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The Rebbe's life and work have touched millions. The Rebbe's loving concern for every single Jew, and belief in the ability of the world to become better, have inspired people on every continent. The tenth of the Hebrew month of Shevat ("Yud Shevat"), this year January 23rd, is a fitting time to reflect on the Rebbe's impact on our lives.
The Rebbe's emphasis has always been on action. By studying the Rebbe's teachings, by responding positively to his calls to action, and by trusting his clear statements that the world is about to reach its perfection with the coming of Moshiach, we maintain the Rebbe's vision and we strengthen our own ties to the giant of our generation.
Now, more than ever before, the Rebbe's words call out to us:
That the time is now. We stand on the threshold of a new beginning of heightened awareness of G-d: the time of Moshiach. The world is now ready for this revolutionary change. History is a process. The universe - and the human condition - have been constantly evolving to greater perfection. We have now reached a point where an unprecedented unity abounds on all levels: technological, economic and political.
The time of Redemption is now. We can herald it. The onus is upon us. Let us all respond to the Rebbe's call, and we will all have the ultimate different tomorrow.
The following are practical suggestions:
uStudy the Rebbe's writings, especially those about Moshiach and the Redemption.
Nowhere can we find the Rebbe more clearly than in his written works, published in over 200 volumes in many languages. Attend a class in your nearby Chabad House, or invite the Rabbi or Rebbetzin to teach a group in your home. The Rebbe emphasized that studying about Moshiach and Redemption not only helps prepare us for the Messianic Era but actually hastens it. If you can't get a group together, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for suitable materials or log onto the numerous excellent Chabad-Lubavitch- sponsored websites that contain the Rebbe's teachings.
uBegin observing a new mitzva or do a mitzva that you've always done, but in an enhanced manner.
uReach out to others with acts of goodness and kindness.
When the Rebbe was asked by C.N.N. for his message to the world about Moshiach, the Rebbe re-sponded, "Moshiach is ready to come, now. It is our part to do additional acts of goodness and kindness."
Know that the Rebbe's prophecy of the imminent Redemption will be fulfilled.
The focus of the Rebbe's life work has been to see fulfilled the promise of the Biblical prophets of a perfect world without war, hunger or jealousy. The Rebbe told us to prepare for the coming of Moshiach. Now, more than ever, we should live by these words.
The ninth plague to befall Egypt was the plague of darkness, as described in this week's Torah portion, Bo: "They did not see one another, nor did any rise from his place for three days; but all the people of Israel had light in their dwellings."
The Midrash explains that the plague of darkness entailed two separate miracles: a supernatural darkness that enshrouded the Egyptians and "glued" them in place for three days, and a miraculous light that enabled the Jewish people to see.
By the light of this illumination, the Jews were able to enter the homes of the Egyptians and locate the treasures that were hidden there. Later, when the time came for the Jews to leave Egypt and G-d commanded them to borrow "vessels of silver and vessels of gold," the Egyptians were unable to refuse their requests, as the Jews knew exactly where everything was hidden.
This second miracle came about in order to fulfill G-d's promise to Abraham years before, when He told him that his descendents would be enslaved in Egypt: "And afterwards they will go out with great wealth." In the merit of this light, the Jews were able to "empty" Egypt of its treasures, in fulfillment of G-d's command, "And you shall plunder the Egyptians."
Chasidic philosophy explains that the material wealth the Jews took with them from Egypt was an expression of the spiritual wealth they derived - the tremendous number of "holy sparks" that had fallen to the morally depraved country. By going through the Egyptian exile, the Jewish people were able to redeem these sparks and restore them to their Divine source.
The fact that G-d performed a special miracle to facilitate the process demonstrates that He actively helps us in our service of "redeeming the sparks." G-d gives every Jew a "special light" that enables him to penetrate the "depths of Egypt" and withdraw the spiritual "wealth" that needs redemption.
Even now, in our present exile, the Jewish people are occupied with redeeming "sparks of holiness." Whenever a Jew utilizes a physical object for its Divine purpose, he elevates the sparks it contains and restores them to their original source.
Moreover, G-d continues to perform miracles that help us in our Divine mission. For even though we are still in a time when "darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the people," with the help of this special light, every Jew can prepare himself, with joy and gladness of heart, for the time when "the L-rd shall shine upon you": the full and complete Redemption with Moshiach.
