"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Bechukotai, 5760
Iyar 21, 5760
May 26, 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 once again focus on Lag B'Omer, the 18th of
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
14 Iyar, 5760
Brooklyn, New York
The opening verse of this week's Torah portion, Bechukotai, "If you
will walk in my statutes," is explained to mean that a Jew must labor hard
in his study of Torah.
A question is asked: Why does the Torah connect the commandment to study
Torah diligently with G-d's statutes? The answer is found when we take a
closer look at the Hebrew word for "statutes" itself.
The phrase "In my statutes," "Bechukotai," comes from the Hebrew word
meaning "to engrave."
There are two ways in which letters may be written. One way is with ink applied
to parchment (or any other material); another way is to inscribe them in
stone. When letters are written, the ink and the parchment remain two separate
entities, even though the act of writing unites them, to a certain degree,
on the same page. Nonetheless, the letters do not become part and parcel
of the material on which they are written.
When letters are carved into stone, by contrast, the letters and the stone
are inseparable. Each letter comes into being at the exact moment it is inscribed
and can never be erased or obliterated.
The Torah commands us to learn Torah in a manner of "inscription." A Jew
who studies Torah must be so connected to what he is learning that he and
Torah unite and form a single entity, just like an engraved letter does not
exist prior to its inscription and can never be erased. We must learn Torah
so diligently that its holy words become permanently chiseled into our souls.
The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of
Chabad-Lubavitch and the founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy and
the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, in his Chasidic work, Likutei Torah,
explains that the literal translation of "Im bechukotai teileichu"
is "If in My statutes you will walk." When a Jew studies Torah in a manner
of "engraving," he merits a reward--that he "will walk." G-d promises that
if we truly apply ourselves to learning Torah we will never be immobile and
stationary, but will progress and ascend ever upward, perpetually increasing
our understanding and connection to G-d. A Jew whose soul is united with
the Torah is thus ensured that he will always rise up the ladder of spiritual
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.
Lag B'Omer is a day of rejoicing and festivity. It is the anniversary
of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, who
proclaimed the day of his passing as a day of celebration.
The celebration of Lag B'Omer has an effect on the entire world, even
non-Jews, as Rabbi Shimon stated: "I can free the entire world from judgment..."
--"the entire world" includes non-Jews as well. He was able to do
this because, as Chasidus teaches, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was one
of those unique individuals who were actually above the exile, and immune
to it; G-dliness was not hidden from him, but rather, was fully revealed.
Thus, Rabbi Shimon was able to see the G-dliness and intrinsic worth of every
Jew, and for that matter, every created thing, and was therefore able to
find merit for its existence.
This is part of the task of each and every one of us in these last moments
of exile. It is also the first stage in the G-dly revelation necessary to
completely transform exile into Redemption.
The first stage is to reveal within the world that G-d is its Master. Since
the world itself conceals the G-dliness within it (the word
'olam'--world--relates to 'helam,' concealment), a Jew must
serve G-d in a way that reveals that everything within the world has G-dliness
We must use everything in our world for its ultimate G-dly purpose, whether
that be receiving Torah thoughts over the fax machine or enhancing our Jewish
education via e-mail or jogging with a walkman that is playing a Torah tape.
The unique quality of our generation is that we have not only been given
the wherewithal to make giant leaps forward in the area of technology, but
that almost concurrently, we have devised Jewish applications for those
May we begin revealing the G-dliness inherent in our lives, thus preparing
ourselves for and hastening the total revelation of G-dliness with the revelation
of Moshiach, NOW!
Respect. Self-respect. Respect for other people. Respect for other's property
Respect never goes out of style, it's always politically correct, and it
does not become obsolete as technology catapults us toward the next millennium.
The revered and venerated Sage, Rabbi Akiva, is renown for his teaching,
"Love your fellow as yourself. This is a great principle of the Torah." A
lesser known teaching of his is: "Beloved is a person, for he was created
in the image of G-d..." Keeping this second teaching in mind can help one
act on the first teaching; when we remember that every person is a Divine
creation can we do anything less than respect him or her?
* * *
On Tuesday, Iyar 18 (May 23), we celebrate the special day of Lag
B'Omer. One of the events commemorated on Lag B'Omer is the suspension
of a plague that had been afflicting the students of Rabbi Akiva. The plague,
we are told, was caused by the students not displaying enough respect for
A disciple is one who follows in the ways of his teacher. Is it possible
that disciples of one whose entire life was consumed by the axiom, "Love
your fellow as yourself"--so much so that this teaching is synonymous with
the name "Rabbi Akiva"--did not display enough respect for each other?
