"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Re'eh, 5763
Menachem-Av 24, 5763
August 22, 2003
A Tribute to Reb Mordechai Staiman obm
This week's issue is sponsored
in part by:
Mitzvahland - One Stop Judaica Shop
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, the 352nd
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
It is with tremendous pain and sorrow that we once again dedicate this issue
of Living With Moshiach to the loving memory of our dear friend and
copy editor, Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul Staiman, who passed away, on Tuesday,
22 Tamuz, 5763 (July 22, 2003).
Reb Mordechai Staiman was a very kind person, who gave tirelessly from his
time and effort for the success of our organization "Torah Publications
For The Blind," and this publication "Living With Moshiach" in
Reb Mordechai Staiman has been a prolific writer, editor, publicist, and
copywriter for over thirty six years. His articles have appeared in many
publications including, The Jewish Press, Wellsprings, The
Algemeiner Journal, N'Shei Chabad, Beis Moshiach,
Chabad, Country Yossi Family Magazine, and L'Chaim.
He also published 5 books.
He will be dearly missed by all very much.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.
* * *
A web-site has been established in the loving memory and also featuring the
works of Reb Mordechai Staiman. You can find it at:
In this week's issue we focus on:
1) Chof Menachem-Av, the 20th of Menachem-Av, Monday, August
18 -- when we commemorate the 59th yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father,
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok.
2) This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of
Elul,(*) therefore this week's issue focuses on
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 of blessed
memory, 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
19 Menachem-Av, 5763
Brooklyn, New York
*. Rosh Chodesh Elul is celebrated on Thursday, August 28, and Friday,
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR FRIEND AND COPY EDITOR
Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul
Passed away on 22 Tamuz, 5763
Elul And Parshat Re'eh
This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Elul, a particularly
auspicious month that possesses a unique dimension. For during this month,
G-d is especially close to us and we are granted an extraordinary capacity
for teshuva -- "return."
As every Torah portion has particular relevance for the time of year in which
it is read, let us examine the connection between the month of Elul
and the Torah portion, Re'eh, which we read this Shabbat.
Our portion begins with the words, "See! This day I give to you a blessing
and a curse." Every word in this verse contains an allusion to the special
nature of the service of the month of Elul, and the Divine assistance
we are given to fulfill it.
"See!:" The first thing a Jew must do is to open his eyes. Our sense
of sight affords a much more definitive verification of facts than does our
sense of hearing; when a person sees something with his own eyes he cannot
be dissuaded. A Jew's G-dly service must be performed with this same level
of absolute confidence and conviction.
But how are we, mere human beings living in a physical world, supposed to
attain this level? G-d provides the answer in the next word of the verse:
"I" ("Anochi"): The word Anochi relates to the Essence
of G-d, an aspect of G-dliness that is higher than Names. The reason we are
able to achieve these lofty spiritual heights is because the power to do
so is derived from this highest of Sources. The Torah continues:
"Give:" G-d gives us this Divine assistance according to the principle
of "He who gives, gives generously;" His gifts are bestowed willingly and
in great abundance.
"To you" ("Lifneichem"): This word is related to the Hebrew
word penimiyut, meaning "inside" and "within." The special boost we
receive from G-d during Elul is not superficial, but involves the
sum and substance of the Jew and enables him to connect with G-d on the deepest
"This day:" Lest anyone think that this Divine assistance is granted
only once, the Torah tells us that G-d's help is ongoing, enabling us to
serve G-d with renewed strength every day of the month.
And how are we to properly utilize this added dimension in our service?
"A blessing and a curse:" This refers to the observance of the Torah's
positive commandments and the avoidance of its prohibitions.
Directing our added capacity for teshuva in these two directions will
result in a good and sweet new year and a favorable inscription in the Book
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 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.
