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A guest is coming, we need to welcome him! Even frequent guests deserve attention and hospitality, but when a guest arrives who hasn't come for a long time, then he deserves special attention.
The guest we are expecting is the minor holiday known as "Purim Katan." Most Jews know Purim, the 14th day of the month of Adar, as the day when we celebrate the annulment of the plot of the wicked Haman, who sought to wipe out all the Jews in the Persian Empire long ago. But Purim Katan?
In the Jewish calendar Adar is the twelth month. Seven times out of 19 few years we add an extra month known as Adar II to even out the difference between the 354-day lunar year and the 365-day solar year.
The 14th of the Second Adar is when we observe all the special mitzvoth of Purim, while the 14th of the First Adar is known as Purim Katan - the "Mini Purim". So, when Purim Katan comes - only 7 times in 19 years - we truly have an infrequent and rare guest which deserves special attention.
The name "Purim Katan" indicates that it is "smaller" than Purim. Yet, the Talmud says: There is no difference between the first Adar and the second Adar (meaning Purim Katan and Purim) save only in the reading of the Megila and the distribution of gifts to the poor. (Megila 6b) Although Purim Katan has less observances, it is an important day because it paves the way for Purim, making it easier for us to celebrate Purim later on in an even better manner than we have in the past. In a sense, it serves as a training day for Purim.
Now you might be thinking, "I'm quite satisfied with the way I celebrated Purim last year. Why do I need Purim Katan so that my celebration of Purim this year will surpass last year's celebration?"
The answer lies in the world we inhabit today. When we look around us and see the troubles of the world increasing - it is a sign for us - that we must likewise increase our efforts in the areas of holiness. And, the Torah advises us that when we increase in Torah study and mitzva (commandment) observance, we bring healing to the world.
The Torah wants us to increase our good activities, and this is why we should encourage the activities of Purim starting from Purim Katan; because dry observance of the minimum requirements of the day is not enough. Many of the mitzvot of Purrim are enhanced by proper preparation, and we have time to make arrangements to reach many others with the mitzvot. Plus the build-up and anticipation will ensure that our own joy will be even more intense when the day finally comes.
Without question it is a worthy undertaking to awaken Jews to be more happy and joyous. This happiness will lead to the ultimate happiness described in the prophetic verse: "Then our mouths will be filled with laughter;" when the joy will be perfect and complete with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, may it come speedily in our days.
In this week's portion, Tetzaveh, the Torah states: "Aaron shall burn incense each morning when he cleans the lamps. And he shall burn incense in the evening when he kindles the lamps." What purpose did the burning of incense serve in the Sanctuary, and later, in the First and Second Holy Temples? Furthermore, what can we learn from this to apply in our daily lives?
First of all, it is important to note that the command to build the incense altar and bring its offering are mentioned in the Torah as the final elements in the construction of the Sanctuary. In fact, the Divine Presence did not rest in the Sanctuary until the incense offering was brought.
What is the reason for this uniqueness? Our Sages explain that the sacrifices offered on the altar in the courtyard of the Sanctuary relate to a Jew's body, while the incense offering brought on the inner altar relates to a Jew's soul.
This concept is reflected in the Hebrew names used to describe these different offerings. The Hebrew word for "sacrifice" is "korban," which has it root in the word "karov," meaning "close." In contrast, the Hebrew for "incense" offering, "ketoret," relates to the root "ketar," Aramaic for "bond." By bringing a sacrifice, a Jew draws close to G-d. Through the incense offering, however, a Jew and G-d become fused in total unity.
Thus, it is only after the Torah describes the preparations necessary for the Sanctuary, whose purpose is to make it possible for the Divine Presence to dwell among - and thus within - the Jewish people, that it mentions the incense offering, which allows for a bond of oneness to be established between them.
This theme of oneness is also reflected in the dimensions of the incense altar, which measured one cubit by one cubit. Likewise, when the incense offering was brought, the priest making the offering was alone with G-d. No one else was allowed to assist.
