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When it comes to getting the house ready for Passover; teamwork is essential to do the job right and every member of the family can and should participate.
If you consider the task of removing all traces of chametz (leaven) from your possession as an adventure, it makes it more fun and rewarding. And when you're having fun, everyone wants to join in.
Consider cleaning according to the ABC's:
Attack the attic.
But remember that you only have to go through places that accumulate chametz during the year. Beware of bedrooms, books and even briefcases. Even if your policy is no food in bedrooms, crumbs wind up there. Chametz also wedges itself in books if you eat while you read.
Clear the cabinets, chairs, car and closets of chametz. This is a perfect time to have the carpets cleaned, too.
Deal with the drawers, and desks.
Eliminate your ego. What does ego have to do with Passover and chametz? To make a long Chasidic teaching short, chametz contains leaven and rises. Matza doesn't have any leaven and therefore remains flat. As we rid our physical surroundings of leaven, we should try to eradicate ourselves of our pompous, haughty and self-righteous aspects, those parts of our personality which grow and rise.
Face the freezer and all the furniture. And, if you've contemplated cleaning your upholstery, now is the time.
Go for the garage, garbage cans and wastebaskets.
Hide the high chair. Unless you still need to use it. If so, thoroughly scrub it, and cover the trays.
Ignore the idea to quit. You're nearly half-way through!
Joyously de-chametz the jig-saw puzzles and all other toys.
It's easy not to be happy when you have 300 pieces of Lego to clean -- all with Cheerios mushed in. But think of all the quiet playtime these toys encourage. And think of all the joy that the children (or grandchildren) give you when you're playing with them!
Keep at the kitchen and kitchen appliances. The kitchen is major so ask a rabbi or rebbetzin how to make yours kosher for Passover.
Lather the luggage. Go through your suitcases and carry-on bags.
Make-over the medicine cabinet. Many non-prescription medicines contain chametz. If you must take medicine during Passover, consult your local rabbi (probably a nice guy who would love to hear from you).
Nurture your needs. Take a break. Sit down with a drink and relax for a few minutes. While you're relaxing peruse one of the many interesting Hagadas available today and you'll be preparing yourself mentally and spiritually for the holiday, as well.
Overtake your office. Unless you're taking the whole holiday off, you have to clean your office, as well.
Peruse your pockets, purse, and porch for chametz.
Quarantine your quarterback. Or, for that matter, anyone who goes running through your ready-for-Passover rooms with chametz.
Ready the refrigerator. Use up all those open jars and then clean the fridge well.
Sell your chametz. Jewish law prohibits one from owning chametz on Passover. Through your rabbi or local Chabad Center you can "sell" your chametz for the duration of the holiday.
Tackle the telephone. It's probably sticky if you talk while you're eating.
Unclutter the utility room.
Validate your vacuum cleaner by throwing out or emptying the bag after you vacuumed the last chametz.
Wash the wall where all the cake batter splatters when you bake.
Xerox your favorite recipes which can be used for Passover since your cookbooks are probably so full of chametz that they are unsalvageable.
Yield chametz from your yacht. Although, if you have a yacht you're probably not doing most of the cleaning yourself anyway.
Zee, it wasn't so bad after all!
Note: Chametz = Any foods made of wheat, rye barley, oats and spelt, or their derivatives. The exception is Passover matza and products made under strict rabbinical supervision.
Throughout history, G-d has revealed Himself to both Jewish and non- Jewish prophets. The manner of revelation, however, is different in each case, as underscored in this week's Torah portion, Vayikra.
Moses, the greatest Jewish prophet who ever lived, merited the highest level of prophecy, as our Sages learned from the verse: "Vayikra -- And G-d called to Moses." The prophecy of Bilaam, on the other hand, the greatest of the gentile prophets, was of an inferior nature: "And G-d met Bilaam (Vayikar)."
At first glance the difference between the two Hebrew words appears nominal: one word has the Hebrew letter "alef," the other does not. Yet this tiny alef, in fact, contains a world of difference.
According to Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, the word "vayikra" implies affection, love and holiness; "vayikar" comes from the root word meaning uncleanliness and pollution. Moreover, the alef alludes to "Alufo shel olam" -- "the Master of the world" -- a fact which is further emphasized by its numerical equivalent of one, representative of G-d's absolute unity.
