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November 5, 1993 - 21 Cheshvan, 5754

291: Chayei Sara

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

  290: Vayeira292: Toldos  

Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  by Esther Altmann  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Rambam this week  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

The Rebbe's position of not trading land for peace has been strong, unequivocal and unchanging. Many have thought that the Rebbe's position comes from wanting to retain or encourage the biblical borders of the Holy Land. But this is not the reason. It is clearly and simply, as the Rebbe has stated scores of times, a matter of p'kuach nefesh--a matter of life and death.

Rabbi Benny Elon, head of the settlement movement "Emunim," told reporters on March 18, 1993: "I now admit that when the Lubavitcher Rebbe 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."

The peace plan cannot and will not control terrorist groups like Hamas, Hizbollah, and factions of the PLO who are sworn to our destruction. We must remember that no terrorist organization (except one faction of the PLO) has agreed to any of the terms of the negotiations. In fact, all of them have sworn to oppose it.

And while some would have us believe that only the "settlers" are at risk, these terrorists thirst for the elimination of all the Jewish people in Israel, not just those living in the "territories." With Israel's borders reduced, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Haifa--all of Israel--each Israeli home will be in range of a terrorist katyusha rocket.

A katyusha rocket has a range of 30 miles, far enough to strike every city in Israel from its pre-1967 border. A katyusha can be carried to a hilltop on the back of a donkey and fired with a metal tube and car battery. It can, and will, be smuggled through dozens of pathways and seaports.

Israel will be only nine miles wide at its most populated area. Each flight to and from Ben Gurion Airport will be a target. This is not an issue for the settlers only. Every Israeli, every tourist and visitor will be at risk.

If the Golan, Samaria, and Judea are surrendered, all of Israel is vulnerable to attack, left without protection from its enemies. The Golan provides Israel's only barrier against Syria. From its heights every hostile move can be detected. Control of its mountain roads allows us to repel enemy troop and tank movements. Without it, military experts agree, we are helpless.

Judea and Samaria create a barrier to attacking armies from the east. Its mountains are home to our early warning radar. This span of West Bank land affords precious seconds for our Air Force to repel any attack.

The U.S. Department of Defense, in a recently declassified report, stated that "without these areas for defense, Israel's vulnerability would be a temptation for Arab attack."

So strategic are these areas to Israel's security that the U.S., in its desire for Mideast stability, is offering its troops on the Golan, and perhaps in the West Bank as well.

But can we count on America to protect us when terrorists attack or, G-d forbid, the treaty fails? How many U.S. soldiers will, G-d forbid, have to sacrifice their lives at the hands of terrorists before America demands her brave young sons home?

The war of Arab against Jew is not political. It is an Islamic religious war dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish people and the land of Israel. This enmity will not be legislated by a political struggle to maintain power.

Israel was created in strength out of a need for strength. Peace was not its purpose; protection of the Jewish people was and should still be.

This peace once again places Jews at risk for their lives. All Jews, not just the "settlers." Israel's goal should be Israel's preservation. A preservation based on strength. Based on the wisdom of history. Based on truth, not on wishful, naive thinking.

Silence is being taken for consent. But if the Jews of Israel value safety and security, if the Jews of the Diaspora value having a refuge and homeland, than all Jews must voice their protest against this travesty. All Jews--not just the settlers.

From an article by Jay Litvin/Chabad of Israel

Living with the Rebbe

The end of this week's Torah portion, Chayei Sara, tells of the passing of Abraham and the order of succession of his descendants: "And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac." Isaac, Abraham's only son from his beloved wife Sara, was chosen to continue the new path he had forged in the service of G-d. The children of Abraham's concubines, however, received only a token of their father's wealth: "But to the sons of the concubines...Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son."Isaac was designated his father's heir, despite being younger than Ishmael and the others.

This week's Haftara contains a similar incident, which occurred toward the end of King David's life. When Adoniyahu, David's eldest son, sought to usurp his father's throne, Batsheva reminded David of the oath he had made that Solomon, the younger son, would reign. King David agreed to honor the oath and Batsheva declared, "May my lord, the King David, live forever!"

