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Parshat Bo, 5761

Shevat 9, 5761
Feb. 2, 2001

A Tribute to the Rebbe
on 51 Years of Leadership

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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 Yud Shevat, the 10th day of Shevat (Shabbat Parshat Bo, Feb. 3), commemorating the 51st yahrtzeit of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn; it is also the 51st anniversary of the Rebbe's acceptance of leadership.


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

Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5761
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Bo

This week's Torah portion, Bo, contains the very first commandment given to the Jews as a people--the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, the new moon: "This month shall be to you the first of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you." According to Jewish law, the new month is determined by witnesses who testify to the appearance of the new moon. The Jewish court then formally establishes and sanctifies it as Rosh Chodesh.

In general, the main effect the Torah's mitzvot have on the physical world is to imbue it with G-dliness. When a mitzvah is performed with a physical object, the object itself becomes holy, and the material plane of existence is sanctified.

The mitzvah of the new moon is unique in that instead of physical objects, it relates to the dimension of time. Through this mitzvah, a "regular" day is transformed into Rosh Chodesh, a day with special sanctity. When the Jewish court decides to establish a particular day as Rosh Chodesh, time itself is elevated and made holy.

In this respect, the mitzvah of sanctifying the new moon has an advantage over all other mitzvot. The ability of other mitzvot to bring sanctity into the world is limited, and exists on many levels and gradations. For example, an object directly used to perform a mitzvah becomes a "tashmish kedushah," literally "a utensil of holiness." Other aspects of the physical world are elevated when a Jew uses them "for the sake of heaven." Then there are things that are only considered "tools" as preparation for the performance of an actual mitzvah.

However, the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh is more far-reaching than all of these. When the Jewish court establishes a certain day as Rosh Chodesh, the effect is felt throughout the month, and indeed throughout the entire year, as the court also determines the occurrence of a leap year.

Another advantage to affecting the dimension of time is that time is generally thought of as something over which we have no control. Time cannot be made longer or shorter; it cannot be hurried up or slowed down. Nonetheless, G-d gives the Jew the ability to sanctify time and transform it into "Jewish time," time that is thoroughly imbued with holiness.

"Conquering" time in this way hastens the time when the entire world will be suffused with holiness, in the Messianic era. When Moshiach comes and gathers in the exiles of Israel, the Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme court) will be reestablished in Jerusalem, and the laws of Rosh Chodesh will again be in effect.


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.

Letter of the Rebbe(1)

By the Grace of G-d
Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5711[1951]
Brooklyn, NY

To Anash, to the students of Tomchei Temimim, and to those
who have a bond or a relationship with my revered father-in-law,
the saintly Rebbe, of blessed memory:

G-d bless you all.

Greetings and blessings:

In reply to the many questions that have been asked about a detailed schedule for the Tenth of Shevat, the yahrtzeit of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, I would hereby suggest the following:

1. On the Shabbos before the yahrtzeit [each chasid] should attempt to be called for an aliyah to the Torah.

2. If there are not enough aliyos the Torah should be read [a number of times] in different rooms. However, no additions should be made to the number of aliyos [at each reading].

3. The congregation should see to it that the Maftir should be the most respected congregant, as determined by the majority; alternatively, the choice should be determined by lot.

4. The congregation should choose someone to lead the prayers on the day of the yahrtzeit. It is proper to divide [the honor, choosing] one person to lead Maariv, a second to lead Shacharis, and a third--Minchah. In this way a greater number of Anash will have the privilege.

5. A [yahrtzeit] candle should be lit that will burn throughout the 24 hours. If possible, the candle should be of beeswax.

6. Five candles should burn during the prayer services.

7. After each prayer service (and in the morning, [this means] after the reading of Tehillim), the sheliach tzibbur should study (or at least conclude the study of) ch. 24 of Mishnayos Keilim and ch. 7 of Mishnayos Mikvaos. He should then recite the mishnah beginning "Rabbi Chananyah ben Akashya...," followed silently by a few lines of Tanya, and Kaddish deRabbanan.

8. After Maariv, part of the maamar (Basi LeGani) that was released for the day of the demise should be recited from memory. If there is no one to do this from memory, it should be studied from the text. This should also be done after Shacharis, and the maamar should be concluded after Minchah.

9. Before Shacharis, a chapter of Tanya should be studied. This should also be done after Minchah.

10. In the morning, before prayer, charity should be given to those institutions that are related to our Nasi, my revered father-in-law, of sainted memory. Donations should be made on behalf of oneself and on behalf of each member of one's family. The same should be done after Minchah.

