LIVING WITH MOSHIACH
Weekly Digest About Moshiach
Parshat Bechukotai, 5765
18 Iyar, 5765
May 27, 2005
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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 417-425th
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
It is with tremendous pain and sorrow that we dedicate this issue of Living
With Moshiach to the loving memory of a dear friend of our family, Rabbi
Yechezkel Halevi ben Reb Chaim Binyomin Halevi Brod, who passed away on the
first day of Pesach, 15 Nissan, 5765.
Rabbi Yechezkel Halevi Brod, was an exemplary Chasid, and a role model
for our children and all of us.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.
We'd like to hear from you. Tell us your comments, suggestions, etc. Write
to us, or E-Mail via Internet.
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
23 Nissan, 5765
Los Angeles, California
The opening verse of this week's Torah portion, Bechukotai, "If you
will walk in my statutes," is explained to mean that a Jew must labor hard
in his study of Torah.
A question is asked: Why does the Torah connect the commandment to study
Torah diligently with G-d's statutes? The answer is found when we take a
closer look at the Hebrew word for "statutes" itself.
The phrase "In my statutes," "Bechukotai," comes from the Hebrew word
meaning "to engrave."
There are two ways in which letters may be written. One way is with ink applied
to parchment (or any other material); another way is to inscribe them in
stone. When letters are written, the ink and the parchment remain two separate
entities, even though the act of writing unites them, to a certain degree,
on the same page. Nonetheless, the letters do not become part and parcel
of the material on which they are written.
When letters are carved into stone, by contrast, the letters and the stone
are inseparable. Each letter comes into being at the exact moment it is inscribed
and can never be erased or obliterated.
The Torah commands us to learn Torah in a manner of "inscription." A Jew
who studies Torah must be so connected to what he is learning that he and
Torah unite and form a single entity, just like an engraved letter does not
exist prior to its inscription and can never be erased. We must learn Torah
so diligently that its holy words become permanently chiseled into our souls.
The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of
Chabad-Lubavitch and the founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy and
the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, in his Chasidic work, Likutei Torah,
explains that the literal translation of "Im bechukotai teileichu"
is "If in My statutes you will walk." When a Jew studies Torah in a manner
of "engraving," he merits a reward -- that he "will walk." G-d promises that
if we truly apply ourselves to learning Torah we will never be immobile and
stationary, but will progress and ascend ever upward, perpetually increasing
our understanding and connection to G-d. A Jew whose soul is united with
the Torah is thus ensured that he will always rise up the ladder of spiritual
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
"Some people are apprehensive about having the Redemption arrive so suddenly.
What will come of all the businesses that they have set up, the property
and possessions they have accumulated, the friendships and the contacts that
have been established, and so on?
"They need not worry. The Redemption does not imply the annulment of the
natural order nor the loss of the good things that came into being (in the
spirit of the Torah) during the exile. Indeed, these very things will be
comprised in the Redemption, and will be elevated to a state of Redemption,
to the level of their true consummation."
(The Rebbe, 5751/1991)
Shabbat Parshat Kedoshim, Sat. the 28th of Nissan (May 7),
is an anniversary of sort. It is 14 years to the day when, in the course
of a rather unexceptional public gathering, the Rebbe changed his tone and
his topic and emotionally shared the following:
"Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing
question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Moshiach
has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.
"It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews
gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come,
they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately.
They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will
not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the
day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.
"Even when people cry out 'Ad mosai -- Until when will we remain in
exile?' they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent
and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come
"What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry
out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach? All that has been
done until now has been to no avail, for we are still in exile; moreover,
we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.
"All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything
you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.
"May it be G-d's will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn
enough to resolve to secure G-d's consent to actually bring about the true
and ultimate Redemption, here and now, immediately. Their stubborn resolve
will surely evoke G-d's favor, as reflected by the interpretation of the
verse, 'For they are a stiff-necked people; You will pardon our sins and
wrongdoings and make us Your possession.'
"I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May
it be G-d's will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will
appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you
actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption.
May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and gladness of
* * *
Far from "passing the buck" or throwing up his hands in defeat, from that
day forth, the Rebbe continued, with increased vigor and enthusiasm, to discuss
the imminence of Moshiach's arrival and to offer suggestions what we could
do to get ready for the Redemption.
