"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Vayigash, 5763
Tevet 8, 5763
Dec. 13, 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) The auspicious date of Hei Tevet, the fifth day of Tevet
(Tuesday, Dec. 10), a day of celebration and rejoicing known as Didan
Natzach -- "Victory is Ours."
2) The fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, Next Sunday, Dec. 15.
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
22 Kislev, 5763
Brooklyn, New York
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR COUSIN
Mrs. Raizel (Rosa) bas Reb Tzvi Hirsh
Passed away on 12 Kislev, 5763
* * *
her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
The haftorah(1) for this week's Torah portion,
Parshat Vayigash states: "And David My servant will be king over
them...and My servant David will be Nasi [prince] to them forever."
As King David is alternately referred to as "king" and as "Nasi,"
it is important that we understand the difference between these two terms.
Moshiach, too, is referred to as "David." It states in the Book of Ezekiel,
"And they will serve the L-rd their G-d and David their king, whom I will
raise up to them." This is a reference to King Moshiach, who is a descendent
of King David.
In his Laws of Kings, Maimonides enumerates the various functions of Moshiach:
Moshiach will compel the Jewish people to follow Torah and mitzvot,
wage the "battles of the L-rd," rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, gather
the Jewish exiles, and bring the whole world to worship the One true G-d.
In general terms, these functions, however, are not specific to Moshiach,
but are the role of any Jewish king: to elevate the status of Judaism, and
establish righteousness and justice.
At the same time, Moshiach's "job description" is also that of teacher. Not
only Jews but gentiles will be guided by his advice and counsel, till "the
entire world will be filled with G-d's wisdom, as the waters cover the sea."
For this reason, Moshiach is also called "Nasi," the leader of the
Sanhedrin (the supreme Jewish court and legislature), whose function
was to teach Torah.
As reflected in the verse in this week's haftorah, King Moshiach will
combine both of these aspects.
Significantly, the Torah refers to Moshiach as being "king over them." A
king is on a superior spiritual level, and is therefore somewhat removed
from the rest of the people. A Nasi, by contrast, exerts an influence
on the people precisely by being close to them. By teaching them Torah, he
enables them to understand its wisdom. True, the Nasi is spiritually
exalted (the word itself is derived from the Hebrew meaning elevated), but
his basic relationship with the people is one of closeness and proximity.
For this reason, the Torah refers to Moshiach as being "Nasi to them
forever," rather than "over them."
When Moshiach is revealed and has accomplished his mission, it will not be
necessary for him to exert that much effort as "king" (i.e., wage battle
against evil), as the world is already prepared. His main function will be
as Nasi, teaching and guiding the world and disseminating Torah. It
states accordingly, "My servant David will be Nasi to them forever,"
as Moshiach's eternal reign will be characterized primarily by this quality.
1. The Haftorah is a portion from the Prophets that has a common theme
with the Torah portion of that week. The reading of the Haftorah was
instituted after a decree had been established forbidding the Jews to read
the Torah. When the decree was later abolished, the custom of reading the
Haftorah was retained.
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.
Tuesday, the fifth of Tevet (Dec. 10), is a day of celebration and
rejoicing known as Didan Natzach -- "Victory is Ours."
It is the day, 16 years ago (in 5747/1987), when U.S. Federal Court Judge
Charles Sifton rendered his legal decision on the ownership of the enormous
and valuable library of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn.
For three weeks during the previous winter, the judge had listened to testimony
concerning whether the Previous Rebbe's library was a personal possession,
subject to the laws of inheritances, or if it was the possession of
Judge Sifton was tremendously influenced by the statement of Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka, of blessed memory, daughter of the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe's
wife, that "My father belonged to the chasidim just as the books belong
to the chasidim."
There was great rejoicing on the day of the verdict, lasting for seven days.
Each evening the Rebbe spoke publicly and expounded on the spiritual
ramifications of the victory.
In one of these talks, the Rebbe said: "At the time of his imprisonment and
redemption, the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) found a Divine
lesson in everything that had occurred. One of his conclusions was the need
to increase with renewed vigor and strength the dissemination of chasidic
philosophy. The eternal Divine connection [of the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment
and subsequent release] to this event is obvious. Thus, especially because
the charge was brought against Agudas Chasidei Chabad as a living
and vital organization, we must strengthen even more the dissemination of
the teachings of our Rebbes, learning them privately and in groups amidst
great joy and enthusiasm, joy that breaks all boundaries...".
May we witness the ultimate breaching of limitations with the end of the
exile and the ultimate joy of being united as one in the true and complete
The fifth of Tevet, is the 16th anniversary of the U.S. Federal Court
ruling declaring that stolen books of the Previous Rebbe must be returned
to the library of Agudas Chasidei Chabad. However, part of the Previous
Rebbe's library still remains in Russia "in exile." To free these books,
now held captive, the Rebbe urges everyone to purchase Jewish holy books.
By following the Rebbe's advice, we can actually help create the right spiritual
climate for the release of these precious books.