What is the significance of both these choices? When Abraham designated Isaac his heir, he thereby bestowed upon him the special relationship he enjoyed with G-d, the essential "chosenness" he would pass on to his children after him. Abraham's choice of Isaac allowed every Jew to acquire that same eternal bond with G-d as his birthright, an immutable bond which can never be severed.

Similarly, Batsheva's declaration, "May my lord, the King David, live forever!" is an expression of G-d's promise that "the kingship will never be cut off from the progeny of David." Dominion over the Jewish people belongs solely to the descendents of King David through his son Solomon, ultimately one of whom is King Moshiach.

The common thread between these two incidents is the underlying principle that the actions of an immutable G-d are eternal and unchanging. Just as G-d Himself experiences no change, so too are His choices fixed and immutable. Batsheva's declaration, "May my lord, the King David, live forever!" will find ultimate fulfillment when King Moshiach arises and ushers in the Final Redemption.

Indeed, we find that the wholeness of the Jewish people is connected to the concept of kingship, for it was only after King David's descendants were chosen to rule that the Jewish nation was at peace, the Holy Temple was built in Jerusalem and G-d's Divine Presence dwelt in the Holy Temple. Likewise, the Final Redemption of the Jewish people will only commence when the ultimate King of the House of David arises, to initiate the Ingathering of the Exiles and build the final and indestructible Third Holy Temple, speedily in our day.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A Slice of Life

by Esther Altmann

If prayer may be defined as the language in which the human soul communes with its Creator, then techinas--"supplications"--are its particularly feminine dialect. Composed in the Yiddish vernacular, these intimate prayers, written largely by and for women, allowed our grandmothers to speak to G-d in their mother-tongue and to beseech Him in a most personal and intimate fashion.

Ruth Zakutinsky, who is best known in the Jewish world for her wonderful childrens' books, has now turned her own intensely spiritual vision to the world of prayer, bringing the techinas, which were an integral part of our grandmothers' lives, to the modern woman. Today's Jewish woman who finds herself searching for an especially female approach to Judaism can thank Mrs. Zakutinsky for making her collection of techinas accessible to all.

As a young child of 10, Ruth Zakutinsky first met the Lubavitcher Rebbe. As she remarked, "A tzadik's bracha (blessing) is like rain. You plant the seed; the bracha brings it to fruition." Certainly, in her life, that thought is borne out.

Mrs. Zakutinsky always wanted to be a teacher. "When you know what is most important, you have a drive to impart it to others. What is most important to impart to the child is a love of G-d and Torah. The key to reaching a child is love." Now, a Liason for Students Affairs, Merkaz Bnos High School, she feels that giving individuals the personal touch provides the vital difference.

Mrs. Zakutinsky continued, "You become greater by relating to G-d, and at the same time, you get to know yourself and give vent to self-expression. You become what you can be, what you really want to be."

She reminiscences, "My earliest memories are of watching my mother, after she kindled the Sabbath lights, recite her techinas. Years later, as I looked through the tear-stained pages, I realized how precious these supplications were. I saw that you can gain strength from reciting these prayers."

Mrs. Zakutinsky described techinas as a "hot-line" to G-d. "Our grandmothers were accustomed to invoking G-d's name in everything they did, and they were able to turn over worlds." They felt as comfortable speaking to G-d as to a close friend. These prayers were a precious part of everyday life, and it would have been unthinkable to consign these techinas to oblivion. Mrs. Zakutinsky's collection of techinas, entitled Techinas, A Voice From the Heart, A Collection of Jewish Women's Prayers, offers the original Yiddish text as well as an English translation.

Unlike the communal prayers which express the needs of the Jewish people as a whole, the techinas were composed in the singular--the voice of a solitary woman who recognizes her personal dependence on G-d. And whereas the standard prayers revolve around the hours of the day when men are required to pray the three daily services, the techinas reflect the rhythms and pivotal events of a woman's life and the mitzvot related specifically to her.

These intimate conversations between a woman and G-d took place in the joyous moments of her child's birth, or the painful times when faith in G-d provided her only solace. In her beautifully constructed volume, Ruth Zakutinsky has collected a wide sampling of techinas.

