LIVING WITH MOSHIACH
Weekly Digest About Moshiach
Parshat Shemot, 5765
Tevet 19, 5765
Dec. 31, 2004
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
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"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 404th
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on the Rambam, whose yahrtzeit is on
Shabbat Parshat Shemot, Sat., Jan. 1, 2005.
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
17 Tevet, 5765
Los Angeles, California
In honor of
Rabbi & Mrs. Yosef Yitzchok and Gitel Rochel
On the occasion of our wedding,
Sunday, 13 Nissan, 5764
"These are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt," begins
this week's Torah portion, Shemot. The Midrash explains that
the names of the Twelve Tribes that follow, enumerated when they made their
descent into the land of Egypt, are mentioned in connection to the Jewish
people's eventual redemption from that land.
We see that the narrative that follows tells of the beginning of the Jews'
servitude, seemingly the direct opposite of their liberation and redemption.
What is the meaning of this apparent contradiction?
Secondly, another opinion in the Midrash states that the names of
the Twelve Tribes are mentioned to emphasize that they descended into Egypt
with the names Reuven, Shimon ... and ascended after the redemption with
these very same names. The emphasis is on the merit of the Jewish people,
that throughout the Egyptian exile, they did not change their names.
The implication of both these passages is that one must understand the descent
into Egypt as a phase in the redemption of the Jewish people, and indeed,
as connected with the ultimate redemption that will take place with the coming
of Moshiach. In that context, the obligation to recall -- and relive -- the
exodus from Egypt every day serves as a catalyst to bring about Moshiach's
The Jews' redemption from Egypt, the first of their four exiles, "is a great
fundamental principle ... of our Torah and faith," according to our Sages.
That first redemption represents the opening of the potential for all future
redemptions. The freedom which was granted at that time continues at all
In a spiritual sense, the exodus from Egypt represents the liberation of
the G-dly soul from the limitations of the body, and in general, of the triumph
of the spirit over the limitations inherent in the material world. Our obligation
to remember the Exodus every day therefore consists of the following:
1. Every day, each of us must strive to go beyond his own personal boundaries
2. Our obligation to recall the Exodus at night, refers to carrying out our
service of G-d during the long "night" of our exile; and
3. We will also be obligated to recall the exodus from Egypt after Moshiach
comes, even though the final redemption will far surpass the one that took
place in Egypt. The potential for evil will be totally eradicated, and the
Jewish people will never again be exiled.
In fact, the entire period of time from the Egyptian Exodus until the Future
Redemption is described as "the days of your exodus from Egypt," for the
exodus which began in Egypt will not be complete until the ultimate redemption
In practical terms, one must therefore anticipate the redemption and experience
a foretaste of it in our daily lives, by bringing a consciousness of Moshiach
into all our actions, for doing so will act as a catalyst and hasten the
actual coming of the redemption.
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.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR FRIEND AND COPY EDITOR
Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul
Passed away on 22 Tamuz, 5763
"From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses." The first Moses
to which this quote refers was the great prophet and Jewish leader, Moses.
The second was Moses Maimonides, otherwise known as the Rambam, an acronym
for Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon. Born on the day before Passover, 1135, in Cordova,
Spain, the Rambam passed away on the 20th of Tevet, 1204 (this year,
Shabbat Parshat Shemot, Sat., Jan. 1).
Maimonides was known in the Jewish world as a great talmudist and scholar.
He served as chief rabbi of Egypt, the land to which he moved in his early
thirties. He authored numerous books and treatises, including The Guide
for the Perplexed, a commentary on the Mishnah, and the Sefer
HaMitzvot (Book of Mitzvot).
20 years ago, the Rebbe urged all Jews to study every day a section of the
Rambam's magnum opus, Mishneh Torah (a code of Jewish law), or at
least the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot. Today, the Mishneh Torah,
or the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot, is studied daily by hundreds of thousands
of Jews -- men, women and children -- around the world.
