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Weekly Digest About Moshiach

Parshat Eikev, 5765
21 Menachem-Av, 5765
Aug. 26, 2005

Chassidus In Braille:
Lighting Up the Path to the Redemption

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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.



Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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 439th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue we focus on Chof Menachem-Av, the 20th of Menachem-Av, Thursday, Aug. 25 -- when we commemorate the 61st yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok.


14 years ago, on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751, (Aug. 3, 1991), the Rebbe spoke about the printing of Chassidus for the blind, in Braille.

The full text of the Rebbe's sichah (talk) is reprinted in this issue, with the kind permission of "Sichos In English."


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

16 Menachem-Av, 5765
Los Angeles, California

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Eikev

In this week's Torah portion, Eikev, Moses looks back upon the Jewish people's 40 years in the desert, and mentions twice the manna they ate for sustenance. Both times, Moses seems to imply that eating the manna was somehow distressing: "And He afflicted you and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna"; "[He] fed you in the wilderness with manna...that He might afflict you."

In fact, the Children of Israel complained bitterly over having to eat it. "But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes." "Our soul loathes this light bread."

At first glance their complaint is surprising, as the Torah describes the manna as being delicious - "and its taste was like wafers made with honey." Our Sages comment further that the G-dly manna was unique in that the person eating it experienced whatever flavor he wished. Furthermore, the manna was completely digested, having no waste. How then could such a wonderful food be perceived as "torment"?

However, the Talmud explains that it was precisely these qualities that left the Jews with a sense of hunger. It was hard to get used to this "bread from the heavens" that had no waste and could taste like anything in the world. The Jews wanted regular bread, "bread from the earth." They longed for food that looked like what it was.

But the truth is that the Jews' resentment was motivated by the Evil Inclination. At first, the Evil Inclination draws a person into small sins, slowly working its way to more serious ones. So it was with the Children of Israel: They started by complaining about the manna, then progressed to "crying among their families," implying transgressions in the area of family life.

The dynamics of the Evil Inclination never change, and even today, the Evil Inclination still chafes against "bread from the heavens." Symbolically, "bread from the heavens" stands for Torah and G-dly wisdom, while "bread from the earth" is secular, worldly knowledge. The Evil Inclination tries to make the Jew dissatisfied with his "bread from the heavens," and attempts to convince him that a steady diet of Torah will leave him hungry. "The Torah is endless," it whispers in his ear. "You can never learn it all; the more you'll learn, the more you'll see how infinite it is. Why not turn your mind to worldly matters? At least you'll get a feeling of fullness and satisfaction."

On an even finer level, the Evil Inclination tries to dissuade a Jew from studying Chasidus, the innermost part of Torah, which is also likened to "bread from the heavens." "Bread from the earth," the revealed part of Torah, is enough, it claims.

But the truth is the opposite. Because the Jew's essence is spiritual, he can never be satiated by worldly matters. Only Torah, and the innermost part of it, can make the soul feel full, for it is through Torah that the Jew connects to the Infinite.


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.

Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul

Passed away on 22 Tamuz, 5763


About the mitzvah of mezuzah, which is found in this week's Torah portion, Eikev, the Talmud relates that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi once sent a mezuzah as a gift to Artaban, king of Persia, explaining that the small scroll would protect him from harm.

At first glance, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's gesture seems odd. The commandment to affix a mezuzah upon one's doorposts was given only to the Jewish nation. A non-Jewish king, therefore, would not be fulfilling a religious precept by possessing a mezuzah. As such, he would also be ineligible for any reward resulting from the performance of a mitzvah. Why then did Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi promise the gentile king that the mezuzah would guard and protect him?

A similar question may also be asked about the common practice, dating back to the time of the Mishnah, of inserting a mezuzah scroll into one's walking stick, also done for the sake of the protection it afforded. A walking stick is certainly not included in the commandment of mezuzah. If there is no commandment, there is certainly no reward. How, then, did the mezuzah afford protection?

A distinction must be made between the reward a person receives for performing a mitzvah and the intrinsic attribute of the mitzvah itself. When a person obeys G-d's command by fulfilling a mitzvah, the reward he earns is a separate and distinct entity, additional to the essential nature of the mitzvah. For example, the Torah states that the reward for the mitzvah of mezuzah is long life: "That your days be increased and the days of your children."

