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Weekly Digest About Moshiach

Parshat Vayechi, 5766
13 Tevet, 5766
Jan. 13, 2006

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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 455-458th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue, we focus on:

1) The auspicious date of Hei Tevet, the fifth day of Tevet (Thursday, Jan 5), a day of celebration and rejoicing known as Didan Natzach -- "Victory is Ours."

2) The fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, Tuesday, Jan. 10.


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

Second day of Rosh Chodesh Tevet, 5766
Los Angeles, California

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Vayechi

With this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, we conclude the Book of Genesis. "So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old...and he was put into a coffin in Egypt" is its final verse.

This conclusion to the entire Book is somewhat surprising, in light of the principle that "one should always end on a positive note." Why couldn't Genesis have concluded a few verses back, when we learn that Joseph lived a long life and merited to see grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Why couldn't the description of Joseph's death have waited until the Book of Exodus?

We must therefore conclude that Joseph's passing is somehow related to the theme of Genesis itself. The primary difference between Genesis and the other four Books of Moses is that Genesis relates the early history of our Forefathers and the twelve tribes -- the preparation for our existence as a distinct nation -- whereas the other four books contain a narrative of our history as a people.

The Book of Genesis begins with an account of the creation of the world. The Sage, Rabbi Yitzchok, explained that although the Torah should have begun with a practical mitzvah, G-d chose to commence with the Creation to refute the arguments of the Gentiles, who would one day claim that the Jews had stolen the land of Israel from the seven nations who lived there prior to its conquest.

To counter their assertion, the Jews will say, "The entire world belongs to G-d; He created it and divided it as He saw fit. It was His will to give it to them [the seven nations], and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us."

Surely G-d did not change the entire order of His Torah just to supply an answer to the arguments of the Gentiles. The comments of Rabbi Yitzchok must therefore contain a more fundamental teaching for the Jewish people as a whole.

The nations of the world are already cognizant of the Jew's uniqueness and his special mission. Their claim, however, is that precisely because Jews are different, they should limit themselves to the spiritual service of G-d and not tie themselves down to a physical land.

Because Jews are a nation like no other, they have no right to claim ownership of a homeland. To the non-Jew, the spiritual and physical realms are incongruous and incompatible.

"The entire world belongs to G-d," the Jew responds -- the worldly as well as the spiritual realm. Both require sanctification through the light of holiness -- the sacred mission of the Jewish people.

With this concept the Book of Genesis begins, and on this note it concludes. Joseph's coffin remained in Egypt in order to give strength and inspiration to the Children of Israel in their Egyptian exile. The power of Joseph is symbolic of the ability of the Jewish people to overcome even the most difficult of obstacles, imbuing even the coarsest of physical matter with holiness and bringing the full and complete Redemption.

* * *

It has been mentioned numerous times that the Rebbe's statements regarding the Holy Land, and his staunch position not to give back even one inch of land to the Arabs, has nothing to do with biblical promises or messianic visions. Rather, the Rebbe has made these statements and taken this position because of Pikuach Nefesh -- the imminent danger to life -- of Jews in the Holy Land.

Unfortunately, the Rebbe's stand has been shown to be absolutely true!

Let us read carefully and take to heart the words that the Rebbe said on Shabbat Bereishis 14 years ago:

"Throughout the centuries, the Jews have been recognized as 'the chosen people.' In the world at large, and in particular, in the United States, the Jews are allowed to carry out their service of G-d without persecution, indeed, amidst rest and prosperity. Furthermore, the government offers assistance to the Jews here and those in the Land of Israel, enabling them to progress in the service of G-d.

"This has been made possible by the activities of many of the Torah Sages in their relations with the gentiles, including the activities of the Chabad Rebbes.

"Based on the above, we can understand how inappropriate are the statements which certain Rabbis have recently made that the Jews must comply with the demands of the gentile nations in regard to the Holy Land. These statements continue, stating that, heaven forbid, such compliance is necessary because the existence of the Jews in the Holy Land is dependent on the kindness of the gentile nations.

"The principle, 'Do not challenge the nations,' is not relevant in this context, for this principle can never override an explicit teaching of Torah law. In this instance, we are clearly bound by the decision of the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chayim, 329), that if gentiles threaten to attack a Jewish settlement we must take up arms and defend ourselves against them. And if that settlement is located on the border, we must take up arms against them even if they are demanding 'straw and hay' for by acquiescing to them, we 'open the entire land to them.'

"Since such statements were made, it is obvious that greater emphasis has to be placed on recognizing the uniqueness of the Jewish people and emphasis on their connection to the Holy Land....(1) And this will lead to the ultimate wonder in this year of wonders, the coming of the Redemption. And then we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people to the Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Holy Temple."


