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Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech, 5760

Elul 22, 5760
Sept. 22, 2000

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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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 teshuvah (lit., return; colloquially, repentance).


We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a K'Siva Vachasima Tova, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


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

13 Elul, 5760
Brooklyn, New York

In Honor Of Our Daughter
on the occasion of her Bat Mitzvah,
25 Elul, 5760

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech

The first of this week's two Torah portions, Nitzavim, speaks about the mitzvah of teshuvah. "And you shall return to the L-rd your G-d and obey His voice according to what I command you this day...with all your heart and with all your soul."

The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus, elucidated on the meaning of repentance in his Igeres HaTeshuvah. Teshuvah, he wrote, does not mean fasting or mortification of the body. Nor does it entail merely confessing our transgressions. The simple definition of teshuvah is "the return to G-d through the abandonment of sin."

How do we "abandon sin"? "A person must wholeheartedly resolve that he will not repeat the folly of rebelling against G-d's sovereignty, that he will never again disobey the King's commands, both positive and negative mitzvot."

The "abandonment of sin" is thus synonymous with the re-acceptance of the yoke of heaven. When a person accepts G-d's kingship, it prevents him from committing any and all sins, not just the particular sin he has already committed.

When a Jew resolves to do teshuvah, it's not enough for him to renounce a singular transgression. He must promise to keep all of G-d's commandments, positive observances and negative prohibitions alike.

Take, for example, a Jew who has committed the sin of lashon hara (slander). Is regretting his misdeed and resolving to never again speak negatively about others sufficient? No! True teshuvah requires that his acceptance of the yoke of heaven be felt so sincerely and deeply that it precludes him from committing any sin in the future.

The reason for this is that when a person sins, the damage it causes is two-fold. In the general sense, by acting contrary to G-d's will, the individual has rebelled against G-d and thrown off the yoke of His authority. Yet on a more personal level, his individual G-dly soul has been impaired.

When a Jew accepts G-d's kingship and rededicates himself to the totality of Torah and mitzvot, he rights both wrongs at the same time. His teshuvah goes beyond correcting his individual failure, and nullifies the underlying potential for transgression at its source.

The Torah enjoins us, "And you shall return to the L-rd your G-d," demanding that we accept G-d's authority in all facets of our lives. Rather than making amends for individual transgressions, genuine teshuvah requires that we rededicate ourselves to obeying all of G-d's commands, with renewed acceptance of the yoke of heaven.


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.

Freely translated from a Letter of the Rebbe

There is a unique quality and preeminence of teshuvah [lit., return; colloquially, repentance] in that it enables a person to rectify completely all that should have been achieved throughout the past, in matters of Torah and mitzvot--"with one 'turn' and in one moment."

On reflection, it can easily be seen that, all things added up, the world contains more quantity (materiality) than quality (spirituality), and more by far. Indeed, the more corporeal and gross a thing is, the greater is the quantity in which it is found. Thus, for example, the world of inanimate, (inorganic) matter is much greater in volume than the vegetable kingdom, and the latter is quantitatively greater than the animal kingdom, which, in turn, surpasses by far, in quantity, the highest of the four kingdoms, mankind (the "speaking" creature). Similarly, in the human body: the lowest extremities, the legs, are larger in size than the rest of the body, and the latter is much greater in bulk than the head, wherein are located the organs of speech and the senses of smell, hearing and sight, as well as the intellect, etc., which animate the entire body and direct all its activities.

On further reflection, a person might also become disheartened, G-d forbid, wondering how is one to fulfill adequately one's real purpose in life on this earth, which is, to quote our Sages, "I was created to serve my Creator"--seeing that most of one's time is necessarily taken up with materialistic things, such as eating and drinking, sleeping, earning a livelihood, etc. What with the fact that the earliest years of a human being, before reaching maturity and knowledgeability, are spent in an entirely materialistic mode of living.

The answer is, first of all, that even the so-called materialistic preoccupations of the daily life must not become purely materialistic and animal-like, for we have to be always mindful of the imperative, "Let all your doings be for the sake of Heaven," and "Know Him (G-d) in all your ways."

