"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Va'etchanan, 5762
Menachem-Av 10, 5762
July 19, 2002
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
in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.
"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:
1) Shabbat Nachamu.
2) One of the most famous and colorful Chabad Chasidim, Reb Hillel
Paritcher, whose yahrtzeit is on 11th of Menachem-Av, this
Shabbat, Parshat Va'etchanan, Saturday, July 20.
3) Tu B'Av, the 15th day of Menachem-Av, next Wednesday, July
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
5 Menachem-Av, 5762
Los Angeles, California
This week's Torah portion, Va'etchanan, speaks about the
mitzvah of learning Torah, and contains the verse "...and you shall
teach them to your children, to speak in them." In general, the
mitzvah of learning Torah consists of two separate commandments: The
obligation each person has to learn Torah himself, and the obligation to
teach Torah to others, especially one's children.
Although a person might naturally think that the mitzvah of learning
Torah oneself takes precedence over that of teaching others, we find that
the opposite is true. Both Maimonides' writings and the Shulchan Aruch
(Code of Jewish Law) begin the section on the laws covering the learning
of Torah with the duty each parent has to teach his children. Why is this
the case? And furthermore, how can a person teach others before he himself
is well versed enough in the subject matter?
We learn from the emphasis on teaching children the proper approach we must
have when we begin to learn Torah, G-d's Divine wisdom and blueprint for
the world. To understand this, let us examine the difference between Torah
learning and the performance of mitzvot.
When a Jew does a mitzvah he effects a change in the physical world,
elevating and making holy the physical objects he uses in the
mitzvah's performance. The practical performance of the mitzvah
is therefore more important than the intentions and meditations of the person
doing the deed, for the action itself serves to bring spiritual illumination
into the world.
Torah learning, on the other hand, serves to refine and elevate the individual.
When a Jew studies Torah his intellect becomes united with the G-dly wisdom
contained in the Torah and causes him to be a G-dly person whose thoughts
are those of holiness. The essence of learning Torah is therefore the humility
and self-nullification one must feel before even approaching it to learn.
In order to learn Torah properly one must have the sincere desire to understand
G-d's wisdom without seeking self-aggrandizement or having other ulterior
Before a Jew learns Torah he must subjugate his own ego and ask, what does
the Torah itself want from me? Without this prerequisite, say our Sages,
Torah learning can even be detrimental and become a "poisonous drug."
Emphasizing the duty to teach our children before we ourselves learn the
Torah stresses that our goal is not merely the acquisition of knowledge,
for the mind of a young child cannot possibly grasp the greatness of what
he is learning. Our goal is, however, to cultivate and emulate the child's
purity and innocence with regard to how he learns the Divinely written words.
We must likewise approach the Torah in the same way, and not try to "fit"
what we have learned into the preconceived, jaded view of the world we sometimes
acquire as we grow older. All of us, no matter how old we are, are like young
children to our Father in Heaven.
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.
Printed in last week's issue of
See our publication:
"Laws of the Holy
The text of the book: "Seek Out The Welfare Of Jerusalem" [Analytical Studies
by the Rebbe, of Rambam's rulings concerning the construction and design
of the Holy Temple], published by Sichos in English -- is available on-line
and is divided into a special study program.
Also, for a Audio/Visual Virtual Interactive Tour of the second Bais
Hamikdosh (Holy Temple), go to:
Based on the Works of the Rebbe
The first Shabbat after Tisha B'Av, is known as Shabbat
Nachamu, after the first word of this week's Haftorah, "nachamu
nachamu ami" (Console, console yourselves, My people). It is the first
of the seven "Sabbaths of Consolation."
Our Sages explain the twofold use of the word "console": "[The Jewish people]
committed a twofold sin...received a twofold punishment...and are likewise
comforted twofold." Elsewhere our Sages comment, "Because its mitzvot
are doubled, so too are its consolations doubled."
Why this emphasis on the number two? How can a sin be twofold, anyway? Moreover,
what is meant by the statement that the Torah's commandments are "doubled"?
The terms "twofold" and "double," refer to two different dimensions. Everything
in a Jew's life -- the Torah and its commandants, the destruction of the
Holy Temple and our consolation -- reflects this duality, for everything
in the world is composed of both a physical and a spiritual component.
