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Parshat Shemini, 5761

Nissan 27, 5761
April 20, 2001

Chof Ches Nissan

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


In honor of his 99th birthday,
11 Nissan, 5761

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.


In this week's issue, we focus on Chof Ches Nissan, the 28th of Nissan.

Also, in this week's issue, we highlight one of the Rebbe's Mitzvah Campaigns, "Mivtzah Kashrut--The Jewish Dietary Laws."

Making sure her home and family keep Kosher, is one of the three special mitzvot entrusted to the Jewish Woman.(1)


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

23 Nissan, 5761
Brooklyn, New York


1. The other two are "Lighting Shabbat Candles," and "Family Purity," (which will be discussed, G-d willing, in a future issue).

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Shemini

A large part of this week's Torah portion, Shemini, discusses the Jewish dietary laws, kashrut. We read about the kosher animals a Jew may eat and the non-kosher ones that are forbidden. The Torah gives us two signs to distinguish a kosher animal: it must chew its cud and have split hooves.

One of the reasons certain foods are prohibited is that the food we eat becomes part of our physical bodies, transformed into our flesh and blood. The Torah prohibits us from ingesting certain foods to protect our bodies from their negative influence. Keeping kosher enables a Jew to avoid the spiritually harmful effect of these non-kosher substances.

We must also "chew our cud" and have "split hooves."

The hoof is the lowest part of the animal's body, coming in direct contact with the earth and separating it from the ground. Even an animal, whose head is closer to the ground than man's, must maintain a certain distance and separation from the earth to be considered kosher.

A Jew must also guard this distinction between the "earth"--his corporeal nature--and his higher spiritual faculties. Even the lowest levels of his soul, analogous to the foot, must not come into direct contact with the ground. We should never become completely involved in our material affairs, but maintain a certain detachment in the way we relate to them.

The hoof of a kosher animal is cloven, consisting of two parts. So too must the Jew's involvement in worldly affairs--analogous to the "hoof" that connects him with the ground--consist of two simultaneous but opposite thrusts: his "right hand draws near" while his "left hand pushes [negative influences] away." With the "right hand" the Jew learns Torah, performs mitzvot and draws his fellow Jews closer to Judaism. The "left hand" helps him to avoid negative influences.

The distinction between "right" and "left" is very important. One cannot hope to obtain goodness without shunning evil. Good and evil must never be confused, just as the kosher animal's hooves are split into two distinct halves.

The second characteristic of a kosher animal is that it chews its cud. Likewise, a Jew must "chew over" his every step and consider it carefully before acting. When we subject our behavior to this scrutiny, all our actions will be pure.

The Torah gives us several signs by which we can recognize kosher birds, but in this instance we are not allowed to rely only on these characteristics. Only birds explicitly regarded as kosher by our holy tradition are permissible.

From this we learn that a Jew must never rely solely on his own intellect, as his guidelines in life must be derived from our holy tradition. In addition to his own intellectual achievements, the Jew must connect himself to the leader of the generation in order for his service to be pure.


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.


In this week's Torah portion, Shemini, we aren't just told what constitutes a kosher animal--e.g., split hooves and chewing its cud --we also learn that these animals and birds are specifically mentioned in the Torah.

Although thousands of years have passed since the Torah was given, and many new species of animal have been "discovered" by man since then, not one animal or bird has been found possessing the kosher characteristics besides those enumerated in our Torah portion.

There was a time when people used to brush aside the laws of keeping kosher as outdated, food storage and production being much more sanitary than in former years. But the G-d-given commandment to keep kosher was never dependent upon sanitary conditions. At one period in history, the extra cleanliness of kosher food might have been an added benefit of observing this important mitzvah, but it was never the reason for keeping kosher.

In fact, keeping kosher is in the category of mitzvot known as chukim--decrees. We are given no explanation by the Torah or our rabbis as to why we were given these "decrees." But, since our Creator knows what's best for us--which oils, fluids, fuels, etc. make the mechanics of our soul run the smoothest--it is prudent and wise to follow His operating instructions assiduously.

Give keeping kosher a chance. You might want to start out slowly, but once you get your engine revved up, you won't be able to imagine any other way to keep your soul fine-tuned.

Good luck!


To change a non-kosher home to kosher is, admittedly, a major undertaking. Any worthwhile change is bound to be difficult. In recognition of this fact, Chabad-Lubavitch has formed a Kashrut Committee to assist anyone sincerely interested in converting hers/his to a kosher kitchen.

For more information, please call 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).


"And just as the Redemption was brought about in the days of Mordechai and Esther (through the meticulous observance of Kashrut), so too, the Redemption will be brought about in our days through the meticulous observance of Kashrut."

