of Great Neck
By Rabbi Biggs,
N. Y. City Candle lighting 4:33
. Shabbat ends 5:37
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Kiddush Levanah may be recited through
Shabbat we read the portion of Beshalach. After the Jewish people
left Egypt, Pharaoh and his army chased them, pinning them against
the ocean. Hashem split the sea, and the Jewish people went through
the sea bed on dry ground. Thereafter, when the Jewish people left
the sea bed, the Egyptians pursued. The ocean closed, swallowing
them and thereafter the corpses washed ashore, finally ending the
Egyptian threat to the Exodus. Upon witnessing this, Moshe and the
Jewish people sang praise to Hashem. The song of praise which they
sang is called the “Shirah” (song) of the sea, and is part of the
daily prayers. This occurred on the seventh day of Pesach.
Shelah, a very famous Halachic and Kabbalistic scholar, notes that
Shirah is the diminutive form of the Hebrew word for song, which is
Shir. This implies that there was something incomplete in the song
of praise which they sang. The Gemarra explains that the reason we
don’t say Hallel on the seventh day of Pesach is because Hashem
refused to allow the angels to sing praise together with Jewish
people. The Shelah interprets the explanation of the Gemarra to mean
that Hashem was disappointed with the praise of the Jewish people.
When Moshe announced the redemption, although the people trusted
him, their faith was not strong enough to lead them to sing praise.
When the plagues began and the servitude ended, they still didn’t
sing praise. When the first born died and the Jewish people left
Egypt, they still didn’t sing praise. Only when they saw the drowned
Egyptians, leaving no possibility of recapture, did they sing praise
Friday night prayers, we say “Let us sing to Hashem a new song (Shir).
This refers to the song of praise when Moshiach comes. The Shelah
notes that the word Shir is no longer in the diminutive. He explains
that when Moshiach will come, upon his heralding the redemption the
Jewish people will begin to rejoice. Although the exile will
continue, the announcement will suffice to elicit joy and praise.
Each stage in the redemption will enhance our faith and joy and
Shabbat, the tenth of Shevat, marked the anniversary of the passing
of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson,
and the ascent to leadership of his son in law, Rabbi Menachem
Mendel Schneerson. Upon receiving the mantle of leadership, the
Rebbe announced that just as in the generation of Moshe Hashem
revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, in our generation Hashem will dwell
in the Third Temple. In later years he emphasized that we are on the
threshold of the redemption, and that certain aspects of the
redemption had already begun.
with perfect faith, begin to live our lives with the joy of the
anticipation of Moshiach. Let us live each day as though that day
Moshiach would arrive. Let us all sing together to Hashem a new
song, the praise of the coming of Moshiach!
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
Dedicated to Kochav Shabot on the occasion of his Brit. May he be a
true star in every manner and bring only Nachat and Bracha to his
family and people.
Thursday, January 20th, is Tu B’Shevat, the fifteenth day
of the Hebrew month of Shevat. The Gemarrah in Rosh Hashanah states
that the fifteenth of Shevat is the Rosh Hashanah for trees. This is
because the sap begins to flow again after the winter. Although the
Gemarrah is referring to the agricultural laws of tithing, today it
is celebrated as a holiday by not saying Tachanun and by eating
special fruits. It is customary to make the blessing on the fruits
for which Israel is famous, namely grapes, pomegranates, figs,
olives and dates. It is also customary to eat a new fruit and make
the blessing “Shehechiyanu.” By using fruits to make blessings we
help assure that Hashem should bless the fruits of this coming year
and by making the blessing on fruits connected with Israel we
enhance Hashem’s blessing and protection of the land of Israel.
Year for trees has important lessons for each of us. A person is
compared to a tree. Just as a tree constantly grows, a person must
constantly progress. A person is also meant to bear fruits. It is
not sufficient that we grow ourselves; we must also affect our
surroundings. Just as a tree bears fruit from year to year, we
mustn’t be satisfied with our effect on the world until now. We must
keep giving and doing and growing.
entire Jewish people are compared to a tree. Although each branch
grows in its own direction, they are all part of one tree. The
strength of each limb of the tree aids the entire tree, and the
weakness of any limb effects the other limbs. Whatever directions we
take, we are one people. When we strengthen each other, we
strengthen ourselves. This is alluded to in the name of the month,
Shevat. The word Shevat is related to the Hebrew Shevet, which means
Gemarrah tells us that fruits represent Mitzvot. When a tree bears
fruit, it doesn’t lose its power to bear fruit, but instead grows.
When we do a Mitzvah, even if it seems difficult or costly, Hashem
repays us and gives us the strength to perform another Mitzvah. When
we plant a seed, we don’t see the fruits for a very long time.
