Routine | Living with the Rebbe | A Slice of Life | A Call To Action
The Rebbe Writes | A Word from the Director | Thoughts that Count | It Once Happened
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That's what a conversation sounds like when the person you're speaking to starts repeating himself. And that's certainly what most of us hear when we answer the phone only to be accosted by yet another tele-marketing pitch.
Most people will agree that repetition is monotonous because it seems so routine. And yet, Jewish teachings dictate that we pray regularly, but that our prayers shouldn't be routine. (Rabbi Shimon said...When you pray, do not make your prayer routine... [Ethics of the Fathers, 2:13]).
A Jew's day traditionally begins with the Modeh Ani prayer: a prayer of thanks to G-d for allowing us to wake up in the morning. Throughout the course of the day there are three prayer services with specified prayers and parameters as to the times in which these prayers must be said. In addition, there are blessings to recite before and after partaking of food, blessings for happy occasions and sad occasions (G-d forbid), and everything in between.
So what can we do, in fact, to guarantee that our prayers won't be routine? That despite waking up for the zillionth time (well, how about for the 14,600th time if you're 40 years old) we still thank G-d with enthusiasm?
Consider an actor who has been "on Broadway" in the same show for years. Somehow, he manages to come out to every performance and give the audience his all, day after day, performance after performance. If the audience felt that the cast was just going through the motions, like it was all a big bore, a chore, a routine, the cast would be out of a job, or at least off Broadway. So the actors find a way to infuse each performance with enthusiasm and excitement, new and fresh energy.
It's true that we don't see our Divine Audience in front of us as we go through our daily prayers. There are no spotlights, either. But knowing that we have an absolutely Divine audience around might just help.
For those of us who have yet to become so accomplished that we pray regularly (and then find our prayers becoming routine), consider the statements of Dr. Herbert Benson, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who found that praying regularly is beneficial to healing:
"In the early days of teaching patients the relaxation response [described in his article Reason to Believe in Natural Health magazine from which this quote was taken], in which many chose a spiritual focus, it occurred to me that this was simply prayer. Perhaps, I thought, this tendency of humans to worship and believe was rooted in our physiology, written into our genes and encoded in our very makeup. Perhaps instinctively, human beings had always known that worshipping a higher power was good for them... I speculated that humans are, in a profound way, 'wired for G-d.'"
Wherever, whatever, however you pray, do it regularly but not routinely.
In order to understand the concept of "spreading the wellsprings [of Torah] outward," we need to examine the physical properties of a well.
A well's water gushes spontaneously from its source without waiting for the thirsty person to come and drink. Likewise, its waters flow far and wide, saturating everything with which they come in contact.
In a similar vein, when the objective is bringing the waters of Torah to other Jews, we cannot wait until they come and ask to drink its knowledge. The Torah, the sustenance of life itself, must be brought to wherever Jews are found.
This approach originated with Aaron the High Priest, who "loved peace and pursued peace, loved his fellow creatures and brought them nearer to Torah." Aaron did not wait until others took the first step, but went "outside" to draw them closer to Judaism.
Significantly, Aaron "brought them nearer to Torah," and not the other way around. The Torah's principles were never altered or compromised to fit a given situation. Rather, each individual Jew was brought to the Torah, the same true and eternal Torah that has stood immutable for thousands of years.
This characteristic service of Aaron is alluded to in this week's Torah portion, Beha'alosecha -- literally, "When you light the lamps."
As High Priest, Aaron's job entailed kindling the menora in the Sanctuary.
A candle is symbolic of the Jewish soul, as it states, "the candle of G-d is the soul of man." Aaron's function was to light the candle, i.e., ignite the soul of every Jew, for every Jew possesses a G-dly soul, no matter how concealed it may be. By lighting this "candle," Aaron revealed the flame that burns inside each and every one of us.
Furthermore, Aaron made sure that the candle would continue to burn without his assistance. It is not enough to uncover the G-dly soul that exists in the recesses of every Jewish heart; the soul must be so aroused that it continues to burn with love of G-d and perpetually seeks to reunite with its Source Above.
Thus, "spreading the wellsprings outward" requires that we go "outside," beyond our own "space" to awaken the hidden spark of G-d that is the birthright of every Jew. For no matter how hidden it may seem to be, all that is necessary is that we find it and fan its flame until, like a candle after the match which lit it has been removed, it continues to burn by itself.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. 2
Eddie Fishbaum and his brother Ari
by Colum Lynch
Matthew Wootliff, a British textile executive, has been repressing a largely unfilled craving for New York-style pizza ever since he moved to Bucharest to export men's underwear to Rumania from Western Europe.
