Parshat Devorim, 5758

Menachem-Av 8, 5758
July 31, 1998

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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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, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


This week's issue focuses on the fast day of Tisha B'Av, observed this year on Saturday night, Aug. 1, and Sunday, Aug. 2.


This Jewish year, 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

5 Menachem-Av, 5758
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Devorim

"See, I have set the land before you," Moses relates in this week's Torah portion, Devorim. "Come and possess the land G-d swore unto your fathers."

Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator whose explanation on the text expresses its most literal meaning, explains that the Jewish people did not have to wage war in order to take possession of the land of Israel; had they not sent the spies, they would not have needed any weapons.

"There is no one to contest the matter," Rashi comments. Since G-d Himself promised the land to the Jews, no one in the whole world could have prevented this from happening.

Historically, however, we see that instead of a miraculous entry into the land, the Jewish people did indeed engage in battle with their enemies. Their lack of faith and insistence that Moses send spies to bring back a report spoiled their opportunity to enter the land unopposed, and made it necessary for them to follow a natural procedure instead of a miraculous one. In other words, it was their own negative attitude and conduct that forced them to wage wars in order to assert their Divine right to the land.

This contains a moral for our own times and present condition:

The Torah tells us that the Final Redemption with Moshiach will be very much like our first redemption from Egypt, but will be accompanied by even more wonders and miracles. It follows that if the entry and settlement of the land of Israel was supposed to be accomplished in a supernatural manner the first time, how much more so will it be miraculous in our own times, with the Messianic Redemption!

Again, just as before, the entire matter depends on us. We must show absolute faith in G-d and His promise that the entire land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. We must not be afraid to inform the nations of the world--unequivocally--that the land of Israel is our eternal legacy.(*)

As Rashi explains on the very first verse of the Torah, "The whole earth belongs to G-d; He created it and gave it to whom He saw fit. [The land of Israel] was given to [the nations] by His will, and by His will He took it from them and gave it to us!"

When we will demonstrate this true and absolute faith in G-d, we will immediately merit that "no one will contest this, and there will be no more wars nor the need for any weapons."


*. See "EYES UPON THE LAND" - The Territorial Integrity of Israel: A Life Threatening Concern. Based on the Public Statements and Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Adapted by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger (1997: Sichos in English). http://www.truepeace.org/book.html

See also: REBBE'S VIEWS http://www.truepeace.org/rebbeview.html


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"

Also, the text of the book: "Seek Out The Welfare Of Jerusalem", published by Sichos in English - is available on-line at: http://www.chabad.org/seekout.html, and is divided into a special study program.

Based on the Works of the Rebbe

The Shabbat before, or this year the day of 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.


Seven years ago, the Jewish holidays and notable days occurred on the same days of the week as this year. Thus, in 5751/1991 Tisha B'Av also fell out on Shabbat. Tisha B'Av, normally a day of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple, was therefore a day of happiness and rejoicing, as we do not mourn on Shabbat.

There is another reason to rejoice on Tisha B'Av. And this, too, the Rebbe spoke about at great length on Tisha B'Av seven years ago and the days immediately following it.


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.


Shabbat Parshat Devorim, August 1, is the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av. In most years the Ninth of Av is spent mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple. We fast, sit on low stools, read the Book of Lamentations and observe various other customs of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem and G-d's Holiest House.

This year, however, we will not fast on the Ninth of Av. Neither will we show any signs of mourning. For, this year, the Ninth of Av falls on Shabbat, a day on which we do not mourn or observe public fasts (with the exception of Yom Kippur).

According to Jewish law, when something is nidchei--pushed off--it doesn't have the same significance and stress as if it takes place on schedule.

On numerous past occasions, the Rebbe has mentioned, concerning a fast that is pushed off, that if it is already pushed off, let it be totally pushed off. What does this mean? When Moshiach comes and the Third Temple is built, the four fast days--and Tisha B'Av is one of these--associated with the destruction of the Temples and Jerusalem will be celebrated as days of rejoicing. Therefore, if the fast of Tisha B'Av is already being pushed off until Sunday, let it be pushed off altogether with the coming of Moshiach.


