"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Va'eira, 5763
Tevet 29, 5763
Jan. 3, 2003
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
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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
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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.
This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, therefore this week's
issue focuses on the Hebrew month of Shevat.
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
18 Tevet, 5763
Brooklyn, New York
This week's Torah portion, Va'eira, opens with G-d's reply to Moses'
question, posed at the end of last week's reading. "Why have You allowed
so much evil to befall this people?" Moses added. "Ever since I came to Pharaoh
to speak in Your name, he has done more evil... You have not delivered Your
"I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob," G-d counters.
What kind of answer is this to Moses' seemingly legitimate complaint? Our
Sages interpret this verse as a mild rebuke. "Your forefathers," G-d says,
"Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were repeatedly tested, yet none of them ever
questioned My motives."
This exchange seems odd in light of the fact that, in general, the Torah
goes out of its way to use only positive terms, even when referring to the
lowliest beast. Every word in the Torah contains countless practical lessons
to enhance our relationships with our fellow man and to apply in our service
of G-d. We must therefore conclude that G-d's response to Moses must be of
practical significance in our daily lives as well.
Moses, the greatest prophet who ever lived, certainly knew of the greatness
of the patriarchs and their unquestioning devotion to G-d. In fact, because
Moses stood on an even higher spiritual level than the patriarchs, his faith
in G-d and trust in Him were likewise also greater. Yet if so, how could
he have complained to G-d, "Why have You allowed so much evil to befall this
Chasidic philosophy explains that Moses was on the spiritual level of
chochma, intellect, whereas the patriarchs were the embodiment of
midot, the emotions. Intellect always strives to understand; the nature
of emotion includes the willingness to accept authority. The patriarchs were,
therefore, unquestioning in their submission to G-d, whereas Moses argued
and questioned in his desire to comprehend.
The practical lesson we may derive from this is twofold: On the one hand,
we must always endeavor to emulate our forefathers, who, even in times of
adversity, had complete faith in G-d and never questioned His actions. Likewise,
in our own era, now is not the time for questions as we stand on the threshold
of the complete and Final Redemption. Yet at the same time, Moses' demand
of G-d is equally valid for us today.
Nowadays, as we find ourselves at the very end of our exile, an exile so
bitter and confusing that the very boundaries between light and dark and
between good and evil appear to be blurred, we must bear these two things
in mind: The Jew must have utmost faith that all of G-d's actions are good,
that the darkness itself is leading us toward Redemption, and, at the same
time, he must beg and implore G-d with all his might to fulfill His promise
to bring Moshiach.
Our cry, "How long, O G-d?" is not in contradiction to our faith; rather,
our G-d-given intellect dictates that we demand, "Why have You done more
evil to this people?" Both intellect and emotions must work in tandem, combining
the faith of our forefathers with the cry of "We Want Moshiach NOW!"
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.
This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the first day of the new
Hebrew month of Shevat. As related in Deuteronomy, on the first day
of Shevat, in the 40th year after the Exodus from Egypt, Moses began
to explain the fifth Book of the Torah to the Jewish people. (He concluded
on the 7th day of Adar, the same day he passed away).
The beginning of Deuteronomy relates how Moses rebuked the Jews for their
sins, including the Golden Calf and the sin of the Twelve Spies. However,
Moses did not specify any particular transgressions, but only alluded to
their sins. Moses inspired the Jews to return to the right path through his
constructive criticism. From this we learn a great lesson: Whenever discipline
is necessary, love and kindness are much more effective than humiliation
The name "Shevat" itself relates to the Hebrew word "shevet,"
meaning staff, which is associated with the concept of authority and kingship,
as the Torah states, "The staff will not depart from Judah." The most perfect
expression of this idea will be manifested in the era of the Redemption,
when Moshiach will become the sovereign king. Indeed, on the verse "And a
shevet will arise in Israel," Maimonides explains, "This refers to
The word "shevet" also means "branch" or "shoot." In this context,
there is also a connection to Moshiach. On the verse "A shoot will emerge
from the stem of Jesse" (a famous prophecy about the coming of Moshiach),
the Torah commentator Metzudat David explains that this also refers
to King Moshiach.