A Jew is a mixture of a corporeal body and spiritual soul, which together
form a complete being. A Jew is considered whole when both aspects of his
nature, body and soul, are working in tandem to serve G-d. Mitzvot,
too, are composed of these two dimensions. Every mitzvah contains
a spiritual component -- the intentions behind it, and a physical component
-- the way the mitzvah is performed.
This is what our Sages referred to when stating that the Torah's
mitzvot are "doubled"; similarly, the "twofold sin" committed by the
Jewish people refers to the physical and spiritual aspects of their
Accordingly, the punishment that followed -- the destruction of the Holy
Temple -- was both spiritual and physical. Had the destruction been limited
to the physical stones of the Temple, the G-dly light and revelation it brought
into the world would have continued as before. However, the Jewish people
"received a twofold punishment," and were chastised with a concealment of
G-dliness as well.
The Holy Temple itself reflected this duality. The Temple was a physical
structure, possessing certain limited dimensions. Yet, the G-dly light with
which it was illuminated was infinite in nature. Its destruction was therefore
a double blow as it affected both of these aspects.
When the Holy Temple is rebuilt in the messianic era our consolation will
be doubled because it will encompass both dimensions: not only will the physical
structure of the Temple be restored, but its G-dly revelation will also return.
This double measure of completion will be brought about by King Moshiach,
who possesses a perfect "composite soul" containing all the souls of the
Jewish people, and is therefore able to bring perfection to all creation.
"The teachings of Chasidus," someone might argue, "are indeed likened
to gems and pearls, but I'm not one to chase after pearls; I'm satisfied
if my clothes aren't torn."
There is an answer to this argument: "We are on the threshold of the Redemption,
so we have to get ready for the coming of Moshiach, when we will be privileged
to enter the marriage canopy together with the King of Kings, the Holy One,
blessed be He. So we will need pearls, too."
Shabbat Parshat Va'etchanan, Saturday, July 20, is the
yahrtzeit of one of the most famous and colorful Chabad
Chasidim, Reb Hillel Paritcher.
Reb Hillel was born in 5555/1795 and was married before his bar mitzvah
(!). As he was still too young to don tefillin and could only wear
a tallit, he was called "Chol Hamoed" ("the Intermediate Days
of a Festival," when tefillin are not worn). By age 13 he had already
mastered the entire Talmud, and was fluent in Poskim [halachic
adjudicators] and Kabbalah. By age 15, he was expert in the writings
of the holy Arizal.
Originally a Chasid of Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl, he became a Chabad
Chasid the first time he opened the Tanya. His lifelong dream
was to meet the Alter Rebbe, the Tanya's author and the founder of
Chabad Chasidism, but this was not to be. For years Reb Hillel trailed the
Alter Rebbe across the Pale, but never caught up to him.
One time he arrived in the city where the Alter Rebbe was expected and hid
under his bed. While waiting, he formulated in his mind the question on Tractate
Erachin that he would ask the Alter Rebbe. When the Alter Rebbe entered
the room, before Reb Hillel could even emerge from his hiding place, the
Alter Rebbe said in his characteristic sing-song: "When a person has a question
about Erachin [literally 'assessments'], he must assess himself first..."
Reb Hillel fainted, and by the time he woke up the Alter Rebbe was gone.
It wasn't until after the Alter Rebbe passed away that Reb Hillel came to
Lubavitch, where the Mitteler Rebbe enjoined him to "collect materiality
[funds for charity] and sow spirituality."
His most famous work, published posthumously, was Pelach HaRimon.
He is buried in Kharson.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.
Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe
Next Wednesday, July 24, is Tu B'Av, the 15th day of the Hebrew month
"There were no greater festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av and
Yom Kippur," the Mishnah tells us. What is so special
about the 15th of Av that it is singled out together with Yom
Kippur from all the other festivals?
A number of special events throughout Jewish history took place on the 15th
of Av. They were:
1) The tribe of Benjamin was permitted once again to marry the remainder
of the Jewish people;
2) The Generation of the Desert ceased to die; they had previously been condemned
to perish in the desert because of the sin of the spies;
3) Hoshea Ben Elah removed the blockades that the rebel Jeroboam had set
up to prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem for the festivals;
4) The cutting of the wood for the Holy Altar was completed;
5) Permission was granted by the Romans to bury the slain of Betar.
