LIVING WITH MOSHIACH
Weekly Digest About Moshiach
25 Nissan, 5767
April 13, 2007
1. "Mivtzah Kashrut -- The Jewish Dietary Laws"
2. Chof Ches Nissan
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry
in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.
"I BELIEVE WITH COMPLETE FAITH IN THE ARRIVAL OF THE MOSHIACH.
"AND THOUGH HE MAY TARRY, I SHALL WAIT EACH DAY, ANTICIPATING HIS
Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
THIS PUBLICATION IS DEDICATED
TO THE REBBE,
RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio)
- Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 521st
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on:
1) One of the Rebbe's Mitzvah Campaigns, "Mivtzah Kashrut
-- The Jewish Dietary Laws."
Making sure her home and family keep Kosher, is one of the three special
mitzvot entrusted to the Jewish Woman.(1)
2) Chof Ches Nissan.
3) The upcoming Hebrew month of Iyar.
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly
publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing
us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor,
Reb Mordechai Staiman, of blessed
memory, for his tireless efforts.
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption
will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov
Committee for the Blind
23 Nissan, 5767
Los Angeles, California
1. The other two are: Mivtzah Neshek -- Lighting Shabbat Candles
(see Living With
Moshiach vol. 501), and Mivtzah Taharat Hamishpacha -- The
Jewish Laws of Family Purity, that will be discussed, G-d willing, in our
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
Horav Schneur Zalman Halevi
ben Horav Yitzchok Elchonon Halevi
Passed away on 21 Tamuz, 5766
Reb Dovid Asniel ben Reb Eliyahu
Passed away on 5 Sivan - Erev Shavuot, 5765
Mrs. Devora Rivka bas Reb Yosef Eliezer
Passed away on the second day
of Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5766
AND IN HONOR OF
Mrs. Esther Shaindel bas Fraidel Chedva
Dedicated by their children
Rabbi & Mrs. Yosef Yitzchok and Gittel Rochel
A large part of this week's Torah portion, Shemini, discusses the
Jewish dietary laws, kashrut. We read about the kosher animals
a Jew may eat and the non-kosher ones that are forbidden. The Torah
gives us two signs to distinguish a kosher animal: it must chew its
cud and have split hooves.
One of the reasons certain foods are prohibited is that the food we eat becomes
part of our physical bodies, transformed into our flesh and blood. The Torah
prohibits us from ingesting certain foods to protect our bodies from their
negative influence. Keeping kosher enables a Jew to avoid the spiritually
harmful effect of these non-kosher substances.
We must also "chew our cud" and have "split hooves."
The hoof is the lowest part of the animal's body, coming in direct contact
with the earth and separating it from the ground. Even an animal, whose head
is closer to the ground than man's, must maintain a certain distance and
separation from the earth to be considered kosher.
A Jew must also guard this distinction between the "earth" -- his corporeal
nature -- and his higher spiritual faculties. Even the lowest levels of his
soul, analogous to the foot, must not come into direct contact with the ground.
We should never become completely involved in our material affairs, but maintain
a certain detachment in the way we relate to them.
The hoof of a kosher animal is cloven, consisting of two parts. So
too must the Jew's involvement in worldly affairs -- analogous to the "hoof"
that connects him with the ground -- consist of two simultaneous but opposite
thrusts: his "right hand draws near" while his "left hand pushes [negative
influences] away." With the "right hand" the Jew learns Torah, performs
mitzvot and draws his fellow Jews closer to Judaism. The "left hand"
helps him to avoid negative influences.
The distinction between "right" and "left" is very important. One cannot
hope to obtain goodness without shunning evil. Good and evil must never be
confused, just as the kosher animal's hooves are split into two distinct
The second characteristic of a kosher animal is that it chews its
cud. Likewise, a Jew must "chew over" his every step and consider it carefully
before acting. When we subject our behavior to this scrutiny, all our actions
will be pure.