Adapted from Volume 31 of Likutei Sichot
The Rebbe's Anteroom
by Gershon Kranzler
Reprinted with permission of the National Council of Young Israel from Viewpoint Magazine, 1955
It was late in the evening when I dropped in on the busy beehive of Torah study, social work, communal activities and sheer inspiration that is "770," the residence of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. It was a plain Tuesday night like all the others, when anyone with a special request, problem, worry, or occasion of joy he wants to share with the Rebbe, may see him.
Naοve, or rather ignorant of the true situation, I inquired of the secretary whether it was possible to see the Rebbe soon. He takes up a few pads from his desk that is piled high with bundles of mail, newspapers, magazines, telegrams and notes. He thumbs quickly through the pages annotated with the hurried, yet neat efficiency that is characteristic of this office.
"If the matter is really urgent, you may be able to see the Rebbe this coming Thursday in three weeks. But you may have to wait quite a while. His schedule is filled till 1:30 a.m."
"What?" I stammered taken aback, "I want to see the Rebbe tonight, not in three weeks." A smile of understanding flickers over the man's gentle face. I am just another of the hundreds of people who come to this office and expect to be taken into the Rebbe, after a few minutes wait. After all, whose problem is as important as "mine?" Nothing can get a person in more quickly, not even the flash of a famous business card, nor the promise of a large sum of money, as I discovered in the course of the hour or so I spent in that office, fascinated by the flow of people of all ages, walks of life, background and degree of religiosity who came for a similar purpose.
"You see," the Rebbe's secretary explained patiently, "if all appointments that have been scheduled for tonight move quickly, the last one will be out about 3:00 in the morning. But one can never tell. Occasionally people have serious problems and overstay their allotted time to throw the entire schedule off gear. I have appointments here that are scheduled for months ahead, and it is only in cases of utmost urgency that I can try to squeeze in another visitor for a few minutes. But..." and here his voice grew quite firm, "definitely not before Thursday in three weeks."
In this age of insecurity and confusion it is not very uncommon to see people turn to all kinds of rational and irrational guides, advisors and psychologists. But the realization of the existence of such a strong desire for the counsel and advice of a Chasidic Rebbe among the wide American Jewish public is an overwhelming experience. It comes as a shock that dispels one's lethargy and electrifies with the tremendous power of a positive force that opens new horizons and unlimited potentialities in a realm of supposedly arid wilderness.
Imagine yourself sitting in that busy office, telephones ringing and connecting parties from the far-flung corners of the United States and beyond, Hebrew and English typewriters hammering away; and right next to you on a chair, humbly waiting in line, you recognize a face you have frequently seen in print. It can't possibly be, you think; why, after all, should he come to the Rebbe? You gradually become accustomed to the idea that he too may have a problem he wants to discuss with the Rebbe. If you knew what rates you pay for the few minutes he performs, then it seems rather incredible to see him wait patiently. His name should suffice to open all doors. Yet here he sits, just another Jew who turns to one who has deeper insight and greater knowledge, who can see through the veil of circumstances and the clouds of worries, anguish and sorrow.
Your eye moves on, though your innermost thoughts still linger with the famous man and what might induce him to wait his turn in a line that values neither name, nor fame, but only the heaviness of a worried heart, or the earnestness soaring with happiness and joy he wants to share.
Your eyes move on, stopping at a pair, the older man, dignified with the look of personal success, and the young fellow with the bright eyes, real Joe College, dressed leisurely, yet with the mark of good taste. It's all so "typical," so American, the way their ties are knotted, the chummy talk between them. And again you begin to wonder. You just don't expect them to be here at 770. They belong in Yankee Stadium, in a classy restaurant, at a show downtown, or in a museum or lecture hall perhaps. And your ear catches some strains of conversation, something about the fellowship at college, about the journey abroad. You purposely strike up a conversation with the young fellow. It's just as you expected. Here is a bright young scholar pursuing graduate studies at a foreign university on a fellowship. He does not even sound apologetic when he explains that his father wants him to get the Rebbe's blessing and guidance before his trip abroad.
The eyes move on. Wait a moment, that young girl over there, sitting next to her mother, as chic as any of the young ladies from the campus magazines, though her eyes, her whole expression betrays a depth and refinement usually rare even among the elite schools. You know her. Only a short few years ago she was sitting on the school bench before you, an eager youngster, intelligent, taking up every challenge of mind and personality. She approaches you and explains that she is to be engaged to a fine young man from Montreal, a graduate of the Lubavitcher Yeshiva there. She has come here to get the Rebbe's "bracha" (blessing). She is getting married and will, no doubt, make a wonderful Rebbetzin, the kind that can mean a great deal to a Jewish community as a social leader to set the right pattern and pace of Jewish life that contemporary Jews can understand and follow without hesitation.
