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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
The Talmud describes the petira - departure from one place to arrive at another - of Rebbe (Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, known also as "Our Holy Rebbe"). It quotes Rebbe as saying at the time of his petira, "I need my children!" He then requested that his lamp, table and bed remain in their usual places.
One might wonder why, at the moment when Rebbe is beginning an infinitely superior level of Divine service to what had preceded it, he would have any need for or even connection to his children?
And yet, at precisely this moment, Rebbe said: "I need my children," as if to say, "No matter how lofty my own Divine service, I remember you and I will be with you always. Moreover, your Divine service matters to me."
Furthermore, Rebbe indicated that his lamp, table and bed should all remain as before.
"Lamp," "table" and "bed" are symbolic of various human needs about which a person asks for blessings from Rebbe and his successors, the Rebbes of each generations.
"Lamp" signifies health in particular and life in general, as it says in Proverbs, "The soul [the vivifying force] of man is a lamp of G-d."
"Table" symbolizes livelihood, for it is upon the table that we eat food, our sustenance.
And "bed" represents children.
In addition, each of these furnishings has a spiritual equivalent, concerning which one also asks the Rebbe for blessings and advice. The lamp is mitzvot, as it is written, "For a mitzva is a lamp." The table is Torah study, for Torah is "food" for the soul. And the bed is rectification or repair of past misdeeds or deficiencies, for it signifies being "bedridden," i.e., not in the best of health.
Thus, even after Rebbe's passing from one level of life to an infinitely higher level of life, he continues to remain utterly connected to his children. Nothing has changed and he continues to help, advise and bless them in areas both spiritual and material.
However, Rebbe's parting words did not simply indicate that he would eternally be there for his children but that he, too, needed his children to be there for him.
What might his children be needed for?
"You are needed to illuminate your environment with Torah and prayer," Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut told one of his Chasidim when the Chasid discussed his numerous needs with him.
What we are needed for, according to the Rebbe, who continues to remain utterly connected to us - "his children" - the entire Jewish people, is to work toward the culmination and ultimate purpose of our Torah and prayers throughout all the generations - the revelation of Moshiach and the commencement of the universal Redemption.
"I have done everything I can. Now I am giving it over to each one of you. Do everything you can to bring Moshiach in actuality" the Rebbe charged us.
And the Rebbe, ever emphasizing our Sages' teaching that "deed is essential," has given concrete suggestions about how we can best do what we need to do to bring Moshiach:
Study Torah in general, and in particular, those parts of Torah that pertain to Moshiach and the Redemption. More specifically, study about Moshiach and Redemption as elucidated in the Rebbe's 32 volumes of "Collected Talks" (Likutei Sichot).
Live in a manner now that is a "dress rehearsal" for the Redemption, the time when there will no strife, no jealousy, world peace and inner harmony, and Divine knowledge will be within everyone's reach.
Give extra charity, keeping in mind the Talmud's teaching that charity hastens the Redemption.
Increase in acts of goodness and kindness. Every day, perhaps a number of times each day, do something kind for a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a stranger.
In this way, may we hasten the moment when all of our needs, spiritual and material, will be amply supplied in the ultimate Redemption.
It states in this week's Torah reading, Korach: "And G-d said to Aaron... All the best (chelev)... the first fruits... which they shall offer to the L-rd, these I have given you." Of all the offerings that were brought by the Jewish people, the kohanim (priests), Aaron's descendants, were to be given only the finest.
These contributions consisted of all kinds of commodities and were only of the highest quality. "Chelev," generally translated as the "best," is literally the fattiest part of the animal. First fruits are also the most select produce. The Jewish people offered only the best of their harvest and resources to G-d, and as we read in our portion, G-d commanded these be given to the Kohanim.
Maimonides writes: "The law, as it pertains to everything that is for the sake of G-d, is that it must come from the finest and the best. For example, when one is feeding a hungry person, he should be served the tastiest and sweetest food on one's table. When one clothes a poor man, he should be given the nicest garment. When one builds a house of prayer, the edifice should be more beautiful than one's private abode, as it states, 'All the best to the L-rd.' "
Of all the commodities a person possesses-food, clothing and shelter- the finest and best must be dedicated to matters of holiness.
There is, however, another commodity to be dedicated to G-d, and that is time.
Time is extremely precious; it is therefore fitting that in addition to one's material blessings, a person dedicate the very best portion of the day to G-d.
The morning, the beginning of one's day, is the optimal time of the 24-hour period. In the morning, a person's mind is more at ease. He is not yet concerned by problems that may plague him later in the day. Thus the morning is the most appropriate time to dedicate oneself to holy matters.
The Previous Rebbe explained the verse "From the first of your dough...you shall give an offering to G-d" in the following manner:
The Hebrew word for dough, arisa, also means a cradle or bed. From this we learn that as soon as a person wakes up he should give an "offering" to G-d-an offering consisting of the first and finest portion of the day.
This is accomplished in several ways, one of which is to thank G-d immediately upon arising by declaring "Modeh Ani - I offer thanks to You..." Another way is by reserving the first part of the day for prayer and Torah study.
The very best of whatever we possess - food, clothing, housing and time - should be reserved for our Divine service. And in this manner we will merit the fulfillment of the Priestly Blessing, "May the L-rd bless you and guard you."
Adapted Likutei Sichot, Volume 2
by Mica Soffer
Kfar Chabad is a quiet village located near Tel Aviv, comprised of Lubavitcher Chasidim. Stories of miracles of the Rebbe are not a new phenomenon to Kfar Chabad's residents. But recently a miracle took place there that not only deeply affected every resident of the Kfar, but made headlines all over Israel.
Mrs. Shaindy Schechter, a life-long resident of the Kfar, woke up one morning feeling ill. As the day wore on she became increasingly weak and had a severe headache. She visited her doctor who instructed her to check into the hospital. For three days she lay in the hospital, drifting in and out of consciousness. The doctors determined that she was suffering from a severe virus.
When she finally regained consciousness, a doctor asked if she could see him. "If you turn on the lights, I'll be able to see you," she told him. But the lights were on; the virus had made her blind.
The doctors explained to her that a virus was attacking the nerve that controlled her sight, and there was a possibility that she would remain blind permanently. They did not know of a cure.
As she listened to the doctor's ominous prognosis, a voice screamed inside her head: "I will see! I will see!" She would not accept the condition.
As the days went by, she began to see dark and light and some shadows; she had regained 25% of her vision. She was sent home as the doctors said there was nothing more they could do for her.
When Shaindy got home, she and her husband composed a letter to the Rebbe for a blessing for her condition. They randomly opened one of the many volumes of Igrot Kodesh [a compilation of correspondence from the Rebbe to various individuals]. The letter that they had opened to contained the blessing, "and G-d will light up his eyes." After hearing these words, Shaindy felt strengthened. She was absolutely certain that she would see someday soon. She was confident that the Rebbe's blessing would be fulfilled, and each day she told her children that today could be the day. Shaindy exuded such confidence in the Rebbe's blessing that her husband bought a huge bottle of vodka in anticipation of the celebration they would hold with family and friends when her eyesight returned.
In the Igrot Kodesh it also said that one must make a vessel to receive G-d's blessing. So Shaindy visited a neurologist a number of times. The neurologist was not optimistic, but was not entirely discouraging either. Shaindy told the doctor of her blessing from the Rebbe and her belief in its fulfillment. The doctor refused to make any promises but told Shaindy that she was welcome to continue hoping.
Shaindy visited the doctor on Wednesday, May 6, and was told her vision might improve slowly, but it would take one to two years, perhaps longer. Even then, it might never fully return.
The doctor's prognosis didn't upset Shaindy. When her husband inquired about the examination, she told him what the doctor had said, but added that it made no difference to her because she had the Rebbe's blessing.