The Torah gives us several signs by which we can recognize kosher
birds, but in this instance we are not allowed to rely only on these
characteristics. Only birds explicitly regarded as kosher by our holy
tradition are permissible.
From this we learn that a Jew must never rely solely on his own intellect,
as his guidelines in life must be derived from our holy tradition. In addition
to his own intellectual achievements, the Jew must connect himself to the
leader of the generation in order for his service to be pure.
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
In this week's Torah portion, Shemini, we aren't just told what
constitutes a kosher animal -- e.g., split hooves and chewing its
cud -- we also learn that these animals and birds are specifically mentioned
in the Torah.
Although thousands of years have passed since the Torah was given, and many
new species of animal have been "discovered" by man since then, not one animal
or bird has been found possessing the kosher characteristics besides
those enumerated in our Torah portion.
There was a time when people used to brush aside the laws of keeping
kosher as outdated, food storage and production being much more sanitary
than in former years. But the G-d-given commandment to keep kosher
was never dependent upon sanitary conditions. At one period in history, the
extra cleanliness of kosher food might have been an added
benefit of observing this important mitzvah, but it was never
the reason for keeping kosher.
In fact, keeping kosher is in the category of mitzvot known
as chukim -- decrees. We are given no explanation by the Torah or
our rabbis as to why we were given these "decrees." But, since our Creator
knows what's best for us -- which oils, fluids, fuels, etc. make the mechanics
of our soul run the smoothest -- it is prudent and wise to follow His operating
Give keeping kosher a chance. You might want to start out slowly,
but once you get your engine revved up, you won't be able to imagine any
other way to keep your soul fine-tuned.
To change a non-kosher home to kosher is, admittedly, a major
undertaking. Any worthwhile change is bound to be difficult. In recognition
of this fact, Chabad-Lubavitch has formed a Kashrut Committee to assist
anyone sincerely interested in converting hers/his to a kosher kitchen.
For more information, please call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"And just as the Redemption was brought about in the days of Mordechai and
Esther (through the meticulous observance of Kashrut), so too, the
Redemption will be brought about in our days through the meticulous observance
By Michael Medved(2)
A few weeks ago, my six-year-old daughter did something that greatly upset
one of my professional colleagues. At the same time, it made her father
It happened when I took her to a television taping. While I answered questions,
my daughter chatted with the show's associate producer, a bright, capable
TV veteran I've known for nearly a decade. This producer seemed specially
delighted; she fussed and cooed over Sarah's hair, ribbons and frilly dress,
then brought her colored pens, blank paper and glasses of orange juice.
When I finished my interview, I saw that my daughter had also received a
large imported chocolate bar in a gold foil wrapping. "Daddy, look what Cindy
gave to me!" she said proudly. "But I didn't open it because maybe I think
it's not kosher. Will you look and see and check if it's okay?"
Our children have lived all their lives in a kosher home and they
know that unfamiliar products should be checked for the recognized insignia
that certifies that all ingredients conform to Jewish dietary law.
My daughter was hoping against hope that I'd detect some excuse in the fine
print on the wrapper that she hadn't been able to find, but the absence of
any visible certification created a problem. "I'm sorry, Sarah," I said,
handing it back to her after a careful search. "I just don't see any
My six-year-old looked crestfallen for just a moment, but quickly recovered
and bravely passed the bar back to the lady who had given it to her. "Thank
you," she said with a shy smile, "I'm sorry I can't eat it."
The episode might have ended here, except that Cindy felt it deserved further
discussion. "I can't believe what I just saw!" she exploded and set on to
berate me -- and, by implication, my wife -- for destroying Sarah's sense
of fun and spontaneity, encouraging compulsive behavior and contaminating
our kid with fearful and superstitious ideas. She found it "scary" that the
kid gave up a piece of candy she obviously relished "like some zombie follower
of David Koresh."
Worst of all, Cindy believed that this sick, authoritarian emphasis on
kosher minutiae would cripple my child's ability to reach decisions
for herself and would make her grow up feeling different from other kids.