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


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


Thursday, the fifth of Tevet (Jan 5), is a day of celebration and rejoicing known as Didan Natzach -- "Victory is Ours."

It is the day, 19 years ago (in 5747/1987), when U.S. Federal Court Judge Charles Sifton rendered his legal decision on the ownership of the enormous and valuable library of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. For three weeks during the previous winter, the judge had listened to testimony concerning whether the Previous Rebbe's library was a personal possession, subject to the laws of inheritances, or if it was the possession of Chabad.

Judge Sifton was tremendously influenced by the statement of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, of blessed memory, daughter of the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe's wife, that "My father belonged to the chasidim just as the books belong to the chasidim."

There was great rejoicing on the day of the verdict, lasting for seven days. Each evening the Rebbe spoke publicly and expounded on the spiritual ramifications of the victory.

In one of these talks, the Rebbe said: "At the time of his imprisonment and redemption, the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) found a Divine lesson in everything that had occurred. One of his conclusions was the need to increase with renewed vigor and strength the dissemination of chasidic philosophy. The eternal Divine connection [of the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment and subsequent release] to this event is obvious. Thus, especially because the charge was brought against Agudas Chasidei Chabad as a living and vital organization, we must strengthen even more the dissemination of the teachings of our Rebbes, learning them privately and in groups amidst great joy and enthusiasm, joy that breaks all boundaries...".

May we witness the ultimate breaching of limitations with the end of the exile and the ultimate joy of being united as one in the true and complete Redemption.


The fifth of Tevet, is the 19th anniversary of the U.S. Federal Court ruling declaring that stolen books of the Previous Rebbe must be returned to the library of Agudas Chasidei Chabad. However, part of the Previous Rebbe's library still remains in Russia "in exile." To free these books, now held captive, the Rebbe urges everyone to purchase Jewish holy books. By following the Rebbe's advice, we can actually help create the right spiritual climate for the release of these precious books.

On Shabbat Parshat Vayigash, 7 Tevet, 5752, the Rebbe said: "Our efforts to show regard for Jewish holy texts will have an effect on the future of the Previous Rebbe's library. By purchasing comparable texts, such as the ethical and philosophical literature of Chabad Chasidus... we can hasten the return of that library to its rightful owners. Even little children should be given Jewish holy books as gifts" (in the hope that what is not yet fully appreciated today will be studied before long).


A story is told of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, known as the Tzemach Tzedek, who was to become the third Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. As a young child he was studying the Torah portion of Vayechi, this week's Torah portion, and had just learned that "Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years." The teacher explained that from this verse we learn that the 17 years Jacob spent in Egypt were the best years of his life. The Tzemach Tzedek asked his grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, known as the Alter Rebbe, the first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, how it was possible that Jacob could have lived his best years in such a place as Egypt?

The Alter Rebbe replied: "We have been taught in the previous Torah portion (Vayigash) that Jacob had sent his son Judah ahead of him to establish a yeshivah in the land of Egypt, in the city of Goshen. Therefore, since learning Torah brings a Jew closer to G-d, it is possible for a Jew to truly live even in a place like Egypt and that those years can even be considered 'good' years."

This story has an eternal message for every one of us:

"Egypt" is the prototype of all the exiles our people have experienced during our long history. The Hebrew word for Egypt is "Mitzrayim," which is connected with "meitzarim" -- constraints. Egypt thus indicates all situations in which a Jew finds himself constrained and limited in the development of his true Jewish spirit. If it were not for the Torah, the Jewish spirit would languish and lose vigor and vitality in the darkness of exile, whether external or internal. It is the Torah and mitzvot that illuminate Jewish life and provide the strength and vitality to overcome all constraints and hindrances, enabling every Jew -- man, woman and child -- to live a bright and meaningful life even in the midst of outside darkness.

May we merit very soon to live the ultimate bright and meaningful lives with the coming of Moshiach.


Tuesday, Jan. 10, is the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, and we neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.(2)


This fast day commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the First Holy Temple.

The strength -- both of the obligation to fast and its positive influences -- of the Tenth of Tevet stems from the fact that it commemorates the first of the tragedies associated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.

Thus, this date begins the process of destruction. It is well known that the beginning of any process contains more power than the subsequent stages and for this reason, there is added power to the Tenth of Tevet. The positive influences of the Tenth of Tevet are connected to the fact that a fast day is a "day of will" when our prayers and teshuvah are more willingly accepted by G-d.