Their chance to enter the Rebbe's room has come. She moves on through a new door, into a new phase of life. You do well to get the Rebbe's blessings, bride-to-be.
The eye moves on. It stops here and there, surveying faces, expressions, guessing, wondering, recognizing old faces, new faces, men, women, boys and girls, some immersed in silent thought, some talking animatedly. You become the film that records the kaleidoscope of countenances, the worries, sorrows, questions, happiness and joys of human experience. You try to bring them all to a common denominator. You try to gain access to the motifs and motivations of their life paths that bring them to "770," lead them to the door behind which sits a man with a pale face, with deep burning eyes from which speak kindness, wisdom and understanding, so much of all this that they flow over and encompass all those strange and familiar people in the anterooms and hallways. And then you begin to understand what brings them together, the elegant and poorly clad, the famous and unknown; those in need of a kind word or strong admonition; those who search in confusion or come driven by curiosity. Those in eager anticipation, and those in worry and pain. You grasp why they come and get the Rebbe's blessings or balm of consolation.
You walk out into the street busy with traffic, cars flitting past you, their bright lights illuminating the darkness for a fraction of a second, to disappear into the distance. But you don't care. For a while you have felt the light of eternity, a guiding beam that does not flash up to rush on past you and your road. You see because the light stays and lends you guidance in the darkness of the way ahead.
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8th of Shevat, 5734 
Greeting and Blessing:
I duly received your letter, in which you write about your birthday. May G-d grant that it should usher in a year of increased Hatzlocho [success] in all your affairs, especially to go from strength to strength in the study of the Torah and the observance of the Mitzvoth.
As we are about to observe Yud Shevat, the Yahrzeit [anniversary of the passing] of my father-in-law of saintly memory, I trust that you are familiar with his life and work. One of the main instructions that every one of us should derive from the inspiration of this day is to rededicate ourselves to the spreading and strengthening of Torah and Mitzvoth to the utmost of our ability, bearing in mind that we are fortunate to be able to do it in freedom and security, without the perils and difficulties which the Baal HaHilulo had to face for the greater part of his life.
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above, including also good news about your family.
8th of Shevat, 5725 
Greeting and Blessing:
I duly received your letter of December 30th, in which I read with interest about your new position. This is undoubtedly a true promotion, both professionally as well as in the opening up of new horizons in your work for the spiritual benefit of the many, and when the two are coupled it is indeed a true and complete promotion.
May G-d grant that this be the forerunner of further advancement in the same direction; which is indeed a natural aspiration, as our Sages declared, "He who possesses 100, desires to possess 200, and he who possesses 200, desires 400." This indicates that the ambition grows with success, and having advanced, one is not satisfied with the previous increment. The same, at least, should be true in the spiritual sense.
We are now in particularly auspicious days, as we are about to observe the Yahrzeit-Hilulo of my father-in-law of saintly memory, on the 10th of Shevat. Inasmuch as Tzadikim [the righteous], the faithful shepherds that they are, continue to take care of those whom they had taken care of in their lifetime on this earth, it is certain that my father-in-law of saintly memory is a faithful intercessor in behalf of the institutions which are carried on in this spirit, and those who are actively engaged in their support and expansion.
15th of Shevat, 5722 
Greeting and Blessing:
I received your three letters. It was gratifying to read about the impressions of Mr. . .'s visit in your community, about the closer cooperation with Mr. . ., and, above all, about the accomplishments in the cause of Yiddishkeit and Chasidus.
I trust that this letter will find you in a much happier frame of mind, and that you will continue your good efforts with confidence and with gladness of heart.
Having just observed the 10th of Shevat, the Yahrzeit-Hilulo of my father-in-law of saintly memory, we are vividly reminded of the overwhelming odds which he and his followers faced in the struggle to keep up and spread the light of the Torah and Mitzvoth. There seemed no chance, in the natural order of things, to hold ground, let alone to gain a victory, against the mighty power of a dictatorship ruthlessly bent upon the eradication of every vestige of religious belief and practice. Yet he came out victorious, because he never faltered in his absolute faith in G-d; and G-d was with him. How much easier it is to follow in his footsteps under circumstances which are favorable, and which certainly do not entail threats and perils, etc.
