LIVING WITH MOSHIACH
Weekly Digest About Moshiach
Parshat Mishpatim, 5766
26 Shevat, 5766
Feb. 24, 2006
1. Chof Beis Shevat
2. Joy - A Chasidic Insight
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"I BELIEVE WITH COMPLETE FAITH IN THE ARRIVAL OF THE MOSHIACH.
"AND THOUGH HE MAY TARRY, I SHALL WAIT EACH DAY, ANTICIPATING HIS
Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
THIS PUBLICATION IS DEDICATED
TO THE REBBE,
RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio)
- Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 464th
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on:
1) Chof Beis, the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, Monday,
Feb. 20, commemorating the 18th yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka
Schneerson, wife of the Rebbe.
2) This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Adar, and
we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar, on Tues., Feb. 28, and Wed., March
3) This Shabbat is also Shabbat Parshat Shekolim. Parshat
Shekolim is the first of four special Torah readings read in the synagogue
on the Sabbaths before the month of Nissan -- Shekolim, Zachor,
Parah and HaChodesh.
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly
publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing
us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor,
Reb Mordechai Staiman of blessed
memory, for his tireless efforts.
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption
will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov
Committee for the Blind
17 Shevat, 5766
Los Angeles, California
This week's Torah portion of Mishpatim contains the law of the goring
ox. The Torah distinguishes between two categories: the "shor tam,"
a bull that is not known to be a gorer, and the "shor mu'ad," a bull
that has gored three times. Such an animal is considered dangerous and likely
to gore again.
Everything in the Torah can be understood on many levels. Thus not only does
the law of the goring ox pertain to animals, it also applies to a person's
soul. In general, the ox is symbolic of the animal soul. (According to
Chasidus every Jew has two souls, a Divine soul and an animal soul.)
The animal soul, by itself, is not necessarily bad. It has many positive
qualities and is a powerful force that can be harnessed for good. Nonetheless,
like the physical ox, it must be closely guarded to prevent it from inflicting
The natural state of the animal soul is "a bull that is not known to gore."
As it is created, the animal soul does not crave forbidden things, only those
that are permissible and necessary to sustain life. If the animal soul falters
and commits a sin, it is the exception rather than the rule, and runs contrary
to its true nature. In this instance it is relatively easy to do
teshuvah (repent) and repair the damage.
However, if a person commits the same sin over and over again "until it seems
permissible," he is considered "a bull that has gored three times." Having
already been reinforced several times, his negative behavior is now second
nature to him, and he is considered likely to repeat it in the future.
How does a person turn "a known gorer" back into "a bull that is not known
to gore"? Simply by training it. According to Maimonides, the transformation
is complete "when little children can poke [the ox] and it still doesn't
The same rule applies in our service of G-d. The "repeat offender" must work
hard on refining his animal soul and weakening its desires. Then, when he
finds himself facing the exact same temptation, yet he remains strong and
doesn't falter, his status reverts to "a bull that is not known to gore."
Of course, this is not an easy thing to accomplish, so the Torah offers us
another method of attack. According to Maimonides, when a "known gorer" acquires
a new owner, the slate is cleaned and the animal is considered "a bull that
is not known to gore." Because the new owner relates to it differently, the
animal's nature also changes for the good.
In spiritual terms, any Jew who wants to undergo a similar transformation
must also acquire a new "owner," immersing himself completely in the realm
of holiness: learning Torah, doing good deeds and engaging in prayer. His
ingrained bad habits will automatically lose their grip on him, and he will
become "tam" -- literally "perfect and whole."
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
AN ACTUAL PART OF G-D
Adapted from a Talk of the Rebbe
(on the 22nd of Shevat, 5752/1992,
fourth yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka)
The number twenty-two, written in Hebrew letters, is chof-beis. These
are the same letters making up the word bach that is found in the
verse, "Through you (bach), Israel will be blessed." This verse indicates
that "through you," blessing will be drawn down to each and every Jew, generating
positive activities, which, in turn, will lead to further activities of blessing
in a pattern that will continue endlessly.
