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L'Chaim
June 14, 1996 - 27 Sivan 5756

422: Shelach

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  421: Behaalosecha423: Korach  

Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  A Call To Action  |  The Rebbe Writes
What's New  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count  |  It Once Happened
Moshiach Matters

According to Jewish thought, especially as elucidated in the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, nothing in this world happens by chance, everything -- even the movement of a blade of grass -- is governed by Divine Providence.

Additionally, a Tzadik, a wholly righteous person, has Divine powers of insight and far-reaching vision that allow him to see that which is unseen or not yet visible to the untrained eye.

What can we glean from the Rebbe's very own thoughts on 3 Tammuz?

In the book Hayom Yom which the Rebbe compiled at the behest of his father-in-law from the teachings of the previous Rebbes, the quote the Rebbe included for 3 Tammuz, 1943 reads:

"A Jewish groan which, G-d forbid, arises from physical misfortune, is also a great repentance; how much more so then, is a groan arising from spiritual distress a lofty and effective repentance. The groan pulls him out of the depths of evil and places him on a firm footing in the realm of good."
The Rebbe was assuring us, even then, that our groans resulting from that date, rather than paralyzing us, would ultimately point us in the right direction and inspire us to rededicate ourselves to the Rebbe's goal of bringing the revelation of Moshiach and the Redemption.

In a letter dated 3 Tammuz, 5710 (1950), five months after the passing of the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe penned the following words (translated from the original Hebrew), describing what a Rebbe is:

"...Many are seeking an explanation of the characteristic greatness of the Chabad leaders in general, and the leader of our generation, my father-in-law, of blessed memory, in particular, in terms of the following designations:

"A man of great self-sacrifice, a great Torah scholar, a person of sterling character, a tzadik, a possessor of divine inspiration, able to perform miracles etc. etc.

"These praises gain even greater significance as they are defined by the teachings of Chasidic philosophy.

"Yet in all this, the main point is absent... For in general, the Nasi is called 'the head of the community of Israel': in relation to them, he is their head and brain; it is through him that they derive their vitality. By cleaving to the Nasi, they connect and unite themselves with their source Above..."

On 3 Tammuz, 5751 (1991) -- the last time the Rebbe spoke on that date until we are once more reunited -- the Rebbe discussed two historical events that occurred on 3 Tammuz.

The more recent event was in 1927, when the Previous Rebbe was released from Soviet prison and exiled to Kostrama for three years. Before his release to internal exile he had been sentenced to death.

Thousands of years earlier, 3 Tammuz was the day on which Joshua beseeched G-d to allow the sun to stand still in the sky so as to be able to continue the Jewish people's battle against the enemy and be victorious.

The Rebbe notes, in the talk of five years ago, that both of these events were miracles, but miracles that occurred within the realm of nature rather than totally outside of nature. The Rebbe connects these points to an event in the weekly Torah portion that year which was the portion of Korach.

In Korach we read of G-d's command to Moses to take the staffs of princes of the 12 tribes, including that of Aaron, and to place them in the Tent of Meeting overnight. The staff that is rejuvenated, G-d informs Moses, will be the one belonging to the family that rightfully serves as priests. This miracle, G-d assures Moses, will surely end the complaints of the Jewish people against Moses and Aaron. Aaron's staff sprouted, blossomed and even bore fruit. And the staff became an eternal sign to the Jewish people of the validity of the priesthood being with Aaron and his descendants.

As we imminently await the Rebbe's rejuvenation, may we all sincerely attempt to implement the Rebbe's call to all men, women and children of our generation to "do everything you can to bring Moshiach in actuality," and to fulfill our last communal mission in this pre- Redemption world, "to prepare ourselves and the entire world to greet our righteous Moshiach."


Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Shelach (literally "Send") narrates the story of the Twelve Spies who were sent on a special shlichut (mission) to the land of Israel.

The Spies had been instructed to scout out the land in order to determine the optimal strategy the Jews should employ to conquer it.