The Rambam's fame and influence transcended the Jewish world. He was also
internationally acclaimed as a philosopher and physician. In fact, he served
as royal physician to the court of Saladin. He authored over fifteen works
on the theory and practice of medicine, including one on asthma and another
When the Rambam passed away, he was mourned by Jews and Moslems alike in
Egypt, and Jews throughout the entire world. He was buried in the holy city
of Tiberias in the northern part of Israel. By studying his works we can
be united with his spirit.
* * *
A few years ago, the Rebbe discussed the following concepts:
"The name Rambam is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "I will
multiply My wonders in the land of Egypt," an allusion to the wonders associated
with Redemption. Similarly, the Rambam's spiritual service involved giving
Jews in Egypt -- in the night of exile -- a foretaste of the Redemption.
"Firstly, he lived in Egypt and it was there that he composed his magnum
opus, the Mishneh Torah (a code of Jewish law). As he explained in
his 'Introduction,' the Mishneh Torah was composed because of the
difficulties of exile, as the Jews were unable to derive halachic rulings
from the Talmud and needed an auxiliary source. Nevertheless, the text that
the Rambam composed gave the Jews a foretaste of the Redemption -- reflected
in the fact that it includes laws that will only be relevant in the Era of
the Redemption when the Holy Temple will be rebuilt and in the conclusion
of the text that focuses directly on the Era of the Redemption.
"Since, on the yahrtzeit of a tzaddik, 'the totality of his
deeds, teachings, and service is revealed and... "brings about salvation
in the depths of the earth,'" it follows that the Rambam's yahrtzeit
grants us further potential to anticipate the Redemption.
"The above is particularly relevant in the present age when the Jewish people
have completed the service required of them in exile. Everything is ready
for the Redemption. All that is lacking is for G-d to open the eyes of the
Jews and allow them to realize that they are sitting at the feast of the
The Rebbe concluded: "There is no need for any further delay, and without
any interruption we shall soon proceed from the present era to the era of
the Redemption. The very next moment can be the last moment of the exile
and the first moment of that era. As a catalyst for this, we must reflect
an attitude of Redemption in our lives, showing how even within the exile,
we can experience Redemption."
The Rambam is probably best remembered for his encyclopedic codification
of all 613 commandments of the Torah in his magnum opus, the Mishneh
In the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam enumerates and details all of the
613 laws of the Torah. He places the laws relating to the Jewish king, and
Moshiach, at the very end of his work. In the introduction to these laws
he states that the Jews were commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon
conquering and entering the land of Israel: To appoint a king; to kill the
descendants of Amalek; and to build G-d's Chosen House, the Beis
HaMikdosh, in Jerusalem.
It would seem that these mitzvot should have been mentioned much earlier
in his work if they were, in fact, so important! However, the Rambam chose
to organize the Mishneh Torah in this fashion to emphasize that the
true and complete performance of all the mitzvot of the Torah will
be attained only when a king rules over Israel. The Rambam then defines Moshiach
as a king, who will not only redeem the Jews from exile, but also restore
the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot to their complete state.
For many, this would seem a rather novel approach. Yet, the Talmud states
that "the world was created solely for Moshiach." This being the case, we
certainly must do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for Moshiach's
What is within the power and reach of each individual, great and small? Good
deeds, charity, studying concepts and laws associated with Moshiach and the
Final Redemption, fostering peace between family, friends and co-workers,
and actively waiting for and anticipating his arrival each and every day.
The following story is told about how it was "decided" where the Rambam's
final resting place should be:
People from all over gathered in Egypt to attend the funeral of the great
Rambam. When the procession was over, a discussion erupted as to where to
bury him. The Rambam had only requested to be buried in the Holy Land. No
mention was made as to which city should be his final resting place.
Representatives of different cities in the Holy Land came forward, each one
arguing that the Rambam should be buried in their city. Because no solution
to the problem at hand was in sight, everyone agreed to begin taking the
coffin toward Israel, hoping that along the way they might come upon a solution
for this problem. The coffin was perched atop a sturdy camel and, with hundreds
joining the caravan, made its way toward the Holy Land.
