Text Only

Parshat Matos-Masei, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Tamuz 25, 5762
July 5, 2002

Visit TruePeace.org
Dedicated to educating the public regarding the
current situation in Israel, based on Torah
sources, with special emphasis on the opinion
and teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A Jewish Response To Terrorism


The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.



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.


Next Wednesday, July 10, is Rosh Chodesh Menachem-Av, therefore, in this week's issue we focus on the upcoming Hebrew month of Menachem-Av.


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

20 Tamuz, 5762
Year of Hakhel
Los Angeles, California

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Matos-Masei

In the Torah, two different names are used to refer to the tribes of Israel -- shevatim and matos (as in the name of the first of the two Torah portions we read this week, Matos). Shevet, literally a staff, and mateh, literally a rod or stem, both denote the branches of a tree. The difference between them is that a shevet is a supple branch, attached to a living tree, whereas a mateh is a hardened stick already cut from the trunk.

The two names used to denote the Jewish tribes have spiritual significance, and refer to the type of connection every Jew has with G-d, symbolized by the tree. When the connection between the Jewish soul and its G-dly source is open and revealed, the word shevet is used. When, however, the bond between the Jew and G-d is hidden and obscured, the word matos is used to describe the Jewish people.

In general, the first description refers to the Jewish soul as it exists before coming down into the physical world. The soul, united with G-d, is directly connected to its source, just as the branch is still connected to its source of life, the tree.

After the soul makes its descent into a physical body, however, it more closely resembles the mateh which has been severed from the trunk. The vital connection to its source, to G-d, is no longer easily perceived and apparent, so much so that the soul may feel as if it has been totally cut off, G-d forbid. The afflictions of the physical body and the demands of the material world harden the tender soul, making it tough and less sensitive to spirituality.

Yet despite the fact that the shevet is still connected to its source, it is not as strong and rigid as the superior mateh, which has been tempered by its experience. The branch, while attached to the tree, is green and flexible. Only after it is cut off does it become a sturdy and dependable rod.

This, in essence, is the purpose for which the soul is sent down into this world and distanced from its G-dly source -- to uncover the soul's hidden strengths and enable it to reach an even higher level of spiritual closeness to G-d than before. When the soul overcomes the challenges of the Evil Inclination and the hardships of a physical existence, its bond with G-d becomes infinitely stronger and deeper.

The distinction between shevet and mateh exists on another level, too. When the Holy Temple existed and G-dliness openly illuminated the world, the Jewish people were on the level of shevet. After the destruction, however, and the advent of the dark and bitter exile, we find ourselves on the level of mateh. For almost two thousand years the Jewish people have had to develop its hidden resources and stand strong in the face of suffering. When Moshiach comes and the G-dliness that is concealed within all of creation is revealed, the Jewish people, through having uncovered the mateh within their souls, will enjoy an even closer relationship with G-d, the true purpose of the entire exile.


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.


A Chasid once asked Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the third Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, known as the Tzemach Tzedek, whether he should settle in the land of Israel. There he would devote his life to Torah study and mitzvah observance.

The Tzemach Tzedek replied, "Make the place where you are into the Holy Land."

What does that response mean?

To answer, we must first understand what is Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land. The Holy Land is a place where G-dliness, holiness and Judaism are openly revealed. In an ultimate sense, this will be realized in the Messianic era when the third Holy Temple will be rebuilt and the observance of all the commandments associated with holiness of the land will be restored.

This is the essence of the Messianic Era. The relationship between man and G-d will no longer be based on faith alone, but will also be nourished by a first-hand awareness of G-d's Presence here on earth. The physical setting of the world will not change in the era of Redemption. What will be different is our knowledge and awareness of G-d.

The directive "Make this place the Holy Land" means that every individual should and can draw G-dliness into his life and into his environment.

Each of us should know that one's "place," that is, each dimension of our environment and each moment of time we experience can be transformed into the Holy Land, into a place where G-dliness is openly revealed.


Looking up toward the stars on the Fourth of July, one can hardly miss the breathtaking sight of fireworks exploding all over the summer sky. Eyes darting here and there, exclamations of "oohs" and "ahhs" escaping the lips, fireworks are a special treat for young and old.

Did you ever wonder why we are supposed to say a blessing over every piece of food we eat? Or why the Shema is written on a piece of animal skin (parchment) and stuck up on the doorpost? Or did you ever think it a bit strange that the Torah spends so much time discussing the sacrifices or exactly which part of one's fields must be left available for the poor?

The answer is, spiritual fireworks!