The following Friday afternoon there was a knock at the Schechter's door. Shaindy opened the door asked who it was. A woman responded, "It doesn't matter who I am. I just came to give you a dollar that the Rebbe gave to a friend for me when I was very ill. At the time, the doctors told me only a miracle could cure me. When the Rebbe gave the dollar, he said, 'For a miraculous recovery above nature.' I hope this dollar will help you."
As the mysterious woman was about to leave, Shaindy asked her, "How can I return this to you if you don't tell me your name?" The woman replied that she would return to take it from her.
Shaindy immediately gave charity as the Rebbe instructed people to redeem the dollars intended for charity in this manner. She recited Psalm 97 corresponding to the Rebbe's 97th year. She held the dollar to her heart then put it in her bedroom.
On Shabbat morning Shaindy was sitting with her baby when suddenly she felt chills through her body. She looked up and saw the clock on the wall. It was 11:40 a.m. Perhaps she was having the same dream she had dreamt each night since her illness, that she could see again? Then she realized that she could see her baby in her arms.
"I can see!" she cried and called her eldest daughter. At that moment she felt the Rebbe's presence very strongly. She felt extreme joy and she begged G-d to open our eyes so we can see the Rebbe and to end this exile.
Then Shaindy sent her daughter to shul to call her husband. Rabbi Schechter soon ran back to shul with the bottle of vodka they had purchased for this day. (Parts of Kfar Chabad are enclosed in a way which permits carrying on Shabbat.) As a crowd gathered, he told of his wife's miraculous cure. Soon people from all over Kfar Chabad had gathered to thank G-d for fulfilling the Rebbe's blessing. The women gathered in Shaindy's home to hear the story straight from her.
At the close of Shabbat, reporters from the Israeli media converged on Kfar Chabad and Sunday's headlines told the story of how the Rebbe's blessing had restored Shaindy's eyesight.
On Monday afternoon when the phone rang in the Schechter home, a woman's voice asked, "Shaindy, do you know who I am?"
Shaindy recognized the voice as that of the woman who had brought her the Rebbe's dollar. The woman explained that she was sending a messenger to pick up the dollar. She was giving the messenger a "password" that Shaindy should ask for before handing over the dollar. When the messenger arrived she assured Shaindy that she herself did not know the identity of the woman but that she is "a simple woman like you and me."
May we merit to achieve Shaindy's level of faith in the Rebbe and his prophecy that "The time of the Redemption has arrived" and "Behold Moshiach is coming, and is already here."
Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Convention Journal
Rambam for 8 Tamuz, 5758
Negative mitzva 160: A kohen (priest) marrying a divorced woman By this prohibition a kohen is forbidden to marry a divorced woman. It is contained in the words (Lev. 21: 7): "Neither shall they [the priests] take a divorced woman."
After the very long interval, your letter of December 30, 1960, was quite welcome. There is no need, of course, to apologize for writing to me. In the midst of numerous letters, most of which concern the material aspects of life, problems of Parnossoh [sustenance], health, and the like, a letter relating to a question in Chasidus, or in Torah generally, is a refreshing change.
Now for your questions:
1. You refer to a certain book and an idea expressed in it, asking whether it would correspond to the Chasidic concept of Tzimtzum [contraction] and to the verse in Isaiah (45:15), "Ochein, Atah Kel mistater - Verily, You are a G-d Who hides Yourself."
The concepts of Tzimtzum and of the "Hidden G-d" (in the said verse) are not identical. It is difficult to discuss such concepts adequately in a letter. However, I will make one point by way of illustration which ought to help clarify the subject. I refer to the dictum of our Sages to the effect that "G-d concentrated (tzimtzem) His Shechinah [Divine Presence] between the two staves of the Ark." And as usual, in our Torah, a whole concept or doctrine is often expressed by our Sages in a brief dictum.
