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426: Matos Massei

Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
July 12, 1996 - 25 Tammuz 5756

426: Matos Massei

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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.


  425: Pinchas427: Devarim  

Tamper Proof Education  |  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

Tamper Proof Education

You find them on mayonnaise jars and medicine bottles, cosmetic containers and coffee cans. Sometimes they're there to keep freshness or "quality" in. But more often than not, the special seals keep tamperers out.

Whether it says "sealed for your protection," or even the more-to-the- point "tamper resistant," an intact seal means the product has not been played with in any manner, it is unadulterated.

There was a time when everyday items didn't need any special packaging. But those were the days before consumers started finding glass in baby food jars and cyanide in non-aspirin tablets. In the "good old days," crime wasn't as rampant and society was less permissive.

In those days, if someone sent his or her children to parochial school, neighbors were of two opinions. Some neighbors thought it was just fine and dandy, while others found this choice of education close-minded and narrow. Parents who made such a choice were even accused of giving their children a warped outlook on life.

But, "the times, they are a changin'."

As society becomes more and more permissive, many neighbors, friends and relatives who would have told you years ago that sending a child to a Jewish day school isolates children from the "real" world, or distorts their view of life, consider such a choice to be valid, even if just from a "safety" standpoint.

Now more than ever, when we can no longer take for granted that our neighbors, neighborhoods and schools share and support our moral values, it is imperative for Jewish children to receive a proper Jewish education. And for our precious next generation, our guarantors of Jewish continuity, a proper Jewish education means a "tamper-proof" education. A Jewish education, one whose "product" has not been altered or adulterated, assures them of learning proper moral and ethical values. It keeps quality and freshness in, and the hazardous and harmful influences out. It's the responsibility of every Jewish man and woman, mother and father, aunt and uncle, bubby and zaidy.

"All Jews are responsible for each other," the Talmud teaches us. And there is no area of Jewish life in which this teaching can be more aptly applied than in the area of Jewish education.


Living with the Rebbe

This week we read two Torah portions, Matot and Masei. Masei, meaning journeys, delineates the various travels of the Jews in the desert.

When the Jews left Egypt, they were beginning one long journey. Their departure from Egypt and their travels in the desert were all so that eventually the Jews would enter the Land of Israel. It would seem, then, that each of the forty-two stops they made along the way between Egypt and Israel was not really that significant. The stops presented an opportunity for the Jewish camp, comprised of millions of people, to take care of their various needs.

Yet, each and every stop the Jews made in the desert is mentioned separately, and each one is considered its own journey. Didn't the Jews reach the desert -- and freedom -- immediately upon leaving the borders of Egypt?

In every generation, in each individual's life, there must be an Exodus from Egypt, a departure from one's own boundaries and limitations. However, simply "leaving" Egypt is not enough. We must know that even after working on ourselves and spiritually leaving Egypt, we are not finished. No matter what spiritual level we have attained, we can still go further, we are still bound by our "Egypt." We must begin a new "journey," getting stronger and stronger as we go along.

There is a two-fold lesson from these "journeys."

Even when one has already attained a high level, one must never be content with what one has already achieved. Our whole purpose is to move in an upward spiritual direction -- never to stagnate and remain in the same place. Each day that is granted to us by G-d should be utilized for fulfilling this mission. However, we must be cognizant that in relation to what is above us and what we can still achieve, we are still in Egypt.

On the other hand, one must never despair of all there is left to achieve and of one's lowly, spiritual state. One must remember that it is possible, through work, to leave "Egypt" immediately, with only one journey. We must never think that our toil is in vain; with one move we can elevate ourselves and reach the "good and wide land" -- the Land of Israel.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, vol. 2


A Slice of Life

Rabbi Gansburg as a young man in the Israeli army
by Yehudis Cohen

Meeting a chasid like Rabbi Yitzchak ("Itche") Gansburg is a unique experience. When you come face-to-face with his intense, yet gentle persistence, you ultimately acquiesce to whatever he requests. And not just because it's Rabbi Gansburg asking you, but because you know with certainty that whatever he is asking of you is not for himself or his personal aggrandizement, but to fulfill the Rebbe's wishes.

From the time he was a young man, Rabbi Gansburg has been devoted to promoting the Mitzva Campaigns of the Rebbe, culminating with the ultimate campaign -- the Moshiach Campaign.