These five events in themselves do not seem adequate enough reason to make
the 15th of Av a festival greater than any other. There is another,
There is another occasion of note in the month of Av, the ninth.
Tisha B'Av is the day when the two Holy Temples were destroyed, signaling
the start of the long and terrible exile we are still enduring -- tragedies
which were the result of the Jews' transgressions. Tisha B'Av is the
nadir of Jewish physical and spiritual life.
But these tragedies are not without purpose. "Descent is for the purpose
of ascent," and the deeper the descent, correspondingly greater will be the
ascent that follows. It is specifically after the awesome decline of Tisha
B'Av that we can reach the loftiest heights, heights that would otherwise
The five festive events on the 15th of Av, then, are the counterpart
to the five tragic events of Tisha B'Av. The 15th of Av transforms
the evil of Tisha B'Av to the greatest good -- "there were no greater
festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av." The ultimate goal of the
tragedies of the month of Av is that they should be transformed into
a greater good -- the supreme festival of the 15th of Av.
The Second Holy Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred between
Jews. The events of the 15th of Av, which are the counterpart to
Tisha B'Av, all express the concept of ahavat Yisrael -- love
of a Jew.
"The tribe of Benjamin were permitted once again to marry the remainder of
the Jewish people" is obviously an expression of ahavat Yisrael. Indeed,
the very announcement that all Jewry was now united and allowed to come together
is reason enough for a festival.
"Permission was granted by the Romans to bury the slain of Betar" and "The
Generation of the Desert ceased to die" likewise emphasize the love of Jews
-- G-d's love, which was expressed in these acts of kindness to His people.
"Hoshea Ben Elah removed the blockades that the rebel Jeroboam had set up
to prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem for the festivals" allowed the
Ten Tribes of the kingdom of Israel to unite with the other Two Tribes when
they went to Jerusalem; again, the idea of unity and ahavat Yisrael.
The wood they finished cutting on the 15th was necessary for the offering
of the sacrifices on the altar. And the altar, say our Sages, "removes and
feeds, makes beloved, atones"; "removes" means "removes evil decrees from
Israel," and "makes beloved" means "makes beloved to their Father" -- again,
the idea of fostering love.
Charm And Beauty
In addition to the above reasons enumerated by the Talmud for the importance
of the 15th of Av -- all of which we have seen are associated with
ahavat Yisrael -- the Mishnah itself gives a reason: "For on
these days, the daughters of Jerusalem . . . came out and danced in the
vineyards, saying, 'Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you are choosing
for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty, but set your eyes on good family.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is naught; a G-d-fearing woman is the one to
The Talmud elaborates on this theme, and explains that "the daughters of
Jerusalem went out [dressed] in borrowed white garments, so as not to embarrass
those who had none." This is clearly the idea of ahavat Yisrael.
The common theme behind all the reasons for the 15th of Av, then,
is ahavat Yisrael, the practice of which eradicates the cause of the
exile, and therefore automatically the exile itself.
- I -
Next Wednesday, July 24, we celebrate the festive day of the Tu B'Av.
On the 15th of Av the days begin to get shorter.
In times gone by, the onset of evening meant that the workday was over. Our
Sages, therefore, encourage us to use the longer evenings for increased study
of Jewish subjects.
The exile is often referred to as "night" and the Redemption, as "dawn."
Though we are certainly in the last few moments of the long night of exile,
it sometimes seems like the "night" is getting longer rather than shorter.
Thus, the above teaching of our Sages is certainly appropriate.
Maimonides explains that in the era of the Redemption, the sole occupation
of the whole world will be to know G-d. The Rebbe suggested, therefore, that
as a preparation for that time, we increase in our studies wherever possible.
In addition, just 11 years ago, the Rebbe expressed the following thoughts
on studying matters specifically concerning Moshiach and the Redemption:
"Since Moshiach is about to come, a final effort is required that will bring
him. Every man, woman and child should increase his/her Torah study in subjects
that concern the Redemption.... One should likewise upgrade one's meticulous
observance of mitzvot, particularly charity, 'which brings the Redemption
"It would be proper for one to connect his additional charity with his additional
study of subjects connected with the Redemption, by giving charity with the
intent that it hasten the Redemption. This intention in itself becomes part
of learning subjects connected with the Redemption -- for this is a real
and tangible study of the teaching of our Sages: 'Great is charity for it
brings the Redemption near.'