By Rabbi Alexander Zushe Kohn(1)
"Mordechai the Jew" ... sought the good of his people and spoke for the
welfare of all of his seed." I can think of no more succinct description
of Reb Mordechai Staiman o.b.m. (who passed away on 22 Tamuz, 5763 / July
22, 2003), than this verse from the Book of Esther. Like the legendary Mordechai
of Shushan, Mordechai Staiman sought to inspire Jews with a love for their
heritage and their people. That's why he wrote Niggun, a book about
the power of Jewish song, and that's why he wrote Diamonds of the Rebbe,
a book about famous Jewish personalities whom the Rebbe inspired to greater
spiritual achievement. Waiting for the Messiah tells the story of
our people's yearning for the Redemption, and Secrets of the Rebbe
describes how Chabad's Mesirus Nefesh activities on behalf of Russian
Jewry led to the fall of the Soviet Empire. Mordechai's latest masterpiece,
which hit the stores just a few months ago, is called His Name is Aaron,
and its amazing stories will warm even the iciest of hearts with the fire
Mordechai saw himself as an emissary of the Rebbe in every sense of the word.
Instead of using his unique writing skills to create a New York Times
bestseller -- which he could have a done on a Monday afternoon -- he devoted
himself to bringing the joy of Judaism and Chassidism to as many Jews as
possible. In addition to his Jewish bestsellers, Mordechai sent numerous
articles to many Jewish publications, copyedited all editions of the weekly
Living with Moshiach digest (for the blind and visually impaired)
for free, edited Chassidic Stories Made In Heaven,
prepared a rough draft of a Moshiach encyclopedia, and, for a number
of years, proofread L'Chaim Weekly.
Mordechai once related how on the night of Yud-Tes Kislev, 5753, when
the Rebbe appeared on the balcony for six consecutive hours, he and his friend,
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov were laboring to prepare the first "blind" Chanukah
issue for the printer the next morning. The temptation to go and bask in
the Rebbe's light was very powerful. But they didn't go, because Mordechai
maintained the Rebbe would tell them to sacrifice their noble aspirations
for the sake of another Jew -- all the more so for the sake of many Jews,
some of whom would be learning about Chanukah, and about Chassidism, and
about Moshiach for the first time in their lives.
"Even the Gentiles liked him," notes a close friend of the Staimans. "He
would say nice things to people whom you and I would be afraid to talk to,
and this generated an atmosphere of peace between the Jews on the block and
their gentile neighbors."
Mordechai was forever trying to make people smile. When I first met him,
a decade ago, he cracked some good humored jokes with me, and for the next
ten years he didn't stop. This was especially amazing considering that Mordechai
suffered his own fare share of pain, and could easily justify being miserable.
I remember visiting him at home after his heart surgery. The minute I
saw him, I could tell that he was in a lot of pain. He whispered that
he can't really talk because he's very weak. Then he said, "One minute,
I'll be right back." He went into a back room and emerged with pad and
paper in hand. He then proceeded to interview me -- not without managing
a few good-hearted wisecracks in-between questions -- about a subject he
was planning to write about in one of his upcoming books.
So, the next time you think of Reb Mordechai Staiman, go ahead and make a
Jew smile; tell a Jew a Chassidic story; sing a Jew a Niggun. And
if you don't know how, let Mordechai himself do it for you. For though Mordechai
will be sorely missed, "he has left us the writings," (to paraphrase
the fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer, at the time of his
passing), which will continue to inspire Jews all over, until the last page
of history has been written.
A web site has been established in the loving memory and also featuring the
works of Reb Mordechai Staiman, o.b.m. You can find it at:
1. Rabbi Alexander Zushe Kohn is the founder of the Chassidic Writing Center.
He can be reached at: Zushe@juno.com,
or at 718-771-7290.
Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and Ontario. Tens of millions
of Americans were affected by the worst power outage in history, some for
a few hours, others for days.
A prime teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chasidism, is that everything
we see and hear is a lesson for us in how to lead more Jewishly-oriented
lives. What lesson, then, can be garnered from the power outage of this past
On the Saturday following Thursday's Blackout, in synagogues throughout the
world, the Torah portion read was "Eikev." The portion begins "And
it will come to pass -- eikev -- when you listen to these ordinances...
G-d will keep His covenant with you."
In explaining these opening words, our Sages comment that the ordinances
referred to here are "simple" mitzvot; commandments that a person
might trample under his heel ("eikev" in Hebrew). The commentator
Rashi further explains, "If you follow commandments of seemingly 'minor
importance' -- that one tramples with his heels -- then G-d will fulfill
all of His promises."
On a beautiful summer afternoon in August, utilities that we take for granted
-- electricity, and for some water -- disappeared without warning, albeit
Computers, cell-phones, microwaves -- electronically powered devices for
work and play -- were useless. Modems and means of communication, unless
one had an old-fashioned telephone-cum-cord, were nearly nil.