Ultimately, these activities will lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy
"And G-d will wipe tears away from every face." "Tears" in Hebrew is numerically
equivalent to 119. G-d's positive activity of wiping away tears represents
an increase, causing the sum to reach 120, the complete sum of human life.
Therefore, when Moses reached 120 years old, he stated, "Today, my days and
my years are completed."
The above relates to every Jew, for every Jew possesses a spark of Moses
within him. This spark of Moses generates positive activity, which, as explained
above, initiates a pattern that continues to generate further positive activity
The Hebrew word for "forever," olam, also means "world." Olam
is related to the Hebrew word helem, meaning concealment. Our world
is characterized by hiddenness, the concealment of G-dliness. This concealment
allows for a soul -- an actual part of G-d -- to be concealed, that is, to
depart from this world after its "days and years are completed" -- after
they have been endowed with fullness and completion through good deeds. In
this context as well, the pattern mentioned above applies, as each good deed
leads to more good deeds, in a never-ending sequence.
The above also shares a connection to the Torah reading of this Shabbat
[Parshat Yitro], which describes the Giving of the Torah. Our Sages relate
that after each of the Ten Commandments, "the souls of the Jews departed,"
a phenomenon parallel to death, and G-d revived them with the dew that He
will use to resurrect the dead in the era of the Redemption.
Similarly, in the present context, four years ago
today,(1) an "actual part of G-d," a Jewish soul, ascended
from this world. Each year, on the day of the yahrtzeit, that soul
ascends to a higher level, indeed, a level immeasurably higher than the peaks
the soul had reached previously. This is reflected in the recitation of
Kaddish(2) on that day. Its recitation again on
the day of the yahrtzeit, after not being recited on a daily basis,
indicates a new ascent.
May the soul reach the ultimate level of ascent, the level to be reached
at the time of the Resurrection. And may this take place in the immediate
future. For ours is the last generation of the exile and the first generation
of the Redemption.
Together with all the Jews of the present generation who will proceed to
the Holy Land amidst health and joy, they will be joined by "those who lie
in the dust," the souls of the previous generations, who "will arise and
In particular, this applies to a soul who has merited that many Jewish girls
be named after her, and educated in the spirit in which she lived, which,
in turn, came as a result of the education she was given by her father, the
This will be hastened by the distribution of money to be given -- with each
person making an addition from his own funds -- to tzeddakah
[charity]. This will speed the coming of the Redemption when "the
Holy One, blessed be He, will make a dance for the righteous," a dance that
will be joined by each member of the Jewish people, man, woman, and child.
And they will point to G-d and say, "Behold this is the G-d in whom we put
And this will take place in the immediate future. "With our youth and our
elders... with our sons and our daughters," we will proceed to the Holy Land
"on the clouds of heaven." And "those that lie in the dust will arise and
sing," with the righteous ones mentioned previously, at our head.
1. This was said on the 4th yahrtzeit of the Rebbetzin. This year
marks the Rebbetzin's 18th yahrtzeit. Ed.
2. The Kaddish is recited each day for eleven months only in the year
after the person's death. Ed.
Chof Beis, the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, Monday,
Feb. 20, is the 18th yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson,
of blessed memory, wife of the Rebbe and daughter of the Previous Rebbe,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn.
Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka was born in the Russian village of Babinovitch (a
small shtetl near Lubavitch) on 25 Adar II, 5661/1901; she
played an integral role in both her father's and husband's affairs throughout
her life. And yet, she deliberately chose to function out of the limelight.
Extremely modest, royal in bearing, and, above all, kindly, Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka was the embodiment of Jewish womanhood and an exceptional role model
for Jewish women and girls.
On the anniversary of her passing several years ago, the Rebbe spoke about
the special mission all Jewish woman have been entrusted with. The function
of every Jew -- man, woman and child -- is to "make a dwelling place for
G-d" on earth. But the goal of the Jewish woman is to take this one step
further, and adorn G-d's abode on the physical plane so that it is "lovely"
and appointed with "fine furnishings."
