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Parshat Pinchas, 5763

Tamuz 18, 5763
July 18, 2003

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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.



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 348th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue we focus on The fast day of the 17th of Tamuz, Thursday, July 17.


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

15 Tamuz, 5763
Brooklyn, New York

Reb Menachem Mendel Halevi
ben Reb Leib Yoel Halevi
Passed away on 12 Iyar, 5757
Mrs. Rochel bas Reb Mordechai
Passed away on 9 Tamuz, 5760
* * *
Dedicated by their Children
Mr. & Mrs. Boruch Shimon Halevi & Pnina Katsch
and Grandchildren

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Pinchas

This week's Torah portion is Parshat Pinchas. In it we read about Pinchas, who in a burst of zealousness slew Zimri and the Midianite woman with whom Zimri was consorting. The Talmud speaks of "six miracles that were done to him [Pinchas]"; other sources refer to 12.

It states in the Talmud, "He who sees Pinchas in a dream will experience a wonder," upon which Rashi comments, "A wonder will be done to him, as was done to Pinchas."

It is significant that our Sages use the word "wonder" rather than "miracle," as the two terms are not quite synonymous:

A miracle means that the laws of nature are broken and transcended. The "regular" structure of the universe is altered, and a miracle occurs. However, the fact that natural law needs to be superceded implies that "nature" possesses some sort of influence or significance.

A wonder, by contrast, is entirely above nature; the very concept of nature is meaningless.

Indeed, this demonstrates the greatness of Pinchas: The miracles associated with him were not merely a succession of supernatural events, each one of which had to rise above the existing universal order. Rather, what Pinchas experienced could more accurately be described as one big, uninterrupted wonder that bypassed nature entirely.

The reason G-d acted toward Pinchas in a "wondrous" manner was that Pinchas' Divine service was similarly "wondrous." In effect, G-d was merely responding to Pinchas measure for measure.

In terms of Divine service, both "miracles" and "wonders" imply self-sacrifice. However, self-sacrifice can exist on two levels:

On the lower level ("miracle"), the Jew serves G-d in the usual manner. If self-sacrifice should ever become necessary, he will rise to the occasion.

On the higher level ("wonder"), the entirety of the person's Divine service is carried out in a super-natural manner of self-sacrifice. The Jew gives his will over to G-d so completely that all of his actions are a reflection of self-sacrifice.

Pinchas was the embodiment of the level of "wonder." His very essence was self-sacrifice for G-d, which is why he endangered himself for a matter that was not strictly required by the letter of the law. Because his entire being was self-sacrifice, he did not ask any questions and acted in a zealous manner.

Indeed, the practical directive to be derived from Pinchas is as follows: Every Jew must strive for this essential self-sacrifice, strengthening Jewish observance and disseminating Torah and mitzvot with selfless devotion, ignoring ostensible obstacles and giving oneself over to G-d wholeheartedly. G-d will then respond in kind, enabling us to serve Him in a manner of "wonder," and we will successfully bring about the Final Redemption.


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.


19 years ago, on Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744/1984, the Rebbe spoke in a relatively unusual manner about his persistence and insistence on continuously discussing the coming of Moshiach. Let me share with you translated excerpts from that talk:

"Some people wonder: How can a person appear in public, week after week, and repeatedly speak on one subject -- the coming of Moshiach?

"Furthermore, that person always stresses that he is not just speaking of the concept, but of the actual coming of Moshiach, here on this physical earth, and immediately, this very day. On each occasion he instructs those gathered to sing 'May the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days,' emphasizing that 'speedily in our days' should not be understood as 'speedily, tomorrow,' but as 'speedily, today'!

"Certainly, every Jew believes that Moshiach can come at any moment -- after all, 'I await his coming every day' is one of the fundamental principles of Judaism. Still, they wonder, to believe that Moshiach will come at this very moment is hardly consistent with the reality of our lives. So why does this man speak incessantly about it, on every occasion, and with such single-minded intensity, as if to force the idea into the minds of his listeners?

"Their conclusion is that all this is a nice dream, nice, but not very realistic. So what is the point of speaking so much about one's dreams?

"Chasidic philosophy explains that our current state of exile is like a dream; in a dream one's sense of perception can tolerate the most contradictory and irrational things.

