"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Eikev, 5763
Menachem-Av 17, 5763
August 15, 2003
Chassidus In Braille:
Lighting Up the Path to the Redemption
This week's issue is sponsored
in part by:
Mitzvahland - One Stop Judaica Shop
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:
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.
"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, the 351st
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
It is with tremendous pain and sorrow that we once again dedicate this issue
of Living With Moshiach to the loving memory of our dear friend and
copy editor, Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul Staiman, who passed away, on Tuesday,
22 Tamuz, 5763 (July 22, 2003).
Reb Mordechai Staiman was a very kind person, who gave tirelessly from his
time and effort for the success of our organization "Torah Publications
For The Blind," and this publication "Living With Moshiach" in
Reb Mordechai Staiman has been a prolific writer, editor, publicist, and
copywriter for over thirty six years. His articles have appeared in many
publications including, The Jewish Press, Wellsprings, The
Algemeiner Journal, N'Shei Chabad, Beis Moshiach,
Chabad, Country Yossi Family Magazine, and L'Chaim.
He also published 5 books.
He will be dearly missed by all very much.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.
* * *
A web-site has been established in the loving memory and also featuring the
works of Reb Mordechai Staiman. You can find it at:
In this week's issue we focus on:
1) One of the most famous and colorful Chabad Chasidim, Reb Hillel
Paritcher, whose yahrtzeit was on 11th of Menachem-Av, last
Shabbat, Parshat Va'etchanan, Saturday, August 9.
2) Tu B'Av, the 15th day of Menachem-Av, Wednesday, August
12 years ago, on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751, (Aug. 3, 1991), the
Rebbe spoke about the printing of Chassidus for the blind, in Braille.
The full text of the Rebbe's sichah (talk) is reprinted in this issue,
with the kind permission of
"Sichos In English."
We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a K'Siva Vachasima Tova,
a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
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 of blessed
memory, 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
12 Menachem-Av, 5763
Brooklyn, New York
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR FRIEND AND COPY EDITOR
Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul
Passed away on 22 Tamuz, 5763
About the mitzvah of mezuzah, which is found in this week's
Torah portion, Eikev, the Talmud relates that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi
once sent a mezuzah as a gift to Artaban, king of Persia, explaining
that the small scroll would protect him from harm.
At first glance, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's gesture seems odd. The commandment
to affix a mezuzah upon one's doorposts was given only to the Jewish
nation. A non-Jewish king, therefore, would not be fulfilling a religious
precept by possessing a mezuzah. As such, he would also be ineligible
for any reward resulting from the performance of a mitzvah. Why then
did Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi promise the gentile king that the mezuzah
would guard and protect him?
A similar question may also be asked about the common practice, dating back
to the time of the Mishnah, of inserting a mezuzah scroll into
one's walking stick, also done for the sake of the protection it afforded.
A walking stick is certainly not included in the commandment of
mezuzah. If there is no commandment, there is certainly no reward.
How, then, did the mezuzah afford protection?
A distinction must be made between the reward a person receives for performing
a mitzvah and the intrinsic attribute of the mitzvah itself.
When a person obeys G-d's command by fulfilling a mitzvah, the reward
he earns is a separate and distinct entity, additional to the essential nature
of the mitzvah. For example, the Torah states that the reward for
the mitzvah of mezuzah is long life: "That your days be increased
and the days of your children."
Yet besides the reward promised by the Torah, each mitzvah has its
own special attributes and characteristics that have nothing to do with reward,
but are integral parts of the mitzvah itself. The mezuzah's
attribute is protection. Our Sages explained that when a kosher mezuzah
is affixed to the door post, G-d Himself watches over the occupants of
the house, even when they are not at home. A mezuzah is written solely
for the purpose of protection, and, by its nature, it protects.
With this in mind, it becomes clear that even when no fulfillment of a religious
precept is involved, a mezuzah still possesses this attribute of
protection, at least to some degree. It was for this reason that Rabbi Yehuda
Hanasi sent the mezuzah as a gift to the Persian king and that Jews
took mezuzot with them wherever they went inside their walking sticks.
