"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
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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"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
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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 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
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
11 Iyar, 5760
Brooklyn, New York
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
* * *
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
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
Happy Mother's Day!
On the third day--twice blessed with "It was good"--
of the weekly portion of(1) Counting the Omer, 5735
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
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,
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
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
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
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
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, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subscribe "G-4."
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat