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Parshat Ki Tavo, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Elul 15, 5762
August 23, 2002

Chai (the 18th of) Elul

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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 focus on Chai Elul, the 18th of Elul, next Monday, August 26.


We take this opportunity to wish you and yours a K'Siva Vachasima Tova, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


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

13 Elul, 5762
Year of Hakhel
Los Angeles, California

Reb Refael Mordechai
ben Reb Yitzchok

Passed away on 1 Elul, 5762

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Ki Tavo

The Torah portion of Ki Tavo is always read close to Chai (the Eighteenth) of Elul, the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov - founder of Chasidus in general and Rabbi Shneur Zalman - founder of Chabad Chasidus in particular. In fact, Ki Tavo and Chai Elul share the common theme of ahavat Yisrael, loving our fellow Jew.

Ahavat Yisrael is a fundamental precept of Chasidus, as revealed by the Baal Shem Tov. It is also the "heart" of Chabad Chasidus, as we see from Rabbi Shneur Zalman's treatment of the subject in chapter 32 in Tanya (32, lamed-beis in Hebrew letter equivalent, spells lev - heart.)

Ahavat Yisrael is also stressed in the beginning of this week's Torah portion: "And it shall come to pass when you come into the land...and take possession of it and dwell therein...you shall take the first of all the fruit of the soil [bikurim]...and you shall come to the priest...and rejoice in every good thing which the L-rd your G-d has given you."

Comments Rashi: "This teaches that the Jews were not required to bring the bikurim until they conquered and divided the land." Until all of the Land of Israel was possessed by the entire Jewish people, those who had already received their portion of land were not required to bring the bikurim offering.

A question is asked: If the apportionment of land was gradual, and those who received their portion were permitted to immediately cultivate it, why did they have to wait until everyone had received his portion? Why couldn't they offer their first fruits as soon as they were able?

The answer is that the mitzvah of first fruits must be observed with joy and gratitude, rejoicing in the land of Israel and its produce, as it states, "And rejoice in every good thing which the L-rd your G-d has given you." As long as even one Jew remained who had not yet received his portion of land, the happiness of all Jews was incomplete. For how can any Jew take pleasure in G-d's generosity, knowing that his fellow Jew cannot participate? In truth, a Jew is truly joyous only when all his brethren are equally blessed.

Consequently, until their happiness was complete, the Jews could not offer their first fruits, as bringing them is an expression of perfect joyousness. All Jews are interconnected with one another; they thus had to wait until every single member of the Jewish nation had received his allotment to be able to rejoice fully.

This is the epitome of true ahavat Yisrael. The love Jews have for each other is so all-encompassing that the happiness of one Jew is dependent on the happiness of another. If even one Jew is lacking, it impacts the entire Jewish people.

May our efforts to love every single Jew without distinction bring the Final Redemption, and with it, the opportunity to again observe bikurim in the literal sense.


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.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

13th of Elul, 5731/1971

To the Administration of Chabad House
Buffalo, N. Y.

I was gratified to be informed about the forthcoming dedication of a Sefer Torah [Torah Scroll] in the Chabad House, which will take place on the auspicious day of the 18th of Elul, the birthday of the founder of general Chasidus, the Baal Shem Tov, and the birthday also of the founder of Chabad Chasidus, the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi], author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch.

Needless to say, the observance of this double birthday has the central purpose that their way of life, work and teachings should continue to illuminate the daily life of each and every one of us. Both the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, who expanded the Chasidic teachings in a systematic way, brought the Chasidic experience to Jews of all backgrounds, made the embodiment of the three loves, love of G-d, love of the Torah and love of Israel, the cornerstone of their system, with emphasis on the fact that the said three loves are completely interlocked and integrated.

This system and way of life quickly began to spread and gain many followers, in an ever-growing measure in quantity and quality, from generation to generation to the present day, which has clearly demonstrated how viable and vital it has been for the Jewish people, for the individual as well as for Klal Yisroel [the entire Jewish people].

