"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Ki Tavo, 5761
Elul 19, 5761 * September 7, 2001
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.
In this week's issue we focus on Chai Elul, the 18th of Elul,
Thursday, Sept. 6.
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
13 Elul, 5761
Brooklyn, New York
Parshat Ki Tavo
In this week's Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we read: "This day the L-rd
your G-d commands you to do these statutes and ordinances." Rashi, the foremost
Torah commentator, explains, "Every day they should seem new in your eyes,
as though on that very day you were commanded regarding [Torah and
The Torah portion continues with the verse, "You have set apart the L-rd
this day to be your G-d and to walk in His ways...and the L-rd has set you
apart this day to be His own treasure."
From this we learn that the "setting apart" of G-d to be our G-d, and His
"setting apart" of the Jews to be His people, is also a daily and ongoing
Each and every day G-d chooses the Jewish people, individually and collectively,
as His "treasure," and as the verse continues, "in praise and in name and
in glory...a holy people to the L-rd your G-d." G-d glories and takes pride
in the Jewish people, each of whom is described as "the work of My hands
to be praised." G-d "boasts," as it were, about every Jew, through whom His
Name is glorified and exalted in the world.
And as stated above, the delight G-d takes in the Jews and the Jews in Him,
is "new" each and every day, as fresh as if today the Torah was just revealed
on Mount Sinai.
* * *
The Torah portion of Ki Tavo is always read in the month of
Elul. As everything in Torah is exacting and nothing occurs by
coincidence, it follows that the above must somehow be connected to the special
service of this month, preparatory to Rosh HaShanah.
The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad
Chasidism, explained that in Elul, G-d is likened to a "King in the
field." Outside the strict protocol of the royal palace, everyone is granted
an opportunity to approach the King, speak with Him directly and present
Him with our requests. Moreover, during Elul, G-d "greets everyone
with a smiling countenance and shows a pleasant demeanor to all."
For this reason, "You have set apart the L-rd this day to be your G-d and
to walk in His ways...and the L-rd has set you apart this day to be His own
treasure," is particularly relevant now, when every Jew has this special
opportunity and capacity for connecting to G-d and glorifying His Name. And
because G-d shows us a "smiling countenance" and a "pleasant demeanor," it
makes all of our Divine service easier and more successful.
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that
"The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this
prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption,
through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.
Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.
Chai (the 18th day of) Elul (Thursday, Sept. 6), is the "birthday"
of the greater Chasidic movement and of Chabad Chasidus in particular.
On Chai Elul (5458/1698), the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the greater
Chasidic movement, was born. On that date 26 years later, Achiya Hashiloni
began to teach him Torah "as it is studied in Gan Eden."
On Chai Elul (5505/1745), the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman
of Liadi, spiritual grandson of the Baal Shem Tov,(1) the
founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy and of the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty,
An individual's birthday has a very special meaning for that person. The
birthday of a tzaddik has deep significance for everyone who attempts
to live according to the tzaddik's teachings. A tzaddik's birthday
is, in some ways like the spiritual birthday of his followers.
The Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi dedicated their lives
to teach the value of every single Jew. Ahavas Yisrael -- unconditional
love of each Jew -- was at the forefront of their philosophy.
Today, two centuries later, we still benefit from their guidance and revelations.
The date of their birth, then, is not only their birthday -- it is also our
On our birthday we take time out to reflect on our achievements of the past
year and our goals for the future. It is fitting that on the birthday of
these tzaddikim, we reflect on how well we have followed and benefited
from them, and we make our resolutions for the New Year. We will, in their
merit, be blessed with a K'Siva Vachasima Tova, a happy, healthy and
prosperous New Year.
One of the main teachings of the Baal Shem Tov was to always remember G-d
and to thank Him frequently.
The obligation to remember G-d constantly and thank Him begins as soon as
a Jew wakes up in the morning. Before he does anything else, he says "Modeh
Ani -- I offer thanks to You, Living and Eternal King, for You have
mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great."
The lesson of Modeh Ani, that everything we have comes from G-d and
we must constantly thank Him, is connected to another important teaching
of the Baal Shem Tov: G-d did not just create the world once [5761 years
ago]. He constantly recreates everything anew at every moment, and gives
it new life.
The purpose of this "continual creation" is to allow us to appreciate G-d's
kindness. At this very moment, G-d has "taken the trouble," so to speak,
to re-create each of us. When we realize that G-d is giving us life and
everything we have at every moment, we will want to constantly thank Him.
The above teachings have a special connection not only to the Baal Shem Tov,
but also to his birthday on the 18th of Elul. the Hebrew word
"chai" -- living -- equals 18, and the 18th of Elul is called
"Chai Elul," for it helps us add liveliness and enthusiasm to our
appreciation of and feelings of thanks for our Creator.
May we merit, this very Chai Elul, to experience true and eternal
life, as G-d intended it to be, with the complete revelation of Moshiach
and the start of the Redemption.
The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn explained, that Chai
Elul introduces an element of chayut, vitality, to our Divine
service during Elul, the month in which we correct and make amends
for past misdeeds. In the merit of our repentance, G-d grants us a good and
sweet year. By infusing our service with vitality, Chai Elul helps
us do teshuvah with enthusiasm, not just by rote or out of habit.
Superficially, vitality and teshuvah may seem contradictory. Vitality
is associated with joy, whereas repentance is associated with bitterness,
regretting past actions and resolving to do better. Those these seem to be
opposite emotions, in Elul we feel both, and at the same time!