So when Wootliff recently heard about Broadway's Jerusalem 2, a Manhattan pizza restaurant that delivers, via Federal Express couriers, to any location in the world within 48 hours, he went on something of binge.
He placed long-distance orders for three of Broadway Jerusalem's "New York Flying Pizzas" as birthday presents for his girlfriend, his mother and his brother in London. And he had three more cheesy packages delivered to friends in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Germany.
"I'm a big pizza fan," said Wootliff, in a telephone interview from his office in Bucharest. "I'm going to order in pizza for a meeting so I can see the looks on the faces of my Romanian workmates as they watch the Federal Express guy bring it in. I'll tell them 'Oh, this must be the pizza from New York.'"
Although Broadway Jerusalem's flying pizzas arrive at their destination cold and a bit congealed, they have become one of the hottest new edible exports among the international kosher set.
Ever since the 21-year-old pizza establishment began shipping its pizzas around the globe in November, Broadway Jerusalem has cultivated a following, largely through advertisements in Jewish newspapers, among kosher-conscious customers from Brookline to Berlin.
In March alone, Eddie Fishbaum, Broadway Jerusalem's Israeli owner, said he shipped more than 2,000 pizzas by Federal Express. Many paid up to $65 for the privilege of having a $14 pizza delivered to their door or impressing a friend or loved one. (In the United States, the price of a pie is $19.95, including Federal Express delivery.) And the firm's market has expanded from the mostly Jewish customer base to health-conscious vegetarians in San Francisco and Europe.
"There is no other all natural fresh frozen pie on the market, kosher or not kosher, there is no New York pizza pie on the market," Shainy Bat-Sheva, the company's chief marketer and Eddie's fiancee, offered in the finest pitch she could must . "The combination is lethal."
Still, it requires a stretch of the imagination to comprehend why someone would go to the expense of shipping day-old pizza over 10,000 miles for as much as five times the normal cost.
Perhaps it's the mere novelty of it all. Or maybe it's that kosher food is not that easy to come by in some parts of the world.
Johnson Kaithara, a garment worker from Kerala, India, who lunches at Broadway Jerusalem's New York restaurant every Friday, said it is simply the taste and texture of the pizza that makes it worth the extra price of postage.
"I like the pizza better than the other guys, it's not too saucy, not too cheesy, it's flat and thin," he said, as he chewed a slice. "If I lived in Canada I would pay a reasonable amount for it, I'd pay like $40 or $50 if I had to get it shipped over there."
Much of the credit for the initial success of the new pizza delivery service, said Fishbaum, belongs to "the Rebbe" -- the Lubavitcher spiritual leader, Menachem Schneerson, whose image is pasted on the walls of the restaurant's second floor office.
Before launching his flying pizza operation, Fishbaum received a visit from an Israeli rabbi. After soliciting a $350 donation to buy tefilin (a leather prayer accessory that wraps around the arm and head) for a Russian Jew who had recently arrived in Israel, the rabbi pledged to leave a prayer at the Rebbe's grave site on behalf of the restaurant.
"He wrote, 'I wish this flying kosher pizzas will be successful so that all Jews can enjoy kosher food instead of eating non-kosher, G-d forbid! ' " Fishbaum recalled. "I said, 'that's great, we're going to get a blessing.' "
The payoff came in less than two weeks. First, an ad placed in the Jewish Press, a Jewish publication that is read all around the world generated hundreds of requests for flying pizzas. It was followed by a favorable review of the flying pizza in the [New York] Jewish Week. At the top of the page, a photo of the Rebbe shows him glancing over at the review and waving.
Fishbaum believes the appearance of the Rebbe was no coincidence. And he said that his new service is changing the spiritual lives of his customers.
Reprinted from The Boston Globe
"One should study, not simply recite, Pirkei Avot [Ethics of the Fathers] throughout the summer. Each Shabbat, everyone should study at least one Mishna from Pirkei Avot in depth, availing oneself of the commentaries on the Mishna." ( The Rebbe, 13 Sivan, 5751)
Two books in English based on the Rebbe's teachings are In the Paths of Our Fathers (published by Sichos in English 718-778-5436) and Beyond the Letter of the Law (published by Vaad HaNachos HaTemimim 718-774-6448). Another excellent work in English is Ethics from Sinai by Rabbi I. Bunim (Feldheim Publishers.)
