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...The election for Israel's Chief Rabbinate is to take place as scheduled...Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau told reporters last week that he is confident that he will win because this was predicted to him by the Lubavitcher Rebbe almost two years ago. "At that time I had visited the Rebbe during a Sunday when he was handing out dollars for charity, and told him of a new project which I was preparing for Tel Aviv," Lau said. "The Rebbe then told me, 'Speed it up because soon you will ascend to Jerusalem.' I was astonished at the Rebbe's words." Rabbi Lau also disclosed that years ago when he visited the Rebbe as Chief Rabbi of Netanya, the Rebbe told him that pretty soon he will assume the post in Tel Aviv. "There is no doubt in my mind that just as the prophecy of the transfer from Netanya to Tel Aviv materialized, so too will the prophecy of the transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem become a reality, too," he said.
(The Jewish Press-Feb. 19, 1993)
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, 56, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, won the closely watched race to represent Ashkenazic Jews, or those of Eastern and Central European origin...
(The New York Times-Feb 21, 1993)
Rabbi Benny Elon, head of the settlement movement "Emunim," told reporters this week that his organization will now set up branches in all parts of Israel to explain to citizens that we must stop negotiating with the Arabs on territorial compromise.
"I now admit," said Elon, "that when the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, shlita, used to speak about holding on to every inch of territory, there were many of us who thought that this stemmed from some kind of messianic-redemption ideology. We failed to grasp his real message that it is 'a matter of life or death' without any other consideration involved.
"We in the settlement movement," Elon continued, "erred in our approach to base our demand of holding on to territories on ideological foundations. This caused a deviation from the real realistic terms. He was the only one who spoke solely from the premise of 'life or death' without any other consideration at all. He warned plain and simple that the situation is such that merely negotiating on autonomy or territorial compromise will lead to bloodshed not only in areas described as 'outside the Green Line' but within the Green Line, too.
"We now understand why two years ago, during the national unity crisis, when it seemed that the Labor Party, with the help of the religious factions, had a majority to form a coalition, the Rebbe, in an unprecedented move, got actively involved to prevent Labor from gaining power. To him this was not a political move, but 'a matter of life or death.'"
...Meanwhile, Israeli citizens flocked to gun stores all over the country to arm themselves in the wake of Police Chief Yaakov Terner's call Sunday to do so.
(The Jewish Press-March 18, 1993)
The Redemption is imminent. Moshiach is coming. Preparing the world for the Redemption is accomplished through explaining the idea and purpose of Moshiach, in a manner which every person can absorb on his or her level of understanding. It also includes the study of matters associated with Moshiach and Redemption. And since this is the service expected of us at this time, it should be self-understood that it has relevance to every Jew, without any exception whatsoever.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe-Nov. 30, 1991)
The osprey, a large type of hawk, is one of the non-kosher birds listed in this week's Torah portion, Shemini. The osprey, which lives on a diet of fish, is an expert fisherman, swooping down into the depths of the sea to catch its prey.
The Talmud relates that Rabbi Yochanan considered the osprey an outstanding example of Divine Providence. Whenever he saw an osprey feeding he would recite the verse, "Your judgements are the greatest depths." G-d oversees and supervises His world even in the very depths of the sea. Rabbi Yochanan saw that the osprey is only an instrument for G-d's judgement, eating precisely those fish which G-d has decreed should be eaten.
Rabbi Yochanan's statement is similar in content to the Baal Shem Tov's teaching, that everything that happens in the world is due to Divine Providence. G-d not only directs the steps of man, but oversees the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, guiding every tiny detail of His world.
The Baal Shem Tov taught that every single phenomenon that occurs is determined by G-d, even the path of a falling leaf and the course it takes as the wind blows it about.
