Parshat Devarim, 5757

Menachem-Av 5, 5757
August 8, 1997

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe


We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


This week's issue focuses on the fast day of Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av.


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

25 Tamuz, 5757
Brooklyn, New York

Based on the Works of the Rebbe

The Shabbat before Tisha B'Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, is known as Shabbat Chazon, after the first word of this week's Haftorah,(1) chazon (vision).

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev used to note that the name comes from the word machaze, meaning "vision," for "on that day everyone is shown the future Holy Temple."

According to Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, "every Jew is shown from afar a vision of the future Holy Temple." This spiritual vision of the Third Holy Temple, which will be permanent and everlasting, is experienced by our souls.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok explains the vision with the parable of a child who is given a beautiful, new suit, but proceeds to tear it to pieces. The father has another suit sewn and given to his son. This, too, the child shreds beyond repair. The father has another suit sewn for the boy, but this time he leaves it hanging in the closet. Every once in a while, the father brings the suit out and shows it to his child. He tells his son lovingly that when his behavior improves, he will be able to wear the suit. Thus, the father trains his child to behave in an appropriate manner.

We can grasp from the parable that the purpose of showing the child the garment (and us a vision of the Third Holy Temple) is to encourage within the child a longing for the object, a longing so great that he mends his ways and his upright conduct becomes second nature.

The purpose of this vision is to inspire and encourage a Jew: having caught a glimpse of the Third Holy Temple in its heavenly perfection, all that is left for him to do is to bring it down to this world.

Although not everyone actually sees the Third Holy Temple, everyone is intrinsically affected by it. This is similar to the following episode from the Book of Daniel: "And I Daniel alone saw the vision; the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them . . . ."

Our Sages ask why a dread fell upon the men with Daniel if they had not actually witnessed the vision.

They answer: "Though they did not see it, their heavenly soul saw it."

In the same way, on Shabbat Chazon, the soul sees the future Sanctuary; moreover, this perception leaves an impression on the individual, even on his body.

Let us hope and pray that our souls will be attuned to the heavenly vision we are about to be shown. So much so that we will totally mend our ways, thus meriting to see not just a spiritual vision of the Temple, but the physical Temple in all its glory. And that we will all celebrate Tisha B'Av this year in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem, not as a day of mourning, but as a day of joy and happiness, with Moshiach, NOW.


1. The Haftorah is a portion from the Prophets that has a common theme with the Torah portion of that week. The reading of the Haftorah was instituted after a decree had been established forbidding the Jews to read the Torah. When the decree was later abolished, the custom of reading the Haftorah was retained.


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.


See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"


Tisha B'Av is known by our Sages as the birthday of Moshiach. In simple terms this means that at the moment of the destruction of the Holy Temple, the potential for the Final Redemption, through Moshiach, was born.

The Rebbe clarified the exact meaning of this: "Our Sages explain that this cannot refer to Moshiach's actual birth, because Moshiach will not be an infant when he redeems our people. But rather, it refers to a strengthening of his influence. For our Sages refer to a birthday as a day when mazalo govair, 'the spiritual source of one's soul shines powerfully.' On the day when Moshiach's spiritual source is powerfully revealed, there is a unique potential for the Redemption to come . . . . Each year, for the past two thousand years, on Tisha B'Av, Moshiach receives new power and new strength, and from year to year, this influence grows more powerfully."

Thus, Tisha B'Av is a unique time, when the potential for the Redemption is at its peak. Through this insight into Tisha B'Av we are introduced to a basic concept in chasidic philosophy, which teaches that the greatest ascent comes after the greatest descent.

Let us use the time properly and bring about the greatest ascent, the revelation of Moshiach and the Final Redemption, NOW.


When is the "season" of the Bais HaMikdash? Eating matzah has a season, blessing the esrog has a season, hearing the megilah, lighting the menorah, etc. All of these mitzvot have a "season." When is the season of the Bais HaMikdash?