One of the first, large-scale projects Rabbi Gansburg undertook after the Rebbe's pronouncement in the spring of 1991 that "every man, woman and child must do everything he can to bring Moshiach, here and now" was to print up flyers on the subject of Moshiach, citing various Jewish teachings throughout the ages.

Being not only persistent and gentle, but also very innovative, Rabbi Gansburg decided to distribute those flyers in an unusual manner. "As it was then summertime and tens of thousands of Jews were vacationing in Upstate New York, we decided to rent a helicopter to fly over the 'bungalow colonies' there and to let the literature rain down from the sky," Rabbi Gansburg explains.

"When the flyers came back from the printer, I took a small stack and brought them to the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, for him to give to the Rebbe. A short time later I had a reply from the Rebbe. Rabbi Groner told me: 'The Rebbe has taken one copy for himself, and instructed me to give the rest back to you -- so that you'll have more to distribute.' Incidentally, I had made over a million copies. You can imagine my reaction to the Rebbe's response."

"People still talk about it even today!" says Rabbi Gansburg with a chuckle. "Moshiach was on the front pages of all the Upstate New York newspapers for at least a week."

But that was not the first time Rabbi Gansburg had used such a medium to disseminate the Rebbe's message. "The first year the Rebbe spoke about the importance of sending Mishloach Manot [gifts of food on Purim], we rented a helicopter and flew over the cities of Gush Dan in Israel, sending down a shower of Mishloach Manot wherever we flew. Thousands of these packages, which contained food as well as a talk from the Rebbe about the Mitzvot of Purim, were distributed in this way.

"It was truly an amazing sight to behold, watching people rush out of their houses, waiting for their packages to descend," remembers Rabbi Gansburg.

More recently, Rabbi Gansburg's method of choice for bringing to the public the Rebbe's teachings about the Redemption is videos. He explains passionately, "Everything can be taught via videos. Videos have a far stronger impact than the written word, especially since people don't read as much nowadays. The Rebbe's message, coupled with the sights and sounds of what we are trying to convey, affect each person viewing the video differently."

In the past three years, Rabbi Gansburg has produced videos culled from the Rebbe's teachings entitled, "The Integrity of the Land of Israel," "Prophet of our Generation," and "Hurricane in Florida." Two children's videos are "Moshiach is on the Way" and "Faithful Shepherd."

"Currently, I am working on a video which will bring together many of the Rebbe's statements and writings concerning the 'territories' in Israel."

Last year, Rabbi Gansburg began an altogether new venture. He collected dollar bills which people had received, together with a blessing, from the Rebbe on Sundays. He then traveled to Israel and distributed them to Jews living in the Golan, Judah and Samaria. "When I went to Israel the first time with the Rebbe's dollars the people I met were living in fear. The Rebbe's dollars give them strength. At 12 at night I arrived in a neighborhood in Kiryat Arba where only three Jewish families live. Having collected 20,000 'Rebbe dollars'-- hardly enough to go around to every individual Jew in Israel -- I had intended on giving one dollar per family. The woman at one house I visited asked me for a dollar for each of her six children. She explained to me that ever since her husband had begun buying houses from their Arab neighbors for Jews to move into, attempts had repeatedly been made on his life.

"I also visited Beit Schneersohn, a building near the Hadassah Hospital in Hebron that has belonged to the Schneersohn family for generations. Five people were living there. When I gave one of the men a dollar from the Rebbe he looked at it and then started singing and dancing. He told me that years ago he had been in New York and had waited in line one Sunday to receive a dollar [to be redeemed and given to charity] and a blessing from the Rebbe. But the line was very long and he had to leave to make his flight before he had a chance to see the Rebbe. It had bothered him all these years that he didn't have a dollar from the Rebbe. And now I had given him not just any dollar from the Rebbe, but a dollar on which the original recipient had written his name 'Levi ben Chaim.' 'That is my name,' the man told me with tears of joy.

"Very, very soon," concludes Rabbi Gansburg, "our work will be over, and all our obstacles, hindrances and difficulties will have disappeared. May we immediately merit the full and final Redemption, with our king, Melech HaMoshiach, leading the way."


A Call To Action

Don't even steal water!