"Vayikra," with an alef, is symbolic of the Jew's connection with G-d, a permanent uniting of two halves; "vayikar," without the alef, implies a temporary, impure connection between two entities that do not share an intrinsic bond.
In a broader sense, G-d's call to Moses is directed to every single Jew, for all Jews are said to contain a spark of Moses within. In truth, G-d reveals Himself to each individual Jew, in every generation -- and precisely with love and affection.
Rashi adds that "vayikra" alludes to the affectionate manner in which the heavenly angels call to each other. Just as there is no competition or jealousy among angels, so too does G-d's revelation to every individual Jew have only positive consequences, fostering love and unity between His children.
Moreover, G-d's overwhelming love for each and every Jew should inspire us to emulate Him and thus strengthen our own sense of Jewish unity. If G-d loves and reveals Himself in such a positive manner to every Jew, surely we must follow His ways and relate to each of our brethren accordingly.
Thus, completely united as one, the Jewish people will march toward the Final Redemption with Moshiach, when we will merit to see the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy: "G-d will be King over the entire earth; on that day G-d will be one and His name one."
Adapted from Hitva'aduyot 5749 of the Rebbe, Vol. 2
The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman
by Rivka M. Geisinsky
About three years ago, Reb Shimon Deutsch, a Manhattan Jew in his mid- sixties, had occasion to be in Moscow. While in shul there, he met an elderly Jew named Reb Simcha, a shochet (ritual slaughterer). Reb Simcha was living in Moscow at the time because the Rebbe had asked him to stay there and act as shochet for the community.
Reb Simcha and Reb Shimon struck up a friendship on that cold day in Moscow and while they were talking, Reb Simcha inquired about Reb Shimon's family.
Reb Shimon confided that he had two sons and two daughters, all, thank G-d, married; however, his two sons were married for nine years and four years respectively, and were both without children.
Furthermore, sighed Reb Shimon, his two daughters did have children but it had been many years, and they were getting older. Both daughters yearned for more children.
As Reb Shimon spoke, it was clear from the expression on his face and from the tone of his voice that his children's problems had become his problems, only more so. He loved his children, his children-in-law, and his beloved grandchildren, and only wanted everyone to have G-d's blessings in bounty. If only there were something he could do to help them! He would go to the ends of the earth...
Reb Simcha's eyes lit up. "Let me tell you a story. This conversation that we are having was meant to be. Now listen...
"Eighty-six years ago, a heartbroken, childless couple traveled to a rabbi who was a descendant of the Alter Rebbe (the first Rebbe of Chabad). The couple poured out their hearts to the rabbi, telling him that they felt their lives were empty without a child. Could the rabbi bless them, or advise them in any way?
"To their delight, the rabbi assured them that there was hope. He instructed them to travel to the resting place of the Alter Rebbe. There they were to say four specific chapters of Psalms.
"The couple undertook the journey immediately. Within that same year, they became the joyful parents of a baby boy, and they promptly named him Simcha.
"I know the story so well," smiled Reb Simcha, "because it is the story of my own birth!"
Reb Shimon listened intently to the story. It had to be Divine Providence that he was sitting here in a shul in Moscow, thousands of miles from his home in New York City, and hearing this strange story. Reb Simcha urged his new-found friend to make the trip to the Alter Rebbe's resting place in the village of Haditch.
Reb Shimon decided to make the trip for the sake of his children despite the difficulties involved in traveling in Russia. He traveled to Poltova, the city nearest to the little village of Haditch, after hiring two armed bodyguards to go with him. However, upon reaching Poltova he discovered that the taxi drivers were afraid of driving to Haditch, a territory where anti-semitism thrives unpunished.
He could not locate a single driver willing to risk his life by driving to Haditch. Although he offered exorbitant sums to a few drivers, nobody was interested. They took one look at Reb Shimon and knew that such an obviously Orthodox Jew would endanger them, too.
Friday arrived and Reb Shimon still had not convinced any driver to take him to Haditch. However, he had come this far, he loved his children dearly, and he wasn't about to give up and turn back now. So he spent Shabbat in Poltova, together with his armed bodyguards.
On Shabbat afternoon a man approached Reb Shimon and said, "I heard that you want to go to the Alter Rebbe's resting place in Haditch. I am a retired fighter pilot and the custom in Russia is that, when a solder retires, he may take his gun with him. I have a submachine gun, I am not afraid, and I am willing to take you on Sunday to Haditch."
