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Ask any child or any child at heart, "What's the best part of baking a cake?" and they will undoubtedly tell you, "Getting a taste of the batter."No matter if it's a cake mix or a gourmet recipe from Bon Appetite, lickingthe raw batter off the beaters, spatula, and other assorted utensils is often as exciting as eating the cake itself.
Often, the batter doesn't even tast e as good as the cake will, but still, most of us can't resist "a little taste." (Some home bakers even confess that they have to make a double recipe ifthe kids are around, since so much of the batter disappears!) The batter is a preview or foretaste of what is to come.
Together with the delicious aroma of the cake actually baking, tasting the batter also helps create a hankering for the cake.
Do a good deed. Give more tzedaka. Light Shabbat candles. Enhance your Jewish knowledge. These are the messages we've been getting over the past few years as theways and means of preparing ourselves for the Messianic Era. They are the batter, the foretaste - so to speak - of what our lives willbe like at the time of the Redemption. The way we do a go od deed now will not be the way we'll do it in the Messianic Era. But it will be, to a certain extent, a preview, and this foretaste can helpcreate an appetite for the Redemption. The same is true of the Torah that we study now, the charity that we give now, the peace and harmony we foster now. They don't look, feel or eventaste like the real cake, but they're a foretaste and an appetite enhancer.
The Rebbe has stated numerous times that "the table has already been set" for the celebratory banquet we will enjoy at the beginning of the greatevent of the Messianic Era. What we're doing now is preparing the desserts,those mouth-watering delicacies that complement and crown the entirebanquet. In more ways than one, it's not just desserts.
This week's Torah portion, Teruma, opens with G-d's command to Moses: "Speak to the Children of Israel, that they may bring me a contribution, from every one whose heart prompts him...gold, and silver and copper. "As we find out further in the Torah reading, the Jews responded in droves,donating much of their wealth for the purpose of erecting the Tabernacle inthe desert. Vast amounts of precious metal were amassed, necessary for making all ofthe Tabernacle's many implements.Obviously, the person who don ates gold is at a higher level than one whodonates silver or copper - commodities that are worth far less. Our Sages interpreted the contribution of each metal as symbolic of thedifferent levels that exist in the giving of tzedaka (charity).
The Hebrew word for gold is zahav, an acronym for "he who gives in fullnessof health (ze hanoten bari)." This refers to the highest level of charity,when one shares his wealth with others solely to fulfill the mitzva oftzedaka. Kesef (silver), stands for k'shey esh sakanat pachad - when a person givestzedaka because he is fearful, hoping that the merit of his charity willprevent evil from befalling him. This level of giving tzedaka is lower thanthe first, for the giver is motivated by the desire for persona l gain. The lowest level of charity is that of copper - nechoshet, the letters ofwhich stand for netinat choleh she'omer tenu - the charitable donation ofone who is ill. This person, motivated by the desire to alleviate his ownsuffering, remembers to fulfill the mitzva of tzedaka only when he himselfis in pain, hoping thereby to alleviate his misery. On a deeper level, the differences between gold, silver and coppersymbolize the differences between the First, Second and Third Holy Temples. Gold, the most precious metal, alludes to the First Holy Temple, the mostperfect and complete of G-d's dwelling places. Silver, although valuable, is worth far less than gold. This alludes tothe Second Holy Temple, which was missing five items present in the First,among them the Ark of the Covenant.
These deficiencies reflected the fearful state of the mind of the Jewishpeople at that time, who worried that the Holy Temple would once again bedestroyed. Indeed, history proved that their fears were legitim ate.Lastly, copper is symbolic of our present condition, while we yet sufferthe pains of the exile. Like one who is stricken with any other illness, we must cry out to our Father in Heaven, begging Him to establish the Third and Final Holy Temple that will last forever.
Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vayigash 5752
by Judith Keeler
Growing up in the small Jewish community of Slovenia, Marian Furlan hadlittle sense of his Jewish identity.
His father had been a partisan in 1941 and later became a Yugoslav AirForce pilot. Marian's grandfather was an anti-fascist and an old communist.
Marian studied political science in the highest political school.Marian's own political beliefs went against the predominant politicalgrain. He re fused to join the Communist Party and left the country,emigrating to Israel. There, Marian met and married Smadar.