Every mitzvah we do should be performed with joy, for by observing
that mitzvah, we fulfill the will of G-d. As teshuvah is a
mitzvah like any other, we experience joy for having been given the
However, Chasidus gives us another reason to be happy while doing
teshuvah, by explaining how bitterness and joy can exist simultaneously.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman describes this in the Tanya as "weeping on one
side of the heart, and joy on the other side." When we do teshuvah,
we rage against our Evil Inclination and of failure to withstand temptation.
Yet at the same time we are happy, for we know that we are becoming closer
Chai Elul (and by extension, Chasidus) thus transforms the
entire month of Elul into a labor of love and joy.
1. The Alter Rebbe, was one of the foremost disciples of the Baal
Shem Tov's successor, Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch.
Since the beginning of the month of Elul we've been doing
teshuvah, getting rid of negative baggage and "cleaning up our act"
before Rosh HaShanah. But this Saturday night, Sept. 8, after midnight, we're
going to really get down to business, as Jews around the world go to the
synagogue to recite Selichot ("prayers for forgiveness"). These special
penitential prayers are the next stage of our preparation for the High Holidays.
Chasidic philosophy makes the following distinction:
During the month of Elul, we concentrate on improving our thought,
speech and deed. But when we say Selichot, we focus on an even deeper
level of the soul and correct the emotive powers themselves.
Though it sounds serious, Chasidim have always approached
Selichot (like everything else!) with a sense of joy, rather than
sadness and gloom. We look forward to the opportunity to reach even higher
levels of holiness and sanctity.
The Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch,
quoting Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus,
explained one of the lines in the Selichot thusly: "The needs of Your
people are great, and their knowledge is narrow and limited." Our needs are
many precisely because our knowledge is limited. If our knowledge were "wider,"
our needs would be fewer.
The pursuit of luxuries, adds the Rebbe, can even diminish the "regular"
measure of blessing a person would otherwise receive. Because our "knowledge
is limited" we demand too much, over-inflating our importance and assuming
that G-d "owes" us. Our "needs" tend to multiply when we put too much emphasis
on material rather than spiritual concerns.
Nonetheless, the Rebbe concludes, "Our request from G-d is that He fulfill
all the needs of His people, even though what we ask for stems from
a deficiency in knowledge. And may every single Jew lack for nothing."
by Yehudis Cohen
A person sees things through his own set of "lenses" which are created by
his life experiences, environment and education.
A case in point: There are, thank G-d, well over a thousand boys and men
in the community where I live by the name of "Mendel." My seven-year-old
son is one of them. Upon moving recently to a different part of our neighborhood,
one less densely populated by Chabad-Lubavitch families, I was intrigued
to note that our new neighbors were calling Mendel what sounded like "Mandela"
(and my younger son was "Smiley" not "Shloime").
I was amused that when we said "Mendel" they heard "Mandela." Sure enough,
one afternoon, I overheard our next-door-neighbor inform Mendel, "You know,
you have the same name as a great black leader, Nelson Mandela."
In the heart of our neighborhood, part of the life-experience of all of the
residents, Jew and non-Jew alike, is that many boys and men are named "Mendel."
But at the fringes of the neighborhood, this is not part of the experience
and thus Mendel is Mandela to some.
As ludicrous as it must have seemed to our neighbor that we would have named
our son Mandela, it was easy for him to conceive of such a name viewed through
* * *
The Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chasidism, teaches that everything we see and
hear can and should serve as a lesson for us in our Divine service.
This Shabbat is known as "Shabbat Selichot," for on Saturday
night, Sept. 8, after midnight, we begin reciting the special penitential
"Selichot" prayers, and we continue each weekday until Rosh HaShanah.
Rosh HaShanah initiates the Aseret Y'Mei Teshuvah, the Ten Days of
Repentance, which culminates on Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement.
For many of us, the names of the distinctive prayers and special days at
this time of year conjure up images of morose moods, contrite conduct and
plenty of sighs. When it comes to understanding repentance, for instance,
many of us have grown up with a decidedly non-Jewish approach to this fundamental
So, we shouldn't be surprised if our initial reaction to the next few weeks
on the Jewish calendar is based on some rather ludicrous assumptions. We're
seeing penitence, repentance, atonement, through our own lenses -- created
by our own life-experiences, environment and education. But that doesn't
mean that what we're seeing is authentic.
If we are open to new experiences, then we will see things for what they
really are, otherwise we will end up making ridiculous assumptions about
Reality: The word "teshuvah" is commonly translated as "repentance."
Actually it comes from the Hebrew meaning "return." In fact, within the word
teshuvah itself we find directions on how to do teshuvah:
tashuv -- return -- and the Hebrew letter "hei" which stands
for Hashem, G-d. We are returning to G-d, to our source, our essence.
Teshuvah has the power to literally erase our sins, to correct the
blemishes and defects caused by those sins.
Over the next little while, when someone says "Rosh HaShanah," "Yom Kippur,"
"teshuvah," hear the reality of what they are saying. Take off your
glasses and hear "return to my source, to my essence."
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.
Say the Special Selichot Prayers
On Saturday evening, Sept. 8, after midnight, the first Selichot ("prayers
for forgiveness") are said in synagogues throughout the world.
From Monday, Sept. 10, through the eve of Rosh HaShanah (Monday, Sept. 17),
the Selichot prayers are said every weekday, in the early morning.
Go with the whole family Saturday night, let the kids stay up late! This
is a real, hands-on Jewish experience that is bound to be remembered for
months, if not years.
Call your local synagogue, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center for the exact time
and location nearest you.
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, September 7, Erev Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo:
Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:02 p.m.
Saturday, September 8, Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo:
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapters 3 &
4 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:01 p.m.
2. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before
sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat
to light the candles after sunset.
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.