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Devarim Deutronomy

   277: Devarim

278: Vaetchanan

279: Eikev

L'Chaim
July 23, 1993 - 5 Av 5753

277: Devarim

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


  276: Matos/Masei278: Vaetchanan  

Home Sweet Home  |  Living With The Times  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
Insights  |  Who's Who?  |  A Word from the Director  |  It Once Happened
Thoughts that Count  |  Moshiach Matters

Home Sweet Home

You've been away at camp for the whole summer, or at an out- of-town college. Or maybe you're even married with children of your own. Yet, you still reminisce about the home in which you grew up. You remember many of the antics you and your siblings or friends did there. You can point out the exact spot where you laid to rest your pet turtle. Even if your family doesn't own the place anymore, you go back, or think of going back, for a visit just for old times' sake.

"Home is where the heart is," so the adage goes. "My heart is in the East," wrote Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, famous Jewish poet and scholar of the twelfth century. Go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and you'll see where the Jewish heart really is. Known simply as "The Wall," *Koisel*, or *Kotel*, Jews from the entire spectrum of life visit it when they come to Israel.

Even if Israel is at the bottom of someone's list of vacation sites, after Europe, Spain, Scandinavia, Russia and the Far East, when he gets to Israel, he'll eventually go to the Wall. And more likely than not, he'll be standing there with tears in his eyes, maybe even tucking a little note into the cracks and crevices of the ancient stones.

He will be standing there together with Jews who pray three times daily for Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Holy Sanctuary. He will be standing with newly arrived Russian immigrants, Israeli soldiers, chasidim, kibbutzniks, Jerusalemites of ten generations, and visitors from around the world. He might not even know that this wall is the last remnant of the Second Holy Temple, or for that matter, that there was a first Holy Temple, both of which were burnt to the ground on the Ninth of Av. But he will be there. Be-cause his heart and his soul know that this is his home.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, said, "Though our bodies were sent into exile, our souls were never sent into exile." The flame of the Jewish soul is eternal. It burns brighter and stronger even than the physical fire which destroyed our Holy Temples. The soul is like a torch that leads the Jew through the seemingly unending darkness, over the highest mountains, and into the lowest valleys, through mazes of twisting roads and streets, until it finds its way home.


Living With The Times

The Shabbat before Tisha B'Av is called "Shabbat Chazon" (vision), for on that day, as Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explained, a glimpse of the Third Holy Temple is given to every Jewish soul, affording it strength and sustenance. Following the week's regular Torah portion (Devarim), the "Vision of Isaiah," a prophecy about the Temple's destruction, is read in the synagogue. Oddly, the word "vision" is used in connection to both the destruction of the Temple and its rebuilding.

About the destruction, our Sages declared, "A lion (Nebuchad-nezzar) came in the month whose sign is a lion (Av) to destroy Ariel ('the lion of G-d'--the Holy Temple), so that a lion (G-d) will come in the month whose sign is a lion and build Ariel." Once again we find the same word--"lion"--referring to both the destruc-tion and the rebuilding of the Temple. What can we learn from this?

In order to understand the connection between the two, let us examine the true nature of the destruction. Our Sages explain that G-d Himself observes the Torah's 613 mitzvot. But if so, how could He have destroyed His Holy Temple, when we are expressly prohibited from razing a synagogue or place of worship? It is also forbidden to wantonly destroy an object of value. Why, then, did G-d allow His dwelling place on earth to be demolished?

One cannot explain the destruction and the subsequent 2,000- year exile by saying that the Jews lost their right to the Temple because of their misdeeds, for instead of destroying the Temple, G-d could have hidden it away as He did the Sanctuary, for such a time as the Jews would merit its return.

Rather, the only instance in which it is permissible to tear down a synagogue is when one wishes to build an even more magnifi-cent edifice on the same site. It follows that the destruction of the Holy Temple also fell into this category. The Second Temple was destroyed only because G-d wanted to build the Third and most exalted Holy Temple--the one that would stand for eternity.

The inner purpose of the destruction, therefore, was solely to rebuild. That is why the Midrash relates that "the redeemer of Israel" was born at the moment the Temple was destroyed: from that moment on, the true objective of the destruction--the Redemption and the building of the Third Holy Temple--could begin to be realized.