This means that also in carrying out the activities that are connected with the physical and material aspects of life (which, as mentioned, take up the greater part of a person's time), a human being must know that those material aspects are not an end in themselves, but they are, and must serve as, the means to attain to the higher, spiritual realm of life, namely, G-dliness. In this way, he permeates all those materialistic-physical aspects with spiritual content, and utilizes them for spiritual purposes. Thus, all these mundane, and in themselves trivial matters, are elevated to their proper role, perfection and spirituality.

But in addition to the above, there is also the unique effectiveness of teshuvah, which has the power to transform--"with one 'turn' and in one moment"--the whole past--the very materiality of it into spirituality.

Time is, of course, not measured simply by duration, but by its content in terms of achievement. Thus, in evaluating time there are vast differences in terms of content, and, hence, in real worth, of a minute, an hour, etc. Suffice it to mention, by way of example, that one cannot compare an hour of prayer and outpouring of the soul before G-d with an hour of sleep. And to use the analogy of coins, there may be coins of identical size and shape, yet differing in their intrinsic value, depending upon whether they are made of copper, silver or gold.

With all the opportunities that G-d provides for a person to fill his time with the highest content, there is the most wonderful gift from "G-d who does wonders" of the extraordinary quality of teshuvah, transcending all limitations, including the limitations of time, so that "in one moment" it transforms the whole past, to the degree of absolute perfection in quality and spirituality.

The Al-mighty has also ordained especially favorable times for teshuvah, at the end of each year and the beginning of the new year, together with the assurance that everyone, man or woman, who resolves to do teshuvah--can accomplish it "in one moment."

By transforming the quantity of the materiality in the past into meritorious quality, spirituality and holiness; and at the same time preparing for the future, in the coming year and thereafter, in a proper manner, through Torah and mitzvot in the everyday life, a person elevates himself/herself and also the environment at large to the highest possible level of spirituality and holiness. This makes the material world a fitting abode for G-d, blessed be He.


Since the beginning of the month of Elul we've been doing teshuvah, getting rid of negative baggage and "cleaning up our act" before Rosh HaShanah. But this Saturday night, Sept. 23, after midnight, we're going to really get down to business, as Jews around the world go to the synagogue to recite Selichot ("prayers for forgiveness"). These special penitential prayers are the next stage of our preparation for the High Holidays.

Chasidic philosophy makes the following distinction:

During the month of Elul, we concentrate on improving our thought, speech and deed. But when we say Selichot, we focus on an even deeper level of the soul and correct the emotive powers themselves.

Though it sounds serious, Chasidim have always approached Selichot (like everything else!) with a sense of joy, rather than sadness and gloom. We look forward to the opportunity to reach even higher levels of holiness and sanctity.

The Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, quoting Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus, explained one of the lines in the Selichot thusly: "The needs of Your people are great, and their knowledge is narrow and limited." Our needs are many precisely because our knowledge is limited. If our knowledge were "wider," our needs would be fewer.

The pursuit of luxuries, adds the Rebbe, can even diminish the "regular" measure of blessing a person would otherwise receive. Because our "knowledge is limited" we demand too much, over-inflating our importance and assuming that G-d "owes" us. Our "needs" tend to multiply when we put too much emphasis on material rather than spiritual concerns.

Nonetheless, the Rebbe concludes, "Our request from G-d is that He fulfill all the needs of His people, even though what we ask for stems from a deficiency in knowledge. And may every single Jew lack for nothing."



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.

Say the Special Selichot Prayers

On Saturday evening, Sept. 23, after midnight, the first Selichot ("prayers for forgiveness") are said in synagogues throughout the world.

From Monday, Sept. 25, through the eve of Rosh HaShanah, the Selichot prayers are said every weekday, in the early morning. Go with the whole family Saturday night, let the kids stay up late! This is a real, hands-on Jewish experience that is bound to be remembered for months, if not years.


Call your local synagogue, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center for the exact time and location nearest you.


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, Sept. 22, Erev Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 6:35 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 23, Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech:

  • Shabbat Selichot.
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapters 5 & 6 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(2)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 7:34 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. 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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