The answer is that there is no specific season; every day is the season. Yet, if we have to pick one day of the year that would be the closest to the "season" of the Bais HaMikdash it would be Tisha B'Av.

Tisha B'Av, is when we pay our fullest attention to the Holy Temple. That's when we are free from any other occupations; we dedicate our time solely to remembering the Bais HaMikdash.

And as we sit on the floor with the kinot--elegies--in our hands it is perhaps the proper moment to reflect, not only about the destruction of the Temple, but about the rebuilding of the Temple as well.

Rebuilding the Bais HaMikdash is up to every person. Suppose for a moment that every mitzvah is a brick in the Bais HaMikdash and that by doing another mitzvah we are adding another brick. How much would that entice us to do more! And perhaps, indeed, this is more than a parable, it is a reality.

Over the years, we have laid millions of bricks. We are now, the Rebbe tells us, laying the very, very last few bricks needed to build the most beautiful edifice in the heavenly skies. Let us "chop arein" (seize the moment) before Moshiach comes, and make sure that we are in on the building of the Bais HaMikdash. When it is built, we will be able to point our finger at this great edifice with pride and deserved joy, and say, "I had a hand in building it."


Tuesday, the 9th of Av (August, 12), is a fast day. We neither eat nor drink, from Monday, August 11, at Sundown,(2) until Tuesday, August, 12, at nightfall.(3)

On Tisha B'Av we do not wash, wear leather shoes, or have marital relations. The Book of Eicha (Lamentations)(4) is read sitting on a low stool as used in mourning.

To learn more about Tisha B'Av, and the laws pertaining to it, contact your local rabbi or Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area: http://www.chabad.org/chabadir-access.html.
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


2. In New York City, at 7:55 p.m.

3. In New York City, at 8:39 p.m.

4. Authored by the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah). He lived at the time of the destruction of the First Temple in the year 3338. He was born into a family of kohanim, and was the son of the Prophet and High Priest, Hilkiah. He foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and exhorted the Jews to return to G-d. After the destruction he authored the Book of Lamentations. He supported the Jewish people in their misery, strengthening them and encouraging them to continue when it seemed impossible to go on.


Though Tisha B'Av is a day of intense mourning for the destruction of the Temples and Jerusalem, there are actually five tragedies that we commemorate on this day: 1) The generation of Jews who had left Egypt were prohibited from entering the Holy Land; 2) The First Temple was destroyed; 3) The Second Temple was destroyed; 4) Betar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans, fell; 5) A year after the fall of Betar the Temple area was plowed under.

Today, the saddest thing about Tisha B'Av is that many people do not know about it or care to observe it. We don't know what we're missing. Unfortunately, we are split and divided, suffering from the same senseless hatred that caused the tragedy of Tisha B'Av.

Tisha B'Av climaxes three weeks of mourning, beginning with the fast of the Seventeenth of Tamuz. During the nine days preceding Tisha B'Av, we abstain from eating meat and drinking wine except on Shabbat and for a Seudas Mitzvah (meal associated with a mitzvah such as a bris, or upon completing the study of a tractate of the Talmud), and refrain from taking a full bath. On Tisha B'Av we fast, do not wash, wear leather shoes, or have marital relations. The Book of Lamentations is read, sitting on a low stool as used in mourning.

But there is another side to Tisha B'Av.

The Talmud tells the story of Rabbi Akiva and the Sages tearing their garments in mourning upon seeing Jerusalem in ruins. Their anguish increased upon seeing a fox strolling where the Holy Ark once stood. The Sages burst into tears, but Rabbi Akiva laughed. The Sages were shocked. "How can you laugh when animals desecrate our Holy of Holies?" Said Rabbi Akiva: "The Torah connects the fall and rise of Jerusalem. Zechariah the prophet predicted that 'Zion will be plowed under,' while Uria the prophet foresaw 'elderly men and women relaxing in the streets of Jerusalem with small children happily playing nearby'. . . . Now that the negative has actually come to pass, the good prophecies will truly be fulfilled!"