In particular, the Jewish woman fulfills her role of "spiritual decorator"
through the three special mitzvot G-d has given her to implement in
her private home: maintaining the kashrut(3) of
her kitchen, keeping the laws of Family Purity,(4) and
lighting candles for Shabbat and Yom
Tov,(5) together with her daughters. (The Rebbe specified
that young girls should light first, so that their mothers can assist them
The Rebbe also called on women to renew their commitment to the Jewish education
of their children, from the earliest age on. When a Jewish mother sings a
lullaby to her baby about how the Torah is "the best, the sweetest, and the
most beautiful" thing in the world, it instills a deep love and appreciation
for Torah that lasts a lifetime.
The main point during these last few moments of exile, the Rebbe stressed,
is to recognize the great merit and power Jewish women and girls have to
bring about the Final Redemption.
May it happen at once!
3. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 336.
4. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 415.
5. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 451.
A Brief Biography
Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka led a life which was remarkable in many ways, not
the least in its utter selflessness and extreme privacy.
She was born on 25 Adar II, 5661/1901, the daughter of the sixth
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok. Her remarkable abilities and keen
intellect brought her father to entrust her with great responsibilities.
In fact, she was actively involved in many of his activities to keep Judaism
alive during the explosive years following the Russian Revolution and
establishment of the Soviet state.
In 5687/1927, when her father, the Previous Rebbe was arrested, it was Rebbetzin
Chaya Mushka who made sure that all possibly incriminating documents were
destroyed. Indeed, during his imprisonment, she was in the forefront of those
seeking to commute the death sentence to one of exile, and then, finally
A unique relationship existed between Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka and her father,
and he wrote many deep, philosophical letters to her, in which he expounded
his concepts of Chasidic thought and Divine service. Those who were privileged
to know the Rebbetzin described her as a refined, erudite woman of very extensive
knowledge and great intelligence and wit.
On the 14th of Kislev, 5689/1929, Warsaw was at the peak of its glory,
the "Jerusalem of Poland." On that day, Rebbes of numerous Chasidic dynasties,
world-renowned Rabbis and heads of yeshivas, illustrious Jews of many
walks of life gathered to celebrate the wedding of the daughter of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe and the son of the brilliant scholar and kabbalist, Rabbi
Levi Yitzchok Schneerson. The marriage of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka to Rabbi
Menachem M. Schneerson opened a new chapter in her life. Twenty-five years
later, the Rebbe described the union as a marriage which bound him to the
The early days of their marriage were ones of onerous hardship and great
personal danger. First settling in Berlin, they were forced to flee to Paris
after the Nazis came to power. They fled Paris in 5700/1940 and through the
strenuous efforts of the Previous Rebbe they succeeded in boarding the last
ship to leave Europe. From the day they arrived in the United States, for
the next 47 years, the Rebbetzin's life was dedicated to only one thing --
the well-being of her husband and the success of his mission in life.
It was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who urged her husband to assume the leadership
of Chabad-Lubavitch after the passing of her illustrious father in 5710/1950.
From that moment on, the Rebbetzin embarked on perhaps the most difficult
mission of her life, for she spent the next four decades supporting every
action and move the Rebbe took on behalf of the Jewish people.
Although she was entirely absent from the public eye, she took an avid interest
in the work of the many thousands of emissaries, keeping abreast of their
activities. The Rebbetzin took deep personal satisfaction in their
accomplishments, and commiserated in their hardships.
For the Rebbetzin, her husband's will became her own. She was his greatest
Chasid. And yet, she had the wifely wisdom to look out for his health.
Knowing that the Rebbe usually refused to see a doctor, she would make her
own medical treatment contingent on his agreeing to a check-up. In order
to assure her well-being, he would, of course, comply.
In her last years, when the Rebbetzin was ill, she suffered in silence, and
to her last day, no complaint escaped her lips. Even to her husband she did
not reveal all her suffering, in order to spare him distress.
