"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Toldot, 5763
Kislev 3, 5763
Nov. 8, 2002
Dedicated to educating the public regarding the
current situation in Israel, based on Torah
sources, with special emphasis on the opinion
and teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
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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, our weekly
publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue we focus on the new Hebrew month of Kislev.
Our sincere appreciation to
publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing
us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb
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
28 Cheshvan, 5763
Brooklyn, New York
In this week's Torah portion, Toldot, we read of our Matriarch Rebecca's
infertility; the subsequent birth of her and Isaac's twin sons, Esau and
Jacob; the twins' growth into adulthood; and the blessing for the firstborn
that Isaac bestows upon Jacob instead of Esau. Isaac became blind in his
old age, as this week's portion states: "And it came to pass, when Isaac
was old, and his eyes were too dim to see." For many years Isaac was sightless,
unable even to leave his home because of his infirmity.
One explanation offered by Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator,
for Isaac's blindness is that he lost his sight "so that Jacob could receive
Isaac was not aware of the full extent of his son Esau's evil conduct and
therefore, when he grew old, wanted to bless him. G-d, however, knowing that
Esau was unworthy and that the blessings should go to Jacob, caused Isaac
to become blind, allowing Jacob to come to him instead of Esau and receive
the blessings intended for Esau. If Isaac had been able to see that it was
Jacob, he would have made sure that Esau would have received his blessings.
Why was it necessary for Isaac to suffer for so many years just to ensure
that Jacob should receive the blessings? Couldn't G-d have arranged for Jacob
to receive the blessings in another manner? Indeed, Isaac knew that Esau
was not as virtuous as his brother; when Jacob mentioned G-d's name, Isaac
realized that "the name of Heaven" was not usually on Esau's lips. Surely
G-d could simply have told him that Esau was an evil person; Jacob could
then have received the blessings without Isaac's becoming blind.
Why didn't G-d simply reveal the truth to Isaac?
The answer is that G-d was reluctant to speak lashon hara (slander),
even against an individual as evil as Esau. Despite the fact that Esau was
a rasha (evil person), G-d refrained from saying so outright. The
Torah thus emphasizes the degree to which we must avoid committing this
If G-d refrained from speaking lashon hara against Esau, how much
more must we be careful to avoid speaking lashon hara about any Jew!
For every Jew, is essentially good.
By emulating G-d's ways and being careful with what we say, we fulfill the
mitzvah of safeguarding our tongue.
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
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.
Every year at this time we read about one of the most famous sets of twins
in history, Jacob and Esau. As any child can tell you, Jacob was the "good"
one and Esau was the "bad" one, and the two brothers never got along with
each other. But the Torah is not a history book; Torah means "teaching,"
it contains eternal lessons that are always relevant and have a direct impact
on our daily lives.
On a deeper level, Jacob and Esau represent two ways of looking at the world,
two different life styles that even modern man is forced to choose between.
Esau's attitude was "carpe diem" -- seize the day, with no thought for tomorrow.
Jacob, by contrast, lived a more elevated existence, recognizing life's spiritual
According to Chasidic philosophy, every Jew is made up of two souls: an animal
soul and a G-dly soul. Like Jacob and Esau, they too never get along, and
are in constant conflict. The animal soul is interested only in the physical;
like an animal that walks on four legs, its head is focused downward rather
than up at the sky. The only thing that matters is the here and now. The
G-dly soul, however, looks upward. Why am I here? What's the real purpose
of my life?
As we learn from this week's Torah reading, the true birthright belongs to
Jacob, and our function as Jews is to elevate the world by imbuing it with
G-dliness. The battle will always be there, but it's a battle we can win
by choosing wisely.
Kislev is a month of celebration, when we commemorate many joyous
occasions. A recurring theme throughout the festivities of Kislev
On the 10th day of Kislev, 5587/1826, the second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi
Dovber (known as the Mitteler Rebbe), was released from incarceration
in Czarist Russia on trumped-up charges of anti-government activities.
Decades earlier, on the 19th of Kislev in the year 5559/1798, his
father, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Chasidism, was released
from imprisonment on trumped-up charges of anti-government activities. (Two
years later, when Rabbi Shneur Zalman was imprisoned once again, he was also
released in the month of Kislev, on the third night of Chanukah.)
On Chanukah, celebrated for eight days starting on the 25th of Kislev,
we celebrate the victory of the Jewish people over their mighty Hellenic
oppressors, and their subsequent freedom to follow once again in the ways
of the Torah. We also celebrate the liberation of our Holy Temple, which
the Hellenists had defiled and desecrated. Once the Jews cleansed and purified
the Temple, it was free to be used for its holy purpose, bringing the Jewish
people closer to G-d.
Torah in general, and chasidic teachings in particular, help liberate us
from our personal (often self-imposed) "prisons." During the month of
Kislev, then, it is appropriate to increase our study of Torah. This
study will help us reflect upon how best to use the opportunities available
to us because of the religious freedom that we are fortunate to enjoy today.
Let us pray that G-d speedily grant us the ultimate freedom that will come
with the revelation of Moshiach. For then we will truly be free to serve
G-d, in the third and final Holy Temple.