The example set by the osprey is also, therefore, not accidental, for it teaches us a lesson about how G-d oversees His creation. Although it often seems to us that the world operates only according to natural law, and it is sometimes difficult to detect the hand of G-d "behind the scenes," Chasidic philosophy offers us an unusual insight. The Hebrew word for "nature"--"teva"--comes from the same root as the word meaning "drowned," or "sunken." Just as sunken treasure, hidden beneath the depths of the sea, continues to exist despite being invisible to the naked eye, so too, does nature obscure the true reality within. The laws of nature conceal the Divine Providence that directs every physical phenomenon, making it appear as if events just happen by themselves.
The osprey teaches us that if we want to uncover the truth which the laws of nature conceal, all we need do is dive beneath the surface to uncover the Divine Providence which is in control.
When we look beyond the obvious and contemplate these things, we come to the realization that there is no such thing as an accident. This fact will be made eminently clear after the coming of Moshiach, when the G-dliness hidden within the physical realm will be revealed and open for all to see.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Benyamin, Sharonne and Avrohom Zippel
From a talk by Sharonne Zippel to the International Convention of Shluchos-Lubavitch Women Emissaries.
My husband and I just started our work as Lubavitch emissaries a few months ago. Both of us have had a lot of experience with outreach work during our youth, at home, and in various other settings, however, our move to Salt Lake City, Utah, was a move into a different world. There have been so many interesting experiences that the last few months seem like ages.
I will try to draw a small picture of Salt Lake City: There is a small, closely knit Jewish community of about 4-5,000 warm and friendly people. There is only one temple and a Jewish community center. Physically it's a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains and breathtaking scenery. Lots of snow make this prime ski-country. Right now we still have 11-foot snowbanks throughout the city. People are amazed and excited that the Chabad rabbi knows how to ski (unlike the rebbetzin), but ask if he skis in his Shabbos "uniform" of black hat and long coat!
Salt Lake City is the world headquarters of the Mormon Church which pervades the whole state. The Mormons are very religious people and very missionary-minded. When they learn about Chabad, they happily make the comparisons: "We have our emissaries all over the world just like you!" The president and leadership of the church are very proud that "Rabbi Zippel is our Chabad representative." They and the population look at us, and treat us, with the utmost respect, and they will go out of their way to help us. Even so, the very first week that we were there, someone did try to convert my husband!
One of the things that worried me most before we came was the kosher-food supply, especially since I am a picky eater spoiled by the abundance of Toronto and New York. Just thinking of powdered milk made me gag. But, thank G-d, with modern technology, we more than survive--the miracle of a bread-machine gives us better bread than bakeries. If they could only invent a machine that actually braids the dough into challa! Meat and cheese are no problem, as they are flown in from California.
Our activities so far have included a very successful "kosher-week," which drew large crowds composed of not only Jews, but also our Mormon neighbors. The press was full of it, giving tremendous publicity to the concept of keeping kosher.
The public menora-lighting on Chanuka was a success beyond our wildest dreams. There was live TV, radio and press coverage on all stations, followed by additional interviews. Big crowds included Jews that we were told aren't even seen in the temple on Yom Kippur. And there were both youngsters and teenagers who were so proud that for the first time in Utah's history they had an open manifestation of their own faith and tradition. Of course, there were dozens of curious Mormons with cameras and videos in hand.
We regularly invite people from the community for Shabbos meals and have classes for groups and individuals. Chabad Houses are, by nature, magnets for all kinds of people, and we have hosted a wide variety of guests. We also get calls from gentiles who want to convert to Chasidism. Actually, the Mormons call all non-believers "gentiles," so we are known as the "Lubavitch gentiles."
Utah is a center for business, a huge ski-resort, and in the summer attracts thousands of people to its beautiful national parks. Thus, we get frequent calls from all over the USA asking if we are able to supply visitors with fresh kosher meals. So, in addition to our regular outreach work, we have also accepted the role of restaurant--with me as chef, cook, waitress and dishwasher, and my husband as kosher supervisor and delivery man.
Like everyone else, we have our ups and downs, but thank G-d, Chabad has had a tremendous impact on the city. To live in a physical and spiritual desert like Utah is not easy when you have spent all your life in very intense Jewish communities.
