Parshat Toldot, 5758

Cheshvan 28, 5758
Nov. 28, 1997

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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The Jewish year that has just begun is the year 5758 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Taf-Shin-Nun-Ches. Over a decade ago, in the year 5742, the Rebbe stated that the Hebrew letters for that year were an acronym for "This should be the year of the coming of Moshiach."

Since that time, the Rebbe has publicized a phrase describing the year according to the acronym of its Hebrew letters. This year has been designated by the Rebbe's followers as "Hoyo Tihei Shnas Niflaos Cheiruseinu" meaning "It surely will be a year of wondrous miracles liberating us (from the material and spiritual problems of our exile)."


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

20 Cheshvan, 5758
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Toldot

In this week's Torah portion, Toldot, we read of our Matriarch Rebecca's infertility; the subsequent birth of her and Isaac's twin sons, Esau and Jacob; the twins' growth into adulthood; and the blessing for the firstborn that Isaac bestows upon Jacob instead of Esau. Isaac became blind in his old age, as this week's portion states: "And it came to pass, when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see." For many years Isaac was sightless, unable even to leave his home because of his infirmity.

One explanation offered by Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, for Isaac's blindness is that he lost his sight "so that Jacob could receive the blessings."

Isaac was not aware of the full extent of his son Esau's evil conduct and therefore, when he grew old, wanted to bless him. G-d, however, knowing that Esau was unworthy and that the blessings should go to Jacob, caused Isaac to become blind, allowing Jacob to come to him instead of Esau and receive the blessings intended for Esau. If Isaac had been able to see that it was Jacob, he would have made sure that Esau would have received his blessings.

Why was it necessary for Isaac to suffer for so many years just to ensure that Jacob should receive the blessings? Couldn't G-d have arranged for Jacob to receive the blessings in another manner? Indeed, Isaac knew that Esau was not as virtuous as his brother; when Jacob mentioned G-d's name, Isaac realized that "the name of Heaven" was not usually on Esau's lips. Surely G-d could simply have told him that Esau was an evil person; Jacob could then have received the blessings without Isaac's becoming blind.

Why didn't G-d simply reveal the truth to Isaac?

The answer is that G-d was reluctant to speak lashon hara (slander), even against an individual as evil as Esau. Despite the fact that Esau was a rasha (evil person), G-d refrained from saying so outright. The Torah thus emphasizes the degree to which we must avoid committing this transgression.

If G-d refrained from speaking lashon hara against Esau, how much more must we be careful to avoid speaking lashon hara about any Jew! For every Jew, is essentially good.

By emulating G-d's ways and being careful with what we say, we fulfill the mitzvah of safeguarding our tongue.


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.


Last Thursday, the 20th of Cheshvan (Nov. 20), we commemorated the birthday of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber (5621/1860-5680/1920), the fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Rashab.

Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber was the founder, in 5657/1897, of the first Tomchei T'mimim Yeshivah, the forerunner of the international Lubavitch Yeshivah system which exists today and has educated tens of thousands of Jewish children and young adults around the world.

After the czar was deposed in 5677/1917, the Rebbe Rashab was an honorary member of the council formed to help establish the new government's policy toward the Jews. When he once traveled to Petersburg to participate in a council meeting, at a stop on the journey he sent his attendant to buy a newspaper. The attendant read to the Rebbe Rashab: "The Communists have taken over, and the council has been abolished."

The Rebbe Rashab responded: "We must now establish yeshivot in every city. I do not see their [the Communists'] end, but ultimately, their end, too, will come..."

As the Soviet regime began to persecute religion and all Jewish institutions, the Lubavitcher yeshivot went underground. Today, there are thousands of people all over the world who were educated in those underground yeshivot. Now, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 5751/1991, yeshivot have been established in nearly two dozen cities in the CIS.

Dozens of Tomchei T'mimim Yeshivot continue to educate young Jews in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Venezuela, and throughout the United States.

The Rebbe Rashab called the students of these yeshivot "Chayalei Beis David"--Soldiers of the House of [King] David. He explained that they would help fight the spiritual battles necessary to establish the reign of King David's heir--Moshiach.

Just as we now see how visionary were the Rebbe Rashab's words concerning the ultimate demise of Communism, may we very soon see the culmination of the spiritual struggles of Chayalei Beis David with the revelation of Moshiach.


This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim, when we bless the upcoming month of Kislev.

Kislev is a month of celebration, when we commemorate many joyous occasions. A recurring theme throughout the festivities of Kislev is freedom.

On the 10th day of Kislev, 5587/1826, the second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Dovber (known as the Mitteler Rebbe), was released from incarceration in Czarist Russia on trumped-up charges of anti-government activities.

Decades earlier, on the 19th of Kislev in the year 5559/1798, his father, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Chasidism, was released from imprisonment on trumped-up charges of anti-government activities. (Two years later, when Rabbi Shneur Zalman was imprisoned once again, he was also released in the month of Kislev, on the third night of Chanukah.)

On Chanukah, celebrated for eight days starting on the 25th of Kislev, we celebrate the victory of the Jewish people over their mighty Hellenic oppressors, and their subsequent freedom to follow once again in the ways of the Torah. We also celebrate the liberation of our Holy Temple, which the Hellenists had defiled and desecrated. Once the Jews cleansed and purified the Temple, it was free to be used for its holy purpose, bringing the Jewish people closer to G-d.

Torah in general, and chasidic teachings in particular, help liberate us from our personal (often self-imposed) "prisons." During the month of Kislev, then, it is appropriate to increase our study of Torah. This study will help us reflect upon how best to use the opportunities available to us because of the religious freedom that we are fortunate to enjoy today.

Let us pray that G-d speedily grant us the ultimate freedom that will come with the revelation of Moshiach. For then we will truly be free to serve G-d, in the third and final Holy Temple.


Next Sunday, Nov. 30, G-d willing, we will, be celebrating Rosh Chodesh Kislev, starting the new month of Kislev. Rosh Chodesh is celebrated as a mini-holiday, with special prayers and finer food and clothing. Jewish women, in particular, observe Rosh Chodesh more meticulously.

What is the reason for Jewish women's stricter celebration of Rosh Chodesh?

Rabbi Eliezer wrote: "When the men came to ask for their wives' gold earrings for the Golden Calf, the women refused to hand them over. They said to their husbands: 'We will not obey you in order to make an abomination that has no power to save!' G-d rewarded them in this world, giving them a greater degree of observance on Rosh Chodesh, and He rewards them in the World to Come, giving them the power of constant renewal that characterizes [the renewal of the moon on] Rosh Chodesh."

On a more general note, the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, and our people are compared to the moon. Although our light is sometimes eclipsed by that of other nations, like the moon we are always here--both at night and by day. Our nation's history has its share of growth and decline; like the moon we wax and wane. But ultimately, these are just phases. For, although at times we seem to be as unimportant or insignificant as the sliver of the moon when it reappears, this is just a veneer.

May we sanctify the new moon this year and celebrate Rosh Chodesh Kislev in the Holy Temple with Moshiach.


Our Sages relate that "in the merit of the righteous women, the Jews were redeemed from Egypt." Similarly, the Sages associated subsequent redemptions with the merit of Jewish women. Rabbi Yitzchak Luria emphasized that the future Redemption will follow the pattern of the Exodus, and thus will also come as a result of the merit of the righteous women of that generation.

From "Women as Partners in the Dynamic of Creation"


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/www/vestibule/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, Nov. 28, Erev Shabbat Parshat Toldot:

Saturday, Nov. 29, Shabbat Parshat Toldot:


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.

2. Rosh Chodesh Kislev is on Sunday, Nov. 30.

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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