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Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim, 5761

Iyar 11, 5761 * May 4, 2001

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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:

1) Beis Iyar, the 2nd of Iyar.
2) Yud Gimel Iyar, the 13th of Iyar.
3) Pesach Sheni, the 14th of Iyar.


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

10 Iyar, 5761
Brooklyn, New York

Reb Zaida Moshe ben Reb Alter Asher Anshil
Passed away, on 14 Iyar, 5759

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim

This week we read two Torah portions, Acharei and Kedoshim. In most years, the Torah portions of Acharei and Kedoshim are read together. In fact, they share the common theme of holiness.

The Torah portion of Acharei opens with G-d's command to Aaron, warning him that he may not "come at all times into the Sanctuary." (The High Priest was only allowed to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.) Parshat Acharei thus deals with the highest level of sanctity (the service in the Holy of Holies), on the holiest day of the year (Yom Kippur), performed by the Jew on the highest level of holiness, the High Priest.

The Torah portion of Kedoshim also begins with a command concerning holiness: "You shall be holy, for I am holy." Every Jew is obligated to emulate G-d and strive for the highest degree of holiness. But, practically speaking, how is this possible?

The answer lies in the Torah's directive "You shall be holy," the wording of which also implies a promise: "You will be holy!" G-d assures every Jew, "for I am holy" -- for the simple reason that your holiness is derived from Mine. Every Jew possesses a "veritable portion of G-d Above," a Jewish soul that is a part of the Infinite. Every Jew is thus capable of rising to even the highest levels of holiness.

As the Torah teaches, the ultimate objective is not what happened to Aaron's two sons, Nadav and Avihu, who achieved such a state of spiritual arousal that their souls could no longer tolerate the confinement of their physical bodies. The highest level of Divine service transcends even this.

In the Midrash, our Sages interpreted the verse "You shall be holy" as meaning "My holiness is superior to yours." In other words, no matter how high a spiritual level a Jew may attain, he should always remember that G-d is Infinite and thus higher.

This contains a practical lesson for every Jew to apply in his Divine service, regardless of his present spiritual standing: The greatest tzaddik -- righteous person -- can always rise higher, while those on the lower rungs of spiritual achievement must never despair of improvement. The directive of "You shall be holy" applies to everyone. G-d gives every Jew the strengths and abilities he needs to ascend. And when a Jew takes the first step and makes the effort to sanctify himself, G-d takes him by the hand and helps him achieve his goal.


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.


"People think," the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, explained, "that the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael -- loving one's fellow Jew, means that you love the other person as much as you love yourself. They have it all wrong. It means loving yourself as much as you love the other person!"

Long before modern psychology focused on self-esteem, Judaism taught the importance of loving and accepting ourselves. For it is only when we love ourselves that we can properly love our family, friends, co-workers, and even the cashier with the attitude. (Loving ourselves does not mean being egotists, nor does accepting ourselves mean allowing bad character traits to remain unchecked or unchanged. But that's another article!)

How can we foster self-love? We can start by studying and internalizing the first words that a Jewish child is taught. "Torah Tzivah -- the Torah that Moses commanded to us is an eternal inheritance to the Jewish people."

We have been given a precious gift from G-d -- the Torah. The moral, ethical and spiritual teachings flowing from the Torah are ours to dip into and relish. We have the ability to grow and change by bringing these teachings into our lives. They were tailor made for us by G-d, who loves every Jew as a parent loves an only child born to him in his old age.

The Torah is eternal and its teachings are eternal; G-d's love for every single Jew is also eternal. G-d loves us! Surely we can love ourselves!

From "Torah Tzivah" we go on to "Shema Yisrael -- Listen Jews, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One." These words are not merely a declaration of monotheism. They acknowledge that G-d is everywhere and affirm a basic Jewish teaching that G-d is good. There is nothing disconnected from G-d and everything G-d does is ultimately good. (We can hope, though, that the "good" is something that we recognize and appreciate.)

Every Jewish teaching is a lesson in how to foster self-love. In Chapter Three of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers, that we study this Shabbat, Rabbi Yishmael instructs us to "Greet everyone with joy." Extrapolating from the Previous Rebbe's words above, this means that we should greet ourselves with joy! When awakening we should say "Good morning" to ourselves with gusto. If we "lose" it, once we're back to normal, we should offer ourselves a hearty "Welcome back."