I have used the expression "illuminated" advisedly, since this does not necessarily mean the creation of new things, but to illuminate existing things which have not been fully appreciated, or which have been altogether overlooked. Thus, the primary contribution of Chasidus is that it illuminates the Torah and Mitzvos, and their inner aspects, Pnimius HaTorah, and shows each and every one of us the way to bring them within our personal daily experience.

The above is particularly important in relation to the young generation, who are still at the threshold of independent life and have untapped resources of energy and dedication to face any challenge, to accept the truth and nothing but the whole truth, rejecting all compromise - in their search for the genuine article.

As for the teacher and mentor, while he must do his best to help those whom he teaches and guides to make the utmost progress, he also reckons with the capacity of the students. However, since it is the task of each and every Jew to follow the Torah way of life, with dedication and inspiration, as illuminated by the teachings of Chasidus, it is clear that this task, which has been given to every Jew as a duty and privilege by G-d, the Creator and Master of the world, is within the capacity of each and everyone, since G-d does not expect the impossible.

May G-d grant that the dedication of the Sefer Torah in the Chabad House should symbolize the dedication of the Sefer Torah in each and every Jewish home in the community, and strengthen adherence of the Torah and Mitzvos in the daily life, not only on special occasions or special days, but in accordance with the well-known commandment in the Shema -- "And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and speak them, when you sit in the house or when you walk in the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up."

I send my prayerful wishes to each and every one who is associated with the work of the Chabad House, for Hatzlocho [success] in all above, and in a growing measure and, with the approach of the New Year, to be blessed with a Kesivo Vachasimo Tova [to be inscribed and sealed for good], for a good and pleasant year materially and spiritually.


Chai (the 18th day of) Elul (next Monday, August 26), is the "birthday" of the greater Chasidic movement and of Chabad Chasidus in particular.

On Chai Elul (5458/1698), the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the greater Chasidic movement, was born. On that date 26 years later, Achiya Hashiloni began to teach him Torah "as it is studied in Gan Eden."

On Chai Elul (5505/1745), the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, spiritual grandson of the Baal Shem Tov,(1) the founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy and of the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, was born.


An individual's birthday has a very special meaning for that person. The birthday of a tzaddik has deep significance for everyone who attempts to live according to the tzaddik's teachings. A tzaddik's birthday is, in some ways like the spiritual birthday of his followers.

The Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi dedicated their lives to teach the value of every single Jew. Ahavas Yisrael -- unconditional love of each Jew -- was at the forefront of their philosophy.

Today, two centuries later, we still benefit from their guidance and revelations. The date of their birth, then, is not only their birthday -- it is also our birthday.

On our birthday we take time out to reflect on our achievements of the past year and our goals for the future. It is fitting that on the birthday of these tzaddikim, we reflect on how well we have followed and benefited from them, and we make our resolutions for the New Year. We will, in their merit, be blessed with a K'Siva Vachasima Tova, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


One of the main teachings of the Baal Shem Tov was to always remember G-d and to thank Him frequently.

The obligation to remember G-d constantly and thank Him begins as soon as a Jew wakes up in the morning. Before he does anything else, he says "Modeh Ani -- I offer thanks to You, Living and Eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great."

The lesson of Modeh Ani, that everything we have comes from G-d and we must constantly thank Him, is connected to another important teaching of the Baal Shem Tov: G-d did not just create the world once [5762 years ago]. He constantly recreates everything anew at every moment, and gives it new life.

The purpose of this "continual creation" is to allow us to appreciate G-d's kindness. At this very moment, G-d has "taken the trouble," so to speak, to re-create each of us. When we realize that G-d is giving us life and everything we have at every moment, we will want to constantly thank Him.

The above teachings have a special connection not only to the Baal Shem Tov, but also to his birthday on the 18th of Elul. the Hebrew word "chai" -- living -- equals 18, and the 18th of Elul is called "Chai Elul," for it helps us add liveliness and enthusiasm to our appreciation of and feelings of thanks for our Creator.