It's hard to believe that Cindy would have responded in the same emotional
way had Sarah given up the chocolate bar for some other reason -- because
it was too fattening, for example, or too high in cholesterol. It was precisely
the religious basis for the sacrifice that made it seem so irrational and
This is one aspect of the so-called "culture war" that is seldom noted: in
the same way that traditional believers are occasionally appalled by what
they consider the heedless indulgence of secular America, secularists are
often horrified by what they perceive as the pointless restraints and rituals
The practice of drawing distinctions -- which represents such an important
focus of Jewish tradition -- seems arbitrary and threatening to many
I believe with all my heart that my daughter's childhood training in making
such distinctions will stand her in good stead as she grows older. It seems
to me a beautiful thing -- not a neurotic distortion -- that a little girl
is able to cheerfully sacrifice the sweet taste of candy for the sake of
a set of external standards.
I can think of no more valuable gift I can give my children than equipping
them to resist the pressure of their peers and to fight the all-powerful
adolescent instinct to go along with the crowd. A person who examines every
bit of food she consumes may learn to evaluate more important aspects of
behavior with similar care.
In short, I'm proud of my Sarah. There's an out-of-fashion, still useful
word that can be applied to the trait she displayed.
They used to call it character.
2. Reprinted from "L'Chaim" issue #281, Parshat Shoftim, 5752/1992.
"Some people are apprehensive about having the Redemption arrive so suddenly.
What will come of all the businesses that they have set up, the property
and possessions they have accumulated, the friendships and the contacts that
have been established, and so on?
"They need not worry. The Redemption does not imply the annulment of the
natural order nor the loss of the good things that came into being (in the
spirit of the Torah) during the exile. Indeed, these very things will be
comprised in the Redemption, and will be elevated to a state of Redemption,
to the level of their true consummation."
(The Rebbe, 5751/1991)
Monday, the 28th of Nissan (April 16), is an anniversary
of sort. It is 16 years to the day when, in the course of a rather unexceptional
public gathering, the Rebbe changed his tone and his topic and emotionally
shared the following:
"Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing
question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Moshiach
has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.
"It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews
gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come,
they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately.
They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will
not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the
day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.
"Even when people cry out 'Ad mosai -- Until when will we remain in
exile?' they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent
and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come
"What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry
out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach? All that has been
done until now has been to no avail, for we are still in exile; moreover,
we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.
"All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything
you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.
"May it be G-d's will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn
enough to resolve to secure G-d's consent to actually bring about the true
and ultimate Redemption, here and now, immediately. Their stubborn resolve
will surely evoke G-d's favor, as reflected by the interpretation of the
verse, 'For they are a stiff-necked people; You will pardon our sins and
wrongdoings and make us Your possession.'
"I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May
it be G-d's will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will
appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you
actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption.
May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and gladness of
* * *
Far from "passing the buck" or throwing up his hands in defeat, from that
day forth, the Rebbe continued, with increased vigor and enthusiasm, to discuss
the imminence of Moshiach's arrival and to offer suggestions what we could
do to get ready for the Redemption.
In fact, the very next Shabbat, the Rebbe said:
"Every Jew, man, woman and child, has an individual responsibility to add
to his service with the intent of bringing about the actual coming of Moshiach.
One should not try to shift the burden of responsibility to others. Rather,
each person should recognize his individual responsibility.
"This service must involve an increase in the study of the Torah, both hidden
and revealed and an increase in the performance of mitzvot in a beautiful
and conscientious manner . . .
"In addition to making such increases oneself, one should also influence
others to make similar increases. And all of this should be suffused with
yearning for and expectation of Moshiach's coming.
"May our resolutions to involve ourselves be successful and bring about the
coming of the ultimate Redemption."
There has always been one central theme in all of the Rebbe's talks: the
Throughout the years, the Rebbe suggested various projects to hasten the
coming of Moshiach and to prepare for that eternal era of peace and tranquility.
