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Let's take a look in the first-aid kit you have in your car.
Hmmm, there are bandaids, alcohol prep pads, antibiotic cream, gauze pads and gauze bandages, antiseptic towelettes, scissors, and an instant cold compress. Maybe you've even added a few things yourself like smelling salts, aspirin and a bee sting king in case anyone in the family is allergic. There are also instructions in the kit on how to treat minor injuries and what not to do in certain other situations.
Do you know when and how to use everything in the first-aid kit? If you answered yes, that's great. If not, you're like most people who don't really believe that anything more serious than a scratch or cut is going to happen.
Have you ever considered a "Jewish" first-aid kit for your car? What, you didn't even know such a thing existed?
No, we're not talking about keeping Tums in your car for all of that acid indigestion after feasting on a delicious corned-beef-on-rye-with-mustard-and-a-garlic-pickle-on-the-side.
Neither are we suggesting a cache of quarters to call your mother from a phone booth so she doesn't worry. (Though it's not a bad idea at that.)
A "Jewish" first-aid kit for your car (and all the more so for your house) should include a *tzedaka* box, a prayer book, Psalms and a *Tanya* (the basic work of Chabad Chasidic philosophy).
The Rebbe, in 1975, suggested to a private individual who used his car extensively that he keep these items in his car. Addition-ally, the Rebbe encouraged other individuals to have these items in their cars, and even schools to have them on their buses.
Though the Rebbe didn't mention a particular reason, it's not hard to think of some very practical benefits of having these items in your car, even if you don't run into an emergency:
You can put change that you find on the sidewalk in the *pushka*. You can use the prayer book to say the special traveler's prayer when you go on a long trip. You can be uplifted and calmed by King David's Psalms if you get stuck in a traffic jam.
If you're already calm though still stuck in the traffic jam you can look in the back of the *Tanya* and peruse the locations of the 4,200 (!) different editions since it was first published in 1796.
Of course, You can also read the *Tanya* once you've gotten to that beautiful, tranquil park that you were driving to. If you do, you'll be i for a big treat, for you will come face to face with some of the most amazing mystical concepts in Judaism.
If you need help in finding these items for your Jewish first-aid kit or any other Jewish items for your home, you can call our office at (718) 778-6000.
This week's Torah portion, Vaetchanan, contains the verse, "And you shall know this day, and take it to heart, that the L-rd is the G-d in the heavens above, and upon the earth below; there is none else." This recognition of G-d's unity may therefore be divided into three distinct areas: "heaven," "earth," and "there is none else" (which, according to the *Midrash*, refers to G-d's oneness "even within the very depths of the earth."
Why does the Torah go to such great lengths to emphasize the oneness of G-d? Would anyone seriously entertain the notion that there is another G-d hiding in the murky depths of the sea or in the earth's core? Why is it necessary for the Torah to explicitly command us to "take it to heart?"
Chasidic philosophy explains that this verse not only negates the possibility of another deity's existence, G-d forbid, but rather emphasizes that fact that there is no existence at all besides G-d. G-dliness is the only reality; everything else is an illusion covering up the true essence within. Were we able to clearly perceive that there is no independent reality except for G-d, we would easily recognize that it is only G-d's constant re-creation of the world, every minute and every second, which sustains both physical and spiritual reality. In truth, "there is nothing else."
Because one may mistakenly think that only spiritual matters are G-dly, the Torah specifically mentions "the earth below." The physical world, with its multitude of creations, is also a vessel for G-dliness, and must be properly utilized in the service of G-d.
This division is also symbolic of man himself: "Heaven" re-fers to man's G-dly soul; "earth" refers to his corporeal body, the vessel in which the G-dly soul illuminates; and "the very depths of the earth" refers to man's actions.
By stressing this verse, the Torah emphasizes that this awareness of G-d must be brought into all facets of our lives-- spiritual, physical and practical. By recognizing G-d's unity and reflecting it in our every action, we ready the entire world for the complete revelation of G-dliness that will take place with the coming of Moshiach and the Final Redemption, speedily in our days.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
HEADHUNTER TURNED HEART-HUNTER
After many years of marriage, Zelig Spillman was single again. As a middle-aged Orthodox man, he soon discovered the difficulty of meeting a suitable marriage partner. Who could help him find his *basherte*--intended?
Rabbis offered suggestions, but they were too loaded down with other matters to donate their time. Friends who had the time constantly chanted, "Have I got the one for you!" but Zelig realized that well-meaning acquaintances couldn't connect him with his soul-mate. His personal search ended when he followed an unlikely lead and met Ahava Newman. The two were married a few months later, but they never forgot the frustration of being single. Consequently, they formed the Orthodox Connection to help others facing the same dilemma.