Yet besides the reward promised by the Torah, each mitzvah has its own special attributes and characteristics that have nothing to do with reward, but are integral parts of the mitzvah itself. The mezuzah's attribute is protection. Our Sages explained that when a kosher mezuzah is affixed to the door post, G-d Himself watches over the occupants of the house, even when they are not at home. A mezuzah is written solely for the purpose of protection, and, by its nature, it protects.

With this in mind, it becomes clear that even when no fulfillment of a religious precept is involved, a mezuzah still possesses this attribute of protection, at least to some degree. It was for this reason that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi sent the mezuzah as a gift to the Persian king and that Jews took mezuzot with them wherever they went inside their walking sticks.

In a similar vein, speaking about and studying the laws of mezuzah afford similar protection. The Talmud relates that in the house of one Jewish king a special sign was made on those door posts that were exempt from having a mezuzah.

From this we learn the crucial importance of having kosher mezuzot. The Jewish people, likened to "one sheep among seventy wolves," are always in need of special defense. Every additional mezuzah affixed to a Jewish home extends G-d's Divine protection to the entire Jewish nation, for all Jews are ultimately responsible for one another.


For more information about the mitzvah of mezuzah, contact your local rabbi, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area: http://www.candlelightingtimes.org/general/shluchim.html.
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Lighting Up the Path to the Redemption

An(1) Adaptation of an Address of the Rebbe,
on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751/1991

"Publisher's Foreword:"

One of the unique aspects of Chassidus is that it generates the potential to see any incident in a larger scope. An idea is thus appreciated not only for its individual message, but also as a part of a more inclusive whole.

The Rebbe gave expression to this quality in his sichos (talks) on Shabbat Parshat Eikev. He focused on a unique development: the publication of the Tanya in [Hebrew] braille, emphasizing the important breakthrough it represented -- bringing the teachings of Chassidus to people who had never previously had the opportunity to taste this spiritual knowledge independently.

Nevertheless, beyond this important dimension, this development can be seen as part of a process of yet greater scope -- as both a foretaste of, and a catalyst for, the coming of the Era of the Redemption. Accordingly, the Rebbe encourages us here to continue this pattern, to "live with the Redemption," to conduct ourselves in its spirit, and in this manner, to precipitate its coming even sooner.

* * *

Spreading the Wellsprings Outward

Recently, a new printing of the Tanya was brought to this building, the Previous Rebbe's shul and House of Study, an event that is noteworthy in its own right, and of even greater significance when viewed as part of a cosmic canvas.

The Tanya, which has been described as "the Written Torah of Chassidus,"(2) has been reprinted many thousands of times all over the world. Indeed, the Baal Shem Tov taught that the coming of Moshiach is dependent on "the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward."(3) Ultimately, in the Era of the Redemption, "the knowledge of G-d will fill the earth as the waters cover the ocean bed."(4) And to prepare for this revelation, it is necessary to spread G-dly knowledge, the teachings of Chassidus, throughout the world at large. When seen in this context, the printing of the Tanya in so many different cities is significant, for it has transformed them into "wellsprings," centers and sources for the spreading of Chassidus.(5)

Windows for the Soul

The new printing of the Tanya mentioned above is unique, however, for it represents the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus to a group of people who had previously had no potential to study these teachings unaided. For this the Tanya was printed in braille.

In recent generations, Chassidus has been explained in ever-increasing depth and breadth, and these explanations have been communicated to people from different backgrounds and walks of life in many languages. Unfortunately, however, the physical handicap of the blind prevented them -- until now -- from reading these texts independently.

The significance of this printing is magnified by the fact that, as mentioned above, the Tanya is known as "the Written Torah of Chassidus." Just as the Written Torah includes the entire Oral Law, for "there is no teaching which is not alluded to in the Torah,"(6) so, too, the Tanya includes in seminal form all the teachings of Chassidus revealed in later generations.(7) In this sense, this Tanya makes the totality of the teachings of Chassidus accessible.

The Ultimate Purpose of Sight

There is an intrinsic connection between the blind and the study of Chassidus. Chassidus -- the medium in which pnimiyus HaTorah (the inner dimensions of Torah) is revealed in the present age -- is known as(8) "the Light of the Torah." Similarly, in Lashon HaKodesh, "The Holy Tongue," it is common to describe the blind by the euphemism sagi nahor, which means "of great light." And indeed, historically, there is a connection between the two. One of the great sages of the kabbalistic tradition, Rabbi Yitzchok Sagi Nahor,(9) was blind.