On the unanimous advice of several doctors the Rebbetzin was hospitalized.
Soon after she arrived at the hospital she suddenly requested a glass of
water. Shortly after midnight of Wednesday, the 22nd day of Shevat
5748/1988, the pure neshama [soul] of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka left
this world. The Rebbetzin's forebearers, Rebbetzin Rivka and Rebbetzin Shterna
Sarah, her great-grandmother and grandmother, had asked for a glass of water
minutes before their passing.
It is recorded in many holy books that tzaddikim often ask for water
before their passing. One explanation that is given is that their souls thereby
leave this world after reciting the proper blessing before drinking water,
"...and everything is created through His word" and the blessing afterward
"...He who creates many souls." This same blessing will be said at the time
of the resurrection of the dead in the Messianic Era.
In the merit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, may we follow the Rebbe's injunction
to take her life's accomplishments to heart, and with our many deeds of goodness
and kindness, may we see the coming of Moshiach now.
"And the living should take to heart." This verse, oft repeated by the Rebbe
during the year after the passing of his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, means
that we should learn from the life of a person who has passed on attitudes
and modes of behavior we can incorporate into our own lives.
As we observe the 18th yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka there are,
among many others, three significant lessons we can "take to heart" from
three of her exchanges.
Don't Cause Pain to Others
In her last years, the Rebbetzin had considerable difficulties with her eyes.
Once she was asked: "Jews from all over the world ask the Rebbe for a blessing.
Why do you hold yourself back from asking for a blessing?" In answer, she
said, "It is important for me not to cause the Rebbe pain."
It is improper for us, in order to relieve our own pain, to even inadvertently
cause another person pain.
Really Feel for the Other Person
The Friday night before her passing was a bitterly cold night. During a
conversation with her visitor, the Rebbetzin mentioned, "When I think that
you have to go out [to go home], I become cold."
We should care so much about other people that we feel for them and even
anticipate their discomfort. We can accomplish this by putting our own
considerations aside, as did the Rebbetzin on this evening when she was already
very ill, and focusing solely on the other person.
The Importance of Humility
One year, in honor of her birthday, the Lubavitch Women's Organization sent
the Rebbetzin a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Together with the bouquet was
an envelope that contained a list of names of people who were in need of
a blessing. The intention was that the list be given to the Rebbe.
The person who accepted the bouquet gave it to the Rebbetzin and submitted
the envelope to the Rebbe. The Rebbe looked at the envelope, upon which the
Rebbetzin's name had been written, and asked why it was not given to the
Rebbetzin. The person explained that it contained a list of names of people
who were in need of a blessing. The Rebbe responded, "Nu, she can also bless
But when the Rebbetzin communicated an answer from the Rebbe, she would always
convey it verbatim, saying, "This was the exact answer." She refused to ever
add an explanation but only repeated the Rebbe's words precisely.
No matter our own greatness or importance, our own abilities or position
of power, humility is an essential character trait.
In the merit of the Rebbetzin, may we immediately be privileged to see the
conclusion of the Midrashic prophecy when Moshiach will stand on the roof
of the Holy Temple and proclaim, "Humble ones, the time of your redemption
Though precious little is known of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the few statements
of hers that are public,(6) convey her brilliance, wit
and personal insight:
A young bride-to-be from a distinguished chasidic family could not be convinced
by her grandfather to uphold a little-practiced custom, which was not the
vogue, at her wedding. The grandfather asked the Rebbetzin to speak with
the bride. When the young woman protested that none of her friends had acted
in accordance with the custom and that she would be looked upon as being
different, the Rebbetzin responded, "It's very modern to be different."
"It's very modern to be different." From safety pins in the ears to "earrings"
in other parts of the anatomy, from assertiveness training to personalized
trainers, we strive, and to some extent succeed, to be modern, i.e., different.
But how many of us have the courage to be "modern" when it comes to Judaism?
The next time a book about a new spiritual path tops the best-seller list,
be modern and buy a book about the Jewish spirit.