11 years ago, on Rosh Chodesh Kislev and the following Shabbat,
the Rebbe spoke about how "All the days of your life should be directed toward
bringing the era of Moshiach." Every waking moment of a person's life, the
Rebbe stated -- indeed, even during the time he sleeps, for he is alive then
as well -- must be devoted to this goal. This should include not only his
conscious activities (thought, speech and deed), but also his every essence.
In other words, the very core of a Jew's being must be focused on bringing
about the Final Redemption.
In this context, the Rebbe explained what it means to "breathe the air of
Moshiach." The essence of a person's life is reflected in his breathing
processes. In fact, the Hebrew word for breath, "neshima," shares
the same letters with the Hebrew word for soul, "neshama." The service
that is necessary at present, the Rebbe explained, is to connect the core
of our being to the core of Moshiach. This will ultimately awaken a pattern
of conduct that will permeate every dimension of our being.
In practical terms, this means having a concern for the fundamental existence
of every Jew, and providing our fellow Jews with the required necessities
to celebrate the holidays of the month of Kislev with happiness and
joy. Additionally, every Jew should also have the means to fulfill the custom
of giving Chanukah gelt (money) to the members of his household.
As the Rebbe concluded, these activities will bring about the advent of the
ultimate Redemption in this month, which is also called "the month of
redemption." At that time, we will merit to see not only the essence of Moshiach,
but also the revelation of Moshiach in the world at large, when Moshiach
will "perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to serve G-d
together, as it is written, 'I will make the peoples pure of speech, so that
they will all call upon the name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.'
May it happen immediately.
Do you have any money? No, this isn't a shake-down. But, if you have a U.S.
one dollar bill, pull it out before continuing to read this article.
Being such an integral aspect of our lives, there must be something valuable
money can teach us!
Turn to the side of the dollar bill that doesn't have the picture of George
Washington. The most conspicuous item, you will notice, is the word, "ONE."
"One" is a very prominent concept in Judaism. A basic tenet of our faith
is that G-d is one and there is nothing but G-d in the world -- the belief
that nothing exists but G-d, or that everything exists only because of G-d
is ultimate oneness.
Interestingly enough, the word "one" is directly below another major Jewish
concept, "In G-d We Trust." The Jewish people's trust and faith in G-d has
kept us going throughout the ages. This trust, however, is not limited to
the Jewish people as a group, but encompasses our individual lives as well.
Kabbala teaches -- and the Baal Shem Tov expounds on this teaching -- that
we are never alone, G-d is always with us. Even in a person's darkest moments,
G-d is with him and we can put our trust in Him, because each person is truly
one with G-d.
The concept of the oneness of the entire universe is further reflected in
the Latin phrase in the eagle's beak, "E Pluribus Unum," meaning, "From many
you make one."
The eagle is holding arrows in one claw and what many horticulturists consider
to be an olive branch in the other claw. This suggests the time of peace
spoken about by our great prophet Isaiah when we will "beat our swords into
The number of arrowheads, the number of leaves on the olive branch, the number
of stars above the eagle's head, are all 13. Thirteen, certainly, was the
number of the original Colonies. But in addition, and perhaps not so
coincidentally, it is the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters in the
word echad, which means "one."
Also, the stars above the eagle's head, in the shape that has become known
as a "Jewish star" and has become a symbol of Judaism, have light emanating
from around them. The Jewish people were commanded by G-d to be "a light
to the nations."
Let's look for a moment at the other sphere across from the eagle -- the
one containing the pyramid. Two Latin phrases are in this circle. "Annuit
Coeptis," according to the Webster dictionary, means, "He [G-d] has favored
our undertaking." The second phrase, "Novus ordo seclorum," means "a new
order of the ages," which in yesterday's lingo would be "a new world order"
and in today's lingo "the Era of the Redemption."
The pyramid itself -- work of human beings -- is incomplete. It becomes complete
only when joined with the eye, symbolizing most probably G-d's all-seeing
Eye. It is only when we connect the work of our own hands with G-d and when
we acknowledge G-d's assistance in our own work that we can complete our
job. As G-d tells us, "Not through your courage nor through your strength,
but with My spirit."
Just as the eagle symbolizes the United States, the pyramid is symbolic of
a country -- though much more ancient than the USA. The pyramid is Egypt
-- the location of the Jewish people's first exile. It is from Egypt that
the first Redeemer, Moses, took us out and brought us to freedom and the
Giving of the Torah. And it is from our last place of exile -- symbolized
by the eagle -- that the call has come forth, "The time of our Redemption
has arrived. Get ready for the coming of Moshiach."
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.
Awaken Your Core This Month:
"Awakening the core of our being must be reflected in a concern for the
fundamental existence of every Jew. This should be expressed in efforts to
provide our fellow Jews with the necessities required to celebrate the holidays
of the month of Kislev [the 'chasidic New Year' on the 19th of
Kislev and Chanukah] with happiness and joy. Similarly, they should
have the means to fulfill the custom that the Rebbes followed of giving
Chanukah gelt to the members of their household."
(1 Kislev, 5752/1991)
Simply stated, this means that as we think about our own family's holiday
celebrations this month, we should make sure to help provide for other, less
fortunate people in the greater Jewish family.
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ
Friday, Nov. 8, Erev Shabbat Parshat Toldot:
Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 4:27 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 9, Shabbat Parshat Toldot:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:29 p.m.
1. 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
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.
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