Sunday dawned bright and clear, and the retired fighter pilot, Reb Shimon and the two bodyguards set off for Haditch. They reached the Alter Rebbe uneventfully.
Since Reb Simcha had not known which four chapters of Psalms his parents had been told to say, Reb Shimon said the entire Book of Psalms that day in Haditch. Reb Shimon begged the Alter Rebbe to help his children as he had helped Simcha's parents 86 years earlier. And then the group headed home in the fighter pilot's car.
Again the trip went smoothly. Upon arriving in Poltova, Reb Shimon tried to pay the pilot. But the man would take no payment and would not give Reb Shimon his name. To this day Reb Shimon has no idea who this mysterious "Elijah type" person was.
Now for the part we've all been waiting for. Nine months later, Reb Shimon had four simchas in his family. Yes, both sons had baby boys and both daughters had baby girls.
Although a private person by nature, Reb Shimon has allowed us to print this story with his name in order to perhaps help others in his situation. He humbly thanks G-d for blessing his children!
Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter
Do you know on which side of a door to put a mezuza?
"A mezuza should be fixed on the right, as one faces the room into which the door swings. This rule does not apply to the front door. On the front door the mezuza is always on one's right as one enters the house."
12 Cheshvan, 5711 
...With regard to your question concerning the shidduch [marriage prospect] for your sister-in-law with a bachelor of about 35 years, I would suggest that inquiries be made to find out why he did not marry before, and if the reasons are such that do not affect a Jewish home, it would be advisable for the two people to get better acquainted and ascertain what mutual attractions they have.
I was very pleased to read in your letter that your son desires to study for semicha [rabbinic ordination] and that the Rosh Yeshiva [dean of the yeshiva] regards him as fitting for it. I was also glad to hear that he devotes time to strengthening Yiddishkeit among the youth. I am sure you will encourage him to continue along this course and will help him achieve his ambition.
As to the question of a shidduch for your son, about which you write that you are afraid to do anything in this matter, not knowing if it would be suitable, the Torah teaches us not to rely on miracles where things can and ought to be approached in natural ways and means.
However, while doing so it is necessary to bear in mind that these so-called "natural" ways and means are also miracles ordained by G-d, especially in the case of marriage, as it is said in Proverbs: An intelligent wife is a gift from G-d. At any rate, an attempt should be made in the usual way, and G-d will certainly lead it in such a way as to ensure a suitable and fitting wife for your son.
As to your apology for troubling me and your question whether you can do anything in return, this matter cannot be termed "trouble." You may have heard the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov as to how the three loves -- love of G-d, love of Israel, and love of the Torah -- are one, and a means to "Thou shalt love G-d thy G-d" is "Thou shalt love thy friend as thyself." There is no question of trouble here at all. May G-d grant that every one of us, including you, do all you and every one of us can to help others.
However, since you have offered to do something in return, and everything is connected with Divine Providence, I am enclosing herewith a copy of the Talk of Shabbat Bereishis. I call your attention to paragraphs 21 and 22, where you will find some suggestions as to what you could do to strengthen Torah and Yiddishkeit.
As to what this would mean to me -- I refer you to the Rambam (Hilchot Teshuva, ch. 3;4) where he states that "Everyone should regard the world on the basis that the good and bad deeds are equally balanced. Thus, through a bad deed one tips the scale of the bad side, G-d forbid, and through a good deed one tips the scale on the good side." Therefore, if you follow the suggestions in the above-mentioned paragraphs, you will increase the merits of the entire world, thus benefiting me also.
It would interest me to know what "fixed times" you have for the study of the Torah in general, and no doubt for the study of Chasidut also.
As already mentioned, you need not hesitate in writing to me at any time, but you must be patient if my reply is delayed because of pressure of work.
I hope to hear good news from you.
Thank you for your discussion re Heart to Heart and children with Down's Syndrome [L'Chaim 406]. I'm a Psychiatrist who has worked a lot with the retarded and it really touched me.
I forwarded the article to an e-mail friend who was astounded. She is an RN who is thinking about starting a family later in life and was wrestling with that very subject that very day. She replied by praising G-d for His usual impeccable sense of timing and here is my reply to her:
G-d's pretty sneaky sometimes. <grin>
That family's decision re: Down's was a tough call. I've seen D.S. kids with horrible medical problems yet, at the same time, they are some of the most loving people on this planet. Smiling and hugging everybody in sight is typical behavior.