11. After Shacharis and the recitation of the maamar, each individual should read a pidyon nefesh. (It goes without saying that a gartl is worn during the reading.) Those who had the privilege of entering [the saintly Rebbe's study] for yechidus, or at least of seeing his face, should--while reading the pidyon nefesh--picture themselves as standing before him. The pidyon nefesh should then be placed between the pages of a maamar or kuntreis, etc., of his teachings, and sent, if possible on the same day, to be read at his graveside.

12. In the course of the day one should study chapters of Mishnayos that begin with the letters of his name.

13. In the course of the day one should participate in a farbrengen.

14. In the course of the day one should set aside a time during which to tell one's family about the saintly Rebbe, and about the spiritual tasks at which he toiled throughout all the days of his life.

15. In the course of the day, people (to whom this task is appropriate) should visit synagogues and houses of study in their cities and cite a statement or an adage drawn from the teachings of the saintly Rebbe. They should explain how he loved every Jew. [Furthermore,] they should make known and explain the practice that he instituted of reciting Tehillim every day, studying the daily portion of Chumash with the commentary of Rashi, and, where appropriate, studying the Tanya as he divided it into daily readings throughout the year. If possible this should all be done in the course of a farbrengen.

16. In the course of the day, people (who are fit for the task) should visit centers of observant youth--and, in a neighborly spirit, should make every endeavor to also visit centers for the young people who are not yet observant--in order to explain to them the warm love that the saintly Rebbe constantly had for them. It should be explained to these people what he expected of them; they should be told of the hope and the trust that he placed in them--that they would ultimately fulfill their task of strengthening the observance of Judaism and disseminating the study of Torah with all the energy, warmth and vitality that characterize youth.

* * *

If prevailing conditions allow, all of the above should of course be continued during the days following the yahrtzeit, and particularly on the following Shabbos.

* * *

May G-d hasten the coming of our Redeemer, and then "those who repose in the dust will awaken and sing joyful praises." And our Nasi among them will give us wondrous tidings, and lead us along the path that leads up to the House of G-d.

[Signed:] Menachem Mendel Schneerson


1. Reprinted from "Sefer Haminhagim"--The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs, published by Kehot Publication Society, 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213.


Adapted from the 3rd chapter of the first Ma'amar
(Chasidic discourse) said by the Rebbe,
on Yud
(2) Shevat, 5711/1951.

The fact that our Sages say that "all those who are seventh are cherished," rather than "all those who are cherished are seventh," indicates that the seventh's primary quality lies in one's being seventh. In other words, one is cherished not on account of his choice, desire, or spiritual service, but because he is seventh--and this is something that he is born into. Yet the fact remains that "all those who are seventh are cherished." It was for this reason that it was Moshe who was privileged to have the Torah given through him.

The Previous Rebbe explained (soon after arriving in America) that even when we refer to the seventh of a series as being the most cherished, the special quality of the first is apparent. For the whole meaning of "seventh" is "seventh from the first." The Previous Rebbe then explained the qualities that the first--our forefather Avraham--attained through his spiritual service, which was performed with total self-sacrificing devotion.

Not content with the above, the Previous Rebbe adds that Avraham did not actively pursue mesirus nefesh [self-sacrifice].... Avraham's mesirus nefesh was incidental [to his actual service]. He knew that the main object of divine service was [that defined by the Sages' interpretation of the verse], "He proclaimed there the Name of G-d, L-rd of the world." [For our Sages say,] "do not read vayikra--'he proclaimed,' but vayakrei--'he made others proclaim.'" I.e., let another man likewise proclaim [G-d's Name]. And if in the course of this service mesirus nefesh was called for, he could supply that, too. Indeed, so estimable was Avraham's divine service and mesirus nefesh that even Moshe was privileged to have the Torah given through him because he was the beloved seventh--the seventh to the first. [It is to this relationship between them that the Sages apply the verse:] "G-d told Moshe, 'Do not stand in the place of the greats [referring to Avraham].'"

It is true that the seventh of a series is very much loved and that this status comes not as a result of choice nor as a result of one's divine service, but as a finished product, merely as a result of birth. Nevertheless, there are no inherent limitations that should cause an individual to say that this status is beyond him and that it is accessible only to a select few. On the contrary, this is a situation similar to that which is explained in Tanna dvei Eliyahu and quoted in Chasidus, that every Jew, even a slave and handmaiden, can attain the inspiration of the Divine Spirit. [Similarly,] each and every Jew is obligated to say, "When will my actions equal those of my forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov?"

