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Parshat Vayeilech, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Tishrei 4, 5762 * September 21, 2001

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue we focus on Vov Tishrei, the sixth of Tishrei (Sunday, Sept. 23) -- when we commemorate the 37th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's mother, Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson.


We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very sweet, happy, healthy and successful 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

25 Elul, 5761
Brooklyn, New York

In Honor Of Our Daughter
on the occasion of her birthday, 25 Elul

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Vayeilech

This week's Torah portion of Vayeilech speaks about the mitzvah of hakhel. In the days of the Holy Temple, the entire Jewish people assembled in Jerusalem every seventh year, while the king read certain portions of the Torah aloud, "that they may hear and that they may learn how they are to fear the L-rd your G-d."

The Toseftah (supplement to the Mishnah) describes how the kohanim (priests) would stand on the outskirts of Jerusalem, sounding their golden trumpets to summon the people to the Temple. "Any kohen without a golden trumpet," the Toseftah concludes, "did not look like a kohen at all."

In order to understand this odd statement, the role of the kohanim needs to be defined. The kohanim performed various duties in the Holy Temple. Sounding their trumpets around Jerusalem was not part of their service; it was only a preparation for the mitzvah of hakhel, and not even an integral part of it. Why, then, was it so significant that any kohen who did not participate "did not look like a kohen at all"?

To explain:

One of the most important services performed by the kohanim was burning the incense. As Maimonides explains, on the simplest level, the purpose of the incense was to dispel unpleasant odors and impart a pleasant smell. But on a more mystical level (as explained in the Zohar), the purpose of the incense was "to dispel the taint of the Evil Inclination."

The incense was composed of many different ingredients. One component, a resin called galbanum, has a particularly disagreeable odor, and is thus symbolic of the lower, more debased aspects of existence. (In the Talmud the galbanum is likened to Jews who sin.) In spiritual terms, the function of the kohanim was to elevate these lower elements and transform them into holiness. In fact, regardless of the individual service being performed in the Temple, the overall role of the kohanim was to elevate even the most mundane aspects of physical existence.

This function was epitomized by the mitzvah of hakhel. After seven years of elevating ordinary, everyday things, the kohanim could now raise the entire Jewish people to a higher spiritual level.

For this reason, the sounding of the trumpets was the "test" of an individual kohen's mettle. If a kohen correctly perceived his Divinely appointed role and went out to summon his brethren, he was a true kohen. If he stayed at home and did not participate, "he did not look like a kohen at all."

In a spiritual sense, all Jews are considered to be kohanim, "a nation of priests and a holy people." For in truth, each of us is obligated to elevate our surroundings, and arouse the hearts of our fellow Jews to ever-higher levels of Torah and mitzvot.


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.


The seven days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are an opportunity to do teshuvah with respect to each of the seven days of the week -- i.e., on the Monday, we can make amends for whatever wrongs we may have done on all the Mondays of the previous year... and so forth.

Shabbat -- from the evening of Fri., Sept. 21, until nightfall on Sat., Sept. 22 -- is called Shabbat Shuvah, after the Haftorah [prophetic reading] for that day: "Return, O Israel... for you have stumbled..."

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

This Shabbat is known by two names: 1) Shabbat Shuvah, derived from the opening words of the Haftorah that is read in synagogue, "Shuvah Yisrael" -- "Return, O Israel," and 2) Shabbat Teshuvah, as it falls out in the middle of the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance. This name is also connected to the Haftorah, the theme of which is likewise the return to G-d.

The two names of this Shabbat reveal a timely lesson.

The word shuvah -- "return" is the command form of the word lashuv -- "to return." G-d commands us to return to Him in teshuvah.

Teshuvah, by contrast, is a noun denoting the action itself, the actual return to G-d.

The name shuvah relates more to the One Who is issuing the command than the person being addressed. Shuvah alludes to a situation in which the command has already been issued, but not yet carried out. The command itself imparts a measure of strength but does not ensure that it will necessarily be fulfilled in the future.

The name teshuvah, on the other hand, implies that the action has already been taken, i.e., teshuvah has already been done. In that case, however, why do we continue to refer to this Shabbat as Shabbat Teshuvah?

The answer is that the act of teshuvah consists of both the command to return to G-d and its subsequent implementation.

Shuvah teaches us that even after a Jew has done teshuvah, he still needs to work on himself to an even greater degree. No matter how much teshuvah a person has done, it is always possible to rise higher; hence the directive, "Return, O Israel unto the L-rd, your G-d."

In fact, our teshuvah must be "unto the L-rd, your G-d." Thus it is understood that there is always room for improvement -- for an even deeper and infinite teshuvah -- as G-d Himself is Infinite.

This is the lesson of Shabbat Shuvah: A Jew must never content himself with his previous Divine service and spiritual advancement. He must never think that because he has worked on himself a whole week he is now entitled to rest because it is Shabbat. No, today is Shabbat Shuvah! Even after one has done teshuvah, more work is required! For the service of teshuvah is continual and without end.