In fact, the very next Shabbat, the Rebbe said:
"Every Jew, man, woman and child, has an individual responsibility to add
to his service with the intent of bringing about the actual coming of Moshiach.
One should not try to shift the burden of responsibility to others. Rather,
each person should recognize his individual responsibility.
"This service must involve an increase in the study of the Torah, both hidden
and revealed and an increase in the performance of mitzvot in a beautiful
and conscientious manner . . .
"In addition to making such increases oneself, one should also influence
others to make similar increases. And all of this should be suffused with
yearning for and expectation of Moshiach's coming.
"May our resolutions to involve ourselves be successful and bring about the
coming of the ultimate Redemption."
There has always been one central theme in all of the Rebbe's talks: the
Throughout the years, the Rebbe suggested various projects to hasten the
coming of Moshiach and to prepare for that eternal era of peace and tranquility.
But, upon declaring that "the time of your Redemption has arrived" in 5751/1991,
the Rebbe repeatedly stressed a number of practical activities to prepare
ourselves and the world for Moshiach.
One activity is to increase in Torah study about Moshiach and the Redemption.
Concerning this the Rebbe said, "Since Moshiach is about to come, a final
effort is required that will bring Moshiach. Every individual -- man, woman
and child -- should increase his Torah study in subjects that concern the
Redemption. This applies to the Written Torah and the Oral Torah -- in the
Talmud, Midrashim as well as (and especially) in the mystical dimension
of the Torah, beginning with the Zohar and particularly in
Chasidus... This study is a foretaste and preparation for the study
of the Torah of Moshiach... An increase in Torah study in these areas is
the 'direct way' to bring about the revelation and coming of Moshiach in
Another activity to prepare for Moshiach is to upgrade one's observance of
mitzvot (commandments) particularly charity. Said the Rebbe, "One
should likewise upgrade one's meticulous observance of the mitzvot,
particularly the mitzvah of tzeddakah (charity) which 'brings
the Redemption near.' It would be well to make one's increased contributions
with the intent that it hasten the Redemption. This intention in itself becomes
part of one's study of subjects connected with the Redemption -- for this
is a tangible study of the teaching of our Sages, 'Great is charity, for
it brings the Redemption near.' "
Surely, by implementing these suggestions we will imminently see the realization
of the Jewish people's prayers throughout the millenia, the coming of Moshiach,
Is the so-called "Moshiach Campaign" a Lubavitch invention? At a gathering
on Shavuot 5745/1985, the Rebbe spoke about people's perception of
the desire for Moshiach as an "innovation" of Lubavitch. The Rebbe said (freely
"Someone wrote to me recently that he met a religious Jew... and [was] asked,
'Why do Lubavitchers cry out and proclaim, "Moshiach Now!" '
"The person who wrote the letter wasn't sure what to answer the other Jew
and therefore was writing to me for an answer.
"It is mind-boggling that the letter-writer didn't know what to answer the
other Jew! But to answer the question:
"Belief in Moshiach and awaiting his coming -- 'I believe in the coming of
Moshiach... I wait every day that he should come' -- is one of the 13 fundamental
principles of the Jewish faith as enumerated by Maimonides.
"Every Jew requests in each of the three daily weekday services, 'Speedily
cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish... for we hope for Your
salvation every day.' And each day, including Shabbat and holidays,
in the three prayer services, we beg, 'May our eyes behold Your return to
Zion in mercy!'
"After all of this, there are those who say that the request that we go out
of exile to the Redemption -- 'Moshiach Now,' -- is a 'novel' idea of Lubavitch!"
The Rebbe quoted a verse from Psalms, "As the deer longs for the springs
of water, so does my soul call out in thirst for You G-d." The Rebbe explained
that this verse emphasizes our great pain over the exile and our desire and
longing for the Redemption. This desire is not just that we want "Moshiach
Now," but much more: In the same way a person who hasn't had water for a
long time thirsts for it in order to revive his soul, so should our thirst
for the Redemption affect our lives literally.
May our cry of "Moshiach Now!" be filled with a true thirst for the Redemption
that will reunite us with the Rebbe and bring the Redemption NOW!
