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Parshat Ki Teitzei, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Elul 8, 5762
August 16, 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 Hebrew month of Elul.


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 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

3 Elul, 5762
Year of Hakhel
Los Angeles, California

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Ki Teitzei

The opening verse of this week's Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, begins "When you go forth to battle against (al) your enemies." Significantly, the Torah uses the word "al," literally "upon" or "above," rather than "with" or "against."

This contains an allusion to the ongoing "battle" every Jew must wage against his true enemy, the Evil Inclination:

A Jew might claim that it is very difficult for him to study Torah and do mitzvot, given that he lives in a non-Jewish world. Then he must also contend with his Evil Inclination, which continually tries to convince him that he doesn't need to conduct himself as a Jew. "The non-Jews don't keep kosher," the Evil Inclination says, "why should you?"

Furthermore, the Evil Inclination is a "skilled craftsman," meaning that he is very good at his job. The Evil Inclination doesn't always present himself as an enemy; in fact, he is at his most dangerous when he disguises himself as a friend. Sometimes, the Evil Inclination will even pretend to the Good Inclination, whose only desire is to improve the person's behavior. This is the worst evil one can inflict on someone, making believe he is a true friend while actually causing him harm.

A Jew might ask, "How am I supposed to protect myself from the Evil Inclination? And how can I be sure whether a suggestion is coming from the Evil Inclination or the Good Inclination?"

Then, of course, there is a more fundamental question: Why did G-d create an Evil Inclination in the first place? Wouldn't it have been better if people had only a Good Inclination, and instead of fighting negative impulses and having to overcome them, all their time could be spent learning Torah and doing mitzvot?

To which the Torah answers, "When you go forth to battle upon your enemies."

G-d tells every Jew: Yes, it is true that you will have to wage a life-long battle against the Evil Inclination. But you should know that as soon as you determine to fight him, at the very moment you resolve to wage war against your true adversary, the Evil Inclination, you will automatically be raised to a superior position. And in the same way that it is easier to vanquish a physical enemy from an elevated position, so too will it be easy to defeat the Evil Inclination, with G-d's help.

As soon as a Jew resolves to fight his Evil Inclination, the battleground is already tilted in his favor. G-d makes him stronger than his adversary, and he has nothing to fear. All of his time can then be utilized for learning Torah and doing 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.


When the king is enthroned in his palace, he is not easily accessible; audience is granted only to those who have merited his attention. But when the king is in public, anyone may approach him.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, compared the month of Elul to a time when a king, returning to his palace, passes through the surrounding fields and greets his subjects with a shining countenance.

During Elul, G-d -- the "King of the Universe" -- is available to anyone who turns to Him...and He graciously accepts our petitions and grants our requests.


The Hebrew month of Elul is upon us, a time of introspection and soul-searching. As the old year draws to a close, we take stock of our behavior and make amends for any wrongs we may have committed. In preparation for the New Year, we conduct an honest assessment of our conduct, that we may be aroused to repentance and improvement of our Divine service.

During Elul, a Jew can almost sense the difference in the air. Everyone feels an inexplicable urge to draw closer to G-d, to increase in Torah and mitzvot.

The G-dly soul that every Jew possesses automatically pulls him in the direction of holiness. However, there are two basic ways to motivate a person: the "carrot" and the "stick." Fear of punishment may yield the desired results, but it usually causes more damage than benefit.

Historically, it was against this backdrop that the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples first arose. In those days, itinerant preachers would "put the fear of G-d" into simple Jews by vividly describing the punishments that would befall them if they did not walk the straight and narrow.

The Chasidic approach, however, is the exact opposite. The Baal Shem Tov emphasized the innate worth of every Jew, the value of serving G-d with purity of heart, the immense power of prayer and the beauty of the Jewish soul.

On countless occasions the Rebbe has declared that the way to draw a Jew closer to Judaism is by spreading the light of Torah and mitzvot. "One should explain to him the greatness of being a descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...the 'only child' of the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, and that his soul is 'a veritable part of G-d Above.'"

In Elul, G-d's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are manifested with particular intensity. It should thus be a time of only emphasizing the positive and increasing our love for our fellow Jew. In the merit of our good deeds (especially the mitzvah of charity), each and every one of us will be found deserving, and G-d will inscribe us together with all the righteous, for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

...The general and essential nature of the resolution [to observe G-d's commandments] is: to order one's life, in every aspect of daily life, in accord with the purpose of man's creation. This purpose is, to quote the succinct formulation of our Sages: "I was created to serve my Master," and to serve Him with joy, as it is written, "Serve G-d with joy."