An amazing insight of the Rebbe on this question is as follows:
Each of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students was so infused with love for his fellow
that this love was all-consuming. He was not able to give his colleague "space."
He loved his friend so much that he wanted to not only share his insights,
opinions and interpretations, but also to convince his peer of their validity
until the peer adopted them as his own.
Remember, we're not talking about a person who is opinionated, arrogant,
narcissistic, or condescending. We are talking about someone who loves the
other person so much that he wants the other person to share his Truth
(with a capital "T").
And this is where the hint of a suggestion of a lack of respect comes in.
Respect includes giving another person space. It means allowing for divergent
opinions. It acknowledges that G-d created every person differently for a
reason. Yes, we can learn to harmonize, modify, accommodate, adapt, perfect.
But we cannot expect to become the same, otherwise G-d would have created
us that way.
* * *
Most of us don't have to worry that our lack of respect for another is caused
by such an all-encompassing love. We're still working on the regular,
The way to encourage such respect is to begin looking at our fellow person
as one who is created in the image of G-d.
The(1) outer yard surrounding the room where the graves
of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son were buried was jammed with Jews from
all over Israel. They had come to Meron on Lag B'Omer--the
yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the 33rd day of the counting
of the omer with their whole family. Today, they would cut their
three-year-old sons' long hair for the first time--leaving only the side-locks.
The voices of thousands of Jews could be heard as they recited Psalms. There
were Jews of all types, whose ancestors came from all over the world. All
were praying and begging G-d to help them raise their children in Torah and
good deeds in the merit of Rabbi Shimon.
It was already after midday on Friday and time to get ready for
Shabbat. The visitors from Tiberias, Tzfat, Haifa and the residents
from other cities and towns in the Galilee started to leave for their homes
in order to arrive before Shabbat.
Many of the visitors, though, especially the ones from far away Jerusalem,
remained for Shabbat.
On Friday night, the beautiful melodies of the various groups praying reached
the heights of the nearby mountains. Their hearts were overflowing as thousands
of Jews joined together to dance and sing.
Shabbat morning arrived and the men gathered in large groups to descend
the valley to the small Meggido Lake where they immersed themselves to prepare
for the morning prayers. The last minyan had finished the morning
prayers when a scream pierced the Sabbath atmosphere. A woman who had brought
her son just yesterday for his first haircut was crying hysterically.
Her son had suddenly become sick and died. Doctors who were sent from the
British government to the area immediately put the entire section under
quarantine. No one could come and no one could leave.
Suddenly, the mother gathered the boy in her arms and went into the room
where Rabbi Shimon was buried. She placed the dead child on the Rabbi's grave
and started crying, "Oh great tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon. I, your servant,
came in your honor to cut the hair of my child. I came to make my son, my
first and only child, into a good Jew. I kept my promise to come here on
Lag B'Omer. Only yesterday I held him here and cut his hair in song
and joy. Now, great tzaddik, how shall I return home in great pain
without my child? How can I bear to go on?"
In the midst of her prayers, the mother arose and said, "Tzaddik,
Rabbi Shimon, I am laying my child on your grave as he is. I beg of you,
with tears, do not shame me. Give me back my child just as I brought him
here. Let the great name of G-d be exalted along with the name of the great
tzaddik. Let everyone know that there is a G-d ruling over this world."
The woman concluded her prayers and left the room, leaving her dead son on
the grave of Rabbi Shimon. The doors of the room were closed as everyone
left the room.
A few moments later a child's scream was heard from behind the closed door.
The mother ran into the room and in shock and disbelief she saw her son standing
on his feet and crying for a glass of water. Happiness and commotion filled
the room. The local doctors examining the child announced in wonder that
this was not a natural or normal incident, but rather a miracle that must
have happened in the merit of the great tzaddik Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The governmental agents immediately reopened the gates and the masses once
again poured inside. Everyone seeing the revived child pronounced the blessing
"Blessed be G-d who revives the dead."
1. Adapted from Hilulai D'Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai--the author of which
witnessed the scene 55 years ago with his own eyes.
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).
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Friday, May 26, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bechukotai:
Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:57 p.m.
Saturday, May 27, Shabbat Parshat Bechukotai:
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 5 of
Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(3)
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:06 p.m.
2. 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.
3. 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