But, upon declaring that "the time of your Redemption has arrived" in 5751/1991,
the Rebbe repeatedly stressed a number of practical activities to prepare
ourselves and the world for Moshiach.
One activity is to increase in Torah study about Moshiach and the Redemption.
Concerning this the Rebbe said, "Since Moshiach is about to come, a final
effort is required that will bring Moshiach. Every individual -- man, woman
and child -- should increase his Torah study in subjects that concern the
Redemption. This applies to the Written Torah and the Oral Torah -- in the
Talmud, Midrashim as well as (and especially) in the mystical dimension
of the Torah, beginning with the Zohar and particularly in
Chasidus... This study is a foretaste and preparation for the study
of the Torah of Moshiach... An increase in Torah study in these areas is
the 'direct way' to bring about the revelation and coming of Moshiach in
Another activity to prepare for Moshiach is to upgrade one's observance of
mitzvot (commandments) particularly charity. Said the Rebbe, "One
should likewise upgrade one's meticulous observance of the mitzvot,
particularly the mitzvah of tzeddakah (charity) which 'brings
the Redemption near.' It would be well to make one's increased contributions
with the intent that it hasten the Redemption. This intention in itself becomes
part of one's study of subjects connected with the Redemption -- for this
is a tangible study of the teaching of our Sages, 'Great is charity, for
it brings the Redemption near.' "
Surely, by implementing these suggestions we will imminently see the realization
of the Jewish people's prayers throughout the millenia, the coming of Moshiach,
Is the so-called "Moshiach Campaign" a Lubavitch invention? At a gathering
on Shavuot 5745/1985, the Rebbe spoke about people's perception of
the desire for Moshiach as an "innovation" of Lubavitch. The Rebbe said (freely
"Someone wrote to me recently that he met a religious Jew... and [was] asked,
'Why do Lubavitchers cry out and proclaim, "Moshiach Now!" '
"The person who wrote the letter wasn't sure what to answer the other Jew
and therefore was writing to me for an answer.
"It is mind-boggling that the letter-writer didn't know what to answer the
other Jew! But to answer the question:
"Belief in Moshiach and awaiting his coming -- 'I believe in the coming of
Moshiach... I wait every day that he should come' -- is one of the 13 fundamental
principles of the Jewish faith as enumerated by Maimonides.
"Every Jew requests in each of the three daily weekday services, 'Speedily
cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish... for we hope for Your
salvation every day.' And each day, including Shabbat and holidays,
in the three prayer services, we beg, 'May our eyes behold Your return to
Zion in mercy!'
"After all of this, there are those who say that the request that we go out
of exile to the Redemption -- 'Moshiach Now,' -- is a 'novel' idea of Lubavitch!"
The Rebbe quoted a verse from Psalms, "As the deer longs for the springs
of water, so does my soul call out in thirst for You G-d." The Rebbe explained
that this verse emphasizes our great pain over the exile and our desire and
longing for the Redemption. This desire is not just that we want "Moshiach
Now," but much more: In the same way a person who hasn't had water for a
long time thirsts for it in order to revive his soul, so should our thirst
for the Redemption affect our lives literally.
May our cry of "Moshiach Now!" be filled with a true thirst for the Redemption
that will reunite us with the Rebbe and bring the Redemption NOW!
By Rabbi Avraham Kotlarsky(3)
The fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel (the Rebbe Maharash), had
a chasid who was a successful businessman. Before undertaking any
significant deal, he always consulted the Rebbe and followed his instructions.
One time, the chasid was offered a fabulous opportunity. If successful
-- and most certainly it would be -- he would make millions. The deal, however,
required that he invest almost his entire fortune. Before the chasid
would make such a major move, he set off to the city of Lubavitch to seek
the Rebbe's advice.
After hearing the details of the proposition the Rebbe Maharash told
him that he should not go through with the deal.
The chasid was stunned. He tried to convince the Rebbe that this was
a sound proposal; he described all of the great profits to be made, but to
no avail. The Rebbe's answer was final: NO!
A few days later, the would-be business partners came to the chasid.