The nature and end-purpose of this service is: "to make an abode for G-d in the lowest world." This means, to conduct oneself in such a way that every detail in the surrounding world, and certainly every detail of the individual's personal life, becomes an "abode" for G-dliness. And this is achieved through the everyday observance of Torah and mitzvot which permeate every aspect of life.

All this is required of every Jew, man or woman, young or old, regardless of position and stature, as this is also indicated in the verse alluding to Rosh HaShanah: "You are standing firmly this day, all of you, before G-d your G-d: your heads... down to the drawer of your water." Every Jew, without exception, is required and expected to rise to the level of "standing before G-d, your G-d," regardless of how it was in the past year.

The question arises: How can one expect every Jew to attain such a level, and to attain it truly and with joy, considering that it has to do with an "abode in the lowest world," a world that is predominantly materialistic; a world in which Jews are -- quantitatively -- "the fewest among all the nations"; and, moreover, to expect it of the Jew when his indispensable physical requirements, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, making a living, etc., occupy the major part of his time and energy, leaving but little time for matters of spirit and holiness?

The explanation of it -- in terms understandable to all -- is to be found in the concept of bitachon, trust in G-d.

The concept of bitachon is the underlying theme of Psalm 27, which is recited throughout this month, the month of Elul, the month of preparation for the new year, and continued into the beginning of the new year, during the greater part of the month of Tishrei:

"A Psalm by David: G-d is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?" This trust in G-d, which King David expresses on behalf of every Jew, namely, complete confidence in G-d's help, embraces both the material and spiritual aspects of life, to the extent of attaining the highest level of Divine service, as is also evident from the subsequent verses of the above Psalm, down to the concluding verse: "Hope in G-d, be strong and let your heart take courage, yes, hope in G-d."

The idea of bitachon is to feel reassured and convinced that G-d will help overcome all difficulties in life, both material and spiritual, since "G-d is my light and my help." It is especially certain that everyone, man or woman, is able to carry out his or her mission in life, and do so with joy, reflecting on the extraordinary privilege of having been chosen by G-d to be His emissary on earth for the purpose of "making for Him an abode in the lowest world," and with the assurance of having G-d's light, help and fortitude to carry out this mission.

The joy of it is further increased by contemplating the nature of this help from G-d, which comes to him in a manner of "I turn to my loving G-d and my loving G-d turns to me" -- the G-d Who loves me with infinite Divine love. And this love is bestowed particularly from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur, as explained by our Sages.

Hence, during this time, as well as throughout the coming year, this extraordinary Divine love must evoke in the heart of every Jew a boundless love for G-d, as the psalmist expresses it: "Whom have I in heaven? and on earth I desire nothing but You; my flesh and my heart languish for You, O G-d." Here, too, the love and trust in G-d are underscored in all aspects of life: "in heaven" -- the spiritual, and "on earth" -- the material.

Bitachon in G-d is, for every Jew, an inheritance from our Patriarchs, as is written, "In You our fathers trusted; they trusted -- and You delivered them." It is deeply ingrained in the Jewish heart and soul; all that is necessary is to bring it to the surface so that it permeates all aspects of daily life.

In light of the rule enunciated by our Sages of blessed memory, that "By the measure that a person measures, it is measured to him," it follows that the stronger and more embracing one's bitachon, the greater, more evident, and more inclusive is the fulfillment of this truth, through the blessing that G-d bestows, materially and spiritually.


Once in a while, for safety's sake, you can and should test your smoke-detector to make sure it's working properly. This is, of course, in addition to replacing the battery when it starts beeping once in awhile. When it starts beeping all the time, for your safety and sanity, you'd better replace the battery immediately. In addition, some smoke-detectors come with information about how often they should be tested and how often batteries need to be replaced.

There's another "safety contraption" in our homes that needs to be checked periodically -- our mezuzot. It is customary and advisable to have a certified scribe check the mezuzah parchment (the actual mezuzah) during the Hebrew month of Elul. Though mezuzot don't actually come with pre-packaged instructions, the instructions should be followed all the same.

Since we are currently in the month of Elul, now is the time to check our mezuzot. It's also a good time to take a moment to learn about the place mezuzot (like smoke-alarms) hold in helping assure our safety.

The Zohar, which contains the more esoteric aspects of Judaism, explains that the effect of having a mezuzah on one's door is to provide protection by G-d from the time you leave home until you return.

This aspect of "protection" is also hinted at by the Hebrew letter shin that appears on most mezuzah covers. The shin is the first of three letters, shin -- dalet -- yud, which spell out one of G-d's names. Those letters are also an acronym for Shomer Daltot Yisrael -- Guardian of the Doors of Israel.

