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Parshat Shemini, 5763

24 Adar II, 5763
Mar. 28, 2003

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio) - Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.


We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 336th 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) Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh, the forth of four special Torah readings read in the synagogue on the Sabbaths before the month of Nissan -- Shekolim, Zachor, Parah and HaChodesh.

3) As our Sages have enjoined us to begin preparing for each holiday thirty days before the holiday begins,

Therefore, we begin in this week's issue, to focus on the upcoming 8-day festive holiday of Pesach, which begins this year, on Wednesday night, April 16.


This Shabbat Parshat Shemini, the 25th of Adar II (Sat., March 29), marks the 102nd year since the birth of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe's wife.

On this day in 5748/1988, in connection with her 87th birthday (about a month after her passing, on 22 Shevat), the Rebbe spoke about the significance of birthdays and the importance of celebrating them in the traditional Jewish manner, which will be discussed, G-d willing, in our next issue.


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, 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

22 Adar II, 5763
Brooklyn, New York


1. The other two are: Mivtzah Neshek -- Lighting Shabbat Candles, and Mivtzah Taharat Hamishpacha -- The Jewish Laws of Family Purity.

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Shemini

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 halves.

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 way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.


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 instructions assiduously.

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.

Good luck!


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:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


"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 of Kashrut."

(The Midrash)


This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevorchim, the Shabbat before the new Jewish month. Literally translated, it means a Shabbat in which we bless the upcoming Jewish month. This Shabbat Mevorchim is special because it is the Shabbat before the month of Nissan, which is often referred to as "the month of Redemption."

On the surface, calling Nissan the month of Redemption is explained by the fact that Nissan is the month in which we celebrate Passover,(2) the holiday that commemorates the Jews' redemption from Egyptian slavery. But the month of Nissan is also connected to the Final Redemption, as our Sages say, "In Nissan, our people were redeemed, and in Nissan, they will be redeemed in the future."

This Shabbat represents the transition from the month of Adar II to the month of Nissan. Both months contain within them commemorations of miraculous events. In Adar II we celebrate the downfall of Haman and the victory of the Jewish people, and in Nissan we celebrate our freedom from slavery.

The difference between the events is that the miracles of Purim occurred within the natural order of the world, while the miracles of Passover transcended the natural order. The story of Purim can be traced through a natural sequence of events. But by cloaking miracles in the natural order of the world, we are actually elevating the natural order.

That is our true purpose on this earth, to elevate the physical to the spiritual and have G-dliness revealed on this plane.

Another concept that the two months have in common is redemption. Adar II celebrates redemption from Haman's wicked decree, and Nissan celebrates the redemption from Egypt. Shabbat is also a kind of redemption, a weekly redemption from mundane cares and worries to a place of light, joy, song and Torah-study.

May all of these redemption's be stepping-stones to our complete, final, and ultimate Redemption, the coming of Moshiach.


2. This year, Passover begins on Wednesday night, April 16. Ed.


This Shabbat is one of the four special Shabbats preceding the Yom Tov of Pesach. It is called Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh. We read a special Torah portion from the book of Exodus which states: "This month shall be the head month for you. It shall be the first month of the year."

Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh always falls either on the Sabbath when we bless the month of Nissan or on the first day of Nissan itself.

The month of Nissan is special in that it is a month of miracles -- not the everyday miracles of human existence, or hidden miracles such as those that took place on Purim. But, rather, Nissan contains revealed miracles that are higher than nature itself.

With the command that the month of Nissan, a month of revealed miracles, be designated as the first and "head" of the months, the Torah emphasizes that in all the months of the year, whether we see open miracles, miracles in the cloak of natural events, unusual success or a seemingly unchangeable cycle of nature, we must realize that G-d is the Creator of the Universe, the sole Master of the world, who directs and cares about even the smallest detail of the world and each individual person.

If each and everyone of us would sit down for only a brief few moments and pay close attention to what has happened to us personally, we will detect minor and major miracles that happen in our personal lives.

Many times we are just too busy to stop for a moment and take stock of what has happened. But we shouldn't pass it off as another "natural" happening. It is a miracle of G-d, whether it has occurred in the month of miracles, or in an average day.


Springtime happens to bring with it one of the most colorful, widely observed, and vividly recalled Jewish holidays -- Passover. In fact, one of the three names by which Passover is mentioned in the Bible is "the Holiday of Spring."

Our Sages enjoin us to begin preparing for each holiday thirty days before the holiday begins. When our Sages made this suggestion, they had in mind learning the laws pertaining to the holiday. The holiday of Purim falls thirty days before Passover, which serves as an easy reminder of when to start preparations. Many people use Purim, and the thirty-day guideline as a reminder that it's time to start getting serious about cleaning the house, and getting the chometz (leavened foods) out of the house, for Passover.

We've already passed the thirty-day mark. So, certainly, it's not too soon to make plans for where you'll be spending the seders. Also, check out your local supermarket or grocery store and see if they'll be stocking the kosher-for-Passover food that have a reliable Rabbinical supervision that you will need for the eight-day holiday. If they don't have everything, find out who does.

In addition, call your local rabbi, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center to order shmurah matzah -- special hand-made matzah just like the Jews used when they came out of Egypt -- at least for the two seders.

