Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech, 5757

Elul 24, 5757
September 26, 1997

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very sweet, happy, healthy and successful new year.


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 Elul, 5757
Brooklyn, New York

In Honor Of Our Daughter
on the occasion of her ninth birthday,
25 Elul

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Nitzavim

The first Torah portion of this week, Nitzavim, begins with a description of the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people before they entered the Land of Israel. The Torah stresses, "And not with you alone do I make this covenant...but with him who is here today...and with him who is not here with us today."

One might think that the intention of these verses is to include those Jews who, for whatever reason, could not attend the covenant ceremony. But, then why would our Torah portion begin with the words, "You are standing this day, all of you"? If all of the Children of Israel were present, what is meant by "him who is not here with us today"?

The commentator Rashi explains that the verse should be interpreted to include all the generations of Jews yet to be born.

This is not the first instance in the Torah where a promise or covenant is made with future generations. It is, however, unique in that we learn from its strong wording that the covenant is to have the same strength and validity hundreds of generations hence as it did to the generation of Jews who were about to enter the Land of Israel. G-d makes His promise equally to "him who is here today" and "him who is not here."

We will understand this better by examining the nature of the Jewish people. The distinctions that divide one Jew from another, even one who is not yet born, exist only externally. According to chasidic philosophy, the Jewish people is one body, one unified whole, which cannot be divided. From this standpoint there is no difference between a Jew who happens to be alive right now and one whose soul has not yet descended into this lower world. Accordingly, we are likewise connected to our ancestors who lived three thousand years ago. We are all part of the same reality and share the same essence.

There are, unfortunately, many Jews who claim that they cannot be as strong as they would like in their commitment to Torah and a Jewish way of life, because it involves "swimming against the tide." Jews, they say, are "the fewest in number of all the nations," so how can they possibly go against the prevailing philosophies of the world? There are too few of us to fight such a battle!

To this argument the Torah counters, "Quality--not quantity." Jews are only a minority when one measures them by the yardstick of the physical world, a world dependent upon the laws of time and place. The Jew, however, exists on a higher plane and does not depend on the laws of nature for his survival. It is his unique spirituality, not his existence in the world, that differentiates a Jew from the rest of the human race. From this standpoint, the Jewish people "cannot be counted because of their multitude."

When a Jew connects himself to G-d by learning Torah and performing mitzvot, which derive from a spiritual level higher than time and space, he also connects himself to the eternal Jewish Nation that existed hundreds of generations ago and will always endure. When a Jew performs a Divine commandment, he has the power of the entire Jewish people behind him giving him the strength to prevail!


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.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

25 Elul, 5719/1959

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G-d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

These days at the end of the outgoing year, and on the eve of the New Year, may it bring blessings to us all, call for self-evaluation in respect to the year about to end, and--in the light of this self-appraisal--for making the necessary resolutions for the coming year.

Such a "balance sheet" can be valid only if the evaluation of the full extent of one's powers and opportunities was a correct one. Only then can one truly regret, in a commensurate degree, the missed opportunities, and resolve to utilize one's capacities to the fullest extent from now on.

The period of time before and during Rosh HaShanah is not only the occasion that demands spiritual stock-taking in general, but it also begs for a profound inner appreciation of the tremendous capacities that one possesses as a man, the crown of Creation, and as a Jew whom the Creator has given His Divine Law of Life (Torat Chaim). For Rosh HaShanah is the day when Man was created.

* * *

When Adam was created, the Creator immediately apprised him of his powers and told him what his purpose in life would be:

"Replenish the earth, and conquer it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

Man was given the power to conquer the whole world and to rule over it, on land, sea and in the air, and he was enjoined to so do; this was his task.

How was this "world conquest" to be attained, and what is the purpose and true meaning of it? This is what our Sages tell us and teach us in this regard:

When G-d created Adam, his soul--his Divine image--permeated and irradiated his whole being, by virtue of which he became the ruler over the entire creation. All the creatures gathered to serve him and to crown him as their creator. But Adam, pointing out their error, said to them: "Let us all come and worship G-d, our Maker!"

* * *

The "world conquest" that was given to man as his task and mission in life is to elevate the whole of nature, including the beasts and animals, to the service of true humanity, humanity permeated and illuminated by the Divine image, by the soul, which is veritably a part of G-d above, so that the whole of Creation will realize that G-d is our Maker.

Needless to say, before a man sets out to conquer the world, he must first conquer himself, through the subjugation of the "earthly" and "beastly" in his own nature. This is attained through actions that strictly accord with the directives of the Torah, the Law of Life--the practical guide in everyday living, so that the material becomes permeated and illuminated with the light of the One G-d, our G-d.

G-d created one person and on this single person on earth He imposed the said duty and task. Herein lies the profound, yet clear, directive, namely, that one person--each and every person--is potentially capable of "conquering the world."

If a person does not fulfill his task, and does not utilize his inestimable divine powers--it is not merely a personal loss and failure, but something that affects the destiny of the whole world.

* * *

In these days of introspection, we are duty-bound to reflect that each and every one of us --through carrying out the instructions of the Creator of the World that are contained in His Torah--has the capacity of conquering worlds. Everyone must, therefore, ask himself how much he has accomplished in this direction, and to what extent he has failed, so that he can make the proper resolutions for the coming year.

G-d, Who looks into the heart, on seeing the determination behind these good resolutions, will send His blessing for their realization in the fullest measure--in joy and gladness of heart and affluence, materially and spiritually.

With the blessing of Kesivo Vachasimo Toivo
for a happy and sweet year,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson


Saturday evening, Sept. 27, after midnight, the first Selichot ("prayers for forgiveness") will be said in synagogues throughout the world. From Monday, Sept. 29, through the eve of Rosh HaShanah, the Selichot prayers are said every weekday, in the early morning. Go with the whole family Saturday night, let the kids stay up late! This is a real, hands-on Jewish experience that is bound to be remembered for months, if not years.

Call your local synagogue, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center for the exact time and location nearest you.


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, Sept. 26, Erev Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech:

Saturday, September 27, Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech:


1. 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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