Sunday, the sixth of Tishrei (Sept. 23), marks the 37th anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, mother of the Rebbe. What follows is a very brief biography of her amazing life.

Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson was born on the 28th of Tevet, 5640/1880, in Nikolaiev, a city near Odessa. In 1900, Rebbetzin Chana married the renowned scholar and kabbalist, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson.(1) They had three sons, the eldest of whom was the Rebbe. The second son, Dov Ber, was killed by the Nazis and the youngest son, Yisroel Aryeh Leib,(2) passed away in England in 1952.

In 1907, the couple moved to Yekatrinoslav (presently Dnepropetrovsk), where Rabbi Levi Yitzchok had been appointed to the prestigious post of Rav of this major Jewish community. For all practical purposes he was the spiritual leader of the entire Jewish population of the Ukraine.

Throughout the 32 years that her husband served as Rabbi of Yekatrinoslav, Rebbetzin Chana stood at his side, assisting in his holy work. The Rebbetzin had a good rapport with the members of their sophisticated congregation, and she communicated especially well with Jewish university students, in whom she took special interest, befriending them and trying her best to imbue them with the spirit of Torah.

In 1939, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok was arrested because of his energetic work to preserve religious observance; a year later, he was exiled to a small village in the Republic of Kazakhstan. When Rebbetzin Chana learned of her husband’s location, she joined him, paying no heed to the difficulties and danger involved.

Rebbetzin Chana made a valuable spiritual contribution to her husband, one from which the entire Jewish people benefited. Her son, the Rebbe, described this special contribution:

"In the remote Russian village where my father was exiled, there was no ink available. After my mother was permitted to join him, she gathered various herbs in the fields, and by soaking them made a sort of ink, which enabled my father to record his original Torah commentaries. My mother devoted her energies to this task despite their lack of even minimally sufficient amounts of bread and water."

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok passed away in exile in 1944. In 1947, Rebbetzin Chana succeeded, with tremendous difficulties, in emigrating from the Soviet Union. At the same time, she also managed to smuggle out her husband’s writings at great danger to herself. Later that year she arrived safely in Paris where she was reunited with her eldest son, whom she had not seen for twenty years. The two traveled by ship to New York, where the Rebbetzin lived for the last seventeen years of her life.

Rebbetzin Chana passed away in the late afternoon on the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the sixth of Tishrei, 5725/1964, at the age of 85.

* * *

In a talk following his mother's yahrtzeit, the Rebbe noted that all women named Chana share a connection to the first Chana.

The biblical Chana was a prophetess and the mother of one of our greatest prophets, Shmuel.

Chana was the wife of Elkanah, a Levite. Chana suffered greatly from the fact that she had no children. She vowed that if G-d granted her a child, she would consecrate him to service in the Sanctuary. Her ardent prayers were heard and she gave birth to Shmuel, who, at the age of two, was brought to live and study under the tutelage of the High Priest, Eli. Shmuel grew to become one of the greatest prophets of the Jewish people. The portion from the Book of Shmuel about Chana, her prayer and the birth of Shmuel are read as the Haftorah on the first day of Rosh HaShanah.

Two stories recounted by the Rebbe at gatherings in honor of his mother's yahrtzeit illustrate a fundamental concept.

The first anecdote took place when the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, was in exile. Rebbetzin Chana ingeniously managed to produce different color inks from wild plants for Rabbi Levi Yitzchok to use in writing his Torah innovations, as he was not even afforded ink with which to write.

The second incident related by the Rebbe took place after Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's passing. Rebbetzin Chana miraculously succeeded in smuggling Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's writings out of Communist Russia.

The Rebbe explained that these two incidents teach us that when, by Divine Providence, a mission is given to an individual -- even if that mission seems utterly futile or impossible -- one's efforts will ultimately be crowned with success. Though one must work within the confines of nature, one must not be constricted by nature, for it is the infinite and supernatural G-d who has presented one with this mission.

As our Divinely appointed mission in these last moments of exile is to hasten the Redemption's arrival and prepare ourselves for the long-awaited Messianic Era, we can look to the prophetess Chana and her namesake, the Rebbetzin Chana, for inspiration.

And, as the Rebbe concluded a letter written on Rebbetzin Chana's yahrtzeit: "May G-d grant that everyone actively strive for the above, in accordance with the prayer of the prophetess Chana: 'My heart rejoices in G-d, my strength is uplifted through G-d... I rejoice in His help... and He will raise the horn of His Anointed one (Moshiach).'"


1. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 211

2. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 246


...May the Festivals of Tishrei Bring
Blessings for You and All Your Loved
Ones, for a Good and Sweet Year,
Spiritually and Materially,
and Bring for All of Us
the Greatest of All Blessings,
the Final Redemption
Through Our Righteous Moshiach.


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, Sept. 21, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayeilech:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(3) by 6:38 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 22, Shabbat Parshat Vayeilech:

  • Shabbat Shuvah - See above.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 7:37 p.m.


3. 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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