When they heard that he was not interested, based upon the Rebbe's answer,
they began to laugh at him. "Certainly you didn't understand the Rebbe's
words," they told him. "And anyway, maybe there were some important details
you left out that would solicit a different answer. After all," they said,
"isn't there a saying that 'according to how you ask, that is how you're
answered'? Go back to the Rebbe and make sure to tell him all the details.
You'll see, the answer will be different this time."
Back to Lubavitch the chasid went. "Rebbe," he pleaded, "obviously
I did not explain myself well enough last time. We're talking about tremendous
sums of money. I can become rich overnight and give much tzeddakah
[charity] as well..."
The Rebbe listened patiently once again, and at the end of the presentation
his answer was simple and direct: "No. It's not worthwhile."
The chasid made his way home, thinking about all the money he could
have made, if only the Rebbe would have agreed. "The Rebbe doesn't even explain
his reasons," thought the chasid.
But his friends and family wouldn't let up. "It's forbidden to lose such
an opportunity," they cried. "Go back to the Rebbe again and certainly the
answer will be different."
In his third attempt, the chasid tried everything, even begging the
Rebbe to let him make the deal, but the Rebbe answered once again: "No."
When the chasid came home, he couldn't stand up to the pressure of
family and friends, and contrary to the Rebbe's advice, he signed the deal.
He quieted his conscience by telling himself that he would now really give
a lot of tzeddakah.
Unfortunately, things did not go well. In a short while, the chasid
lost all his money.
The chasid realized how wrong it was to not follow the Rebbe's
instruction. Full of regret, he made his way back a fourth time to see the
The chasid spent a long time in private with the Rebbe. When he came
out, he revealed only one thing the Rebbe had told him.
"There are people," said the Rebbe, "big businessmen among them, who come
to ask my advice concerning important matters. Sometimes the issues are quite
complex; matters which I have never engaged in, nor did my ancestors. So
then why do they ask me my advice, and follow my instructions and counsel?
"There are three answers, each one matching a different type of Jew who comes
"One person thinks, 'It's very simple. The Rebbe has Ruach HaKodesh
-- Divine Inspiration! The Rebbe is a G-dly man, a prophet. It is G-d's words
coming from his mouth and therefore we must follow him, no questions asked!'
"Another type," continued the Rebbe, "is a person who operates on a different
level, somewhat more down to earth. 'The Rebbe studies Torah all the time
and serves G-d with his entire being. His intellect is totally nullified
to G-d's Will. Therefore, everything he says stems from Torah and certainly
his words will be fulfilled.'
"The third type," explained the Rebbe, "says, 'The Rebbe meets so many people,
from all over the world and from all walks of life. He has acquired an incredibly
broad knowledge of worldly matters. With this knowledge and his ability to
see things from many different angles, the Rebbe sees what others cannot.
Therefore, we must listen to him.'
"Whichever group you might belong to," the Rebbe Maharash concluded,
"you should never have gone through with the deal after hearing from me not
once, not twice, but three times clearly 'no!'"
* * *
I remember the morning of Gimmel Tammuz 5754/1994, when I walked into
the Chabad House for Sunday morning services. One of the people who had come
to pray asked me, "What do we do now?"
What do we do now? The Rebbe told us that the Redemption is at the door;
that we must prepare ourselves and the whole world for the revelation of
Moshiach. It was true that even while the Rebbe was critically ill we believed
that G-d would heal the Rebbe; that the Redemption we so eagerly awaited
and anticipated would be heralded in with the revelation of the Rebbe as
Moshiach, and that he would miraculously lead us to the Holy Land.
What now? Who will lead us on? Was the Rebbe wrong? Is the Redemption, after
all, a beautiful dream to take place in another time, another place, but
not in this "real" world of sorrow and pain?
Some people see in the Rebbe a great charismatic leader. Others see a Torah
genius. Others emphasize the Rebbe's knack for finding the right button to
push in the hearts of his followers, his admirers, or any stranger who approached
him at Sunday dollars.(4) Others speak of the Rebbe's
organizational skills and his foresight that has put him light-years ahead
of prevailing thought.