Tuesday, May 10, is the second day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar; therefore,
let's consider just two of the numerous points about the unique quality of
Iyar, as spelled in Hebrew, is an acronym for the verse, "I, G-d,
am your Healer." Thus, this month is an auspicious time for personal and
In addition, the Rebbe stressed many times the special quality of every single
day of the month of Iyar, as each day has its own special
mitzvah of sefira, or "counting."
The first time the Jewish people counted during this period between Passover
and Shavuot was when they left Egypt and were preparing themselves
to receive the great gift of G-d's Torah at Mount Sinai. At the time they
were on a journey not only toward Mount Sinai and ultimately the Holy Land,
but they were also on their own personal journeys of self-refinement and
In future years "sefira" was connected to the counting of the
omer, a measure of barley that the Jews brought as an offering in
the Holy Temple on the second day of Passover.
Even as we await the rebuilding of the Third and eternal Holy Temple, we
recite the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah of counting the
omer each evening from the second night of Passover until the eve
of Shavuot. And as we do so, we, too, travel on our own personal journeys
of self-refinement and purification, thereby drawing holiness into this world,
and preparing it for the arrival of Moshiach.
This, then, is the essence of part of the uniqueness of the month of
Iyar. Each day in this month has the mitzvah of counting (as
compared to the previous month of Nissan and the next month of
Sivan, which only have a few days with this mitzvah). And each
day is filled with the longing and preparation for the giving of the Torah.
Similarly, each day brings with it renewed introspection and the desire for
character refinement and purification.
May we complete our personal and national counting in the Holy Temple with
* * *
Counting the omer teaches us that every day counts. It reminds us
that each hour, each minute, should be filled with words, thoughts and deeds
of which we can be proud. And, too, that we are held accountable for every
precious second of life with which our Creator has blessed us.
"But, hold on a minute!" one might silently shout. "I'm just finding out
about this now. I've already missed out on making the past 20 days (or 20
years) count. What can I do to rectify the situation?"
The answer to this heartfelt cry lies in the uniqueness of the month of
Iyar and the mitzvah with which it is intertwined. Each day
holds a separate mitzvah, a unique opportunity, a particular mission.
True, you might have passed up prior chances, but today's and tomorrow's
minutes and hours are still available for you to fill with meaningful moments.
And by making our days count from now on, we can, in truth, rectify that
which we were missing in the past.
The Rebbe has spoken often of how important the Land of Israel is to the
Jewish people.(1) At a gathering in 5750/1990 the Rebbe
spoke about the importance of maintaining possession of every inch of the
"Just as the Jews are G-d's chosen people, Eretz Yisrael [the Land
of Israel] is G-d's chosen land, a holy land given to the Jewish people,
those living on the land at present, and those who are presently living in
"No one is entitled to give up any portion of Eretz Yisrael to gentiles.
Maintaining possession of these lands is the only path to peace. Succumbing
to the pressure to surrender them will only invite additional pressure, weakening
the security of the Jewish people and exposing them to danger. Heaven forbid
that the government in Eretz Yisrael should consider surrendering
any portion of Eretz Yisrael that G-d has granted us."
The Rebbe's approach to Eretz Yisrael could almost be described as
that of "L'chatchila Ariber." L'chatchila Ariber means, "to begin
with, go over."
This concept was innovated by the fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi
Shmuel, known as the Rebbe Maharash, whose birthday is celebrated
on Wednesday, Iyar 2 (May 11).
The approach of L'chatchila Ariber teaches that if we come upon an
obstacle to a task we are involved in, or an obstacle to a mitzvah
or project or good deed which comes our way (or we pursue), we should overcome
the obstacle in the most direct manner. The Rebbe Maharash explained
that while some people propose that when confronted with an obstacle the
best route is to go around, or under it -- l'chatchila ariber -- from
the start, go over it.
In these auspicious days, of the Rebbe Maharash's birthday and following
it, may our pursuit of Torah and mitzvot be in a manner of
"l'chatchila ariber." Surely this fortitude and persistence will have
its desired effect, true peace in the Land of Israel, and throughout the
entire world, with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!
* * *
The Rebbe Maharash mentioned this concept -- which has been the constant
battle cry of Lubavitch outreach workers all over the world -- in reference
to one who finds himself faced with an obstacle. "The whole world says, first
try to go under or around an obstacle. If this doesn't work, then go over
it," the Rebbe Maharash noted. "But I say, 'In the first place, go
over,"' he declared.
