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Parshat Shoftim, 5761

Elul 5, 5761 * August 24, 2001

The Rebbe's Prophecy

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This Shabbat, Parshat Shoftim, is ten years since 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.


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 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

28 Menachem-Av, 5761
Brooklyn, New York


Ten Years Ago This Week, Torah Portion:
(Chapter 18, Deuteronomy)

Miracles, foretelling the future, and an uncanny understanding of every individual and situation were always associated with the Rebbe, but the week of the Torah portion Shoftim, 5751/1991, saw the Rebbe's open acknowledgment that he is a prophet and that as a messenger of G-d, he is delivering the unprecedented news, "Behold, Moshiach is coming."

His words are all the more remarkable since in all the years of his leadership, he did not even referr to himself as the Rebbe, speaking of his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, as leading the generation. Nor was it the Rebbe's way to acknowledge as such the many miracles or prophecies which came through him.

In one instance, when someone had the nerve to ask the Rebbe how he knew to announce during the Gulf War that "Israel is the safest place in the world," he is said to have responded, "I looked into the Torah and saw what it says, that G-d's eyes are on it from the beginning of the year to the end." Yet none of us would ever dare to take the same responsibility from reading that same Torah passage!

The miracles and prophecies of the Rebbe are legion, and have appeared in national and international media. Everyone knows the miracles of the Rebbe were accomplished without fanfare, with a wave of the hand, or clothed in "advice." Yet the only time the Rebbe openly alluded to himself as a prophet was the week of the Torah portion, Shoftim, which includes in it the commandment to the Jewish people to listen to their prophets.

It was this week that the Rebbe delivered what he called his most essential prophecy, that Moshiach is actually coming, and asked that it be publicized to the entire world. He also reminded the Jewish people of the Torah laws regarding a prophet, how a true prophet must be obeyed, and should not be overly tested.

The Rebbe begins his talk with a discussion of the Torah commandment from Shoftim (Judges), "You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates," and how this is similar to what is said in the daily prayers, three times a day (from Isaiah), "Return our judges as of old, and our advisors as in the beginning," which will take place in the final Redemption.

He elaborates extensively about the differences between a judge and an advisor and how both are needed in terms of Divine service. A judge is on a level above the litigants and delivers rulings from an elevated plane of authority.

On the other hand, an advisor is like a friend, similar in level to the person, and is able to communicate that it is in the person's own best interest to accept the directive from above.

The judge represents the authority of the Torah. The advisor represents the internalization of the Torah ruling which the person sees is for his own good. Torah service is not complete without these two: a decree from above, and the ability to internalize it so that the person accepts it willingly and gladly, and not because it is forced on him.

Then the Rebbe draws a parallel between judges and advisors and Torah and prophecy. Torah, like the judge, issues rulings that come from above, endowed with Divine power and assistance. Prophecy, which is G-d's message as he chooses to communicate it through His spokespeople, is given in a way of advice, first to the prophet, becoming unified with his mind and speech, and then announced to the people in a way that they can grasp it.

In the Rebbe's words (translated from the Hebrew):(1)

"Torah transcends the world, for it is the will and wisdom of G-d. Thus in the same way one cannot grasp the being of G-d in any way, the real essence of Torah is above our comprehension.

"In contrast, prophecy -- even though it is the word of G-d, 'the spirit of G-d spoke to me,' -- is the revelation of G-dliness to man. 'He revealed his secrets to his servants, the prophets,' according to their limits that it should be absorbed in the knowledge and mind of the prophet. A prophet becomes as one with the prophecy communicated to him and the vision of prophecy becomes clothed in his mind and understanding and also in his thought and speech, as it is written, 'The spirit of G-d spoke in me, and His word is on my tongue.'

"Moreover, prophecy is intended to be revealed through speech. The very term in Hebrew for prophecy, nevuah, implies that it is a subject proclaimed and announced to the people as in the term niv s'fosayim ('the expression of the lips'). This contrasts with Torah which can remain in one's thoughts. Also, the import of prophecy has connection with the events of the world. To quote the Rambam, 'A prophet is only there to inform us of what is going to happen in the future of the world.'

"Thus, the Torah and prophecy reflect the difference between 'your judges' and 'your advisors.' The task of the judge is to rule on the laws of the Torah, which is done by way of demand and decree. The advisor gives his advice 'clothed' in language acceptable to the advised, which he can understand, as is the way of a prophet."