Loving ourselves has nothing to do with what we do, who we are, how much money we make or how we look. It is loving what we are at our very core. And essentially, we are all sparks of G-dliness, sparks of the same One G-d. So when we love ourselves, we truly love everyone else.


The Rebbe has spoken often of how important the Land of Israel is to the Jewish people.(1) At a gathering in 5750/1990 the Rebbe spoke about the importance of maintaining possession of every inch of the land, saying:

"Just as the Jews are G-d's chosen people, Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] is G-d's chosen land, a holy land given to the Jewish people, those living on the land at present, and those who are presently living in the Diaspora.

"No one is entitled to give up any portion of Eretz Yisrael to gentiles. Maintaining possession of these lands is the only path to peace. Succumbing to the pressure to surrender them will only invite additional pressure, weakening the security of the Jewish people and exposing them to danger. Heaven forbid that the government in Eretz Yisrael should consider surrendering any portion of Eretz Yisrael that G-d has granted us."

The Rebbe's approach to Eretz Yisrael could almost be described as that of "L'chatchila Ariber." L'chatchila Ariber means, "to begin with, go over."

This concept was innovated by the fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel, known as the Rebbe Maharash, whose birthday was celebrated last Wednesday, Iyar 2 (April 25).

The approach of L'chatchila Ariber teaches that if we come upon an obstacle to a task we are involved in, or an obstacle to a mitzvah or project or good deed which comes our way (or we pursue), we should overcome the obstacle in the most direct manner. The Rebbe Maharash explained that while some people propose that when confronted with an obstacle the best route is to go around, or under it -- l'chatchila ariber -- from the start, go over it.

In these auspicious days, of the Rebbe Maharash's birthday and following it, may our pursuit of Torah and mitzvot be in a manner of "l'chatchila ariber." Surely this fortitude and persistence will have its desired effect, true peace in the Land of Israel, and throughout the entire world, with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!

* * *

The Rebbe Maharash mentioned this concept -- which has been the constant battle cry of Lubavitch outreach workers all over the world -- in reference to one who finds himself faced with an obstacle. "The whole world says, first try to go under or around an obstacle. If this doesn't work, then go over it," the Rebbe Maharash noted. "But I say, 'In the first place, go over,'" he declared.

What does it mean to go over an obstacle right away rather than trying another method to pass an obstruction? In confronting obstacles to all good endeavors, one should take the most ambitious and aggressive approach. One cannot remain passive, hoping that the situation will change by itself or that the obstruction will magically disappear. It must be approached as a challenge. And, as such, it should be afforded one's utmost attention and energy.

In addition, when working at overcoming obstacles, we have to keep uppermost in our mind only positive thoughts and the image of the endeavor successfully accomplished. For this, too, will aid in our ultimate triumph and success.


1. See "EYES UPON THE LAND" - The Territorial Integrity of Israel: A Life Threatening Concern. Based on the Public Statements and Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Adapted by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger (1997: Sichos in English). http://www.truepeace.org/book.html

See also: REBBE'S VIEWS http://www.truepeace.org/rebbeview.html


Next Sunday, Iyar 13 (May 6), is the 49th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's youngest brother, Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib.

The following is a brief biography, written by Rabbi Shimon Silman.

Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib (known affectionately as "Reb Leibel") was a Torah scholar of the highest caliber. He was a fascinating personality, totally devoted to the study of Chasidus, which he learned with legendary diligence.

As a young man, Reb Leibel was a member of the household of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, in Petersburg for several years. He was very popular among the chasidim, who approached him with difficult questions in Talmud and Chasidus. At that time he began studying mathematics in the academies of Petersburg where he organized groups of Jewish youth to learn Torah and observe mitzvot.

In the 1940s, Reb Leibel moved to Israel and married. He continued his research of mathematics and spent long nights studying Chasidus.

In 1948 he accepted a position in the Department of Theoretical Physics of the University of Liverpool in England. In this position he continued his research in mathematics and theoretical physics until he passed away on 13 Iyar, 5712/1952. He is buried in Safed, Israel.

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Pesach Sheni, means the "Second Passover," and is observed one month after the first Passover.