May we merit, this very Chai Elul, to experience true and eternal life, as G-d intended it to be, with the complete revelation of Moshiach and the start of the Redemption.


The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn explained, that Chai Elul introduces an element of chayut, vitality, to our Divine service during Elul, the month in which we correct and make amends for past misdeeds. In the merit of our repentance, G-d grants us a good and sweet year. By infusing our service with vitality, Chai Elul helps us do teshuvah with enthusiasm, not just by rote or out of habit.

Superficially, vitality and teshuvah may seem contradictory. Vitality is associated with joy, whereas repentance is associated with bitterness, regretting past actions and resolving to do better. Those these seem to be opposite emotions, in Elul we feel both, and at the same time!

Every mitzvah we do should be performed with joy, for by observing that mitzvah, we fulfill the will of G-d. As teshuvah is a mitzvah like any other, we experience joy for having been given the privilege.

However, Chasidus gives us another reason to be happy while doing teshuvah, by explaining how bitterness and joy can exist simultaneously.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman describes this in the Tanya as "weeping on one side of the heart, and joy on the other side." When we do teshuvah, we rage against our Evil Inclination and of failure to withstand temptation. Yet at the same time we are happy, for we know that we are becoming closer to G-d.

Chai Elul (and by extension, Chasidus) thus transforms the entire month of Elul into a labor of love and joy.


1. The Alter Rebbe, was one of the foremost disciples of the Baal Shem Tov's successor, Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch.


Once, when the Baal Shem Tov was about 20, he traveled with some members of his inner circle of secret tzaddikim, and they arrived at the city of Brod. As was his custom, he went directly to the market place and began to talk to the simple, common Jews. Soon he was surrounded by an enthralled circle of people, listening eagerly to his tales of great rabbis and their ways and customs.

As he was speaking, he noticed a certain Jew, a porter by trade, passing through the market place with a heavy load on his shoulders. His appearance was quite miserable. His clothes were torn, he was wearing wooden shoes, his face was wrinkled and covered with sweat. But the Baal Shem Tov saw something that others could not see, that above the man's head shone a pillar of pure, bright light!

"Hershel, carry your burden in good health," some of the assembled people called to him. Some added in a mocking tone, "Go in good health, Hershel Goat." Hershel the porter answered all with a kind expression on his face, "May you be blessed," and continued on his way.

The Baal Shem Tov thought that this Hershel surely must be a great tzaddik who did not want to reveal himself. However, none of the Baal Shem Tov's circle of secret tzaddikim had ever heard of him.

The Baal Shem Tov found out that Hershel was a widower, whose wife had passed away ten years before. He had two sons, who studied at a local yeshiva. He made a good living, but spent most of his income to feed his four goats. Everyone assumed that he must really love goat's milk. That is how he received the nickname "Hershel Goat."

Over the next few days, the Baal Shem Tov watched Hershel's activities, but could find nothing extraordinary. He earnestly longed to discover the man's secret. The Baal Shem Tov decided to fast for three consecutive days and nights, during which he prayed, begged G-d to help him uncover Hershel's secret.

On the afternoon of the third day, as he was leaving the synagogue after prayers, he met Hershel. "Reb Hershel," he appealed to him, "I would very much love a glass of warm goat's milk. I have heard that one may buy some from you."

"Come with me," he replied with a radiant face. "I will pour you a cup of fresh milk. However, I will accept no money from you, for I too would like to fulfill the mitzvah of hospitality."

They walked to the outskirts of the city. The houses there were very old, their roofs sagging almost to the ground. In one such hovel lived Hershel.

When he opened the door, he was greeted by the happy bleating of his goats, who rushed over and began to lick his hands. He took a pan and milked the goats, strained the milk, poured a cup of the warm fresh milk and handed it to his guest, the Baal Shem Tov. Hershel then told him his life story.

