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Parshat Nasso, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Sivan 13, 5762
May. 24, 2002

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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 once again focus on the festive holiday of Shavuot.


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

12 Sivan, 5762
Year of Hakhel
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Nasso

In this week's Torah portion, Nasso, we find the command to count the Levites -- the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari. The actual count of these people was taken only once, during the second year of their 40-year wanderings. What are we to learn from the Torah's inclusion of this commandment?

Let us examine the reason why the Jewish people had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness. When the spies gave a negative report about the Land of Israel, the Jewish people were reluctant to enter the land G-d had promised them. G-d, therefore, punished the Jews with 40 years of wandering and decreed that those who had been unwilling to enter Israel would not be allowed to do so. But why did G-d choose a wilderness for their wandering, as opposed to another location?

A wilderness is uninhabited by man, and indeed, the desert that the Jewish People wandered through is described as "a great and terrible wilderness: snakes, poisonous serpents and scorpions, and thirst without water to quench." The Children of Israel, through their travels, were charged with transforming that wilderness and purifying the negative forces that still had their hold on the Jewish people. The cloud that preceded them as they traveled destroyed the snakes, serpents and beasts that threatened their existence. By overcoming the obstacles in the desert the Jews brought light and G-dliness into the world. The uninhabited wilderness became the dwelling place, for 40 years, of the millions of Jews who had just left Egypt, and the "unsown land" was blessed with water from Miriam's well, causing all kinds of plants and trees to flourish.

The commandment to count the Levites charged with transporting the Sanctuary, underscored and gave spiritual strength to this higher purpose -- the transformation of a wilderness into an inhabited land. This, too, is the responsibility of every Jew, in every era, no matter where he may live, to transform and elevate his surroundings by infusing them with holiness. If at times it appears that we are surrounded by insurmountable forces, we are to remember the mission with which we have been charged and the special G-dly powers we are given to accomplish it. Just as the Children of Israel traveled from place to place by Divine command, so too is every Jew, by Divine Providence, faced with precisely those obstacles and challenges he is charged with overcoming. The Torah assures us that through our actions, we can succeed in turning any wilderness into a flourishing dwelling place for G-d.

We also learn from the fact that the Levites were not counted or required to carry the Sanctuary until the age of 30, that it is never too late to try to improve oneself. Even if our behavior has been less than admirable and undisciplined -- in the category of "wilderness" -- we must never become dejected and despair of achieving our spiritual goals. Once the decision to improve is made, G-d gives us the strength to serve Him, purify ourselves, and uncover the G-dliness concealed within.


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.


On Shavuot, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, used to bless the congregation, that "we receive the Torah with happiness and inner feeling." This blessing intimates that not only does Shavuot commemorate when we were given the Torah, but also the time when we accept and "receive" the Torah.

In a talk some years ago, the Rebbe explained that our personal experiences on Shavuot should reflect both of these qualities: giving and receiving the Torah.

It was during this same talk that the Rebbe urged every Jewish man, woman and child to become a teacher of Torah. The Rebbe explained that the matter was of utmost urgency and that everyone should become a teacher of at least ten other people.

The following Shabbat, and the Shabbat after that, the Rebbe reiterated his expectation that everyone involve himself/herself in this campaign, which was a matter of immediate necessity. The Rebbe also explained that not only would the people being taught benefit from the Torah study, but that the teacher would also benefit greatly as well.

The Rebbe explained the reason for this particular call to action: the need to reach out and involve others in study groups is particularly pressing in the present age. There are hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children who lack knowledge of the elemental aspects of Torah and mitzvot. These are the last moments before the coming of Moshiach, and to prepare for his coming it is necessary to extend the knowledge of Torah, both Torah law and the inner dimensions of Torah, to as many individuals as possible.

Our Sages have assured us that an increase in Torah study will bring about increased blessings in all matters. May this also lead to the ultimate blessing, the advent of the age when, "a person shall no longer teach his colleague . . . because they will all know Me," with the coming of Moshiach and the ultimate and complete Redemption.

May it be in the immediate future!


The sixth of the Hebrew month of Sivan, the first day of the Shavuot holiday that we recently celebrated, is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the general chasidic movement.

One year on Rosh HaShanah, the Baal Shem Tov had a special soul-journey, at which time he went into the Heavenly Palace where Moshiach's soul studies Torah until that time when he will be revealed. The Baal Shem Tov asked Moshiach, "Master, when will you come?" And Moshiach answered the by-now famous words, "When your wellsprings [chasidic teachings] will spread forth outside."