The next time a friend asks you to sign up for a lecture series at the local
university, be modern and sign up for a lecture series at the local
The next time suggestions for restaurants are offered for that high-powered
lunch, be modern and suggest a kosher restaurant (most major cities nowadays
have at least one kosher restaurant).
And think of the Rebbetzin, who was so utterly modern that she cared not
a bit about what "modern" conventions say. She remained the Rebbe's most
ardent and devoted follower, so much so, that the Rebbetzin once stated,
"His [the Rebbe's] will is my will."
"G-d alone knows the full extent of her greatness," the Rebbe said during
the shiva for the Rebbetzin.
As the Rebbe stated in his first public discourse, all sevenths are precious
... we are the seventh generation ... the last generation of exile and the
first generation of the Redemption.
In the Redemption, when the G-dly essence of everything will be revealed,
we will surely appreciate the Rebbetzin's true greatness.
6. See Living With
Moshiach, Vol. 455-458.
"What am I doing here?" you ask yourself as you stop in the middle of the
room, trying to figure out why you came there in the first place.
Or perhaps you're waiting in the long line at the mega-supermarket. "What
am I doing here?" you mutter to no one in particular, as you weigh the few
cents you'll save against the time you're wasting.
Maybe your question is bigger, triggered by a mid-life crisis, a blow out
with your boss, or on a more positive note, achievement of a financial goal.
"What am I doing here? Where do I go from here?"
The soul, the spark of G-dliness within every person, could ask itself a
similar question. "What am I doing here? Why did I leave my holy, heavenly
environment and descend into a physical body in a very physical world?"
Jewish mystical teachings would answer the soul, "You descended from your
lofty place into this world for the purpose of an ascent." Regardless of
how lofty the soul was before, its sojourn in the physical body serves as
a springboard to attain ever higher heights, an aliya in Hebrew.
While the soul -- in its pre-birth state -- is exalted, it is also spiritually
immobile, fixed in its status. The soul yearns to enter the physical world,
though there it will be challenged with moral dilemmas and temptations. For
it is precisely these confrontations that provide an opportunity for spiritual
When the soul in this world overcomes the challenges and performs
mitzvot, it goes through a transformation and becomes elevated. At
the end of this physical journey, the soul will return to heaven at a higher
and more elevated level than before its incarnation.
The day of birth is a great opportunity for the yearning soul. However, the
day of passing after a lifetime of genuine fulfillment is even greater. For
on this day we celebrate the actual, not the potential; we rejoice in what
the soul has accomplished during its sojourn in this world.
On Monday, Feb. 20, the 18th anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka, it is surely a fitting time to ask oneself the question, "What am
I doing here?" Then listen to your soul, it will give you some important
The righteous women who left Egypt were so confident that G-d would perform
miracles for the Jewish people that they took tambourines with them into
the desert. So, too, with the final Redemption. The righteous women must,
and certainly do trust so completely in the immediate Redemption, that they
will begin immediately -- in these last moments of exile -- to play music
and dance for the coming of the complete Redemption.
Our Sages have taught that, just as when the month of Av begins we
lessen our joy, so, too, when the month of Adar begins, we increase
our simcha -- joy and happiness.
But why should we be so happy just because it is Adar? In Adar
we celebrate the joyous holiday of Purim, commemorating the time when the
unity and prayers of the Jewish people brought about the nullification of
Haman's wicked plan to annihilate the Jews.
Our Sages declared Purim a day of festivity and rejoicing; of sharing our
joy with our fellow-Jews. As Purim is the central holiday of Adar
and the "theme" of the month, the entire month is permeated with our pursuit
of joy and happiness.
The Talmud describes Adar as having "a healthy mazal." It is
a month which brings the Jewish people strength and true health. In the month
of Adar, G-d's blessings for a good and sweet year are renewed,
intensified, and increased. These provide more good reasons to rejoice!
In our day and age we have another reason to rejoice when Adar begins.