These concepts must be paralleled in our daily service of G-d. Every day, a person arises as "a new creation." Every day, therefore, we must renew our inner bond with G-d as expressed by the recitation, in our daily prayers, of the verses concerning the bringing of the incense offering, and how that offering was brought in connection with the cleaning and the kindling of the Menora. This teaches us that the bond between us and G-d must be extended into our worldly affairs, causing them to be carried out in the spirit of "All your deeds shall be for the sake of Heaven," and "Know Him in all your ways."
Weekend of a Lifetime
by Stephanie Blitshtein
From a speech at the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchos
During my senior year of high school, I got a call from Itty Prus who had been a summer camp counselor in Gan Izzy in Plano, Texas. Itty was urging me to attend a weekend in New York. I found it odd that she was calling to convince my sister Vicky and I to fly, by ourselves, from Texas where we live to a different state for three whole days. Because Itty knew my parents.
My parents, who are from Russia, wouldn't even allow me to walk to school which was 10 steps away. I slept over at a friend's house for the first time when I was 18 years old, the same age some of my peers were getting married! We hesitantly asked our parents and of course the answer was no!
Without mentioning it to my parents, my sister entered one of the CTeen Facebook contests for a free ticket to the weekend, but lost. The following week, I decided to give it a try and entered and won! I was ecstatic about winning but also nervous about revealing the news to my parents.
To our great surprise, my parents weren't upset at all and to our even greater surprise, my dad offered to pay for my sister's way to the Shabbaton with me. Vicky and I looked at each other dumbfounded.
Although my dad offered to pay for Vicky's Shabbaton trip, she entered the following week's contest and won. Two of our friends jumped on the bandwagon and won as well! A few weeks later, we were off to New York for the CTeen Shabbaton. Those three days were the absolute best days of my life. I had never experienced such beauty, such unity and such Yiddishkeit (Judaism) in my life. I felt like everyone was family.
On Sunday, before our flight to return home, we visited the Rebbe's Ohel (resting place). Our pens moved furiously across multiple pieces of paper, tears welling in our eyes and staining our letters. On my way out a girl gave me a brochure for the "Jewish Uncamp," a three-week summer camp for Jewish teenage girls in Iowa. I really wanted to go. When I got home I asked my dad if I could go and he said yes!
CTeen was already a shock and that was only three days, this was going to be three weeks! I thought my dad must have been swapped out for someone much more lenient than my real father while we were away in New York at the Shabbaton. I courageously asked, "Papa what's gotten into you? Why are you letting us go so easily?"
My dad responded, "Nothing, no reason."
I knew this wasn't the true response, so I continued, "No, really Papa. How did you go from not letting us sleep over across the street at a friend's house to sending us off for three weeks to the middle of nowhere?"
And then he began, "Well before you left, I had a dream.
"My dream had the Rabbi who's in the portrait hanging in the Horowitz dining room." He was speaking of the Rebbe!
"He came to me in my dream and told me I should let you both go and he will make sure that you are taken care of.
"He took me to a cemetery and showed you writing a letter at a table. Then he let me read your letter." And then my dad proceeded to tell me exactly what I had written in my letter, in the exact order I had written it.
"This is why we let you randomly go to CTeen in the first place. And I really like the Rebbe, he reminds me of my Deda (grandfather)."
My incredible Shluchim and I started a CTeen chapter in Plano, Texas and the following year I was returning to the CTeen Shabbaton in New York with 27 new CTeeners from Plano, Texas! My ultimate nachas.
My Cteen group was growing and so was I. Before CTeen, I didn't know the walking path from my house to Chabad. Now I could walk it in my sleep. Esther Horowitz taught my sister and I so much. Hebrew reading at the age of 18, how to pray, kosher while cooking for Shabbat.
I am 20 years old and studying at the University of Texas at Dallas. As I enter the adult world, I am going to make many decisions that will effect my entire life. It means so much to me to know that wherever I end up, the Rebbe's Shluchim will be there literally. Wherever I am, the light of Torah and the light of my Shabbat candles will be with me. G-d will be guiding my steps.
