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B”H

Shalom and Bracha!

  This week’s Torah portion begins with Yaakov returning to Israel and preparing to meet his brother Esav. Before he met his brother, he wrestled with the Angel of Esav. Upon defeating the Angel, the Angel blessed him and gave him a new name, Yisrael. The defeat of Esav’s angel represents the ability to control and conquer our animal nature. Later, Hashem blessed him and confirmed his new name.

  

    In the other instances in the Torah where Hashem changed someone’s name (such as Avraham and Sarah), the original name ceased to be used. The name Yaakov, however, continues to be used both for Yaakov the patriarch and for the Jewish people. Since Yaakov retained his original name, we must understand the effect of changing his name and how it relates to us.

 

  The name Yaakov comes from the word Eikev, which means heel, beginning with the Hebrew letter Yud. It was given because Yaakov was born grasping Esav’s heel. The root Eikev is also related to the Hebrew for deceit. The Yud at the beginning represents the first letter of G-d’s name. The name as a whole represents bringing Hashem’s presence into a place of concealment and resistance.

  The word Yisrael comes from the Hebrew word Sar, which means ruler. The letter Yud, which represents Hashem’s presence, is the dominant force. The renaming gave us the power to serve Hashem with open spirituality. Nevertheless, the name Yaakov remains, and the two names represent two distinct aspects of Hashem’s service.

   Shabbat and Holidays are the level of Yisrael. During the week we are engaged in mundane matters that we try to subjugate to spirituality. This is the service of Yaakov. On Shabbat, even our physical pleasures are part of the Mitzvah of Shabbat rejoicing. Even during the week, when we pray and actively participate in Mitzvot, it is the level of Yisrael. When we engage in business, and make sure to follow the Torah’s directions in our daily matters, thus bringing Hashem into our mundane lives, this is the level of Yaakov. As we reach higher planes, and that which was once a test becomes simple, this is the level of Yisrael. Continuous challenges are the level of Yaakov. The renaming both allowed us to serve Hashem with the purity of our soul and take that inspiration into the service of Yaakov.

  Yaakov’s concluded his meeting with Esav promising to meet him at mount Seir. This will occur when Moshiach comes, as the prophet tells us “Redeemers will rise upon Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esav and the Kingship will belong to Hashem.” May we see that day immediately!

Dedicated to the Rebbe and Rebbitzin in honor of their anniversary this Shabbat

   Shabbat Shalom,

 

  Rabbi Biggs

B”H

Yud Tet Kislev

Shalom and Bracha!

This Thursday, December 15th, is the Yud Tet ( the nineteenth)  of Kislev. The nineteenth of Kislev marks the Yahrtzeit of the Maggid of Mezrich and the release of the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, from Russian prison. He had been imprisoned by enemies of the Jewish people for his constant financial support for the Jewish community is Israel, which was then under part of the Ottoman Empire (who were considered enemies of Russia) and by enemies of the Chassidic movement for his leadership and dissemination of Chassidut, the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. His liberation was a celebration for the entire Jewish people and for the teachings of Chasssidut. It is customary not to say Tachanun (Ana) Thursday and Friday.

Many interesting events occurred while the Rebbe was in prison. On the way to prison, the guards wanted to travel on Shabbat, to which the Rebbe was opposed. The wagon broke several times until the guards realized their prisoner’s wishes needed to be reckoned with and spent Shabbat by the roadside. The souls of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid visited him and assured him of vindication. His 53 days in prison paralleled the 53 chapters of the main book of his teachings, the Tanya.

A very poignant story with a powerful lesson to each of us occurred with the minister of education during the interrogation. He asked the Rebbe to explain a verse in the Torah: when Adam ate from the forbidden fruit, Hashem asked him (Genesis 3:9) “where are you?” Didn’t Hashem know where he was? After the Rebbe gave explanation of Rashi, the minister asked what does the Rebbe himself explain? The Rebbe explained that the words of Torah are eternal and a lesson to each of us throughout our lives. G-d always asks us “where are you?” You have a limited time on this earth and a mission to fulfill in perfecting the world. He mentioned the minister’s exact age. “Where are you” in fulfilling your mission?

The fifth Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dovber Schneerson, wrote in a letter that the nineteenth of Kislev is the Rosh Hashana of Chassidut and in serving Hashem with the depths of our souls and reaching the inner depths of Torah and Mitzvot. The Preevious Rebbe referred to the day as Chag Hachagim, the Festival of Festivals. The Rebbe has given numerous blessings to those who arrange and attend Farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) in connection to Yud Tet Kislev. It is a time to gather, increase in Torah study, fulfilling of Mitzvot and charity and accepting good resolutions for the future.

The Baal Shem Tov heard from the soul of Moshiach that when the wellsprings of Chassidut will spread forth, Moshiach will come. May we use the day for to its utmost and merit the Geulah immediately.

Chag Hachagim Sameach! May Hashem grant you a good year in the paths and teachings of Chassidut!

 Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in memory of Chaim Ben Velvel Furman of blessed memory. May Hashem grant him perfect rest in Gan Eden and may his family only have joy from today forward.

G-d willing I will be visiting the Rebbe’s Ohel on Yud Tet Kislev. If anyone would like a prayer said there please contact me at RabbiBiggs@gmail.com . Please include the Hebrew name and the mother’s Hebrew name of the people to be prayed for.

As Chanukah approaches, let’s think about helping fellow Jews observe the Mitzvot of Chanukkah. If you know someone who needs a Menorah or candles, get them one. If you know someone who doesn’t light, invite them to your lighting. Need help? Contact your local Chabad.

There is a great Chanukah website at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/chanukah

  Chabad of Great Neck will be distributing toys to hospitalized children this Chanukah season. If anyone would like to donate, please send a check to Chabad Chanukah fund at the address below

A project of Chabad of Great Neck

400 East Shore Rd.

Great Neck NY 11024

516 4874554       fax 516 4874807

The Talmud teaches that increasing Torah study brings Hashem's protection to the Jewish people and particularly to the people of Israel. If you know of anyone who might enjoy Torah e mail, please send me their addresses.


 
   
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