The concept of Tzimtzum is illustrated by the example of mirrors, which may be large or small. The image reflected in the small mirror represents the object in all its details, except in a diminutive form. The naked eye requires aids to see small objects. The "eye" of the intellect likewise requires "aids" to apprehend subtle concepts, namely the power of cogitation.
In a somewhat analogous way, it can be conceived that the act of Tzimtzum has not essentially changed anything except greatly "contracted," as in the example of the small mirror. It is therefore more difficult to see the G-dliness that is everywhere as it is before Tzimtzum, and consequently an "aid" is necessary, namely hisbonenus [contemplation].
On the other hand, the idea of "Kel mistater" is to be conceived in terms of concealment and by something that is "opposite" as, for example, in Golus [exile], when evil reigns supreme, the Beis Hamikdosh [Holy Temple] is in ruins, darkness covers the earth (note the description of this state in the Tanya). There is also the "first Tzimtzum" - basically different from all Tzimtzumim, its "nature" being the removal of the Ohr Ein Sof [Infinite Light], thus leaving a chalal (void) where the metziyus (existence) of worlds is possible. This is a state when there is no reflection at all, and the presence of G-dliness etc., can only be inferred by circumstantial evidence, as it were.
2. Regarding the question of, what you call, the lamed-vovnicks [the 36 hidden righteous people], in whom the Shechinah is present, etc., and you wonder if there is any similarity between this concept and - lehavdil elef havdolos [may we distinguish a thousand times] - to the claims of Christianity, etc.
Needless to say, there is no similarity whatever between the two. One of the points which brings out the distinction is the idea that insofar as the lamed-vovnicks are concerned, it is a status which, in principle, is attainable by every Jew, since the Jew possesses a "chelek Elokah mimaal mamosh" [a veritable part of G-d Above], and as the Baal Shem Tov expressed himself in regard to etzem (essence), he who apprehends a part of the etzem apprehends it all.
Potentially, therefore, every Jewish individual has that status of being a part of G-dliness, though in many individuals this power remains in potential and is completely eclipsed, as in the case of the rasha [utterly wicked person], or it may be partly actualized but not to the full capacity, or fully realized as in the expression of Rashbi [Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai], "bchad k'tiro iskatarna," that is to say, fully bound up with G-dliness; or, as is said of Moshe Rabbeinu, who declared "v'nachnu mah" [who are we], even though he knew he was G-d's emissary, the leader of his people, who was instrumental in their deliverance through many miracles, etc.; yet in declaring himself as "nothing" he saw no contradiction, for it was the Divine soul in him that was active in a revealed form, and, as in the simile above, the image in the small mirror contains all the details, nothing hidden, and in Moshe Rabbeinu it was realized to the full, so that there was nothing but G-dliness in him.
As we have discussed the matter during one of our meetings, I believe I pointed out that the effect of Mattan Torah u'Mitzvos is that thereby every Jew is completely permeated by G-dliness, though the observer sees a body, which is eating and drinking, putting on Tefillin, etc., but in reality, G-dliness permeates every move and action. And, to repeat, this is a status which is within reach of every Jew without exception. This is also contained in the saying of our Sages that every Jew can say, "When will my deeds attain those of my fathers, Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov?"
I regret that this reply was unavoidably delayed on account of other pressing matters which claimed precedence. It need not discourage you, however, from writing again whenever you feel it can be beneficial for someone or something.
HAPPY KOSHER VACATIONING!
Working closely with Chabad of the Capital District, the "Price Chopper" Supermarket chain will open for the first time a "Kosher Corner" in the popular Lake George Tourist Village, that will feature a cornucopia of fresh Kosher meat and dairy products for Upstate New York Vacationers.
On Wednesdays, 8:00-9:30 from July 8 - August 26, Be'er Miriam presents "Chasidut by the Sea: A Journey into Jewish Mysticism." At Pier 17 in Manhattan's South Street Seaport, join an informal lecture series with Rabbi Eli Cohen of Chabad at NYU on topics such as: evolution vs. creation; the meaning of suffering; prayer - a ladder to G-d; is Moshiach the Jewish Utopia. Rain or shine. For more info call Be'er Miriam at (718) 467-5519.