The final word is that the Rebbe is a G-dly man. The Rebbe is not "us-plus,"
so to speak, a person who is merely more brilliant, more sensitive,
more insightful, more spiritual, and capable of leadership
than we. Rather, his teachings and personal life reveal him to be carved
from a different substance altogether. His every word -- carefully chosen
and full of meaning; his every move -- calculated, corresponding to Divine
Emanations in a world concealed from our sight; someone transplanted from
another world, to bring light to a darkened world, to lead the final generation
of exile to Redemption.
The Rebbe is revealed to each person as he perceives the Rebbe. Like the
three types of Jews who came to the Rebbe Maharash, every individual
relates to the Rebbe on a different level.
Not once, not twice, nor three times, but literally hundreds of times --
publicly and privately, in writing and verbally -- the Rebbe has told all
Jews of this generation what we must do in these last moments before the
"Do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now." (28 Nissan,
"...Publicize to all people that we have merited that G-d has chosen and
appointed an individual incomparably greater than all other people in this
generation as the judge, adviser and prophet of the generation to give
instructions and advice in both the Divine service and daily activities of
all Jews ... up to and including the main prophecy, "Redemption is imminent"
and "Moshiach is coming." (Shabbat Shoftim, 5751/1991)
"All the service that was expected of the Jewish people in exile has been
completed and perfected and we are now ready to receive Moshiach ... Moshiach
not only exists, but is also revealed. All that remains is for us to receive
and greet Moshiach in actual fact." (Shabbat Vayeira,
"Every sheliach [emissary of the Rebbe] must prepare himself and all
the Jews of his neighborhood, city, etc., to greet Moshiach through explaining
the concept of Moshiach, as discussed in the Written and Oral Torah, in a
way that each and every individual can relate to .... Since this is the necessary
service of the time, it is self-understood that this is incumbent upon every
single Jew, without any exception." (Shabbat Chayei Sarah,
The Rebbe has told us to learn more about Moshiach and the Redemption; to
start "living with Moshiach" by increasing our acts of kindness and
mitzvot; to share this message with others.
Whatever group we belong to, regardless of how we define ourselves and at
what level of faith we may operate, we should listen to the Rebbe.
There is no question that all that the Rebbe said will be fulfilled. There
is no question that what the Rebbe said is not open now to reinterpretation.
There is no question that we will see the Redemption very soon unfold before
our eyes, precisely as the Rebbe said. There is no question what we must
do now, for everything the Rebbe has said to us, all of the directions that
he has given to this generation, must continue on and with greater strength,
with more vigor and vitality.
We are the generation of the Redemption. And we will make it happen. Let
us commit ourselves to fulfilling the Rebbe's directives, and then we will
be able to see the realization of the Rebbe's most important prophecy, the
revelation of Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption.
3. Executive Director, Chabad Lubavitch of Rockland, NY.
4. In the years 1986-1992, the Rebbe, every Sunday, personally distributed
to each of the thousands of visitors who came to receive his blessings a
dollar to give to charity.
This Shabbat we bless the new Hebrew month of Iyar, and we
celebrate Rosh Chodesh Iyar on Wednesday, April 18, and Thursday,
April 19; therefore, let's consider some of the numerous points about the
unique quality of Iyar.
Iyar, as spelled in Hebrew, is an acronym for the verse, "I, G-d,
am your Healer." Thus, this month is an auspicious time for personal and
In addition, the Rebbe stressed many times the special quality of every single
day of the month of Iyar, as each day has its own special
mitzvah of sefira, or "counting."
The first time the Jewish people counted during this period between Passover
and Shavuot was when they left Egypt and were preparing themselves
to receive the great gift of G-d's Torah at Mount Sinai. At the time they
were on a journey not only toward Mount Sinai and ultimately the Holy Land,
but they were also on their own personal journeys of self-refinement and
In future years "sefira" was connected to the counting of the
omer, a measure of barley that the Jews brought as an offering in
the Holy Temple on the second day of Passover.