They moved to Toronto in the 1980's and became close to Rabbi Yisroel Landa, Chabad's rabbi to Toronto's large Hebrew-speaking community. Marian's home country, Slovenia, is small, with a population less than thesize of metropolitan Toronto. Geographically it is equivalent to the sizeof Wales. The Jewish community is tiny.In 1991, with the changes in Eastern Europe, Slovenia formally declared independence.
War with Yugoslavia broke out the same day.
The Slovenians, small in number and poorly armed, stood against one of thestrongest armies in Eastern Europe.
Yugoslavian army tanks advanced toward improvised barricades manned by ill-armed defenders. Meanwhile, more arms rolled into Slovenia from neighboringCroatia. The Slovenians' struggle was greeted largely with indifferencefrom the rest of the world.From the onset of the war, Marian Furlan received telephone calls fromother Slov enians living in Canada.
An ambassador of the World Slovenian Congress came to Marian's place ofwork, believing that because Marian's wife had served in the Israeli army,Marian might have access to arms.
Marian assured the Congress member that he could not help him in thatdepartment. As the conversation progressed, Marian mentioned that he wassoon to make his first trip to Crown Heights to visit the Rebbe Shlita.
The ambassador asked Marian to bring a letter to the Rebbe on behalf of theSlovenian people. Marian gladly agreed.The next day, Marian also received a letter for the Rebbe from Father IvanPlazar, a Catholic priest of Slovenians in Canada.
In the letter he wrote: "...Slovenians are hard working, live in peace with everyone (Jews and others) ... "Now these people are in a very difficult situation. They have been attacked by the communist army and are at war... "You are well aware how on Israel's journey toward the Promised Land, ... Amalek came andwaged war aga inst Israel. While Joshua fought, as long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. Moses's hands, grew tired; so Aaron and Hur supported his hands, ... And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people G-d helped them. "G-d is also our only help. We are praying to Him and our hands are growing tired. "Marian Furlan, who is living in Toronto and belongs to Lubavitch is bringing to you our request that you support our tired hands with your prayer and blessing. G-d, Creator of the world, is our only help and He could also bring our nation to victory and liberate them from the slavery of G-dless communism and attain freedom and peace without further bloodshed. "We would be very grateful for your prayers, help and advice.
"When Rabbi Landa and Marian arrived in New York that Friday, they receiveddevastating news.
The Yugoslav army was preparing chemical warf are, and the Yugoslav high command had issued orders for a ground assault to break all resistance.Their army had been further strengthened by rockets provided by the SovietUnion.The picture was bleak and getting darker. An air raid, launched against Ljublijana was recalled only twenty minutes from target. The all-outassault was to begin early the following week.
The crisis was heightening when Marian met the Rebbe. The Rebbe listened while Marian outlined the situation. The Rebbe accepted the letters of request and blessed the Slovenians and their cause and gave his blessing to Marian.
The blessing from the Rebbe took place at 10 a.m. EST, then 4:00p.m. in Slovenia, June 7, 1991.
Returning to Toronto, Marian learned the Yugoslav army had requested a cease-fire Sunday, June 7 shortly after 4 p.m.
Miraculously, war was over.
Not a single Slovenian life had been lost after 4 p.m., the time of the Rebbe's blessing!
To appreciate what might have been, one need only review the recent eventsin neighboring Bosnia.
In a catalogue of Slovenian army insignia and decorations which briefly outlines Slovenian history, the Rebbe's blessing is credited on the lastpage of the catalogue.
It reads: "... a Slovenian Jew personally delivered to New York a number of letters from the Slovenian community and individuals, requesting both moral and practical support for embattled Slovenia. These documents were received by World Jewish Leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson Shlita, and on the very day he blessed the Slovenian nation, hostilities ended.
"Reprinted from: The world of Lubavitch, Toronto.
MOSHIACH IS HERE. SO WHERE'S THE REDEMPTION?
A special, all-day seminar on the subject of Moshiach and the Redemptionwas held this past month in Brooklyn.
The seminar was broadcast throughout the world over special telephone linesvia World Lubavitch Communications Center.
Rabbi Isser Zalman Weisberg, of Toronto, was the main speaker at the event.
For three hours he addressed the assembled, revealing how all of the recentworld events have been foretold by our Prophets and are a direct prelude to the Redemption.
Rabbi Weisberg's talk was followed by questions and answers from theaudience directed at Chasidic scholars Rabbis Heshel Greenberg, Sim onJacobson and Shloma Majesky.
To obtain the five-tape set of the seminar, together with a study guide, send $25 to: Yeshiva - 383 Kingston Ave., #323 - Bklyn, NY 11213.