At the same time we should not delude ourselves: We must know that we should "not stand in the place of the greats," and that the merit of the seventh of a series consists of his being seventh to the first. I.e., he is capable of doing the Divine service and fulfilling the mission of the first: "Do not read 'he proclaimed,' but 'he made others proclaim.'"

This, then, is why the seventh is so cherished: it is he who draws down the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in fact--the essence of the Shechinah; moreover, he draws it down into this lowly world.

It is this that is demanded of each and every one of us of the seventh generation--and "all those that are seventh are cherished:" Although the fact that we are in the seventh generation is not the result of our own choosing and our own service, and indeed in certain ways perhaps contrary to our will, nevertheless, "all those who are seventh are cherished." We are now very near the approaching footsteps of Moshiach; indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period, and our spiritual task is to complete the process of drawing down the Shechinah--moreover, the essence of the Shechinah--within specifically our lowly world.


2. On this day the Rebbe officially accepted the mantle of Chabad-Lubavitch leadership, becoming the 7th Rebbe in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty.


In 5710/1950 the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, had written a four-part Chasidic discourse based on the verse from Song of Songs, "Basi LeGani--I have come into My garden, My sister, My bride." The Previous Rebbe directed that the first part be released in advance of and to be studied on the tenth of Shevat. That day marked the anniversary of the passing of his grandmother, Rebbetzin Rivkah, wife of the fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe.

It came to pass, however, that the tenth of Shevat was the date of the Previous Rebbe's own passing.

As "all the effort of a person for which his soul toiled during his life ... becomes revealed ... at the time of his passing," it is clear that this series of discourses summarizes the parting message of the Previous Rebbe. In fact, the Rebbe later stated that the Previous Rebbe released the discourse for his own passing.

On the tenth of Shevat, one year after the Previous Rebbe's passing, the Rebbe expounded upon the discourse in his own, first public discourse. This marked the Rebbe's formal acceptance of and ascendancy to leadership. Just as the original discourse was a summarization of the Previous Rebbe's life-work, the Rebbe's explanation of the discourse was a preamble of what would be his mission and the mission of our entire generation:

"We are now very near the approaching footsteps of Moshiach; indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period, and our spiritual task is to complete the process of drawing down the Shechinah (Divine Presence)--moreover, the essence of the Shechinah--within specifically our lowly world."

The drawing down of the Shechinah into this world will culminate at the time of the Redemption. Our task, as outlined by the Rebbe in that first discourse and from then on, is to enhance our observance of mitzvot--especially acts of "ahavat Yisroel" (love for another Jew), increase our study of Torah, and prepare in all ways possible to greet Moshiach.

May it happen immediately!


by Rabbi Eli Cohen

When a chasid waxes poetic about the Rebbe on an occasion such as Yud Shevat, the 51st anniversary of the Rebbe's ascension to leadership, the reader who is not a chasid often rolls his eyes. The whole notion of a Rebbe is, to many, a subject of some wonderment. People have questioned the idea that any human being could be viewed with the type of awe and reverence which Chasidim accord to the Rebbe. Others wonder at the unquestioning obedience and acceptance of the Rebbe's advice and instructions. How does that allow for personal responsibility and autonomy?

And yet no one can help but marvel at the way that one human being inspires an army of thousands of men, women and children to be willing to set aside their material comforts and embrace a more austere life of service to the Jewish community. It is hard to deny that the Rebbe has breathed life into many Jewish communities large and small, when others were ready to write off entire populations. And it is hard to contest that the Rebbe's structure and organization has become the blueprint for various outreach groups that have adopted the Rebbe's enthusiasm and faith in the future.

What is the Rebbe? A leader? A teacher? A great scholar? A visionary? Yes, but none of these appellations really says it all.

For the chasid, it is a very personal relationship. The Rebbe connects with each of us and puts us in touch with our true selves, our potential, and our mission in life. He does not impose his aspirations, or his desires. Rather he helps us identify and fulfill ours. He does not ask us to work for him, rather to join with him in repairing the world.

However, the bond to the Rebbe is not limited to those who consider themselves his followers. Visitors from every corner of the world have been amazed when they were in the Rebbe's presence and found him intimately familiar with the fine points of the welfare of Jewish life in their community.