But according to the effort is the reward, and for us to see how much has been accomplished in this short time; to see the continuing effects of making people aware of the principles and beauty of Torah and Judaism; the success in inspiring others to mitzvot; to see how open and eager people are for the values of Torah and authentic tradition--all of this makes it so rewarding, exciting and worthwhile. In spite of all the difficulties, we are happy to be carrying out our mission as the Rebbe, shlita's emissaries. When the Rebbe soon has a complete recovery and leads us speedily to the Final Redemption, we will proudly follow him with the Jews of Utah.
Special Days Are Wonderful
by Miriam L. Elias
Special Days Are Wonderful represents a breakthrough for HaChai Publishing. This colorful, guessing game book about Jewish holidays was recently published simultaneously in English and Russian. The Russian version is the first of many books HaChai plans on publishing for extensive distribution in the former Soviet Union, Israel and the United States.
HaChai Publishing - 156 Chester Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11218
Body and Soul: A Guide to Kosher Living
This highly acclaimed handbook for learning more about the how's, what's and why's of keeping kosher was recently published in Russian. The Russian edition was a joint venture of Shamir and the book's original publishers--the Kashrus Division of the Lubavitch Women's Organization and the Lubavitch Women's Cookbook.
Kosher Living Classics - 852 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213
Wonders and Miracles
The Rebbe is admired for his great work on behalf of the Jewish people. His thoughts and world view cast new light on Torah, the world in general and Jews in particular. But the Rebbe is also reknowned as a tzadik who works wonders. This book contains 80 stories, most first-hand accounts, of the Rebbe's blessings which saved people from suffering.
Available through Kehot Publishing - 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213
From a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
25th of Adar, 5721
I received your letter, which is an acknowledgement of my letter. I was pleased to read about your studies, and I hope that you make additional efforts from time to time, in accordance with the precept of our Sages that all things of holiness should be continuously upgraded.
...Generally speaking, all the questions which you mentioned have already been answered in our sacred books, and those who continue to argue about them do so largely because of ignorance or mischief. Some people fear that if they accepted the Torah and mitzvot fully, they would be obliged to commit themselves in their daily life and conduct, and give up certain pleasures, and the like. Therefore, they try to justify their misguided views by futile arguments.
By way of example, I will address one question which you mention in your letter, and which apparently was impressed upon you as something complicated: In reality, the matter was discussed and solved very simply in our sacred literature. I refer to the question of how man can have free will if G-d already knows beforehand what he is going to do? The answer to this is simple enough, as can be seen on the basis of two illustrations:
- Suppose there is a human being who can foretell what will happen to a person in the future. This does not mean that this knowledge deprives that person from acting freely as before. It only means that the knowledge of the forecaster is such, that he knows how the person will choose to act freely and of his own volition. Similarly, G-d's knowledge of human actions is such that does not deprive humans of their free choice; it only means that G-d knows how the person will choose to act in a certain situation. To formulate this in scientific terms, we can say that the opposite of free choice is not pre-knowledge but compulsion, for there is such knowledge which does not entail compulsion at all, for example, knowledge of the past.
- Every believer in G-d, and not only Jews, believes that for G-d, the past, present and future are all the same, since He is above time and space. Just as in the case of human affairs, the fact that Mr. X knows all that happened to Mr. Y in the past, this knowledge did not affect Mr. Y's actions in the past. So G-d's knowledge of the future, which is the same as His knowledge of the past, does not affect the free choice of human action.
From the simple solution to the above question, you can draw an analogy in regard to all similar questions and be sure that there is an answer to them, and very often a simple one. But the proper Jewish way is to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot without question, and then to try and find out anything that one wishes to find out about the Torah and mitzvot, but not, G-d forbid, make human understanding a prerequisite condition for the performance of G-d's commandments.
Beruryah lived during the turbulent second century, c.e. She was the daughter of the martyr Chananiah ben Teradyon and the wife of the great Rabbi Meir. She excelled in knowledge of Jewish Law and her opinion is quoted a number of times in the Talmud. She is also known for her great moral stature and her sharp, biting wit. There are a number of famous stories quoted about her. When her two sons died on the Shabbat, she kept the knowledge from her husband in order to spare him grief on the holy day.
