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Parshat Bamidbar, 5760

Iyar 28, 5760
June 2, 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


The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.



Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


Click here, to see pictures 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 Sivan,(1) therefore this week's issue focuses on Sivan.


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

18 Iyar, 5760
Brooklyn, New York


1. Rosh Chodesh Sivan is on Sunday, June 4.

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Bamidbar

In this week's portion, Bamidbar, we read about how Moshe, Aharon and the leaders of the tribes conducted a census of the Jewish people at G-d's command. "Take a census of the congregation of the Children of Israel... you and Aharon... and with you there shall be a man of every tribe."

Counting the number of citizens who reside in a particular country is something that is done all over the world. There are no stringent requirements for becoming a census-taker; anyone may do so. A census-taker goes from house to house writing down the number of residents on a special form. Other pertinent details are also recorded: a person's age, his occupation, etc. After tabulating all the data, the exact number of residents in the country is arrived at.

The census of the Jewish people in the desert, however, was conducted in an entirely different manner. The census-takers were not unemployed or simple folk; rather, they were the most important people in the entire nation--Moshe, Aharon and the heads of each tribe!

Moshe was asked by G-d to conduct the census. G-d wanted Moshe, the consummate Jewish leader and teacher of Torah, to abandon all his other affairs and go from tent to tent, counting the number of Jews over the age of 20!

But why was Moshe chosen for the task? Why did it have to be Moshe, Aharon and the tribal leaders--the Jews with the highest status--who conducted the census?

The answer is that appointing only the most prominent individuals, expressed the intrinsic value and tremendous significance of the Jewish people. Counting Jews is an act of great consequence; not just anyone is permitted to do so. Each and every Jew is so precious that only people with the stature of a Moshe, an Aharon or a leader of a tribe may take their number.

Conducting a census of Jews is not a secular activity, it is a holy one. Every single Jew is holy, a "veritable part of G-d above," and counting the members of a holy nation is a mitzvah. This was reflected in the way the census was taken. The census-takers were required to wear their Shabbat finery as they made their rounds from tent to tent. The census was a serious affair.

Counting, in and of itself, is a mundane task, but when it comes to counting Jews it is a holy matter.

So too is it with all the worldly affairs and daily activities of the Jew. Because of his unique spiritual nature, even his mundane activities take on a higher significance. Eating, drinking, managing a Jewish household and educating one's children--all these are uplifted and transformed into holy pursuits, for each and every Jew is invaluable to G-d.


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.

Based on the Works of the Rebbe

This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Sivan. The theme of the month of Sivan is intertwined with the main festival of the month, Shavuot.

On the first day of Sivan the Children of Israel encamped in the wilderness of Sinai ready to receive the Torah. Concerning this the Torah states, "And Israel encamped there..." using the singular form of the verb "encamped" regarding which our Sages teach us that this means that the people were like one person with one heart.

Though many other times when the Jews made camp there was strife and contention, when they encamped to receive the Torah they were totally united.

Thus, it is clear that one of the prerequisites for receiving the Torah--and every year at this time we prepare to receive the Torah once again--is to enhance and foster unity amongst the Jewish people.

The "easy way" to become more united with other Jews is to follow two essential teachings of our Sages: "Love your fellow as yourself; Judge every person favorably."

Where is the place to start? The place to start is with ourselves and our own families. This, of course, doesn't mean that we have to perfect these relationships before we can extend the teachings to others, but it is certainly the correct place to start as "charity begins at home."

If we keep these fundamental teachings in mind we will certainly foster Jewish unity in our own little world, which will ultimately impact on the entire world.


On Sunday, June 4, G-d willing, we will, be celebrating Rosh Chodesh Sivan, starting the new Hebrew month of Sivan.

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 Chodesh?

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 Sivan in the Holy Temple with Moshiach.


From letters of the Rebbe to participants at the annual
Lubavitch Women's Organization conventions

It is appropriate to reflect on the significance of Rosh Chodesh--the new month--in general, and Rosh Chodesh Sivan in particular, insofar as Jewish women are concerned. For, in some respects, Rosh Chodesh is even more significant for Jewish women than men, and that is why there are certain customs on Rosh Chodesh which apply to women only.

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the day when the children of Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah, recalls with special emphasis the particular spiritual quality of Jewish women, and their particular merit and privilege in connection with the receiving of the Torah and the first great trial soon after.

As our Sages have emphasized, the Jewish women were approached first to accept the Torah. Their consciousness of the responsibility for the preservation of the Torah boldly expressed itself during the first test of loyalty to G-d, soon after the Giving of the Torah. This took place when the women categorically refused to have anything to do with the construction of the Golden Calf, even through contributing any of their gold jewelry. For this reason, the day of Rosh Chodesh is a day of forgiveness for the Jewish women. On the other hand, when it came to the building of the Tabernacle in the desert, the Jewish women were once again first in contributing generously from their personal possessions toward the building of the Tabernacle.

Thus, both in the area of "Sur Meira--Turn away from evil," as well as in the area of "Aseh Tov--Do good," the Jewish women have excelled themselves, and they are the ones who are expected at all times to be first and show an example to the men. This also means that Jewish women have been endowed with special Divine gifts to be able to live up to these expectations.