Until the destruction of the Holy Temple, any Jew unable to bring the Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan -- either because he was ritually impure, in a distant place, was prevented by unavoidable circumstances, or even if he intentionally did not bring it -- could bring it on the 14th of Iyar.

Pesach Sheni was instituted the year after the Jews left Egypt while they were still in the desert. Before Passover of that year, G-d again commanded our ancestors to bring the special Pascal sacrifice. However, some of the Jews had become ritually impure in their desert travels and thus were not permitted to bring the offering.

They protested and posed a question to Moses and Aaron, crying: "Why are we kept back, that we may not offer the offering of the L-rd in its appointed season among the children of Israel?" And G-d told Moses that all those who were unable to bring the offering on Passover could bring it one month later. This date became known as the Second Passover.

They could have left well enough alone. After all, our Sages have taught, "If a person intended to perform a mitzvah and circumstances prevented him from it, it is regarded as if he had performed it!" Since they were forcibly kept from performing the mitzvah, they were still rightfully entitled to its reward.

But that wasn't enough for them. And due to their protest and great desire to fulfill this mitzvah to its fullest potential, they and all future generations were rewarded with "Pesach Sheni."

The complaint of the Jews to Moses and Aaron, "Why are we kept back..." teaches us an important lesson in how we are to approach those mitzvot that we currently can not perform because we are still in exile.

Why, G-d, are we kept back from offering the sacrifices in their right time?

Why are we kept back from seeing Your glory revealed?

Why are we kept back from performing each mitzvah to its optimum, as each mitzvah is incomplete while we are in exile?

Let us also not be content with the words of our Sages, that if we desire to perform these mitzvot it is enough. Like the Jews in the desert, let us rally together and cry out to G-d, "Why are we kept back...bring the true and ultimate Redemption that You promised us!"

And may G-d immediately heed our heartfelt cries as He did those of our ancestors!


Next Monday, Iyar 14 (May 7), is Pesach Sheni, the "Second Passover."

It is customary on Pesach Sheni to eat matzah (together with bread), in commemoration of the day.


The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, wrote: "The theme of Pesach Sheni is that it is never too late! It is always possible to put things right. Even if one was ritually impure, or far away, and even in a case when this impurity or distance was deliberate -- nonetheless it can be corrected."

It's never too late! We can always make up for a past misdeed, omission or failing through sincere desire and making amends.

It's never too late! What an inspiring and optimistic thought! There's always a chance to improve, to become better, to learn and do.

This is truly a motto worth memorizing (and hanging on the refrigerator). Rather than muttering about yourself or another person, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," realize that it's never too late.

You didn't put on tefillin yesterday? Today's a new day and it's never too late.

You didn't light candles for Shabbat last Friday night? Do it this week; it's never too late.

You never went to Hebrew school, so you can't read Hebrew? Enroll in an adult education course; it's never too late.

You never knew that Judaism had so much to offer? Now that you know, do something about it, because it's never too late!


From Pesach Sheini we learn that a Jew must never despair. No matter how spiritually estranged from Judaism a Jew may be it is never too late; G-d will always give him a "second chance." It is always possible to correct past mistakes.

This also teaches how important it is to repeatedly implore G-d to bring about the Final Redemption. The initiative must come from us. Again and again we must beg Him until He relents and sends us Moshiach.

For when Jews ask, G-d heeds their request, and Moshiach will indeed arrive speedily, in our time, and at once.


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.

Enroll your child in a Torah Summer Camp

The Rebbe spoke many times about the unique learning opportunity for Jewish children afforded by the months of summer vacation. Without the pressures of tests, homework, etc., children enrolled in camps permeated with a Torah atmosphere eagerly learn about their heritage and are instilled with pride in being Jewish. Creative methods are used to make Judaism come alive. The soul is nourished as the body and mind are strengthened through sports, crafts, etc.

If you don't have camp-age children, help sponsor a child in a Torah camp. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for more information.


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, May 4, Erev Shabbat Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:35 p.m.
  • After nightfall, after reciting the Shabbat evening prayer, count Omer 27.(3)

Saturday, May 5, Shabbat Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 3 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:41 p.m.
  • After nightfall, after reciting the evening prayer, count Omer 28.


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

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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