There is also a connection between the blind and the Future Redemption, because in that era the dimension they possess, which is associated with "great light," will be revealed. At that time, G-d will heal the entire world and the blind will be healed first.(10)

(The significance of the blind becoming sighted is also connected to the revelation of the "knowledge of G-d" in the Era of Redemption. Moshiach will teach the people, using the power of sight(11) and thus, this faculty will be necessary to appreciate the new dimensions of Torah knowledge that will be revealed at that time.)

Moreover, the study of the Tanya by the blind will hasten the advent of this era, for this represents the opening of an entirely new sphere in the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus. And in this context, we can appreciate the greater significance of this printing.

Making Accounts:
Moshiach's Coming is Past Due

Moshiach's coming is long overdue; "All the appointed times for the Redemption have passed."(12) Furthermore, from the perspective of the Jewish people, we have already completed the spiritual service demanded of us. To borrow a phrase from the Previous Rebbe, "We have even polished the buttons,"(13) for the teachings of Chassidus have been presented in a manner in which they are accessible to every Jew.

The printing of the Tanya in braille thus reflects the nature of the spiritual service required in the present age -- making the teachings of Chassidus accessible to others who for various reasons have not yet been exposed to them. And in doing so, there must be a consciousness that these teachings are a foretaste of the revelation of "the knowledge of G-d" in the Era of the Redemption. Moreover, a study of these teachings will lead to that revelation. In this manner, studying Chassidus reflects our efforts to "live with the Redemption," and make the Redemption an active force in our daily conduct.

The above concepts are particularly relevant in the present month, the month of Elul, when it is customary to review and take stock of our spiritual service in the previous year, and in this manner, prepare for the new year to come. This stocktaking should also focus on the imminence of the Redemption and on our efforts to make the Redemption an actual reality.

Catalysts for the Redemption

A Jew has the potential to arouse himself, to arouse others, and to arouse G-d Himself, as it were. According to all the signs given by our Sages,(14) and definitely in the light of the miracles which we have witnessed recently, the ultimate Redemption should have come already, and in this present year. For the miracles described in the Yalkut Shimoni(15) are to take place in "the year in which the King Moshiach will be revealed."

We must cry out "Ad Masai!" - "Until when must we remain in exile?" And furthermore, this outcry must be coupled with actions that grant us a foretaste of -- and thus precipitate -- the Era of the Redemption.

And these efforts will doubtless bear fruit, particularly in the present time. The month of Elul is a time when G-d accepts the requests and grants the wishes of the Jewish people. And surely this is an appropriate time for Him to grant our truest and most essential wish -- that the Redemption come about immediately.


1. Adapted from the book, Sound the Great Shofar (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1992).

2. Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Previous Rebbe, vol. IV, p. 261ff.

3. For the relevant sources see footnotes 12, 13 and 14 to the above Overview.

4. Yeshayahu 11:9, quoted by the Rambam at the conclusion of his discussion of the Era of the Redemption in the Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 12:5.

5. See sichah of Parshas Bo, 5744, and the essay, "The Printing of Tanya," in Sichos In English, vol. XIX, pp. 113-119.

6. Zohar III, 221a.

7. Furthermore, the final portion of the Tanya, Kuntres Acharon, is an explanation of certain passages found in the previous four portions of the Tanya. In this it resembles the Oral Law, which is an explanation of the Written Law. Indeed, there is a close similarity between this fifth portion of the Tanya and the Book of Devarim, which is called Mishneh Torah, a restatement of the Torah, and thus shares a connection with the Oral Law.

8. See Yerushalmi, Chagigah 1:7, and commentary of Korban HaEdah.

9. See Shmos HaGedolim and also Recanati, Parshas Vayeishev.

10. Midrash Tehillim 146; see also Yeshayahu 35:5 and Bereishis Rabbah 95:1.

11. See Likkutei Torah, Tzav 17 a, b.

12. Sanhedrin 97b.

13. Sichah of Simchat Torah, 5689/1928.

14. See the conclusion of Tractate Kesubbos.

15. Vol. II, sec. 499, commenting on Yeshayahu 60:1, with reference to events having worldwide repercussions in the Persian Gulf.


