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Parshat Behar, 5763

Iyar 14, 5763
May 16, 2003

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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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 342nd issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


We'd like to hear from you. Tell us your comments, suggestions, etc. Write to us, or E-Mail via Internet.


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

2 Iyar, 5763
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Behar

This week's Torah portion, Behar, deals with shemitah -- the commandment to allow the land of Israel to lie fallow every seventh year.

It also discusses the laws of the yovel -- jubilee -- year, when all inheritances return to their rightful owners. If you keep these mitzvot properly, G-d promises, "The land shall yield its fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell in safety in it."

Interestingly, it is only after a detailed list of these laws that the Torah mentions a concern that might arise.

"And if you should say, 'What will we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we are not permitted to sow, and we cannot gather in our harvest!' " G-d promises that the sixth year's harvest will be so plentiful that it will be sufficient for three years -- the sixth, seventh, and even eighth year of the cycle.

Why isn't this question included in its logical place, with the rest of the laws of shemitah?

Furthermore, the verse "What will we eat?" appears immediately after G-d has already promised that the land will yield its fruit. If so, why is the question even asked?

We must therefore conclude that the question "What will we eat?" contains a deeper significance than merely inquiring about the agricultural yield of Israel.

The question is asked by one who wishes to uncover the inner, spiritual meaning of the mitzvah; it therefore appears separately, after the details of the commandment have been delineated.

In truth, the question is how G-d's blessing will be manifested, not if His promise will be fulfilled.

Will G-d cause manna to fall as in the desert, or will He perform a different miracle to sustain the Jewish people?

For, in essence, the blessing of the shemitah year not only transcends natural law, but utterly contradicts it! According to the laws of nature, every successive year the earth is sown serves to deplete it of its nutrients and goodness; during the sixth year of the cycle, the land would naturally be at its lowest ebb.

This, then, is precisely G-d's special blessing: Despite the fact that according to nature the earth is at its weakest point, the land of Israel will nonetheless yield bountifully.

In the spiritual sense, the six years of working the land are symbolic of the six millennia before Moshiach; the seventh year is symbolic of the Messianic era.

As we are now nearing the end of the sixth millennium, just prior to Moshiach's arrival, we ask the same question as that of the shemitah year: How is it possible that our own spiritually-inferior generation will be able to bring the Redemption?

Once again, the answer lies in G-d's promise to the Jewish people: When we serve Him in a manner that totally transcends logic and understanding, He will surely send us the bounty of Redemption, speedily in our day.


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.


"People think," the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, explained, "that the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael -- loving one's fellow Jew, means that you love the other person as much as you love yourself. They have it all wrong. It means loving yourself as much as you love the other person!"

Long before modern psychology focused on self-esteem, Judaism taught the importance of loving and accepting ourselves. For it is only when we love ourselves that we can properly love our family, friends, co-workers, and even the cashier with the attitude. (Loving ourselves does not mean being egotists, nor does accepting ourselves mean allowing bad character traits to remain unchecked or unchanged. But that's another article!)

How can we foster self-love? We can start by studying and internalizing the first words that a Jewish child is taught. "Torah Tzivah -- the Torah that Moses commanded to us is an eternal inheritance to the Jewish people."

We have been given a precious gift from G-d -- the Torah. The moral, ethical and spiritual teachings flowing from the Torah are ours to dip into and relish. We have the ability to grow and change by bringing these teachings into our lives. They were tailor made for us by G-d, who loves every Jew as a parent loves an only child born to him in his old age.

The Torah is eternal and its teachings are eternal; G-d's love for every single Jew is also eternal. G-d loves us! Surely we can love ourselves!

From "Torah Tzivah" we go on to "Shema Yisrael -- Listen Jews, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One." These words are not merely a declaration of monotheism. They acknowledge that G-d is everywhere and affirm a basic Jewish teaching that G-d is good. There is nothing disconnected from G-d and everything G-d does is ultimately good. (We can hope, though, that the "good" is something that we recognize and appreciate.)

Every Jewish teaching is a lesson in how to foster self-love. In Chapter Three of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers, Rabbi Yishmael instructs us to "Greet everyone with joy." Extrapolating from the Previous Rebbe's words above, this means that we should greet ourselves with joy! When awakening we should say "Good morning" to ourselves with gusto. If we "lose" it, once we're back to normal, we should offer ourselves a hearty "Welcome back."

Loving ourselves has nothing to do with what we do, who we are, how much money we make or how we look. It is loving what we are at our very core. And essentially, we are all sparks of G-dliness, sparks of the same One G-d. So when we love ourselves, we truly love everyone else.