With the first crocuses starting to peep their heads up, even through the frost, it's really time to start thinking about Passover. This year, bring the "Holiday of Spring" into your thoughts, now.


When it comes to getting ready for Passover; teamwork is essential to do the job right. If you consider the task of removing all traces of chometz from your possession as an adventure, it makes it more fun and rewarding. And when you're having fun, everyone wants to join in.

Start early enough -- traditionally we start preparing for a holiday 30 days before the festival -- and consider cleaning according to the ABC's.

Attack the attic. Go through all of those storage spaces that accumulate chometz during the year.

Beware of bedrooms, books and even briefcases. Even if your policy is no food in bedrooms, crumbs wind up there. Chometz also wedges itself in books if you eat while you read.

Clear the cabinets, chairs, car and closets of chometz. This is a perfect time to have the carpets cleaned, too.

Deal with the drawers and desks.

Eliminate your ego. What does ego have to do with Passover and chometz? To make a long chasidic discourse short, chometz contains leaven and rises. Matzah doesn't have any leaven and therefore remains flat. As we rid our physical surroundings of leaven, we should try to eradicate our pompous, haughty and self-righteous aspects, those parts of our personality which grow and rise.

Face the freezer and all furniture. And, if you've contemplated cleaning your upholstery, now is the time.

Go for the garage, garbage cans and wastebaskets.

Hide the high chair. Unless you still need to use it. If so, thoroughly scrub it, and cover the trays.

Ignore the idea to quit. You're nearly half-way through!

Joyously de-chometz the jig-saw puzzles and all other toys. It's easy not to be happy when you have 300 pieces of Lego to clean -- all with Cheerios meshed in. But think of all the quiet playtime these toys encourage. And think of all the joy that the children give you when you're playing with them -- the kids, that is, not the Lego.

Keep at the kitchen and kitchen appliances. The kitchen is "not within the scope of this article." Ask a rabbi or rebbetzin how to do it!

Lather the luggage. Go through your suitcases and carry-on bags.

Make-over the medicine cabinet. Many non-prescription medicines contain chometz and should be dealt with properly. If you must take medicine during Passover, consult your rabbi (probably a nice guy who would love to hear from you).

Nurture your needs. Take a break. Sit down with a drink and relax for a few minutes. While you're relaxing, peruse one of the many interesting Haggadahs available today and you'll be preparing yourself mentally for the holiday, as well.

Overtake your office. Unless you're taking the whole week off, you have to clean your office for Passover.

Peruse your pockets, purse and porch for chometz.

Quarantine your quarterback. Or, for that matter, anyone who goes running through your ready-for-Passover rooms with chometz.

Ready the refrigerator. Use up all those open jars and then clean it well.

Scrub the stroller. If you don't have one, help someone who does.

Tackle the telephone. It's probably sticky if you talk while you're eating.

Unclutter the utility room.

Validate the vacuum cleaner by throwing out or emptying the bag after you vacuumed the last chometz.

Wash the wall where all the cake batter splatters when you bake.

Xerox your favorite recipes which can be used for Passover since your cookbooks are probably so full of chometz that they are unsalvageable.

Yield chometz from your yacht. Although, if you have a yacht you're probably not doing most of the cleaning, anyway.

Zee, it wasn't zo bad after all!


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 taught that there are ten important Mitzvot we can do to protect life. See what you can do:

1) Ahavat Yisroel: Behave with love towards another Jew.

2) Learn Torah: Join a Torah class.

3) Make sure that Jewish children get a Torah true education.

4) Affix kosher Mezuzot on all doorways of the house.

5) For men and boys over 13: Put on Tefillin every weekday.

6) Give Charity.

7) Buy Jewish holy books and learn them.

8) Light Shabbat & Yom Tov candles. A Mitzvah for women and girls.

9) Eat and drink only Kosher Food.

10) Observe the laws of Jewish Family Purity.

In addition, the Rebbe also urged every man, woman and child to Purchase a Letter in a Sefer Torah. There are several Torah scrolls being written to unite Jewish people and protect Jewish life.

Letters for children can be purchased for only $1. Send your Hebrew name and your mother's Hebrew name plus $1 to:

"Children's Sefer Torah,"
P. O. Box 8,
Kfar Chabad, 72915, Israel

or via the Internet, at: http://www.kidstorah.org


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

Make Others Happy:

As we are now in the 60 days of happiness comprised of the two months of Adar, we should endeavor to make others happy.(3)

The Rebbe explained, "We should proceed to spread joy and happiness in the most literal sense, making efforts to assure that the members of one's household and similarly, all of those with whom one comes in contact, experience great joy. And this will lead to the ultimate joy, the coming of the Redemption. May it take place in the immediate future."


3. See Living With Moshiach, Adar I, 5763.


Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles

For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
or: http://www.candlelightingtimes.org/shabbos

For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ

Friday, Mar. 28, Erev Shabbat Parshat Shemini:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 5:57 p.m.

Saturday, Mar. 29, Shabbat Parshat Shemini:

  • Blessing of the New  Hebrew Month, Nissan.(5)
  • Parshat HaChodesh
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 6:58 p.m.


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

5. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is on Thursday, April 3.

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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