Finally, just as the blood placed on the doorposts of the Jewish homes in Egypt kept away the Angel of Death, so, too, the mezuzah has the effect of "not allowing the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you."

With all of the above in mind, however, we are told not to look upon the mezuzah as a charm or amulet; it is not a good luck symbol, garlic, etc., to be worn around one's neck. It is also not just a symbol or quaint ritual, to tell the outside world that this is a Jewish home. Of course, it does serve as a concrete reminder to the people living in the home, when coming in or going out, that the people in the home, in fact, are Jewish, though this is not its primary purpose.

How can we understand how the mezuzah protects us inside and outside the home and is yet not some sort of charm or amulet? A mezuzah can be compared to a helmet. A soldier wears a helmet to protect him from enemy bullets, and a mezuzah, too, protects us, our family and our possessions from harm.

Yet, "bad" things do sometimes happen to someone with mezuzot on his doors. How is this possible? If, while wearing a helmet, an enemy bullet does manage to wound a soldier, it is the enemy bullet, and the enemy bullet alone that has pierced him. The helmet provides added protection, but is not the only factor involved in the soldier's safety.

Similarly, a smoke detector offers a certain amount of protection in case of fire. However, if a fire does, G-d forbid, cause damage, it is the fire and not the smoke detector that has brought about the disaster.

Have your mezuzot checked soon.


If you don't have mezuzot or you need more, make sure to purchase them from a reputable Judaica store or certified scribe. Or call your local Chabad-Lubavitch representative for more information.

Based on the last public talk of the Rebbe
on Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel, 25 Adar I, 5752 [1992]

Though most of the world operates on a metric system for weight, liquid, cubic, square and linear measurements, the United States continues to use a system still known as the English system, despite the fact that the English switched to metric decades ago.

Years back, it was expected that Americans would gradually wean themselves off English and switch to metric; thus products produced in the U.S., even those not manufactured for export, carry both the metric and English measurements. Goods imported into the U.S. from Israel and Europe carry both metric and English designations. But for most American schoolchildren, their only familiarity with the metric system is the knowledge that soft drinks come in one, two or three liter bottles.

There is, however, another system of measurement, linear at least. And it is called the "Jewish yardstick."

The Jewish yardstick is simple to use, and it doesn't interfere with any other system of weight, liquid, cubic, square, or linear measurement.

The rules for using the Jewish yardstick are as follow: When measuring up your neighbor, friend, co-worker, relative or any stranger, judge him leniently and favorably. When measuring yourself and your accomplishments, be stringent.

In Chasidic terminology one would say: Look at another with the "right eye" -- with kindness; look at yourself with the "left eye" -- with strictness.

Such an approach is based on the commandment to "Love your fellow as yourself." Just as a person's intrinsic self-love allows him to overlook his own faults, so too, must we overlook another's faults.

In regard to our personal conduct, we strive to both push away the negative and to do good. When relating to another individual, however, the Jewish yardstick's method is to channel our energies solely into the positive path -- "Do good."

Although there may be times when someone's conduct warrants reproof, before criticizing -- even before giving "positive criticism" -- we should question ourselves as to whether we are fit to be the one to administer it. Furthermore, if reproof must be given, it should be offered gently, which will obviously enable it to be accepted more readily than harsh speech. Moreover, such words should be spoken only on select occasions.

The old saying, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," is a derivation of the Biblical verse, "One who spares the rod hates his son." Judaism indicates that rebuke and reprimand are not only important, but at times, essential. However, admonishment may be given only when the relationship between two individuals is like that between a father and son: To give rebuke, one must love the other person just as a father loves his child; additionally, the difference in level between the two people must be as radical as the difference between a father and a son. Needless to say, this does not apply in most cases.

Why is all this true? Because the ultimate value of every Jew is immeasurable.


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.

Preparations for the High Holidays:

"Our Sages state that thirty days before a holiday, we should learn the laws pertaining to it. It is already less then thirty days before the holidays of Tishrei begin and in this context, it is necessary to mention the importance of providing Jews with their holiday needs so that they will be able to celebrate Rosh HaShanah and the holidays that follow in the manner stated in the Bible, 'Eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those who do not have them prepared.'"

The Rebbe, Elul, 5750/1990


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, August 16, Erev Shabbat Parshat Ki Teitzei:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 7:36 p.m.

Saturday, August 17, Shabbat Parshat Ki Teitzei:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapters 1 & 2 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:38 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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