As we are taught that "the beginning is wedged in the end," and the ultimate "end" purpose of the destruction of the Holy Temples will be the rebuilding of the Third and Eternal Holy Temple, the Tenth of Tevet is an auspicious day to hasten the coming of the Redemption.

Of course, our most fervent prayer is that the Tenth of Tevet not be a day of mourning, but be turned into a day of celebration and joy with the coming of Moshiach. Thus, by our immediate decision to increase our acts of goodness and kindness, our performance of mitzvot, study of Torah, and specifically the giving of charity, which brings the Redemption closer, we are showing G-d that our actions are in consonance with our heartfelt prayers. May the realization of those prayers happen in the immediate future.


2. In New York City, at 5:27 p.m.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

5 Tevet, 5736/1976

In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions in connection with the forthcoming Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, in view of the situation in and around Israel --

You will surely be instructed by the rabbi of your congregation. However, since you have also approached me in this matter, I will set forth at least several suggestions -- after the following introductory remarks:

Regrettably, there are people who claim that it is necessary to think and act "big," in terms of global dimensions and stupendous undertakings, etc. Surely they mean well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical and are actually carried out -- they are very helpful in improving the situation.

Yet, we must never overlook -- indeed, rather greatly emphasize -- the so-called "small and unsophisticated" things that each modest congregation, moreover each individual, can and must do -- beginning with the old, yet ever-anew, Jewish way, collectively as one people and also as individuals. This is the action of "the voice is the voice of Jacob" -- Torah and prayer -- which G-d Himself has shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the power of "the hands of Esau" -- in whatever shape or form they are raised against us.

Certainly this should find the fullest expression in a day that the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) declares to be a day of fasting, one to which the prophet Isaiah refers to as a "chosen fast...a fast and time favored by G-d."

Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet is specially connected with the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem), my suggestion -- in addition to the regular "observances" on fast days, as set forth at length and in detail in Poskim [halachic adjudicators] and in books of Musar and Chasidus -- is as follows:

During this day -- expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Holy Land, materially and spiritually, and for the material and spiritual benefit of all Jews wherever they are -- in the Holy Land as well as in the Diaspora -- and particularly for the benefit of our brethren behind the "Iron Curtain"(3) -- a special effort should be made in the areas of Torah, prayer, and tzedakah (charity).

Especially after prayer (both in the morning and at the afternoon service) one should learn (and where there already are daily study groups, to add) a subject in Torah, including final ruling of Jewish law. Immediately following the prayers, even before learning, one should say several chapters of Psalms (in addition to the regular portion).

Before and after praying -- one should give tzedakah (in addition to the regular donation), including tzedakah for a sacred cause or institution in the Holy Land, the "Land of Living."

Needless to say, one who repeats the above again and again in the course of the day is to be praised.

And the more one does it (in quantity and quality), the more praiseworthy it is.

And, as in all matters of holiness, it is desirable that all the above be done b'tzibbur (with at least a minyan).

May G-d accept, and He will accept, the prayers and supplications of Jews wherever they are.

And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise be fulfilled that "These days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness," with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.


3. This letter is dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976. Ed.


The Holy Temple lay in ruins, its resplendent beauty plowed under by the conquering Roman Legions. The remnants of the population were in despair. The Talmud relates that four great rabbis were walking along a road in The Land of Israel. Suddenly they heard a rumbling sound rising from the distance. One rabbi inquired of the others, "What is that noise?"

"That is the sound of a multitude of Romans far away in the distance," replied another.

Three of the rabbis began to weep; the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, began laughing. The others were surprised by their colleague's reaction and asked, "Akiva, why are you laughing?"

He countered: "Why are you three crying?"

They said: "Here we see that the Romans, who worship idols and burn incense to them, are living in safety and prosperity. And we [who worship the true G-d], the House which is G-d's footstool [the Holy Temple] lies burned in fire. Why shouldn't we weep?"

Rabbi Akiva replied: "That is precisely why I'm laughing. For, if this is the lot of those who violate the will of G-d, how much more joyous will be the future for us Jews who do His will?"

On another occasion the same four Sages were traveling together to Jerusalem. When they reached the point of the Mount of Olives, they tore their clothes [in mourning] as is prescribed by Jewish law. Proceeding further they arrived at the desolate Temple Mount, and as they gazed toward the Holy of Holies -- where the sacred incense had been offered to the Al-mighty -- they saw a fox emerging. Three of the rabbis began to weep at the sight of the degradation of the holy place. Rabbi Akiva, however, laughed. They turned to Akiva and asked, "Why are you laughing?"

He asked in return, "Why are you weeping?"