Ahava voices the difficulties of single, mature, observant females. "We're a new breed, a walking paradox that needs to be recognized. We're modest, but bright, independent and educated, assertive and Orthodox." Ahava teaches English and Communications at a community college, and spices her lectures on listening, with Chasidic tales. The step from instructing interpersonal skills to introducing compatible personalities was a short one.
Zelig arrived in North America from South Africa, a charted accountant, but left his profession to pursue a more people-oriented career. He created Summit Search Group, an organization that helps people find jobs. "I'm a head-hunter turned heart-hunter," states Zelig. "The process is very similar--an applicant must research his prospective job, understand his responsibilities, and review his expectations. Being painstakingly thorough is how I ensure my matches are successful. Now, using the same methodology for marriage match-making, I want to help ensure my clients' happiness for a lifetime."
The fervor with which the Spillmans have embraced this new endeavor is contagious. Zelig is convinced that not only does each and every person deserve a lifelong partner, he believe they can successfully conduct a search. "With G-d' s help," he proclaims, "I'll find your perfect match." Their contacts are impressive. The Orthodox Connection extends from Canada to Florida, New York to California and includes England and South Africa. "Soon, G-d willing, our network will include France, Morocco and South America," states Ahava. "Our original focus was to exclusively service over-30's, but now our criterion is that a kosher and Shabbat observant home be established."
"We also have physically and mentally challenged clients," Zelig.
After clients are personally interviewed, the information gathered is entered into a database and computer program designed especially for the Orthodox Connection. Its primary function is to eliminate inappropriate candidates. Ahava and Zelig assure clients utmost discretion and confidentiality. "This is a dating service," explains Zelig. "All of our clients come to us for one thing and one thing only--they are serious about getting married. We will, with G-d's help, find someone for you to grow old with." With a twinkle in his eye, he smile at Ahava and says, "It makes the prospect of aging wonderful."
They explained, "It is with a *brocha* from the Rebbe, may he have a complete and speedy recovery, that we began this enterprise and in his merit we will try our best to be successful."
An administrative fee is charged to each client, for the benefit of their matchmaking expertise, and being part of their international database network.
In order to provide better service, Ahava and Zelig will be travelling throughout Canada and the U.S. this summer. For more information, contact them at (416) 886-4042 or fax (416) 731-6586.
SUMMER CAMPS IN RUSSIA
Two hundred young people from America and Israel have joined the 140 Chabad emissaries and students currently in C.I.S. to staff Chabad-Lubavitch day and overnight camps this summer. Under the auspices of Ezras Achim, 15 overnight camps, 4 seminars for college students, and 30 day camps are open this summer. In addition, yeshiva students are visiting cities throughout the former Soviet Union to give classes. Ezras Achim has also shipped over 200 tons of food from Switzerland, France, Israel and America to help feed 10,000 children and young adults participating in the camps and seminars. For more info, call Ezras Achim at (718) 467-0007.
IS MAZAL TOV ENOUGH?
Modern medical wisdom recognizes that good health and care depend on a patient's emotional and mental attitude. For centur-ies, it has been customary for Jewish women to adorn both the birthing room and the cradle with Psalm 121 (*Shir Lama'alot*). The Psalm states our declaration of dependence upon the Creator for our safety and well-being, and His commitment to guard us at all times. If you are expecting a child or know someone who is, You can get a free, full color print of the Psalm by writing to LEFJME-Expectant Mother Offer, 824 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213. Or call (718) 756-5720.
CHASIDUT BY THE SEA
For the sixth year, Beer Miriam is presenting Chasidut By The Sea: A Journey into Jewish Mysticism. Each Monday and Wednesday evening through September 1, a lively discussion led by Rabbi Eli Cohen of Chabad at NYU (Monday eves) and Rabbi Binyamin Burston (Wednesday eves) takes place from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Light refreshments are served in addition to lots of food for thought. For more information, call (718) 467-5519.
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.
RESPECT AND ADMIRATION
A letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe
17 Menachem Av, 5737 (1977)
Thank your for your letter of July 23. I am pleased to note that you recall our discussion. However, your inference from the recent blackout in support of your thesis is debatable.
At any rate, following the example of your letter, I will also make reference to a recent event in support of my position. I have in mind the visit of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and no doubt you also had the opportunity of meeting him and have evaluated the results of his visit to the USA.
One of the obvious elements of the Prime Minister's visit is that it has demonstrated once again how vitally important it is for our people in the Holy Land to have strong and viable Jewish communities in the outside world. For, however important *aliya* is, it would be a mixed blessing if it were to erode the Jewish voice and influence in such strategically important countries as the USA and others.