I picked up the volume, curious to see if these prayers would speak to me, an American baalat tshuva. I had my doubts. I turned to the section on Shabbat candlelighting. Women have always utilized that unique moment for the recitation of personal prayers and requests. The moment of performing this mitzva has always struck me as miraculous. For no matter how frenetic my day has been, no matter if the last toys haven't been scooped up from the four corners of floor--at that moment it doesn't matter. For when I have kindled the lights and made the blessing, I have brought the peace and holiness of Shabbat into my home. Nothing else is pertinent anymore; the worldly has no power to intrude itself into the sacred space which I have just created.

What I discovered in those ancient techinas translated into English was myself, my mother, my grandmother and my friends. For our needs and requests haven't changed over the millennium. Just as I do, the author of the techina precedes her lighting with giving tzedaka. What follows is a simple, heartfelt request to G-d for the things that we all need: "May G-d answer me and bless me, my husband, and my children with health. Strengthen our bodies in Torah and in the fear of Heaven, and bestow upon us an abundance of blessing, good life, peace, a good livelihood, success, and long days and years. Protect us from all kinds of illnesses and harmful occurrences (Heaven forbid). Send a complete recovery to all those of Your people Israel who are sick. May we merit deliverance and consolation and the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our days. Amen." That seemed to say it all.

I could offer many other examples--some brought tears to my eyes. I had my answer. Yes, the techinas can and do speak to us today. They also strengthen the bond we share with each other and our common past. They link us with our ancestresses who lived in a different, yet emotionally similar world. Women, who brought about the first redemption have the power to bring about the Final Redemption. By strengthening our bond with our Creator, who can gauge what "worlds we can overturn"?

What's New

Pictured above are the Soviet couple who were recently married according to Jewish tradition during the Eighth Annual Gala Wedding held at the Bris Avrohom Center in Hillside, New Jersey. Bris Avrohom has been serving the Russian Jewish community in NJ for the past 13 years and has arranged similar weddings for 140 couples.


The new Shabbat candle lighting brochure, with blessings and times for the Jewish year 5754, is available by calling your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center or through the brochure's publisher, the Lubavitch Women's Organization Candle Lighting Campaign, at 603 Lefferts Ave., Bklyn, NY 11203. Also, to find out the time of candle lighting anywhere in the U.S., from a touch-tone phone dail 1-800-SABBATH. From the NY Metro area call (718) 774-3000.


L'Chaim makes a great gift. To give a gift subscription send your name and address and the name and address of the recipient together with a check for $30 made payable to LYO to: L'Chaim, 1408 President St., Bklyn, NY 11213.

The Rebbe Writes


16 Cheshvan, 5723 (1962)

In addition to my letter of yesterday's date which was confined to a purely scientific discussion, it is this second letter which will express my real approach to you, the Torah approach of one Jew to another.

It is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you that the basic principle of the Jewish way of life is "Know him in all your ways." This principle has been enunciated in the Talmud, Early and Late Responsa, until it has been formulated as a psak-din in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, sec. 231). It is there explained that it is the life's mission of every Jew to acknowledge G-d even in the simplest pursuits of daily life, such as eating, drinking, etc. How much more does this apply to the more essential aspects of one's life, especially in the case of one who has been endowed with special qualifications, knowledge and distinction, etc., all of which place him in a position of influence. These are gifts of Divine Providence, which the Jew is duty-bound to consecrate to the service of G-d, to disseminate G-dliness through the Torah and mitzvot to the utmost of his ability, in compliance with the com-mandments "You shall surely rebuke" and "You shall love your neighbor like yourself"--the great principle of our Torah. And since, according to the Torah view, everything in the world is ordered and measured and nothing is superfluous, the duty and zechut (privilege) of every Jew are commensurate with his capacities and opportunities.

I have seen you only briefly, but I have formed some impressions, which have been augmented by your book, the only one I have been able to obtain so far, and by what I have heard about you and your station in the academic world and otherwise. I have no doubt that you have unusual opportunities to disseminate the Torah and mitzvot among wide circles of Jewish scientists, students and laymen.

In recent years, especially in the U.S.A., we have witnessed among Jewish youth, two tendencies striving in opposite directions. On the one hand there has been an intensified quest for truth, a yearning for closer identification with our people and our eternal values. At the other extreme, the pull of assimilation, intermarriage, etc. has been gaining, too. Aside from the colleges and universities in a few major cities, the situation on campuses in regard to the observance of kashrut, Shabbat, etc., is too painful to contemplate, not to mention the widespread confusion and misconceptions in respect to the most basic tenets of our faith.

