"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Vayechi, 5762
Tevet 13, 5762 * Dec. 28, 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:
The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry
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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 the Rambam, whose yahrtzeit is next
Friday, the 20th of Tevet, Jan. 4.
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
8 Tevet, 5762
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's Torah portion of Vayechi, Jacob tells Joseph: "Your
two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, who were born to you in the land of Egypt...are
mine; as Reuven and Shimon, they shall be mine." As will be explained, the
names Ephraim and Menashe are symbolic of two different approaches to our
Menashe comes from the word meaning "to forget." Joseph gave his son that
name because "G-d...has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house."
Menashe symbolizes Jews who, because of the spiritual and physical difficulties
of the exile, are in danger of forgetting their roots and Jewish tradition.
However, the name itself helps them not to forget! "Menashe" reminds us of
the very real danger that exists, and causes us to be more careful in a negative
environment. This path, of preventing spiritual damage from outside influences,
is known as "avoiding evil."
Ephraim was so-called because "G-d has caused me to be fruitful in the land
of my affliction." Whereas Menashe still remembered his "father's house"
and struggled to remain connected, Ephraim's mentality was completely "exile"
in nature. However, this was also G-d's will, as the purpose of the exile
is to illuminate the darkness of the world with the light of Torah and
mitzvot. Thus despite Ephraim's being "in the land of my affliction"
he was extremely "fruitful," actively disseminating the holiness of the Torah
wherever he went. This path of Divine service, transforming the darkness
itself into light, is known as "doing good."
The service of Ephraim is superior to the service of Menashe. For while Menashe
concentrated on protecting himself from harm, Ephraim actually turned the
world into holiness. Of course, in order to succeed in such a mission, Ephraim
needed an extra measure of help from Above. That is why Jacob placed his
right hand (symbolic of strength and dominance) on Ephraim's head when he
gave them his blessing.
Jacob declared that both of his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, would
be considered as "his." Both would attain exalted spiritual levels and succeed
in their Divine service in exile, in the same way that the Twelve Tribes
succeeded with their advantage of being in close proximity to our forefathers.
Moreover, the service of Ephraim and Menashe would be even greater in one
respect, for it would stand out in stark contrast to their Egyptian surroundings,
"like the advantage of light that comes from the midst of darkness."
Every Jew can relate to the respective paths of Ephraim and Menashe, which
is why we bless our children, "G-d make you as Ephraim and as Menashe."
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.
A story is told of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, known as the Tzemach
Tzedek, who was to become the third Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. As a young
child he was studying the Torah portion of Vayechi, this week's Torah
portion, and had just learned that "Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years."
The teacher explained that from this verse we learn that the 17 years Jacob
spent in Egypt were the best years of his life. The Tzemach Tzedek
asked his grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, known as the Alter Rebbe,
the first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, how it was possible that Jacob could have
lived his best years in such a place as Egypt?
The Alter Rebbe replied: "We have been taught in the previous Torah portion
(Vayigash) that Jacob had sent his son Judah ahead of him to establish
a yeshivah in the land of Egypt, in the city of Goshen. Therefore,
since learning Torah brings a Jew closer to G-d, it is possible for a Jew
to truly live even in a place like Egypt and that those years can even be
considered 'good' years."
This story has an eternal message for every one of us:
"Egypt" is the prototype of all the exiles our people have experienced during
our long history. The Hebrew word for Egypt is "Mitzrayim," which
is connected with "meitzarim" -- constraints. Egypt thus indicates
all situations in which a Jew finds himself constrained and limited in the
development of his true Jewish spirit. If it were not for the Torah, the
Jewish spirit would languish and lose vigor and vitality in the darkness
of exile, whether external or internal. It is the Torah and mitzvot
that illuminate Jewish life and provide the strength and vitality to overcome
all constraints and hindrances, enabling every Jew -- man, woman and child
-- to live a bright and meaningful life even in the midst of outside darkness.
May we merit very soon to live the ultimate bright and meaningful lives with
the coming of Moshiach.
