"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Mishpatim, 5760
Shevat 28, 5760
Feb. 4, 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.
This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Adar I, and we
celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar I, on Sunday, Feb. 6, and Monday, Feb.
As this year is a leap year on the Jewish calendar, an entire extra
month* is added between the months of Shevat and
Adar. Therefore, this week's issue focuses on a lesson we can learn
from the leap year.
The Jewish year that has recently begun 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
25 Shevat, 5760
Brooklyn, New York
*. This month is known as Adar Rishon--Adar I, and the second
Adar is known as Adar Sheini--Adar II.
This week's Torah portion of Mishpatim contains the law of the goring
ox. The Torah distinguishes between two categories: the "shor tam,"
a bull that is not known to be a gorer, and the "shor mu'ad," a bull
that has gored three times. Such an animal is considered dangerous and likely
to gore again.
Everything in the Torah can be understood on many levels. Thus not only does
the law of the goring ox pertain to animals, it also applies to a person's
soul. In general, the ox is symbolic of the animal soul. (According to
Chasidus every Jew has two souls, a Divine soul and an animal soul.)
The animal soul, by itself, is not necessarily bad. It has many positive
qualities and is a powerful force that can be harnessed for good. Nonetheless,
like the physical ox, it must be closely guarded to prevent it from inflicting
The natural state of the animal soul is "a bull that is not known to gore."
As it is created, the animal soul does not crave forbidden things, only those
that are permissible and necessary to sustain life. If the animal soul falters
and commits a sin, it is the exception rather than the rule, and runs contrary
to its true nature. In this instance it is relatively easy to do
teshuvah (repent) and repair the damage.
However, if a person commits the same sin over and over again "until it seems
permissible," he is considered "a bull that has gored three times." Having
already been reinforced several times, his negative behavior is now second
nature to him, and he is considered likely to repeat it in the future.
How does a person turn "a known gorer" back into "a bull that is not known
to gore"? Simply by training it. According to Maimonides, the transformation
is complete "when little children can poke [the ox] and it still doesn't
The same rule applies in our service of G-d. The "repeat offender" must work
hard on refining his animal soul and weakening its desires. Then, when he
finds himself facing the exact same temptation, yet he remains strong and
doesn't falter, his status reverts to "a bull that is not known to gore."
Of course, this is not an easy thing to accomplish, so the Torah offers us
another method of attack. According to Maimonides, when a "known gorer" acquires
a new owner, the slate is cleaned and the animal is considered "a bull that
is not known to gore." Because the new owner relates to it differently, the
animal's nature also changes for the good.
In spiritual terms, any Jew who wants to undergo a similar transformation
must also acquire a new "owner," immersing himself completely in the realm
of holiness: learning Torah, doing good deeds and engaging in prayer. His
ingrained bad habits will automatically lose their grip on him, and he will
become "tam"--literally "perfect and whole."
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.
This year's conference, taking place in the month of Adar I, brings
to mind the significance of our leap year and its relevance to our daily
life. For, although our Jewish calendar year has a basic logic of its own,
it, too, like everything else in Jewish life, must be related in a practical
and tangible way to our personal lives and responsibilities.
The fundamental reason for adding an extra month in our leap year is, of
course, the fact that the Torah requires our calendar to be based on the
lunar year, which is shorter than the solar year by approximately eleven
days. At the same time it requires that our festivals take place in their
due season (Passover in the spring, Sukkot in the autumn, etc.). This
necessitates an adjustment once in two or three years, in order to make up
the deficiency of the lunar year in relation to the solar
The lesson contained in this calendar arrangement is that a person can in
one year make up for deficiencies in past years.
Furthermore, just as the leap year not only makes up the deficiency, but
also provides an "advance" on the future, so must the individual from time
to time not only make up what he has failed to accomplish, in the past, but
also make a special and extra effort to go a step forward as a reserve for
In addition, the Jewish leap year has a special relevance to Jewish women,
mothers and daughters. The sun and the moon were created as "the two great
luminaries," but each has been given its own place and function. The moon
acts as a reflector and transmitter of the sun's light. In this way it has
a special quality in that it transmits the solar light and energy to those
areas in nature where direct sunlight would be too intense to be beneficial.
Similarly, the Jewish wife, in many respects, must reflect and transmit the
Torah way of life to the entire household, and it is in this way that she
fulfills her great responsibility and privilege of being the akeret
habayit--foundation of the home.