Chasidic philosophy explains that G-d created everything with a spark of holiness. The holiness started out as one entity that "exploded." The sparks of the explosion scattered everywhere and were buried within every part of Creation. This explosion was no cosmic accident, though. It was part of G-d's master-plan for the world and His creations.

When we say a blessing over a piece of food, we are elevating the spark of holiness within the food. By using the energy that we derive from the food to do a mitzvah -- like helping old lady carry her bags, we are further elevating the spark.

That we are ultimately elevating holy sparks by doing mitzvos does not negate the fact that we are also gaining from performing the mitzvos. Saying a blessing is good manners; it teaches us to be thankful to the One who has given us the food. Helping a little old lady can further refine our character and encourages us not to take for granted our good health and strength.

Like real fireworks, we can't see with the "naked eye" exactly where the spiritual sparks go once they've been released. But, when we do mitzvos, we can be assured that the sparks have been elevated. And, can you imagine what a beautiful sight it must be Above when those sparks are released?


Printed in last week's issue of "Living With Moshiach."


Printed in last week's issue of "Living With Moshiach."


See our publication: "Laws of the Holy Temple"

The text of the book: "Seek Out The Welfare Of Jerusalem" [Analytical Studies by the Rebbe, of Rambam's rulings concerning the construction and design of the Holy Temple], published by Sichos in English -- is available on-line at: http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/seek-out, and is divided into a special study program.

Also, for a Audio/Visual Virtual Interactive Tour of the second Bais Hamikdosh (Holy Temple), go to: http://www.moshiach.com/temple


Printed in last week's issue of "Living With Moshiach."


During the Nine Days between the beginning of the Jewish month of Menachem-Av and the 9th of Menachem-Av (July 10-18), mourning intensifies. We abstain from eating meat and drinking wine except on Shabbat and for a Seudas Mitzvah (meal associated with a mitzvah such as a bris, or upon completing the study of a tractate of the Talmud). Lawsuits should be postponed, pleasure trips should be avoided.


Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem it says, "Everyone who mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will be privileged to see its rebuilding." We are not discussing here the obligation of the community at large, but rather the obligation of each and every individual. Each one of us has to mourn Jerusalem. And, although we have been promised that the Bais HaMikdosh will be rebuilt, we are obligated to help rebuild it.

The completion of this task requires not only the participation of the community in general, but also the participation of each individual in particular.

The Rebbe has said that, in order to aid in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and bring Moshiach closer, every individual must increase in Torah study, prayer and charity. An increase in charity is especially appropriate at this time, as we are told that charity brings the final Redemption closer, and "Zion -- Jerusalem -- will be redeemed through . . . tzedakah -- charity."

May each and every one of us draw on that inner strength bestowed upon every Jew that will enable us to increase in all of the above-mentioned matters, bringing about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the complete and final Redemption through Moshiach, NOW!


Wednesday, July 10, is the first day of the Hebrew month of Menachem-Av. With the beginning of Menachem-Av, the three-week mourning period over the destruction of the Temple intensifies.

The First of Menachem-Av was also the day on which Aaron, the High Priest, passed away.

Concerning his passing, the Torah tells us that "All of the House of Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days." But for Moses, only the men wept, not the women. Why was this? Because Aaron made peace between husband and wife, and between friends.

It is a phenomenal example of Divine Providence that Aaron, who was known as a "pursuer of peace," passed away just on the day when, hundreds of years later, we would be intensifying our mourning over the destruction of the Temple. His life's work, evident even at his passing, shows us how to rectify the reason for which the Temple was destroyed.

The Second Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred among Jews. Hatred and divisiveness are equal to the sins of idolatry, adultery and murder, for which the First Temple was destroyed.

Especially at this time, we have much to learn from Aaron. We must try to emulate his wonderful example, by doing everything in our power to bring peace and harmony amongst our people. When this happens, we will no longer mourn the passing of Aaron, nor the destruction of the Holy Temples, for we will all be united, together as one, in the Third and everlasting Holy Temple, may it be rebuilt NOW.


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.


by Rabbi Noach Vogel(1)

Where I live, computers are the talk of the town. You see, I live in Silicon Valley and I hear a lot about computers, whether it's hardware or software.

The Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Chasidic movement) taught that everything that one sees or hears is placed before us in order to teach us a lesson.

It is with this teaching in mind that I began to think about Windows XP (or Windows 2000). It struck me that there are many similarities between the "new" (or newest as of today) version of Windows and the commandment to love one's fellow Jew.

For many computer aficionados, and even for your average two computers in the den and a dog in the yard users, one of the major differences of note between the previous editions of Windows and the latest upgrade is as follows: In the older versions, if a program had a problem and it shut down, it took Windows down with it. Typically, you would find yourself staring vacantly and with more than a little annoyance, into a blank screen.