The Rebbe has spoken often of how important the Land of Israel is to the Jewish people.(1) At a gathering in 5750/1990 the Rebbe spoke about the importance of maintaining possession of every inch of the land, saying:

"Just as the Jews are G-d's chosen people, Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] is G-d's chosen land, a holy land given to the Jewish people, those living on the land at present, and those who are presently living in the Diaspora.

"No one is entitled to give up any portion of Eretz Yisrael to gentiles. Maintaining possession of these lands is the only path to peace. Succumbing to the pressure to surrender them will only invite additional pressure, weakening the security of the Jewish people and exposing them to danger. Heaven forbid that the government in Eretz Yisrael should consider surrendering any portion of Eretz Yisrael that G-d has granted us."

The Rebbe's approach to Eretz Yisrael could almost be described as that of "L'chatchila Ariber." L'chatchila Ariber means, "to begin with, go over."

This concept was innovated by the fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel, known as the Rebbe Maharash, whose birthday was celebrated on Sunday, Iyar 2 (May 4).

The approach of L'chatchila Ariber teaches that if we come upon an obstacle to a task we are involved in, or an obstacle to a mitzvah or project or good deed which comes our way (or we pursue), we should overcome the obstacle in the most direct manner. The Rebbe Maharash explained that while some people propose that when confronted with an obstacle the best route is to go around, or under it -- l'chatchila ariber -- from the start, go over it.

In these auspicious days, of the Rebbe Maharash's birthday and following it, may our pursuit of Torah and mitzvot be in a manner of "l'chatchila ariber." Surely this fortitude and persistence will have its desired effect, true peace in the Land of Israel, and throughout the entire world, with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!

* * *

The Rebbe Maharash mentioned this concept -- which has been the constant battle cry of Lubavitch outreach workers all over the world -- in reference to one who finds himself faced with an obstacle. "The whole world says, first try to go under or around an obstacle. If this doesn't work, then go over it," the Rebbe Maharash noted. "But I say, 'In the first place, go over,"' he declared.

What does it mean to go over an obstacle right away rather than trying another method to pass an obstruction? In confronting obstacles to all good endeavors, one should take the most ambitious and aggressive approach. One cannot remain passive, hoping that the situation will change by itself or that the obstruction will magically disappear. It must be approached as a challenge. And, as such, it should be afforded one's utmost attention and energy.

In addition, when working at overcoming obstacles, we have to keep uppermost in our mind only positive thoughts and the image of the endeavor successfully accomplished. For this, too, will aid in our ultimate triumph and success.


1. See "EYES UPON THE LAND" - The Territorial Integrity of Israel: A Life Threatening Concern. Based on the Public Statements and Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Adapted by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger (1997: Sichos in English). http://www.truepeace.org/book.html

See also: REBBE'S VIEWS http://www.truepeace.org/rebbeview.html


Thursday, Iyar 13 (May 15), is the 51st yahrtzeit of the Rebbe's youngest brother, Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib.

The following is a brief biography, written by Rabbi Shimon Silman.

Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib (known affectionately as "Reb Leibel") was a Torah scholar of the highest caliber. He was a fascinating personality, totally devoted to the study of Chasidus, which he learned with legendary diligence.

As a young man, Reb Leibel was a member of the household of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, in Petersburg for several years. He was very popular among the chasidim, who approached him with difficult questions in Talmud and Chasidus. At that time he began studying mathematics in the academies of Petersburg where he organized groups of Jewish youth to learn Torah and observe mitzvot.

In the 1940s, Reb Leibel moved to Israel and married. He continued his research of mathematics and spent long nights studying Chasidus.

In 1948 he accepted a position in the Department of Theoretical Physics of the University of Liverpool in England. In this position he continued his research in mathematics and theoretical physics until he passed away on 13 Iyar, 5712/1952. He is buried in Safed, Israel.

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Pesach Sheni, means the "Second Passover," and is observed one month after the first Passover.

Until the destruction of the Holy Temple, any Jew unable to bring the Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan -- either because he was ritually impure, in a distant place, was prevented by unavoidable circumstances, or even if he intentionally did not bring it -- could bring it on the 14th of Iyar.

Pesach Sheni was instituted the year after the Jews left Egypt while they were still in the desert. Before Passover of that year, G-d again commanded our ancestors to bring the special Pascal sacrifice. However, some of the Jews had become ritually impure in their desert travels and thus were not permitted to bring the offering.