DON'T JUST SAY MAZAL TOV
For centuries, it has been customary for Jewish women to adorn thebirthing room and cradle with Psalm 121 (Shir Lama'alot) which states ourdeclaration of dependence upon G-d for our well-being and His commitmen t toguard us.
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, 1442 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11213 or by calling (718) 756-5700.
LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE
From a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
24 Tammuz, 5726 (1966)
In reply to your concrete questions, it would seem logical for you tocontinue with the type of occupation in which you had experience. No doubtit would also be easier for you to make connections in this line.
You ask whether you should wait until September to resume your job, orshould, in the meantime, seek employment in Atlantic City. You do notmention what prospects there may be for you in Atlantic City, but I do not think there is much of a future for you there.
With regard to the question about seeking psychiatric advice, judging by the description of your mood, etc., it would seem advisable. However, for reasons which need not be entered into here, most psychiatrists areprejudiced in relation to parents, and in relation to G-d and religion.
One should, therefore, reckon with this, and more importantly, one should try to find a psychiatrist who is free from such prejudices through the recommendation of a doctor-friend, or by independent inquiry.
Needless to say, it is most advisable for you to keep in contact with theelement (religious people) you mention as being new to you, involving alsothe study of a field of knowledge which is entirely new to you - Torah. Forthis would obviously broaden your horizons, in addition to the essentialaspect - the importance of the subject itself for its own sake.
I trust, therefore, that you will continue along these lines, and, as inall new ventures of this nature, it is necessary to apply you rself withenthusiasm and gladness of heart, which the subject merits, and which alsois the way to ensure the utmost success of intensive and extensive comprehension.
I was very much surprised to read in your letter, that by becoming religious you would have to seclude yourself from the world.
This is diametrically contrary to the concept of the Jewish religionand way of life, wherein, as you surely know, there is no such thing asmonasticism, celibacy, and the like.
It is even more foreign to the spirit and way of the teachings of Chasidut which emphasizes that the purpose of every Jew is not only to make himself personally a "vessel" for the Divine Presence, but also to do his utmost tomake his immediate surroundings (his share in the world) a fitting abodefor holiness.
This cannot be accomplished by secluding oneself from the world, or by withdrawing from it, but rather by actively participating in, contributing to it.
Of course, before this can be done, it is necessary to have the properpreparation, in order to forestall any possibility of falling under theinfluence of the material world with all its temptations and passions, and to ensure that one will be master over it.
I would like to make a further observation in regard to the idea (which I believe is not your own), that in order to acquire a particular system ordiscipline, it is first necessary to acquaint oneself with all othersystems, to be able to judge and verify its truth, to the extent of being noncommittal to any discipline, pending personal verification.
Such an idea is the best rationale and excuse that an individual can find(while he still needs a rationale) to indulge fully in a licentious life,and give free rein to his carnal appetites.
As I have often emphasized - if one will not accept the first two Commandments, "I am G-d, your G-d," and "You shall have no other gods,"one will inevitably break all other Commandments, including "You shall notmurder," "You shall not steal," not to mention "You shall not covet," however self-evident these precepts may seem.
This has been amply demonstrated by Hitler and the German nation. All the philosophies which the Germans had invented and expounded were of no availbecause they made the human mind the supreme and final judge, creating theconcept of a "superman," etc.
There is, obviously, quite a difference in a system which leads to human perfection through stressing the Divine qualities in man, which can bedeveloped only through self-discipline and the curbing of natural desiresand propensities. There can be no relationship between the two systems; they are diametrically contradictory.
This brings me to the final remark, which is actually the essential pointof the letter.
The problem in your case, as with others in simi lar situations, is thelack of self-discipline, and it is due to the fact that it means curbingone's desires and passions, and this lack of discipline, therefore, extendsitself also in other areas, such as regular study and daily routine, so asnot to have to think and decide each day what to do with it.
You should also bear in mind that the Yetzer Hora [the evil inclination] will try to counteract this effort by causing a depressed mood and plantingthe thought that by breaking the discipline, the mood will improve.
The truth is, however, that even if momentarily there seems to be a relief, it is only a fleeting one attained at the cost of a regulated and orderlylife which alone can assure success and contentment of a lasting nature.
Much more could be said in regard to all the above, but I trust the abovelines will be adequate.
Aaron was the elder brother of Moshe and the first High Priest--KohenGadol--of the Jewish people.