Like an advisor, the Rebbe is coming to us in a way that takes into account our state of being, our readiness to hear G-d's message about the Redemption, and in a way that we are able to accept and internalize it.

However, there is another dimension to it. It is a commandment from the Torah to obey the prophets. Thus when we listen to a prophet, we are combining the two elements of Divine service: accepting the decree from above, and internalizing it of our own free will.

In the Rebbe's words:

"Just as there is a command to obey 'your judges' at all times, as is written in our Torah portion, Shoftim, so there is a command to obey the prophets, as is written separately in the Torah portion (18:15), 'G-d will set up for you a prophet from your midst, from your brothers, like me, and you shall harken to him.'

"In this context, the Rambam explains, 'One of the fundamentals of the religion is to know that G-d sends His prophecies through people.'

"In his Iggeres Taimon, the Rambam writes that 'as a preparatory step for Moshiach's coming....prophecy will return to Israel.' This can be understood in connection with the explanations above. To prepare us to be able to receive the revelations of the Era of Redemption, we must experience through prophecy a foretaste of the 'advice' that will be communicated in that era.

"It is therefore important for later generations to know that it is 'one of the fundamentals of the religion is to know that G-d sends His prophecies through people.' Always, in all generations, the revelation of prophecy is possible. Moreover, this will include even a level of prophecy which is akin to the prophecy of Moshe as implied by the verse, 'I will set up for them from their brothers like you.' Moshe's level is the zenith of prophecy, as the Rambam explains at great length. Nevertheless it is not exclusive to him, but reflected to others as well.

"In all generations, even before the Resurrection of the Dead, it is necessary to know that Torah law prescribes that G-d sends his prophecies through men, that the verse, 'I will set up a prophet...like you (Moshe)' applies in every generation. Every prophet is a continuation of the prophecy of Moshe and his Torah (except that in regard to revelation, there are different levels, as the Rambam explains)."

The Rebbe goes on to explain that we already have a foretaste of our "judges as of old" and our "advisors as at the beginning" in the generations of the Chabad Rebbes. "These leaders are the individuals through whom 'prophecy will return to Israel.' They are the prophets of our generation, 'like me (Moshe),' i.e. they are the 'spark of Moshe' that exists in every generation."

The Rebbe elaborates:

"They are 'your judges.' This is reflected in their function as nesi'im (leaders). This term, related to the word hisnasus, 'uplifted,' reflects how they are elevated above the people. In this capacity they serve as teachers of the Torah to the people. Similarly they serve as 'your advisors,' giving counsel in connection with our Torah service, and also giving advice in worldly matters, which is the function of prophets."

Coming closer and closer to the main point of his talk, the Rebbe urges every person to accept upon himself the rulings and advice of the judges and advisors of our generation, our Rabbis in general, and in particular, "the leader of our generation, the judge, adviser and prophet of our generation," (meaning himself!). Our acceptance of the "judge, advisor and prophet of our generation" helps this aspect of Redemption, which we pray for three times a day, to bloom.

The Rebbe emphasizes that we believe him, not only because of what we have seen with our own eyes, but because of the Divine command from the Torah to heed a prophet. He says that G-d has chosen an individual to serve as judge, advisor and prophet to the generation. Notably, this leader brings not only the Jews closer to Divine service, but indeed, "all the people of this generation." Then he delivers the prophecy that we will see Moshiach with our own eyes.

The Rebbe's words follow.

"When a person has the merits and individual perfection required of a prophet, and he performs signs and wonders -- as we saw and see continually in the fulfillment of the blessings of the leader of our generation, the Previous Rebbe, 'we do not believe in him only because of the sign [he performed]...,but because of the commandment which Moshe gave in the Torah.'

"Furthermore, a prophet about whom another prophet testifies that he is a prophet -- as in the case with the Previous Rebbe, and is continued in the next generation through his disciples --, he is accepted as a prophet and requires no investigation. He has to be obeyed immediately 'even before he performs a sign.' 'It is forbidden to disparage or criticize his prophecy saying that it is perhaps not true.' There is a specific negative commandment forbidding us to test a prophet more than necessary. After it has become known that he is a prophet, the people should believe in him, and they should not disparage or criticize him. Their belief should not be in the prophet as an individual, but as a messenger charged with communicating the words of G-d.