Jewish teachings explain that "Joy breaks all boundaries." As we stand literally
on the threshold of the long-awaited Redemption of the Jewish people and
the entire world, the Rebbe has suggested that our every action be permeated
with joy in the hope that this will break through the last boundaries of
May the joy we experience in these, the last days of exile, hasten the coming
of the ultimate joy, the coming of Moshiach. May we join one Redemption to
another and connect the redemption of Purim to the Messianic Redemption.
May it take place imminently!
* * *
Concerning the kind of things that should be done to arouse simcha
during the month of Adar, the Rebbe suggested that each person should
proceed according to his level: a child, for instance, should be made happy
by his parents; a wife by her husband, and visa versa.
The bottom line is that the Rebbe did not let up on encouraging an increase
of simcha in all permissible manners during the entire month of
We must hearken to the Rebbe's words and utilize simcha, especially
during this month, to turn darkness into light, sadness into joy, and pain
and tears into rejoicing with Moshiach in the Final Redemption; may it take
place, as the Rebbe so fervently prayed, teichef umiyad mamash --
As we enter the new Hebrew month of Adar, our thoughts immediately
turn to the holiday of Purim.(7)
Every holiday is a time of rejoicing for the Jewish people. The joy of Purim,
however, exceeds that of all other holidays, even the holiday of
Sukkot, which is referred to in the Torah itself as "Z'man
Simchateinu" -- the Season of Our Rejoicing.
The joy of Purim is limitless and unbounded. The joy of Purim is "poretz
geder"; it "breaks" through life's day-to-day routines and the typical
way of doing things.
As the joy of Purim is so great, even the preparations for Purim must be
filled with great joy. What preparations do we need to make for Purim?
On Purim itself we send gifts of food, mishloach manot, to friends
and neighbors. Children dress up in costumes. We listen to the reading of
the Megillah of Esther and stamp out Haman's name. We eat a festive
holiday meal and we add the special "V'Al HaNissim" ("And [we thank
You] For these miracles") to our prayers, etc.
Our preparations for Purim, then, include studying the laws and customs of
the holiday, purchasing items for mishloach manot, making costumes,
familiarizing ourselves with the Megillah, readying the holiday meal,
knowing when to recite V'Al HaNissim. The more enthusiasm and rejoicing
we put into the preparations for Purim, the greater the happiness of Purim
itself will be.
From the rejoicing of the preparations for Purim may we speedily experience
the rejoicing with Moshiach, NOW!
7. This year, Purim begins on Mon. night, Mar. 13. Ed.
At a chasidic gathering nearly 20 years ago, the Rebbe told the following
One of the tzaddikim of Poland, when still a little boy, asked his
father for an apple. His father, however, refused to give it to him.
The enterprising youngster proceeded to recite a blessing over the apple:
"Baruch atah...borei pri haetz -- Blessed are You... Who created fruit
of the trees!"
The father could not possibly allow the blessing to have been recited in
vain. And so, he promptly handed the youngster the apple.
The Rebbe used this story to illustrate the following point:
In our situation today, if the Jewish people begin now to rejoice in the
Redemption, out of absolute trust that G-d will speedily send us Moshiach,
this joy in itself will (as it were) compel our Father in heaven to fulfill
His children's wish and to redeem them from exile.
Needless to say, the Rebbe was not suggesting the use of mystical incantations
or the like to "force" the premature advent of the end of the exile. "We
are simply speaking of serving G-d with exuberant joy," the Rebbe explained.
The month of Adar brings with it not only the injunction to increase
in joy, but with every command we are also given the power and energy to
fulfill that command.
So, right from the start of the month, let us increase in our happiness,
do mitzvot with more enthusiasm, and rejoice NOW in the imminent
* * *
What benefit does joy bring us?
Chasidic teachings use the example of two individuals who are wrestling,
to teach us the advantage of joy.