"In other words, our current 'reality' is a dream, while the world of Moshiach is the true reality. In a single moment, we can all wake up from the dream of exile and open our eyes to the true reality of our existence -- the perfect world of Moshiach. Everyone present in this room can immediately awaken himself from his dream, so that today, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744, before we even say the afternoon prayers, in fact this very moment, we all open our eyes and see Moshiach, in the flesh, with us, here in this room."

May the Rebbe's words of 19 years ago, and his prophetic promise of 11 years ago, that "the time of our Redemption has arrived," be fulfilled this very Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5763.


Surely you've seen the t-shirts and pins stating, "I don't need your attitude, I have one of my own."

Most likely, the person wearing this message is tired of being confronted by people with negative, angry attitudes, whether a fellow commuter on mass transit, a cashier at the supermarket, or a customer service representative for a local utility company.

People with attitudes seem cold as ice, but if you've ever tried saying a few caring words, you were probably surprised to see the frosty exterior melt like a popsicle on a 100 degree day.

"You look like you've had a really hard day" will often get you a sigh of appreciation and a peek under the veil of indifference and anger.

But why should we put ourselves out and be compassionate toward a surly person?

Because, in these last few moments of life as we know it here in this imperfect world, we can practice honing our interpersonal skills. Kindness, compassion, and consideration are what our attitudes will be all about in the times of Moshiach.

In the Messianic Era, the inherent goodness and G-dliness that everything contains, will be revealed. We can help reveal that latent quality even now by making sure our Attitudes are caring toward our fellow human beings. Even if their Attitudes make them seem despicable and unworthy of compassion, we should respect them simply because they are G-d's creatures, and if G-d tolerates them, we should, too.

Sometimes, displaying a Moshiach Attitude takes no time at all. Like when you flash a smile at someone as you pass him or her on the sidewalk, or when you say a heartfelt "thank you" as you're given your change. At other times it might take a moment, but not much more, to let your Moshiach Attitude shine through: Letting someone with one item go ahead of you in the supermarket line; helping a little old lady cross the street (yes, there are still little old ladies who need help crossing the street!); calling a parent or sibling to say, "I was thinking of you," not cutting someone off in traffic just to get to your destination 30 seconds earlier. But those moments are timeless and well spent.

Practicing a Moshiach Attitude now is a sure way to get ready for and actually hastens the perfect world we've always dreamed of.


Thursday, 17th of Tamuz, July, 17, is a fast day. We neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.(1)


1. In New York City, at 9:04 p.m.


This summer, during the months of July and August, comes a very serious time for the Jewish people, when many terrible things happened throughout history. This period is called the "Three Weeks," or Bain HaMetzorim, which means "Between the Straits."

What happened during this time? On the 17th of Tamuz: 1) Moses descended from Mt. Sinai and smashed the two Tablets with the Ten Commandments when he saw the Jews worshipping the Golden Calf; 2) The Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem in 70 c.e.; 3) During the siege of Jerusalem the daily sacrifice was interrupted by Nebuchadnezzer; 4) Apostomus publicly burned a Torah scroll; and 5) An idol was erected in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. On the 9th of Av, both the First and Second Temple were destroyed, bringing terrible suffering upon the Jewish people.


The "Three Weeks" begin on the 17th of Tamuz (Thursday, July 17, 2003), and continue until the 9th of Av (Thursday, August 7, 2003).


We observe some aspects of mourning: Weddings do not take place, and playing musical instruments is prohibited, as is the buying and wearing of new garments. In addition, we do not cut our hair.

Also, we should try to be extra kind to one another. We should give extra charity, and learn extra Torah, and pray to G-d to end the Exile.


Jewish teachings explain that when we learn the laws of the Holy Temple, its structure, the services and sacrifices practiced there, it is as if we are rebuilding it.

Therefore, the Rebbe stresses that during the "Three Weeks" we should spend time studying what the Holy Temple will be like, and to learn all about it.


See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"

The text of the book: "Seek Out The Welfare Of Jerusalem" [Analytical Studies by the Rebbe, of Rambam's rulings concerning the construction and design of the Holy Temple], published by Sichos in English -- is available on-line at: http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/seek-out, and is divided into a special study program.

Also, for a Audio/Visual Virtual Interactive Tour of the second Bais Hamikdosh (Holy Temple), go to: http://www.moshiach.com/temple


There are two approaches to the present period of the "Three Weeks."

One approach is to dwell on the awesomeness of those tragedies and the difficulties suffered by our people in the exile that followed.

