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Devarim Deutronomy

   1340: Rosh Hashana / Ha'Azinu

1341: Yom-Kipur

1342: Succos

Breishis Genesis

L'Chaim
October 8, 2014 - 14 Tishrei, 5775

1342: Succos

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


Text VersionFor Palm Pilot
  1341: Yom-Kipur1343: Noach  

The Sole of the Soul  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Today Is ...  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

The Sole of the Soul

The Maggid of Mezritch once told his disciples the following story:

On Simchat Torah people generally oversleep a bit because of the dancing of the night before and the late festival meal. But the angels do not have this sort of schedule, so naturally, they "wake" up on Simchat Torah at the same time as usual. They want to chant songs praising G-d, but they cannot do so until the Jews begin their prayers. So they go off to tidy up the Garden of Eden - Paradise. But there they find articles they have never seen before; what could these things be? The Garden is strewn with soles of shoes and with slippers! The angels are mystified. They are accustomed to finding tzitzit, prayerbooks, tefilin, Shabbat candles in the Garden, but soles of shoes?

Off they go to question the angel Michael, and he explains to them that this is his doing - these are the results of Jews dancing with the Torah, and he begins tallying the soles. "These are from Kaminka and these from Mezritch," and so on, he enumerates.

Then the angel Michael proudly insists that he is superior to the angel who binds crowns for the Creator from the prayers of Israel; the torn soles of Simchat Torah make a finer crown, he declares.

Not everyone is gifted with a "good" head. Not everyone has a kind and caring heart. But everyone has feet with which to dance and all have hands with which to clap. And we all have voices with which to sing - though some of us are more in-tune than others.

The festival of Sukkot is referred to as the "Season of Our Rejoicing." In addition to participating in the mitzvot of eating in a sukka, and shaking the lulav and etrog, we have the additional mitzva of rejoicing.

During Sukkot itself, in commemoration of a special ceremony in the Holy Temple, Simchat Beit HaShoeiva celebrations take place in synagogues and in streets all over the world. And Jewish people celebrate in that ever-so Jewish tradition, a manner in which all Jews are ultimately equal, with their feet.

The dancing and rejoicing of Sukkot and Simchat Beit HaShoeiva culminate in the whirling and twirling and uninhibited exuberance of Simchat Torah, when we rejoice equally with the Torah, not with heads and hearts, nor with our wallets, but with feet and shoes and soles that are later collected in the Garden of Eden and woven into a most luminous and fine crown for the Creator.

Celebrate with your feet during the upcoming "Season of Our Rejoicing." Get out there and exercise your soles and your soul at the same time!


Living with the Rebbe

The first portion of the Five Books of Moses, Bereishit that we begin reading this Shabbat, gives us an account of the creation of the world, and concludes with the words, "And G-d finished on the seventh day the work which He had made." How does this verse fit in with the prohibition against labor on the Sabbath? If G-d completed the creation of the world on the seventh day, does it not imply that some labor was done on that day too?

The commentator Rashi solves our problem by explaining that G-d's clock is more precise than our own. Human beings, who cannot measure time as accurately as G-d Himself, must cease from work several minutes before nightfall to make sure we do not violate Shabbat. G-d, however, knows exactly when "the seventh day" begins, and He went on creating the world right up until the last moment. To us, whose vision is not so perfect, it would have appeared as if G-d ceased to work on Shabbat itself.

Every word in the Torah is precise, and included in order to teach us something positive. What then are we to conclude from the fact that G-d continued His labor right up until the very last possible second, something which we must be careful not to do?

We are taught by our Sages that "G-d created nothing superfluous in His world," including the creation of time itself. Every organism, every object, and every minute has been created with a Divine purpose in mind, and must be fully utilized and not squandered. Even one second can make a difference.

Every person in the world is created with his own individual talents and abilities, and each of us is given the right circumstances in which we may use them to the fullest. At this time in history, the end of the sixth millennium since the creation of the world, we stand at the threshold of the Messianic Era. We can counter the claims of a person who says that his actions hold no importance, as our exile is almost over and that only a few minutes remain. How can an insignificant individual possibly add to the accumulated good deeds of the generations who went before us, including our ancestors, Moses, the Prophets and the Sages of the Talmud, who were spiritually superior to us in every way? he may ask. The Torah, however, teaches us that the opposite is true. Every minute we are allotted is precious, and indeed, the whole of creation may hinge on a single second. Even a tiny good deed can tip the balance and bring Moshiach now, the culmination of the entire creation.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe


A Slice of Life

Happy Holiday from Karim
by Rabbi Meir Avtzon (o.b.m.)