Even as we await the rebuilding of the Third and eternal Holy Temple, we
recite the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah of counting the
omer each evening from the second night of Passover until the eve
of Shavuot. And as we do so, we, too, travel on our own personal journeys
of self-refinement and purification, thereby drawing holiness into this world,
and preparing it for the arrival of Moshiach.
This, then, is the essence of part of the uniqueness of the month of
Iyar. Each day in this month has the mitzvah of counting (as
compared to the previous month of Nissan and the next month of
Sivan, which only have a few days with this mitzvah). And each
day is filled with the longing and preparation for the giving of the Torah.
Similarly, each day brings with it renewed introspection and the desire for
character refinement and purification.
May we complete our personal and national counting in the Holy Temple with
* * *
Counting the omer teaches us that every day counts. It reminds us
that each hour, each minute, should be filled with words, thoughts and deeds
of which we can be proud. And, too, that we are held accountable for every
precious second of life with which our Creator has blessed us.
"But, hold on a minute!" one might silently shout. "I'm just finding out
about this now. I've already missed out on making the past 20 days (or 20
years) count. What can I do to rectify the situation?"
The answer to this heartfelt cry lies in the uniqueness of the month of
Iyar and the mitzvah with which it is intertwined. Each day
holds a separate mitzvah, a unique opportunity, a particular mission.
True, you might have passed up prior chances, but today's and tomorrow's
minutes and hours are still available for you to fill with meaningful moments.
And by making our days count from now on, we can, in truth, rectify that
which we were missing in the past.
* * *
The month of Iyar carries within it a special message. The month before
it, Nissan, contained the celebration of our freedom on Passover.
The month following Iyar, Sivan, is noted for the holiday on
which we celebrate the receiving of the Torah, Shavuot. From Passover
until Shavuot we count the omer, the days from the festival
of freedom until the celebration of receiving the Torah.
In Nissan and Sivan, we count the omer for only
part of the month. Iyar is unique in that it is the only month
during which we count the omer every single day. It is also the only
month during which there is an additional, special mitzvah proscribed
for each day. The mitzvah of counting the omer involves drawing
holiness into this world, thereby preparing it for the arrival of Moshiach.
The counting of the omer also represents a cumulative effort because
each day we say "Today is one day of the counting of the omer." "Today is
two days..."; "Today is three days..."; etc.
Just as each day we count higher and higher until we reach the Giving of
the Torah, so too, should we try each day to reach higher, to learn Torah
and do mitzvot, until we reach the ultimate goal of the coming of
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 urges that:
Every Jewish man, woman and child should have a letter written for them in
a Sefer Torah.*
Every person should study either the Rambam's Yad Hachazakah -- Code
of Jewish Law -- or the Sefer HaMitzvos.
Concerning Moshiach, the Rebbe stated, "The time for our redemption has arrived!"
Everyone should prepare themselves for Moshiach's coming by doing random
acts of goodness and kindness, and by studying about what the future redemption
will be like. May we merit to see the fulfillment of the Rebbe's prophecy
*. 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,
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 of what we can do to complete his work
of bringing the Redemption.
Study Ethics of the Fathers
We read one chapter of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) each
Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, because these are the days
leading up to the Giving of the Torah and Pirkei Avot contain ethics
and moral exhortations to help us improve ourselves so that we are worthy
of the Torah.
The Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters, but
also actually studying them.
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ
Friday, Apr. 13, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shemini:
Light Shabbat Candles,(5) by 7:15 p.m.
After nightfall, after reciting the Shabbat evening prayer, count
Saturday, Apr. 14, Shabbat Parshat Shemini:
Blessing of the New Month, Iyar(6)
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 1 of
Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:16 p.m.
After nightfall, after reciting the evening prayer, count Omer 12.
5. 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.
6. Rosh Chodesh Iyar is on Wednesday, April 18, and Thursday, April
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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