Parshat Nitzavim, 5758

Elul 27, 5758
September 18, 1998

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Your Rosh HaShanah Guide
Tishrei 1-2, 5759
September 21-22, 1998


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue we focus on the laws of the upcoming High Holiday of Rosh HaShanah, which begins on Sunday night, September 20.

Therefore, we present here "Your Rosh HaShanah Guide,"* and other related material about Rosh HaShanah.


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


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)."


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, 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

18 Elul, 5758
300th anniversary of the birth of the Baal Shem Tov
Brooklyn, New York


*. Published by Prestige Litho.

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

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Nitzavim

This week's Torah portion, 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.


Dear Friend:

The month of Tishrei is very colorful. Every possible atmosphere of Jewish life finds expression in this month, in which we have Solemn Days, Fast Days, and Days of Rejoicing. It is not a coincidence that the first month of the year has "samples" of every shade and color of Jewish life, for these "samples" are intended to give us an introduction to, and practical guidance for the rest of the year. By observing the special days of Tishrei in their proper spirit, we are initiated into a truly Jewish life, in accordance with the spirit of the Torah, during the whole year following.

What can we learn from the special days of Tishrei?

a. To begin with we have Rosh HaShanah, the beginning of the New Year, the day when the first man just created proclaimed G-d's sovereignty over the whole Universe. When we are about to begin anything, we must always remember that G-d is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and the sole Ruler of the Universe, and that our action or venture must have Divine approval. This is further emphasized by--

b. The Ten Days of Repentance, which remind us that since we are the servants of the King of the Universe we must keep a check on our deeds to ensure that they comply with the wishes of the Master. However, since we are only human beings, we are liable to fail on occasion. This is why G-d gives us--

c. Yom Kippur, to impress upon us the realization that it is never too late to turn back to the right path, provided we do it sincerely, completely repenting of, and casting away, our evil habits of the past, and solemnly undertaking to mend our ways in the future. If we make this firm resolution, G-d will forgive us, and "cleanse" us completely of our sins. Difficult though this path may appear to be--

d. Sukkot helps us not to despair in our days of trial, even if we find ourselves in the minority, for G-d is our protector, as He clearly showed us by the Clouds of Glory with which He surrounded us during the forty years' wandering through the desert after the Departure from Egypt. Finally, in order to know how to lead our lives so as to comply with G-d's wishes, we have--

e. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, for in the Torah G-d has given us Divine laws of justice and righteousness and a true guide in life; by shaping our lives accordingly we are assured of true happiness, both in this world and in the after-life. For the Torah is a "tree of life to them that take fast hold of it, and its supporters are happy."

These, briefly, are some of the main lessons of Tishrei and there can be no doubt that by following them faithfully, the New Year will be a happy one, both spiritually and materially, and the blessing that we give each other "L'Shana Tova Tikateiv V'Tichatem" [May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year] will surely be fulfilled. That is what I wish every one of you.

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Tishrei 1-2, 5759
September 21-22, 1998


Birthday of the World

Rosh HaShanah is the day on which G-d completed the creation of this world, by creating Adam, the original man. Adam's very first act was to proclaim the Al-mighty as King of the Universe. He called upon all creatures: "Come, let us worship, bow down, and kneel before G-d, our maker."

Each Rosh HaShanah, we too proclaim the Kingship of G-d, and reaffirm our commitment to serve Him well.

Just as on the original Rosh HaShanah, G-d created the world for the first time, so each Rosh HaShanah He reconsiders and re-evaluates the quality of our relationship with Him, and creates our world anew.

The Book of Life

On the first evening of Rosh HaShanah, after services, we exchange the traditional blessing, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Our sages explain that on Rosh HaShanah, we all stand in judgment before G-d "like a flock of sheep before the shepherd." If we are worthy, we are inscribed in the Book of Life. Ten days later, on Yom Kippur, the Book is sealed.

Through repentance, prayer, and charity, we can sweeten the decree, and merit G-d's blessings for health, well-being, and prosperity for the coming year.


The Shofar

On both days of Rosh HaShanah, Monday, Sept. 21, and Tuesday, Sept. 22, we hear during the daytime the sounding of at least the first thirty of the prescribed blasts of the shofar, the ram's horn.

The shofar, the oldest and most soulful of wind instruments, has many meanings. Among them:

* It proclaims the coronation of G-d as King of the Universe.

* It "awakens" us to repent and return to G-d.

* It reminds us of the shofar heard at Mount Sinai, when we accepted G-d's commandments for all time.

* It represents the simple, primal outcry from the depth of the soul.

* It presages the call of the Great Shofar which G-d will sound with the coming of Moshiach, who will lead us out of exile and into our Holy Land--speedily, in our days.

Call your local synagogue, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center for the approximate time of the shofar service.


On the first day of Rosh HaShanah, Monday, Sept. 21, following the afternoon prayer, we visit a body of water or pond containing live fish and recite the Tashlich prayers, in which we "cast away" our sins.