* * *

The Torah tells us that on Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Jewish people finally reached Mount Sinai, where they attained a state of complete unity, as indicated in the words, "and Israel encamped there" (in the singular)--all of them as one, united and unified by the singular thought of receiving the Torah and mitzvot.

The significance of that moment is pointed out by our Sages of blessed memory, declaring that the unity of the Jewish people, was the condition for receiving the Torah.

It has been often emphasized that there are crucial moments in the life of our people, especially in the area of Torah and Judaism, where the Jewish woman plays a most important role. One of such areas is the unity of the family. Here the woman holds the main keys of harmony between the parents and the children, the parents vis-a-vis each other, and the children in relation to one another. In this area the wife and mother clearly has a decisive role, and in most cases an even more decisive role than that of the husband and father. This is one of the reasons why the Jewish woman holds the title of Akeret HaBayit--Foundation of the Home.

It is likewise clear that Jewish unity in a broader sense--unity between one family and another, and unity on a national level--is dependent upon harmony within the family unit. Where harmony is lacking, G-d forbid, within the family, surely no harmony can prevail between such a family and another.

However, even where there is complete harmony within the family, there still remains the problem of achieving unity on the national level. Let us remember that the basis for true Jewish unity is the Torah and mitzvot.

If throughout the ages it hasn't been easy to achieve unity, the problem has become much more complicated in this age of "freedom" in the "free" countries of the world, where people are not restricted in their choice of domicile, occupation, educational facilities, free expression of opinions, ideas, etc.

All these diversities and dispersions--geographic, social, cultural, etc.--are by-products of the contemporary "free" society in which we live. The newly created conditions have produced new problems and difficulties, which, however, must be viewed as challenges. With the proper approach and a determined will, they can be resolved.


Sunday, June 4, is Rosh Chodesh Sivan. On this day, 3,312 years ago, the Jewish people came to the Sinai desert and encamped there, ready to receive the Torah.

The Torah tells us, "In the third month after the departure of the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on this day they came to the wilderness of Sinai. They had departed from Refidim and had arrived in the Sinai desert, camping in the wilderness. And Israel camped there opposite the mountain."

Interestingly, the use of the word camp the second time here is in the singular form in Hebrew, though still speaking about all of the Jewish people.

The singular form of the verb is used because the Jewish people were united as one--"like one person with one heart"--our Sages tell us. And it was precisely this unity that prepared and allowed the Jewish people to receive the Torah and experience the revelation of G-dliness on Mount Sinai.

The unity of the Jewish people preceded the revelation of the Torah. Uniting and unifying our people today can and should be a preparation for the Final Redemption when we will have the ultimate revelation of the goodness and holiness of every single Jew.

The Rebbe expressed this concept in a talk, a number of years ago:

"The Redemption will unify all of Israel, from the greatest to the smallest. For not a single Jew will remain in exile: 'You, the Children of Israel, will be gathered in one by one.' Moreover, the multitudes who will then be gathered in are referred to in the singular: 'A great congregation will return--in the singular-- here.'

"In preparation for this state, therefore, one should make every endeavor to unify all Jews, in a spirit of the love of a fellow Jew, and of the unity of all Israel."

There are times when arguments are waged for the sake of Heaven, and many great things are thereby attained. But for the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai, there had to be unity of the Jewish people. And as a preparation for the revelation of the Torah Chadasha--new and deeper Torah, which will be revealed in the Messianic Era--we would do well to heed the Rebbe's words and work towards unity and love of all Jews.


Vacation time is drawing near. Will you opt for a relaxing summer in a quiet cabin in a secluded spot, or something more exotic and interesting?

Whatever our vacation plans might include, most of us put much time and thought into making sure that the "time off" will be a success. We consider which clothing to take, what food to bring along (and what can be purchased locally), cost, accommodations, and much, much more.

While you're making your vacation plans, consider the following: Summertime brings with it a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. This special ambiance creates the perfect opportunity to give children and young people, in particular, a positive Jewish experience.

The huge network of day and overnight camps sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world are expert in creating just such a positive, warm, authentic Jewish environment.

Undoubtedly, in nearly every city where you might find yourself this summer, there will be a Chabad camp to which you can send your child(ren). Whether for a week or an entire summer, the Jewish experience the children will have cannot be duplicated.

So, when you're writing to the Chamber of Commerce in city X, or telephoning the visitors' information center in city Y, make sure to get in touch with the Chabad-Lubavitch representative in city X or Y and find out about their camp program. It's one part of your summer plans you'll never regret.


The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." Hence, we present suggestions from the Rebbe's talks of what we can do to complete the Rebbe's work of bringing the Redemption.

Get Ready for Shavuot

"The coming days must be used in preparation for 'the season of the giving of our Torah.'

"In particular, based on the concept that our children are the 'guarantors of the Torah,' efforts should be made to bring all Jewish children, even those of a very young age, to shul on Shavuot(2) to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. Even though the children may not appreciate what they hear, their presence has an influence on the source of their souls."

(The Rebbe, 24 Iyar, 5750/1990)


2. This year, on Friday morning, June 9.


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, June 2, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(3) by 8:02 p.m.

Saturday, June 3, Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Sivan.(4)
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 6 of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).(5)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:12 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 Sivan is on Sunday, June 4.

5. 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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