And speaking of the importance of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, the emphasis is not merely on numbers as they appear in a national census, but also and primarily on the quality of the Jewish population and leadership, namely, the extent to which Jews identify themselves within Jewishness and Jewish causes. Here again, as I pointed out in our discussion, it isn't enough just to write a check--however indispensable financial assistance is. There must be an even more meaningful identification and personal commitment, which deeply touches every Jew and reflects his Jewish identity in his daily life. Such identification is not limited to the home and synagogue or when one is in the society of fellow Jews, but it must be evident everywhere, even among non-Jews, and even in the White House, with truly Jewish self-respect and avowed trust in G-d, the Guardian of Israel, and with pride in our Jewish heritage and traditions--as was so eminently expressed in word and deed by Prime Minister Begin. It is the general consensus that this worthy deportment of the Jewish representative during his first encounter with the President of the USA had an immensely favorable impact and has established a personal rapport between the two leaders which will hopefully have far-reaching beneficial results also in terms of American support.
I trust you have closely followed the highlights and details of this visit and compared it with those of Begin's predecessors. Here, for the first time, came a loud and clear voice that comes strengthened by the prayers of his fellow Jews at home and abroad and trusts in G-d and the eternity of his people that his mission will be successful.
And, as you surely know, when he sat down to break bread with President Carter, he made sure that it would be a kosher meal, and he put on a yarmulke and made a *bracha* and explained to the President the meaning of it. All of this has earned him the respect and admiration of the President and of all others who came into contact with him. Even from the pragmatic statesmanship viewpoint, this approach is bound to be a sure winner, though regretfully, it had not been recognized by his predecessors.
To conclude on the last note of your letter, may G-d bless you with strength and wisdom to use your good offices and influences in the said direction, especially in view of your prominent position in the Jewish community.
RABBI YOCHANAN BEN ZAKKAI lived at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. Before the actual fall of Jerusalem he hid himself in a coffin and was smuggled out of the city. He made and was granted three requests of the Roman commander Vespasian: the city of Yavneh to establish a yeshiva; the life of the Davidic heir to the monarchy; a physician to cure Rabbi Tzadok who had fasted 40 years to save Jerusalem from destruction. The establishment of Yavneh as a Torah center set the stage for the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish people despite the destruction of its physical base.
This week we celebrate the festive day of the Fifteen of Av. On the 15th of Av the days begin to get shorter.
In times gone by, the onset of evening meant that the workday was over. Our Sages, therefore, encourage us to use the longer evenings for increased study of Jewish subjects.
The exile is often referred to as "night" and the Redemption, as "dawn." Though we are certainly in the last few moments of the long night of exile, it sometimes seems like the "night" is getting longer rather than shorter. Thus, the above teaching of our Sages is certainly appropriate.
Maimonides explains that in the era of the Redemption, the sole occupation of the whole world will be to know G-d. The Rebbe suggested, therefore, that as a preparation for that time, we increase in our studies wherever possible. In addition, just two years ago, the Rebbe expressed the following thoughts on studying matters specifically concerning Moshiach and the Redemption.
"Since Moshiach is about to come, a final effort is required that will bring him. Every man, woman and child should increase his Torah study in subjects that concern the Redemption... One should likewise upgrade one's meticulous observance of mitzvot, particularly charity, 'which brings the Redemption near.'
"It would be proper for one to connect his additional charity with his additional study of subjects connected with the Redemption, by giving charity with the intent that it hasten the Redemption. This intention in itself becomes part of learning subjects connected with the Redemption--for this is a real and tangible study of the teaching of our Sages: 'Great is charity for it brings the Redemption near.'
"The above-described study is not only a spiritual means of securing the speedy advent of Moshiach; it is a way of beginning to live one's life in the mood of Moshiach and the Redemption by having one's mind permeated with an understanding of the concepts of Moshiach and Redemption. From the mind, these concepts will then find their way into the emotions Ultimately, they will find expression in one's actual conduct--in thought, word and deed--in a way befitting this unique era when we stand on the threshold of the Redemption."
Reb Leibush had just arrived in Belz to pay a visit to his mother. When he entered her home, which she shared with his brother, Reb Shalom, the Rebbe of Belz, the sound of hammering resounded through the rooms. The town of Belz was constructing a new synagogue.
Reb Leibush couldn't wait to visit the site of the new shul, and so after partaking of a cup of tea and some fresh cake with his mother, he went out to check on the progress of the building. He was surprised to see his brother standing with a shovel in his hand, helping with the work like a member of the construction crew.