"This concept has to be publicized to everyone in this generation. It must be made known that we have merited that G-d has chosen and appointed a person who of himself is far greater than the people of his generation, to serve as a judge, adviser and prophet to the generation. He will grant rulings and advice in connection with the service of the Jews and indeed, of all the people of this generation, in all matters of the Torah and its mitzvos, and in their general day to day behavior, allowing them to 'know Him in all your ways,' so that 'all your actions should be for the sake of Heaven.'

"Surely this includes the fundamental prophecy, 'To Redemption Immediately,' for 'Behold, Moshiach is coming.'"

Adapted from the Rebbe's talk,
on Shabbat Parshat Shoftim, 5751/1991

* * *

What makes the Rebbe's declaration -- that Moshiach's arrival is imminent and the time for the Redemption has arrived -- different from those of great leaders of previous generations?

The Jewish people have believed in and awaited Moshiach's coming since the beginning of our nation. In numerous instances throughout Jewish history, tzaddikim (righteous people) of various generations pointed to hints in the Torah that the promised Redemption was near at hand. Sensing the special opportunity for Moshiach's coming, they motivated the Jewish people to study more Torah, do more mitzvot and repent in the hope that these actions would be what was needed to make the Redemption happen.

In the times of the Previous Rebbe, the anticipation for the Redemption was truly tangible. The Previous Rebbe issued an urgent call to world Jewry: "Immediate repentance brings immediate Redemption."

Even when the Rebbe accepted the leadership in 1950, though he said unequivocally that our generation is the last generation to live in exile and the first generation of the Redemption, he did not say that we had yet reached the moment of Redemption. Only forty years later, after sending thousands of emissaries around the world, initiating the Mitzvah Campaigns to reinvigorate Jewish observance, and inspiring millions, did the Rebbe proclaim, "The time of our Redemption has arrived." This is a totally different message that has never before been enunciated in the history of the Jewish people.

The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni) tells us that in a time when we will witness an event like the Gulf War, Moshiach will tell the Jewish people that the time of the Redemption has arrived. This is not a hope, a wish, or a special opportunity, but a call to prepare to greet Moshiach!

The Rebbe has said that the time is now. The question each of us must ask ourselves is not, "When is Moshiach coming?" but rather, "Am I ready for Moshiach's coming today!"


1. Adapted from the Rebbe's talk, as edited by the Rebbe, and printed in "Sefer Hasichot 5751," Vol. 2 (pp. 780-795).

For the full text of the Rebbe's talk, in Hebrew - http://www.moshiach.net/blind/hebrew/softim51.htm

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Of(2) all the prophecies in Scripture that refer to the messianic era, the one contained in the Torah portion of Balak, is most unusual in that it came from Bilaam, a gentile prophet. Bilaam, the foremost prophet of his time, was forced against his will to foretell the downfall of the nations of the world and the ultimate ascendancy of the Jewish people.

The very fact that this prophecy is included in our holy Torah indicates its special significance; indeed, it contains a distinct advantage precisely because it was said by a non-Jew. For when Moshiach comes, the Jewish people will no longer be subservient to the nations; on the contrary, the gentile leaders will vie with one another for the privilege of serving the Jews! Thus, the prophecy of Bilaam concerning the Final Redemption not only gave the Children of Israel cause for rejoicing over their future, it actually afforded them a "taste" of the way things will be in the messianic era.

As far as prophecy itself is concerned, our Sages foretold its reoccurrence among the Jewish people before Moshiach's arrival according to the following chronology: Commenting on the verse in the Torah portion of Balak, "At the proper time shall it be said to Jacob and to Israel, what G-d has wrought," Maimonides noted that prophecy would return to Israel after "the proper time" had elapsed after Bilaam, i.e., after the same number of years as had passed since the creation of the world until his prophecy. Bilaam's prophecy was said in the year 2488; 2488 years after that, in the year 4976, prophecy was destined to return to the Jewish people.

In fact we find that this was indeed the case, for it was then that prophetic luminaries began to appear on the Jewish horizon -- Rabbi Shmuel Hanavi, Rabbi Elazar Baal "Harokeach," Nachmanides, the Ravad (Rabbi Abraham ben David), Rabbi Ezra Hanavi and Rabbi Yehuda the Chasid, and others.