This Shabbat we bless the new month of Iyar. In the Torah, Iyar is referred to as the second month, since it is the second month from Nisan. It is also called Ziv--the month of radiance (Kings I)--because the sun's radiance begins to grow. Iyar is also a month of healing, for the generation of Jews who came out of Egypt were healed this month from all their illnesses, as they prepared to receive the Torah.
The month of Iyar for the generation of the desert was, in essence, a foretaste of the Messianic Era when we will witness ultimate physical and spiritual bliss. According to the Midrash (Breishit Rabba) everyone will be healed of all their diseases. At the time of the Redemption, we are told, G-d will take the sun out of the special sheath in which He enclosed it. These special rays of the sun which had previously been hidden are healing rays and will cure everyone of all their ailments. The blind, the deaf, and the mute, anyone who has any illness or disease, any blemish or disability, will be healed. Death itself will cease, as the Prophet Isaiah said, "Death will be swallowed up forever and G-d will wipe the tears from every face."
Often, people wonder if all of these miracles--healing from all diseases, the cessation of death, and the resurrection of the dead--will take place immediately at the beginning of the Redemption.
In fact, there are two stages to the Redemption. The first stage is the one about which Maimonides writes, "The world will follow its normal course." This stage is a precursor for the second, later stage when we will see changes in the conduct of the world. The laws of nature will be changed to what they were originally intended to be, that is, as they functioned while Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden. At this time we will see the actual fulfillment of our Prophets' words such as the wolf lying peacefully with the lamb, etc.
It is in this second stage that we will witness the Resurrection of the Dead--the belief in which is the last of the Thirteen Principles of Faith as expounded by Maimonides. In this second stage, G-d will be revealed in all of His Glory.
May this upcoming month of Iyar truly be a month of healing--spiritual, physical and emotional healing for the Jewish people and the entire world.
Reb Yitzchok Gurevitch, known as Reb Itche, the Masmid, once related the following: "Two souls met midway between heaven and earth. One was descending to be enclothed in a body, and the other was ascending after a lifetime of service within the world.
"'What is it like down there?' inquired the descending soul.
"'Well, for three kopecks, one can purchase the strands to be tied into tzitzis,' replied the ascending soul.
"The descending soul eagerly hastened its descent. 'Tzitzis for only three kopecks!' the soul echoed in amazement.
"'Don't get so excited,' the ascending soul called out. 'Wait until you see what you have to do to earn those three kopecks.'"
Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev walked over to one of the congregants and extended his hand. The man had just concluded the Amidah prayer, and Rebbe Levi Yitzchok greeted him with a hearty "Sholom Aleichem!"
"Rebbe," the man questioned, "Why are you greeting me as if I returned from a journey? I live here in Berdichev and we see each other often. I haven't travelled outside the city for quite some time."
"I watched you while you were praying," replied the Rebbe. "As you recited your prayers, you were planning your next trip to the commercial fair in Leipzig. You visualized your transactions so powerfully that you felt as if you had travelled to and from the fair already. After such a journey, I felt it only proper that I should greet you cordially."
Near the city of Premishlan lived a rich, powerful man who was also very arrogant. One year he decided that he would like to be the chazan (cantor) for the High Holy Days. The local townsfolk opposed the idea. But, afraid of his great influence, they dared not challenge him.
They decided to ask the advice of Rabbi Meir of Premishlan. The Rebbe told them that chazanim came to him from all over asking for his blessing, and so when the rich prospective chazan came, he would see what he could do.
Sure enough, the man appeared one day to get the Rebbe's blessing. The Rebbe admitted him into his private room, and then told him the following: "The Book of Psalms contains a prayer of Moshe--Psalm 90; a prayer of David--Psalm 17; and a prayer of a poor man--Psalm 102. Moses had a speech impediment, but was a great tzadik and leader. David was the sweet singer of Israel. As for the poor, their hearts are broken and humble, and we know that G-d does not reject a broken-hearted prayer.