In a similar vein, speaking about and studying the laws of mezuzah
afford similar protection. The Talmud relates that in the house of one Jewish
king a special sign was made on those door posts that were exempt from having
From this we learn the crucial importance of having kosher mezuzot.
The Jewish people, likened to "one sheep among seventy wolves," are always
in need of special defense. Every additional mezuzah affixed to a
Jewish home extends G-d's Divine protection to the entire Jewish nation,
for all Jews are ultimately responsible for one another.
For more information about the mitzvah of mezuzah, contact
your local rabbi, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
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 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 LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR PARENTS
Reb Elchonon Isaac ben Reb Sholom
Passed away on 7 Adar, 5756
Mrs. Leiba bas Reb Leib
Passed away on 15 Menachem-Av, 5747
Reb Menachem Mendel ben Reb Dovid Noach
Passed away on 2 Iyar, 5757
Mrs. Esther Elka bas Reb Yosef
Passed away on 2 Iyar, 5763
* * *
Dedicated by their Children & Grandchildren
Dr. & Mrs. Leib Meyer and Sarah
and family Lovitch
See our publication:
"Laws of the Holy
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
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:
An(1) Adaptation of an Address of the Rebbe,
on Shabbat Parshat Eikev, 5751/1991
One of the unique aspects of Chassidus is that it generates the potential
to see any incident in a larger scope. An idea is thus appreciated not only
for its individual message, but also as a part of a more inclusive whole.
The Rebbe gave expression to this quality in his sichos (talks) on
Shabbat Parshat Eikev. He focused on a unique development: the publication
of the Tanya in [Hebrew] braille, emphasizing the important breakthrough
it represented -- bringing the teachings of Chassidus to people who
had never previously had the opportunity to taste this spiritual knowledge
Nevertheless, beyond this important dimension, this development can be seen
as part of a process of yet greater scope -- as both a foretaste of, and
a catalyst for, the coming of the Era of the Redemption. Accordingly, the
Rebbe encourages us here to continue this pattern, to "live with the Redemption,"
to conduct ourselves in its spirit, and in this manner, to precipitate its
coming even sooner.
* * *
Recently, a new printing of the Tanya was brought to this building,
the Previous Rebbe's shul and House of Study, an event that is noteworthy
in its own right, and of even greater significance when viewed as part of
a cosmic canvas.
The Tanya, which has been described as "the Written Torah of
Chassidus,"(2) has been reprinted many thousands
of times all over the world. Indeed, the Baal Shem Tov taught that the coming
of Moshiach is dependent on "the spreading of the wellsprings of
Chassidus outward."(3) Ultimately, in the Era of
the Redemption, "the knowledge of G-d will fill the earth as the waters cover
the ocean bed."(4) And to prepare for this revelation,
it is necessary to spread G-dly knowledge, the teachings of Chassidus,
throughout the world at large. When seen in this context, the printing of
the Tanya in so many different cities is significant, for it has
transformed them into "wellsprings," centers and sources for the spreading
Windows for the Soul
The new printing of the Tanya mentioned above is unique, however,
for it represents the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus to a
group of people who had previously had no potential to study these teachings
unaided. For this the Tanya was printed in braille.
In recent generations, Chassidus has been explained in ever-increasing
depth and breadth, and these explanations have been communicated to people
from different backgrounds and walks of life in many languages. Unfortunately,
however, the physical handicap of the blind prevented them -- until now --
from reading these texts independently.
The significance of this printing is magnified by the fact that, as mentioned
above, the Tanya is known as "the Written Torah of Chassidus."
Just as the Written Torah includes the entire Oral Law, for "there is no
teaching which is not alluded to in the Torah,"(6) so,
too, the Tanya includes in seminal form all the teachings of
Chassidus revealed in later generations.(7) In this
sense, this Tanya makes the totality of the teachings of Chassidus
The Ultimate Purpose of
There is an intrinsic connection between the blind and the study of
Chassidus. Chassidus -- the medium in which pnimiyus
HaTorah (the inner dimensions of Torah) is revealed in the present
age -- is known as(8) "the Light of the Torah." Similarly,
in Lashon HaKodesh, "The Holy Tongue," it is common to describe the
blind by the euphemism sagi nahor, which means "of great light." And
indeed, historically, there is a connection between the two. One of the great
sages of the kabbalistic tradition, Rabbi Yitzchok Sagi
Nahor,(9) was blind.