He spoke about his wife, of blessed memory, a woman of great kindness who dedicated herself especially to the mitzvah of ministering to the sick. "There was no sick person whom she did not assist; for each one she would get all possible help. She also helped poor women who had given birth.

"After she passed away, ten years ago, she appeared to me in my dream," he continued. "She told me how wonderful it was in the World of Truth, and how great is the merit of doing a kind deed for a Jew. When her soul ascended on High to the Heavenly Court, she was happy to recognize many people whom she knew. These were all the people whom she had helped and supported during their illnesses. They had all come to bear witness to her goodness and to plead her cause.

"After she told me how much every favor that is done for a fellow Jew is appreciated in Heaven, she suggested that I do charitable work. 'You are a simple Jew,' she said. 'You don't know how to learn Torah. Busy yourself with charity and good deeds, and especially help the sick, the poor, and women who have given birth. But you must do all this in a way that no one will know.'

"I decided to do what my wife had said: I saved every penny and bought four goats. I feed them fine food so that they will produce rich and nutritious milk. This milk I distribute to the sick and poor, to children and mothers, and G-d, Who heals all flesh, helps that the milk cures those who are sick.

"I have been doing this for many years," Hershel finished his story. "For myself, I get by with very little, and I dedicate most of my money to the maintenance of the goats and for doing good deeds."

Hershel told his guest that last night his wife had appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him that the next day he would meet a poor Jew who would request a glass of milk. "Invite him to your home and tell him about your deeds," said his wife. "Through him you will receive many blessings."

Now the Baal Shem Tov realized that because of the pure, sincere deeds of Hershel, and his goodness of heart, devotion and love of fellow Jews, he was privileged to receive the "crown of light" that accompanied him wherever he went. He joined the circle of secret tzaddikim who taught him Torah step by step. But even when he became very learned in Torah and accomplished in his studies, he didn't stop taking care of the sick and poor.

He eventually passed away unrecognized, solitary and lonely, aged about one hundred years old. But in Heaven he received a glorious welcome. The soul of the Baal Shem Tov, accompanied by the souls of the secret tzaddikim, and the souls of all the people whom he had helped, all came to greet the soul of the holy man once known in Brod as "Hershel Goat."


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 Hakhel Gatherings

The next few days are our last chance to key into the special qualities of our outgoing year and use these qualities to our advantage.

Our current year is a "Hakhel" year. In the times of the Holy Temple, the year following the Sabbatical year, was a time when all Jews from all over the Holy Land gathered in the Temple to hear the King read from specific parts of the Torah.

Many years ago, in preparation for a Hakhel year, the Rebbe pointed out that even though we do not yet have the (Third) Holy Temple, we can appreciate the Hakhel year and benefit from some of its spiritual advantages. The Rebbe indicated that an appropriate way to observe the Hakhel year would be by making gatherings that would include words of Torah, prayer and charitable acts. These gatherings could and should be repeated throughout the entire year by Jews of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. As all Jews, from the youngest infants to the elders of our people, were all present at the Hakhel gatherings in the Holy Temple, it would be appropriate for all Jews of all ages to make and participate in these gatherings.

In addition, the Rebbe explained that the Hakhel year also teaches us a very important lesson in our personal lives. We must take the opportunities and extra spiritual strength afforded us by the Hakhel year to get ourselves "together." Each individual should gather and unite all of his or her soul powers and unify them toward enhanced G-dly service.

The Rebbe explained that these activities help us prepare for the ultimate Hakhel gathering that will take place in the messianic era, when all Jews, from all parts of the world, including the "ten lost tribes" will be gathered in the Third and eternal Holy Temple.

May this gathering take place this very day!


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, August 23, Erev Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 7:26 p.m.

Saturday, August 24, Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo:

  • On Shabbat following the afternoon prayer, we read Chapters 3 & 4 of Pirkei Avot -- Ethics of the Fathers.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:27 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.

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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