When two individuals are wrestling with each other, each striving to throw
the other, if one is lazy and sluggish he will easily be defeated and thrown,
even though he may be stronger than his opponent. Similarly, when we are
trying to correct our bad habits or encourage spiritual growth, etc., it
is impossible to accomplish any of these goals with a heavy heart or
sluggishness, which originates in sadness. Rather, we are most successful
at "overthrowing" our character flaws when we use alacrity that is derived
The third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, known as
the Tzemach Tzedek, received a letter from one of his followers,
complaining that it was difficult for him to be "joyous." The Tzemach
Tzedek's advice to him was that he think only positive and happy thoughts,
that he be careful not to speak of sad or depressing matters, and to behave
as if his heart was full of joy. "Ultimately," concluded the Tzemach
Tzedek, "this will be the reality."
As we enter the month of Adar, a month when we are enjoined to increase
our joy over and above our regular mitzvot to "serve G-d with joy"
and "to be joyous constantly," may we celebrate the greatest joy of all,
the revelation of Moshiach and the ingathering of all Jews to our Holy Land,
This Shabbat in addition to the regular Torah portion read in
shul (synagogue), Parshat Mishpatim, we will also read Parshat
Shekolim, the Torah portion in which G-d commands Moshe to take a census
of the Jewish people by collecting a half-shekel from each one.
The Rebbe explains that a census emphasizes the unique importance of each
individual while at the same time reminding us that every Jew's existence
is bound to that of his fellow man.
The concept of "loving your fellow man" is further emphasized by the fact
that every Jew, no matter how rich or how poor, was required to give the
exact same amount of money, a half-shekel.
Moreover, the half-shekolim that were collected were used to bring
communal offerings on behalf of the entire Jewish people. And although we
are in exile we can still fulfill the mitzvah of half-shekel
by carrying out the custom of giving three half-dollars to charity before
These gifts will hasten the Redemption, for then "Moshe will gather," i.e.,
Moshe, "the first redeemer and ultimate redeemer," will gather every single
Jew and proceed to Israel, to Jerusalem, to the Third Holy Temple.
Though we do not yet have the Third Holy Temple to which we could bring communal
sacrifices, these mitzvot apply equally today. For, the Torah is infinite,
not limited to time and place. While the physical Sanctuary was destroyed,
the spiritual aspects of the service in the Temple are still carried out
today through learning Torah and doing mitzvot.
When a Jew makes a contribution toward a sacred cause, it is immediately
matched by a corresponding kindness from G-d to him. Sincere human effort
is met halfway by Divine Grace, thus a goal that may at first seem unattainable
to a person can actually be reached, because his goodness evokes a corresponding
May our good deeds combined with G-d's benevolence finally bring us to attain
our ultimate goal, the coming of Moshiach.
Our Sages relate that "in the merit of the righteous women, the Jews were
redeemed from Egypt." Similarly, the Sages associated subsequent redemptions
with the merit of Jewish women. Rabbi Yitzchok Luria emphasized that the
future Redemption will follow the pattern of the Exodus, and thus will also
come as a result of the merit of the righteous women of that generation.
From "Women as Partners in the Dynamic of Creation"
On Tues., Feb. 28, and Wed., March 1, G-d willing, we will be celebrating
Rosh Chodesh Adar, starting the new Hebrew month of Adar.
Rosh Chodesh is celebrated as a mini-holiday, with special prayers
and finer food and clothing. Jewish women, in particular, observe Rosh
Chodesh more meticulously.
What is the reason for Jewish women's stricter celebration of Rosh
Rabbi Eliezer wrote: "When the men came to ask for their wives' gold earrings
for the Golden Calf, the women refused to hand them over. They said to their
husbands: 'We will not obey you in order to make an abomination that has
no power to save!' G-d rewarded them in this world, giving them a greater
degree of observance on Rosh Chodesh, and He rewards them in the World
to Come, giving them the power of constant renewal that characterizes [the
renewal of the moon on] Rosh Chodesh."
On a more general note, the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, and our people
are compared to the moon. Although our light is sometimes eclipsed by that
of other nations, like the moon we are always here -- both at night and by
day. Our nation's history has its share of growth and decline; like the moon
we wax and wane. But ultimately, these are just phases. For, although at
times we seem to be as unimportant or insignificant as the sliver of the
moon when it reappears, this is just a veneer.