They answered him, "This is place of which it is written, 'And the stranger who approaches will surely die.' Yet, now we see foxes strolling about. Why should we not weep."

Replied Akiva, "That is precisely why I am laughing. In the prophecy of Uria it says, 'Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will be desolate and the Temple Mount will be a forest.' The prophecy of Zecharia says, 'Aged men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.'

"Before I saw the prophecy of Uria fulfilled I worried that the prophecy of Zecharia would not be realized. But now that I have witnessed the fulfillment of the first, I know surely that the second will come to pass as well."

They turned to him and said, "Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva you have comforted us!"


Why all this hubbub about Moshiach? Why the constant talk, classes, publicity campaigns? Isn't focusing on it once a year -- when we say, "Next year in Jerusalem" at the Passover seder -- enough? Or once a week, as on Shabbat, which is sort of a taste of the Messianic Era? Or, let's say, even three times a day in our prayers? Isn't that enough?

By way of explanation, there is a story about Reb Mendel Futerfas, the mashpia, spiritual advisor of the Lubavitcher yeshivah in Kfar Chabad, Israel.

Reb Mendel was imprisoned in Soviet prisons for 14 years. He spent most of his free time in prayer and study. Nevertheless, he was not totally aloof from the non-Jews who shared his lot, and spent a few hours a day in conversation with them.

Included in this group were many types of people: political idealists, university professors, and many ordinary people jailed for "crimes," of which neither they nor others understood the criminal nature.

In the latter category was a circus performer whose claim to fame was his feats as a tight rope walker. He and Reb Mendel had a standing argument. For this was before safety nets had become standard circus practice, and Reb Mendel could not understand why a person would risk his life walking on a rope extended several stories above the ground. "There must be," Reb Mendel maintained, "some hidden ropes holding you in case you slip."

The tightrope walker, for his part, maintained that there was no need for ropes. It was not all that dangerous. A person began practicing on low ropes and once he gained experience, the chance of falling was minimal.

The argument continued for years until, after Stalin died, the prison authorities relaxed their rules slightly. Several months prior to May Day they allowed the prisoners to prepare a makeshift circus in celebration of the day. The circus performer suddenly came alive, becoming the center of attention in the prison. He organized various performances, with the highlight of the show his tightrope walk.

He made sure that Reb Mendel was in the audience. As the drums began to beat, he climbed the pole and approached the line. His first steps were somewhat hesitant; after all it had been several years since he had walked the ropes, but after a few seconds, he felt at home.

It all came back to him. He began to twirl a hoop and wave to his friends. As he reached the end of the rope, he hesitated for a moment, made a fast turn, and then proceeded to the other side. On his way back, he exuded confidence and performed several stunts. After he reached the end of the rope, he climbed down and ran to Reb Mendel.

"You see, no ropes holding me up," he gleamed in satisfaction.

"Yes, you're right, no ropes," agreed Reb Mendel.

"You're a smart man," the performer continued. "What is the trick? Is it in the hands, the feet?"

Reb Mendel paused to think. "You moved your hands freely and it appeared that your footwork was not the determining factor."

After reviewing the scene in his mind several times, Reb Mendel said, "It's the eyes. At all times, your eyes were riveted on the opposite pole."

The performer nodded in agreement, "When you see your destination in front of you, you know where to put your feet."

What is our destination that we must concentrate on and keep constantly in front of our eyes so that we don't lose our balance as we walk the tight rope of life? It is Moshiach and the Messianic Era for which we Jews have hoped and prayed for 2,000 years. It will bring a world of peace and unity, material and spiritual prosperity, and a knowledge of G-d and G-dliness never before experienced. It is the ultimate purpose -- destination, if you will -- for which the world was created.

Keeping your eyes riveted on Moshiach and the redemption is the only safe way to walk the tightrope.


The 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


The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." We therefore present from the Rebbe's talks, suggestions what we can do to complete his work of bringing the Redemption.

The Fast of Tevet 10:

"In addition to the regular observances of fast days... expressly for the sake of the security and strengthening of the Land of Israel, materially and spiritually... a special effort should be made in the areas of Torah study, prayer and charity... specifically: to learn or add to one's learning after the morning and afternoon prayers; to say several chapters of Psalms after the prayers (even before study); to give charity before and after prayers, including charity for a sacred cause or institution in Israel."

(From a Letter dated 5 Tevet, 5736/1976
-- the full text is printed above)


Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles

For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
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, Jan. 13, Erev Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 4:33 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 14, Shabbat Parshat Vayechi:

  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:37 p.m.


4. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.

Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind

Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing

"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.

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