More generations passed until the birth of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidus, and his successor, the Maggid of Mezeritch, about whom it was said that they "could see from one end of the world to the other." The following generation produced Rabbi Shneur Zalman, who formulated Chabad Chasidus. Had he lived in the times of our prophets he would have been on a par with them; moreover, this chain of prophecy continued from one Chabad leader to the next, until the present day [when the Rebbe has prophesied that Moshiach's arrival is imminent].

The return of prophecy to the Jewish people is therefore both a prerequisite and preparation for the messianic era, which is due to begin at any moment.


2. Adapted from the Rebbe's talk, on Shabbat Parshat Balak, 5717/1957, as edited by the Rebbe, and printed in "Likutei Sichot," Vol. 2 (pp. 588-9).


"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


Before the Gulf War, on the second night of Sukkot (October 5, 1990), the Rebbe began to quote an ancient passage from the Yalkut Shimoni, a 14th century anthology of Midrashic litrature: "In the year that Moshiach will be revealed, nations will challenge one another. The King of Paras will challenge the King of Aram ... and the entire world will panic and will be stricken with consternation ... Israel will also panic and will be confounded."

The Rebbe went on to explain that the King of Paras refers to the present-day Iraq. The King of Aram refers to the world's superpowers (for Aram is related to the word "rom" which means "uplifted").

This ominous situation, however, herolds the ultimate good -- the coming of Moshiach and the final Redemption.

Acording the Yalkut Shimoni, G-d tells the Jewish people: "My children, have no fear. Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Have no fear; the time for your redemption has arrived!" Moshiach will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple and proclaim, "Humble ones: The time for your redemption has arrived!"

On December 29, 1990, just weeks before the official declaration of war, the Rebbe stated unequivocally, that there is no safer place in the world today than the Land of Israel. He went on to say that no one living in the Holy Land should think of leaving at this time. On the contrary, whoever is planning to visit the Holy Land should go without fear and should let others know of his trip as well, for this will raise the confidence of the Jewish people throughout the world.

The Rebbe, of course, as he always does, based his words on the Torah. In particular, he quoted the verse in Deuteronomy: "It is a land constantly under G-d's scrutiny; the eyes of G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to its end."

As the world foundered in panic and consternation over the events in the Persian Gulf, the Rebbe announced that this would be a year when "I will show you wonders," when G-d would perform miracles for the Jewish people. His words of encouragement and inspiration were repeated time and again on Israeli radio and in the newspapers. And the Rebbe called on everyone to continue with their plans. More than one family asked the Rebbe if they should switch the location of upcoming weddings from Israel to New York, but the Rebbe was adamant that everything should go ahead as planned. The weddings scheduled in Israel took place amidst great rejoicing.

As the SCUDS flew overhead, most Israelis were calm. Not because they were issued gas masks or sat in sealed rooms. But because they heard the Rebbe's message on the radio, over and over again, saying, "Israel is the safest place in the world because the eyes of G-d are always upon it."

Thirty-nine SCUDS fell on Israel. Although there was amazingly little damage, even more miraculous was the fact that there was no loss of life directly from a SCUD. But in Saudi Arabia, when a single SCUD fell on Desert Storm troops, people perished and the damage was devastating.

Step by step, the Rebbe is showing us how to recognize the miracles that are happening here and now. As we watch events unfold, we can wholeheartedly say: Thank G-d for the Rebbe's foresight and vision.

For the ultimate wonders are yet to come.

The Six-Day War

On May 28, 1967, a giant Lag B'Omer parade and rally of tens of thousands of children from all over the New York area took place at the World Lubavitch Headquarters. Among other things, the Rebbe spoke about the tense situation in the Middle East and explained to the children what they could do to increase G-d's protection of the Holy Land. Barely a week later, on June 5, the "Six-Day War" broke out.

In his address, the Rebbe told the children about the lesson to be learned in connection with the state of affairs in the Holy Land. They are currently in a situation where G-d is protecting and bestowing His blessings and His deliverance upon them in an increased measure so that they may emerge -- and they will emerge -- from this situation with success.

The Rebbe told the children that they could help by learning an extra verse of Torah, by doing another mitzvah and yet another, and not letting any opportunity slip by in the fulfillment of mitzvot. He also encouraged the children to influence their friends and family to utilize all their opportunities to increase Torah study and mitzvah observance.