I trust you associated yourself with all of us in observing this day, and that the inspiration of it will be with you throughout the year.
Hoping to hear good news from you,
Recently we have had difficulty regarding the translation of your letters from Dutch, in which I am not fluent. This is also the reason for the delay in replying to you. I see, however, that you are quite at home in English, and so am I, and it would be more convenient if you would continue your correspondence in this language.
6 Shevat 5762
Positive mitzva 215: the law of circumcision
By this injunction we are commanded to be circumcised. It is contained in G-d's words to Abraham (Gen. 17:10): "Every male among you shall be circumcised." Likewise, (Gen. 17:14), "And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off [from his people]."
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Wednesday is Yud (the tenth of) Shevat. It is the 52nd anniversary of the passing of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, and the anniversary of 52 years of the Rebbe's leadership.
On the first anniversary of the Previous Rebbe's passing, the Rebbe delivered the very first Chasidic discourse of his reign, beginning with the words from the Song of Songs, "I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride."
Quoting the Midrash, the Rebbe explained that when the world was first created, "The Divine Presence was primarily in the lower worlds." For the next seven generations, mankind's evil deeds caused a gradual withdrawal of the Divine Presence from the physical world, until it reached the "seventh [and furthermost] firmament."
"And then, seven righteous men arose, who would draw the Divine Presence back down toward earth." The process continued, "Until Moses brought the Divine Presence back down into this world." Moses led the Jewish people to Mount Sinai, where G-d's Presence was openly revealed and the ability to unite the upper and lower worlds was granted. At Sinai, G-d turned to the Jewish people, His "sister and bride," and declared, "I have come into my garden."
The Rebbe then paralleled the seven gener-ations of the righteous with the seven generations of Chabad Rebbes. The Rebbe, with his prophetic vision, unambiguously delineated the unique responsibility of our generation, the "seventh generation," to complete G-d's "dwelling place down below" by establishing Moshiach's reign.
On that day 52 years ago, the Rebbe declared himself at the service of the entire Jewish nation, dedicating himself to the portentous task of completing the Divinely ordained historical mission of the Jewish people. The Rebbe reaches out to every single Jew, to awaken the Jewish spark that can never be extinguished. His every movement and action has consistently expressed the promise of the new age that will soon commence. The Rebbe elevated the world to a higher spiritual level and readied it for the dawn of the Messianic Age.
May we immediately see the fulfillment of our generation's mission: the full and complete Redemption with the revelation of Moshiach NOW!
They did not see one another, nor did any rise from his place (Ex. 10:23)
The worst kind of darkness is the unwillingness to see another's distress and extend a helping hand. The end result of such indifference is that the "blind" person himself becomes mired in place, unable to rise...
Let every man borrow from his neighbor, and every woman from her neighbor...and G-d gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians (Ex. 11:2-3)
When Jews act kindly and help each other out in times of need, G-d grants them favor even in the eyes of their enemies, for their actions arouse an abundance of loving-kindness from Above.
And the L-rd struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt (Ex. 12:29)
Comments Rashi: "Whenever the Torah states 'and the L-rd,' it refers to G-d and His heavenly court." When it comes to meting out punishment, G-d gives the decision over to the heavenly angels, who do not know the thoughts of man. (A Jew is not punished for negative thoughts, as it states, "A bad thought is not considered part of deed.") By contrast, when it comes to reward, G-d does not consult with His heavenly court, as "a good thought is considered part of deed," and only G-d knows our thoughts and intentions.
By Avrohom Jacobson
Like every young couple, Ronni and Esther Navon looked forward to having children. As the years went by they began to worry. They went from doctor to doctor, each one telling the couple that medical science had nothing to offer them.
In the summer of 1991, Ronny and Esther moved from Israel to Queens, New York, where Esther's parents live.
On the first Sunday after they moved, Ronny went to the Rebbe to ask for a blessing for children. "When I stood in his presence." relates Ronni, "I was seized by an uncontrollable inner trembling. 'We have been married seven years and we still don't have children. We ask that the Rebbe bless us with children.' The Rebbe gave me two dollars with his assurance: 'b'karov mamash-really soon.'"
Ronni returned twice in the next month. This second time the Rebbe handed him two dollars, again saying, "b'karov mamash." The next time the Rebbe gave him two dollars with the assurance of "besurot tovot-good news."