(The Midrash)


This Shabbat, Parshat Shemini, the 28th of Nissan (April 21), is an anniversary of sort. It is 10 years to the day when, in the course of a rather unexceptional public gathering, the Rebbe changed his tone and his topic and emotionally shared the following:

"Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Moshiach has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.

"It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come, they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately. They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.

"Even when people cry out 'Ad mosai--Until when will we remain in exile?' they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come already.

"What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach? All that has been done until now has been to no avail, for we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.

"All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.

"May it be G-d's will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn enough to resolve to secure G-d's consent to actually bring about the true and ultimate Redemption, here and now, immediately. Their stubborn resolve will surely evoke G-d's favor, as reflected by the interpretation of the verse, 'For they are a stiff-necked people; You will pardon our sins and wrongdoings and make us Your possession.'

"I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May it be G-d's will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption. May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and gladness of heart."

* * *

Far from "passing the buck" or throwing up his hands in defeat, from that day forth, the Rebbe continued, with increased vigor and enthusiasm, to discuss the imminence of Moshiach's arrival and to offer suggestions what we could do to get ready for the Redemption.

In fact, the very next Shabbat, the Rebbe said:

"Every Jew, man, woman and child, has an individual responsibility to add to his service with the intent of bringing about the actual coming of Moshiach. One should not try to shift the burden of responsibility to others. Rather, each person should recognize his individual responsibility.

"This service must involve an increase in the study of the Torah, both hidden and revealed and an increase in the performance of mitzvot in a beautiful and conscientious manner . . .

"In addition to making such increases oneself, one should also influence others to make similar increases. And all of this should be suffused with yearning for and expectation of Moshiach's coming.

"May our resolutions to involve ourselves be successful and bring about the coming of the ultimate Redemption."


"I ask that they not act foolishly and add their own explanations and interpretations to my words, e.g., that I really meant such and such, etc. . . I say what I mean."

The Rebbe, 21 Menachem Av, 5744/1984


Some people still ask, "What did the Rebbe really say about Moshiach and the Redemption." The following quotes from the Rebbe were said at public gatherings, in front of thousands of people. Some are from transcripts of the Rebbe's talks while others are from published essays that were edited by the Rebbe after being adapted from his public talks.

"Just as until now it was clear to each one of us that the Rebbe would lead us to greet our righteous Moshiach, so should it be clear now. That which happened is only from our material point of view. It is nothing more than a trial, one of the trials of the birthpangs of Moshiach that need to occur before the arrival of the righteous Redeemer. The sole purpose of these trials is to conceal the truth."

Shabbat Teruma, 5710/1950

"Since Jacob was mourned and buried as prescribed by the Torah, because it appeared to them that he died, this draws down the potential for every one to reach the Resurrection of the Dead through the service of refining and purifying the body--negating the body--via its return to the dust. Through the process of negation (which, as explained, can be fulfilled through the spiritual service of 'My soul will be as dust to all,' in which case there is no need to actually return to dust), we come to the Resurrection of the Dead in the true and ultimate Redemption."

Av, 5731/1971

"As such the Al-mighty's Redemption is actually brought about through His emissary, the righteous Moshiach, with all eight names attributed to him. This includes also 'His name is Menachem' in a way that 'One points with his finger and exclaims, 'Behold! Here he is! Here is Menachem, our righteous Moshiach!''"

1 Menachem Av, 5749/1989

"Every single Jew must perform his Divine service in a manner similar to and befitting the days of Moshiach and the subsequent era of the Resurrection of the Dead. This is exhibited first and foremost through faith, anticipation and knowledge that supernatural events will occur in the days of Moshiach, namely, the Resurrection of the Dead. Belief in these concepts must be with certainty, and must be as unshakably firm as the belief in the Ten Commandments.

"Obviously the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead requires that same degree of certainty and anticipation. This must be emphasized so much more in our present generation, when many messianic signs are unfolding. These constitute a clear indication that Moshiach is already present in the world. Moreover, he is already a prominent Jewish leader, 'a king from the House of David, deeply absorbed in the study of Torah,' etc.

"Therefore, in our present generation, great emphasis must be placed on the belief in the coming of Moshiach and anything that relates to it."

Shabbat Acharei, 5746/1986

"We see in recent years how the verse 'And Moses gathered the Jews' is occurring literally--the ingathering of the exiles of Jews from all over the world, who are returning to the Holy Land. The number of people moving to the Holy Land is incomparably greater than those of previous generations."

Shabbat Vayakhel, 5752/1992

". . . The suggestion is the study of Torah on the topics of Moshiach and the Redemption. For it is within the ability of Torah to transform human nature. It is possible that one may be, heaven forfend, 'outside' and far removed from the concept of Redemption as far as one's own perception is concerned (as he has not yet emerged from his own internal exile). Yet, through Torah study in the topics of Redemption, he uplifts himself to a Redemption state of mind, and begins to 'live' with the concept of Redemption, amidst the realization and recognition that 'Behold, here he comes!'"