I had been exiled to the city of Turkistan in Kazakhstan, for the "crime" of teaching and practicing Judaism. Together with me was my fellow Chasid Lazer Nannes. Shortly before Sukkot, we decided to build a sukka for ourselves, despite the danger this entailed.

The holiday went by uneventfully with joy and relative calm. As the holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah approached, I said to Lazer that we had to buy half a liter of vodka in honor of Yom Tov (the holiday), for we could not rejoice without a little spirit. Lazer said that his health did not allow him to drink vodka. "Furthermore," he said, "we don't have a cup for kiddush, just a big mug." The mug that we had held at least a quarter of a liter.

"So I'll make kiddush over the vodka and you'll fulfill your obligation with my kiddush," I said and he agreed. I bought a bottle, but when I came home with it, I saw that something was amiss.

"You know," he said to me suddenly, "we live only a few meters away from the Secret Police (GPU) building and I am sure that if we drink vodka we will certainly begin to sing Chasidic melodies."

"Nu?" I said, wondering what he was getting at.

"Don't you think we are likely to sing too loudly and get ourselves into trouble?"

I immediately realized what he meant and I tried to placate him: "We can start the meal late at night and we will try to sing quietly."

It was after eight o'clock when I began reciting kiddush over the full mug of vodka. I drank a little over half the mug (as required by Jewish law), and gave some for him to taste. Then we ate our holiday meal.

We restrained ourselves for half an hour and then began to sing. At first it was quiet so we wouldn't be heard, but since we had both had vodka and the atmosphere was filled with Chasidic warmth, the singing grew louder...

We were so taken by the melody we were singing that we got up to dance, our hands on each other's shoulder. For a short time we were able to forget where we were and under what circumstances. It was Shemini Atzeret tonight!

When we were tired out we sat back down to rest a bit and continued our meal.

We heard footsteps outside our window. We knew someone was walking in our yard. Steps like that, at a time like this, could mean only one thing.

Although we were under the influence of the vodka, fear dispelled any drunkenness. We were on the alert and the vapors of vodka in our heads immediately disappeared. We waited tensely to see who the man was and where he was headed.

We heard knocks at the door of our room. We fearfully opened the door. There was the landlord, Ibrahim. We greeted him with "happy holidays" in Russian. We knew Ibrahim well. He was a Moslem who lived there and rented out the room we lived in.

"It is not only I who bless you, but Karim asked me to convey his holiday greetings."

As soon as we heard Karim's name, we were terrified. We figured that our worst fears had been realized and that his jovial face was only a front for an impending tragedy. Karim's name was enough to instill terror.

Karim was Ibrahim's brother-in-law and he was in charge of the jail. He was known for his cruelty and there was no limit to his evil deeds. No wonder that just the mention of his name made people tremble. Ibrahim noticed how scared we were and he made a dismissive motion of his hand.

"Just a short while ago, as you sang and danced, Karim visited me. When he saw you through the window singing and dancing, he said to me, 'Listen Ibrahim to what I will tell you. I truly envy those Jews.'

"I was astounded by this and when I heard him speak about you, I was fearful for you. I did not know what he meant and I cautiously asked him why he would be jealous of you. He was serious, in a manner unusual for him and he said, 'Listen well! I know what is happening with those Jews better than you do even though they live with you. I can tell you that if they examined the files that the GPU prepared on them, nothing would remain of them. If you think that these two Jews do not understand their situation, you are mistaken. They are frightened at the sound of a leaf blowing. So how do they have the courage and a reason to rejoice with such genuine joy?'

"I told him," said Ibrahim, "that today is your holiday and therefore you rejoice. Karim dismissed this explanation: 'Their joy is not just because of their holiday today.'

" 'Tell me the truth, do you or I have such joy? We too have holidays and yet we don't rejoice on them. We rejoice only when we manage to take revenge on someone we don't like, nothing more.

" 'So when I see them rejoicing and dancing with all their heart, despite their constant fear, I envy them. To tell you the truth, I want to go in and wish them a happy holiday, but I know that as soon as they see me, their fear will quickly subdue their joy. So I ask you to go to them and wish them a happy holiday and add my good wishes, because they won't be afraid of you.' "

Ibrahim told his story and we sat there, partly frightened and partly amazed. We found it hard to believe what he said since it sounded like a dream, but when we saw Ibrahim's serious face we realized he was being honest.

Later we found out that the night of rejoicing may have saved Lazer's life. A few months later Lazer was arrested on the false charge of neglecting State property. The original sentence issued to him was death. But this same Karim had reviewed the file and had advocated for a lesser sentence. Some time later Lazer was freed and was able to leave the Soviet Union.