On Shabbat Parshat Vayigash, 7 Tevet, 5752, the Rebbe said:
"Our efforts to show regard for Jewish holy texts will have an effect on
the future of the Previous Rebbe's library. By purchasing comparable texts,
such as the ethical and philosophical literature of Chabad Chasidus...
we can hasten the return of that library to its rightful owners. Even little
children should be given Jewish holy books as gifts" (in the hope that what
is not yet fully appreciated today will be studied before long).
Next Sunday, Dec. 15, is the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, and we
neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until
40 minutes after sunset.(2)
This fast day commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of
the First Holy Temple.
The strength -- both of the obligation to fast and its positive influences
-- of the Tenth of Tevet stems from the fact that it commemorates
the first of the tragedies associated with the destruction of the Beis
Thus, this date begins the process of destruction. It is well known that
the beginning of any process contains more power than the subsequent stages
and for this reason, there is added power to the Tenth of Tevet. The
positive influences of the Tenth of Tevet are connected to the fact
that a fast day is a "day of will" when our prayers and teshuvah are
more willingly accepted by G-d.
As we are taught that "the beginning is wedged in the end," and the ultimate
"end" purpose of the destruction of the Holy Temples will be the rebuilding
of the Third and Eternal Holy Temple, the Tenth of Tevet is an auspicious
day to hasten the coming of the Redemption.
Of course, our most fervent prayer is that the Tenth of Tevet not
be a day of mourning, but be turned into a day of celebration and joy with
the coming of Moshiach. Thus, by our immediate decision to increase our acts
of goodness and kindness, our performance of mitzvot, study of Torah,
and specifically the giving of charity, which brings the Redemption closer,
we are showing G-d that our actions are in consonance with our heartfelt
prayers. May the realization of those prayers happen in the immediate future.
2. In New York City, at 5:09 p.m.
5 Tevet, 5736/1976
In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions in connection with
the forthcoming Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, in view of the situation
in and around Israel --
You will surely be instructed by the rabbi of your congregation. However,
since you have also approached me in this matter, I will set forth at least
several suggestions -- after the following introductory remarks:
Regrettably, there are people who claim that it is necessary to think and
act "big," in terms of global dimensions and stupendous undertakings, etc.
Surely they mean well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical
and are actually carried out -- they are very helpful in improving the situation.
Yet, we must never overlook -- indeed, rather greatly emphasize -- the so-called
"small and unsophisticated" things that each modest congregation, moreover
each individual, can and must do -- beginning with the old, yet ever-anew,
Jewish way, collectively as one people and also as individuals. This is the
action of "the voice is the voice of Jacob" -- Torah and prayer -- which
G-d Himself has shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the
power of "the hands of Esau" -- in whatever shape or form they are raised
Certainly this should find the fullest expression in a day that the Shulchan
Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) declares to be a day of fasting, one to which
the prophet Isaiah refers to as a "chosen fast...a fast and time favored
Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the Fast of the Tenth of
Tevet is specially connected with the Holy Land and the Holy City
of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem), my suggestion -- in addition
to the regular "observances" on fast days, as set forth at length and in
detail in Poskim [halachic adjudicators] and in books of Musar
and Chasidus -- is as follows:
During this day -- expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening
of the Holy Land, materially and spiritually, and for the material and spiritual
benefit of all Jews wherever they are -- in the Holy Land as well as in the
Diaspora -- and particularly for the benefit of our brethren behind the "Iron
Curtain"(3) -- a special effort should be made in the areas
of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah (charity).
Especially after prayer (both in the morning and at the afternoon service)
one should learn (and where there already are daily study groups, to add)
a subject in Torah, including final ruling of Jewish law. Immediately following
the prayers, even before learning, one should say several chapters of
Psalms (in addition to the regular portion).
Before and after praying -- one should give tzedakah (in addition
to the regular donation), including tzedakah for a sacred cause or
institution in the Holy Land, the "Land of Living."
Needless to say, one who repeats the above again and again in the course
of the day is to be praised.
And the more one does it (in quantity and quality), the more praiseworthy
And, as in all matters of holiness, it is desirable that all the above be
done b'tzibbur (with at least a minyan).
May G-d accept, and He will accept, the prayers and supplications of Jews
wherever they are.
And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise be fulfilled that "These
days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness," with the true
and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
3. This letter is dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976. Ed.
The Holy Temple lay in ruins, its resplendent beauty plowed under by the
conquering Roman Legions. The remnants of the population were in despair.
The Talmud relates that four great rabbis were walking along a road
in The Land of Israel. Suddenly they heard a rumbling sound rising from the
distance. One rabbi inquired of the others, "What is that noise?"
"That is the sound of a multitude of Romans far away in the distance," replied
Three of the rabbis began to weep; the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, began laughing.
The others were surprised by their colleague's reaction and asked, "Akiva,
why are you laughing?"
He countered: "Why are you three crying?"
They said: "Here we see that the Romans, who worship idols and burn incense
to them, are living in safety and prosperity. And we [who worship the true
G-d], the House which is G-d's footstool [the Holy Temple] lies burned in
fire. Why shouldn't we weep?"