In a most interesting Chasidic discourse on the topic of Moshiach, the Rebbe discusses the two functions of Moshiach. Moshiach functions as both Melech, king and Rav, teacher.
What is the basic difference between a king and a teacher? A king is a ruler whose responsibility it is to govern his people justly, according to G-d's Torah. A teacher is a conveyor of knowledge; he teaches us G-d's Torah.
As Moshiach is both a king and a teacher, we must prepare for Moshiach and accept him on both of these levels. How is this accomplished?
To prepare to accept Moshiach as he functions as a king we have to have kabalat ol - accepting his directives, rules and guidelines even to the point of self-sacrifice. This means that we must know what Moshiach demands of us and be willing to fulfill these demands, recognizing, of course, that all of King Moshiach's directives and demands are based solely on the teachings of the Torah.
To prepare for Moshiach as he functions as a teacher is accomplished by studying that which Moshiach will be teaching us.
At the end of the Mishne Torah, which concludes with the Laws of Kings, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (known as the Rambam or Maimonides) writes that when Moshiach comes the Jewish people will know the "hidden matters." We will be taught these hidden matters, the "secrets" of the Torah, by Moshiach himself.
In preparation for this kind of study, we should educate ourselves now in the inner teachings of the Torah and the secrets of the Torah which are elucidated in the Likutei Sichot ("Collected Talks") of the Rebbe. For the Rebbe's talks, culled from his more than four decades of leadership, contain not only the revealed aspects ("nigle d'Torah") but also the secrets ("sodot") of the Torah.
Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehat, the son of Levi (Num. 16:1) Being proud of an illustrious ancestry is well and good if it causes a person to be humbled in comparison, and spurs him on to emulate his forbears' example. Korach, however, was merely arrogant and full of pride, as are many people of noble lineage....
(Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz)
And Datan and Aviram (Num. 16:1) The Torah criticizes Datan and Aviram more than any other participants in Korach's rebellion as they mixed into a controversy that was none of their business. They weren't firstborn sons who might have resented having the priesthood taken away from them, nor were they even from the tribe of Levi. The priesthood was none of their concern.
And they rose up before Moses...certain men...called to the assembly, men of renown (literally "men of name") (Num. 16:2) What type of person was attracted to Korach's side? Those who sought honor, fame and privilege. If Korach wins, they reasoned, he will reward us with positions of power, and our name will become even greater.
For the whole congregation is holy, and G-d is within them (Num. 16:3) Some Jews, when chided for not keeping Torah and mitzvot as stringently as they might, respond with the excuse, "But I have a Jewish heart! Deep inside where it counts I'm a good Jew." This was the argument of Korach and his supporters, who claimed that even though they didn't behave as they should, "G-d is within them" - deep inside they were good Jews.
The following stories are from the book:
"To Know and To Care, Vol. 2"
by Eli Touger, published by Sichos In English.
In 1995, Jeremy Jordan underwent extensive surgery. During his recovery, he developed a severe infection, which necessitated an additional operation.
Jeremy's own surgeon was out of town at the time, and so a surgeon whom Jeremy had never met, Dr. S., was to perform the second surgery. Dr. S. put Jeremy under general anesthesia and began operating.
During the surgery, Jeremy woke up! He felt no pain, and was aware of his surroundings. As he looked up at the ceiling, he saw the Rebbe. The Rebbe told Jeremy to give a message to the doctor who was operating on him!
The Rebbe then told Jeremy to tell Dr. S. that if he began to put on tefilin every day, the difficulties he was experiencing with his daughter would cease. The Rebbe stressed that although something was very wrong with the man's daughter it would be rectified if he performed this mitzva.