Indeed, when they returned from their mission they gave their report on the land and its inhabitants.

Their sin, however, consisted in going one step further.

In addition to providing the information they were requested to obtain, the Spies insisted on venturing their own opinion about the mission itself: "We will not be able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we!" they declared.

G-d hadn't asked the Spies whether or not they thought conquering the land was possible. Their shlichut was solely a fact-finding mission; thus, adding their own opinion and discouraging the Jewish people from fulfilling G-d's request was a grave transgression.

In principle, a shliach (emissary) is required to carry out his mission to the best of his ability, no more and no less. Altering that mission to accommodate his own thoughts and feelings is a distortion of the very shlichut with which he was entrusted.

In truth, every Jew is an emissary of G-d, Who caused him to be born into this world in order to fulfill a unique mission. For the mission of every Jew is to transform his surroundings into "the land of Israel" -- a "dwelling place for G-d" -- through the performance of Torah and mitzvot.

As G-d's emissary the Jew is required to "scout out the land" -- to determine the best possible method of fulfilling his assignment. Each individual's circumstances in life will determine the answer, be it through strengthening his observance of Shabbat, keeping the laws of kashrut more carefully, lighting Shabbat candles or putting on tefilin.

G-d doesn't ask the Jew if it's possible to attain his goal; the very fact that he's been sent on his mission to bring G-dliness into the world indicates that the "land" can indeed be conquered.

Furthermore, no matter how difficult the mission may seem, a Jew must never arrive at the conclusion of the Spies and despair of ever being victorious.

Yes, a Jew is entrusted with a special shlichut, but G-d has given him the power and capacity to fulfill his mission. Bearing this in mind is the key to being successful.

Adapted from Hitva'aduyot of the Rebbe, 5743-1983


A Slice of Life

Rabbi Chaim Klein, a shochet (ritual slaughterer) in Johannesburg, South Africa related the following story:

On the 22nd of Menachem Av, 5753 [summer '93], I had an accident when one of the cows I was about to slaughter decided to take revenge against the human race. I had just approached the massive animal with my special slaughtering knife in my hand when it managed to free its front leg. One swift kick was all it took to imbed the razor-sharp blade deep into the palm of my left hand.

The slaughterhouse was located out in the country, some 120 kilometers from Johannesburg. Because the wound was deep and I was losing a lot of blood, I was rushed to a local hospital instead of being brought back to the city.

There, the emergency room doctor examined my hand and determined that surgery was necessary. However, there was a slight problem: The only surgeon on call was in the middle of an operation. It would be at least several more hours until he was free.

My hand was bandaged and we sat down to wait. But after 20 minutes or so it was obvious that I couldn't afford to wait; I was losing blood much too rapidly. The emergency room doctor therefore decided to perform the operation himself, even though he was only a general practitioner and not a specialized surgeon.

The operation took two and a half hours; it had taken more than 70 stitches to close the deep gash in my left hand.

While I was in surgery, Rabbi Shalom Dovber Groner, the supervisor of the slaughterhouse, had contacted a personal friend of ours and member of our congregation in Johannesburg, a young Chasidic physician by the name of Dr. Refael Untershlak. He was concerned and suggested that I consult a top specialist. About an hour later an ambulance came to transport me to the prestigious Kenrose Hospital in Johannesburg. A short while later the specialist came to my bedside. He asked me to move my fingers, one by one. Thank G-d, everything seemed to be in working order -- with the exception of my thumb. No matter how I concentrated and struggled I just couldn't get it to budge.

His verdict: The large vein leading to the thumb had been severed and microsurgery could probably correct the problem. But since I had already lost approximately two liters of blood, he suggested that any further surgery be postponed for the time being. I stayed in the hospital for another two days.

Allow me to backtrack.

My brother, Rabbi Moshe Klein of Crown Heights, was one of the individuals who had the privilege to be in the Rebbe's close proximity at that time [this was after the Rebbe had suffered a stroke].

