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Parshat Bereishis, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Tishrei 25, 5762 * October 12, 2001

A Jewish Response To Terrorism
- Letter From The Rebbe

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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


In this week's issue, we feature a letter of the Rebbe, explaining the custom that was prevalent in many communities, to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."


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

24 Tishrei, 5762
Year of Hakhel
Brooklyn, New York

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Bereishis

= 1 =

As we read in this week's Torah portion of Bereishis, the Torah begins with a description of creation. "In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth." The Sage Rabbi Isaac asks a logical question, quoted by the famous commentator Rashi in his discussion of the Torah's very first verse: If the Torah is a book of law, it should have begun with a commandment, the first of which pertains to the calculation of months. Why then, does it open with an account of creation?

Rabbi Isaac answers his own question, based on a verse in Psalms, "He declared to His people the strength of His works, in order that He might give them the heritage of the nations:" "For should the peoples of the world say to Israel, 'You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan,' Israel may reply to them, 'All the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He. He created it and gave it to whom He pleased; when He so desired He gave it to them, and when He so desired He took it from them and gave it to us."

This answer is surprising, as it seems to imply that the entire order of the Torah was changed solely to counter the Gentiles' argument that the Jewish people "stole" the Land of Israel. Is the Gentiles' claim really so valid that it would justify such a drastic step? Moreover, why wouldn't a refutation in the Oral Law (Mishna, Talmud, etc.) have been sufficient? Why was it necessary to change the order of the Written Law (the Five Books of Moses)?

We must therefore conclude that opening the Torah with "In the beginning" is intended not only as an answer to the Gentiles, but also contains an important teaching for the Jews themselves.

In general, the life of the Jew can be divided into two areas: the realm of Torah and mitzvot, and the secular realm. When the Torah demands that a Jew observe its commandments, the request is viewed as logical and acceptable. But when it demands that a Jew's personal life also be sanctified, that all of his actions be done for the sake of heaven, on the surface it seems like an invasion of privacy.

Indeed, this is the deeper meaning of the argument, "You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan." The "seven nations of Canaan" are symbolic of the secular domain, the physical, "earthly" aspects of a Jew's existence. By what right can a Jew be expected to "take them by force" and subjugate even these areas to the realm of holiness?

The answer is, "All the earth belongs to the Holy One." In truth, every area of life belongs to G-d. Yes, G-d created a certain distinction between the material and spiritual realms, but He also wants us to imbue our physical existence with holiness. "When He so desired He gave it to them [the secular realm], and when He so desired He took it from them and gave it to us [to the realm of holiness]." When a Jew sanctifies all areas of his life, he fulfills G-d's will and draws holiness down into the physical world.

= 2 =

Let us read carefully and take to heart the words that the Rebbe said on Shabbat Bereishis ten years ago:

"Throughout the centuries, the Jews have been recognized as 'the chosen people.' In the world at large, and in particular, in the United States, the Jews are allowed to carry out their service of G-d without persecution, indeed, amidst rest and prosperity. Furthermore, the government offers assistance to the Jews here and those in the Land of Israel, enabling them to progress in the service of G-d.

"This has been made possible by the activities of many of the Torah Sages in their relations with the gentiles, including the activities of the Chabad Rebbes.

"Based on the above, we can understand how inappropriate are the statements which certain Rabbis have recently made that the Jews must comply with the demands of the gentile nations in regard to the Holy Land. These statements continue, stating that, heaven forbid, such compliance is necessary because the existence of the Jews in the Holy Land is dependent on the kindness of the gentile nations.

"The principle, 'Do not challenge the nations,' is not relevant in this context, for this principle can never override an explicit teaching of Torah law. In this instance, we are clearly bound by the decision of the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chayim, 329), that if gentiles threaten to attack a Jewish settlement we must take up arms and defend ourselves against them. And if that settlement is located on the border, we must take up arms against them even if they are demanding 'straw and hay' for by acquiescing to them, we 'open the entire land to them.'

"Since such statements were made, it is obvious that greater emphasis has to be placed on recognizing the uniqueness of the Jewish people and emphasis on their connection to the Holy Land....(1) And this will lead to the ultimate wonder in this year of wonders, the coming of the Redemption. And then we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people to the Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Holy Temple."


1. 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.


The Chabad Rebbes taught that Shabbat Bereishis is a special day that has an influence on the entire year. In fact, a Jew's conduct on Shabbat Bereishis determines his conduct throughout the entire year to come.

Why Shabbat Bereishis? Because the foundation of a Jew's service the whole year long is the perpetual remembrance of "In the beginning G-d created."

G-d created the world from absolute nothingness, and continues to create it every second anew. The miracle of creation wasn't a one-time event, but an ongoing miracle by which each individual creation is constantly being sustained.

The world doesn't exist by virtue of its own right. The only reason it continues to exist is that G-d chooses to re-create it every minute.