From Rabbi Avtzon's memoirs Oros B'Afeila


What's New

Public Sukkot

If you're in Manhattan, visit one of the Lubavitch Youth Organization's public sukkas during the intermediate days of the holiday. They will be open: Sunday, October 12, 10 am - 6 pm; Monday, October 13 and Tuesday, October 14, 10 am - 6 pm; Wednesday, October 15, 10 am - 1:30 pm. The Sukkot are: The City Hall Sukka at Foley Square, near Worth Street; the International Sukka in Ralph Bunch Park, First Ave. and 42nd St. at the UN; the Garment Center Sukka in Greely Square at Broadway and 33rd St.; the Wall Street Sukka in Battery Park at Battery Place and State St. For more info call (718) 778-6000. To find out about public sukkot in your area call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

Please Note

This issue of L'Chaim is for 16/23 Tishrei and October 10/17. Our next issue, #1343, will be for 30 Tishrei, Oct. 24.


The Rebbe Writes

Translated and adapted from a letter of the Rebbe

6th of Tishrei, 5733 [1972]

This year's Rosh Hashana ushered in a Shemitta Year. Since Rosh Hashana is the "head" of the year, this added dimension must assert itself in all the days of the current year.

The Shemitta Year is known as the "Sabbath" or "Sabbatical Year" of the seven-year cycle. Insofar as work, in particular, is concerned, what Shabbos is in relation to the other days of the week in terms of cessation from work and sanctified rest, the Shemitta year is in relation to the other years, with this difference: On Shabbos all work is prohibited, whereas in the Shemitta year only agricultural work is prohibited, as the Torah declares: "The land shall rest a Shabbos unto G-d... you shall not plant your field, and you shall not prune your orchard."

Although the lessons we learn from the Seventh Day and from the Seventh Year are similar in many respects, there is a difference in the main concept which they stress:

Shabbos emphasizes mainly that G-d is the Creator of the world ("For in six days G-d made the heaven and the earth"); the Shemitta Year accentuates mainly the fact that G-d is the Master of the world, now as at all times. Man must attest by his actions that he "Owns nothing; but that everything is in the possession of the Master of all."

In the Seventh Year the land owner renounces his ownership to these properties, in fulfillment of the Torah injunction: "The (spontaneous produce of the) resting of the land shall be your food (alike with) your servant and your maid," etc. Commenting on this verse, Rashi explains: "G-d says I have not excluded these from your use or food, rather that you should not act as their proprietor, but everyone shall have equal right to them."

In other words: The Shemitta year emphasizes that although the Creator has given the earth to man, for food and use, he must remember that the real and permanent proprietor is G-d, as it is written, "The earth and everything therein belongs to G-d..." In order to emphasize and reinforce this awareness at all times, so that it be actualized and implemented into the daily life, G-d set aside the Seventh Year as a Shabbos-like year, when all work of the land ceases, during which period the proprietor no longer claims possession of these properties, but is on par with his servant, maid, etc. This is how a Jew attests to the fact that the true Master of the world is G-d.

The concept that G-d is the Master of the world with all that is in it, is an idea that a Jew espouses every day of the year and expresses it in actual fact by making a blessing over everything that he uses for "food and use," thereby declaring that G-d is King of the Universe, Creator of everything, etc. However, in the year of Shemitta this concept is accentuated with the utmost emphasis, as mentioned above.

And this is one of the most edifying instructions of this year's Rosh Hashana: It is not enough to acknowledge that the Supreme Being is the Creator of the universe; it behooves us to remember also what logically follows from this acknowledgment, namely that the Supreme Being is also, and at all times, the Master of the world; and the constant awareness of it must be expressed in terms of the daily conduct throughout the year.

And although the laws of the Seventh Year do not apply outside of the land of Israel, its spiritual content are applicable everywhere.

The concept that the Supreme Being is the permanent Master of the world with all that is in it, as this concept is expressed during the Seventh Year, finds a most conspicuous practical application in the matter of tzedaka (charity), which requires of every Jew to give away part of his hard-earned money to a poor man who did not toil for it, and to a Torah institution or other institution which cares for the needs of the needy. Comes the Seventh Year and teaches a special concept in giving tzedaka: a) A person does not give away his own, but only that which G-d has temporarily entrusted to him as His agent to the poor; b) Through sharing his possessions with others, a person justifies that which he keeps for himself.

Needless to say, tzedaka is not limited to money, but includes "money, body and soul," spiritual tzedaka, which obligates every Jew to help another Jew... Then there is the Divine Promise, as explained by our Sages, that through giving tithes and tzedaka, a person will not only not reduce that which he has, but, on the contrary, it will be greatly increased, to the degree of riches. And although the mitzvos in general (including tzedaka) must be fulfilled not for the sake of the reward, but because G-d commanded them, nevertheless G-d has given the assurance of a generous reward, materially and spiritually.