There is also a connection between the blind and the Future Redemption, because
in that era the dimension they possess, which is associated with "great light,"
will be revealed. At that time, G-d will heal the entire world and the blind
will be healed first.(10)
(The significance of the blind becoming sighted is also connected to the
revelation of the "knowledge of G-d" in the Era of Redemption. Moshiach will
teach the people, using the power of sight(11) and thus,
this faculty will be necessary to appreciate the new dimensions of Torah
knowledge that will be revealed at that time.)
Moreover, the study of the Tanya by the blind will hasten the advent
of this era, for this represents the opening of an entirely new sphere in
the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus. And in this context,
we can appreciate the greater significance of this printing.
Moshiach's Coming is Past Due
Moshiach's coming is long overdue; "All the appointed times for the Redemption
have passed."(12) Furthermore, from the perspective of
the Jewish people, we have already completed the spiritual service demanded
of us. To borrow a phrase from the Previous Rebbe, "We have even polished
the buttons,"(13) for the teachings of Chassidus
have been presented in a manner in which they are accessible to every Jew.
The printing of the Tanya in braille thus reflects the nature of the
spiritual service required in the present age -- making the teachings of
Chassidus accessible to others who for various reasons have not yet
been exposed to them. And in doing so, there must be a consciousness that
these teachings are a foretaste of the revelation of "the knowledge of G-d"
in the Era of the Redemption. Moreover, a study of these teachings will lead
to that revelation. In this manner, studying Chassidus reflects our
efforts to "live with the Redemption," and make the Redemption an active
force in our daily conduct.
The above concepts are particularly relevant in the present month, the month
of Elul, when it is customary to review and take stock of our spiritual
service in the previous year, and in this manner, prepare for the new year
to come. This stocktaking should also focus on the imminence of the Redemption
and on our efforts to make the Redemption an actual reality.
Catalysts for the
A Jew has the potential to arouse himself, to arouse others, and to arouse
G-d Himself, as it were. According to all the signs given by our
Sages,(14) and definitely in the light of the miracles
which we have witnessed recently, the ultimate Redemption should have come
already, and in this present year. For the miracles described in the Yalkut
Shimoni(15) are to take place in "the year in which
the King Moshiach will be revealed."
We must cry out "Ad Masai!" - "Until when must we remain in exile?"
And furthermore, this outcry must be coupled with actions that grant us a
foretaste of -- and thus precipitate -- the Era of the Redemption.
And these efforts will doubtless bear fruit, particularly in the present
time. The month of Elul is a time when G-d accepts the requests and
grants the wishes of the Jewish people. And surely this is an appropriate
time for Him to grant our truest and most essential wish -- that the Redemption
come about immediately.
1. Adapted from the book, Sound the Great Shofar (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot
Publication Society, 1992).
2. Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Previous Rebbe, vol. IV, p. 261ff.
3. For the relevant sources see footnotes 12, 13 and 14 to the above Overview.
4. Yeshayahu 11:9, quoted by the Rambam at the conclusion of
his discussion of the Era of the Redemption in the Mishneh Torah, Hilchos
5. See sichah of Parshas Bo, 5744, and the essay, "The Printing
of Tanya," in Sichos In English, vol. XIX, pp. 113-119.
6. Zohar III, 221a.
7. Furthermore, the final portion of the Tanya, Kuntres Acharon,
is an explanation of certain passages found in the previous four portions
of the Tanya. In this it resembles the Oral Law, which is an explanation
of the Written Law. Indeed, there is a close similarity between this fifth
portion of the Tanya and the Book of Devarim, which is called
Mishneh Torah, a restatement of the Torah, and thus shares a connection
with the Oral Law.
