son, Yehoshua Ben Chananya.

She still visited both the Houses of Prayer and the Houses of Study, but now she propped up the baby in a cradle. And from the early morning until the heat of the day had passed, the tiny baby sat, dozed, ate, and dozed again while the sacred melodies of Torah learning filled the air, enveloping him and filtering into his consciousness.

* * *

Rabbi Yehoshua was tired. The road to Rome was long and difficult. But, praised be G-d, his mission had met with success. His nerve-wracking debates with the vicious Hadrian had yielded the hoped-for result--the severe decrees against the Jews had been rescinded. He could return home to Yavne in peace, with good news for his colleagues in the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court) and all his fellow Jews. For now, at least, the Jews could breathe more easily.

Rabbi Yehoshua's tremendous scholarship and his generous, kindly nature made him respected and beloved by all. As the years passed, he accumulated greatness and honor.

* * *

One day, already an old man, Rabbi Yehoshua sat with his students exploring a question in Jewish law. Was it incumbent upon the parents to bring their small children to hear the reading of the Torah once every seven years during the Hakhel year? Rabbi Yehoshua listened attentively to the discussion, and then, as if seeing some far-off vision, related the story of how his mother would rise before dawn to sit beneath the open windows and allow her child to absorb the feel and essence of the holy words. All his life, Rabbi Yehoshua continued, he recalled his mother with blessing, for it was she who instilled in him the holiness to which his soul became attached.

Rabbi Yehoshua's comment sealed the discussion with his own beautiful truth.

* * *

To those familiar with the Jewish view of the age at which one's Jewish education begins, a recent study, explored in Time magazine, comes as no surprise. Research on the brain has "discovered" the importance of stimulating a child's brain from birth, and that most of the growth and development of the brain takes place from birth to age three.

In Jewish tradition, a child's formal education does not begin until the age of three. Until that time a child's primary teacher, stimulator, nurturer, is his/her mother. Only once a child reaches the age of three, after the explosive development of the brain has slowed, does a child leave his mother's pushing, prodding, preparing, prompting, and parenting to begin conventional schooling.

Jewish continuity is Jewish motherhood. It is Jewish mothers instilling in their children, from birth and even before, a love of G-d, a love of the Torah, and a love of the Jewish people, which are all intricately connected and one.

Happy Mother's Day!

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

On the third day--twice blessed with "It was good"--
of the weekly portion of(1) Counting the Omer, 5735 [1975]

To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere

G-d bless you--

The auspicious day of Lag B'Omer is approaching, the day of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai's [known as "Rashbi"] simchah [rejoicing]; the day of which it is said: "On this day it is a mitzvah to celebrate Rashbi's simchah, and for those living in the Holy Land --to go to his grave and rejoice there greatly."

This year [5735/1975] Lag B'Omer significantly occurs on (Tuesday) the day on which the Creator expressed His special satisfaction by repeating "It was good" twice--an allusion to two "goods": good to Heaven and good to the creatures.

It is, therefore, surely an auspicious time--the day of Lag B'Omer itself, as well as the days immediately preceding and following it, which respectively serve as preparation for, and first-fruits of, Lag B'Omer--to rejoice greatly with the simchah of mitzvot, especially mitzvot that combine both "goods," good to Heaven (man's duties to G-d) and good to the creatures (man's duties to man). This includes, of course, the mitzvah of encouraging Jews to do mitzvot (or do them more devoutly), as this effort of spreading the observance of any mitzvah is also an act of loving-kindness.

And since influence in this direction generally--indeed, inevitably--involves quoting words of Torah and instructing in the laws of the particular mitzvah, it comes under the mitzvah of Torah-learning and teachings.

Thus both--the effort to encourage Jews to do mitzvot, and the manner of this effort--are mitzvot of "good to the creatures."

