"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Eikev, 5761
Menachem-Av 21, 5761 * August 10, 2001
Chassidus In Braille:
Lighting Up the Path to the Redemption
Dedicated to educating the public regarding the
current situation in Israel, based on Torah
sources, with special emphasis on the opinion
and teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
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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
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 Menachem-Av, the 20th of
Menachem-Av, Thursday, Aug. 9 -- when we commemorate the 57th
yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok.
Ten years ago, on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751, (Aug. 3, 1991), the
Rebbe spoke about the printing of Chassidus for the blind, in Braille.
The full text of the Rebbe's sichah (talk) is reprinted in this issue,
with the kind permission of
"Sichos In English."
We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a K'Siva Vachasima Tova,
a happy, healthy and prosperous New 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
17 Menachem-Av, 5761
Brooklyn, New York
to our webmaster
Shlomie Hershkop (New York)
and his kala
Chana Goldberg (Toronto)
upon their wedding
Tuesday, 18 Menachem-Av, 5761
This week's Torah portion, Parshat Eikev, talks of the desert in which
the Jews wandered before entering the Land of Israel. It is described as:
"The great, terrifying desert, where there were snakes, vipers, scorpions
and thirst. Where there was no water...".
The great desert symbolizes our long galut -- exile. A desert, uninhabited
by man, is symbolic of the Jewish people in relation to the other nations
of the world. The uninhabited areas of the globe far outnumber the portions
which are populated, in the same way that the nations of the world far outnumber
the Jews. Furthermore, within the Jewish nation itself, those who observe
the Torah and mitzvot are also vastly outnumbered by those who do
not yet observe.
The Torah warns us that the very consideration that the outside world is
"great" is the first step in causing our spiritual exile. Thinking that because
we are outnumbered means that other nations have power over us creates the
possibility that these non-Jewish influences can enter our lives.
The next spiritual step down is alluded to in the word "terrifying." This
is the fear that the non-Jewish world will find out that we keep the Torah.
This thinking causes a Jew to measure his behavior according to non-Jewish
standards and increases the power of the galut over the Jewish soul.
The next level down is that of "snake." A snake's "hot poison" alludes to
the heat and enthusiasm which a Jew can have for things which are really
foreign to his essence. When a person's excitement is reserved solely for
physical pleasures, his enthusiasm for the spiritual is decreased.
From here, the next jump down is to the level of "vipers" -- saraf
-- which in Hebrew comes from the word "to burn." This is the level on which
a person's whole interest toward the satisfaction of his physical desires
is so great that it completely overshadows any attraction to G-dliness.
But even worse than this is the level of "scorpion." A scorpion's sting is
cold, symbolizing total coldness and indifference to holiness. Heat and
excitement, even if directed toward things which are unworthy, can eventually
be redirected into enthusiasm for holiness. But when a person is cold to
everything, it is much more difficult to inspire him.
The lowest level belongs to the "thirst, where there was no water." G-d,
in His kindness, sometimes causes a Jew to be thirsty for holiness and Judaism,
but if one is very far from Torah (called "water" by our Sages), he may not
recognize what he is thirsting for. This is the lowest level of our exile.
The antidote to the progression of spiritual degradation is the avoidance
of the first pitfall, that of considering the world to have unnecessary
significance. By having the proper mindset we will merit the Final Redemption.
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.
About the mitzvah of mezuzah, which is found in this week's
Torah portion, Eikev, the Talmud relates that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi
once sent a mezuzah as a gift to Artaban, king of Persia, explaining
that the small scroll would protect him from harm.
At first glance, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's gesture seems odd. The commandment
to affix a mezuzah upon one's doorposts was given only to the Jewish
nation. A non-Jewish king, therefore, would not be fulfilling a religious
precept by possessing a mezuzah. As such, he would also be ineligible
for any reward resulting from the performance of a mitzvah. Why then
did Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi promise the gentile king that the mezuzah
would guard and protect him?
A similar question may also be asked about the common practice, dating back
to the time of the Mishnah, of inserting a mezuzah scroll into
one's walking stick, also done for the sake of the protection it afforded.
A walking stick is certainly not included in the commandment of
mezuzah. If there is no commandment, there is certainly no reward.
How, then, did the mezuzah afford protection?
A distinction must be made between the reward a person receives for performing
a mitzvah and the intrinsic attribute of the mitzvah itself.
When a person obeys G-d's command by fulfilling a mitzvah, the reward
he earns is a separate and distinct entity, additional to the essential nature
of the mitzvah. For example, the Torah states that the reward for
the mitzvah of mezuzah is long life: "That your days be increased
and the days of your children."