Recently an acquaintance who is new to Torah study told me that he had been studying Torah via audio tape. He popped a tape with a lecture on Chasidus into his walkman and heard a discussion about the above-mentioned dialogue between the Baal Shem Tov and Moshiach.

He told me that it occurred to him that the ultimate goal of the Rebbe was not "just" to send emissaries all over the world to open Chabad Houses and bring people closer to Judaism. The ultimate objective, as far as he could tell, was to spread the wellsprings of Chasidus, thereby actually bringing Moshiach.

Bringing Moshiach has been the Rebbe's goal since his first public discourse in 1951 and even before then. Moshiach has been the ultimate goal and purpose of the foundation of the chasidic movement over 200 years ago. Moshiach is the purpose and raison d'etre of the creation of the world 5,762 years ago.

These days, immediately following the festival of receiving the Torah, the yahrtzeit of the Baal Shem Tov and the yahrtzeit of King David (progenitor of Moshiach), are especially auspicious days for Moshiach's revelation. Let us all try our best to fulfill all of the Rebbe's many directives to each and every one of us personally to prepare for and hasten the Redemption, beginning with studying more Torah, giving more tzedakah -- charity, increasing in our acts of goodness and kindness.

Adapted from Letters of the Rebbe

The Baal Shem Tov writes in a letter to his brother-in-law that on Rosh HaShanah of the year 5507/1746, his soul ascended to the heavenly realms where he was granted the privilege of entering the palace of the soul of Moshiach. He asked Moshiach, "Master, when are you coming?" Moshiach responded, "When your wellsprings [teachings] will be disseminated outward."

To this end, the Rebbe has always stressed the importance of studying chasidic philosophy and teaching it to others to hasten Moshiach's coming and to prepare ourselves for the messianic era.

What follows are excerpts of letters from the Rebbe about the importance of disseminating Chasidus.


The destiny of the teachings and the message of the Baal Shem Tov -- that they should be disseminated to the furthest reaches of the world -- must be fulfilled. Accordingly, no corner of the globe inhabited by Jews should remain untouched by this message.

And since we are now in the era in which we hear the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, who "is standing behind our wall," waiting only for the finishing touches to our refinement of this physical world, it is thus imperative that Chasidus be studied in Australia, too. This applies not only to the Russian-born chasidim who were sent there as emissaries; it should likewise permeate the local Jewish population. And since this is something that must happen, all the necessary resources will no doubt be forthcoming.

* * *

I was pleased to read of your decision to engage in the diffusion of the light of Chasidus, and so on. It is a pity, though, that you are deferring this for some time, when "behold, [Moshiach] is standing behind our wall," and is being delayed only because the wellsprings are not yet sufficiently widespread. Can anyone measure [the Jewish people's] anguish with every additional moment of exile, or [their] bliss in every additional moment of the Era of the Redemption?

* * *

It is my obligation (and my privilege) to make you aware of the great necessity of studying the inner dimensions of the Torah, which in these latter generations have been revealed within the teachings of Chasidus. And if this study is a necessity for every Jew, how much more is this true of a person who is in a position to influence others, and who is thus (in the words of the Mishnah) "himself meritorious and causes many others to attain merit." Moreover, from this affirmative statement one can infer [that the reverse is true when one does not take steps to be meritorious].

Especially in this period of the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, when "behold, he is standing behind our wall" and everyone should be prepared every day for his coming, every single individual must do his duty. For, as the King Moshiach himself stated, he will come "when the wellsprings will be widespread." Heaven forfend that the exile be prolonged, even for the shortest time, by reason of any inactivity in this task of dissemination, or even by incomplete activity. For this is an exile both of G-d and of the House of Israel, since "when they were exiled to Edom the Divine Presence accompanied them."

* * *

From the perspective of this world, today's world needs a more intense light and a greater diffusion of light, because of its lower standards (as the Sages write, "If the early generation were like angels, we are like mortals; if they were like mortals, we are like donkeys"), and because of the seriously depleted numbers of our Jewish brethren (as a result of the events of recent years).

From the heavenly perspective, year by year, in every era, a new and lofty spiritual light that has never yet radiated is drawn down to this world each year from a higher realm. This obliges us to provide additional "vessels" for this light. In this era in particular, we are coming ever closer to the time of which we have been promised, "In its time I will expedite it." This verse refers to the time of the coming and revelation of Moshiach. The "vessel" for this revelation is the light of Chasidus; the condition for this revelation is the dissemination of the wellsprings of Chasidus. It follows that this light must radiate even to places that until now were "outside" and that everywhere, vessels to contain the light of Moshiach should be expanded.