"The above-described study is not only a spiritual means of securing the
speedy advent of Moshiach; it is a way of beginning to live one's life in
the mood of Moshiach and the Redemption by having one's mind permeated with
an understanding of the concepts of Moshiach and Redemption. From the mind,
these concepts will then find their way into the emotions. Ultimately, they
will find expression in one's actual conduct -- in thought, word and deed
-- in a way befitting this unique era when we stand on the threshold of the
- II -
It states in the Talmud that starting from the Fifteenth of Av, a
Jew should increase the time he devotes to nighttime Torah study. As a reward
for our additional learning, G-d extends our lives and grants us additional
Our Sages explained that the Fifteenth of Av is the date on which
the nights begin to be slightly longer and the days shorter. Generally speaking,
the daylight hours are reserved for work; at night, people have more free
time to spend as they please. The shorter the day, the more hours are left
over at night -- and nighttime is especially conducive to learning Torah.
The length of the days and nights on earth is a variable; it changes in
accordance with the movement of the sun. The days grow shorter and the nights
longer on the Fifteenth of Av when the sun's orbit begins to change.
The Talmud, however, provides us with the true reason for this planetary
phenomenon: to enable the Jew to spend more time learning Torah! For the
sake of the Jew, G-d alters the course of the sun in the sky, a cosmological
change of fantastic proportions!
How important it must be to G-d that we increase our study of His Torah,
to the point that He moves heaven and earth on our behalf!
Consider the immense size of the earth, and the sun, which is about 170 times
as large. Ponder the sun's tremendous power and energy, and the vast treasures
that are hidden in the depths of the earth. How many billions of people populate
our planet? How many animals, plants and inanimate objects? Just try to estimate
the volume of water that covers the earth, or the number of stones and rocks
that form its crust. In comparison with G-d, of course, all these things
When we are mindful that the entire universe is orchestrated by G-d for our
sake, we will learn His Torah with eagerness and enthusiasm, and express
it in actual deed.
You find the recipe, read it over, and scan your pantry to make sure you
have all of the ingredients you'll need. Then you glance at your watch to
see if there's enough time to complete the baking project.
You've done the preliminary preparations. Now it's time to gather the mixing
bowl, measuring spoons and cups and other supplies and start the actual process
of creating a culinary delight.
But, imagine baking a cake without those preliminary preparations. You take
out the mixer, spatula, measuring spoons and cup. You start reading the recipe.
One by one you add the ingredients.
Oh no! There's only one egg left in the carton and you need three. What can
you substitute? You decide to borrow eggs from a neighbor and hope that the
half-mixed batter with the baking powder already added will survive.
When you're finished, you get ready to spoon the batter into the cupcake
Oops! There aren't any cupcake liners. Scrap the idea of cupcakes; you'll
make a cake instead. You look at your watch skeptically, knowing that cakes
require more baking time than cupcakes.
If you've been there and done that, you certainly know that a little bit
of preparation and thoughtful planning can save time and aggravation in the
There is a Jewish custom to wish each other in correspondence and in
conversations: "Ktiva vachatima tova" -- may you be written and sealed
for a good year -- starting from the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month
You may well be wondering, "Isn't the fifteenth day of Av a little
early to start preparing for Rosh HaShanah? After all, it's over 6 weeks
until the New Year!"
In answer, the upcoming Jewish month of Elul, which begins in just
a little over two weeks, is the month when we prepare ourselves spiritually
for Rosh HaShanah and the entire year to follow. By the middle of the current
month, the month preceding Elul, we need to prepare ourselves for
Elul! From the fifteenth day of Av we do the preliminary
preparations and beginning in Elul we do the actual preparations for
the new year.
So, far from being way too early, now is a good time to begin making sure
we have all of the right ingredients for the new year!
When Jewish people bless each other (for the upcoming year), it is an expression
of "ahavat Yisrael" -- love and concern of one Jew for another. When
wishing another person well is done with warmth and sincerity, out of a deep
feeling of love, it is an even stronger demonstration of the mitzvah
to "love one's neighbor as oneself."