Yet besides the reward promised by the Torah, each mitzvah has its
own special attributes and characteristics that have nothing to do with reward,
but are integral parts of the mitzvah itself. The mezuzah's
attribute is protection. Our Sages explained that when a kosher
mezuzah is affixed to the door post, G-d Himself watches over the
occupants of the house, even when they are not at home. A mezuzah
is written solely for the purpose of protection, and, by its nature, it protects.
With this in mind, it becomes clear that even when no fulfillment of a religious
precept is involved, a mezuzah still possesses this attribute of
protection, at least to some degree. It was for this reason that Rabbi Yehuda
Hanasi sent the mezuzah as a gift to the Persian king and that Jews
took mezuzot with them wherever they went inside their walking sticks.
In a similar vein, speaking about and studying the laws of mezuzah
afford similar protection. The Talmud relates that in the house of one Jewish
king a special sign was made on those door posts that were exempt from having
From this we learn the crucial importance of having kosher mezuzot.
The Jewish people, likened to "one sheep among seventy wolves," are always
in need of special defense. Every additional mezuzah affixed to a
Jewish home extends G-d's Divine protection to the entire Jewish nation,
for all Jews are ultimately responsible for one another.
For more information about the mitzvah of mezuzah, contact
your local rabbi, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
An(1) Adaptation of an Address of the Rebbe,
on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751/1991
One of the unique aspects of Chassidus is that it generates the potential
to see any incident in a larger scope. An idea is thus appreciated not only
for its individual message, but also as a part of a more inclusive whole.
The Rebbe gave expression to this quality in his sichos (talks) on
Shabbat Parshat Eikev. He focused on a unique development: the publication
of the Tanya in [Hebrew] braille, emphasizing the important breakthrough
it represented -- bringing the teachings of Chassidus to people who
had never previously had the opportunity to taste this spiritual knowledge
Nevertheless, beyond this important dimension, this development can be seen
as part of a process of yet greater scope -- as both a foretaste of, and
a catalyst for, the coming of the Era of the Redemption. Accordingly, the
Rebbe encourages us here to continue this pattern, to "live with the Redemption,"
to conduct ourselves in its spirit, and in this manner, to precipitate its
coming even sooner.
* * *
Recently, a new printing of the Tanya was brought to this building,
the Previous Rebbe's shul and House of Study, an event that is noteworthy
in its own right, and of even greater significance when viewed as part of
a cosmic canvas.
The Tanya, which has been described as "the Written Torah of
Chassidus,"(2) has been reprinted many thousands
of times all over the world. Indeed, the Baal Shem Tov taught that the coming
of Moshiach is dependent on "the spreading of the wellsprings of
Chassidus outward."(3) Ultimately, in the Era of
the Redemption, "the knowledge of G-d will fill the earth as the waters cover
the ocean bed."(4) And to prepare for this revelation,
it is necessary to spread G-dly knowledge, the teachings of Chassidus,
throughout the world at large. When seen in this context, the printing of
the Tanya in so many different cities is significant, for it has
transformed them into "wellsprings," centers and sources for the spreading
Windows for the Soul
The new printing of the Tanya mentioned above is unique, however,
for it represents the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus to a
group of people who had previously had no potential to study these teachings
unaided. For this the Tanya was printed in braille.
In recent generations, Chassidus has been explained in ever-increasing
depth and breadth, and these explanations have been communicated to people
from different backgrounds and walks of life in many languages. Unfortunately,
however, the physical handicap of the blind prevented them -- until now --
from reading these texts independently.
The significance of this printing is magnified by the fact that, as mentioned
above, the Tanya is known as "the Written Torah of Chassidus."
Just as the Written Torah includes the entire Oral Law, for "there is no
teaching which is not alluded to in the Torah,"(6) so,
too, the Tanya includes in seminal form all the teachings of
Chassidus revealed in later generations.(7) In this
sense, this Tanya makes the totality of the teachings of Chassidus
The Ultimate Purpose of
There is an intrinsic connection between the blind and the study of
Chassidus. Chassidus -- the medium in which pnimiyus
HaTorah (the inner dimensions of Torah) is revealed in the present
age -- is known as(8) "the Light of the Torah." Similarly,
in Lashon HaKodesh, "The Holy Tongue," it is common to describe the
blind by the euphemism sagi nahor, which means "of great light." And
indeed, historically, there is a connection between the two. One of the great
sages of the kabbalistic tradition, Rabbi Yitzchok Sagi
Nahor,(9) was blind.