He was appointed by G-d to minister in the Sanctuary and to serve as a conduit for G-d's blessings to His people.
At the age of eighty-three, he joined his brother in the great mission of freeing the Jews from Egypt.
As Moshe was unable to speak properly, Aaron served as his spokesman before Pharaoh.
Aaron was the epitome of love for his fellow Jew, exerting himself torecon cile disputants, and "pursuing peace."
At his death, all the people mourned him deeply for thirty days.
A life-saving miracle occurred on 19 Shevat to the tzadik, Rabbi Aryeh Leib(1725-1812), known as the Shpoler Zeide.
Reb Aryeh Leib instructed his family to commemorate this date throughoutthe gene rations, and to this day, family banquets of the Shpoler Zeide'sdescendants are held annually.
In keeping with the Zeide's instructions, no waiters are hired, and every family member is personally involved in the service.
Special importance is put on in viting poor people to partake of the meal.
Descendants of the Shpoler Zeide should contact Rabbi Mordechai Kalmanson, at 718-756-0500.
When Reb Aryeh Leib, who was known as the Shpoler Zeide, had been rebbe for three years, there was terrible famine in the area.
The tzadik, whose love for the poor, the needy, the widowed was unbounded, felt compelled to provide for the thousands affected by the disaster. He could neither eat nor sleep, and his heartache was so great that for weekson end he couldn't bring himself to taste anything more than bread and tea.
As the famine spread to the furthest provinces of Russia, rebbes from the starving communities wrote to Shpola, begging Reb Aryeh Leib to raise astorm in the Heavens, and beg that the deadly decree be rescinded.
Who, if not he, a tzadik, known to work wonders, could accomplish this?
The Shpoler Zeide, on his part, wrote to ten of the greatest tzadikim ofthe day -- Reb Zusya of Hanipoli, Reb Yaakov Shimshon of Shipitovka, RebZe'ev of Zhitomir, and others -- requesting that they come to Shpola immediately.
They soon arrived and were seated at the long table of the Shpoler Zeide, and heard his awesome words: "My masters, I am taking the A-mighty to a din Torah, a lawsuit, and you are to serve as the judges. It is true that, according to the law of the Torah, the plaintiff must take his suit to the place where the defendant is, since in this unique case, 'there is no place devoid of His presence,' and since, more particularly, 'wherever ten are assembled the Divine Presence rests,' we will hold the court case here.
"The holy congregation agreed, and joined in prayer, their fervent supplications battering the Gates of Heaven.
The Shpoler Zeide then instructed his aide to announce: "By the order of those gathered here, I hereby proclaim that Reb Aryeh Leib, the son of Rachel, summons the A-mighty to a court-suit which will be duly conducted here in three days.
"The holy rebbes spent the next three days together, in fasting and prayer, and no one was permitted to interrupt their devotions.
On the fourth day, after they had concluded the morning prayers and they were still wrapped in their talleisim and adorned by their tefilin, the Shpoler Zeide solemnly signalled his aide to announce that the court case was about to begin.
"In the name of all the women and children of the Jews of Russia," the tzadik declared, "I hereby state my claim against the Defendant. Why does the Creator of the Universe not provide them with food, thereby preventing their death (G-d forbid) of hunger? Doesn't the Torah itself say, 'For unto Me are the Children of Israel bondsmen; they are My bondsmen'? Do we not have His promise, recorded by the Prophet Yechezkel, that even if His children should someday desire to go in the ways of the nations of the world, that this will never happen? One can draw the conclusion that the Children of Israel are the A-mighty's servants for all eternity.
In that case, they should, at least, be in the category of Jewish bondsmen. Jewish law teaches that a master is required to provide for the wife and children of his bondsman. Can the Al-mighty violate his own Torah so blatantly?
"Now I'm well aware that some clever prosecuting angel will argue in defens e of the Creator, saying that these servants are remiss in their service; that they don't serve their Master as well as they should. But to this bogus argument I have two replies: Firstly, where is it written that if a bondsman is lazy and doesn't work properly, his wife and children are to deprived of their sustenance? Secondly, if these servants are slack in their performance, their Master can fault no one, but Himself. For who else gave each servant an evil inclination whose whole job and purpose it is to drive them to abandon their loyalty and to destroy their desire to serve? Why, I can swear that if this evil inclination, which the Master Himself created, would cease to exist, they would become the most perfect servants possible!