It is for this reason that our Sages used similar words to refer to both the exile and the redemption, for just as the Temple's destruction was an integral part of its rebuilding, so, too, is the exile an integral part of the Final Redemption and the coming of Moshiach, may it happen speedily.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.


A Slice of Life

FAR-REACHING VISION

Professor Yirmiyahu (Herman) Branover is a world-renowned authority on magneto-hydrodynamics. While in Russia, Professor Branover's research in this field had won him an international reputation. When Professor Branover applied for an emigration visa to Israel his career in the Soviet Union ended. He was dismissed from the Academy of Sciences in Riga and prevented from continuing his research.

During this time, he was exposed to Chasidic philosophy by members of the Lubavitch underground. When he finally emigrated from the U.S.S.R. to Israel in 1972, he was a fully observant Jew.

After making aliyah, Professor Branover was in constant demand as a lecturer on the subject of science and Torah. Campus audi-ences around the globe were extremely interested to hear an inter-nationally renowned scientist reconcile his belief in the Torah with the supposed conflicts in modern science.

"In the winter of 1973," relates Professor Branover, "I was on a lecture tour in the United States. Shortly before I lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, I was privileged to have a private meeting with the Rebbe, shlita. Among other matters, I mentioned the trip to Philadelphia. The Rebbe commented: 'During your stay in Philadelphia, introduce yourself to a local professor who has an interest in your field.'

"The Rebbe's statement baffled me. I was well acquainted with the names of American scientists involved in magneto-hydrodynamics. I was certain there was no one in my field in Philadelphia.

"I travelled to Philadelphia and the emissary there convinced me that we should visit two universities and check the faculties. After hours of searching, we were introduced to Professor Hsuan Yeh, who was clearly knowledgeable in magneto-hydrodynamics.

"Professor Yeh told me: 'In six weeks there will be a Magneto-Hydrodynamic Energy Convention at Stanford University in California. I will insist that you be added to the list of lecturers.'

"I appreciated the professor's offer, but declined; we were anxious to return to Israel. I returned to New York. Just before leaving, I wrote the Rebbe a report of our trip to Philadelphia, mentioning my encounter with Professor Yeh. The Rebbe advised me to reschedule my plans and to accept the invitation, for the convention presented an important opportunity.

"My wife and I were taken by surprise. However, we were acquainted enough with the Rebbe to value his advice. I called Professor Yeh, who was happy to arrange for me to deliver a lecture.

"The significance of my participation at the convention became clear rapidly. I met two representatives of the Office of Naval Research who had read about my work and were prepared to finance further research. They added, 'We understand that you want to establish your laboratory in Israel. We are willing to provide you with funds for your work there.'

"As a result, I set up a laboratory in Beersheva, which has enjoyed worldwide recognition for its magneto-hydrodynamics research. My contract with the Navy has been renewed six times. I couldn't have imagined how far-reaching the Rebbe's advice would be. This year marks 20 years since the Stanford convention. My project has been awarded a 15-million dollar grant by the U.S. government to further research and development of this energy technology."

Professor Branover frequently briefs the Rebbe on his various research projects. In one report, he presented a very sophisti-cated study built upon extensive calculations that had been pre-pared by computer. As he reviewed the details, the Rebbe remarked: "Two numbers here are inconsistent."

Professor Branover was stunned. "But all the calculations were done by computer and the program used is based on the most advanced theory we have."

The Rebbe smiled. "With all due respect to the experts, you will see that there is an error."

It took Professor Branover's research team six months to discover that some of the data entered in the computer's database was faulty.

"In the spring of 1985, I received word that the Rebbe requested to speak to me," relates Professor Branover. "I arrived at 770 as soon as I could. The Rebbe greeted me and informed me of his desire that I relay the message to various persons in Russia.

"The Rebbe unraveled the precise details of the unbelievable change that was going to take place in Russia. With Mikhail Gorbachev's ascent to power, a new era of openness and freedom would begin, the Rebbe prophesied. And waves of Russian Jews would emigrate to Israel.

"If I had heard these words from anyone but the Rebbe, I would have dismissed them as fantasy. As such, I was neither surprised nor offended when the various people in Russia whom I contacted were skeptical. 'Are you sure this is exactly what the Rebbe said?' they asked. And, may I add, these were people who were directing all the Lubavitch underground activities in Russia.