As a consequence of the children's efforts, the Rebbe said that we should see the fulfillment of the assurance in the Torah portion read the previous day, "And you will dwell securely in your land ... and I will give peace in the land."

A cassette of the Rebbe's talk was rushed off to Israel where copies were made and it was listened to by people all over the trembling country.

In addition, on the Shabbat before the war broke out, the Rebbe launched the by-now famous "Tefillin Campaign," as a safety measure for the Jewish people in general, and Jewish soldiers in particular. This campaign, too, is based on the Torah, for the Torah declares concerning tefillin, "And they shall fear you" -- specifically relating to the fear that is instilled in the hearts of the enemies of Israel as a result of the observance of this mitzvah and particularly upon defenders of Israel to vanquish the enemy in the course of battle.

Before and during the war, every soldier -- observant and non-observant -- put on tefillin. And every newspaper in Israel carried the Rebbe's telegram sent just days before the war began: "To the leaders of Kfar Chabad and the Head Rabbi who are privileged to find themselves among tens of thousands of Jews in the Holy land where 'the eyes of G-d are constantly upon it' and certainly, most assuredly 'the Protector of Israel does not sleep or slumber,' 'G-d is on our right side' and G-d will guard them and all of the Jewish people from now and forever. I am awaiting good news, good in a recognizable and revealed manner, soon."

The Yom Kippur War

In the summer of 1973, life in Israel couldn't have been better. To most, it seemed like the best of times. Israel was at "peace" with Egypt and the financial situation in Israel was the best it had been for a long time.

So when the Rebbe started speaking about a great danger that was threatening the Jewish people, everyone was confused. The Rebbe quoted the verse from Psalms, "Out of the mouths of babes and infants You have established strength ... to destroy the foe and avenger," and issued a call for all Jewish children to receive a Jewish education. The Rebbe declared that this was of utmost importance and must be implemented immediately. He asked that more day-camps be opened all over the world and gatherings for children be organized everywhere.

On three separate occasions during the ensuing months the Rebbe urged there to be gatherings at the Western Wall. And in the Rebbe's annual letter of the Sixth of Tishrei, addressed to all Jews all over the world, the Rebbe added a footnote before it was published. The footnote, which seemed to come from nowhere, read: "The Metzudat David [a commentary] explains that the Jewish hand will be superior."

And then came Yom Kippur, 1973. Anyone who was more than a mere toddler at the time will never forget Yom Kippur of 1973. On the Sunday after the war began, when two chasidim asked the Rebbe what would be, the Rebbe answered, "There will be a great victory, a victory greater than was in the previous war."

When the war was over, Israeli papers were emblazoned with the headline, "The Lubavitcher Rebbe saw the war and its outcome." The Rebbe, in his humility, answered with a verse from the Prophets, "I prophesied but did not know what I prophesied."

Russian Immigration

In 1987, when the Iron Curtain was impenetrable, the Rebbe made a startling request. He asked that settlements be built to accommodate the tremendous influx of Russian immigrants who would soon be arriving in Israel.

At the time, the border of the Soviet Union was virtually sealed. It was next to impossible for Jews to leave. Yet the Rebbe announced, "It is proper for all Jews to participate in building dwellings in Jerusalem for the Jews from Russia who will soon be coming out. Those who have already been appointed to head this project should do so with great haste and energy, and this should be the main point in their lives from now on."

In June of 1987 the Shamir neighborhood in northern Jerusalem was born. Within the Shamir neighborhood SATEC -- the Shamir Center for Advanced Technologies -- was established. It is a commercial enterprise that allows highly skilled Soviet Jewish scientists and engineers to find high-level jobs.

Two years later, in 1989, the doors of the Soviet Union suddenly sprung open. Millions of Jews streamed into Israel. The housing prepared for them was barely enough!

The Collapse of Communism

Well before the advent of the year 5750 (September 1989 through September 1990), the Rebbe announced that the Hebrew letters whose numerical equivalent equals 5750 are an acronym for "This will be a year of miracles."

Indeed, the Rebbe spoke many times throughout the year about the miraculous nature of 5750, including the collapse of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the freedom granted to Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel.