In taking stock of your accomplishments in the past, you will find much to
be gratified with, but these very accomplishments will also reveal that with
a little more effort, a great deal more could have been accomplished. It
is, therefore, to be hoped that you will resolve not only to make up the
"deficiency," but in keeping with the spirit of the leap year, also make
an advance on the future. After all, true progress cannot be limited to making
up deficiencies. It is necessary to forge ahead steadily and, from time to
time, to also advance by leaps and bounds.
* * *
In accordance with the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, to the effect that
every experience should serve as a lesson toward better service of G-d, the
leap year serves to remind us that everyone has an opportunity to make up
for any deficiency in the past, and sometimes even to accumulate a little
reserve for the future, as in the case of our leap year.
Chabad Chasidus emphasizes this point in a very basic manner, since
by definition Chasidus is a way of life that demands a little more
effort than called for in the line of duty--a little more dedication, a little
more depth, a little more enthusiasm; and enthusiasm itself provides a
breakthrough in overcoming limitations.
1. The lunar month is 29 or 30 days. One lunar cycle is 354 days, while one
solar cycle is 365 days. An extra month is inserted 7 times in 19 years in
order to allow the holidays to fall in their correct seasons.
2. At times the additional month actually makes the year longer than 354
days, thereby giving an "advance" toward the upcoming year.
This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Adar I, and we
celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar I, on Sunday, Feb. 6, and Monday, Feb.
7. As we are now in the midst of a leap year, there will be two months of
Adar instead of one (Adar I and Adar II). By including
the first day of Rosh Chodesh Adar I in the reckoning, we end up with
60 instead of the usual 30 of these auspicious days.
Our Sages said, "When Adar enters, we increase in our
simcha--joy and happiness." The whole month (or months, in our case)
is a time in which the dynamic of transformation is emphasized. In
Adar, the terrible threat that hung over the entire Jewish community
in the times of Haman was transformed into the joyous holiday of Purim.
Adar teaches us that darkness can be transformed into light, and
bitterness into sweetness.
The name Adar has various meanings, one of which is "strong." In
Adar, we experience the strength, "Adir," of G-d. The Talmud
relates that during the month of Adar, Jewish mazal, usually
translated as fortune or destiny, is particularly potent. The mazal
of the Jew is synonymous with the higher levels of his soul, which is always
intrinsically bound with the essence of G-d. During Adar we have a
unique opportunity to draw down Divine energy into our lives, by doing good
deeds that are imbued with joy.
In talks delivered immediately preceding and during the two months of
Adar, eight years ago, in 5752/1992, the Rebbe emphasized the importance
of simcha, in transforming the darkness of exile into the light of
The Rebbe also stressed that, being as there are two months of Adar
this year, there are 60 days during which we are to increase our
simcha. More importantly, in Jewish law, the quantity of 60 has the
ability to nullify an undesirable influence.
Specifically, this concerns food, as we see that if a quantity of milk, for
instance, has accidentally become mixed with meat, if the meat outnumbers
the milk by a ratio of 1:60, the milk is nullified and we may eat the meat.
This points to not only the nullification of negative forces, but their
transformation into positive ones.
Similarly, explains the Rebbe, 60 days of simcha have the ability
to nullify the darkness of the present exile, allowing us to actually transform
the darkness into light.
* * *
Concerning the kind of things that should be done to arouse simcha,
the Rebbe suggested that each person should proceed according to his level:
a child, for instance, should be made happy by his parents; a wife by her
husband, and visa versa.
The bottom line is that the Rebbe did not let up on encouraging an increase
of simcha in all permissible manners during the two months of Adar.
We must hearken to the Rebbe's words and utilize simcha, especially
during these months, to transform darkness into light, sadness into joy,
and pain and tears into rejoicing with Moshiach in the Final Redemption;
and we will very soon experience the ultimate transformation of history,
when our exile will be irrevocably changed into redemption, with the coming
of our Righteous Moshiach.
May it take place, as the Rebbe so fervently prayed, teichef umiyad
mamash--immediately, literally, NOW!
At a chasidic gathering nearly 20 years ago, the Rebbe told the following
One of the tzaddikim of Poland, when still a little boy, asked his
father for an apple. His father, however, refused to give it to him.
The enterprising youngster proceeded to recite a blessing over the apple:
"Baruch atah...borei pri haetz--Blessed are You... Who created fruit
of the trees!"
The father could not possibly allow the blessing to have been recited in
vain. And so, he promptly handed the youngster the apple.