While I was still in t he hospital my wife had called New York and asked my brother to mention me to the Rebbe for a blessing, should the opportunity present itself. My brother promised he would try.

On the third night after the accident I was back home. The next morning I awoke in terrible pain -- unbearable pain, right where the surgeon had told me the vein was severed. I sat up in bed, clutching my hand. A few minutes later the pain passed, and I lay back down.

Glancing at the clock, I noticed that it was 6:20 a.m. A thought suddenly occurred to me: Maybe the Rebbe had given me his blessing?

Around 5:00 p.m. I received a fax from my brother. It was 11:00 a.m. in New York. "I am now very tired and am going to bed," my brother wrote, "but being that something very interesting occurred last night which concerns you, I wanted to tell you about it before I go to sleep.

"Thank G-d, the Rebbe was feeling very well last night. Summoning up my courage, I approached the Rebbe and asked if I could mention someone for a blessing, and the Rebbe responded with an affirmative nod of his holy head. I then told him what had happened to you, and concluded with the words 'and I am asking the Rebbe for a blessing for him for a complete recovery,' to which the Rebbe answered 'Amen.' 'But Rebbe,' I continued, 'the specialist is still a little worried because he can't move his thumb. He thinks that more surgery will be necessary to repair the damaged vein.' Fixing me with his holy gaze the Rebbe made a gesture with his left hand, as if to negate what I had just told him. 'Ach!' he said dismissively.

"This occurred at precisely 12:20 a.m. last night," my brother wrote.

I was astounded, 12:20 a.m. in New York was 6:20 a.m. in Johannesburg -- the exact time my pain had disappeared.

The next time when I went to the doctor for a check-up and he asked me to move my thumb "to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south" he couldn't believe his eyes. "How did you do that?" he asked.

It goes without saying that I have since returned to my job as a shochet and my thumb works just fine, thank G-d. With one small gesture of his holy hand, the Rebbe was able to make me well, from a distance of thousands of miles...

Reprinted from Beis Moshiach


A Call To Action

Do a good deed in honor of the Rebbe

"The union of G-d and the Jewish people [which comes after the beginning of the new Jewish month] produces offspring and 'the essential offspring of the righteous are their good deeds.'"

"This adds perfection to the good deeds performed by each and every member of the Jewish people and reveals how the Jews become G-d's partner in the work of creation...And the Jews' consent to accept this partnership causes Him to announce, "The time for your redemption has arrived."

(The Rebbe, 28 Sivan, 5751)


The Rebbe Writes

CONQUEST OF SELF

2 Tammuz, 5727 [1967]

Your letter reached me with some delay. In the meantime I was pleased to see your husband at the farbrengen [chasidic gathering] here.

As for the subject matter of your letter, you surely know that the Torah tells us that the conquest of the promised Holy Land was to take place by stages. The same applies, in a deeper sense, to the personal conquest of the self.

In other words, when it comes to personal advancement in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], the best method is sometimes precisely in the way of a gradual conquest, step by step, and stage by stage, rather than by means of a drastic change.

Of course there are certain situations and matters where a drastic change may be necessary, but by and large steady progress is usually steadier than progress by fits and starts.

In light of the above, and in regard to the matter which you mentioned, it is possible that you may be pushing a little too hard. It is perhaps advisable that inasmuch as you have expressed your opinion, and it was not accepted, it is better to leave it alone until such time as the other party will himself come to the same conclusion. I trust that this will come to pass sooner than you anticipate.

I trust that you have begun your summer vacation in a suitable way, and may G-d grant that the vacation will generate new strength and power to be able to carry on all good activities with increased vigor.

Above all, I reiterate the central point, namely that you and your husband should together bring up your children in good health and happiness, materially and spiritually.

We have now entered the particularly auspicious month, the month of Tammuz, with the anniversary of the liberation of my father-in-law of saintly memory, the history of which is undoubtedly familiar to you.

This anniversary is not something which affected only the personal fate of my father-in-law of saintly memory, but was of far-reaching consequences for Russian Jewry and world Jewry as a whole.