8. See Yerushalmi, Chagigah 1:7, and commentary of Korban
9. See Shmos HaGedolim and also Recanati, Parshas
10. Midrash Tehillim 146; see also Yeshayahu 35:5 and
Bereishis Rabbah 95:1.
11. See Likkutei Torah, Tzav 17 a, b.
12. Sanhedrin 97b.
13. Sichah of Simchat Torah, 5689/1928.
14. See the conclusion of Tractate Kesubbos.
15. Vol. II, sec. 499, commenting on Yeshayahu 60:1, with reference
to events having worldwide repercussions in the Persian Gulf.
"The teachings of Chasidus," someone might argue, "are indeed likened
to gems and pearls, but I'm not one to chase after pearls; I'm satisfied
if my clothes aren't torn."
There is an answer to this argument: "We are on the threshold of the Redemption,
so we have to get ready for the coming of Moshiach, when we will be privileged
to enter the marriage canopy together with the King of Kings, the Holy One,
blessed be He. So we will need pearls, too."
Last Shabbat, Parshat Va'etchanan, the 11th of Menachem-Av,
Saturday, August 9, was the yahrtzeit of one of the most famous and
colorful Chabad Chasidim, Reb Hillel Paritcher.
Reb Hillel was born in 5555/1795 and was married before his bar mitzvah
(!). As he was still too young to don tefillin and could only wear
a tallit, he was called "Chol Hamoed" ("the Intermediate Days
of a Festival," when tefillin are not worn). By age 13 he had already
mastered the entire Talmud, and was fluent in Poskim [halachic
adjudicators] and Kabbalah. By age 15, he was expert in the writings
of the holy Arizal.
Originally a Chasid of Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl, he became a Chabad
Chasid the first time he opened the Tanya. His lifelong dream
was to meet the Alter Rebbe, the Tanya's author and the founder of
Chabad Chasidism, but this was not to be. For years Reb Hillel trailed the
Alter Rebbe across the Pale, but never caught up to him.
One time he arrived in the city where the Alter Rebbe was expected and hid
under his bed. While waiting, he formulated in his mind the question on Tractate
Erachin that he would ask the Alter Rebbe. When the Alter Rebbe entered
the room, before Reb Hillel could even emerge from his hiding place, the
Alter Rebbe said in his characteristic sing-song: "When a person has a question
about Erachin [literally 'assessments'], he must assess himself first..."
Reb Hillel fainted, and by the time he woke up the Alter Rebbe was gone.
It wasn't until after the Alter Rebbe passed away that Reb Hillel came to
Lubavitch, where the Mitteler Rebbe enjoined him to "collect materiality
[funds for charity] and sow spirituality."
His most famous work, published posthumously, was Pelach HaRimon.
He is buried in Kharson.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.
Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe
Wednesday, August 13, is Tu B'Av, the 15th day of the Hebrew month
"There were no greater festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av and
Yom Kippur," the Mishnah tells us. What is so special
about the 15th of Av that it is singled out together with Yom
Kippur from all the other festivals?
A number of special events throughout Jewish history took place on the 15th
of Av. They were:
1) The tribe of Benjamin was permitted once again to marry the remainder
of the Jewish people;
2) The Generation of the Desert ceased to die; they had previously been condemned
to perish in the desert because of the sin of the spies;
3) Hoshea Ben Elah removed the blockades that the rebel Jeroboam had set
up to prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem for the festivals;
4) The cutting of the wood for the Holy Altar was completed;
5) Permission was granted by the Romans to bury the slain of Betar.
These five events in themselves do not seem adequate enough reason to make
the 15th of Av a festival greater than any other. There is another,
There is another occasion of note in the month of Av, the ninth.
Tisha B'Av is the day when the two Holy Temples were destroyed, signaling
the start of the long and terrible exile we are still enduring -- tragedies
which were the result of the Jews' transgressions. Tisha B'Av is the
nadir of Jewish physical and spiritual life.