The fall of Communism happened almost overnight. No war, no revolution, no bloodshed. Never in the history of the world had an empire tumbled so quickly, so silently. The Rebbe clearly saw this event in 1966, when he said that the victory over the "evil rulership" will be when "tens and hundreds of thousands of Jews will leave Russia."


Professor(3) Yirmeyahu (Herman) Branover has achieved worldwide renown as an authority on magneto-hydrodynamics. Research in this area of alternative energy technology is carried out by a very limited number of highly trained professionals. Raised in the then Soviet Union, Professor Branover's published research had won him an international reputation in this field in the '60s.

Along with his work on hydrodynamics, Professor Branover has a dynamic Jewish heart. He applied for an emigration visa to Israel, knowing that it would mark the end of his professional career in the Soviet Union. He was dismissed from his post at the Academy of Sciences in Riga and prevented from continuing his research.

During this time, he was exposed to the Torah and mitzvot by members of the Lubavitch chassidic underground. When he was finally allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union to Israel in 1972, he was already fully observant.

After making aliyah, Professor Branover was in constant demand as a lecturer, not only in his profession. He was frequently invited to lecture on science and Torah. Campus audiences around the globe were extremely interested to hear an internationally renowned scientist reconcile his belief in the Torah with the supposed conflicts emerging from modern science.

"In the winter of 1973," relates Professor Branover, "I was on a lecture tour in the United States. Towards the end of the two-month tour, Rabbi S., one of the shluchim, requested that I add the University of Pennsylvania to my itinerary. My wife and I were both weary from the constant travel, but our commitment to spread Torah motivated us to agree.

"Shortly before the scheduled date, I was privileged to visit the Rebbe at yechidut (a private meeting). Among other matters, I mentioned the trip to Philadelphia. The Rebbe inquired about the details of the program and commented: 'During your stay in Philadelphia, do not forget to introduce yourself to a local professor who has an interest in your field.'

"The Rebbe's statement baffled me. I was well acquainted with the names of the American scientists involved in magneto-hydrodynamics and I knew the universities with which they were associated. I was certain that no Philadelphian was familiar with my field.

"I made the trip to Philadelphia, following the busy schedule of lectures. On the morning of my arrival, when Rabbi S. met me at the train station, I spoke about my encounter with the Rebbe. I mentioned the Rebbe's strange remark and added that it appeared to be an error.

"'The Rebbe does not make mistakes,' Rabbi S. said emphatically. 'Allow me to assist you in locating the scientist.'

"Rabbi S. convinced me to visit Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania and to check the faculties of these institutions. After many hours of searching, we were introduced to Professor Hsuan Yeh. It was a refreshing change of pace to engage in a sophisticated discussion with a person who was clearly knowledgeable in magneto-hydrodynamics.

"As we concluded our conversation, Professor Yeh said: 'In six weeks there will be a Magneto-Hydrodynamics Energy Convention at Stanford University in California. Although the program is already finalized, I will insist that your name be added to the list of lecturers. A colleague who has arrived so recently from Russia should be given the opportunity to present his thoughts.'

"I looked at him in surprise. 'Didn't you just say that the program was finalized?'

"Professor Yeh added with a smile, 'You see, I am on the program committee.'

"I appreciated the professor's offer, and yet I graciously declined, explaining that both my wife and I were anxious to return to our home in Israel. The trip had already been extended more than we would have liked.

"I returned to New York and we prepared to return home. Just before leaving, I wrote the Rebbe a report of our trip to Philadelphia, mentioning my encounter with Professor Yeh. Once again, the Rebbe made an unexpected statement. He advised me to reschedule my plans and to accept the invitation, for the convention presented an important opportunity.

"My wife and I were taken by surprise by the Rebbe's response. Despite the need to rearrange our plans, we were acquainted enough with the Rebbe to value his advice. I called Professor Yeh, who was happy to arrange for me to deliver a lecture.

"The significance of my participation at the convention became clear very rapidly. I met two representatives of the Office of Naval Research in Virginia, who had read about my work, and who were prepared to finance further research. They added, 'We understand that you want to establish your laboratory in Israel, and we are willing to provide you with funds for your work there.'

"As a result, I set up a laboratory in Beer Sheva, which has gained worldwide recognition for its magneto-hydrodynamics research. My contract with the Office of Naval Research has been renewed six times since that original grant. I could not have imagined at that point how valuable and far-reaching the Rebbe's advice had been.