What does it mean to go over an obstacle right away rather than trying another
method to pass an obstruction? In confronting obstacles to all good endeavors,
one should take the most ambitious and aggressive approach. One cannot remain
passive, hoping that the situation will change by itself or that the obstruction
will magically disappear. It must be approached as a challenge. And, as such,
it should be afforded one's utmost attention and energy.
In addition, when working at overcoming obstacles, we have to keep uppermost
in our mind only positive thoughts and the image of the endeavor successfully
accomplished. For this, too, will aid in our ultimate triumph and success.
1. See "EYES UPON THE LAND" - The Territorial Integrity of
Israel: A Life Threatening Concern. Based on the Public Statements and Writings
of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Adapted by Rabbi
Eliyahu Touger (1997: Sichos in English). http://www.truepeace.org/book.html
See also: REBBE'S VIEWS http://www.truepeace.org/rebbeview.html
"People think," the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, explained,
"that the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael -- loving one's fellow
Jew, means that you love the other person as much as you love yourself. They
have it all wrong. It means loving yourself as much as you love the other
Long before modern psychology focused on self-esteem, Judaism taught the
importance of loving and accepting ourselves. For it is only when we love
ourselves that we can properly love our family, friends, co-workers, and
even the cashier with the attitude. (Loving ourselves does not mean being
egotists, nor does accepting ourselves mean allowing bad character traits
to remain unchecked or unchanged. But that's another article!)
How can we foster self-love? We can start by studying and internalizing the
first words that a Jewish child is taught. "Torah Tzivah... -- the
Torah that Moses commanded to us is an eternal inheritance to the Jewish
We have been given a precious gift from G-d -- the Torah. The moral, ethical
and spiritual teachings flowing from the Torah are ours to dip into and relish.
We have the ability to grow and change by bringing these teachings into our
lives. They were tailor made for us by G-d, who loves every Jew as a parent
loves an only child born to him in his old age.
The Torah is eternal and its teachings are eternal; G-d's love for every
single Jew is also eternal. G-d loves us! Surely we can love ourselves!
From "Torah Tzivah" we go on to "Shema Yisrael... -- Listen
Jews, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One." These words are not merely a
declaration of monotheism. They acknowledge that G-d is everywhere and affirm
a basic Jewish teaching that G-d is good. There is nothing disconnected from
G-d and everything G-d does is ultimately good. (We can hope, though, that
the "good" is something that we recognize and appreciate.)
Every Jewish teaching is a lesson in how to foster self-love. In Chapter
Three of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers, Rabbi Yishmael instructs
us to "Greet everyone with joy." Extrapolating from the Previous Rebbe's
words above, this means that we should greet ourselves with joy! When awakening
we should say "Good morning" to ourselves with gusto. If we "lose" it, once
we're back to normal, we should offer ourselves a hearty "Welcome back."
Loving ourselves has nothing to do with what we do, who we are, how much
money we make or how we look. It is loving what we are at our very core.
And essentially, we are all sparks of G-dliness, sparks of the same One G-d.
So when we love ourselves, we truly love everyone else.
Sunday, Iyar 13 (May 22), is the 53rd yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's
youngest brother, Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib.
The following is a brief biography, written by Rabbi Shimon Silman.
Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib (known affectionately as "Reb Leibel") was a Torah
scholar of the highest caliber. He was a fascinating personality, totally
devoted to the study of Chasidus, which he learned with legendary
As a young man, Reb Leibel was a member of the household of the Previous
Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, in Petersburg for several years.
He was very popular among the chasidim, who approached him with difficult
questions in Talmud and Chasidus. At that time he began studying
mathematics in the academies of Petersburg where he organized groups of Jewish
youth to learn Torah and observe mitzvot.
In the 1940s, Reb Leibel moved to Israel and married. He continued his research
of mathematics and spent long nights studying Chasidus.
In 1948 he accepted a position in the Department of Theoretical Physics of
the University of Liverpool in England. In this position he continued his
research in mathematics and theoretical physics until he passed away on 13
Iyar, 5712/1952. He is buried in Safed, Israel.