Indeed, my father-in-law of saintly memory, referring to his miraculous geula [redemption], wrote explicitly to that effect, saying, "It was not me personally that G-d had saved, but it was a salvation for Yiddishkeit in general."

The anniversary therefore is an occasion for celebration and inspiration for each and every one of us every year at this time.

But this year is particularly significant inasmuch as it will mark the fortieth anniversary. As our Sages explained, the completion of forty years provides special understanding, appreciation and insight into the mind and personality of one's teacher.

I trust you will suitably observe this coming anniversary on the 12- 13th of Tammuz, and derive lasting inspiration from it.

The obvious lesson which we must draw from it is this:

If a Jew can accomplish so much for Yiddishkeit single-handedly, despite overwhelming odds and obstacles, how much must each and everyone one of us try to do our share, being fortunate in living under infinitely better circumstances, with complete freedom of action to strengthen and spread Torah-Yiddishkeit.
With regards to the whole family and with the blessing of Chag HaGeula [holiday of liberation],

/signed/


What's New

MARRIAGE ENRICHMENT SEMINAR

On June 20-21, the Aleph Institute will co-sponsor the 7th Annual Marriage Enrichment Seminar to be conducted at the Federal Prison Camp in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.

In this unique, two-day program, approximately 20 inmates and their spouses will be trained in relationship enhancement, discussion skills, problem and conflict resolution, and self-changing guidelines.

The goal of the program is to reduce the statistical 85% divorce rate among couples where one spouse is incarcerated for one year or more.

The Aleph Institute, based in Surfside, Florida, is a humanitarian, educational and advocacy organization serving the unique needs of Jews in prison and was founded at the express direction of the Rebbe.

YIDDISH-KITE DAY

They kept coming and coming. Men, women and children filled the soccer field at Wasserman Park in Merrimack, New Hampshire for a unique Yiddish-Kite day. Sponsored by Chabad of New Hampshire, the event included a demonstration of stunt kite flying, tables where kids could craft their own kites, and a bonfire at the nearby lake. The sight of kites and the aroma of the barbecue filled the air as well as a sense of unity amongst the over 140 participants.

INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

An International Convention of Chabad Chasidim will take place from June 17 - 20 (30 Sivan - 3 Tammuz), in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The convention's theme is: "To Bring About the Immediate Coming of Moshiach." The general public is invited to attend. For more details call Beis Moshiach Magazine at (718) 604-9313.


A Word from the Director

Gimmel Tammuz.

The date itself, while ingrained in the minds of Lubavitcher Chasidim around the globe, has significance for all Jews and, indeed the entire world population.

Although we have not seen the Rebbe with our physical eyes since Gimmel Tammuz two years ago, his presence in the lives of his hundreds of thousands of Chasidim and millions of admirers is evident. And the Rebbe's involvement in the thousands of institutions he established, and the dozens of institutions set up since Gimmel Tammuz two years ago, is palpable.

Gimmel Tammuz is the third day in the Hebrew month of Tammuz.

The number three has much significance in Jewish teachings. Our Sages teach that the world stands on three pillars: Torah study, prayer, and acts of kindness. In addition, they teach that the Tzadik is the foundation of the entire world.

What has been the thrust of the Rebbe, the foundation of the world, in his over four decades of leadership? As is well-known to our readers, since the Rebbe's acceptance of the mantle of leadership he stated clearly the purpose of our generation, the seventh generation, is to bring the Redemption.

More recently the Rebbe elucidated how we can accomplish this in a three-fold campaign: through Torah study, prayer, and acts of kindness.

Our Torah study should be increased in all areas of Jewish knowledge in general, Chasidic philosophy in particular, and specifically those matters found everywhere in Jewish teachings that deal with Moshiach and the Redemption.

Our prayers should be suffused with heartfelt requests of G-d to bring the Redemption, crying out "How much longer?" and even to the point of demanding the Redemption (as explained by the Chofetz Chaim).