Jeremy told the Rebbe he would pass on the message. Imagine the consternation in the operating room when the "anesthetized" patient began to speak! The nurse told Dr. S. that the patient had awakened, and asked what she should do. Dr. S. replied that she should give him additional anesthesia.
Before this could be done, however, Jeremy asked Dr. S. to come close so that he could see his face. Dr. S. complied, asking Jeremy if he was in any pain, and curious to know if his "unconscious" patient truly understood what was going on around him. Jeremy made it clear that he did.
Then Jeremy told the doctor: "You may think I'm crazy, but I have a message for you. Do you know who the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, is?"
Dr. S. replied, "I've heard of him, why?"
"Well," Jeremy continued, "He just appeared to me in a vision and told me to tell you that the difficulties with your daughter will be solved if you put on tefilin every day."
The doctor was dumbfounded, but remembering where he was, he managed to say that the surgery was almost finished and that he would have Jeremy out of the operating room soon. During the remainder of the procedure, Jeremy recalls that he remained conscious, feeling a unique peace of mind as the Rebbe's words echoed in his thoughts.
While Jeremy was in the recovery room, Dr. S. came over and closed the curtain around the bed. He took Jeremy's hand in his own and, with tears in his eyes, whispered, "I believe you! The last time I was in a synagogue was at my Bar Mitzva. I haven't prayed or acknowledged G-d since then.
"My daughter is gravely ill. Since I am a physician, I feel doubly helpless that I can't help her. This morning, I prayed for the first time in over 30 years, pleading with G-d to heal her. I added: 'If You really exist, show me a sign.' "Then you awoke during surgery and gave me that message from Rebbe Schneerson! It's incredible!"
After this experience, Dr. S. purchased a pair of tefilin and began attending synagogue. Within weeks, his daughter recovered completely.
Mrs. Terri Naiditch, a member of the Lubavitch community in Pittsburgh, once received the following letter from her father.
"In the fall of 1985, I went for a check-up shortly before my crucial business season started, as was my habit in those years.
"I was referred to a dermatologist to confirm that a mole on my back had all the earmarks of a malignant melanoma - a potentially lethal affliction that can spread cancer throughout the body. He in turn sent me to the Mayo Clinic to see about having the mole removed.
"At the Mayo Clinic, I asked the head of dermatology to tell me frankly whether it was malignant, for I was also suffering such intense pain and worry that I was considering early retirement. He not only confirmed that it was malignant, but even had his whole staff come in and look at my mole, evidently as a textbook example of a melanoma. (I had studied a pamphlet on this disorder, and had seen that mine was identical to one of the most graphic illustrations.)
"Upon hearing of my planned operation, you and Pinky appealed to Rebbe Menachem Schneerson to intercede on my behalf, which he generously did.
"You know the sequel. When the operation took place, the tissue was sent out for the obligatory biopsy, and only moments after I was sewn up, the surgeon returned with the greeting, 'Boy, were you lucky! It's not malignant!'
"Now, you know that your mother and our dear friends the Dotys were there with me, and that their prayers and others were offered for me. The unique thing about my appreciation, though, was for the help of the Rebbe. I do not make any claim - I do not feel qualified to do so - that G-d saved me from this life-threatening malady because of the Rebbe's intervention. Yet I have complete faith in the Mayo Clinic's staff and their diagnosis, and to me this experience cannot be explained in purely logical terms. I shall always feel a debt to, and a special affection for, the Rebbe....
Now, Mrs. Naiditch is a convert; her father, John Huff, is not Jewish. Nonetheless, when a blessing was requested for him, the Rebbe responded.
The appointment of Melech HaMoshiach (Moshiach, the King) has already taken place, as it is stated, "I found David My servant, with My holy oil I have anointed him" (Psalm 89). There now only needs to be the acceptance of his sovereignty by the people, and the connection of the king with his people, in an utmost revealed fashion - with the true and complete Redemption.
(The Rebbe, Parshat Mishpatim, 5751)