On Chof Menachem-Av, the 20th of Menachem-Av, Thursday, Aug. 25, we commemorate the 61st yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, known affectionately as Reb Leivik.(16)

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 sages.

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, page, etc.

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.


16. 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.


"The Holy Temple will be destroyed, and the Jews will be exiled from their land!" a Heavenly voice decreed. "But the Western Wall of the Holy Temple will not be destroyed," said G-d, "so that there should always be a reminder that G-d's Glory resides there!"

The Jews would not forget the Holy Temple. Every year on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Menachem-Av, the day on which the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, the Jews assembled at the Western Wall. There, standing next to the only visible remains of the Temple, they poured out their hearts over the destruction and beseeched G-d to rebuild the Holy Temple.

The Romans, the destroyers of the second Temple, could not bear to see how resolutely the Jews kept to their religion, and how holy they regarded the Western Wall. The Romans hit upon a plan of how to remedy the situation; they issued an order that all gentiles who lived in Jerusalem must dump their garbage daily near the Wall.

Day in, day out, the heap of garbage grew. Bit by bit the entire Wall was buried under a massive grave of garbage. The Jews mourned anew.

Many years went by. A very righteous Jew from outside of Israel came to Jerusalem to pour out his heart to G-d over the destruction. He walked through the streets of Jerusalem, seeking the Wall, but he could not find it. Everyone he asked shrugged their shoulders; they had never in their lives seen the Wall.

The Jew, however, did not give up hope. Day and night he looked for the Wall. Once, he came upon a huge hill of rubbish and wondered how so much garbage came to be accumulated at this place. He noticed a very old woman carrying a heavy sack on her back.

"Old woman, what are you carrying?" the Jew asked her.

"I am carrying a sack of garbage to throw on the hill."

The Jew inquired, "Do you have no place closer to home for garbage, that you are forced to bring it here?"

"It is an ancient custom for us to bring the garbage here. Once, in this place, there stood a huge, magnificent stone wall. The Jews regarded the wall as holy. Their conquerers, the Romans, ordered all of the city's non-Jewish inhabitants to dump their garbage. So generations ago, we were ordered to cover the wall." She emptied her bundle and returned home.

The Jew wept and pledged to himself: "I will not move from here until I figure out how to remove the garbage and reveal the Western Wall."

Suddenly an idea came to him. He began walking in the streets of Jerusalem and whispered to everyone he met, "They say that a treasure lies buried beneath the hill of garbage over there."

The man himself took a shovel and began digging in the dirt. A short while later people began arriving. The whole city of Jerusalem was abuzz with the announcement of a treasure lying beneath the hill of garbage. People streamed to the hill with shovels and buckets. They dug for a whole day until the upper stones of the Wall came into view. The sun set and people left, eagerly anticipating the dawning of a new day. The Jew then took some gold coins from his pocket, covered them with dirt and left.

Early the next morning, soon after dawn, there was an uproar at the hill. Someone had found a gold coin. A second person found a golden coin and then a third.

The people started to dig with even more enthusiasm. Every day they dug deeper and deeper. Every day a few golden coins were found. But, they were certain the real treasure lay at the bottom. The Jew spent his entire fortune on his mission to uncover the Western Wall.

For forty days the people dug near the Wall, seeking to unearth the buried treasure. Finally the entire Wall was cleared of garbage. They did not find the treasure, but in front of their eyes a big stone wall loomed.

Suddenly a great storm broke out and a torrent of rain came down. It rained for three days, washing the Wall clean of any traces of dirt. When the people came out to see what they had unearthed, they saw a handsome wall with huge stones, some as tall as ten feet high.

On the spot where the earth from which Adam was formed was gathered by G-d's "hand," where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed, where the first Holy Temple built by King Solomon stood, and the second Holy Temple built by Ezra and Nechemiah stood -- on this very spot the third and final Temple will be built, when Moshiach comes.   


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: http://www.kidstorah.org


Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles

For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
or: http://www.candlelightingtimes.org/shabbos

For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ

Friday, August 26, Erev Shabbat Parshat Eikev:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(17) by 7:19 p.m.

Saturday, August 27, Shabbat Parshat Eikev:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:20 p.m.


17. 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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