Lastly, through love of our fellow Jew in general and even simple acts of kindness and good deeds, we can prepare ourselves for the Redemption and hasten its inception.

May we be together with the Rebbe this year on Gimmel Tammuz, not just "feeling" his presence but actually seeing the Rebbe, a soul in a physical body, leading us to the Holy Land and ushering in the complete and eternal Redemption.


Thoughts that Count

And you shall ascend the mountain and see the land, what it is (Num. 13: 17-18)

When you will "ascend the mountain" -- attain the highest levels of G-dly wisdom, then you will "see the land, what it is" -- understand the true nature of physicality and realize that it is without intrinsic worth.

(Noam Elimelech)

And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad (Num. 13:19)

Moses knew that the land of Israel was "good." What he was asking the Spies here was whether the land would provide enough food to sustain the Jewish people during battle or if they would have to prepare their supplies in advance.

(Rashbam)

In this wilderness (midbar) shall they be spent (yitamu) (Num. 14:35)

"Midbar" is related to the Hebrew word for "speech"; "yitamu" is related to the word "tamim" -- "perfect and whole." By speaking holy words, by praying and reciting the letters of the Torah, a Jew attains the level of "You shall be whole with the L-rd your G-d," thereby elevating the "sparks of holiness" that have fallen into the realm of evil.

(Likutei Torah)

The land is very, very good (Num. 14:7)

Throughout their 40 years in the desert, the Jews led an overwhelmingly spiritual existence, their basic needs being provided in a miraculous manner. However, the word "very" appears twice in this verse to emphasize and reassure them that the observance of practical commandments that they would perform after entering the land of Israel would be far superior, meriting an even higher revelation of G-dliness.

(Sichot Kodesh)


It Once Happened

Dr. Yaakov Reich, a highly regarded university professor in the field of mathematics, who has published several articles in distinguished academic journals, seems an unusual person to talk of miracles. But Dr. Reich, who is also a Chasid, cherishes his ongoing relationship with the Rebbe, which impacts not only his spiritual life but also his day-to-day decisions.

"During a short visit to Jerusalem last summer, my daughter and I were awakened suddenly by a frightening blast, followed by the sounds of ambulances and helicopters. A suicide bomber had just exploded two buses a few hundred yards from where we were staying. There were several dead and wounded. After we overcame our initial shock, I turned to my daughter, who had planned to stay in Israel for the upcoming school year. 'This is it. You are coming back home with me.'

"'Abba,' my daughter reminded me, 'before coming here, I received very clear direction from the Rebbe to come. Why don't we ask the Rebbe again?'

"I agreed and she wrote a letter which she randomly slipped into volume 18 of the Rebbe's letters (known as Igrot Kodesh). She opened the book where her note lay and read, 'Do not fear. The eyes of G-d are on the Land of Israel from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.'

"Needless to say, my daughter stayed in Israel. I appreciated the clarity of direction and thanked G-d for that. But this answer meant even more to me. It was an absolute assurance from the Rebbe that I had nothing to fear. So in spite of the tragic events of this past year, I did not worry about my daughter's safety."

Dr. Reich continues with another example of the Rebbe's continual involvement in his life.

"A prior incident involves a business deal which I was unsure I should conclude. I wrote to the Rebbe. The letter to which I "happened" to open was addressed to someone with the exact same first and last name as the person about whom I was writing! I immediately went ahead with the deal.

"Recently a friend of ours called from Paris for advice. Should she come to New York to meet a young man who had been suggested to her as a possible match? I told her, 'Why don't you ask the Rebbe?' and I explained to her about receiving answers from the Rebbe through the Igrot Kodesh. She asked me to write on her behalf as she does not have any of the Rebbe's letters and also does not know Hebrew.

"Together we composed a letter to the Rebbe after which I placed it into a volume of the Rebbe's letters. The letter was nestled in a page containing an answer from the Rebbe addressed to a woman in Paris. The Rebbe commenced the letter by giving his blessing to meet 'the young man.' Then the Rebbe gave specific instructions to the mother who had some marital problems. (Our friend acknowledged that her parents had been having problems in their relationship and the Rebbe's advice was very much to the point.) At the end of the letter the Rebbe added a postscript. 'I did not hear from you for a while. Please know that I know French, though my secretaries do not.'