And the love and concern for another Jew expressed in our wishes for a
"Ktiva vachatima tova" hasten the realization of G-d's blessings for
the coming year.
To get the "recipe" just right for the coming year, plan ahead. If we start
now with preliminary preparations, we'll be surprised at how smoothly and
efficiently we'll be able to approach the New Year.
"The Holy Temple will be destroyed, and the Jews will be exiled from their
land!" a Heavenly voice decreed. "But the Western Wall of the Holy Temple
will not be destroyed," said G-d, "so that there should always be a reminder
that G-d's Glory resides there!"
The Jews would not forget the Holy Temple. Every year on the ninth day of
the Hebrew month of Menachem-Av, the day on which the first and second
Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, the Jews assembled at the Western
Wall. There, standing next to the only visible remains of the Temple, they
poured out their hearts over the destruction and beseeched G-d to rebuild
the Holy Temple.
The Romans, the destroyers of the second Temple, could not bear to see how
resolutely the Jews kept to their religion, and how holy they regarded the
Western Wall. The Romans hit upon a plan of how to remedy the situation;
they issued an order that all gentiles who lived in Jerusalem must dump their
garbage daily near the Wall.
Day in, day out, the heap of garbage grew. Bit by bit the entire Wall was
buried under a massive grave of garbage. The Jews mourned anew.
Many years went by. A very righteous Jew from outside of Israel came to Jerusalem
to pour out his heart to G-d over the destruction. He walked through the
streets of Jerusalem, seeking the Wall, but he could not find it. Everyone
he asked shrugged their shoulders; they had never in their lives seen the
The Jew, however, did not give up hope. Day and night he looked for the Wall.
Once, he came upon a huge hill of rubbish and wondered how so much garbage
came to be accumulated at this place. He noticed a very old woman carrying
a heavy sack on her back.
"Old woman, what are you carrying?" the Jew asked her.
"I am carrying a sack of garbage to throw on the hill."
The Jew inquired, "Do you have no place closer to home for garbage, that
you are forced to bring it here?"
"It is an ancient custom for us to bring the garbage here. Once, in this
place, there stood a huge, magnificent stone wall. The Jews regarded the
wall as holy. Their conquerers, the Romans, ordered all of the city's non-Jewish
inhabitants to dump their garbage. So generations ago, we were ordered to
cover the wall." She emptied her bundle and returned home.
The Jew wept and pledged to himself: "I will not move from here until I figure
out how to remove the garbage and reveal the Western Wall."
Suddenly an idea came to him. He began walking in the streets of Jerusalem
and whispered to everyone he met, "They say that a treasure lies buried beneath
the hill of garbage over there."
The man himself took a shovel and began digging in the dirt. A short while
later people began arriving. The whole city of Jerusalem was abuzz with the
announcement of a treasure lying beneath the hill of garbage. People streamed
to the hill with shovels and buckets. They dug for a whole day until the
upper stones of the Wall came into view. The sun set and people left, eagerly
anticipating the dawning of a new day. The Jew then took some gold coins
from his pocket, covered them with dirt and left.
Early the next morning, soon after dawn, there was an uproar at the hill.
Someone had found a gold coin. A second person found a golden coin and then
The people started to dig with even more enthusiasm. Every day they dug deeper
and deeper. Every day a few golden coins were found. But, they were certain
the real treasure lay at the bottom. The Jew spent his entire fortune on
his mission to uncover the Western Wall.
For forty days the people dug near the Wall, seeking to unearth the buried
treasure. Finally the entire Wall was cleared of garbage. They did not find
the treasure, but in front of their eyes a big stone wall loomed.
Suddenly a great storm broke out and a torrent of rain came down. It rained
for three days, washing the Wall clean of any traces of dirt. When the people
came out to see what they had unearthed, they saw a handsome wall with huge
stones, some as tall as ten feet high.
On the spot where the earth from which Adam was formed was gathered by G-d's
"hand," where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed, where the first Holy
Temple built by King Solomon stood, and the second Holy Temple built by Ezra
and Nechemiah stood -- on this very spot the third and final Temple will
be built, when Moshiach comes.
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, July 19, Erev Shabbat Parshat Va'etchanan:
Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 8:05 p.m.
Saturday, July 20, Shabbat Parshat Va'etchanan:
Shabbat Nachamu - see above.
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 3 of
Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:13 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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