A Jew may sometimes feel that keeping Torah and mitzvot is difficult. So many problems and obstacles threaten to hinder his Divine service! But when he reminds himself that "In the beginning G-d created," that G-d is perpetually creating the world and preventing it from falling back into nothingness this very minute, he will come to understand that nothing can deter him from serving the Creator. As every creature receives its vitality directly from G-d, nothing has the power to prevent him from observing G-d's commandments.

When a Jew thinks about "In the beginning G-d created," his personal concerns will soon be forgotten. He will realize that G-d is the one true Source of everything, and that only good can come from Him. And in that way he will merit to receive G-d's blessings in all of his endeavors.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

7 Cheshvan, 5737/1976

We have concluded the month of Tishrei, which is designated in our sacred texts as a "comprehensive month" for the entire year, and which is filled with a variety of festive days and experiences embracing all areas of a Jew's spiritual life throughout the whole year.

The month begins with awe and submission to the Heavenly Reign, the main point of Rosh HaShanah: teshuvah (repentance), the essence of the Ten Days of Return, and Yom Kippur; the performance of mitzvot with diligence and joy, culminating with the highest expression of joy with the Torah -- the essential aspects of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.

It is time to recall the custom that was prevalent in many communities to announce at the termination of Simchat Torah: "And Jacob went on his way."

The point of this custom was to call attention to the fact that, inasmuch as the time has come to return to the routine of the daily life ("his way"), it behooves a Jew to know that he is Jacob, a Jew, and that he has his own way, a way that originates in Simchat Torah and is guided by the joy of Torah and mitzvot.

This means that whatever a Jew undertakes, even his ordinary day-to-day affairs, must always be conducted in the spirit of "All your actions should be for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him (and serve Him) in all your ways."

The month of Tishrei is a "comprehensive month" also in the sense that in this month the Jew acquires "goods" for the whole year. Immediately afterwards one must begin to "unpack" and draw from one's stock according to the needs of each day in all details. One cannot consider himself free from further obligation on the basis of the accomplishments of the comprehensive month.

Similarly, there are also "comprehensive mitzvot," although each and all mitzvot have to be fulfilled with the fullest measure of diligence and excellence. A comprehensive mitzvah should be performed with still greater excellence and still greater diligence, for its performance is of greater concern to all Jews and the Jewish people as a whole.

One of the main comprehensive mitzvot is the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew).

Of this mitzvah it has been said that it is a "great principle of the Torah," and the "basis of the entire Torah." The basis of this mitzvah is the fact that all Jews constitute one entity, like one body, so much so that every Jew sees every other Jew as "his own flesh and blood." Herein is also the explanation why the fulfillment of a mitzvah by every individual Jew affects the whole Jewish people; how much more so the fulfillment of comprehensive mitzvot....

May G-d grant that all the good wishes that Jews wished one another for the new year should be fulfilled, that it be a good and sweet year in every respect, with the realization of the above-mentioned pattern of Jewish conduct:

"And Jacob" -- an appellation that includes all Jews, not only those who have already attained the higher status of "Israel" and "Jeshurun";

"Went" -- in accordance with the true concept of motion, namely, moving away from the previous state to a higher state (for however satisfactory a state is, one should always strive to advance to an ever higher state in all matters of holiness);

"On his way" -- that "his way," even in non-obligatory matters, becomes a G-dly way, as stated immediately after: "And G-d's angels met him" -- in keeping with every Jew's purpose in life to be an "angel" messenger -- of G-d, to make for Him an "abode" in this earthly world.

May all the above be done with joy, derived from Simchat Torah, and Jacob "will sing (and praise) the G-d of Jacob," and merit the speedy fulfillment of the continuation of the verse, "The glory and strength of the tzaddik will be uplifted," the coming of our righteous Moshiach.


Chof Hei Tishrei, the 25th of Tishrei (Friday, Oct. 12), is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, the paradigm of ahavat Yisrael, beloved by the Jewish people for the tremendous and all-encompassing love he had for them.

At the very moment Reb Levi Yitzchok was born, miles away, the Baal Shem Tov served his disciples food and a made a "l'chaim," saying: "A soul has just come into this world that will be a good advocate for our fellow-Jews."

And, in fact, stories abound about Reb Levi Yitzchok's tremendous ahavat Yisrael -- love for every Jew. It was Reb Levi Yitzchok who, even when he saw a Jew openly transgressing, would find a way to judge a person meritorious and report the positive verdict to the Supreme Judge.

Reb Levi Yitzchok was very close to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the "Alter Rebbe"), the first Chabad Rebbe; the two became "mechutanim" (in-laws) when their grandchildren married. At that wedding, the Alter Rebbe delivered a discourse which ended, "'G-d is righteous in all His ways': G-d is the Tzaddik Above, and Reb Levi Yitzchok is the tzaddik here below."