Today Is ...

27 Tishrei

Torah and mitzvot (commandments) encompass man from the instant of emergence from his mother's womb until his final time comes. They place him in a light-filled situation, with healthy intelligence and acquisition of excellent moral virtues and upright conduct - not only in relation to G-d but also in relation to his fellow-man. For whoever is guided by Torah and the instructions of our Sages has a life of good fortune, materially and in spirit.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This week we celebrate the holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Sukkot is referred to in the Torah as the "Season of our Rejoicing." Similarly, the theme of joy is present in the holiday immediately following Sukkot - Simchat Torah,"Rejoicing with the Torah."

What is so great about happiness and rejoicing, so much so that on each night of Sukkot it is customary to go out into the streets and dance in remembrance of "Simchat Beit HaShoeiva - Rejoicing of the Water Drawing" which took place each evening during Sukkot in the Holy Temple? And why specifically does our happiness express itself in dancing?

A circle represents infinity; it has no beginning and no end. Traditionally, our most joyous dances are done in a circle, hinting at the infinite and endless joy we will experience in the Messianic Era. This joy will be twofold, for it will include the rejoicing of the Jewish people once they are reunited with G-d and the rejoicing of G-d reunited with His people.

When and why do we truly rejoice? We rejoice when experiencing something new, not just something good, or great or amazing, but something that is also novel.

And example of how vital uniqueness is to true rejoicing would be that of a talking parrot. Most people have friends, relatives, co-workers, with whom they can converse, joke, discuss things, get advice, etc. Thousands of words can be spoken in a single conversation, and yet each word does not bring wonder and amazement and even laughter.

But just watch how people react when a parrot says a phrase, or even a single word. People will laugh and clap and rejoice at the often meaningless prattle of the parrot. Why? Because we expect people to speak, but hearing a bird speak is truly unusual.

The rejoicing that we participate in during the holiday of Sukkot is a foretaste of and preparation for the great joy and happiness of the Messianic Era. And it is precisely now, in these last moments of Exile, that we can rejoice freely in the knowledge that the Redemption is imminent.


Thoughts that Count

Lulav

The word lulav is comprised of two Hebrew words - lo (to him) and lev (heart), to teach us that a person must always strive to subjugate his entire heart to "Him" - to the Holy One, Blessed be He.

(Likutei Torah)


In sukkot shall you dwell seven days (Lev. 23:42)

The sukka surrounds the entire person and one is enjoined to conduct all worldly affairs within it for seven days. The fact that all of a person's being is encompassed, including his very shoes, teaches us that not only through prayer and study do we worship G-d. The sukka teaches that it is also through the physical world that we approach G-d and draw holiness into our surroundings, as it states, "in all your ways shall you know Him." The mitzva (commandment) of sukka strengthens our realization of this and gives us the power to carry out our G-dly mission throughout the year.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


The Joy of the Water-Drawing (Simchat Beit HaShoeiva)

When G-d differentiated between the upper and lower waters on the second day of creation, the lower waters wept, complaining that they, too, wanted to be in close proximity to the King. To placate them, G-d promised that one day, water would be poured upon the altar in the Beit Hamikdash. The Joy of the Water-Drawing, therefore, symbolizes the transformation of sadness and tears into the joy of doing a mitzva.This is similar to what occurs during the Jew's service of G-d. The soul, having descended into this world against its will, cries out to rejoin its Source Above. Yet it is precisely through a physical body doing mitzvot that the soul reaches an even higher spiritual state than before.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


It Once Happened

by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

A long time ago in a village in Poland there lived a rabbi who was very conscientious about the building of the sukka-hut in honor of the holiday of Sukkot. The sukka that the rabbi had built for himself every year was a sight to see. The walls were of the thickest and best wood. Even the greenery that he used to cover the top of the sukka was thick and fresh.

Now it so happened that one year everyone in the village decided that they too could afford to build beautiful sukkas like their rabbi. The only hindrance was that they most of them were not very good carpenters. Many of them were not even very handy.

What did they do? About 20 of the villagers, the ones who knew how to work with their hands, joined together to be the "sukka-builders" for the community and they set to work going from house to house building new sukkas for everyone.

Needless to say, they had to work day and night non-stop and made a lot of money that year building sukkas. A few hours before the holiday, as they finished the last sukka, they realized that they had been so busy working for everyone else that they had forgotten about themselves! They had no sukkas in their own courtyards.