"This year, 1993, marks twenty years since the Stanford convention. My project has just been awarded a 15-million dollar grant by the United States government to further research and development of this energy technology."

Professor Branover frequently briefs the Rebbe on his various research projects. In one report, he presented a very sophisticated study built upon extensive calculations that had been prepared by computer. As he reviewed the details, the Rebbe remarked:

"Two numbers here are inconsistent."

Professor Branover was stunned. "But all the calculations were done by computer and the program used is based on our most advanced theory."

The Rebbe smiled. "With all due respect to the experts, you will see that there is an error."

In the preparation of the calculations, an incongruity indeed had appeared. It took Professor Branover's research team six months to locate it.

Once, before Professor Branover was scheduled to address a conference of Jewish scientists, the Rebbe told him: "You have an important message to communicate. Tell your colleagues that as a scholar of solar energy you encourage every Jew to emulate the sun.

"Why is this star of such great importance? There are larger heavenly bodies, indeed, many that dwarf the sun in size. What is unique about the sun? It provides light and generates heat.

"There are other heavenly phenomena called 'black holes.' These are also powerful sources of energy, but in this instance, the energy is directed inward. The 'black holes' pull everything, even the energy they emit, to themselves.

"The sun, by contrast, generously gives of itself to the entire planetary system. So, too, a Jew must radiate ahavas Yisrael -- love for a fellow Jew. After all, if the sun was only capable of heating its own mass, who would have paid any attention to it?"

Professor Branover also is active in developing programs of Jewish education and professional training for Jews in the former Soviet Union and for Russian immigrants to Eretz Yisrael. In the course of these activities, he has been chosen by the Rebbe for several missions.

"In the spring of 1985, I received word from the Rebbe's office that the Rebbe requested to speak to me," relates Professor Branover. "Of course, I arrived at '770' [Eastern Parkway, the address of Lubavitch World Headquarters], as soon as I could. The Rebbe greeted me and informed me of his desire that I relay his forthcoming message to various persons in Russia. Not in my wildest dreams was I prepared for the content of the message.

"The Rebbe unraveled before me the precise details of the unbelievable change that was going to take place in Russia. With Mikhail Gorbachev's ascent to power, a new era of openness and freedom would begin, the Rebbe prophesied. Waves of Russian Jews would emigrate to Eretz Yisrael. Two years afterwards, in expectation of this wave of immigration, the Rebbe initiated the plan to build a special housing project in Jerusalem for the new immigrants.

"To say that I was stunned is quite an understatement. If I had heard these words from anyone but the Rebbe, I would have dismissed them as fantasy. As such, I was neither surprised nor offended when various people in Russia whom I contacted by phone were skeptical. 'Are you sure this is exactly what the Rebbe said?' they asked again and again. And, may I add, these people were not unfamiliar with the Rebbe. Quite the contrary, these were his own people who were directing the Lubavitch underground activities in Russia. It was simply that the Rebbe's prediction seemed so far-fetched.

"In the spring of 1985, newspapers such as The New York Times and the New York Post had published front-page articles predicting that Gorbachev's government would follow a communistic hard line. This was felt even more powerfully by people who were living in the then Soviet Union.

"When I related the response from Russia to the Rebbe, he requested that I contact them once again, assuring them that these changes would indeed take place.

"The realization of the Rebbe's words is now history. In 1992, when Mikhail Gorbachev visited Israel, I was introduced to him, and I told him and his wife Raisa what the Rebbe had said seven years earlier. Gorbachev was stunned. 'When I assumed power in 1985, I myself had no concrete plan for the future. I would like to meet this man who knew so much about the direction that my country and I would follow.'"


3. Adapted from the book, To Know and To Care Vol. 1 (Brooklyn, NY: Sichos In English, 1993).


This week we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul, on Sunday, August 19, and Monday, August 20.

In addition to being the name of a Jewish month, the word Elul is an acronym for five verses from the Bible which are connected to the five different types of service, each identified with our new month.

The Rebbe enumerated these five verses:

Prayer -- "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." For it is through prayer, the "duty of the heart," that our relationship with G-d is enhanced and intensified.

Torah study -- "It chanced to happen and I set aside for you a place." This verse describes the Cities of Refuge to which a person who killed unintentionally can flee. But it also refers to Torah study for "the words of Torah provide refuge."