"It was simply that the Rebbe's prediction seemed so far-fetched. In the spring of 1985, newspapers had published front-page articles predicting that Gorbachev's government would follow a Communist hard-line. This was felt even more powerfully by people who were living in the then Soviet Union.

"When I related the response from Russia to the Rebbe, he requested that I contact them once again, assuring them that these changes would indeed take place. The realization of the Rebbe's words is now history. In 1992, when Mikhail Gorbachev visited Israel, we were introduced and I told him what the Rebbe had said seven years earlier. Gorbachev was stunned. 'When I assumed power in 1987,' he told me, 'I myself did not have the slightest idea which direction this would take. I had no concrete plan. I would like to meet this man who knew so much about the direction I and my country would follow.'"

Reprinted with permission from the series, "May the Righteous Flourish Like a Date-Palm" by Rabbi Eli Touger/Sichos In English.


What's New

SUMMER OUTREACH

More than 200 Lubavitch rabbinic students are visiting hundreds of Jewish communities throughout the world. The students in this program volunteered to spend their summer vacations bolstering Jewish awareness and identity. Traveling in pairs and armed with Jewish educational material, books, and religious items, these young troops reach every segment of the Jewish community. This summer marked the 44th year of summer outreach programs initiated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which have become known as the Jewish "Peace Corps." Students are visiting cities throughout North America as well as Aruba, Barbados, Finland, Guadeloupe, Iceland, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Turkey and the Virgin Islands.

CANDLE-LIGHTING HOTLINE

It's easy to find out what time Shabbat candle-lighting time is anywhere in the United States. From a touch-tone phone just dial 1-800-SABBATH and you'll get the information you're looking for. If you're calling from New York--area codes 212 or 718--call (718) 774-3000. A project of the Lubavitch Women's Organization Candle Lighting Division.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MOSHIACH

Call weekly 1-800-4-MOSHIACH in the U.S. (718-2-MOSHIACH in NY), 1-800-2-MASHIACH in Canada. Or for more extensive options, call (718) 953-6168.


Insights

THE NEVER-LOST ARK

From a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, written on the occasion of the dedication of an Ark in honor of the Rebbe's birthday.

12 Nissan, 5734 (1974)

A human being is called a "world in miniature." Our Sages point out that this is not merely a phrase, but that the analogy corresponds in many, even minute details.

The idea behind this analogy is that man and the world in which he lives are intimately bound up and mutually affect one another.

The idea of an aron kodesh (holy ark) is that it is a physical thing, made of wood, metal, or some other material, and is conse-crated to house a Sefer Torah--Torah scrol--which is also made of material things (parchment inscribed by quill and ink). It is holy because the writing is the word of G-d, the ultimate of all that is spiritual and sacred. Because the ark is holy, by reason of its housing the holiest of all sacred objects, the Sefer Torah, it is customary to make it beautiful--as is, indeed, the case with the one which has been presented. Even when an ark has lower compart-ments, these are used exclusively for keeping other sacred objects.

A human being may be compared to an ark. The body, which consists of tissue, bone, etc., is physical, but it houses the soul, which is spiritual, sacred and pure. Consequently, the body, too, must be kept holy, as an ark housing a Sefer Torah.

Indeed, the analogy may be extended to the whole world at large, wherein G-d commanded to construct a Mikdash, a sanctuary from which G-d's light and holiness should spread to, and permeate, the whole world.

In like manner, an individual must endeavor to make his heart and mind--though they are made of physical substances--"sanctuar-ies," that is, sacred depositories for even more sacred contents and qualities, attuned to the supreme holiness and perfection which G-d revealed in His Torah and mitzvot. So much so, that even the "lower compartments," that is, the application of the mind and heart to such material things as business or a job are not an end in themselves, but a means to a better and higher spiritual level. In this way the mundane occupations assume a different complexion, a higher meaning and value. This would then correspond to the Sanctuary which G-d commanded to be erected in this material world, the Sanctuary to which the Jewish people contributed such material things as gold, silver and brass, whereby they elevated to sanctity not only the contributions themselves, but also the effort that went into the acquisition of all their material things, including the major share that is used for personal and family needs.