But these tragedies are not without purpose. "Descent is for the purpose
of ascent," and the deeper the descent, correspondingly greater will be the
ascent that follows. It is specifically after the awesome decline of Tisha
B'Av that we can reach the loftiest heights, heights that would otherwise
The five festive events on the 15th of Av, then, are the counterpart
to the five tragic events of Tisha B'Av. The 15th of Av transforms
the evil of Tisha B'Av to the greatest good -- "there were no greater
festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av." The ultimate goal of the
tragedies of the month of Av is that they should be transformed into
a greater good -- the supreme festival of the 15th of Av.
The Second Holy Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred between
Jews. The events of the 15th of Av, which are the counterpart to
Tisha B'Av, all express the concept of ahavat Yisrael -- love
of a Jew.
"The tribe of Benjamin were permitted once again to marry the remainder of
the Jewish people" is obviously an expression of ahavat Yisrael. Indeed,
the very announcement that all Jewry was now united and allowed to come together
is reason enough for a festival.
"Permission was granted by the Romans to bury the slain of Betar" and "The
Generation of the Desert ceased to die" likewise emphasize the love of Jews
-- G-d's love, which was expressed in these acts of kindness to His people.
"Hoshea Ben Elah removed the blockades that the rebel Jeroboam had set up
to prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem for the festivals" allowed the
Ten Tribes of the kingdom of Israel to unite with the other Two Tribes when
they went to Jerusalem; again, the idea of unity and ahavat Yisrael.
The wood they finished cutting on the 15th was necessary for the offering
of the sacrifices on the altar. And the altar, say our Sages, "removes and
feeds, makes beloved, atones"; "removes" means "removes evil decrees from
Israel," and "makes beloved" means "makes beloved to their Father" -- again,
the idea of fostering love.
Charm And Beauty
In addition to the above reasons enumerated by the Talmud for the importance
of the 15th of Av -- all of which we have seen are associated with
ahavat Yisrael -- the Mishnah itself gives a reason: "For on
these days, the daughters of Jerusalem . . . came out and danced in the
vineyards, saying, 'Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you are choosing
for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty, but set your eyes on good family.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is naught; a G-d-fearing woman is the one to
The Talmud elaborates on this theme, and explains that "the daughters of
Jerusalem went out [dressed] in borrowed white garments, so as not to embarrass
those who had none." This is clearly the idea of ahavat Yisrael.
The common theme behind all the reasons for the 15th of Av, then,
is ahavat Yisrael, the practice of which eradicates the cause of the
exile, and therefore automatically the exile itself.
- I -
On Wednesday, August 13, we celebrate the festive day of the Tu B'Av.
On the 15th of Av the days begin to get shorter.
In times gone by, the onset of evening meant that the workday was over. Our
Sages, therefore, encourage us to use the longer evenings for increased study
of Jewish subjects.
The exile is often referred to as "night" and the Redemption, as "dawn."
Though we are certainly in the last few moments of the long night of exile,
it sometimes seems like the "night" is getting longer rather than shorter.
Thus, the above teaching of our Sages is certainly appropriate.
Maimonides explains that in the era of the Redemption, the sole occupation
of the whole world will be to know G-d. The Rebbe suggested, therefore, that
as a preparation for that time, we increase in our studies wherever possible.
In addition, just 12 years ago, the Rebbe expressed the following thoughts
on studying matters specifically concerning Moshiach and the Redemption:
"Since Moshiach is about to come, a final effort is required that will bring
him. Every man, woman and child should increase his/her Torah study in subjects
that concern the Redemption.... One should likewise upgrade one's meticulous
observance of mitzvot, particularly charity, 'which brings the Redemption
"It would be proper for one to connect his additional charity with his additional
study of subjects connected with the Redemption, by giving charity with the
intent that it hasten the Redemption. This intention in itself becomes part
of learning subjects connected with the Redemption -- for this is a real
and tangible study of the teaching of our Sages: 'Great is charity for it
brings the Redemption near.'