However, in Windows XP, only the program that is in trouble will shut down and the rest of Windows is left intact.

As I was pondering what one could learn from this as a way to serve G-d better, I began to zero in on one aspect of interpersonal relationships. Let's imagine a scenario where two friends (or relatives) are speaking with each other. One of the two says something insensitive or callous, knowingly or unknowingly. The other person takes offence and begins remonstrating. Before you know it, a full-blown argument ensues. The final result? The two don't speak with each other for a few days, a few weeks, or, as unfortunately happens all too often, they never speak to each other again.

In other words, the whole system crashes. But life is too short! They've been friends or relatives for a long time. How can one irrational word cause the relationship to disintegrate?

Windows XP reminds us that we are made up of many diverse programs, that our relationships are encoded with varied data. It is a sign for us that just because one program has crashed, just because there is a glitch somewhere, the whole relationship doesn't have to break down.

In truth, however, human relations should be even better than a mere computer operating system. For, we are told that we should model all of our actions on that of our Creator. "Just as He is merciful, so too should you be merciful. Just as He is compassionate, so too should you be compassionate...." G-d sees all of our failings and He still puts up with us and loves us. Shouldn't we try to be G-dly in our person-to-person dealings?

Surely if we all do something to upgrade and repair our interpersonal relations, G-d will inaugurate the Messianic Era at which time there will be no more "crashes," large or small.


1. Rabbi Vogel directs the Almaden Valley Torah Center in S. Jose, California.


Reb Zalman Estulin, an elderly chasid, told this story many years ago at a chasidic gathering -- a farbrengen.

Once, there were two brothers, Avraham and Shlomo, who exhibited unbelievable brotherly love. As children they never fought. They studied Torah together and eventually, after they married fine, Jewish women, they settled down in the same city.

Sad to say, the brothers got into a foolish argument as is bound to happen. Things went from bad to worse until it got to the point where as friendly and loving as the brothers had once been they now hated and abhorred each other.

Years passed in this way until the time came when Reb Avraham was going to marry off his eldest daughter. Despite the fact that they had not spoken for over a decade, Reb Avraham wanted his brother to share in his happiness.

And so, he sent Shlomo a letter of apology for all past wrongs and an invitation to the wedding. When no reply came, Avraham sent a messenger. But the messenger came back with the message that Shlomo would not even consider coming to the wedding.

The evening of the wedding arrived, and though Reb Avraham was happy, his joy was tinged with sadness in knowing that his brother would not attend the wedding.

For his part, Reb Shlomo had scheduled his evening in such a way that feelings of remorse would not get in his way of staying home. He had a huge, seven-course meal, took a long, relaxing bath, got into his pajamas and went to bed early.

The wedding on the other side of town was in full swing when the violinist, an extremely talented musician who could change people's moods through his music, noticed that Avraham's joy was not complete.

The violinist approached Avraham and asked if there was anything he could do: "My reputation will suffer if I can't make the father of the bride happy."

Avraham told the violinist that he was saddened by his brother's absence. "I will go and bring him here," the violinist offered.

And so, the violinist went to Reb Shlomo's house. He stood outside of Shlomo's bedroom window. Half asleep, Shlomo came to the window to see who was playing. He was so intrigued and entranced by the violinist's recital that he opened his door and went outside.

In this manner the violinist and Shlomo walked through the town until they reached the wedding hall.

Slowly, slowly, they approached the wedding until Reb Shlomo found himself in the middle of the dance floor at the wedding hall. He looked around and saw everybody so beautifully dressed. Then, he looked at himself and realized, with quite a bit of embarrassment, that he was hardly dressed as befits the uncle of the bride. Indeed, he was a sorry state in his pajamas!

"Brothers," Rabbi Estulin concluded, "we're all going to be there in the middle of the dance floor when Moshiach comes. Because, as our Sages teach us, the Redemption is like the consummation of the wedding ceremony between G-d and the Jewish people, which took place at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

"The Torah and mitzvot that we do are like the clothing of our souls. It is up to us to come to the wedding dressed as befits the uncle of the bride, and not in our pajamas!"


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 10-18), including Shabbat.

"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.


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, July 5, Erev Shabbat Parshat Matos-Masei:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 8:11 p.m.

Saturday, July 6, Shabbat Parshat Matos-Masei:

  • Blessing of the New Month, Menachem-Av.(3)
  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 9:21 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 Menachem-Av is on Wednesday, July 10.

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.

Back to "Living With Moshiach" Home Page