Shabbat Balak, 5751/1991

"Although in chronological order, the advent of Moshiach will precede the Resurrection of the Dead, special individuals will nonetheless be resurrected prior to Moshiach's coming. First and foremost, the Rebbe, my father-in-law, will once again enclothe himself in a body, and return. (In reality, it makes no difference how he comes, whether through the door, the window, or the roof....) He will then gather all the Jewish people together and proclaim, 'The time has come to leave Exile. Come, let us go to our Holy Land!'"

2nd day of Shavuot, 5710/1950

"There needs to be an increase in life, through the action of the people who proclaim 'Yechi HaMelech!--May the king live.' For the meaning of this proclamation is that the time has come for [the resurrection, regarding which it is stated] 'Awake and give praise, those who rest in the dust,' of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, the leader of our generation, and up to and including the wakening and giving praise of the Davidic King Moshiach!"

2 Nissan, 5748/1988

"True, we currently find ourselves in the extreme darkness of Exile. Yet, nonetheless, since Exile is merely a 'dream' (in which contradictions can co-exist), the current situation can instantly be reversed, from one extreme to another. This means that we emerge from this dream of Exile and arrive at the true reality, the actual Redemption!. . .

"True, Maimonides explains that there is a natural order in the process . . . However this is only if the Redemption materializes in a normal manner. If the Jews merit, and certainly in present times when the appointed time for the Redemption has long since passed, we have merited that the Redemption will come instantly, above and beyond all natural limitations!

"It is within the ability of every single Jew to bring the Redemption right away, not tomorrow or the day after, but quite literally today, so that at this very moment, a person opens his eyes and sees that our righteous Moshiach is present with us in this very House of Prayer and Study, in his physical body, down on earth!. . .

"Some people argue that this in itself is difficult to appreciate. It has already been many years since the leader of our generation announced 'Immediate Redemption' and nevertheless, he still has not come!. . .

"This question stems from being consumed with and engulfed in the Exile frame of mind. Hence people are unable to free themselves of this 'dream' of Exile and perceive that the true reality is otherwise, a state of being awake, the actual Redemption!"

Shabbat Pinchas, 5744/1984

"One may wonder, 'What will the world say if a Jew performs his Divine service . . . particularly trying to speed the Redemption? Seemingly,' he argues, 'in order to succeed, one must take into consideration how the world will view it.' The answer is that the world is ready and prepared! When a Jew goes about his Divine service properly, rising above all limitations and constraints, yet doing so in a way that his service can be enclothed in the vestments of nature, he will see how the world, nature, and non-Jews are indeed aiding him in his service."

Shabbat Korach, 3 Tamuz, 5751/1991

"A question has been asked with regard to the recent statements that the Redemption is coming immediately. Some might suggest that it would not be so easy for this message to reach people and convince them. People are uncertain of how their families and the world at large will react to it. The response is that such concerns would only be valid if the idea of Redemption was an innovation. However, the Redemption is nothing new. Rather, all its elements have already begun, and have already been brought down and accepted in the physical world, the level beyond which there is nothing lower. Therefore, it should be of no surprise when, immediately, the Redemption arrives."

Shabbat Shoftim, 5751/1991

"We are immediately going to merit the fulfillment of the messianic promise, 'As in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders,' with the coming of Moshiach, whose name is 'Menachem,' like the name of the Tzemach Tzedek--may he come and redeem us, and lead us proudly to our land. For inasmuch as the prophetic promise, 'Awaken and sing, those who rest in the dust' will soon take place . . . there will then be a realization of the meaning of 'Menachem--King Moshiach.'"

Eve of Rosh HaShanah, 5744/1984

A footnote added by the Rebbe to an edited version of a talk after mentioning the third Chabad Rebbe, known as the Tzemach Tzedek:

"His two names, Tzemach and Tzedek (which are the numerical equivalent of 'Menachem Mendel') are the names of King Moshiach."

12 Sivan, 5751/1991


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.

Study Ethics of the Fathers

We read one chapter of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) each Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, because these are the days leading up to the Giving of the Torah and Pirkei Avot contain ethics and moral exhortations to help us improve ourselves so that we are worthy of the Torah.

The Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters, but also actually studying them.


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, April 20, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shemini:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:21 p.m.
  • After nightfall, after reciting the Shabbat evening prayer, count Omer 13.(3)

Saturday, April 21, Shabbat Parshat Shemini:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Iyar.(4)
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot--Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:25 p.m.
  • After nightfall, after reciting the evening prayer, count Omer 14.


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. For this year's S'firat Ha'omer Calendar - See our publication: "Your S'firat Ha'omer Guide," 5761

4. Rosh Chodesh Iyar is on Monday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 24.

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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