However, from one seed grows a tree that produces thousands of
fruits each year, each capable of producing new trees. We don’t
always see the effect of the Mitzvot that we do. However, Hashem
nurtures them and they bear fruit for us, our children and all
Hashem grant that this Tu B’Shevat usher in a new era of joy,
healing, new growth and prosperity, particularly in Israel. The
Tanya explains that all of the good things that will occur when
Moshiach comes are a direct result of our service of Hashem in Galut
(exile). Each Mitzvah is a seed, whose fruit we will see at that
time. May the joy of redemption replace the pain of exile
blessing for fruit that grows on trees is Baruch Atta A-donai E-loheinu
Melech Haolam Borei P’ree Haeitz
blessing Shehechiyanu for new fruits is Baruch Atta A-donai E-loheinu
Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’Kiy’manu V’higyanu Lizman Hazeh.
Dedicated to Yeshayahu (Steven) Ayal. May Hashem watch over him and
grant him blessings in every manner.
project of Chabad of Great Neck
East Shore Rd.
Neck NY 11024
4874554 fax 516 4874807
following e mail is for next Shabbat January 22nd
Lessons From the Giving of the Torah
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Shalom and Bracha!
Shabbat we read the portion of Yitro, the giving of the Torah on
Mount Sinai. In the Shema we say “These words that I command you
today shall be upon your heart.” The Talmud explains that every
day we should feel like the Torah was given that day. This is echoed
in the blessing that we make upon learning Torah, Baruch… Notain
Hatorah. (Blessed are You… who gives the Torah). The word Notain is
in the present, which teaches us that we must experience the study
of Torah as though we were receiving the Torah that moment on Mount
Sinai. As we look more deeply into the lessons of this week’s
portion, we can relive the giving of the Torah in a more meaningful
narrative of the giving of the Torah begins “In the third month of
the Exodus… they came to the wilderness of Sinai… and he
camped opposite the mountain.” Throughout the forty years in the
desert, every encampment is described in the plural except for this
one. The Midrash explains that when Hashem saw the unity among the
Jewish people in their desire to receive the Torah, He declared that
the time had arrived for the Torah to be given.
is central to Torah. The portion tells us that the Torah was given
in the third month of the Exodus, after three days of preparation.
This is because the number three represents unity. One represents
uniqueness, two introduces division and three represents the power
to combine and unite. The Torah serves as the bond between the
Infinite Creator and the finite world. The Talmud tells us that the
Torah was only given to bring peace into the world. In order to
receive the Torah whose very essence is peace and unity, there had
to be pristine unity amongst the Jewish people. This unity is
expressed in all of the three pillars of service of Hashem: Torah,
prayer and acts of kindness.
Ten Commandments contain five commandments between man and G-d and
five commandments between man and his fellow man. Our service of
Hashem must lead to our betterment as a person, and the way we that
treat each other must be directed by the Torah, not simply by good
intention. Thus, the Torah unites the mundane and the sacred. When
we study the Torah we subjugate ourselves fully to the will of
Hashem, but we seek to understand the Torah in our intellect.
Thus the Torah unites the human and divine intellect. The Ten
Commandment parallel the ten utterances of creation. This is because
the Torah bonds every finite aspect of the creation with Hashem’s
Ari Zal (a pillar of Kabbalah) taught that before praying, a person
must say “I hereby accept upon myself to fulfill the Mitzvah of love
your fellow man as yourself. Prayers are said n the plural (Our G-d,
Bless us…) because Hashem blesses us as a people. Further, prayer
itself is unity. Prayer is not simply beseeching Hashem for our
needs, but bonding with Hashem. The word Tefillah (prayer) comes
from the Hebrew root of Tofel (to combine). When we are united as a
people, we can bond with Hashem. Through bonding with Hashem, our
needs become His needs. When our needs are His needs, our prayers
of kindness are done in there truest sense when we feel that the
needs of the other party are our needs. The act of giving
enriches the benefactor more than the recipient.
Semak (a famous codifier) explains that the first Commandment
includes the faith in Moshiach. When the Torah says “I am Hashem
your G-d who took you out of Egypt,” it is a commandment to believe
in G-d and that He will redeem us from every exile. Division caused
the destruction of the Temple and unity will rebuild it. The Rebbe
has informed us that Moshiach is ready to come and is only awaiting
an increase in acts of good and kindness. May we merit his coming
immediately and hear the new depths in Torah that he will reveal.
reverent memory of the Rebbe’s wife, Rebbitzin Chaya Mushka
Schneerson whose Yahrtzeit is this Thursday May her merit shield us
and her legacy bring tremendous blessings.
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project of Chabad of Great Neck
East Shore Rd.
Neck NY 11024
4874554 fax 516 4874807