One of the most difficult and dangerous parts of desert travel was the constant
fear of being overtaken by one of the many bands of highway robbers who attacked
As it began to get dark, the pace of the caravan quickened. Everyone hoped
that they would find a relatively safe place to camp for the evening. Their
fears were well founded though, for within a short while, the sound of hoof
beats were heard, coming closer and closer. "We're being attacked," cried
out the leader of the caravan. Many of the people panicked and scattered
in different directions. A few remained with the coffin to guard it. But,
they, too, were frightened away as the gang of vicious bandits came charging
The bandits approached the camel with the coffin. They assumed that the box
contained a huge treasure since so many people were guarding it. As much
as they tried, though, the box could not be taken off the camel.
"Grab the camel's reins," shouted the leader of the bandits. "We'll take
it with us." Their efforts met with no success, and they could not get the
huge animal to budge.
"Open the box," commanded the leader.
One of the gangsters swaggered over to the box and began to pry off the lid.
"There's a body in this box," he shrieked, as he ran away. The other bandits,
too, became frightened at the thought of a dead body in a box in the middle
of the dark desert and quickly made their exit.
Upon seeing that the bandits had left, the people from the caravan made their
way back toward the camel. But, to their surprise, the camel began moving
determinedly, as if it had a specific destination in mind.
The caravan leader cautioned the other people not to go near the camel. "It
seems almost as if something is guiding the camel. Let us see what direction
it takes." Soon it was obvious that the camel was heading straight for the
border of Israel.
The caravan followed from a distance. By now, everyone was certain that the
problem of where to bury the Rambam was solved.
After reaching the borders of Israel, the camel continued to travel steadily.
It came to the city of Tiberias in the northern part of the country. It continued
on through the narrow streets of the city until it suddenly stopped and knelt
down on the ground.
The people understood that this was the place where they should bury the
Rambam. Carefully, they removed the coffin from the camel's back and placed
it on the ground, then immediately began digging the grave. All who witnessed
this strange event were amazed to see the wonderful miracle.
The people of the city of Tiberias built a beautiful structure over the spot
where the Rambam was buried. And every year, on the anniversary of his passing,
thousands of people from all parts of the world come to visit his holy grave.
A businessman who wants to double his capital first has to invest it in
merchandise, and then, empty-handed, await his profit. In the same way, only
by being dispersed empty-handed among the nations of the world can the Jewish
people ultimately arrive at their great profit -- the exalted revelation
of Divine light which will take place imminently in the true and complete
Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
The prophet Isaiah said concerning the Era of Redemption, "For the world
will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean."
The main difference between now and the Era of Redemption will be our knowledge
and awareness of G-d. This is reflected in the fact that the Hebrew word
for exile, "gola," shares the same letters as the Hebrew word for
redemption, "geula," with one exception: "Geula" possesses
the letter alef -- one. It stands for G-d, "Alufo shel olam --
the L-rd of the world." Chassidic philosophy explains that there is more
than a passive similarity involved. The addition of the alef actually
transforms exile into redemption.
* Adapted from the essay, "From Exile to Redemption," published by
Sichos In English, 788 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213.
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 teaches 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.
Study the Rambam's works daily:
"In honor of Rambam's yahrtzeit we should reinforce our study of the
Rambam's works according to the three-pronged plan of study: three chapters
or one chapter a day in the Mishneh Torah, or the parallel portions
of Sefer HaMitzvot. Not only should one study these works himself,
he should also influence others to do so."
(The Rebbe, 21 Tevet, 5752)
One can study the daily 3 or 1 chapters in the Mishneh Torah and/or
the daily lesson in Sefer HaMitzvot, via the Internet, except on
Shabbat or yom tov, at:
The daily portion of Sefer HaMitzvot is also available electronically
via the Internet.
To subscribe, go to:
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. 31, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shemot:
Light Shabbat Candles,(1) 4:21 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 1, Shabbat Parshat Shemot:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:27 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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