Pesach Sheni, means the "Second Passover," and is observed one month
after the first Passover.
Until the destruction of the Holy Temple, any Jew unable to bring the Passover
sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan -- either because he was ritually
impure, in a distant place, was prevented by unavoidable circumstances, or
even if he intentionally did not bring it -- could bring it on the 14th of
Pesach Sheni was instituted the year after the Jews left Egypt while
they were still in the desert. Before Passover of that year, G-d again commanded
our ancestors to bring the special Pascal sacrifice. However, some of the
Jews had become ritually impure in their desert travels and thus were not
permitted to bring the offering.
They protested and posed a question to Moses and Aaron, crying: "Why are
we kept back, that we may not offer the offering of the L-rd in its appointed
season among the children of Israel?" And G-d told Moses that all those who
were unable to bring the offering on Passover could bring it one month later.
This date became known as the Second Passover.
They could have left well enough alone. After all, our Sages have taught,
"If a person intended to perform a mitzvah and circumstances prevented
him from it, it is regarded as if he had performed it!" Since they were forcibly
kept from performing the mitzvah, they were still rightfully entitled
to its reward.
But that wasn't enough for them. And due to their protest and great desire
to fulfill this mitzvah to its fullest potential, they and all future
generations were rewarded with "Pesach Sheni."
The complaint of the Jews to Moses and Aaron, "Why are we kept back..." teaches
us an important lesson in how we are to approach those mitzvot that
we currently can not perform because we are still in exile.
Why, G-d, are we kept back from offering the sacrifices in their right time?
Why are we kept back from seeing Your glory revealed?
Why are we kept back from performing each mitzvah to its optimum,
as each mitzvah is incomplete while we are in exile?
Let us also not be content with the words of our Sages, that if we desire
to perform these mitzvot it is enough. Like the Jews in the desert,
let us rally together and cry out to G-d, "Why are we kept back...bring the
true and ultimate Redemption that You promised us!"
And may G-d immediately heed our heartfelt cries as He did those of our
Monday, Iyar 14 (May 23), is Pesach Sheni, the "Second Passover."
It is customary on Pesach Sheni to eat matzah (together with
bread), in commemoration of the day.
The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, wrote: "The theme of
Pesach Sheni is that it is never too late! It is always possible
to put things right. Even if one was ritually impure, or far away, and even
in a case when this impurity or distance was deliberate -- nonetheless it
can be corrected."
It's never too late! We can always make up for a past misdeed, omission
or failing through sincere desire and making amends.
It's never too late! What an inspiring and optimistic thought! There's
always a chance to improve, to become better, to learn and do.
This is truly a motto worth memorizing (and hanging on the refrigerator).
Rather than muttering about yourself or another person, "You can't teach
an old dog new tricks," realize that it's never too late.
You didn't put on tefillin yesterday? Today's a new day and it's never
You didn't light candles for Shabbat last Friday night? Do it this
week; it's never too late.
You never went to Hebrew school, so you can't read Hebrew? Enroll in an adult
education course; it's never too late.
You never knew that Judaism had so much to offer? Now that you know, do something
about it, because it's never too late!
From Pesach Sheini we learn that a Jew must never despair. No matter
how spiritually estranged from Judaism a Jew may be it is never too late;
G-d will always give him a "second chance." It is always possible to correct
This also teaches how important it is to repeatedly implore G-d to bring
about the Final Redemption. The initiative must come from us. Again and again
we must beg Him until He relents and sends us Moshiach.
For when Jews ask, G-d heeds their request, and Moshiach will indeed arrive
speedily, in our time, and at once.
On the third day -- twice blessed with
"It was good" -- of the weekly portion
of [Parshat Emor] Counting the Omer, 5735 
To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere
G-d bless you --
The auspicious day of Lag B'Omer is approaching, the day of Rabbi
Shimon Ben Yochai's [known as "Rashbi"] simchah [rejoicing];
the day of which it is said: "On this day it is a mitzvah to celebrate
Rashbi's simchah, and for those living in the Holy Land --
to go to his grave and rejoice there greatly."
This year [5735/1975] Lag B'Omer significantly occurs on (Tuesday)
the day on which the Creator expressed His special satisfaction by repeating
"It was good" twice -- an allusion to two "goods": good to Heaven and good
to the creatures.