Deeds of Kindness -- "A person [gives presents] to his friends and gifts to the poor." In this verse the concept of deeds of kindness is clearly expressed.

Teshuva -- "And G-d your L-rd will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants." For the service of teshuva -- returning to G-d wholeheartedly, is primarily the service of changing one's inner self, the feelings of one's heart.

Redemption -- "And they said, 'We will sing to G-d'" This phrase is taken from the Song of Redemption sung at the Red Sea.

The first three services are identified with the three pillars of man's service. These services must be permeated by the service of teshuva and by the service of redemption and thus, they will be endowed with a boundless quality that surpasses the limits of a person and the world at large.


A Month of Mercy

In the generation of the Exodus from Egypt, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three times.

The first was to receive the Torah.

The second was to plead with G-d for His forgiveness, after the Jewish people sinned in worshipping the golden calf.

Then, on the first day of Elul -- the month immediately preceding Tishrei -- Moses ascended the mountain a third time, to invoke G-d's abundant mercy for our complete atonement.

He remained there for forty days, until Yom Kippur, when G-d cleansed us completely, as though we had never sinned.

Since then, these days are marked as a special period of Divine grace, during which our sincere prayers are sure to find favor in the eyes of G-d.


* The Shofar(4) is sounded every weekday morning, except on Shabbat, and the last day of Elul, Erev Rosh HaShanah.(5)

* Psalm 27 is added to the daily morning and afternoon prayers.

* It is customary to give additional charity each weekday.

* During the entire month of Elul we greet friends with the traditional blessings of, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year." It is customary to send friends and relatives New Year's greetings with blessings for the coming year.

* It is customary to have our mezuzot and tefillin checked to make sure they are still fit.

* To be more careful about keeping kosher.

* Beginning Saturday night, September 8, and on the following weekday mornings until the eve of Rosh HaShanah, Selichot(6) (special penitential prayers) are recited.

* Elul is an appropriate time to reflect on our actions and attitudes of the previous year, and resolve to correct our shortcomings. We increase our good deeds and try to be more meticulous in our observance of those mitzvot that we already perform.

* * *

Why do we do all of this in the month of Elul? Can't it wait until we're closer to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur -- most of us "work" better under pressure anyway!

These questions can be explained by a beautiful parable given by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch:

Once each year, a very mighty king leaves his palace, his guards, his finery, and goes out into the field to meet with his subjects. At that time, they can ask of him anything they wish. They do not need to wait in long lines, go through security checks, be announced ceremoniously. They can speak with him without hesitation. When the king returns to his palace, his subjects will once again have to go through all kinds of protocol to meet with him. So, of course, his subjects make the most of the opportunity.

During the month of Elul, G-d is "in the field." We don't need to go through all kinds of red tape to reach Him. We need only to come out to meet Him, as it were, with a humble heart, and He will listen to us. He will accept our repentance and consider our requests most carefully.

The King will soon be in the field. Make sure not to miss this opportunity.


4. Maimonides explains that the shofar is blown as the means of stirring the Jew to repentance. He says the call of the shofar is: "Awaken, you sleepers, from sleep, you slumberers from slumber; search your actions and return in penitence."

5. To differentiate between the shofar sounding of Elul, which is custom and that of Rosh HaShanah, which is prescribed by the Torah.

6. The Sephardic custom is to recite them during the entire month of Elul. According to the Ashkenazic custom, they are recited beginning on the Saturday preceding Rosh HaShanah after midnight and thereafter each morning until Rosh HaShanah.


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.

Facilitate an increase in Jewish education for children

A few years ago, near the end of the month of Menachem-Av, the Rebbe explained:

"We are nearing the close of the month of Menachem-Av, a month associated with the destruction of the Holy Temple. Removing the cause of the Holy Temple's destruction -- 'Jerusalem was destroyed solely because the Torah study of the children was nullified' -- will cause the effect, the destruction and the exile, also to cease, and bring about the revelation of the Third Holy Temple. One should assure an increase in the area of the education of Jewish children."

You can start by enrolling your child in a Jewish day school or afternoon school program or giving a donation to an institution dedicated to Jewish education.


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, August 24, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shoftim:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(7) by 7:24 p.m.

Saturday, August 25, Shabbat Parshat Shoftim:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 6 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:25 p.m.


7. 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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