They protested and posed a question to Moses and Aaron, crying: "Why are we kept back, that we may not offer the offering of the L-rd in its appointed season among the children of Israel?" And G-d told Moses that all those who were unable to bring the offering on Passover could bring it one month later. This date became known as the Second Passover.

They could have left well enough alone. After all, our Sages have taught, "If a person intended to perform a mitzvah and circumstances prevented him from it, it is regarded as if he had performed it!" Since they were forcibly kept from performing the mitzvah, they were still rightfully entitled to its reward.

But that wasn't enough for them. And due to their protest and great desire to fulfill this mitzvah to its fullest potential, they and all future generations were rewarded with "Pesach Sheni."

The complaint of the Jews to Moses and Aaron, "Why are we kept back..." teaches us an important lesson in how we are to approach those mitzvot that we currently can not perform because we are still in exile.

Why, G-d, are we kept back from offering the sacrifices in their right time?

Why are we kept back from seeing Your glory revealed?

Why are we kept back from performing each mitzvah to its optimum, as each mitzvah is incomplete while we are in exile?

Let us also not be content with the words of our Sages, that if we desire to perform these mitzvot it is enough. Like the Jews in the desert, let us rally together and cry out to G-d, "Why are we kept back...bring the true and ultimate Redemption that You promised us!"

And may G-d immediately heed our heartfelt cries as He did those of our ancestors!


Friday, Iyar 14 (May 16), is Pesach Sheni, the "Second Passover."

It is customary on Pesach Sheni to eat matzah (together with bread), in commemoration of the day.


The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, wrote: "The theme of Pesach Sheni is that it is never too late! It is always possible to put things right. Even if one was ritually impure, or far away, and even in a case when this impurity or distance was deliberate -- nonetheless it can be corrected."

It's never too late! We can always make up for a past misdeed, omission or failing through sincere desire and making amends.

It's never too late! What an inspiring and optimistic thought! There's always a chance to improve, to become better, to learn and do.

This is truly a motto worth memorizing (and hanging on the refrigerator). Rather than muttering about yourself or another person, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," realize that it's never too late.

You didn't put on tefillin yesterday? Today's a new day and it's never too late.

You didn't light candles for Shabbat last Friday night? Do it this week; it's never too late.

You never went to Hebrew school, so you can't read Hebrew? Enroll in an adult education course; it's never too late.

You never knew that Judaism had so much to offer? Now that you know, do something about it, because it's never too late!


From Pesach Sheini we learn that a Jew must never despair. No matter how spiritually estranged from Judaism a Jew may be it is never too late; G-d will always give him a "second chance." It is always possible to correct past mistakes.

This also teaches how important it is to repeatedly implore G-d to bring about the Final Redemption. The initiative must come from us. Again and again we must beg Him until He relents and sends us Moshiach.

For when Jews ask, G-d heeds their request, and Moshiach will indeed arrive speedily, in our time, and at once.


Have you heard the one about how many Jewish mothers it takes to change a light bulb? "That's O.K.," the Jewish mother says, "I'll sit in the dark."

This is our modern-day stereotype of the Jewish mother -- self-sacrificing, a bit of a martyr and a little manipulative. And, your therapist might add, responsible for all your problems.

Though martyrdom and manipulation are not traits that we might want to emulate, what about self-sacrifice and selflessness -- two qualities that have been getting a lot of bad press over the last couple of decades?

Most of us would not be where we are today had it not been for our mothers' selflessness: waking up at all hours of the night, nursing us back to health when we were sick, putting their own needs and desires on hold in order to help fulfill ours. True, dear old mom might remind us of these things a little more often than we'd like to hear, but are mothers deserving our recognition, and more, for their self-sacrifice?

In fact, they deserve limitless appreciation and recognition! According to Jewish tradition, our debt of acknowledgment toward our parents can never be repaid. The commandment to show honor toward another is mentioned in the Torah concerning our parents and G-d. The reason for the commandment to "Honor your father and your mother" is the fact that our parents were partners with G-d in giving life to us, though Mom probably had more sleepless nights from us than either of the others two partners.

Where would the Jewish people be without the self-sacrifice of countless Jewish women throughout the ages?

Jewish tradition teaches that it was because of the self-sacrifice and righteousness of the women that the entire Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt! When Pharaoh enslaved the Jewish people, the men refused to have more children. "Why should we bring children into the world to be slaves and suffer like us?" they asked.