The other approach, while not minimizing the extent of our nation's loss, puts the emphasis on the purpose of the exile. Heaven forbid to say that destruction and exile are ends in and of themselves. Rather, within the ashes of the Temple's destruction was kindled the spark of the Future Redemption.

In an ultimate sense, this was the purpose of the exile -- to prepare the Jewish people and the world at large for the higher and deeper level of fulfillment to be reached in that era.

There is no question that the second approach is the one more followed in the present age.

Our Sages declared, "All the appointed times for Moshiach's coming have passed; the matter is only dependent on teshuvah."

We have already turned to G-d with sincere teshuvah. Thus, when speaking of the readiness of our generation, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, used the allegory of a garment that is complete in all respects -- "and all that is needed now is to polish the buttons."

Surely, the many years of vibrant Torah activity that have followed since the Previous Rebbe's statement was made, have been sufficient to accomplish that purpose.

We are standing on the threshold of the Redemption. Moshiach's coming is no longer a dream of a distant future, but an imminent reality that will very shortly become fully manifest.

Through living with the concept of Moshiach, we shall hasten his coming and bring about the era in which these "Three Weeks" will be transformed from mourning into the celebration of the Redemption.

May this take place in the immediate future.


The Holy Temple lay in ruins, its resplendent beauty plowed under by the conquering Roman Legions. The remnants of the population were in despair. The Talmud relates that four great rabbis were walking along a road in The Land of Israel. Suddenly they heard a rumbling sound rising from the distance. One rabbi inquired of the others, "What is that noise?"

"That is the sound of a multitude of Romans far away in the distance," replied another.

Three of the rabbis began to weep; the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, began laughing. The others were surprised by their colleague's reaction and asked, "Akiva, why are you laughing?"

He countered: "Why are you three crying?"

They said: "Here we see that the Romans, who worship idols and burn incense to them, are living in safety and prosperity. And we [who worship the true G-d], the House which is G-d's footstool [the Holy Temple] lies burned in fire. Why shouldn't we weep?"

Rabbi Akiva replied: "That is precisely why I'm laughing. For, if this is the lot of those who violate the will of G-d, how much more joyous will be the future for us Jews who do His will?"

On another occasion the same four Sages were traveling together to Jerusalem. When they reached the point of the Mount of Olives, they tore their clothes [in mourning] as is prescribed by Jewish law. Proceeding further they arrived at the desolate Temple Mount, and as they gazed toward the Holy of Holies -- where the sacred incense had been offered to the Al-mighty -- they saw a fox emerging. Three of the rabbis began to weep at the sight of the degradation of the holy place. Rabbi Akiva, however, laughed. They turned to Akiva and asked, "Why are you laughing?"

He asked in return, "Why are you weeping?"

They answered him, "This is place of which it is written, 'And the stranger who approaches will surely die.' Yet, now we see foxes strolling about. Why should we not weep."

Replied Akiva, "That is precisely why I am laughing. In the prophecy of Uria it says, 'Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will be desolate and the Temple Mount will be a forest.' The prophecy of Zecharia says, 'Aged men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.'

"Before I saw the prophecy of Uria fulfilled I worried that the prophecy of Zecharia would not be realized. But now that I have witnessed the fulfillment of the first, I know surely that the second will come to pass as well."

They turned to him and said, "Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva you have comforted us!"


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.

Study About the Holy Temple:

Jewish teachings explain that when we learn the laws of the Holy Temple, its structure, the services and sacrifices practiced there, it is as if we are rebuilding it.

Therefore, the Rebbe stresses that during the "Three Weeks" we should spend time studying what the Holy Temple will be like, and to learn all about it.


"This study should be carried out in anxious anticipation of the Holy Temple being rebuilt. We should study about the Holy Temple with the awareness that in the very near future we will see what we are studying about in actual reality."

The Rebbe, 24 Tamuz, 5751/1991


"G-d told the prophet Yechezkel that through studying the laws of the structure of the Holy Temple it is considered as if we have been involved in its actual construction.

"As we are so close to the Redemption, the subject must be approached as a present reality; at any moment the Third Holy Temple which is already built in the heavens will descend and be revealed on earth."

The Rebbe, 17 Tamuz, 5751/1991


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, July 18, Erev Shabbat Parshat Pinchas:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 8:06 p.m.

Saturday, July 19, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 6 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:13 p.m.


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.

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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