"From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses." The first Moses
to which this quote refers was the great prophet and Jewish leader, Moses.
The second was Moses Maimonides, otherwise known as the Rambam, an acronym
for Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon. Born on the day before Passover, 1135, in Cordova,
Spain, the Rambam passed away on the 20th of Tevet, 1204 (this year,
next Friday, Jan. 4.).
Maimonides was known in the Jewish world as a great talmudist and scholar.
He served as chief rabbi of Egypt, the land to which he moved in his early
thirties. He authored numerous books and treatises, including The Guide
for the Perplexed, a commentary on the Mishnah, and the Sefer
HaMitzvot (Book of Mitzvot).
17 years ago, the Rebbe urged all Jews to study every day a section of the
Rambam's magnum opus, Mishneh Torah (a code of Jewish law), or at
least the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot. Today, the Mishneh Torah,
or the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot, is studied daily by hundreds of thousands
of Jews -- men, women and children -- around the world.
The Rambam's fame and influence transcended the Jewish world. He was also
internationally acclaimed as a philosopher and physician. In fact, he served
as royal physician to the court of Saladin. He authored over fifteen works
on the theory and practice of medicine, including one on asthma and another
When the Rambam passed away, he was mourned by Jews and Moslems alike in
Egypt, and Jews throughout the entire world. He was buried in the holy city
of Tiberias in the northern part of Israel. By studying his works we can
be united with his spirit.
* * *
A few years ago, the Rebbe discussed the following concepts:
"The name Rambam is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "I will
multiply My wonders in the land of Egypt," an allusion to the wonders associated
with Redemption. Similarly, the Rambam's spiritual service involved giving
Jews in Egypt -- in the night of exile -- a foretaste of the Redemption.
"Firstly, he lived in Egypt and it was there that he composed his magnum
opus, the Mishneh Torah (a code of Jewish law). As he explained in
his 'Introduction,' the Mishneh Torah was composed because of the
difficulties of exile, as the Jews were unable to derive halachic rulings
from the Talmud and needed an auxiliary source. Nevertheless, the text that
the Rambam composed gave the Jews a foretaste of the Redemption -- reflected
in the fact that it includes laws that will only be relevant in the Era of
the Redemption when the Holy Temple will be rebuilt and in the conclusion
of the text that focuses directly on the Era of the Redemption.
"Since, on the yahrtzeit of a tzaddik, 'the totality of his
deeds, teachings, and service is revealed and... "brings about salvation
in the depths of the earth,'" it follows that the Rambam's yahrtzeit
grants us further potential to anticipate the Redemption.
"The above is particularly relevant in the present age when the Jewish people
have completed the service required of them in exile. Everything is ready
for the Redemption. All that is lacking is for G-d to open the eyes of the
Jews and allow them to realize that they are sitting at the feast of the
The Rebbe concluded: "There is no need for any further delay, and without
any interruption we shall soon proceed from the present era to the era of
the Redemption. The very next moment can be the last moment of the exile
and the first moment of that era. As a catalyst for this, we must reflect
an attitude of Redemption in our lives, showing how even within the exile,
we can experience Redemption."
The Rambam is probably best remembered for his encyclopedic codification
of all 613 commandments of the Torah in his magnum opus, the Mishneh
In the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam enumerates and details all of the
613 laws of the Torah. He places the laws relating to the Jewish king, and
Moshiach, at the very end of his work. In the introduction to these laws
he states that the Jews were commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon
conquering and entering the land of Israel: To appoint a king; to kill the
descendants of Amalek; and to build G-d's Chosen House, the Beis
HaMikdosh, in Jerusalem.
It would seem that these mitzvot should have been mentioned much earlier
in his work if they were, in fact, so important! However, the Rambam chose
to organize the Mishneh Torah in this fashion to emphasize that the
true and complete performance of all the mitzvot of the Torah will
be attained only when a king rules over Israel. The Rambam then defines Moshiach
as a king, who will not only redeem the Jews from exile, but also restore
the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot to their complete state.