Reb Leibush felt that this manual labor was below the dignity befitting the town's rabbi, and decided to tell his brother how he felt. "Listen, my brother, you know that the Talmud says that a leader of a Jewish community is not permitted to perform menial labor in the presence of three or more people. You, the Rebbe of Belz, know this law, so why are you standing here like a common worker? "
Reb Shalom listened quietly to his brother's words before responding. "Leibush," he began. "I will tell you a story that will explain my apparently strange behavior. Many years ago when I was studying in the town of Skohl my two study partners and I learned that if we studied with the utmost dedication and unstinting effort for a 1,000 consecutive nights without sleeping, we would merit a revelation of the prophet Elijah. When we heard about this, we wanted this holy revelation more than anything else in the world. We resolved that we would undertake to study together for a 1,000 nights in a row. In the beginning it wasn't hard. After all, we were very enthusiastic and burning with our desire to reach our exalted goal. Nights passed in intense study, and we hardly noticed when the morning came.
"But, after a while, it began to be increasingly more diffi-cult to study with the same dedication. We were becoming tired from not sleeping night after night. Finally, one of my partners couldn't stand the strain any longer and he decided to drop out. But I continued the nightly session with my remaining partner. It was on the eight hundredth night that he, too, lost the quest, but I was firm in my will to continue right through to the end.
"I sat alone in the dark shul every night, fighting sleep and utter exhaustion, determined to reach the one thousandth night. When I thought that I had no more strength to continue I still pushed on, so deep was my desire to receive the revelation of the holy prophet.
"On the thousandth night a terrible storm blew up. It seemed like the gates of Hell had opened and the fierce winds had threat-ened to destroy the world. Even I, who was normally unfazed by the weather, no matter how violent, was shaken by the unearthly howls and piercing flashes of lightning that zigzagged across the sky. Still, I sat by my open book, determined that nothing would interfere with my reaching my goal. Suddenly there was a loud, frightening crash of glass. The wind had blown out one of the windows of the study hall and its breath had extinguished my candles. This was too much for me. I had persevered for a 1,000 nights though my strength was all but gone, and now this. The rain and wind pelted me through the shattered window and my spirits had plummeted to rock bottom. I would have left had I not been so terrified of the raging storm.
"But then I gathered myself together. Was this not my last night, after which I could expect a visit from the prophet Elijah himself? How could I allow a mere storm to deprive me of my reward? I felt my way to the holy Ark and slid open the carved door, and wept my heart out before G-d, begging Him to help me. I don't know how long I stood there pouring out my yearning and frustration to the One Above, but at one point I realized that the storm had ended.
"I came to myself and went out to look out the broken window. The sun was trying to break through the remaining clouds, and I saw walking in the direction of the study hall, an old man. I knew it was Elijah who had come to learn Torah with me. We sat together and learned all that night, and I was like a person transported in a dream.
"The last part of the Torah which he taught me was the laws of building a synagogue. This teaching is so precious to me that if I were able, I would erect the whole building by myself from beginning to end. Alas, this little bit is all I am capable of doing, but even so, it is so dear to me that my entire being is full of joy with each brick that I place."
Reb Leibush smiled, happy with his brother's explanation.
Ben Zoma said: "Who is rich? He who is happy with his lots" (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1).
The key that unlocks the riches in all things is the ability to be happy with your circumstances, no matter what they are. This skill lies within every person's reach. It does not depend on the fulfillment of desires, and can be achieved only when one has meaning in one's existence. Our commitment to the Torah--a sacred, Divine guide to Jewish life--can change the most miserable of fates into a meaningful existence.
("Ethics From Sinai")
"For the reward of a mitzva is a mitzva, and the reward of trans-gression is a transgression" (Ethics 4:2).
Reward and punishment are not extraneous treatments given to those with a surplus of merits or sins; they are natural conse-quences of what we do. Do one mitzva, and from Heaven you will be aided to do more; commit a transgression, and forces are set in motion that will "grease the path" for you to commit worse deeds.
The reward one receives for obeying G-d's command is qualita- tively different from the payments a laborer is awarded for his exertions. A worker who plows and sows receives his salary from the owner of the field, yet the actual money was not created by him; it is not the direct result of his labors. This is not so, however, in the case of mitzvot. According to Chasidic philosophy, the mitzva itself creates the reward.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Rabbi Yosay said: "Whoever dishonors the Torah is himself given honor by men, and whoever dishonors the Torah is himself dishonored by men." (Ethics 4:6)
One of the ways honor is shown to the Torah is by treating holy books with the proper reverence. For example, one must not place holy books on a bench or chair where people sit, nor pile one Torah scroll on top of another. They should be given a place of honor in the home, and when transported from place to place, should be treated as if one has been given permission to carry the gar-ments of the king in his presence.
(Rashi, Midrash Shmuel)
His [the Messiah's] name will be great and fill the earth to its uttermost bounds. It will be a greater name than that of King Solomon and mightier. The nations will make peace with him and lands will obey him by reason of his great rectitude and the wonders that will come to light by his means. Any one who rises up against him, G-d will destroy and make him fall into his hand.
(Maimonides' "Introduction to Chelek")