I remember a little Down's girl I cared for. Oh boy, could she smile and hug. Her heart condition finally took her. Her mom said she didn't like to call her daughter retarded but rather called her, "simple." Of course, this phrase is often used as an insult and I asked the mother what she meant. Mom replied, "G-d made things so simple for her she had nothing to do but love me."
Please feel free to share this with your friends at Heart to Heart or otherwise use as you see fit.
Thomas G. Shafer, M.D.
On the second of Nissan, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Chabad Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Rashab, passed away. The following account of his passing was written by Rabbi Dovber Rivkin who was the Rebbe Rashab's attendant in his latter years.
"On the eve of Shabbat, I went into the holy room of the Rebbe Rashab and I saw that his condition had changed drastically. His face was aflame. The doctors said that they had done all they could. Toward evening, the Chasidim gathered to pray and recite Psalms, knowing that only a miracle could save the Rebbe now.
"On Shabbat, as evening approached, the main doctor, Dr. Landau, told a few of the elder Chasidim to inform the Rebbe Rashab's son, the Rebbe Rayatz [Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, who succeeded his father as Rebbe] that now was the time to speak to his father.
"After Shabbat, the Rebbe Rayatz entered his father's room. The Rebbe Rashab looked at his son and told him clearly, 'I am going to heaven. I am leaving my writings for you. Take me into the shul and we will be together.'
"The Rebbe Rayatz became visibly shaken by his father's words. When the Rebbe Rashab saw his son's reaction he said, 'You are shocked? You are shocked? Intellect [rules the heart]! Intellect...!'
"The Chasidim then honored the Rebbe's request and moved him into the main shul, the same shul in which he had prayed and disseminated his Torah thoughts.
"A few hours after midnight, the Rebbe Rayatz saw that his father wanted to bless him and so he came closer. Afterward, the Rebbe Rashab blessed the Rebbe Rayatz's three daughters.
"When the Rebbe Rayatz saw that his father's breathing had almost stopped he shouted out, 'Father, Father!' The hearts of all who were standing nearby were torn to pieces. This happened a few times, and each time the Rebbe Rashab started breathing again. After more time passed the Rebbe Rashab's breathing stopped altogether.
"The doctors examined the Rebbe Rashab and then covered his face. The holy soul of the Rebbe Rashab went up toward the Heavens."
May the Rebbe Rashab and all of his illustrious ancestors continue to be advocates on High for all the Jewish people and the entire world until the Redemption at which time we will all be reunited with our loved ones.
Every one of your offerings you shall season with salt (Leviticus 2:13)
Just as food which is not salted is tasteless and unpalatable, so too must the Jew's service of G-d and performance of the Torah's commandments be "well-seasoned" and filled with enthusiasm.
If any one of you bring an offering (literally, an offering of himself) to G-d (Leviticus 1:2)
In the times of the Holy Temple, a Jew who committed a sin brought an animal, an offering of his flock, in order to seek atonement. Nowadays, however, the sacrifices we offer G-d come from our very selves, i.e., minimizing the pleasures of the body, fasting, etc.
(Rabbi Chaim Vital)
Whatever is leaven, and of any honey, you shall not sacrifice [it as] an offering made by fire (Leviticus 2:11)
"Leaven" and "honey" are opposite and contradictory tastes. All extremes, the Torah teaches, are dangerous and harmful; a person should always strive to walk the middle road, the "golden mean."
(Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson)
A burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to G-d (Leviticus 1:9)
Obviously, explains Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, the pleasure G-d derives from our sacrifices is not because of their smell. Rather, His pleasure ("nachat ruach," a play on the words "rei'ach nicho'ach" -- "sweet savor") is simply because His will is being fulfilled -- without question and without regard for personal benefit. In fact, there is no greater example of pure "acceptance of the yoke of heaven" than bringing a burnt-sacrifice that is entirely consumed by fire. For there is no rational reason to do so other than its being G-d's command.
(Likutei Sichot Vol. 32)
By Simcha Abramowitz
Yeruchem was a dedicated Chasid of Reb Dov Ber, the Mittler Rebbe. This Chasid enjoyed an abundance of wealth. Each season, the Chasid's muddy brown soil reaped hundreds of kilos of fresh produce. The workers of the wealthy farmer were paid well and fed well. Huge heaping sacks of rust-colored, brown potatoes stocked the shelves of the chasid's cellar.