"The chazanim who led the prayers before you fit into one of these categories. Some didn't have such good voices, but they were very pious. Others weren't so pious, but they had beautiful voices. There were others still who didn't have such good voices, and weren't even very pious, but they were very poor, and so they could plead before G-d.
"Now, with you I have a problem. You're not really a pious man, and it wouldn't be quite honest to say that you have a beautiful voice. Still, we must manage to fit you into one of these groups. I can't bless you with piety or a good voice on such short notice. The only blessing I could give you is that you should lose all your money, and so gain a humble heart, then you would be qualified to officiate as a chazan.
The rich man quickly jumped from his seat. "Thank you, rabbi, but I think I have changed my mind, and I will not be available to act as chazan!"
When Rabbi Yonasan Eibeshutz was a young boy he was once attacked by a mob of vicious bullies. They jumped him and began to beat him with their huge fists and sticks. He knew he had no chance, so he used his famous wit to outsmart them. He suddenly cried out, "Stop! I have a gift for you." They stopped at once and looked at him expectantly. He reached into his pocket and took out two small coins. He handed them over with a polite "Thank you."
The bully was puzzled and he asked the boy to explain his strange behavior. "We Jews have a special holiday," explained Yonasan. "On this day we are required to pay any attacker all the money we have. I had only these two coins, so I couldn't give you more. But if you go to the banker, Reb Yitzchak, I'm sure he'll give you hundreds of rubles."
The bully was still puzzled, but all those Jewish customs were strange--he might as well take advantage of this new, ridiculous Jewish holiday. He went at once to the fabulous mansion of the wealthy and powerful magnate and knocked on the door. "I am here to see the master of the house on some personal business," said the ruffian.
The banker came to the door and the bully punched him in the face. Pandemonium broke out as the banker hit the floor, and his attendants and servants ran from all directions. They grabbed the assailant and beat him to within an inch of his life. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the street.
From that day on Yonasan Eibeshutz was never bothered by the would-be troublemakers of the town.
Reprinted with permission from From My Father's Shabbos Table by Rabbi Y. Chitrik.
And it came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel (Lev. 9:1)
Every day, Aaron, his sons, and the elders came to learn Torah from Moses without having to be called. Why, on this day, did Moses have to call them? Proverbs states, "The heart knows the bitterness of the soul." The Talmud explains that a person may have a premonition about something without being consciously aware of it. Aaron and the elders felt, in their hearts, that on that day--the eighth day of the consecration of the Tabernacle--a terrible calamity would befall the Jewish nation. Indeed, later that day, Aaron's two sons were killed. Moses therefore found it necessary to seek them out and urge them to come.
(Rabbi Shlomo Kluger)
They brought what Moses commanded before the Tabernacle of Meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before G-d (Lev. 9:5)
According to the Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the commandment to love one's fellow Jew must be accepted before beginning to pray. Only when "the congregation drew near" to each other in love and unity, did the Jewish people "stand before G-d" in prayer and supplication.
Among the cud-chewing, hoofed animals, these are the ones that you may not eat: the camel...the hyrax..the hare..the pig. (Lev. 11:4-7)
The Torah lists four animals that have only one of the two kosher signs and are therefore non-kosher--camel, hyrax, hare and pig. Each animal symbolizes one of the four nations which enslaved the Jews in exile. We are now in the last of these four exiles, corresponding to the pig--chazir in Hebrew. The word "chazir" means "return." After this fourth and final exile the glory of the Jewish people will "return" to the way it was intended.
Throughout Jewish history there were sages who considered themselves the Moshiach of their generation. Rav Nachman mentions this idea explicitly in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98B). More recent sages have expressed this idea also. For example, Rabbi Shachna, the rebbe of Rabbi Moshe Isserlis, writes that Moshiach's name is Shachna; and Rabbi Chaim ibn Atar, the Or HaChaim, writes at the end of his commentary to Deut. 15:7, that Moshiach's name is Chaim.
(From the booklet, Ani Maamin)