"Ten judge-tzadikim consulted their tomes of Torah to search the law for the correct verdict. After the passage of some time they stood to deliver the unanimous ruling:
"This court finds in favor of Reb Aryeh Leib, the son of Rachel. The A-mighty is accordingly required, by whatever means at His disposal (and the whole world is His) to provide for the women and children of His People. And may the Heavenly Court above agree and support the verdict of this court in the World Below.
"The court pronounced its verdict three times.
Then the Shpoler Zeide asked to have vodka and refreshments served.
The tzadikim made a l'chaim and ate together in a joyous mood before departing for home. Five days after the momentous verdict had been reached, the government announced a shipment of thousands of tons of grain. Immediately, the grain prices fell and before long, there were ample fresh supplies. For the entire following year, bread was bountiful for all.
In the previous issue we discussed that everything in Jewish life requires preparation.
This is just as true of the imminent Redemption as it is of anything elsein Judaism.
One of the ways we can prepare for the Redemption is by learning more Torah in general and more about Moshiach and the Redemption in particular.
But how and why is studying Torah preparing for the Redemption?
Torah is analogous to light.
Light reveals that which is hidden and the light of Torah has the capacityto reveal the hidd en dimensions -- yechida-- of the Jew's soul, the veryhighest level of the soul inseparable from G-d.
Every person's yechida is intrinsically bound to the soul of Moshiach, whois the yechida of the Jewish people.
Study of Chasidut, the inner teachings a nd more hidden aspects of theTorah, serves to help us reveal the hidden dimensions of our souls.
Additionally, the Baal Shem Tov was told by the soul of Moshiach that Moshiach would come when the Baal Shem Tov's teachings, Chasidut, would bespread thro ughout the world.Learning about Moshiach and the Redemption, has more benefits.
We are enjoined to believe in and await Moshiach's coming.
But we can do this properly only if we're "educated consumers" -- i.e., ifwe know what we're believing in, whom w e are awaiting, and why we want theRedemption.
Without this knowledge we can't possibly fulfill the mitzva of awaiting anddesiring Moshiach properly.
Also, learning about what life will be like in the Messianic Era allows usto begin incorporating some of those details into our present-day lives.
By learning that the world will be peaceful, we can work on becoming morepeaceful and harmonious in our own lives.
By knowing that we will want to study Torah and observe mitzvot, we canbegin incorporating mitzvot into our lives, now.
Learning more Torah is as easy as picking up a book in your Jewish bookstore or calling your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for a list of classes.
Learning more about Moshiach is as easy as picking up your telephone anddialing 1-800-4-MOSHIACH. (In NY dial (718) 2-MOSHIACH; or (718) 953-6168) for a more detailed learning program.
And they shall make for Me a sanctuary (Ex. 25:8)
According to Maimonides, this positive commandment refers not only to theerection of the Sanctuary, but the building of the First, Second and Third Holy Temples as well.
When Moshiach comes and the Third Holy Temple is established, the original Sanctuary built by Moses will also be revealed, for a special connection exists between the two.
Just as the Sanctuary was built in the desert, by an individual who himselfnever set foot in the Holy Land, so will the Third Holy Temple reflect thegood deeds we have performed and our service of G-d throughout the present exile.
... make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst (Ex. 25:8)
"Within each and every Jew," comment our Sages, noting that every Jew is holy and considered a sanctuary to G-d in his own right.
Throughout the long exile, the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem always retained its holiness, as it states, "The Divine Presence never parts f romthe Western Wall," for the destruction only damaged the upper building andnot its foundation.Likewise, t he sanctuary within every Jew, the holy Jewish soul, alwaysremain whole and untouched. Only the "building" is subject to spiritualdefilement.
Of every man whose heart prompts him to give you shall take My offering. (Ex. 25:2)
In order for the Divine Presence to rest among the Children of Israel within the Sanctuary, the Jews needed to exhibit a strong love and desireto cleave to G-d.
Yet love cannot be commanded; love must flow from a feeling of good will.
Contributions to the Sanctuary, therefore, had to be voluntary, without coercion.
(Rabbi Avrohom of Sochtchov)
Reb Yitzchak Aizik of Homil said:"When Moshiach comes and the dead are resurrected, among them will riseour great ances tors and all of the righteous of previous generations. Whomwill they seek out to rejoice with? -- the simple Jews. Moses will join inthe very first dance with them, for upon them the Torah stands.
(the Previous Rebbe quoted in "From Exile to Redemption")