On the personal level, there are countless stories of individuals far from any Jewish center and further from Jewish life, and the Rebbe has not only been conscious of their cries but has actually responded and reached out to them. The point of telling these stories is not to savor the miraculous turn of events that were often involved as much as to appreciate the connectedness and sensitivity of the Rebbe to the needs of every Jew.

The Rebbe has been described as the heart, the pulse, the generator. Whatever metaphor we choose, the point is the same: The Rebbe is in touch with each one of us, encouraging us, strengthening us and channeling G-d's blessing to us so that we can achieve whatever it is we are here to do.


"At the present time, when the world trembles, when all the world shudders with the birth-pangs of Moshiach, for G-d has set fire to the walls of the Exile... it is the duty of every Jew, man and woman, old and young, to ask themselves: What have I done and what am I doing to alleviate the birth-pangs of Moshiach, and to merit the total Redemption which will come through our righteous Moshiach?"

(From a letter of the Previous Rebbe,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn)


Rabbi Shlomo Kazarnovsky was a Chasid of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, whose yahrtzeit is on Yud Shevat. Many years ago, Rabbi Kazarnovsky and the Rebbe's son-in-law, Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurary, were sent on a mission to Toronto, Canada. When they arrived there they discovered that all public transportation had come to an abrupt halt. A blizzard had hit the city, with accompanying gale-force winds. There was no choice but to stay in their hotel room and wait until the storm passed.

But they were not alone for long, as a few other Chasidim and supporters of Lubavitch soon joined them. One of them was a local rabbi in Toronto, who told them the following story:

Not long ago, a member of the rabbi's synagogue had been suddenly stricken with paralysis. When the rabbi heard what happened, he went to visit him in the hospital. The man's condition was very grave, and he could barely speak. The members of the man's family, huddled together outside his room, told the rabbi he couldn't even enter to see him. Standing in the hospital corridor, they proceeded to fill him in on all the sordid details of his illness.

When the patient heard the rabbi's voice, however, he instructed the nurse to allow him to enter the sickroom. As soon as he stepped inside the man found his voice. "I heard that the Rebbe of Lubavitch is now in the United States," he said. "Please write to him for me and ask him what I can do to redeem myself and regain my health." The rabbi immediately wrote a letter describing the man's condition, and received an equally speedy reply from the Rebbe.

The Rebbe had answered: "Tell him that a branch of Yeshivat Tomchei Temimim is now being built in Montreal. Advise him to donate the sum of one thousand dollars. The angel of one hundred is not the same as the angel of one thousand, as it states, 'If there be but one interceding angel out of a thousand [accusers], etc.'"

As soon as the Rebbe's answer arrived the rabbi hurried back to the hospital to show the sick man the letter. The relatives were very surprised that it had come so fast. However, after the rabbi told them what the Rebbe had advised, the man's brother-in-law commented in English, "You see? They're already trying to squeeze money out of him. You know what kind of people these are..."

The rabbi would not give him the dignity of a response. He walked straight into the man's room and read him the Rebbe's letter. When he had finished reading, the man turned to his son sitting next to the bed and said, "Son, I want to live. Take a thousand dollars and go to Montreal." The son did exactly as he was told and left for Montreal.

Several days later one of the hospital's leading specialists came in to examine the patient. After checking his condition, the doctor left the room in a fury. Confronting the man's family, which had maintained a steady vigil ever since he was stricken, he demanded, "Who gave you permission to bring in outside doctors and interfere in the patient's treatment? What kind of medications have you been giving him?" The man's relatives were stunned. They did not understand what he meant, as no other doctors had been called in on the case, and no special medications had been prescribed. They insisted that they had done absolutely nothing.

"If that's the case," the doctor continued, "then a genuine miracle has occurred. The patient's condition has undergone a radical change for the better. He is almost ready to be discharged."

Although he needed the assistance of crutches to get around for a short time, they were eventually discarded. The man experienced a complete recovery from his illness.


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.

Regarding Yud Shevat:

Among the 16 directives suggested by the Rebbe(3) in connection with Yud Shevat.

In the morning and afternoon give charity to an institution related to the Previous Rebbe; participate in a chasidic gathering; learn about and tell others about the Previous Rebbe; visit centers for young people and tell them about the love the Previous Rebbe had for them and the hope he had that they would use their energy, warmth and vitality to strengthen Judaism.


For a Yud Shevat gathering in your area, contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.


3. The full text of the Rebbe's letter is printed above. Ed.


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.candlelightingtimes.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, Feb. 2, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bo:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 4:55 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 3, Shabbat Parshat Bo:

  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:59 p.m.


4. 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.

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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