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Wednesday
Mar222017

CHITAS, RAMBAM, AND MOSHIACH

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, 

This Shabbos (VaYakhel-P’kudei) is Shabbos Mevarchim of the month of Nissan, the month of Geula. It is also the second Shabbos Chazak of the year, a Shabbos in which we receive extra strength to be successful in our upcoming Avodas Hashem. As Chassidim, in addition to preparing for Pesach, we are also preparing for 11 Nissan, the 115th birthday of our Rebbe. Every Chassid wants to add in his Avodas Hashem and his commitment to fulfilling the directives of our holy Rebbeim.

This is, after all, the definition of a Chassid according to Chassidus Chabad. The Rebbe teaches us (HaYom Yom 21 Adar 1): “The term ‘chassid’ is an ancient one that the Sages even applied to Adam. It describes perfection and excellence in intellect or in emotive character traits, or in both. However, in Chabad Chassidic doctrine the appellation ‘chassid’ refers to one who recognizes his own essence-character and his standing in the knowledge and study of Torah, as well as his situation in observing mitzvos. He knows what he lacks and he is concerned and takes pains to fill that void. He is diligent in obedience in the manner of ‘accepting the yoke.’”

In this week’s article, which will also be our special Shabbos Mevarchim Farbrengen, we will be discussing one of the fundamental directives of our Rebbe, the daily learning of Chitas (Chumash, T’hillim and Tanya) and Rambam (either the daily learning of three chapters, or one chapter or Seifer HaMitzvos for women and children).

We will begin with some special quotes from the HaYom Yom about the daily learning of Chumash and Rashi and T’hillim. (Important to note: At the time that the HaYom Yom was printed, the daily learning of Tanya was not instituted, and certainly not Rambam. As a matter of fact, it was in the HaYom Yom that the daily portions of Tanya were first printed.)

1) “My grandfather wrote in one of his maamarim: It is necessary to study some of the Written Torah daily with Rashi, for his commentaries are the trumos – the select – of the interpretations of our Sages.” (HaYom Yom 18 Adar 2)

2) “Chabad chassidim have a tradition from generations, instituted by the Alter Rebbe, that every day we study a parsha of Chumash of that week’s sidra with Rashi. This was done by the Rebbeim, too.” (HaYom Yom 19 Teves)

“The Alter Rebbe once said: Rashi’s commentary on Chumash is the wine of Torah. It opens the heart and uncovers one’s essence-love and essence-fear [of G‑d].” (HaYom Yom 29 Shvat)

3) “Studying a parsha of Chumash with Rashi every day (Sunday until Sheini, Monday until Shlishi, etc.), saying T’hillim every day and the entire T’hillim on Shabbat Mevarchim – be scrupulous about all of these. It is crucial for you, for your children and your children’s children.” (HaYom Yom 25 Shvat)

Interestingly, this expression of “It is crucial for you, for your children and your children’s children” has come to be associated exclusively with saying T’hillim on Shabbos Mevarchim. However, looking at the actual HaYom Yom, it is clear that this bracha includes the daily study of Chitas as well.

Regarding the daily reciting of T’hillim, the Rebbe teaches in HaYom Yom (1 Shvat): “The daily recital of T’hillim after davening applies equally to Chabad chassidic shuls and to those who follow the Ashkenazic or Polish nusach, may G‑d be with them. On account of Ahavas Yisroel, love of our fellow… and especially in view of the importance and inner purpose of saying T’hillim with a minyan, which literally affects all of Israel, materially in children, life and sustenance, and spiritually… we must endeavor with every means possible that it become an established practice in every shul of every nusach.”

It would be remiss if we did not quote the Chida (Midbar Kedemos). The Chida explains in his entry for Taharos (Tes) and T’hillim (Taf) that David HaMelech prayed and requested that saying T’hillim should be considered like learning N’gaim and Ohalos (Taharos). The students of the Arizal said that learning Taharos is a Tikkun for spiritually blemishing the Bris. David HaMelech was asking that his T’hillim should also result in the same spiritual healing. The Chida then quotes Rabbeinu Efraim on Parshas V’Zos HaBracha, who says that one who recited T’hillim daily is considered as if he fulfilled the whole Torah. The Chida continues with a quote from Rabbeinu Efraim on Parshas VaYigash, that one who recites T’hillim daily will merit being under the Kisei HaKavod (G-d’s throne).