Thank you to my dear Shluchos: Esther Horowitz, Rivka Goldschmidt, Rivkie Block, Leah Dubrawsky, Hinda Leah Sharfstein, Michal Shapiro and Itty Prus. To all of you shluchos, thank you. May G-d give you the strength and everything you need to keep being the lamplighters that you are.
Dignified Differences: A Special Soul
Dignified Differences: A Special Soul describes the struggles and triumphs of families with children with special needs. The beautifully designed volume is a treasure of encouragement, inspiration and enlightenment for all those who have ever come in contact with individuals with special needs. In commemoration of the passing of her daughter Zlatie, author Chana Sharfstein shared some of her experiences raising an autistic child at a time when the condition was not widely known. What makes this book exceptional is Sharfstein's collaboration with other parents and experts, also integrating the deep spiritual wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe who proved to be ahead of his time in his ideas about integrating provisions for those with special needs into the general framework of the Jewish community.
Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5719 
Greeting and Blessing:
On the first day of Shevat, as the Torah relates (Deut. 1:3), Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses] began the recitation of the Book of Devorim [Deut.] - Mishne Torah [Repetition of the Torah].
The timing of the Repetition of the Torah was significant for the Jews in that it served to prepare them for their entry into the Promised Land. On the verge of leaving a place where for years they had no material care, since all their needs in the way of food, clothing and shelter had been miraculously provided (by means of the Manna, the Well, the Clouds of Glory, etc), and before settling down in a land, and way of life, which necessitate tilling, sowing, reaping, and all other mundane preoccupations - the Jews had to receive a special measure of spiritual invigoration and admonition, so that they should not become materialistic and debased in the material world that lay ahead, but - on the contrary - would instill holiness into, and spiritualize and elevate, the material aspects of daily life, transforming the material into the spiritual, by means of the Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments], Tzedoko [charity] and acts of lovingkindness.
Such is also the function of yeshivoth, especially in recent generations.
Some people think that the main purpose of a Yeshiva is to train Rabbis, Shochetim [ritual slaughterers], and other Jewish clergymen. This is not so, for the essential and main purpose is to create Jewish laymen, who, before going out into the world of business, trade, or profession, would be imbued and permeated with Torah and Yiras Shomayim [fear of heaven], and later, living within this world, would be capable of elevating their entire environment by inspiring every Jew they come in contact with, with love of G-d, love of the Torah, and love of fellow-Jew - in actual daily practice.
7th of Adar, 5740 
Your letter of the 24th of Shevat reached me with a delay. May G-d grant the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good in all the matters about which you wrote, including, of course, advancement in all matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], Torah and Mitzvos, in the everyday life.
All the more so since two essential aspects have been added, namely your preparations for marriage in a happy and auspicious hour, which will have an important bearing on your whole future and, secondly, that by Divine Providence you won the raffle for a visit here, which means that you will be representing all those who participated in the raffle, with whom you have to share the inspiration and benefits of this trip. Certainly it imposes on you additional obligations to show a shining example. It is also certain, of course, that since the Hashgocho Protis [Divine Providence] has singled you out for this privilege and responsibility, it has also provided you with all the necessary capacities to carry them out in the fullest measure, with joy and gladness of heart.
As requested, I will remember in prayer all those you mention in your letter. I trust you will be able to explain to them that since all blessings come from G-d, and the channel to receive them is through the everyday life in accordance with His will, every additional effort in matters of Torah and Mitzvos widens the channels to receive G-d's blessings in all needs. And there is always room for advancement in all matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and Mitzvos, which are infinite, being connected with the Infinite.
6th of Adar I, 5733 
I duly received your telegram, and subsequently also the report through Rabbi Shlomo Cunin. May G-d grant that you should have good news to report. The Zechus [privilege] of the good work which your parents are doing to strengthen Yiddishkeit in general, and their activities within the framework of Lubavitch in particular, which are carried on in the spirit of my father-in-law of saintly memory, at whose holy resting place your father will be remembered in prayer, will surely stand your father in good stead.
Having had the pleasure of meeting your parents personally, I trust that it is unnecessary to emphasize to you at length the need to strengthen adherence in the daily life to the Will of G-d. In addition to this being the way to true spiritual happiness, since the Torah and Mitzvoth have been given for man's benefit, this is also the way to receive G-d's blessings in all needs. Needless to say, there is always room for advancement in all matters of goodness and holiness, since they are infinite, being derived from the Infinite.