We have come to take technology for granted. These "simple" appliances and
equipment powered by "simple" electricity, simply did not work.
And so, perhaps the power outage took place in precisely the week of the
Torah portion of Eikev to remind us of how truly important even the
simplest of mitzvah is and not to take it for granted. Putting a coin
in a charity box each day (except Shabbat and holidays), looking for
the kosher symbol when going grocery shopping, lighting Shabbat candles
at the proper time; let's not minimize the importance of any mitzvah.
Another point to ponder. Within hours of the power going out, once terrorism
and sabotage had been dismissed, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Michigan and
Ontario were all being cited as the possible cause of the catastrophe to
the denial of officials in each of those locations. That, as well as claims
of "Third World" power grids and an archaic power system, got people even
hotter under their already hot (sans air-conditioning) collars. One politician,
however, noted that rather than wasting energy on placing or denying blame,
the business at hand was to get the power back on.
Here, too, we can learn an important lesson. A well-known Jewish teaching
states, "Half the cure is knowing the illness." It goes without saying that
the source of the problem needed to be sought out. But the placing of blame,
the accusations, the denials -- at this time and at any time in life -- is
truly a power outage, an energy output, with absolutely no point. We'd all
be much more comfortable if we remember that, the next time we get into an
The most obvious lesson of all that can be gleaned from the recent outage
is the realization that being connected is of utmost, vital importance. As
soon as power plants lost their connection to the main power source, the
situation turned bleak (and eventually black). So too with our connection
to our Jewish power source: We are enjoined to be actively involved in our
Jewish communities; We are directed to be connected continuously to our source
of inspiration and life, the Torah; And we are charged with the awesome
responsibility and privilege of having a direct connection with G-d through
prayer and mitzvah observance.
Let's empower ourselves Jewishly by connecting to these lessons from the
Blackout of 2003.
On Monday, August 18, is Chof Menachem-Av, the 20th day of the Hebrew
month of Menachem-Av. On that day we commemorate the 59th
yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, known
affectionately as Reb Leivik.(2)
A Torah prodigy from his early youth, he was granted rabbinic ordination
by some of the greatest rabbis of his time. A great scholar, teacher, and
community leader, much has been written about his books, commentaries and
letters, which he wrote under most unusual circumstances. Very little, however,
has been written about his great personality, partly because few who knew
him survived the Russian conditions and the war. Partly, too, because his
is an enigmatic personality whose essence it is difficult to grasp, for there
was a certain simplicity about him that belied his inner grandeur.
He was an outstanding scholar in Kabbalah, an area that is "closed"
even to most accomplished scholars. His knowledge of Kabbalah was
quite unusual in that it was not just a theoretical or esoteric scholarship,
but had practical application. Not that Reb Leivik used it to perform miracles,
although some earlier great kabbalists had demonstrated that that was possible.
He used it to better understand various halachic and talmudic passages and
coincidences that are usually not included in ordinary scholarly discussions.
Reb Leivik was concerned with these minute "abandoned" phenomena in Torah.
He knew the reasons and the explanations so well and so clearly that the
reader of his works cannot help marveling as he learns the Torah secrets
that are revealed on every page of our sanctified texts.
Reb Leivik was also able to explain various events that transpired in his
life according to Kabbalah. When he was imprisoned in 5699/1939, for
teaching Judaism in Stalinist Russia, he was moved from prison to prison
and from city to city.
This is only one of the many rare aspects of this great tzaddik. A
man who, suffering great thirst and hunger because of water and food scarcities,
took the small ration of water and used it to wash and sanctify his hands,
a man who, after standing in a breadline with other prisoners during a famine,
came home and cried that he wasted so much time waiting for a tiny piece
of chametz, instead of preparing for the impending festival of Passover
-- this was Reb Leivik.
Throughout his entire stay in prison, in fact, Reb Leivik's greatest anxiety
was not food, clothing, or shelter, but paper and ink. His greatest need
was to write, to reveal more and more secrets of Torah so that others might
share and draw inspiration from the depths and beauty of the words of our
That urge to give of what was dearest to himself -- his kabbalistic Torah
insights -- he expressed in the long talks that he delivered at every occasion.
But in prison and in exile he was in isolation; this exacerbated his suffering
and made his need to write down his thoughts even stronger.