There is also a connection between the blind and the Future Redemption, because
in that era the dimension they possess, which is associated with "great light,"
will be revealed. At that time, G-d will heal the entire world and the blind
will be healed first.(10)
(The significance of the blind becoming sighted is also connected to the
revelation of the "knowledge of G-d" in the Era of Redemption. Moshiach will
teach the people, using the power of sight(11) and thus,
this faculty will be necessary to appreciate the new dimensions of Torah
knowledge that will be revealed at that time.)
Moreover, the study of the Tanya by the blind will hasten the advent
of this era, for this represents the opening of an entirely new sphere in
the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus. And in this context,
we can appreciate the greater significance of this printing.
Moshiach's Coming is Past Due
Moshiach's coming is long overdue; "All the appointed times for the Redemption
have passed."(12) Furthermore, from the perspective of
the Jewish people, we have already completed the spiritual service demanded
of us. To borrow a phrase from the Previous Rebbe, "We have even polished
the buttons,"(13) for the teachings of Chassidus
have been presented in a manner in which they are accessible to every Jew.
The printing of the Tanya in braille thus reflects the nature of the
spiritual service required in the present age -- making the teachings of
Chassidus accessible to others who for various reasons have not yet
been exposed to them. And in doing so, there must be a consciousness that
these teachings are a foretaste of the revelation of "the knowledge of G-d"
in the Era of the Redemption. Moreover, a study of these teachings will lead
to that revelation. In this manner, studying Chassidus reflects our
efforts to "live with the Redemption," and make the Redemption an active
force in our daily conduct.
The above concepts are particularly relevant in the present month, the month
of Elul, when it is customary to review and take stock of our spiritual
service in the previous year, and in this manner, prepare for the new year
to come. This stocktaking should also focus on the imminence of the Redemption
and on our efforts to make the Redemption an actual reality.
Catalysts for the
A Jew has the potential to arouse himself, to arouse others, and to arouse
G-d Himself, as it were. According to all the signs given by our
Sages,(14) and definitely in the light of the miracles
which we have witnessed recently, the ultimate Redemption should have come
already, and in this present year. For the miracles described in the Yalkut
Shimoni(15) are to take place in "the year in which
the King Moshiach will be revealed."
We must cry out "Ad Masai!" - "Until when must we remain in exile?"
And furthermore, this outcry must be coupled with actions that grant us a
foretaste of -- and thus precipitate -- the Era of the Redemption.
And these efforts will doubtless bear fruit, particularly in the present
time. The month of Elul is a time when G-d accepts the requests and
grants the wishes of the Jewish people. And surely this is an appropriate
time for Him to grant our truest and most essential wish -- that the Redemption
come about immediately.
1. Adapted from the book, Sound the Great Shofar (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot
Publication Society, 1992).
2. Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Previous Rebbe, vol. IV, p. 261ff.
3. For the relevant sources see footnotes 12, 13 and 14 to the above Overview.
4. Yeshayahu 11:9, quoted by the Rambam at the conclusion of
his discussion of the Era of the Redemption in the Mishneh Torah, Hilchos
5. See sichah of Parshas Bo, 5744, and the essay, "The Printing
of Tanya," in Sichos In English, vol. XIX, pp. 113-119.
6. Zohar III, 221a.
7. Furthermore, the final portion of the Tanya, Kuntres Acharon,
is an explanation of certain passages found in the previous four portions
of the Tanya. In this it resembles the Oral Law, which is an explanation
of the Written Law. Indeed, there is a close similarity between this fifth
portion of the Tanya and the Book of Devarim, which is called
Mishneh Torah, a restatement of the Torah, and thus shares a connection
with the Oral Law.
8. See Yerushalmi, Chagigah 1:7, and commentary of Korban
9. See Shmos HaGedolim and also Recanati, Parshas
10. Midrash Tehillim 146; see also Yeshayahu 35:5 and
Bereishis Rabbah 95:1.
11. See Likkutei Torah, Tzav 17 a, b.
12. Sanhedrin 97b.
13. Sichah of Simchat Torah, 5689/1928.
14. See the conclusion of Tractate Kesubbos.
15. Vol. II, sec. 499, commenting on Yeshayahu 60:1, with reference
to events having worldwide repercussions in the Persian Gulf.