Among the unique aspects of the observance of Tisha B'Av this year is that it has a resemblance to Yom Kippur. In regard to Yom Kippur, it is said, "Whoever eats and drinks on the Ninth is considered as if he fasted on the Ninth and Tenth." Eating "succulent meat and aged wine" on the Ninth of the month causes G-d to have this considered as a special merit. This concept can also be borrowed in regard to the Ninth and Tenth of Av this year, for we eat on the Ninth of the month in preparation for the fast on the Tenth.

The imminence of the Redemption mentioned previously allows for the possibility for a further connection to be drawn between Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur. At the dedication of the First Holy Temple, on the Tenth of Tishrei, on Yom Kippur, the Jews ate and drank in celebration. And this was considered a unique merit for them. Since we are awaiting Moshiach's arrival every day, it is possible that the Tenth of Av will be the dedication of the Third Holy Temple. For the Holy Temple is already completely built in the spiritual realms and must only descend to the earth. Were this to happen, the parallel between Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur would be revealed in the most complete and positive sense. May it happen this year!


"The fact that Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat, and thus instead of fasting we are obligated to take pleasure in the food and beverages served, alludes to the Redemption. For this reason, when a fast day falls on Shabbat, and is therefore pushed off until Sunday, there must be an additional stress on happiness."

The Rebbe, 9 Av, 5751/1991


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.


Shabbat Parshat Devorim, August 1, is Tisha B'Av. Because it is also Shabbat, the fast usually commemorated on this date is postponed until the next day, and we neither eat nor drink, from Saturday, Aug. 1, at sundown,(2) until Sunday, Aug. 2, 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.

Please Note:

Since this year Tisha B'Av begins right after Shabbat, on Saturday night, we must be especially careful to avoid any violations of the sanctity of Shabbat.

Therefore, at the conclusion of Shabbat,(5) we say "Boruch hamavdil bein kodesh lechol" (Blessed is He who makes a distinction between sacred and profane), and then we may ride to the synagogue for the evening service.


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 8:07 p.m.

3. In New York City, at 8:50 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.

5. In New York City, at 9:00 p.m.


What is the purpose of a fast? Fasting brings one to repentance. It is also, according to the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch and the founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy and the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, the path by which we can weaken and even eradicate our desires and impulses toward that which is not good and proper.

Fasting, however, significantly weakens the body, making it difficult to do even that which we are supposed to do.

The Baal Shem Tov recognized that our bodies are not as strong as they were in times of old. He encouraged his followers not to abstain totally from eating or mortify their bodies. Rather, he broadened the term of fasting to include refraining from a "craving."

By holding ourselves back from gossiping or speaking ill of another person, for instance, we are "fasting." We are abstaining from a negative aspect of communication and are also training ourselves not to continue this bad habit.

If you are one who yells a lot, talking softly may be your form of "fasting." If you are very impatient by nature, taking the time to count to ten before blowing up (and then not blowing up) is an effective fast for you.

When Rabbi Shneur Zalman stated that fasting is the method by which we can eradicate our bad traits, it was the Baal Shem Tov's definition of fasting that he encouraged.

This, of course, relates only to times that one wished to take upon himself a "personal fast." However, the public fast days, defined by the Torah or our Sages, are fast days in the traditional sense. They are days when we abstain totally from all forms of food and drink.

May we be privileged to celebrate the Ninth of Av all together in the holy city of Jerusalem, may it speedily be rebuilt, NOW.


Tisha B'Av is the darkest day on the Jewish calendar, observed this year on Saturday night, Aug. 1, and Sunday, Aug. 2.

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.

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 the 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.


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

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 HaMikdosh 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 HaMikdosh.

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 also about the rebuilding of the Temple as well.

Rebuilding the Bais HaMikdosh is up to every person. Suppose for a moment that every mitzvah is a brick in the Bais HaMikdosh 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 HaMikdosh. 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."


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 (July 24 - Aug. 2), including Shabbat, and this year, including the Shabbat of Tisha B'Av, Shabbat Parshat Devorim, August 1.

"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/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, July 31, Erev Shabbat Parshat Devorim:

Saturday, August 1, Shabbat Parshat Devorim:

Sunday, August 2, fast day of Tisha B'Av:


6. 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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