It is, therefore, surely an auspicious time -- the day of Lag B'Omer
itself, as well as the days immediately preceding and following it, which
respectively serve as preparation for, and first-fruits of, Lag B'Omer
-- to rejoice greatly with the simchah of mitzvot, especially
mitzvot that combine both "goods," good to Heaven (man's duties to
G-d) and good to the creatures (man's duties to man). This includes, of course,
the mitzvah of encouraging Jews to do mitzvot (or do them more
devoutly), as this effort of spreading the observance of any mitzvah
is also an act of loving-kindness.
And since influence in this direction generally -- indeed, inevitably --
involves quoting words of Torah and instructing in the laws of the particular
mitzvah, it comes under the mitzvah of Torah-learning and
Thus both -- the effort to encourage Jews to do mitzvot, and the manner
of this effort -- are mitzvot of "good to the creatures."
Hence it is an opportune occasion to remind everyone, again and again, that
which has been urged for some time now, in regard to active promotion of
the observance of mitzvot. Indeed, in light of the relevancy to
Rashbi and Lag B'Omer, the special Mitzvah Campaigns
that have been stressed lately(2) assume
an added significance, as follows:
Torah Campaign -- since the Torah was the vocation of Rashbi
and his colleagues;
Tefillin Campaign -- concerning which it is said in Rashbi's
Book, the Zohar, that tefillin is a G-dly crown, and one who
adorns himself with this "Supernal Sacred Crown" is given the title of King
of the Earth, companion to the King in Heaven, the Holy One blessed be He.
Mezuzah Campaign -- the Zohar says: "When a person affixes
a mezuzah at the entrance to his house... he adorns himself with his
Master's crown and keeps evil things away from his door."
Tzeddakah Campaign -- of which it is said in the Zohar: "Whoever
shows heartfelt compassion for the poor... rules over all creatures of the
House Filled with Sacred Books -- of Torah and Tefillah (Prayer)
-- of which it is said in the Zohar: "That studying Torah and worshipping
G-d, command everybody's respect and awe."
Candle-lighting to usher in the holy Shabbat -- of which Rashbi
declares that it is a sublime honor for her (who lights the candles)... to
be blessed with children... who will foster peace on earth, etc.
May G-d grant that through the said activities, in the spirit of all that
has been said above, and within the framework of commitment to Torah and
mitzvot in the daily life, beginning with the Torah Campaign (both
the Revealed and Inner Torah), thereby removing the cause of the protracted
Exile, namely, bitul Torah (neglect of Torah) -- we will see the
realization of "G-d is my King since the days of old, working salvation in
the midst of the earth."
And will soon merit the true and complete Redemption through the Melech
Then it will come to pass that "None shall any more have to teach the other...
for all will know Me," as Rashbi explains, since everyone will be
filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and valor, knowledge
and fear of G-d.
2. In subsequent years the Rebbe added the following Mitzvah
Campaigns: Family Purity and Kashrut, in 1975; Love
of a Fellow Jew and Jewish Education for Children, in 1976;
Letter in a Torah Scroll, in 1981; Study of Maimonides' Mishneh
Torah, in 1984; and Intensification of the Moshiach Campaign, in
Friday, Iyar 18 (May 27), is Lag B'Omer. Lag B'Omer
is the 33rd (lamed-gimel, hence lag in Hebrew) day of the
Omer period (between Passover and Shavuot), is the anniversary
of the passing -- yahrtzeit -- of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (commonly
known by the acronym of his name, Rashbi), author of the Zohar.
Rashbi lived in the 2nd century b.c.e. He openly criticized the Roman
government and was forced to go into hiding. He and his son hid in a cave
and immersed themselves in Torah. Emerging after 13 years he founded an academy
in the Gallilee. His esoteric teachings were recorded by his disciples in
the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. On his
yahtrzeit on Lag B'Omer, tens of thousands gather at his tomb
in Meron, in northern Gallilee.
Before his death, Rashbi instructed his students to rejoice on the
day of his yahrtzeit. The Holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria -- one of
the greatest scholars in the mystical aspects of the Torah -- taught the
great virtue of rejoicing on that day. Later the Baal Shem Tov and
his followers strengthened the custom of rejoicing on the yahrtzeit.