Both sanctuaries--the "sanctuary" that is within every Jew, man and woman, and the Sanctuary which G-d commanded to be built as a dwelling place for Him on earth--are mentioned in one and the same sentence in the Torah: "They shall make Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell within them"--"Within each and every one of them," as our Sages interpret this verse. In other words, the ultimate purpose of the Sanctuary built for G-d is to make every Jewish heart and mind a fitting abode for G-d to dwell in.

The immediate inference from the above is that although, at this time, the Sanctuary, the Holy Temple, is not in existence, and will be rebuilt when Moshiach comes, the sanctuary which is within every Jew, man or woman, is always there, and it is very much up to him and her to cultivate it and make it effective in sanctifying all of life.


Who's Who?

The prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) lived at the time of the destruction of the First Temple in the year 3338. He was born into a family of *kohanim* (priests), and was the son of the Prophet and High Priest, Hilkiah. He foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and exhorted the Jews to return to G-d. After the destruction he authored the Book of Lamentations, which is read on Tisha B'Av. He supported the Jewish people in their misery, strengthening them and encouraging them to continue when it seemed impossible to go on.


A Word from the Director

Our Sages teach that Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av. One of the explanations of this statement is that from the moment of the destruction of the Holy Temple there was the real potential for the coming of Moshiach, the end of the exile and the ultimate Redemp-tion.

Additionally, our Sages were expressing the idea that, just as on a person's birthday the particular spiritual source of that person's soul is more powerful, similarly on Tisha B'Av Moshiach's soul powers and the potential for the Redemption are much stronger.

The First Holy Temple was destroyed because of heinous transgressions committed by the Jews, including idol worship and murder. The reason for the destruction of the Second Holy Temple was because of the senseless and baseless hatred one Jew had towards another. Jewish tradition explains that this teaches us that baseless hatred is equal to idol worship and bloodshed.

Since we are still in exile, although we await every moment the imminent arrival of Moshiach, we would do well to try and "fix" the transgression for which the Second Holy Temple was destroyed.

This can be accomplished through "baseless" love of a fellow Jew. In practical terms, it means being good, kind, and nice to another person--"just because." Try smiling at someone and see how his face lights up. Hold the elevator, even if you're in a rush. Are those extra 5 seconds you're "wasting" really going to make or break your day? Think or say something positive about another person. Call an elderly relative to ask her how she's doing. Say yes the next time someone asks you to do him a favor.

Make a point of trying to practice "baseless" love on Tisha B'Av, the day on which the spiritual energy to bring the ultimate Redemption is even stronger.

And remember that simple acts of goodness and kindness can and will undo the damage done by baseless hatred and ultimately hasten the Redemption.

Shmuel Butman


It Once Happened

Around the time Herod was rebuilding the Second Temple a man named Nikanor lived in the Land of Israel. When he heard about the magnificent restoration of the Holy Temple he wanted with all his heart to join in the great work and make his own contribution to G-d's House.

He decided that he would have two huge copper gates construct-ed to lead from the courtyard to the Holy Temple itself. At that time the city of Alexandria in Egypt was the center for copper work, and so Nikanor travelled to Egypt to commission and oversee the job. He was a man of means, and so after assessing the best craftsmen, he rented a studio and hired expert coppersmiths to design and execute the project.

The gates were of gigantic dimensions and the work was slow and painstaking. Finally the doors were completed, and Nikanor couldn't wait to see his beautiful gates become a part of the Holy Temple. He hired skilled porters to transport the gates to the port where a ship lay anchored and ready to sail back to the Holy Land.

At long last the gates were loaded aboard the ship and on their way to the Land of Israel. For the first few days everything went according to schedule, but suddenly the weather shifted and a terrible storm blew up. Enormous, angry waves crashed against the sides of the ship until it was filled with water and about to sink.

The sailors rushed to lighten the ship's load. The panicked captain ran to Nikanor, pleading, "You must agree to throw at least one of your gates overboard. They are the heaviest part of our cargo, and if we are to have a chance to survive, they must go."