May we sanctify the new moon this year and celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar
in the Holy Temple with Moshiach.
Wednesday, the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar, marks the beginning
of the month of March.
Hey, wait a minute. In a Jewish publication, shouldn't we reserve our discussions
for Jewish months and not secular months?
A famous teachings of the Baal Shem Tov is that from everything a person
sees or hears -- whether in the realm of holiness or the seemingly secular
-- he can learn a lesson in his G-dly service.
So, what can we learn from March?
Most of us know the saying, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like
a lamb." And the juxtaposition of the lion and the lamb brings to mind a
time of world-peace. So powerful is this image of lion and lamb connoting
world-peace that a grass-roots group of parents who promote non-violent toys
for children call themselves the Lion and the Lamb.
In truth, when our prophets speak of the ultimate world peace in the Messianic
Era, they state, "The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will
lie down with the kid..." The prophet continues, "...And the lion will eat
straw as the ox."
One might ask, "Is this allegorical, or will animals that were previously
adversaries actually co-exist peacefully?" That's a good question! (Every
sincere question is a good question, actually.)
According to the opinions of many of our great Sages, these prophecies should
be taken literally. Nachmanides documents this stand profusely, although
he maintains that their fulfillment will not necessitate great changes in
Creation because, "Initially when the world was created, prior to the sin
of Adam, animals were not predatory. Only after Adam's sin did their natures
Similarly, Rabbi Dovid Kimchi, the Radak declares that animals were
not originally predators, as G-d created only one male and one female of
each species. If either one would have been killed, the species would have
However, there are other great Sages whose opinions differ. No less a giant
than Maimonides declares: "Do not presume that in the days of Moshiach the
nature of the world will change, or there will be innovations in the work
of Creation. Rather, the world will continue according to its pattern."
How are we to understand Maimonides' words, knowing that he established as
one of the 13 principles of Judaism the belief in the resurrection of the
dead, an act that is certainly a change in the nature of the world?
The Rebbe explains that there are two stages to the Messianic Era. In the
first stage, "the coming of Moshiach," everything will go according to its
natural pattern. In the second stage, the actual Redemption, we will experience
supernatural and miraculous occurrences.
However, it is possible, according to the Rebbe, that we could by-pass the
first stage and go straight to the miracles -- if we are meritorious.
Differing opinions aside, whichever way it's going to happen, let it just
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.
"The yahrtzeit should, as is Jewish custom, be connected with deeds
undertaken in memory of the departed. The Hebrew expression for this intent,
l'ilui nishmat, means "for the ascent of the soul." Our deeds help
elevate the soul of the departed. Then, the higher levels that the soul reaches
are drawn down and influence this world.... Also, it is proper that gifts
be given to charity in multiples of 470, the numerical equivalent of the
The Rebbe, 22 Shevat, 5750/1990
Make Renewal Gatherings
The Jewish calendar is based on the moon's cycle. The beginning of each Jewish
month is a mini-holiday and affords a perfect opportunity to make gatherings.
Serve some special foods, study about the holidays in the upcoming month,
celebrate the imminent Redemption when the Jewish people will be totally
"The renewal of the moon after its concealment is used as an analogy for
the Redemption and the complete renewal of the Jewish people 'who will in
the future be renewed as [the moon] is renewed.'"
Increase In Joy!
This joy will be increased by our fulfillment of the special directives for
the month of Adar, to help our fellow Jews in both spiritual and material
affairs: to teach a new Torah concept that they had not previously known
(or to reveal additional depth in a concept with which they were already
familiar), and to afford them material assistance. Fulfilling these directives
will increase their happiness and thus, increase G-d's happiness, as it were.
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
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, Feb. 24, Erev Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim:
Light Shabbat Candles,(8) by 5:23 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25, Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim:
Blessing of the New Hebrew Month, Adar.(9)
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:23 p.m.
8. 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.
9. Rosh Chodesh Adar, is on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and Wednesday, March
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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