The produce was used to feed the poor of the town of Lubavitch. Over time, the skinny peasant workers grew into healthy strong laborers. Sixty percent of all profits on Yeruchem's farm went to tzedaka. The farmer had enough out of his 40% to live quite comfortably. He'd stroll through the fields reciting Psalms each day. Each month, Yeruchem held a big Chasidic gathering, which the Mittler Rebbe would often attend. The songs and melodies made a profound effect on all present.
One winter, Yeruchem took ill. He felt it was time for him to pass on. Yeruchem transferred all his wealth to his only son, Moshe. A large group of peasants assembled at Yeruchem's funeral.
Moshe, the next link in the chain, accepted the inheritance. His father's farm, his father' private cellar, and all of his father's businesses, transferred to Moshe's responsibility. Moshe, the incumbent benefactor of his father's wealth, went to the Mittler Rebbe for a blessing.
Upon arrival at the village, Moshe went directly to the Rebbe. The Rebbe said: "I wish you, Reb Moshe, much success in your financial endeavors. Money is given to us by G-d, not because of our efforts to obtain it. G-d has a special mission in mind for each of us. Your mission in having this money is to support people or institutions in need of money. Remember, you can lose this money as easily as you got it..."
Reb Moshe listened intently to the Rebbe. This was a hard mission, due to his miserly nature. But initially Reb Moshe gave charity generously. Pretty soon, though, Reb Moshe started to cut back on his charitable contributions. He was afraid of overspending. In a short while, he totally gave in to his miserly inclination, giving very little charity. He invested most of his money in businesses which he operated. He spent a little on himself. The rest of his money was stored in is cellar in a huge chest. The soft wads of paper bills sat snugly inside of their wrappers. The heaving wooden chest stood formidably in back of the rickety wooden staircase. No one would every take it away...
The Rebbe sensed what was happening to Reb Moshe and sent a messenger to his chasid.
The messenger arrived and told Reb Moshe that his fortunes would dwindle, unless he would take the Rebbe's advice. Reb Moshe's face instantly flushed with embarrassment. The men talked. By the time the messenger left, Reb Moshe was convinced. Reb Moshe checked his storage cellar that morning. He fished out three sacks of potatoes, and several stacks of bills. He ordered his son to send it to a needy family. Days went by. Weeks went by. Reb Moshe felt regret over the potatoes and money he had given away. He slowed down his tzedaka donations.
Again the Rebbe sent a messenger to warn Reb Moshe and again Reb Moshe started giving charity once more, but this time halfheartedly. Soon, he slowed down his charitable donations and even cut down his farmhands' salaries.
Weeks passed. Reb Moshe cut his workers' salaries once more and totally stopped giving charity.
Over the next few weeks, Moshe suffered major financial setbacks. One by one, his businesses went bankrupt. Then Reb Moshe's plantation was swamped by torrents of heavy rains. By the end of the three-day deluge, Reb Moshe's plantations lay in desolation. Reb Moshe had only one hope left: his money chest. The worried Chasid lowered his shaking body down the cellar's stairwell. Moshe bent down slowly to inspect he chest. His fingers trembled. He held his breath. Then he looked.
The money was so soaked that it crumbled into paper flakes. Such an extreme and unexpected calamity can only be from heaven, he realized. The sobbing Chasid had lost all his crops, all his money, all his businesses, and he still owed money to his creditors. This time, Reb Moshe traveled to the Mittler Rebbe. He cried bitter tears of regret, admitting his wrongdoing, and begging for help.
The Rebbe gave Reb Moshe a blessing to rebuild all his businesses and to replant his crops. But in order for G-d to grant the blessing Reb Moshe would have to fulfill his pledge to share his profits by giving charity generously.
Through a contrite heart, Reb Moshe cured himself of his obsession with money. With the Rebbe's blessings he became wealthy again and now gave charity abundantly.
To believe in the coming of Moshiach and to await it are two separate concepts.
"To believe" is a doctrinal affirmation as for any other part of the Torah: affirming the principle of the eventual coming of Moshiach, whenever that may be.
"To await" m eans an active and eager anticipation of the Redemption, that it occur speedily: "I await him every day..." literally.
(From: "Moshiach", by Rabbi J.I. Schochet)