The Jewish women, however, though shouldering the same burden of slavery and suffering as their husbands, purposely sought out ways to endear themselves to their spouses. They were responsible for the birth of a new generation, a generation fit to be redeemed. The women reasoned, "True, our children will suffer hardships like us, but, soon G-d will fulfill His promise to them and deliver them out of the land of Egypt."

In every generation, whenever all seemed hopeless, it was the righteous, self-sacrificing Jewish mothers who inspired their families and communities to have faith and look toward better times.

We shouldn't just set aside one day a year to honor mothers. We should remember them every day -- it's a mitzvah!


Her plan was clear. She would go every day to the House of Prayer and the Houses of Study. Her child, though still unborn, would come to know the sounds of the holy words of Torah.

To her friends, she would explain: "I am going to the House of Prayer, so that my baby can hear the holy words."

On this particular cold, winter day, she sat immersed in her own prayer to the One Above to bless her child with wisdom and the ability to toil in His Torah. She sat until the scholars emerged. Shyly, she approached the first, "Please, bless my child with wisdom." The elderly sage smiled at the young woman whose presence no longer surprised him. "May your child shine with the light of Torah," he replied. She continued on to the various Houses of Study where she would sit beneath the open windows, the words of Torah permeating her essence.

The months passed. The young woman still made her early morning rounds, but now she was accompanied by her baby son, Yehoshua Ben Chananya.

She still visited both the Houses of Prayer and the Houses of Study, but now she propped up the baby in a cradle. And from the early morning until the heat of the day had passed, the tiny baby sat, dozed, ate, and dozed again while the sacred melodies of Torah learning filled the air, enveloping him and filtering into his consciousness.

* * *

Rabbi Yehoshua was tired. The road to Rome was long and difficult. But, praised be G-d, his mission had met with success. His nerve-wracking debates with the vicious Hadrian had yielded the hoped-for result -- the severe decrees against the Jews had been rescinded. He could return home to Yavne in peace, with good news for his colleagues in the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court) and all his fellow Jews. For now, at least, the Jews could breathe more easily.

Rabbi Yehoshua's tremendous scholarship and his generous, kindly nature made him respected and beloved by all. As the years passed, he accumulated greatness and honor.

* * *

One day, already an old man, Rabbi Yehoshua sat with his students exploring a question in Jewish law. Was it incumbent upon the parents to bring their small children to hear the reading of the Torah once every seven years during the Hakhel year? Rabbi Yehoshua listened attentively to the discussion, and then, as if seeing some far-off vision, related the story of how his mother would rise before dawn to sit beneath the open windows and allow her child to absorb the feel and essence of the holy words. All his life, Rabbi Yehoshua continued, he recalled his mother with blessing, for it was she who instilled in him the holiness to which his soul became attached.

Rabbi Yehoshua's comment sealed the discussion with his own beautiful truth.

* * *

To those familiar with the Jewish view of the age at which one's Jewish education begins, a recent study, explored in Time magazine, comes as no surprise. Research on the brain has "discovered" the importance of stimulating a child's brain from birth, and that most of the growth and development of the brain takes place from birth to age three.

In Jewish tradition, a child's formal education does not begin until the age of three. Until that time a child's primary teacher, stimulator, nurturer, is his/her mother. Only once a child reaches the age of three, after the explosive development of the brain has slowed, does a child leave his mother's pushing, prodding, preparing, prompting, and parenting to begin conventional schooling.

Jewish continuity is Jewish motherhood. It is Jewish mothers instilling in their children, from birth and even before, a love of G-d, a love of the Torah, and a love of the Jewish people, which are all intricately connected and one.

Happy Mother's Day!


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.

Enroll your child in a Torah Summer Camp

The Rebbe spoke many times about the unique learning opportunity for Jewish children afforded by the months of summer vacation. Without the pressures of tests, homework, etc., children enrolled in camps permeated with a Torah atmosphere eagerly learn about their heritage and are instilled with pride in being Jewish. Creative methods are used to make Judaism come alive. The soul is nourished as the body and mind are strengthened through sports, crafts, etc.

If you don't have camp-age children, help sponsor a child in a Torah camp. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for more information.


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, May 16, Erev Shabbat Parshat Behar:

  • Pesach Sheni
  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:47 p.m.
  • After nightfall, after reciting the Shabbat evening prayer, count Omer 30. (3)

Saturday, May 17, Shabbat Parshat Behar:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:55 p.m.
  • After nightfall, after reciting the evening prayer, count Omer 31.


2. 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.

3. For this year's S'firat Ha'omer Calendar - See our publication: Living With Moshiach, Your S'firat Ha'omer Guide, 5763

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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