When he was blessed with his Rebbetzin's arrival to share his exile
-- a long and excruciating episode recorded in detail in her diary -- he
was extremely happy with the holy books she was able to bring with her. Even
before, though, he had quoted from them in his writings, citing exact chapter,
His joy at getting his beloved books was doubled, now, for besides being
able to study them, he would use their margins to write his insights, which
poured forth in tremendous volume. But he lacked ink, which was unavailable
in the area. Thanks to his Rebbetzin's genius and devotion, some ink
was manufactured from local herbs and plants.
Reb Leivik's unpretentiousness is also found in his writings, where he almost
never uses the style common to most scholars.
Reb Leivik made his comments directly, without any remarks or apologies,
without elaborating on the difficulty inherent in the quoted passage. But
what he said in his commentaries and in his letters is so profound and so
brilliant that one can feel justifiably proud just understanding it. One
must be a substantial scholar to merely comprehend even his simpler remarks,
let alone to question or analyze them.
While Reb Leivik accepted the Divine will that allotted him suffering Soviet
incarceration, he was not depressed or paralyzed spiritually. On the contrary,
he flourished spiritually under the most adverse conditions. Reb Leivik
concentrated on accomplishing the utmost in Torah learning and interpretation.
Chasidic philosophy teaches that from the nature of the reward for a
mitzvah we may glimpse the meaning of its essence. This is perhaps
true of people; from their reward we may perceive their greatness. Reb Leivik's
reward is his son, the present Rebbe.
2. He was the great-grandson of the third Rebbe, and was born on
Nissan 18, 5638/1878. He served as Chief Rabbi of the city of
Dnepropetrovsk (Yekatrinislav) in the difficult years of communistic, anti-Jewish
persecution. He was arrested in 5699/1939, and then exiled to Asiatic Russia
where he endured terrible suffering for his staunch, uncompromising stand
on all matters of Jewish religious observances. He passed away
Menachem-Av 20, 5704/1944, while still in exile.
This Shabbat we bless the Hebrew month of Elul, and we celebrate
Rosh Chodesh Elul, on Thursday, August 28, and Friday, August 29.
In addition to being the name of a Jewish month, the word Elul is
an acronym for five verses from the Bible which are connected to the five
different types of service, each identified with our new month.
The Rebbe enumerated these five verses:
Prayer -- "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." For it is through
prayer, the "duty of the heart," that our relationship with G-d is enhanced
Torah study -- "It chanced to happen and I set aside for you a place."
This verse describes the Cities of Refuge to which a person who killed
unintentionally can flee. But it also refers to Torah study for "the words
of Torah provide refuge."
Deeds of Kindness -- "A person [gives presents] to his friends and
gifts to the poor." In this verse the concept of deeds of kindness is clearly
Teshuva -- "And G-d your L-rd will circumcise your heart and
the hearts of your descendants." For the service of teshuva -- returning
to G-d wholeheartedly, is primarily the service of changing one's inner self,
the feelings of one's heart.
Redemption -- "And they said, 'We will sing to G-d'" This phrase is
taken from the Song of Redemption sung at the Red Sea.
The first three services are identified with the three pillars of man's service.
These services must be permeated by the service of teshuva and by
the service of redemption and thus, they will be endowed with a boundless
quality that surpasses the limits of a person and the world at large.
A Month of Mercy
In the generation of the Exodus from Egypt, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three
The first was to receive the Torah.
The second was to plead with G-d for His forgiveness, after the Jewish people
sinned in worshipping the golden calf.
Then, on the first day of Elul -- the month immediately preceding
Tishrei -- Moses ascended the mountain a third time, to invoke G-d's
abundant mercy for our complete atonement.
He remained there for forty days, until Yom Kippur, when G-d
cleansed us completely, as though we had never sinned.
Since then, these days are marked as a special period of Divine grace, during
which our sincere prayers are sure to find favor in the eyes of G-d.
* The Shofar(3) is sounded every weekday morning,
except on Shabbat, and the last day of Elul, Erev Rosh
HaShanah(4) (Friday, September 26).
* Psalm 27 is added to the daily morning and afternoon prayers.
* It is customary to give additional charity each weekday.
* During the entire month of Elul we greet friends with the traditional
blessings of, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year."