Chasidus classes are available for people of all ages and backgrounds. For information, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.


A chasid once approached the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, known as the Tzemach Tzedek, with a question. "What is the point of studying Chasidus, which deals with abstractions that no mortal mind can fully grasp? After all, when Moshiach comes even those who didn't study Chasidus will know G-d, as it says in Isaiah, 'For they will all know Me.'"

The Tzemach Tzedek replied: "A person listening to a conversation on the other side of a wall doesn't grasp everything. He only understands the general drift. But later, when the conversation is repeated in full, he understands everything he had heard previously. Every few moments he thinks, 'Ah! Now I understand all those connections and details!'

"Here, too," continued the Tzemach Tzedek, "it is true that someone who studies Chasidus grasps only part of the subject. But when Moshiach will teach it in the time to come, that person will be able to look back and say, 'Ah...!'

"And not only that, but someone hearing those teachings for the second time will understand them much more deeply than someone who will then hear them for the first time. As the above-quoted verse says, 'For they will all know Me, from their smallest to their greatest' -- and it is obvious that the understanding of a young child cannot be compared to that of an adult."

Does this sound like Greek to you? If so, consider the following. Imagine you decide to become a printer. Even before you set foot in a printing shop you start finding out all kinds of fascinating facts about printing and presses. You become an expert in paper and ink. You avidly read a book that describes in detail how a four-color press works, complete with diagrams.

The big day comes when you're going to actually see a printing press. You invite a friend to come. The friend doesn't know even a fraction of what you do about printing, but he's a good friend so he comes.

You get into the printing plant and walk over to the biggest four-color press in the building. After only a moment of surveying it, you point to something. "Ah," you say excitedly, "this is where the ink goes!" An instant later you notice a row of buttons. "Ah," you say with animation, "this is the button you push to start the press." You walk around the machine pointing to levers, buttons, and thing-a-ma-jigs that you recognize from your "four-color-press-manual." And each time, you exclaim, "Ah" -- as if to say, "I learned about it when it was all theoretical, but now I really understand."

What about your friend, though? He's probably bored since he doesn't really know heads from tails in the printing business.

According to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidus, the G-dly Light we will experience in the messianic era is a result of the quality of our performance of mitzvot and study of Torah before Moshiach's revelation.

So, a similar type of scene to the one described above in the printing shop will repeat itself when Moshiach comes. During this long exile, we study our manual -- the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah. We learn that every time we do a mitzvah it strengthens our connection with G-d, but we don't quite understand why. We read that G-d created this world -- and other worlds -- but don't really understand how. We hear about the Holy Temple and wonder how it will look.

When Moshiach comes, and everything is revealed for our physical eyes to behold, we'll say, "Ah, now I see how my connection to G-d was strengthened through performing mitzvot. Ah, now I see how G-d created the world, and I even see the spiritual worlds that exist on non-physical planes that Kabbalah talks about. Ah, I recognize all these different furnishings of the Holy Temple that I learned so much about." The "Ah" will be directly proportional to the amount of effort and study we do now, in these last few moments before Moshiach!


Vacation time is drawing near. Will you opt for a relaxing summer in a quiet cabin in a secluded spot, or something more exotic and interesting?

Whatever our vacation plans might include, most of us put much time and thought into making sure that the "time off" will be a success. We consider which clothing to take, what food to bring along (and what can be purchased locally), cost, accommodations, and much, much more.

While you're making your vacation plans, consider the following: Summertime brings with it a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. This special ambiance creates the perfect opportunity to give children and young people, in particular, a positive Jewish experience.

The huge network of day and overnight camps sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world are expert in creating just such a positive, warm, authentic Jewish environment.

Undoubtedly, in nearly every city where you might find yourself this summer, there will be a Chabad camp to which you can send your child(ren). Whether for a week or an entire summer, the Jewish experience the children will have cannot be duplicated.

So, when you're writing to the Chamber of Commerce in city X, or telephoning the visitors' information center in city Y, make sure to get in touch with the Chabad-Lubavitch representative in city X or Y and find out about their camp program. It's one part of your summer plans you'll never regret.


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 Ethics of the Fathers

We read one chapter of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers -- each Shabbat following the afternoon prayer. Pirkei Avot contain ethics and moral exhortations.

Many have the custom to continue reading these chapters throughout the summer months until Rosh HaShanah; summer is a time when people are prone to become more lax in their Jewish observances.

The Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters, but also actually studying them.


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, May 24, Erev Shabbat Parshat Nasso:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 7:54 p.m.

Saturday, May 25, Shabbat Parshat Nasso:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:03 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

Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing

"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.

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