If the first of the above-mentioned tendencies were to be stimulated and fully utilized at this auspicious time, the chances are very good that it would gain momentum and grow wider, and in time also deeper. If, as our sages say, to save one soul is to save a whole world, then how much more so, to save so many lost Jewish souls.

I want to express to you my fervent hope--and, if necessary, my urgent appeal as well, that you put the whole weight of your prestige as a leading scientist behind a resolute effort in the cause of Torah and mitzvot. I am informed that you have been elected as this year's President of the Organization of Jewish Orthodox Scientists. By your example you could set the pace of the entire organization, individually and collectively, and set in motion a "chain reaction."

I will conclude with a well-known saying of the Baal Shem Tov, which I frequently heard from my father-in-law of saintly memory: "G-d sends down to earth a soul, which is truly a part of G-dliness, to sojourn, in a body, for seventy or eighty years on this earth, in order to render a favor to another Jew, materially or spiritually." If a single favor justifies a whole earthbound life, how great is the merit of a consistent effort to help one fellow-Jew, or many of them, to find their true way, the way of Torah and mitzvot, in their day-to-day living.

May G-d grant that your words which come from the heart will penetrate the many hearts which are ready and eager to respond, and may G-d grant you success in this, as in all your other endeavors for yourself and your family.

Rambam this week

A Word from the Director

There is a widespread misconception that we should not demand or even ask for Moshiach. "When G-d is ready," some people erroneously posit, "He will send Moshiach without our demanding him."

The principle of asking for Moshiach is biblical and can be traced back to the prophet Hosea.

The great scholar, the Chatam Sofer, said that one must pray for Moshiach. In fact, we see this reflected in our prayers to the point where we actually ask for Moshiach 25,000 times each year!

The idea of actually demanding Moshiach--not just the more passive requesting, but actually demanding--did not, however, originate in the '70s, when the Rebbe, shlita, encouraged young children the world over to make "We want Moshiach now" their theme song.

One of the greatest Jewish leaders of the previous generation, the Chafetz Chaim said that "We must demand Moshiach just as a worker demands his wages."

In our Prophets (Zecharia 1:12) we read, "O L-rd,--Ad Matai--How long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah...."

Also, in the special prayer known as "Tikun Chatzot" said each night at midnight to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, we ask G-d how much longer--Ad Matai--six times.

We must remember, however, that our demand is not an ultimatum. We do not say to G-d, "Either you bring Moshiach or I will stop doing such and such a mitzva, or mitzvot all together." By demanding, we are showing G-d that we truly care that we, and the Divine Presence, are in exile.

Thoughts that Count

Hear us, my lord (Gen. 23:6)

As a token of their respect, the sons of Chet addressed Abraham as "my lord." Abraham, however, refused to reciprocate, even in his business dealings. Abraham, the first Jew, reserved the term solely for G-d, despite social convention.

(Rabbi Yosef Horowitz)

And the servant ran to meet her (Gen. 24:17)

According to Rashi, it was only when Eliezer saw the well water miraculously rising toward Rivka that he decided she would make the perfect wife for Yitzchak. Yet only the water Rivka drew for her own use rose up by itself; the water she drew for Eliezer and his camels had to be brought up by hand. We learn from this that although G-d may perform miracles to assist a righteous person, when it comes to doing mitzvot, it is preferable to perform them oneself in a natural manner and not to rely on miracles.

(Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev)

And Eliezer brought out silver and gold items and clothing and gave it to Rivka (Gen. 24:53)

Although jewelry can be worn by anyone regardless of age, clothing must fit to size. How did Eliezer know in advance which clothes would be appropriate for Rivka? Eliezer knew that no home observed the laws of modesty as stringently as the home of Abraham. He therefore carried with him a set of clothes as a sample of the type of clothing a woman would be expected to wear in Abraham's home, thus giving both Rivka and her family a lesson in the laws of tzniut (modesty).