Hoping to hear good news from you, especially as we are now in the auspicious month of Adar,
Although we no longer have a Holy Temple (may it be rebuilt soon!), we can keep the message of Hakhel alive. The Hakhel year is a perfect time to focus on unity: doing everything we can to bring people together, just as it was done in the Holy Temple and at Mount Sinai. We should put more effort and energy into teaching Torah to one and all: men, women and children. And as parents, we should be careful how we educate our children and to their environment.
(Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel)
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh, is the only portion in the Torah from Moses' birth, where Moses' name does not appear. It is also the portion usually read during the week in which the anniversary of Moses' passing (7 Adar) occurs.
Our Sages explain that the reason for this omission was Moses' own request, made of G-d after the Children of Israel sinned with the golden calf: "If You will not forgive them, blot me out, I pray you, from Your book which You have written." The words of a tzadik, a righteous person, are always fulfilled, even if spoken conditionally. Thus, Moses' wish was granted in this week's portion.
However, we find an interesting phenomenon in Tetzaveh: This portion, which specifically does not mention Moses, begins with a direct address to him! "And you shall command (ve'ata tetzaveh)."
A name is a means of identification and of being known to others. But one does not need a name in order to live. The use of "you" expresses an even higher level of relationship than calling a person by his given name. If such is the case, then it follows that the omission of Moses' name underscores the very special essence of Moses, which was even higher than the mention of his name could express.
Moses' whole life was Torah. Yet, Moses was willing to sacrifice that which he held most dear on behalf of the sinners of the Jewish people. "Blot out my name from Your book," Moses pleaded with G-d, if You will not forgive them even this grave sin.
Moses and the Jews formed one entity, each of whose existence was dependent upon the other. Rashi explains; "Moses is Israel, and Israel is Moses." It was Moses' self-sacrifice that expresses a unity beyond mere names. It is therefore precisely the portion in which Moses is not mentioned, that reveals his greatness. The willingness to sacrifice oneself for every fellow Jew, even one who sins, is the mark of every true leader of the Jewish People.
And you shall command the Children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil (Ex. 27:20)
The Jewish people are likened to the olive, at it states in Jeremiah (11:16): "An evergreen olive tree, beautiful in fruit and form, did the L-rd call your name." In the same way that all other liquids can be mixed together, whereas oil always floats to the top, so too is it impossible for the Jewish people to fully assimilate among the nations of the world. And when Jews carry out G-d's will, they merit to stand above the entire world.
And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for ornament (Ex. 28:2)
The commandment to make special priestly clothes comes directly after the mitzva to prepare pure olive oil for the menora. Oil symbolizes the intellect, which should be kept pure and unsullied. The priestly garments symbolize the physical body, the "garment" of the soul, which should be utilized "for glory and ornament." The Torah teaches that purity of thought and cleanliness of body must go together.
I will dwell among the Children of Israel, and I will be to them G-d (Ex. 29:45)
An older chasid once posed a question to Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz, while he was still a young boy: "I'll give you this gold coin if you can tell me where G-d can be found," he said. The youngster responded by saying, "I'll give you two gold coins if you can tell me where He is not found!"
When the rains came in the right time and the crops grew and flourished, the Jews in the Land of Israel lived and prospered. But, when the sky burned with fierce heat and no rains fell, suffering was the lot of the unfortunate people. In such years, the community was forced to turn to their fellow Jews outside the land of Israel to come to their aid.
One such year disaster struck the holy land and the elders of the community met to choose an emissary to travel to the Diaspora to collect funds. The natural choice was Rabbi Abraham Galanti, since he was respected by everyone as a wise and honest man; no one had a bad word to say about him. And so, although he was not young and traveling was difficult for him, Rabbi Galanti agreed to go.
