"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Shoftim, 5761
Elul 5, 5761 * August 24, 2001
The Rebbe's Prophecy
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
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
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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.
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
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
28 Menachem-Av, 5761
Brooklyn, New York
Ten Years Ago This Week, Torah Portion:
Shoftim (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
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
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
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
"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 -
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
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.
"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."
"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
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
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
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
The Collapse of
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
* 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
"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
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
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 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
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.