MIGHT AND MERCY
10th of Sivan, 5725 
I am in receipt of your letter, in which you ask why the second benediction of the Shemone Esrei [the Silent Prayer] begins with the Divine Name connoting Adnut ("Lordship"), while it concludes with the Tetragramaton [the 4-letter name of G-d ].
In general, this question belongs primarily in the realm of the Kabala, where the various Divine Names and their significance are explained. However, all matters of Torah are reflected in all four levels of Torah interpretation (Pshat, Remez, Drush, Sod--Pardes), and the same is true of the subject matter in question.
The benediction of Gevurot, which begins with Ata Gibor ("You are mighty"), and subsequently -- "Who is like unto You, Baal Gevurot," etc., emphasizes G-d's attribute of might rather than that of mercy. For the same reason the resurrection of the dead is included in this benediction, because the resurrection has to be preceded by death, which is an act of G-d's might rather than of mercy (though one attribute contains the other in a latent form).
Even the section of the benediction which begins with the words "You sustain the living in mercy" also belongs in the realm of Adnut, since G-d in His attribute of Lordship is "responsible" for His subjects, while the word "mercy" is mentioned here because G-d sustains also the undeserving. But the act of sustaining the world is, generally, an act of Gevurot.
So much for the contents of the benedictions. However, when it comes to the conclusion of it, as indeed is the case with every other of the eighteen benedictions, the Tetragramaton is invariably used, because regardless of the content of the benediction, where it is characterized by the attribute of "might," or "mercy," or it is a prayer for knowledge, etc., we pray that G-d in His mercy grant us our request that the content of the benediction be materialized in us, in a practical way, in our daily life. For the world as a whole was created primarily in the attribute of mercy.
Seeing your interest in the inner meaning of prayers, which is one of the three pillars on which the world at large (macrocosm) and the small world of the individual (microcosm) rest, I am confident that the devotional aspect of your Divine service is on the proper level.
And in order that it be on the proper level, it is necessary to bear in mind "Know before Whom thou art standing," which in turn requires preparatory study of the Torah and of the inner aspects of the Torah, which discuss G-d's greatness and majesty and wonders, etc. Such study must, of course, be in the proper spirit, namely with a view to translating it into actions and deeds in the daily life.
May G-d accept your prayers for the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good.
Summer is a great time for kids. Without the pressures of school, children have the opportunity to spend their summer vacation in enjoyable and educational pursuits. The summer schedule is particularly suitable for children to grow spiritually, by attending a day or overnight camp with a vibrant, exciting and Torah-true Jewish atmosphere.
Each year, without exception, as the summer approached, the Rebbe emphasized the importance of Jewish children attending Jewish camps. The amount that a child can learn in the summer, unencumbered by the pursuit of reading, writing and arithmetic, goes far beyond what he can accomplish at any other time of year. And, as this knowledge is being imparted in an atmosphere of fun and excitement, in an environment totally saturated with Jewish pride, it remains with a child long after the summer months are over.
It's still not too late to enroll your child in a Jewish camp. And it's certainly not too late to facilitate other children attending a Jewish camp if you do not have camp-age kids. By calling your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or the National Headquarters of Tzivos Hashem at (718) 467-6630, you can find out about a summer camp experience for someone you know whose benefit will last a lifetime.
By the way, adults, too, should take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere of summer to revitalize and nourish themselves Jewishly. Try a Jewish retreat or even just a weekly Torah class to enhance your Jewish pride and knowledge.
And may this summer be our last one in exile and our first in the Era of the Redemption.
That there be no plague among the Children of Israel, when the Children of Israel draw nigh unto the Sanctuary (Num. 8:19)
When do most Jews "draw nigh unto the Sanctuary" -- begin to interest themselves in G-d and Judaism? When, G-d forbid, a "plague" has afflicted a family member. But it is far better to observe Torah and mitzvot out of a sense of joy and happiness...
And you shall be to us as eyes (Num. 10:31)
Moses informed Yitro, his father-in-law, that he would be held up as a shining example to the rest of the Jewish people. For if Yitro, a convert to Judaism, could willingly abandon his family, his homeland and his elevated social status to worship the G-d of Israel, how much more so must Jews from birth serve G-d with all their heart!
And the likeness of G-d does he behold (Num. 12:8)
The "likeness of G-d" -- these are the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He. Our Sages said, "Just as He is merciful shall you be merciful; just as He is gracious shall you be gracious."
These G-dly attributes were brought down by Moses our Teacher and instilled in the heart of every single Jew.
(Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur)
And Aaron did so (Num. 8:3)
"These words are in praise of Aaron, who never deviated [in his service of G-d]," it states in Sifri. No matter what the circumstance or situation, Aaron performed his G-dly duties with the same fervor and enthusiasm.
(Ma'ayana Shel Torah)
It happened that Rabbi Babad, the grandson of the renowned rabbi known as the "Minchat Chinuch," became the rabbi in a certain town in Galacia. That particular town had once been the seat of a number of rabbinical luminaries upon whom the people had always relied.
One of these rulings very strongly affected the town's business which was the brewing of beer. Every year before Passover the townspeople, who made their living as brewers, sold their beer to a gentile through the rabbi as proscribed by Jewish law.
During the holiday the beer would naturally mature and ferment, thus improving in quality. The previous rabbis who had served the community had never called this practice into question, but when Rabbi Babad arrived in town, his consideration of the matter was entirely different.
The new Rabbi walked to the front of the shul, opened the holy ark and enacted a ban upon the accustomed practice of selling the maturing beer to gentiles. The town reeled as the news of the ban spread from person to person.
The townspeople were anguished over the decision of their new rabbi -- their livelihood depended upon the sale of beer. Besides, their previous rabbis had been far more illustrious than the new, young man who now occupied the position. How could he take upon himself the awesome responsibility of forbidding a practice which was sanctioned by his more learned predecessors, they wondered.
But the inhabitants of the town were, by and large, G-d fearing people, and with great difficulty they accepted upon themselves the ruling of their new rabbi, following the dictum of the Torah, that one is obligated to follow the ruling of the rabbi of their time and place.
Only one man decided to do differently. This one man could not bring himself to follow the difficult decision, and on the intermediate days of Passover, he packed up his wagon and took to the road in search of a new place to live.
He was driving along when he noticed what appeared to be a band of robbers lying in wait by the side of the road. In those days, robbers were just as likely to murder as to rob, and the man was fearful of being killed. He decided that it was better to abandon his wagon and horse than to take the risk of tangling with the robbers. He jumped off the wagon grabbing only a package of matzot, and fled, leaving all of his possessions to the robber band.
The man continued walking down the road hoping that the robbers would not catch up with him. He walked for many hours until nightfall. His hunger was becoming too persistent to ignore. Though he was leaving his home to avoid following the ruling of the new rabbi, he still was a G-d-fearing man and he wouldn't eat without first washing his hands and reciting the proper blessing. He knew a creek ran through the dark forest which ringed the area, but that forest was the lair of the many robber bands who terrorized travellers. He certainly wanted no part of walking right into the hiding place of the very bandits who had robbed him.
But as his hunger continued gnawing at him, he had no choice -- he would have to detour into the dense forest to find a stream where he could wash his hands. As fate would have it, no sooner had he washed and recited the blessing over the matzo, than he was set upon by a bunch thugs. He pleaded with them to leave him in peace, "Please, sirs," he wailed, "What can I, a simple Jew from a little town, do to you? I gladly gave you everything I possess, and I have no interest in betraying you. I only want to continue to live. I am travelling to find a new home for myself and my family. I am leaving this place."
But they refused to listen to his pleas. "You will finger us to the authorities," they insisted. They concluded, "When you're gone, you can't talk!" In a pathetically short time it was all over. The Jew was dead and buried in the dense, forbidding forest, with only the silent trees rustling above his hidden grave.
In the World of Truth, the Jew stood before the Divine Tribunal where all of his deeds were detailed. The prosecutor bellowed, "What was this man doing in the forest in the first place!? He was running away from a rabbinical ruling which didn't meet with his approval! Who was he to pass judgement on the rabbi of the town!?"
The defense countered, "Why indeed did he detour into the forest? Because he was a G-d-fearing Jew who refused, even in a dangerous situation, to abandon the law which required him to wash before eating bread!" The debate raged in the Heavenly Court where the Jew's fate was being decided.
As this was taking place, Rabbi Babad had a dream in which the Jew stood before him begging his forgiveness for disobeying his ruling. He told Rabbi Babad all that had befallen him and described in great detail his earthly resting place, beseeching him to bring him to a proper Jewish burial. Rabbi Babad was shaken by the dream. So real did it appear to him, particularly in light of the man's recent disappearance, that he took a group of men and rode out to the site described in the dream. There, they found the body of the Jew which they brought back to the town and gave an honorable funeral in the presence of the grieving townspeople after which the Jew's soul was able to rest in peace.
Exile is associated with night -- darkness and concealment. It is only a temporary state leading to the era of the Redemption.
(The Rebbe, 19 Sivan, 5751)