And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, but to the sons of the concubines...he gave gifts (Gen. 25:5-6)

Isaac is symbolic of holiness and the spiritual realm; the "sons of the concubines" stand for the physical and corporeal world.

The Torah teaches that we must give "all" of ourselves--the lion's share of our time, energy and talents--to spiritual matters. Worldly matters, however, can be placated with "gifts"...

(Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita)

It Once Happened

The birthday of Rabbi Sholom Ber--known as the Rebbe Rashab--the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, is commemorated this week. His son and successor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, was a devoted and meticulous diarist who left a number of volumes of remarkable memoirs. His relationship with his father had a great impact on his sensitive spirit and is a frequent subject of his recollections. We would like to provide a small glimpse of this great tzadik, gleaned from the Memoirs of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe.
When I was five years old, in the winter of 5646 (1886), I spent some time with my parents at Yalta, in Crimea. When we used to stroll among the mountains I used to play near my father. He often asked me what I remembered having seen when I was very little. I would tell him, and he would explain to me what I had seen. In this manner various sights became engraved in my childish mind, and these proved to be most useful when I grew older. Thus trained by my father to recollect early sights, I was enabled to recall the saintly appearance of my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, whom I had seen when I was two years and three months old.

The year 5650 (1890) was almost the first that my father spent entirely at home, the greater part of the previous years having been spent abroad. During that year he often got me to tell him of sights that I recalled from my early childhood. So it was that it became part of my very nature to preserve various memories precisely, especially farbrengens, and from time to time I enjoyed reflecting over old recollections. Now too, when we have (thank G-d) been through so much in the course of these almost 20 years of exile and wandering, these old recollections of Chasidic gatherings and talks at different times and places are one's life-giving waters, the cool waters that lend one vigor.

In the winter of 5672 (1912) my father was in Menton [a health spa on the southern coast of France, for the Rebbe Rashab suffered from health problems]. He rested well during his first few weeks there, and his health improved significantly. As I accompanied him on the journey from Lubavitch to Warsaw he said that he hoped he would have enough time in Menton to think out a certain new and profound subject in Chasidut.

The whole of the learned Chasidic world esteemed my father as the gaon [great genius] of the scholastic dimension of Chasidut.

When we were at the resort in Bolivka in the summer of 5658 (1898), I used to be overawed by the way my father was wrapped in thought. He would sit thus in the garden for hours on end. As he later told me, it was during those hours in the garden that he thought out a famous Chasidic discourse as well as all the series of Chasidic discourses that he delivered the following year.

With my father, every teaching discourse that he delivered or wrote was something that he had experienced.

In my childhood, in the years 5649-5651 (1889-1891), I used to love observing him as he sat in deep reflection in his study, or at the resting place of my grandfather. His absorbed thoughtfulness fascinated me.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak related that when he was a young boy his father, the Rebbe Rashab (an acronym of his name, Rabbi Shalom Ber), proscribed for him a course of study on the topic of a humble and broken heart. The young Yosef Yitzchak studied the required texts for some three weeks. During that time his uncle Reb Nachum Dov visited the family and stayed over the Shabbat.

The Rebbe said to his young son, "Your uncle is truly a man of broken heart," meaning that he was a sincerely humble person. "Once I was going home for lunch after the morning classes at school and I stopped by the local shul. I was amazed to see Reb Dov, the father of our servant, leaning on a table and reciting in a quiet voice, the Psalms from a book. My uncle, Reb Nachum Dov, was standing against a wall at the side intently watching this simple man pray. His face bore a deeply pained expression and tears flowed down his cheeks."

The Rebbe continued: "When I came home I told my father about what I had seen and asked him what it meant. My father explained that my uncle in his tremendous humility envied the simple villager. This is truly a man with a broken heart."

Moshiach Matters

The Redemption will unify all of Israel, from the greatest to the smallest, for not a single Jew will remain in exile: "You, the Children of Israel, will be gathered in one by one" (Isaiah 27:12) Moreover, the multitudes who will then be gathered in are described collectively, in the singular: "A great congregation will return here" (Jeremiah 31:7). In preparation for this state, therefore, one should make every endeavor to unify all the different kinds of Jews, in a spirit of the love of a fellow Jew and the unity of all Israel.

(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

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