"The above-described study is not only a spiritual means of securing the
speedy advent of Moshiach; it is a way of beginning to live one's life in
the mood of Moshiach and the Redemption by having one's mind permeated with
an understanding of the concepts of Moshiach and Redemption. From the mind,
these concepts will then find their way into the emotions. Ultimately, they
will find expression in one's actual conduct -- in thought, word and deed
-- in a way befitting this unique era when we stand on the threshold of the
- II -
It states in the Talmud that starting from the Fifteenth of Av, a
Jew should increase the time he devotes to nighttime Torah study. As a reward
for our additional learning, G-d extends our lives and grants us additional
Our Sages explained that the Fifteenth of Av is the date on which
the nights begin to be slightly longer and the days shorter. Generally speaking,
the daylight hours are reserved for work; at night, people have more free
time to spend as they please. The shorter the day, the more hours are left
over at night -- and nighttime is especially conducive to learning Torah.
The length of the days and nights on earth is a variable; it changes in
accordance with the movement of the sun. The days grow shorter and the nights
longer on the Fifteenth of Av when the sun's orbit begins to change.
The Talmud, however, provides us with the true reason for this planetary
phenomenon: to enable the Jew to spend more time learning Torah! For the
sake of the Jew, G-d alters the course of the sun in the sky, a cosmological
change of fantastic proportions!
How important it must be to G-d that we increase our study of His Torah,
to the point that He moves heaven and earth on our behalf!
Consider the immense size of the earth, and the sun, which is about 170 times
as large. Ponder the sun's tremendous power and energy, and the vast treasures
that are hidden in the depths of the earth. How many billions of people populate
our planet? How many animals, plants and inanimate objects? Just try to estimate
the volume of water that covers the earth, or the number of stones and rocks
that form its crust. In comparison with G-d, of course, all these things
When we are mindful that the entire universe is orchestrated by G-d for our
sake, we will learn His Torah with eagerness and enthusiasm, and express
it in actual deed.
You find the recipe, read it over, and scan your pantry to make sure you
have all of the ingredients you'll need. Then you glance at your watch to
see if there's enough time to complete the baking project.
You've done the preliminary preparations. Now it's time to gather the mixing
bowl, measuring spoons and cups and other supplies and start the actual process
of creating a culinary delight.
But, imagine baking a cake without those preliminary preparations. You take
out the mixer, spatula, measuring spoons and cup. You start reading the recipe.
One by one you add the ingredients.
Oh no! There's only one egg left in the carton and you need three. What can
you substitute? You decide to borrow eggs from a neighbor and hope that the
half-mixed batter with the baking powder already added will survive.
When you're finished, you get ready to spoon the batter into the cupcake
Oops! There aren't any cupcake liners. Scrap the idea of cupcakes; you'll
make a cake instead. You look at your watch skeptically, knowing that cakes
require more baking time than cupcakes.
If you've been there and done that, you certainly know that a little bit
of preparation and thoughtful planning can save time and aggravation in the
There is a Jewish custom to wish each other in correspondence and in
conversations: "Ktiva vachatima tova" -- may you be written and sealed
for a good year -- starting from the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month
You may well be wondering, "Isn't the fifteenth day of Av a little
early to start preparing for Rosh HaShanah? After all, it's over 6 weeks
until the New Year!"
In answer, the upcoming Jewish month of Elul, which begins in just
a little over two weeks, is the month when we prepare ourselves spiritually
for Rosh HaShanah and the entire year to follow. By the middle of the current
month, the month preceding Elul, we need to prepare ourselves for
Elul! From the fifteenth day of Av we do the preliminary
preparations and beginning in Elul we do the actual preparations for
the new year.
So, far from being way too early, now is a good time to begin making sure
we have all of the right ingredients for the new year!
When Jewish people bless each other (for the upcoming year), it is an expression
of "ahavat Yisrael" -- love and concern of one Jew for another. When
wishing another person well is done with warmth and sincerity, out of a deep
feeling of love, it is an even stronger demonstration of the mitzvah
to "love one's neighbor as oneself."
And the love and concern for another Jew expressed in our wishes for a
"Ktiva vachatima tova" hasten the realization of G-d's blessings for
the coming year.
To get the "recipe" just right for the coming year, plan ahead. If we start
now with preliminary preparations, we'll be surprised at how smoothly and
efficiently we'll be able to approach the New Year.