According to tradition, rainbows (a symbol of G-d's promise to never send
another flood) were not seen while Rashbi was alive because his merit
alone was enough to protect the world against the calamity of a flood. Since
"rainbow" and "bow" are both called keshet in Hebrew, the custom developed
for children to play with bows and arrows on Lag B'Omer.
"It is recorded in the holy Zohar that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was
told, "With your book [the Zohar] the Jewish people will go out of
exile with mercy." This means that by studying the Zohar, along with
the explanations of Chasidus, we will merit the true and final Redemption,
very very soon."
(The Rebbe in a talk at the Lag B'Omer Parade, 5750/1990)
As in previous years, parades and outdoor events in honor of Lag B'Omer
will take place on Friday, Iyar 18 (May 27), around the world. Organized
by local Chabad-Lubavitch Centers, programs usually include live family
entertainment, bonfires and an all-around good time for all.
For a Lag B'Omer program in your area, contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch
Lag B'Omer is a day of rejoicing and festivity. It is the anniversary
of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, who
proclaimed the day of his passing as a day of celebration.
The celebration of Lag B'Omer has an effect on the entire world, even
non-Jews, as Rabbi Shimon stated: "I can free the entire world from judgment..."
-- "the entire world" includes non-Jews as well. He was able to do
this because, as Chasidus teaches, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was one
of those unique individuals who were actually above the exile, and immune
to it; G-dliness was not hidden from him, but rather, was fully revealed.
Thus, Rabbi Shimon was able to see the
G-dliness and intrinsic worth of every Jew, and for that matter, every created
thing, and was therefore able to find merit for its existence.
This is part of the task of each and every one of us in these last moments
of exile. It is also the first stage in the G-dly revelation necessary to
completely transform exile into Redemption.
The first stage is to reveal within the world that G-d is its Master. Since
the world itself conceals the G-dliness within it (the word 'olam'
-- world -- relates to 'helam,' concealment), a Jew must serve G-d
in a way that reveals that everything within the world has G-dliness within
We must use everything in our world for its ultimate G-dly purpose, whether
that be receiving Torah thoughts over the fax machine or enhancing our Jewish
education via e-mail or jogging with a walkman that is playing a Torah tape.
The unique quality of our generation is that we have not only been given
the wherewithal to make giant leaps forward in the area of technology, but
that almost concurrently, we have devised Jewish applications for those
May we begin revealing the G-dliness inherent in our lives, thus preparing
ourselves for and hastening the total revelation of G-dliness with the revelation
of Moshiach, NOW!
Respect. Self-respect. Respect for other people. Respect for other's property
Respect never goes out of style, it's always politically correct, and it
does not become obsolete as technology catapults us toward the next millennium.
The revered and venerated Sage, Rabbi Akiva, is renown for his teaching,
"Love your fellow as yourself. This is a great principle of the Torah." A
lesser known teaching of his is: "Beloved is a person, for he was created
in the image of G-d..." Keeping this second teaching in mind can help one
act on the first teaching; when we remember that every person is a Divine
creation can we do anything less than respect him or her?
* * *
On Friday, Iyar 18 (May 27), we celebrate the special day of Lag
B'Omer. One of the events commemorated on Lag B'Omer is the suspension
of a plague that had been afflicting the students of Rabbi Akiva. The plague,
we are told, was caused by the students not displaying enough respect for
A disciple is one who follows in the ways of his teacher. Is it possible
that disciples of one whose entire life was consumed by the axiom, "Love
your fellow as yourself" -- so much so that this teaching is synonymous with
the name "Rabbi Akiva" -- did not display enough respect for each other?
An amazing insight of the Rebbe on this question is as follows:
Each of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students was so infused with love for his fellow
that this love was all-consuming. He was not able to give his colleague "space."
He loved his friend so much that he wanted to not only share his insights,
opinions and interpretations, but also to convince his peer of their validity
until the peer adopted them as his own.
Remember, we're not talking about a person who is opinionated, arrogant,
narcissistic, or condescending. We are talking about someone who loves the
other person so much that he wants the other person to share his Truth
(with a capital "T").
And this is where the hint of a suggestion of a lack of respect comes in.