Rabbi Akiva replied: "That is precisely why I'm laughing. For, if this is
the lot of those who violate the will of G-d, how much more joyous will be
the future for us Jews who do His will?"
On another occasion the same four Sages were traveling together to Jerusalem.
When they reached the point of the Mount of Olives, they tore their clothes
[in mourning] as is prescribed by Jewish law. Proceeding further they arrived
at the desolate Temple Mount, and as they gazed toward the Holy of Holies
-- where the sacred incense had been offered to the Al-mighty -- they saw
a fox emerging. Three of the rabbis began to weep at the sight of the degradation
of the holy place. Rabbi Akiva, however, laughed. They turned to Akiva and
asked, "Why are you laughing?"
He asked in return, "Why are you weeping?"
They answered him, "This is place of which it is written, 'And the stranger
who approaches will surely die.' Yet, now we see foxes strolling about. Why
should we not weep."
Replied Akiva, "That is precisely why I am laughing. In the prophecy of Uria
it says, 'Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem
will be desolate and the Temple Mount will be a forest.' The prophecy of
Zecharia says, 'Aged men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.'
"Before I saw the prophecy of Uria fulfilled I worried that the prophecy
of Zecharia would not be realized. But now that I have witnessed the fulfillment
of the first, I know surely that the second will come to pass as well."
They turned to him and said, "Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva you have
Why all this hubbub about Moshiach? Why the constant talk, classes, publicity
campaigns? Isn't focusing on it once a year -- when we say, "Next year in
Jerusalem" at the Passover seder -- enough? Or once a week, as on
Shabbat, which is sort of a taste of the Messianic Era? Or, let's
say, even three times a day in our prayers? Isn't that enough?
By way of explanation, there is a story about Reb Mendel Futerfas, the
mashpia, spiritual advisor of the Lubavitcher yeshivah in Kfar
Reb Mendel was imprisoned in Soviet prisons for 14 years. He spent most of
his free time in prayer and study. Nevertheless, he was not totally aloof
from the non-Jews who shared his lot, and spent a few hours a day in conversation
Included in this group were many types of people: political idealists, university
professors, and many ordinary people jailed for "crimes," of which neither
they nor others understood the criminal nature.
In the latter category was a circus performer whose claim to fame was his
feats as a tight rope walker. He and Reb Mendel had a standing argument.
For this was before safety nets had become standard circus practice, and
Reb Mendel could not understand why a person would risk his life walking
on a rope extended several stories above the ground. "There must be," Reb
Mendel maintained, "some hidden ropes holding you in case you slip."
The tightrope walker, for his part, maintained that there was no need for
ropes. It was not all that dangerous. A person began practicing on low ropes
and once he gained experience, the chance of falling was minimal.
The argument continued for years until, after Stalin died, the prison authorities
relaxed their rules slightly. Several months prior to May Day they allowed
the prisoners to prepare a makeshift circus in celebration of the day. The
circus performer suddenly came alive, becoming the center of attention in
the prison. He organized various performances, with the highlight of the
show his tightrope walk.
He made sure that Reb Mendel was in the audience. As the drums began to beat,
he climbed the pole and approached the line. His first steps were somewhat
hesitant; after all it had been several years since he had walked the ropes,
but after a few seconds, he felt at home.
It all came back to him. He began to twirl a hoop and wave to his friends.
As he reached the end of the rope, he hesitated for a moment, made a fast
turn, and then proceeded to the other side. On his way back, he exuded confidence
and performed several stunts. After he reached the end of the rope, he climbed
down and ran to Reb Mendel.
"You see, no ropes holding me up," he gleamed in satisfaction.
"Yes, you're right, no ropes," agreed Reb Mendel.
"You're a smart man," the performer continued. "What is the trick? Is it
in the hands, the feet?"
Reb Mendel paused to think. "You moved your hands freely and it appeared
that your footwork was not the determining factor."
After reviewing the scene in his mind several times, Reb Mendel said, "It's
the eyes. At all times, your eyes were riveted on the opposite pole."
The performer nodded in agreement, "When you see your destination in front
of you, you know where to put your feet."
What is our destination that we must concentrate on and keep constantly in
front of our eyes so that we don't lose our balance as we walk the tight
rope of life? It is Moshiach and the Messianic Era for which we Jews have
hoped and prayed for 2,000 years. It will bring a world of peace and unity,
material and spiritual prosperity, and a knowledge of G-d and G-dliness never
before experienced. It is the ultimate purpose -- destination, if you will
-- for which the world was created.
Keeping your eyes riveted on Moshiach and the redemption is the only safe
way to walk the tightrope.
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.
The Fast of Tevet 10:
"In addition to the regular observances of fast days... expressly for the
sake of the security and strengthening of the Land of Israel, materially
and spiritually... a special effort should be made in the areas of Torah
study, prayer and charity... specifically: to learn or add to one's learning
after the morning and afternoon prayers; to say several chapters of
Psalms after the prayers (even before study); to give charity before
and after prayers, including charity for a sacred cause or institution in
(From a Letter dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976
-- the full text is printed above)
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. 13, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayigash:
Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 4:11 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14, Shabbat Parshat Vayigash:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:16 p.m.
4. 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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