On Thursday, Chof Menachem-Av, Menachem-Av 20, Aug. 9, we
commemorate the 57th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok
Schneerson, known affectionately as Reb Leivik.(16)
A Torah prodigy from his early youth, he was granted rabbinic ordination
by some of the greatest rabbis of his time. A great scholar, teacher, and
community leader, much has been written about his books, commentaries and
letters, which he wrote under most unusual circumstances. Very little, however,
has been written about his great personality, partly because few who knew
him survived the Russian conditions and the war. Partly, too, because his
is an enigmatic personality whose essence it is difficult to grasp, for there
was a certain simplicity about him that belied his inner grandeur.
He was an outstanding scholar in Kabbalah, an area that is "closed"
even to most accomplished scholars. His knowledge of Kabbalah was
quite unusual in that it was not just a theoretical or esoteric scholarship,
but had practical application. Not that Reb Leivik used it to perform miracles,
although some earlier great kabbalists had demonstrated that that was possible.
He used it to better understand various halachic and talmudic passages and
coincidences that are usually not included in ordinary scholarly discussions.
Reb Leivik was concerned with these minute "abandoned" phenomena in Torah.
He knew the reasons and the explanations so well and so clearly that the
reader of his works cannot help marveling as he learns the Torah secrets
that are revealed on every page of our sanctified texts.
Reb Leivik was also able to explain various events that transpired in his
life according to Kabbalah. When he was imprisoned in 5699/1939, for
teaching Judaism in Stalinist Russia, he was moved from prison to prison
and from city to city.
This is only one of the many rare aspects of this great tzaddik. A
man who, suffering great thirst and hunger because of water and food scarcities,
took the small ration of water and used it to wash and sanctify his hands,
a man who, after standing in a breadline with other prisoners during a famine,
came home and cried that he wasted so much time waiting for a tiny piece
of chametz, instead of preparing for the impending festival of Passover
-- this was Reb Leivik.
Throughout his entire stay in prison, in fact, Reb Leivik's greatest anxiety
was not food, clothing, or shelter, but paper and ink. His greatest need
was to write, to reveal more and more secrets of Torah so that others might
share and draw inspiration from the depths and beauty of the words of our
That urge to give of what was dearest to himself -- his kabbalistic Torah
insights -- he expressed in the long talks that he delivered at every occasion.
But in prison and in exile he was in isolation; this exacerbated his suffering
and made his need to write down his thoughts even stronger.
When he was blessed with his Rebbetzin's arrival to share his exile
-- a long and excruciating episode recorded in detail in her diary -- he
was extremely happy with the holy books she was able to bring with her. Even
before, though, he had quoted from them in his writings, citing exact chapter,
His joy at getting his beloved books was doubled, now, for besides being
able to study them, he would use their margins to write his insights, which
poured forth in tremendous volume. But he lacked ink, which was unavailable
in the area. Thanks to his Rebbetzin's genius and devotion, some ink
was manufactured from local herbs and plants.
Reb Leivik's unpretentiousness is also found in his writings, where he almost
never uses the style common to most scholars.
Reb Leivik made his comments directly, without any remarks or apologies,
without elaborating on the difficulty inherent in the quoted passage. But
what he said in his commentaries and in his letters is so profound and so
brilliant that one can feel justifiably proud just understanding it. One
must be a substantial scholar to merely comprehend even his simpler remarks,
let alone to question or analyze them.
While Reb Leivik accepted the Divine will that allotted him suffering Soviet
incarceration, he was not depressed or paralyzed spiritually. On the contrary,
he flourished spiritually under the most adverse conditions. Reb Leivik
concentrated on accomplishing the utmost in Torah learning and interpretation.
Chasidic philosophy teaches that from the nature of the reward for a
mitzvah we may glimpse the meaning of its essence. This is perhaps
true of people; from their reward we may perceive their greatness. Reb Leivik's
reward is his son, the present Rebbe.
16. He was the great-grandson of the third Rebbe, and was born on
Nissan 18, 5638/1878. He served as Chief Rabbi of the city of
Dnepropetrovsk (Yekatrinislav) in the difficult years of communistic, anti-Jewish
persecution. He was arrested in 5699/1939, and then exiled to Asiatic Russia
where he endured terrible suffering for his staunch, uncompromising stand
on all matters of Jewish religious observances. He passed away
Menachem-Av 20, 5704/1944, while still in exile.
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, August 10, Erev Shabbat Parshat Eikev:
Light Shabbat Candles,(17) by 7:43 p.m.
Saturday, August 11, Shabbat Parshat Eikev:
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 4 of
Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:47 p.m.
17. 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
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.