"The Holy Temple will be destroyed, and the Jews will be exiled from their
land!" a Heavenly voice decreed. "But the Western Wall of the Holy Temple
will not be destroyed," said G-d, "so that there should always be a reminder
that G-d's Glory resides there!"
The Jews would not forget the Holy Temple. Every year on the ninth day of
the Hebrew month of Menachem-Av, the day on which the first and second
Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, the Jews assembled at the Western
Wall. There, standing next to the only visible remains of the Temple, they
poured out their hearts over the destruction and beseeched G-d to rebuild
the Holy Temple.
The Romans, the destroyers of the second Temple, could not bear to see how
resolutely the Jews kept to their religion, and how holy they regarded the
Western Wall. The Romans hit upon a plan of how to remedy the situation;
they issued an order that all gentiles who lived in Jerusalem must dump their
garbage daily near the Wall.
Day in, day out, the heap of garbage grew. Bit by bit the entire Wall was
buried under a massive grave of garbage. The Jews mourned anew.
Many years went by. A very righteous Jew from outside of Israel came to Jerusalem
to pour out his heart to G-d over the destruction. He walked through the
streets of Jerusalem, seeking the Wall, but he could not find it. Everyone
he asked shrugged their shoulders; they had never in their lives seen the
The Jew, however, did not give up hope. Day and night he looked for the Wall.
Once, he came upon a huge hill of rubbish and wondered how so much garbage
came to be accumulated at this place. He noticed a very old woman carrying
a heavy sack on her back.
"Old woman, what are you carrying?" the Jew asked her.
"I am carrying a sack of garbage to throw on the hill."
The Jew inquired, "Do you have no place closer to home for garbage, that
you are forced to bring it here?"
"It is an ancient custom for us to bring the garbage here. Once, in this
place, there stood a huge, magnificent stone wall. The Jews regarded the
wall as holy. Their conquerers, the Romans, ordered all of the city's non-Jewish
inhabitants to dump their garbage. So generations ago, we were ordered to
cover the wall." She emptied her bundle and returned home.
The Jew wept and pledged to himself: "I will not move from here until I figure
out how to remove the garbage and reveal the Western Wall."
Suddenly an idea came to him. He began walking in the streets of Jerusalem
and whispered to everyone he met, "They say that a treasure lies buried beneath
the hill of garbage over there."
The man himself took a shovel and began digging in the dirt. A short while
later people began arriving. The whole city of Jerusalem was abuzz with the
announcement of a treasure lying beneath the hill of garbage. People streamed
to the hill with shovels and buckets. They dug for a whole day until the
upper stones of the Wall came into view. The sun set and people left, eagerly
anticipating the dawning of a new day. The Jew then took some gold coins
from his pocket, covered them with dirt and left.
Early the next morning, soon after dawn, there was an uproar at the hill.
Someone had found a gold coin. A second person found a golden coin and then
The people started to dig with even more enthusiasm. Every day they dug deeper
and deeper. Every day a few golden coins were found. But, they were certain
the real treasure lay at the bottom. The Jew spent his entire fortune on
his mission to uncover the Western Wall.
For forty days the people dug near the Wall, seeking to unearth the buried
treasure. Finally the entire Wall was cleared of garbage. They did not find
the treasure, but in front of their eyes a big stone wall loomed.
Suddenly a great storm broke out and a torrent of rain came down. It rained
for three days, washing the Wall clean of any traces of dirt. When the people
came out to see what they had unearthed, they saw a handsome wall with huge
stones, some as tall as ten feet high.
On the spot where the earth from which Adam was formed was gathered by G-d's
"hand," where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed, where the first Holy
Temple built by King Solomon stood, and the second Holy Temple built by Ezra
and Nechemiah stood -- on this very spot the third and final Temple will
be built, when Moshiach comes.
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:
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, August 15, Erev Shabbat Parshat Eikev:
Light Shabbat Candles,(16) by 7:37 p.m.
Saturday, August 16, Shabbat Parshat Eikev:
On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 4 of
Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:39 p.m.
16. 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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