What could they do? There wasn't enough time for each one to go home and build his own sukka, so they decided that they had no other choice than to take all the scraps and leftover wood and build one big sukka near the outskirts of the town for everyone.

They finished building their large rickety hut with just enough time left for everyone to run home and prepare for the holiday before sunset.

One and a half hours later, all the workers were sitting in the synagogue looking radiant, holy and very happy like everyone else, engrossed in loud enthusiastic prayer.

The prayers finished, they sang and danced together, shook hands and wished one another "Good Yom Tov (holiday)." Someone opened the huge doors for everyone to leave and suddenly... it began to rain.

For the first few minutes it looked like it wouldn't last long, but then it got stronger and stronger. The strong wind and rain even made it difficult to close the shul doors again, and the sound the torrential rain and things smashing in the street, made it seem like it would never stop. But after half an hour the rain ceased. The shul doors opened again and the congregants began to joyously leave the synagogue into the muddy streets; finally they would be able to go home to their sukkas and eat the holiday meal! But they were in for a surprise.

All the sukkas had been destroyed in the storm!

In a few minutes everyone was standing again in the street in front of their homes not knowing what to do.

Then someone got an idea. "Let's go to the rabbi. He is a great man. Surely his sukka is still standing!"

Together everyone set out for the rabbi's home. But as they approached they heard wailing coming from the rabbi's courtyard: "Oy, my sukka!"

The rabbi's sukka was even more destroyed than everyone else's; the walls had been completely shattered and one had even been lifted into a tree.

Then from far away they heard singing! It was coming from the direction of the worker's sukka. Immediately the children ran in the direction of the singing and in minutes they returned breathless with the good news, "The Worker's Sukka is .... standing!!"

"Nu," said the rabbi to the gathered crowd. "Go home and get your food. We are going to eat in a sukka after all!"

The entire night the congregation took turns crowding into the Worker's Sukka, two or three families at a time, ten minutes for each shift, eating their holiday meals.

So they did for the next three meals, one the next afternoon, that evening and the following day until they were able to rebuild their sukkas during the intermediate days of the holiday.

At the close of the holiday there were about 100 people in the rabbi's house with the same question "Why was everyone else's sukka destroyed except for the sukka of the workers?"

At first the rabbi tried to answer that maybe the winds were weaker on the outskirts of town. But that didn't work because trees were actually uprooted there.

Then he said that maybe it was because theirs was stronger one than everyone else's. But that also wasn't so because their sukka was built so hastily that the whole thing shook when anyone just pushed it.

So the rabbi thought for a minute and then a smile broke on his face. "I know!" He declared, "I know why their sukka remained standing! Because our sukkas were built each person for himself and his own family. But when they built their sukka it was with unity, each built for everyone else... And when there is unity between Jews, all the storms and the hurricanes in the world can't break it!"

Reprinted from www.OhrTmimim.org


Moshiach Matters

This week we celebrate the holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Sukkot is referred to in the Torah as the "Season of our Rejoicing." Similarly, the theme of joy is present in the holiday immediately following Sukkot - Simchat Torah,"Rejoicing with the Torah."

What is so great about happiness and rejoicing, so much so that on each night of Sukkot it is customary to go out into the streets and dance in remembrance of "Simchat Beit HaShoeiva - Rejoicing of the Water Drawing" which took place each evening during Sukkot in the Holy Temple? And why specifically does our happiness express itself in dancing?

A circle represents infinity; it has no beginning and no end. Traditionally, our most joyous dances are done in a circle, hinting at the infinite and endless joy we will experience in the Messianic Era. This joy will be twofold, for it will include the rejoicing of the Jewish people once they are reunited with G-d and the rejoicing of G-d reunited with His people.

When and why do we truly rejoice? We rejoice when experiencing something new, not just something good, or great or amazing, but something that is also novel.

And example of how vital uniqueness is to true rejoicing would be that of a talking parrot. Most people have friends, relatives, co-workers, with whom they can converse, joke, discuss things, get advice, etc. Thousands of words can be spoken in a single conversation, and yet each word does not bring wonder and amazement and even laughter.

But just watch how people react when a parrot says a phrase, or even a single word. People will laugh and clap and rejoice at the often meaningless prattle of the parrot. Why? Because we expect people to speak, but hearing a bird speak is truly unusual.

The rejoicing that we participate in during the holiday of Sukkot is a foretaste of and preparation for the great joy and happiness of the Messianic Era. And it is precisely now, in these last moments of Exile, that we can rejoice freely in the knowledge that the Redemption is imminent.


  1341: Yom-Kipur1343: Noach  
   
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