Nikanor wouldn't hear of it. He clung to the doors with all of his strength. Soon, however, even he could see that his pro-tests were futile. As Nikanor watched in horror a few hefty seamen gathered on deck and cast one of the enormous doors overboard. The vessel was about to right itself, but the pitching of the waves continued unabated and the ship began to take water once again.

There was no choice. The sailors were about to throw the second gate overboard when Nikanor cried out in anguish, "If you throw this overboard, you will have to throw me, too! I will not be parted from it!" But the sailors seized the one remaining door and with all their might they cast it into the sea. At the very moment the door hit the waves, the sea quieted.

Nikanor scanned the glassy sea as far as his eyes could see. There, floating out on the smooth waters, was the gate, sparkling like gold in the sunlight. By some miracle it had not sunk into the deep, but was floating its way to the Holy Land. Nikanor couldn't contain his great happiness. The gate landed at the quay the same time the ship docked. A few days later the other door also made its way to the shores of Akko to join its mate.

The two doors were transported with great celebration, to Jerusalem where they were installed in a place of honor, in the eastern wall opposite the Holy of Holies. The gateway which they occupied was given the name "The Gate of Nikanor."

Many years later when all of the gates of the Holy Temple were covered in gold, or exchanged for doors of solid gold, the Gates of Nikanor were left unchanged in memory of the great miracle accompanying their installation.


Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa was a great Sage and tzadik who lived during the time of the Holy Temple. Rabbi Chanina lived a life of poverty, but even though he was poor, he wanted to donate a gift to the Holy Temple. What could he give, when he could barely feed his own family? One day Rabbi Chanina was standing by the roadside watching the other Jews bringing their sacrifices to the Temple. He began walking down the road, meditating on his dilemma. Sudden-ly he noticed, standing by the road, a huge boulder of an unusually beautiful shape and color. That gave him an idea. "Why, I could work this stone and polish it until it is a truly beautiful object. Then it will be a fitting gift for the Holy Temple."

He worked on the stone and when his job was completed, he looked around for porters to carry it to Jerusalem. But no one would carry it for the five small coins, which were the only money he possessed. Suddenly five men appeared from nowhere and immediately agreed to bring his stone to Jerusalem for the tiny sum of five coins.

In moments Rabbi Chanina stood in Jerusalem with his stone-- the porters had disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. A miracle had occurred to enable the tzadik to make his gift to the Holy Temple. Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa donated his five coins to the fund for poor scholars and returned home a happy and fulfilled man.


Thoughts that Count

"Akavya ben Mahalalel said: 'Reflect on three things, and you will not come to sin: Know from where you came, and to where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give an accounting'" (Ethics of the Fathers, 3:1).

"It is important to consider all three of these at the same time, for concentrating on one while neglecting the others can have the opposite effect. If, for example, a person reflects on the fact that he began life as a 'putrid drop,' he may question why a human being, having such humble beginnings, should be held account-able if he does, indeed, sin. And if a person ponders his eventual end, 'a place of dust, worms and maggots,' he may mistakenly con-clude that there is no true reckoning or reward for good deeds. However, if one bears in mind that a future account will be given 'before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He,' he will be able to refrain from sin"

(Midrash Shmuel).

"Rabbi Chanina, the deputy High Priest, said: 'Pray for the wel-fare of the government, for were it not for the fear of it, men would swallow one another alive'" (Ethics, 3:2).

The Midrash comments that in one respect man is even lower than the fish, for a large fish will attempt to swallow another one only if it is smaller than it, whereas human beings wage war against each other with impunity.

"Rabbi Shimon said: 'Three who ate at one table and did not speak words of Torah there, it is as if they had eaten of sacrifices to the dead'" (Ethics, 3:3).

"According to Chasidic philosophy, when a person learns Torah he unites his mind with G-d's Divine wisdom. Similarly, when words of Torah are said at the table, the food itself, which later becomes the individual's very flesh and blood, is also elevated and unites with the Torah, becoming one entity"

(Biurim L'Pirkei Avot).


Moshiach Matters

"If anyone imagines that G-d will annul His vow to the Jewish people [to send Moshiach to redeem us], he should be aware that this is not so. We are commanded to await Moshiach just as a person anxiously awaits an inevitable event"

(the Chofetz Chaim).


  276: Matos/Masei278: Vaetchanan  
   
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