Hence it is an opportune occasion to remind everyone, again and again, that which has been urged for some time now, in regard to active promotion of the observance of mitzvot. Indeed, in light of the relevancy to Rashbi and Lag B'Omer, the special Mitzvah Campaigns that have been stressed lately(2) assume an added significance, as follows:

Torah Campaign--since the Torah was the vocation of Rashbi and his colleagues;

Tefillin Campaign--concerning which it is said in Rashbi's Book, the Zohar, that tefillin is a G-dly crown, and one who adorns himself with this "Supernal Sacred Crown" is given the title of King of the Earth, companion to the King in Heaven, the Holy One blessed be He.

Mezuzah Campaign--the Zohar says: "When a person affixes a mezuzah at the entrance to his house... he adorns himself with his Master's crown and keeps evil things away from his door."

Tzedakah Campaign--of which it is said in the Zohar: "Whoever shows heartfelt compassion for the poor... rules over all creatures of the world."

House Filled with Sacred Books--of Torah and Tefillah (Prayer)--of which it is said in the Zohar: "That studying Torah and worshipping G-d, command everybody's respect and awe."

Candle-lighting to usher in the holy Shabbat--of which Rashbi declares that it is a sublime honor for her (who lights the candles)... to be blessed with children... who will foster peace on earth, etc.

May G-d grant that through the said activities, in the spirit of all that has been said above, and within the framework of commitment to Torah and mitzvot in the daily life, beginning with the Torah Campaign (both the Revealed and Inner Torah), thereby removing the cause of the protracted Exile, namely, bitul Torah (neglect of Torah)--we will see the realization of "G-d is my King since the days of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."

And will soon merit the true and complete Redemption through the Melech HaMoshiach.

Then it will come to pass that "None shall any more have to teach the other... for all will know Me," as Rashbi explains, since everyone will be filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and valor, knowledge and fear of G-d.


1. Parshat Emor. Ed.

2. In subsequent years the Rebbe added the following Mitzvah Campaigns: Family Purity and Kashrut, in 1975; Love of a Fellow Jew and Jewish Education for Children, in 1976; Letter in a Torah Scroll, in 1981; Study of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, in 1984; and Intensification of the Moshiach Campaign, in 1991. Ed.


Tuesday, Iyar 18 (May 23), is Lag B'Omer. Lag B'Omer is the 33rd (lamed-gimel, hence lag in Hebrew) day of the Omer period (between Passover and Shavuot), is the anniversary of the passing--yahrtzeit--of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (commonly known by the acronym of his name, Rashbi), author of the Zohar.

Rashbi lived in the 2nd century b.c.e. He openly criticized the Roman government and was forced to go into hiding. He and his son hid in a cave and immersed themselves in Torah. Emerging after 13 years he founded an academy in the Gallilee. His esoteric teachings were recorded by his disciples in the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. On his yahtrzeit on Lag B'Omer, tens of thousands gather at his tomb in Meron, in northern Gallilee.


Before his death, Rashbi instructed his students to rejoice on the day of his yahrtzeit. The Holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria--one of the greatest scholars in the mystical aspects of the Torah--taught the great virtue of rejoicing on that day. Later the Baal Shem Tov and his followers strengthened the custom of rejoicing on the yahrtzeit.


According to tradition, rainbows (a symbol of G-d's promise to never send another flood) were not seen while Rashbi was alive because his merit alone was enough to protect the world against the calamity of a flood. Since "rainbow" and "bow" are both called keshet in Hebrew, the custom developed for children to play with bows and arrows on Lag B'Omer.


As in previous years, parades and outdoor events in honor of Lag B'Omer will take place on Tuesday, Iyar 18 (May 23), around the world. Organized by local Chabad-Lubavitch Centers, programs usually include live family entertainment, bonfires and an all-around good time for all.

For a Lag B'Omer program in your area, contact your local 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).


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, May 19, Erev Shabbat Parshat Behar:

Saturday, May 20, Shabbat Parshat Behar:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 4 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(4)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:59 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.

4. The weekly chapter of Pirkei Avot with the Rebbe's commentaries, are available electronically via the Internet, by sending your subscription request to: listserv@chabad.org - Subscribe "G-4."

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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