Dr. Reich's wife, Dr. Esther Reich, a dentist who is also professor in a New York university, tells another family story: "Last summer, one of our children did not know whether to return to Denver to work as head counselor in the Chabad day camp there or to work in a Chabad camp in Russia. Her school was encouraging her to go to Russia, as were we. But she really wanted to return to Denver where she had worked before and where she felt she had a rapport with some of the Russian children. She was being pressed for an answer. We suggested that she write to the Rebbe.

"Initially she wrote just out of obedience. In the letter that she opened, the Rebbe was telling the person, 'You can do good for a Jew anywhere in the world.'

"'You see,' she said to me excitedly, 'the Rebbe wants me to go to Denver!'

"I read the letter and said, 'No, the Rebbe wants you to go to Russia.' We were still at an impasse. I encouraged her to write another letter with all her heart and to ask the Rebbe for a clear answer, which she did. She then randomly opened to a page in one of the volumes of the Rebbe's letters. On that page was a list of names of cities in Russia! What is more to the point is that all the cities listed were ones that had been recommended to me as good cities for her to go to."

Many might be inclined to brush off these episodes as mere chance or coincidence.

As a professor of mathematics whose specialty is probability, Yaakov Reich is well-qualified to discuss the statistical probability of thousands of people receiving answers in this manner.

"Fundamentally, what is happening here is that you have thousands of people who are independently doing this 'experiment,' known in mathematics as independent trials. The probability in independent trials is multiplied each time an additional trial is performed. For instance, if the probability of my trial coming up with the desired response is 50%, and the probability of your trial coming up with the desired response is 50%, then the probability of both of us coming up with the desired response is 25%," explains Dr. Reich.

"Thus, if all of the letters any one person could have gotten which relate to their particular question is compared to the total number of letters, this kind of probability is less than 5%, even less than 1%. But let's be very conservative and say that one could somehow relate every 10th letter to his or her question. If there are thousands of people writing letters to the Rebbe to ask for his guidance and blessings, and only 50% get answers, the probability on such a large scale is extremely remote. And, of course, much more than 50% of the people who write to the Rebbe receive answers in this manner. One simply cannot attest this to a matter of interpretation anymore. Also, as happens often, specific details of the question such a s a date, place or name appear in the answer. This reduces the probability of a chance many times.

"We constantly hear of answers to specific questions, as has happened in our family in a most incredible way. These responses are not random and cannot be attributed to chance. One can only conclude that the Rebbe is truly here with us.

"I would like to emphasize that the mathematical explanation given above, far from being a proof of the miraculous nature of the Rebbe's answers, is rather an illustration -- for mathematics, though the most abstract field in science, is finite and limited and therefore in essence cannot prove G-d who is unlimited and infinite."

On a non-statistical note, Dr. Reich comments, "Looking back through Jewish history, there were times when selected, righteous individuals were able to receive guidance by opening a Bible or other holy book. Now an amazing phenomenon is happening. The Rebbe is accessible to everyone, anywhere, any time. And the Rebbe answers immediately." In today's day of immediate gratification, an immediate answer is especially appreciated.

Dr. Reich concludes: "As the Rambam explains, the occurrence of myriad of miracles 'while the world continues to operate in the usual manner' is a fundamental innovation of the Messianic Era, where the miracles will be the domain of everyone, not just a select few. As the Rebbe said in 1992, 'Especially in these days, the days of Moshiach in which we find ourselves, all that is necessary is that we open our eyes.' "


Moshiach Matters

"This is a great test that the Redeemer [Moses] is concealed... and so it will be at the time of our righteous Moshiach that he will be concealed after his revelation, as mentioned in the Midrash.

(Chatam Sofer on the Torah, end of Shemot)


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