Respect includes giving another person space. It means allowing for divergent
opinions. It acknowledges that G-d created every person differently for a
reason. Yes, we can learn to harmonize, modify, accommodate, adapt, perfect.
But we cannot expect to become the same, otherwise G-d would have created
us that way.
* * *
Most of us don't have to worry that our lack of respect for another is caused
by such an all-encompassing love. We're still working on the regular,
The way to encourage such respect is to begin looking at our fellow person
as one who is created in the image of G-d.
The(3) outer yard surrounding the room where the graves
of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son were buried was jammed with Jews from
all over Israel. They had come to Meron on Lag B'Omer -- the
yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the 33rd day of the counting
of the omer with their whole family. Today, they would cut their
three-year-old sons' long hair for the first time -- leaving only the side-locks.
The voices of thousands of Jews could be heard as they recited Psalms. There
were Jews of all types, whose ancestors came from all over the world. All
were praying and begging G-d to help them raise their children in Torah and
good deeds in the merit of Rabbi Shimon.
It was already after midday on Friday and time to get ready for
Shabbat. The visitors from Tiberias, Tzfat, Haifa and the residents
from other cities and towns in the Galilee started to leave for their homes
in order to arrive before Shabbat.
Many of the visitors, though, especially the ones from far away Jerusalem,
remained for Shabbat.
On Friday night, the beautiful melodies of the various groups praying reached
the heights of the nearby mountains. Their hearts were overflowing as thousands
of Jews joined together to dance and sing.
Shabbat morning arrived and the men gathered in large groups to descend
the valley to the small Meggido Lake where they immersed themselves to prepare
for the morning prayers. The last minyan had finished the morning
prayers when a scream pierced the Sabbath atmosphere. A woman who had brought
her son just yesterday for his first haircut was crying hysterically.
Her son had suddenly become sick and died. Doctors who were sent from the
British government to the area immediately put the entire section under
quarantine. No one could come and no one could leave.
Suddenly, the mother gathered the boy in her arms and went into the room
where Rabbi Shimon was buried. She placed the dead child on the Rabbi's grave
and started crying, "Oh great tzaddik, Rabbi Shimon. I, your servant,
came in your honor to cut the hair of my child. I came to make my son, my
first and only child, into a good Jew. I kept my promise to come here on
Lag B'Omer. Only yesterday I held him here and cut his hair in song
and joy. Now, great tzaddik, how shall I return home in great pain
without my child? How can I bear to go on?"
In the midst of her prayers, the mother arose and said, "Tzaddik,
Rabbi Shimon, I am laying my child on your grave as he is. I beg of you,
with tears, do not shame me. Give me back my child just as I brought him
here. Let the great name of G-d be exalted along with the name of the great
tzaddik. Let everyone know that there is a G-d ruling over this world."
The woman concluded her prayers and left the room, leaving her dead son on
the grave of Rabbi Shimon. The doors of the room were closed as everyone
left the room.
A few moments later a child's scream was heard from behind the closed door.
The mother ran into the room and in shock and disbelief she saw her son standing
on his feet and crying for a glass of water. Happiness and commotion filled
the room. The local doctors examining the child announced in wonder that
this was not a natural or normal incident, but rather a miracle that must
have happened in the merit of the great tzaddik Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The governmental agents immediately reopened the gates and the masses once
again poured inside. Everyone seeing the revived child pronounced the blessing
"Blessed be G-d who revives the dead."
3. Adapted from Hilulai D'Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai -- the author of
which witnessed the scene 60 years ago, in 5705/1945, with his own eyes.
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 Ethics of the Fathers
We read one chapter of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) each
Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, because these are the days
leading up to the Giving of the Torah and Pirkei Avot contain ethics
and moral exhortations to help us improve ourselves so that we are worthy
of the Torah.
The Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters, but
also actually studying them.
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, May 27, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bechukotai:
Lag B'Omer -- see above.
Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 7:59 p.m.
After nightfall, after reciting the Shabbat evening prayer, count
Saturday, May 28, Shabbat Parshat Bechukotai:
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 4 of
Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:09 p.m.
After nightfall, after reciting the evening prayer, count Omer 35.
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.
5. For this year's S'firat Ha'omer Calendar - See our publication:
Living With Moshiach,
Your S'firat Ha'omer Guide, 5765
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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