The Alter Rebbe was also known to say about Reb Levi Yitzchok that because of his abiding love of the Jewish people, whenever a Jew, while reciting Psalms, mentions Reb Levi Yitzchok's name, the letters of the Psalms will go up to the chamber of "merits" and will awaken mercy for that person and his entire household.

May we all emulate Reb Levi Yitzchok's boundless ahavat Yisrael, thereby enjoying a foretaste of the love we will exhibit toward our fellow Jews in the Messianic Era, and may it commence immediately.


The town of Berditchev was buzzing with the news of the death of a certain very wealthy Jew. The townspeople, however, didn't shed a tear, for this man, who had been so blessed in his life, shared not a penny of his great wealth.

The Chevra Kadisha (burial society) planned to compensate the community for his miserliness; they would charge the man's heirs a high price for the burial. When they presented their demands to the man's children, they were shocked at the sum, and insisted that the case be heard by the rabbi of the town -- none other than the saintly Rabbi Levi Yitzchok.

When the heirs and the representatives of the Chevra Kadisha appeared before Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, they were surprised to see the depth of his grief at the passing of the rich man. He not only ruled in favor of the heirs, but he said that he would be sure to attend the funeral.

Of course, when the news spread throughout the town that the Rabbi would be attending, every other Jew made certain that he would be there as well. As a result, the entire town closed up and every able-bodied man and woman came out to accompany the deceased to his final rest. Needless to say, they were full of curiosity as to why this stingy man was receiving so much respect.

When the funeral was over, people approached the rabbi and asked the reason for such a show of honor to such a person. "No one knew him as I did," was his reply. "Everyone took him to be a miser, but I came to discover his true character through three legal cases which I was called upon to decide. If you have the time, I will tell you about it.

"The first case concerned a wine merchant who acted as an agent for all the other merchants in the town. They would give him the money to purchase the wine, and he would receive a commission for his trouble. Well, once, just as he was about to go to make his purchase, he realized that the money was missing.

"The shock of losing the money of so many others affected him so badly that he went into shock and passed out. A doctor was summoned, but the poor man could not be revived. Suddenly a man stepped out of the crowd and announced that he had found the missing money. The merchant was instantly revived by the good news.

"Not too long after, another man came forward and said that he had really found the lost money, but he had succumbed to his evil inclination and kept it. When he heard about the person who had claimed to have found it and had in actuality parted with such an enormous sum in order to save the life of a stranger, his conscience troubled him. Now, he wanted to return the money to the generous donor.

"That man, however, refused to accept it. He didn't want to relinquish his mitzvah of saving a person's life. The culprit insisted that I hear the case and make a ruling. My decision was that the donor -- the man whose funeral we just attended -- was not required to accept the money.

"The second time I met him was when a man came to me with a similar demand. He wished to repay a generous benefactor, but the benefactor refused to accept the money. In this case, a poor man had fabricated a story to placate his wife while he would be away in a distant town trying to 'strike it rich.' It so happened that he had no money to support his family and he told his wife to go to a certain wealthy man in the town and demand payment every week for a fictitious 'salary.'

"She innocently went and asked for what she thought was her due, and the rich man, understanding the delicacy of the situation, paid her for many months. When the husband returned, having succeeded in making his fortune, he insisted on repaying his benefactor. He, however, replied that his business was solely with the wife, and he had nothing to do with the husband. Again, I ruled in his favor; he was entitled to keep his mitzvah.

"Finally, the third time I met him was after a very wealthy man who had gone bankrupt asked this man for a loan. 'Who will be your guarantor?' the rich man asked.

"'My only guarantor is G-d Al-mighty,' he replied.

"With a smile, the rich man said, 'He is a Guarantor I can really trust!'

"When the day arrived for the man to repay his loan, he failed to appear. Several months later, however, he did come, begging forgiveness for his lateness. 'You owe me nothing,' the rich man answered. 'Your Guarantor was very honest, and He paid me very well with a large, unexpected profit. Therefore, you owe me nothing.'

"Again, the recipient of his largesse appealed to me, but I, once again, ruled in favor of the deceased. He was not required to accept repayment of his loan, if he refused to do so.

"So, my friends, you see, your assessment of the deceased was very wrong. He was no miser. On the contrary, he was a great and saintly person who practiced the giving of charity on the highest level -- that of giving quietly, with no fanfare and no public acknowledgment. Just as the deceased stood in my court and accepted my verdicts three times, he is now standing before the Heavenly Court, accompanied by his mitzvot, which are testifying to his saintliness before that highest court."


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.candlelightingtimes.org/shabbos

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, Oct. 12, Erev Shabbat Parshat Bereishis:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 6:04 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 13, Shabbat Parshat Bereishis:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Cheshvan.(3)
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 7:03 p.m.


2. 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.

3. Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is on Wednesday, October 17, and Thursday, October 18.

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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