There is much discussion amongst Chassidei Chabad if the directive of learning the daily Chitas is also for children. I am not coming to give an opinion one way or another; this should be discussed with a Mashpia. At the same time, I strongly thank and recommend the daily learning accessible at www.chitasforkids.org . You can receive a daily email with Chitas on the level of children, along with Seifer HaMitzvos, Halachos, t’filla, Darkei HaChassidus, and Geula and Moshiach.

I would like to share the following story that I heard at our community 19 Kislev Farbrengen from Rabbi Yosef Y. Kalmanson, the Rebbe’s Shliach to Mason, Ohio:

“When I was a young child, I was very involved in the Shlichus if my father, Rabbi Shalom B. Kalmanson, in Cincinnati. One day, I started telling my father that I have many ideas how to advance the Shlichus in the city. My father told me that as the Rebbe is the one that gives the directives to the Shluchim, I should write those ideas to the Rebbe. I, as a sincere and innocent child, did just that, and my father sent the letter to the Rebbe. My father was not expecting the Rebbe to answer the letter and seriously consider the ideas of a very young boy. How shocked we were when the Rebbe sent back an answer to my ideas. The response was one word with questions marks: “חתת??” The Rebbe was clearly asking: Does this boy, with all these Mivtzaim ideas, learn Chitas every day?

This is a very powerful story, and everyone is welcome to learn what they want from it.

Then our Rebbe instituted the learning of Rambam every day. The first Siyum was 11 Nissan 5745. This is our special way of connecting daily with our Rebbe. Besides all the benefits of the actual learning, such as learning the entire Torah, uniting with Yidden in the same learning etc., as Chassidim we have this special way of connecting with our Rebbe. It is a source of brachos for us and our families.

There is a letter in Igros Kodesh of our Rebbe (Volume 14 page 289, dated 20 Teves 5717) to someone who tells the Rebbe that he is very busy and would like to be exempt from parts of the daily learning of Chitas. The Rebbe responds that there is a fundamental mistake being made here. The learning of Chitas is not a favor to the holy Rebbeim who instituted the daily learning; rather the daily learning only brings brachos for those who learn it, so why would someone want to be exempt from such blessings?!

Learning these shiurim is also part of bringing the Geula. In the Kuntres Kovetz Lubavitch (booklet 7 page 24) a Sicha of the Frierdike Rebbe from Acharon-Shel-Pesach 5705 is quoted, in which he says, “Studying a parsha of Chumash every day with the commentary of Rashi activates the light in the soul and the revelation of the soul, which is a glow of the revelation of Moshiach.”

The learning of Rambam is especially connected with bringing the Geula. The whole campaign was started to get the world ready for Moshiach. The Rambam is a Seifer Halacha, and learning Halacha helps bring Moshiach. This is evident by what Chazal say (Midrash VaYikra 7:3): “The in-gathering of the exiles is in the merit of Mishnayos and Halacha,” and “Whoever learns halachos every day is guaranteed a portion in the world to come” (Tanna d’Vei Eliyahu). When one learns the entire Rambam, he merits learning the whole Torah. Then he has the full right to demand the “New Torah of Moshiach.”

Finally, the Rambam is the only Posek to discuss the Halachos of Moshiach, Korbanos and those pertaining to the Beis HaMikdash. By learning these Halachos, Moshiach becomes real and relevant in our lives.

Let us finish with the last Halacha in Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 12:5): “In that era, there will be neither famine or war, envy or competition for good will flow in abundance and all the delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know God. Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, grasping the knowledge of their Creator according to the full extent of human potential, as Yeshaya 11:9 states: ‘The world will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the ocean bed.’”

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

 

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