The Sages conceded, saying: "Akiva, you have comforted us!"

Tisha B'Av is negative--but once we have the negative, it takes only time and effort to develop it into a positive and see the full picture in the words of Zechariah (8:19): "These very days of sorrow and fasting will turn into days of joy and feasting for the House of Israel."

Tisha B'Av expresses strength rather than weakness. Other nations celebrate only their red-letter days and triumphs, yet we have the strength to dedicate a day to our tragedy, and that is the secret of our long survival that enables Israel to outlive the greatest empires that have long since vanished. Tisha B'Av directs us to positive, constructive action of rebuilding through Torah and charity.

It is a Sephardic custom to rise on Tisha B'Av afternoon and clean the house, showing our renewed faith and hope.

On the positive side, some sources say that Tisha B'Av is the birthday of the righteous Moshiach, bringing about the potential for a most important Jewish principle: "I believe with complete faith in the arrival of the Moshiach. And though he may tarry, I shall wait each day, anticipating his arrival" (Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12).

Last but not least, we conclude the Lamentations on a high positive note as we loudly declare: "Return to us, O G-d, and we will return to You; renew our days as once before!"


"Come and sing in the night." Eicha, 2, 19

Chasidic interpretation explains this to mean that during the "night" of exile one can come and sing; despite the fact that it is dark.

The beauty and specialness of the Jewish people is that we can find reasons to "sing" in the night. While the whole world is enveloped in total darkness, we find a reason to sing.

What exactly is that reason? We view the darkness of night, the darkness that surrounds us, as if it were a tunnel. At the end of every tunnel, no matter how long, there is a light shining bright. And it is because of the fact that we are surrounded by the darkness of the tunnel that we can see the brightness of the light at the end. We realize, too, the darker the tunnel, the closer we are to the light at the end.

When the Redemption and Moshiach will come, these days are going to be filled with the light of joy and happiness and glory. This is what we are waiting for, what we are hoping for. This is the reason we can and must sing and dance in the night. After all, we are already at the end of the tunnel.


Our Sages have taught that the Holy Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam--unwarranted hatred. The rebuilding of Holy Temple and the correction of our past failings will be brought about through ahavat chinam --unconditional love of our fellow Jew. What is unconditional love? When we love the other person just because he is a Jew.

There are two sorts of love, actually, love of two different "types" of Jews. One love is for the Jew I don't even know, and the other is for the Jew I know. A cynical Jew once said, "If you ask me to love the Jew that's in Russia, or the Jew that's fighting in the front lines in Israel, whom I've never met, I have no problem. But if you're asking me to love Yankel my neighbor, whose faults I know, now that is very, very hard."

In order to rebuild the Holy Temple, we have to have ahavat chinam for the people we know. Though we recognize through firsthand experience their good and bad qualities, their frailties and foibles, we must rise higher than the differences between us. And, if we look higher or overlook altogether what we don't like in another Jew, then the ahavat chinam will come much more easily. For, when we look deeper, we will certainly see the other Jew's source and essence, which, being a part of G-d Himself, are good and pure.

May each and every one of us be permeated with true ahavat chinam for those Jews whom we know as well as those Jews we don't know, thus helping to rebuild the Third and eternal Holy Temple, NOW.


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 Torah Celebrations:

"As a further preparation for the messianic era, to reveal the positive qualities and joy that are latent in these Three Weeks, conclusions of Torah works (siyyumim) should be held on each of the Nine Days, including Shabbat.

"These activities will hasten the transformation of these days into days of celebration, when with true and complete joy we shall proceed together with Moshiach, to the Holy Land, in the true and ultimate Redemption."

The Rebbe, 18 Tamuz, 5751/1991


For a siyyum in your area, contact your local Rabbi or Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area: http://www.chabad.org/chabadir-access.html.
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


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.havienu.org/resrcs/hebcal.html

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 8, Erev Shabbat Parshat Devarim:

Saturday, Aug. 9, Shabbat Parshat Devarim:


5. 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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