It is customary to send friends and relatives New Year's greetings with blessings
for the coming year.
* It is customary to have our mezuzot and tefillin checked
to make sure they are still fit.
* To be more careful about keeping kosher.
* Beginning Saturday night, September 20, and on the following weekday mornings
until the eve of Rosh HaShanah, Selichot(5) (special
penitential prayers) are recited.
* Elul is an appropriate time to reflect on our actions and attitudes
of the previous year, and resolve to correct our shortcomings. We increase
our good deeds and try to be more meticulous in our observance of those
mitzvot that we already perform.
* * *
Why do we do all of this in the month of Elul? Can't it wait until
we're closer to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur -- most of us "work"
better under pressure anyway!
These questions can be explained by a beautiful parable given by Rabbi Shneur
Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch:
Once each year, a very mighty king leaves his palace, his guards, his finery,
and goes out into the field to meet with his subjects. At that time, they
can ask of him anything they wish. They do not need to wait in long lines,
go through security checks, be announced ceremoniously. They can speak with
him without hesitation. When the king returns to his palace, his subjects
will once again have to go through all kinds of protocol to meet with him.
So, of course, his subjects make the most of the opportunity.
During the month of Elul, G-d is "in the field." We don't need to
go through all kinds of red tape to reach Him. We need only to come out to
meet Him, as it were, with a humble heart, and He will listen to us. He will
accept our repentance and consider our requests most carefully.
The King will soon be in the field. Make sure not to miss this opportunity.
3. Maimonides explains that the shofar is blown as the means of stirring
the Jew to repentance. He says the call of the shofar is: "Awaken,
you sleepers, from sleep, you slumberers from slumber; search your actions
and return in penitence."
4. To differentiate between the shofar sounding of Elul, which
is custom and that of Rosh HaShanah, which is prescribed by the Torah.
5. The Sephardic custom is to recite them during the entire month of
Elul. According to the Ashkenazic custom, they are recited beginning
on the Saturday preceding Rosh HaShanah after midnight and thereafter each
morning until Rosh HaShanah.
The most important principle in the Torah is the protection of Jewish life.
It's more important than Shabbat, more important than holidays, even
fasting on Yom Kippur.
Right now, in Israel, and everywhere, Jews must stand together in unity and
do whatever possible to protect Jewish life.
The Rebbe taught that there are ten important
Mitzvot we can do to protect life. See what you can do:
1) Ahavat Yisroel: Behave with love towards another Jew.
2) Learn Torah: Join a Torah class.
3) Make sure that Jewish children get a Torah true education.
4) Affix kosher Mezuzot on all doorways of the house.
5) For men and boys over 13: Put on Tefillin every weekday.
6) Give Charity.
7) Buy Jewish holy books and learn them.
8) Light Shabbat & Yom Tov candles. A Mitzvah
for women and girls.
9) Eat and drink only Kosher Food.
10) Observe the laws of Jewish Family Purity.
In addition, the Rebbe also urged every man, woman and child to Purchase
a Letter in a Sefer Torah. There are several Torah scrolls
being written to unite Jewish people and protect Jewish life.
Letters for children can be purchased for only $1. Send your Hebrew name
and your mother's Hebrew name plus $1 to:
"Children's Sefer Torah,"
P. O. Box 8,
Kfar Chabad, 72915, Israel
or via the Internet, at:
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.
Facilitate an increase in Jewish education for children
A few years ago, near the end of the month of Menachem-Av, the Rebbe
"We are nearing the close of the month of Menachem-Av, a month associated
with the destruction of the Holy Temple. Removing the cause of the Holy Temple's
destruction -- 'Jerusalem was destroyed solely because the Torah study of
the children was nullified' -- will cause the effect, the destruction and
the exile, also to cease, and bring about the revelation of the Third Holy
Temple. One should assure an increase in the area of the education of Jewish
You can start by enrolling your child in a Jewish day school or afternoon
school program or giving a donation to an institution dedicated to Jewish
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, August 22, Erev Shabbat Parshat Re'eh:
Light Shabbat Candles,(6) by 7:27 p.m.
Saturday, August 23, Shabbat Parshat Re'eh:
Blessing of the New Month, Elul.(7)
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 5 of
Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:28 p.m.
6. 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.
7. Rosh Chodesh Elul is celebrated on Thursday, August 28, and Friday,
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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