The Rebbe used this story to illustrate the following point:
In our situation today, if the Jewish people begin now to rejoice in the
Redemption, out of absolute trust that G-d will speedily send us Moshiach,
this joy in itself will (as it were) compel our Father in heaven to fulfill
His children's wish and to redeem them from exile.
Needless to say, the Rebbe was not suggesting the use of mystical incantations
or the like to "force" the premature advent of the end of the exile. "We
are simply speaking of serving G-d with exuberant joy," the Rebbe explained.
The month of Adar I brings with it not only the injunction to increase
in joy, but with every command we are also given the power and energy to
fulfill that command.
So, right from the start of the month, let us increase in our happiness,
do mitzvot with more enthusiasm, and rejoice NOW in the imminent
* * *
What benefit does joy bring us?
Chasidic teachings use the example of two individuals who are wrestling,
to teach us the advantage of joy.
When two individuals are wrestling with each other, each striving to throw
the other, if one is lazy and sluggish he will easily be defeated and thrown,
even though he may be stronger than his opponent. Similarly, when we are
trying to correct our bad habits or encourage spiritual growth, etc., it
is impossible to accomplish any of these goals with a heavy heart or
sluggishness, which originates in sadness. Rather, we are most successful
at "overthrowing" our character flaws when we use alacrity that is derived
The Tzemach Tzedek, the third Chabad Rebbe, received a letter from
one of his followers, complaining that it was difficult for him to be "joyous."
The Tzemach Tzedek's advice to him was that he think only positive
and happy thoughts, that he be careful not to speak of sad or depressing
matters, and to behave as if his heart was full of joy. "Ultimately," concluded
the Tzemach Tzedek, "this will be the reality."
As we enter the first month of Adar, a month when we are enjoined
to increase our joy over and above our regular mitzvot to "serve G-d
with joy" and "to be joyous constantly," may we celebrate the greatest joy
of all, the revelation of Moshiach and the ingathering of all Jews to our
Holy Land, NOW!
Our Sages relate that "in the merit of the righteous women, the Jews were
redeemed from Egypt." Similarly, the Sages associated subsequent redemptions
with the merit of Jewish women. Rabbi Yitzchok Luria emphasized that the
future Redemption will follow the pattern of the Exodus, and thus will also
come as a result of the merit of the righteous women of that generation.
From "Women as Partners in the Dynamic of Creation"
On Sunday, Feb. 6, and Monday, Feb. 7, G-d willing, we will be celebrating
Rosh Chodesh Adar I, starting the new Hebrew month of Adar
Rosh Chodesh is celebrated as a mini-holiday, with special prayers
and finer food and clothing. Jewish women, in particular, observe Rosh
Chodesh more meticulously.
What is the reason for Jewish women's stricter celebration of Rosh
Rabbi Eliezer wrote: "When the men came to ask for their wives' gold earrings
for the Golden Calf, the women refused to hand them over. They said to their
husbands: 'We will not obey you in order to make an abomination that has
no power to save!' G-d rewarded them in this world, giving them a greater
degree of observance on Rosh Chodesh, and He rewards them in the World
to Come, giving them the power of constant renewal that characterizes [the
renewal of the moon on] Rosh Chodesh."
On a more general note, the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, and our people
are compared to the moon. Although our light is sometimes eclipsed by that
of other nations, like the moon we are always here--both at night and by
day. Our nation's history has its share of growth and decline; like the moon
we wax and wane. But ultimately, these are just phases. For, although at
times we seem to be as unimportant or insignificant as the sliver of the
moon when it reappears, this is just a veneer.
May we sanctify the new moon this year and celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar
I in the Holy Temple with Moshiach.
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 Renewal Gatherings
The Jewish calendar is based on the moon's cycle. The beginning of each Jewish
month is a mini-holiday and affords a perfect opportunity to make gatherings.
Serve some special foods, study about the holidays in the upcoming month,
celebrate the imminent Redemption when the Jewish people will be totally
"The renewal of the moon after its concealment is used as an analogy for
the Redemption and the complete renewal of the Jewish people 'who will in
the future be renewed as [the moon] is renewed.'"
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, Feb. 4, Erev Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim:
Light Shabbat Candles,(3) by 4:58 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 5, Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim:
Blessing of the New Month, Adar I.(4)
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:01 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. Rosh Chodesh Adar I is on Sunday, Feb. 6, and Monday, Feb. 7.
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.