As we begin this month so closely associated with Moshiach, let us hope and
pray that all our efforts to learn Torah, observe mitzvot and spread
awareness of the Rebbe's Prophecy of Moshiach's imminent arrival, bring about
the ultimate Redemption without delay.
Next Sunday, Beis Shevat, the second day of Shevat (Jan.
5), is the yahrtzeit of Reb Zusya of Anipoli, a disciple of
Reb Dov Ber of Mezritch (the Mezritcher Maggid), and colleague of
Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe.
The fact that illness and utter poverty were Reb Zusya's lot did not in the
least affect his piety, humility, and love of G-d for which he was renowned.
A story is told of Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg, who approached Reb Dov Ber
of Mezritch and asked him how it was possible to follow the injunction of
our Sages to "make a blessing upon hearing bad news just as one would make
a blessing upon hearing good news." Reb Dov Ber told Reb Shmelke to go to
Reb Zusya, and he would answer his question.
Reb Shmelke went to Reb Zusya, upon whom poverty and illness had left their
physical marks. When Reb Shmelke posed his question to him, Reb Zusya was
surprised. He replied, "This question should have been brought to someone
who has actually experienced unfortunate events, G-d forbid. Thank G-d, I
have only had good things happen to me for my whole life."
The answer to Reb Shmelke's question was that someone should rejoice in his
lot to the point that he is not even aware of harsh events. This was the
hallmark of Reb Zusya's life.
Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi held Reb Zusya in such high esteem that before
printing his magnum opus, the Tanya, he sent a copy of it with a special
messenger to Reb Zusya for his approbation.
It used to be that instant potatoes, instant soup and instant oatmeal epitomized
the fast pace of the American lifestyle. They weren't really so instant,
though, as one still needed to first boil up the water, which took a good
few minutes. But back in the days before instant international communication
via fax machines and e-mail, a few minutes was instant enough.
Instant today is quicker than it was 25 years ago. But it's still not instant
enough, as proven by computer advertisements that ask us what we do while
we're "waiting" the minute or two for the computer to do an auto-sort or
the laser printer is printing out the 16-page report (at a rate of eight
pages per minute).
We're in the instant age, so it's no wonder that when someone tells us something
is happening imminently we expect it now. But some things are worth waiting
for, even if just for a few more moments.
* * *
A man once dropped a security bond worth many thousands of dollars into a
huge box filled with scrap paper. He rummaged through the papers for hours
trying to find his note.
Another man passed by and expressed his surprise at the fellow's eagerness
and mounting excitement, even after hours of unsuccessful searching. "Quite
the contrary," exclaimed the first man as he scrutinized each piece of paper.
"Now that I am nearing the bottom of the pile I am more encouraged, because
I know I'll find it very soon."
That person knew that his long search was worthwhile. He was not discouraged.
Now, imagine if he had found a hundred dollar bill at the top of the pile.
Would he have said: "Oh, why bother to take so much time and effort to search
for the lost bond?"
Of course not!
There's a big difference between cash and a security bond. Cash, as we know,
is immediate money. A security bond is worth money later.
We like to be handed things now, immediately. When we want something, we
want it right away. In this age of immediate gratification, some people get
discouraged or are disappointed if they don't get results at once.
But we should never be discouraged by the long wait for Moshiach. Our
neshamos (souls) can appreciate the value of a security bond. They
are not disheartened by the wait. Like the person searching at the bottom
of the box, our neshamos are encouraged and excited with anticipation
the closer we get to Moshiach's coming.
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, Jan. 3, Erev Shabbat Parshat Va'eira:
Light Shabbat Candles,(1) by 4:22 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 4, Shabbat Parshat Va'eira:
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:28 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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