"I went back to the Rebbe a fourth time. This time the Rebbe gazed at me with especially penetrating eyes. When I finished my request, he took out three dollars and gave me the first one and said, 'This is for you.' Then he gave me a second dollar and said, 'This is for your wife.' When the Rebbe gave me the third dollar, he said, 'And this is for the children who will be born.'
"After this explicit promise I didn't have a shadow of a doubt that we would have children. My joy knew no bounds. My wife and I fully believed in what the Rebbe had said, and we decided to buy a stroller as a concrete expression of our faith and to make a 'vessel' for the Rebbe's blessing. I thought that if the Rebbe had promised children, in the plural, it seemed we were going to have twins. So we bought a double stroller."
Ronni opened a business in the Rebbe's neighborhood, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, called Union Limousine Service. Months went by. Years went by.
"They were very difficult years, years that tested our faith, but thank G-d, we can say we withstood the test. We were 100% convinced that the blessing of the tzadik of our generation would be fulfilled.
"Two years ago," continued Ronni, "when we moved, Esther momentarily hesitated about whether to take the stroller with us. I told her that the stroller was a sign of our strong faith in the Rebbe's blessing and that we would take it to our new home."
In order to make additional "vessels" for the Rebbe's blessing, Ronni made good resolutions in a number of areas, especially in the Rebbe's suggestion to study each day Chitas (a portion of the Torah, Psalms and Tanya) and Maimonides' Mishne Torah. I learned the Rebbe's and Rebbetzin's chapters of Psalms by heart, and often while traveling I would say them and feel a special closeness to the Rebbe," he says.
"In my work at the car service I make sure that every car is equipped with a charity box and a Chitas as per the Rebbe's instructions years ago. In general, I tried to use my work at the car service as a means of disseminating the Rebbe's messages. When I drive I often hear people's stories. People tell me their problems and I tell them about the Rebbe's various campaigns, for whoever fulfills them merits much blessings and success. I am sure that over the years I have gotten hundreds of people to check their tefilin and mezuzot and to take on new mitzvot.
"More than anything else, I tried to talk to my passengers about the importance of loving a fellow Jew, the mitzva that is considered a great principle of the Torah. In recent years I've written to the Rebbe regarding a blessing for children and have put these requests in the Igrot Kodesh (volumes of the Rebbe's letters). Often I received explicit answers in which the Rebbe acknowledged receipt of my letter and wished me good news regarding children.
"A little over a year ago, I received an answer in the Igrot Kodesh that I should donate money to yeshivas world-wide, and that this merit would help us to have children. The Rebbe continued in that letter to say that certainly after the birth of the children we would make sure to give them a Chasidic education.
"Eleven months ago, in the middle of a routine trip in Crown Heights, my cell phone rang. My wife told me with tears of joy that the results of her blood test were positive. I was stunned. I stopped the car and began crying like a child. I informed the Rebbe that very day that his bracha was being fulfilled. Then I told Rabbi Leibel Groner, one of the Rebbe's secretaries, with whom I had been in close touch over the years. Rabbi Groner told us about various directives concerning pregnancy that he had received from the Rebbe.
"Two months later, the doctor told us it was twins. We saw how the Rebbe's blessing was being fulfilled precisely. On Tuesday, 7 Cheshvan 5762 at 10:20, our twin sons were born."
On Wednesday, 14 Cheshvan, the twins' brissim took place at the Georgian shul in Queens. In light of the Rebbe's directive to publicize the wonders and miracles that G-d does for us to hasten the Redemption, the entire congregation, family and friends, heard about the twins who had been born after 17 years of waiting in the merit of the Rebbe's blessing.
"We named our oldest son Adam Daniel, and his brother, Ariel Avner," concludes Ronni. "The meal following the brissim became a powerful demonstration of faith and trust in the Rebbe's words. There is no doubt in the minds of all who shared in our simcha that the Rebbe's prophecy that our generation will experience the revelation of Moshiach and the Final Redemption will immediately be fulfilled."
Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine
Moshiach will meditate on the Torah and be preoccupied with mitzvot. He will teach all the Jewish people and instruct them in the way of G-d. He will prevail upon Israel to follow and observe the Torah, repair its breaches, and fight the battles of G-d. Moshiach will have the unique gift of understanding and persuading each individual despite the wide diversity in people's minds and attitudes.
(From Mashiach by Rabbi J.I.Schochet, based on Midrash Tehilim, Hilchot Teshuva and Yalkut Shimoni)