For many, this would seem a rather novel approach. Yet, the Talmud states
that "the world was created solely for Moshiach." This being the case, we
certainly must do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for Moshiach's
What is within the power and reach of each individual, great and small? Good
deeds, charity, studying concepts and laws associated with Moshiach and the
Final Redemption, fostering peace between family, friends and co-workers,
and actively waiting for and anticipating his arrival each and every day.
The following story is told about how it was "decided" where the Rambam's
final resting place should be:
People from all over gathered in Egypt to attend the funeral of the great
Rambam. When the procession was over, a discussion erupted as to where to
bury him. The Rambam had only requested to be buried in the Holy Land. No
mention was made as to which city should be his final resting place.
Representatives of different cities in the Holy Land came forward, each one
arguing that the Rambam should be buried in their city. Because no solution
to the problem at hand was in sight, everyone agreed to begin taking the
coffin toward Israel, hoping that along the way they might come upon a solution
for this problem. The coffin was perched atop a sturdy camel and, with hundreds
joining the caravan, made its way toward the Holy Land.
One of the most difficult and dangerous parts of desert travel was the constant
fear of being overtaken by one of the many bands of highway robbers who attacked
As it began to get dark, the pace of the caravan quickened. Everyone hoped
that they would find a relatively safe place to camp for the evening. Their
fears were well founded though, for within a short while, the sound of hoof
beats were heard, coming closer and closer. "We're being attacked," cried
out the leader of the caravan. Many of the people panicked and scattered
in different directions. A few remained with the coffin to guard it. But,
they, too, were frightened away as the gang of vicious bandits came charging
The bandits approached the camel with the coffin. They assumed that the box
contained a huge treasure since so many people were guarding it. As much
as they tried, though, the box could not be taken off the camel.
"Grab the camel's reins," shouted the leader of the bandits. "We'll take
it with us." Their efforts met with no success, and they could not get the
huge animal to budge.
"Open the box," commanded the leader.
One of the gangsters swaggered over to the box and began to pry off the lid.
"There's a body in this box," he shrieked, as he ran away. The other bandits,
too, became frightened at the thought of a dead body in a box in the middle
of the dark desert and quickly made their exit.
Upon seeing that the bandits had left, the people from the caravan made their
way back toward the camel. But, to their surprise, the camel began moving
determinedly, as if it had a specific destination in mind.
The caravan leader cautioned the other people not to go near the camel. "It
seems almost as if something is guiding the camel. Let us see what direction
it takes." Soon it was obvious that the camel was heading straight for the
border of Israel.
The caravan followed from a distance. By now, everyone was certain that the
problem of where to bury the Rambam was solved.
After reaching the borders of Israel, the camel continued to travel steadily.
It came to the city of Tiberias in the northern part of the country. It continued
on through the narrow streets of the city until it suddenly stopped and knelt
down on the ground.
The people understood that this was the place where they should bury the
Rambam. Carefully, they removed the coffin from the camel's back and placed
it on the ground, then immediately began digging the grave. All who witnessed
this strange event were amazed to see the wonderful miracle.
The people of the city of Tiberias built a beautiful structure over the spot
where the Rambam was buried. And every year, on the anniversary of his passing,
thousands of people from all parts of the world come to visit his holy grave.
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.
Study the Rambam's works daily:
"In honor of Rambam's yahrtzeit we should reinforce our study of the
Rambam's works according to the three-pronged plan of study: three chapters
or one chapter a day in the Mishneh Torah, or the parallel portions
of Sefer HaMitzvot. Not only should one study these works himself,
he should also influence others to do so."
(The Rebbe, 21 Tevet, 5752)
One can study the daily 3 or 1 chapters in the Mishneh Torah and/or
the daily lesson in Sefer HaMitzvot, via the Internet, except on
Shabbat or yom tov, at:
The daily portion of Sefer HaMitzvot is also available electronically
via the Internet. To subscribe, go to
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, Dec. 28, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:
Light Shabbat candles,(1) by 4:17 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 29, Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:23 p.m.
1. 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.
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