Rabbi Galanti gathered a few belongings and made his way to the port of Jaffa, where he would board a ship to sail to the great city of Constantinople which had a large Jewish community. The trip was not very long, and soon land was spotted in the distance. However, when the ship was close enough to see the shore, the captain and crew saw unusual activity in the city. People stood on the rooftops waving and shouting. They seemed to be warning the ship to turn back.
The captain didn't know what to do. He wanted to go ashore, but, it would be irresponsible to risk the lives of his passengers and crew. Finally, he made his decision: the ship would continue to the next port. When the news reached the passengers, Rabbi Galanti approached the captain. "Sir, it is imperative that I disembark here in Constantinople. I have been sent on a mission of mercy by the Jews of the Holy City of Jerusalem who are in danger of starvation. There is no question, but I must insist that you fulfill your contract and bring me directly to Constantinople."
The captain was impressed by the regal bearing of the old Jew and his insistence to go to shore, and despite his reluctance, he decided to do as the rabbi requested. He dispatched one of his sailors to bring Rabbi Galanti to shore in a small boat. As soon as the rabbi reached the shore, the sailor would return to the ship and they would be off.
The plan went well, and Rabbi Galanti landed on the shore of Constantinople. But as soon as he set his foot on the ground, two soldiers ran up to him and said, "Take shelter at once, old man, if you value your life!"
"Why, what is happening here?" Rabbi Galanti asked.
"Two wild lions have escaped from their cages in the Sultan's gardens, and they are roaming the streets of the city and menacing the people. They haven't eaten in days, and no one dares approach them, for fear of being ripped to shreds. The people are hiding in their houses or on the rooftops!"
No sooner had they finished speaking than one of the lions appeared. The soldiers disappeared in a wink, leaving Rabbi Galanti standing before the gigantic lion. The rabbi showed no fear at all. Then the lion walked up to the rabbi and sat down at his side like a huge, gentle, golden dog. Rabbi Galanti gently took the animal by its ear and began leading it to the palace garden. As they continued their progress, the other lion appeared and joined the strange group. The people of Constantinople couldn't believe their eyes as they watched the trio, an elderly rabbi in the middle, holding two seemingly tame lions by their ears, walking peacefully toward the Sultan's gardens.
When they neared the royal palace, the Sultan, who had been watching from his palace ramparts, showed the rabbi where to deposit the two lions.
When they were safely ensconced in their cages, the Sultan and his retainers descended from the roof and greeted the rabbi. The Sultan welcomed him with tremendous honor and invited him to enter the royal palace. He had a dozen questions for the rabbi, but of primary interest was how he had managed to subdue the fierce lions which had terrorized the entire city. Was it some magic, or witchcraft, the Sultan asked.
"Your Majesty," Rabbi Galanti replied, "I am a simple Jew, who has traveled here from the holy city of Jerusalem to collect funds for the poor and destitute. As for witchcraft, our Torah forbids such things. However, our great Sages have taught that at creation, G-d implanted in the nature of animals a natural fear of humans. It holds true, however, only when the human beings act as they were created to, in a G-dly manner. I, your Majesty, have always worked on controlling my nature. Therefore, I have no reason to fear animals. Indeed, I fear only G-d. Therefore, the lions exhibited their natural fear of humans when they saw me, and I was able to calmly return them to their cages."
The Sultan was highly impressed with the words of the venerable old Jew. He called his Chief Treasurer to bring a store of silver and gold coins. He presented them to Rabbi Galanti and sent them in gratitude to aid the poor residents of Jerusalem. In addition, he prepared a fine ship and filled it with precious cargo to transport Rabbi Galanti back to his home in great honor and comfort.
The Egyptian exile, with its back-breaking labor, was the crucible of fire that refined the Jewish people, transforming them into a proper vessel to contain the illumination of the revelation of Torah on Mount Sinai. So it is with our present exile, when we find ourselves "pounded" by the harshness of the exile. But this "pounding" will bring us to the "light" of Moshiach and the Messianic Era, as our Sages commented, "It is only when the olive is crushed that the oil can emerge." At Mount Sinai, it was primarily the revealed part of Torah that was revealed by G-d. Our present exile, however, prepares us for the revelation of the inner dimension of Torah that will be taught by Moshiach.