As fish depend upon water, so do we depend upon G-d's providence. Also, a fish's eyes never close, symbolizing G-d's unceasing watchfulness over us.

Special Rosh HaShanah Foods

It is customary on Rosh HaShanah to eat foods symbolizing sweetness, blessings and abundance.

We dip the challah in honey; and afterwards, on the first night, Sunday evening, Sept. 20, we eat a piece of apple dipped in honey.

After the appropriate blessing on the apple, we add: "May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year." Other customs include eating the head of a fish, pomegranates and carrots.


Jewish Women and Girls
Rosh HaShanah 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

Sunday, Sept. 20, Erev Rosh HaShanah:

Monday, Sept. 21, Rosh HaShanah:

Tuesday, Sept. 22, Rosh HaShanah:

Wednesday, Sept. 23, Fast of Gedaliah:


1. If lighting after sunset, light only from a pre-existing flame.

A preexisting flame is a flame burning continuously since the onset of Rosh HaShanah, such as a pilot light, gas or candle flame.

2. Do not light before the times indicated. Light only from a preexisting flame.


After lighting the candles, recite:


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu
Le-had-lik Ner Shel Yom Ha-zi-ko-ron.


Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has sanctified us with His commandments,
and commanded us to kindle the light of the
Day of Remembrance.


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
She-heche-yo-nu Ve-ki-ye-mo-nu Ve-higi-o-nu
Liz-man Ha-zeh.


Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us
to reach this occasion.


A Return to Essence

The first ten days of Tishrei--two days of Rosh HaShanah, the seven days following, and Yom Kippur--are an auspicious time in which to rectify our shortcomings and draw closer to G-d. They are therefore known as the "Ten days of Teshuvah."

Teshuvah(3)--frequently translated as repentance--actually means returning. Judaism emphasizes that our essential nature--the Divine spark of the soul--is good.

True repentance is best achieved not through harsh self-condemnation, but through the realization that our deepest desire is to do good, in accordance with the will of G-d.


3. See Living With Moshiach, Vol. 117


Wednesday, Sept. 23, is a fast day. We neither eat nor drink, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.(4)

It commemorates the tragic assassination of Gedaliah, a great Jewish leader during the Babylonian exile.


4. In New York City, at 7:33 p.m.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

Printed in Living With Moshiach, Vol. 140


"Our Father, Our King--Avinu Malkeinu." The theme of G-d as Parent and Ruler dominates Rosh HaShanah.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the love G-d has for each one of us is analogous to and surpasses the love a father has for an only child born in his old age.

Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. Thus, it corresponds to the rebirth of humanity and we reestablish our relationship as children of G-d on these days.

The sounding of the shofar is connected to this central motif of Rosh HaShanah, that of G-d as our Divine Parent. To better understand this we look to another parable of the Baal Shem Tov: An errant prince, an only son, traveled far from the palace. After many years had passed, the prince yearned to be reunited with his father, the king. However, by the time he returned to his native land, he had forgotten his mother tongue. From deep within his soul a cry emerged, a cry that--no matter how estranged the child--a father could understand. This fervent, broken-hearted plea of "Father, it is I, your only son, help me!" broke through the barriers separating father and son more eloquently than any words the prince might have uttered. At this moment, the king embraced the errant son.

For thousands of years the Jewish people have wandered in exile. At times, we even seem to have lost our means of communicating with our Father. We are very much like the proverbial prince, who when facing his father the king could only cry. We are in pain not only because our self-created barriers separate us from G-d. But also because even when we wish to return we encounter all sorts of seemingly insurmountable obstacles born of the national and spiritual exile of our people.

The shofar represents the wordless cry of the only child within each of us. Chosen because of its simplicity, it symbolizes the incorruptible nature of the soul connected to the essence of G-d, Himself. Transcending the conventional modes of communication, the shofar's shattering wail arouses in us an awareness of the most powerful bond uniting Father and child. No matter how far we may feel we've strayed throughout the year, no matter how muted or inadequate our ability to communicate with G-d, the shofar of Rosh HaShanah enables us to reconnect in a more fundamental and powerful way than previously envisioned.

The Great Shofar, sounded by G-d signaling the messianic age, will pierce all barriers and penetrate beneath the surface of our very beings. When G-d sounds the Great Shofar we will be able to express, completely and openly, the fundamental child/parent relationship we intrinsically have with G-d. The shofar of Redemption will usher in a time when the love between G-d and the Jewish people--concealed throughout our trial-ridden exile--will be fully revealed.

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year. But even before the New Year may we all find ourselves in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with the revelation of our righteous Moshiach, and he will redeem us.


...May the Festivals of Tishrei Bring
Blessings for You and All Your Loved
Ones, for a Good and Sweet Year,
Spiritually and Materially,
and Bring for All of Us
the Greatest of All Blessings,
the Final Redemption
Through Our Righteous Moshiach.


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, Sept. 18, Erev Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim:

Sat., Sept. 19, Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim:


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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