"When a person who is thirsty drinks water, even if he drinks less than a penny's worth, he recites a blessing so as not to be considered a thief. The blessing, "Borach Ata Ado-noy Elo-haynu Melech HaOlam Shehakol niheyo bid'varo" proclaims how the entire world was brought into existence through G-d's speech."

(The Rebbe, 7 Tammuz, 5750)


The Rebbe Writes

YOUTHFUL ENERGY

Iyar 20, 5712 [1952]

To the [National] Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education:

I am gratified to learn, periodically, of the growth and development of your activities. I trust that this growth is both in quantity as well as in quality.

Obviously, one hour a week of released time * for religious instruction does not give an adequate education by far. The release hour should be considered as a stimulant for both the children and their parents, to the end that the children should be induced to seek an adequate religious Jewish education in Yeshivot, Talmud Torahs, etc. I am glad to note that you are working along these lines, and I wish you great success in this, too.

Yours is a youth organization dedicated to Jewish youth.

Youth has special qualities of untapped reserves of energy and enthusiasm. In addition, being still on the threshold of life, youth has a greater measure of goodness and purity, not having had too much contact with the negative aspects of life. All these qualities of youth are extremely important in all youth activities, especially with regard to the education of growing children Youth responds more readily to youth, as it is more readily influenced intuitively than through the medium of reason. Consequently, the character, feeling and idealistic approach of the instructors and teachers is a decisive factor in the children's education.

I wish you to use all your youthful energies in this most important cause in human life -- the upbringing of a new generation on firm and proper foundations.

I send you my prayerful wishes and blessing that your enthusiasm and efforts be crowned with unqualified success.

I want to remind you of the words of my saintly father-in-law, the founder of your movement, to the effect that although the "religious hour" is primarily for the benefit of the children attending same, there is at the same time an additional purpose for the benefit of the men and women instructors, since their work in the release hour program elevates them spiritually and morally, and leads them on the road to perfection.

I should like to extend this thought also in relation to the supporters of the movement, who will undoubtedly derive personal inspiration from their association with this holy work.

Paraphrasing a saying of our Sages, I may say that as much as they help the movement, the movement helps them even more, aiding them in elevating themselves on a higher spiritual plane. It gives them also an opportunity to transform quantity into quality, for by their generosity in both money and effort, they enable the movement not only to increase the number of children in the program, but also to enlarge and extend its curricular activities.

In addition, it is most certain that their work of so noble a cause will bring them, and all theirs, Divine blessings in abundant measure, both materially and spiritually.

* Ed.'s note: New York State and several other jurisdictions release children during the school day, with their parents' permission, for one hour religious studies per week. Since the 1940s, Lubavitch institutions (In New York, the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education) have made use of this provision to educate Jewish public school children in the basics of Judaism.

What's New

FROM EXILE TO REDEMPTION

This second volume of the well-received book, From Exile to Redemption, further discusses the Redemption of the world in the Messianic Era. The reader is provided with classic Chasidic teachings on the subjects of Moshiach and the Redemption. For both the mind and the soul, this anthology is a veritable feast. Published by Sichos in English. Available directly from the publisher by sending $17 to S.I.E., 788 Eastern Pkwy., Bklyn, NY 11213

THE MAKING OF CHASIDIM

Sixty years ago, the Previous Rebbe sent a long letter to his daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, describing the fascinating personal metamorphosis several individuals underwent as they accepted the Chasidic way of life. The first 120 pages of the letter somehow became public and copies were circulated among Chasidim. The Making of Chasidim is a translation from Yiddish into English of this letter. Available directly from the publisher by sending $17 to S.I.E. at above address.


A Word from the Director

This week, we being studying, once again, the first chapter of Ethics of the Fathers. As the Rebbe encouraged that we not only read the chapter, but actually study at least one Mishna on Shabbat afternoon, I would like to share with you one of the Rebbe's explanations of a teaching in this first chapter.

After the first chapter describes the chain of receiving and transmitting the Torah, it emphasizes the importance of Torah study, counseling, "Raise up many students."

It also contains the teaching: "The world stands on three things - Torah, the service of G-d (prayer), and deeds of kindness."

At first glance, it would seem that the order in which these services are listed is problematic. For, each day, they are carried out in a different order. We are enjoined by our Sages to first give a coin to a poor person and then, only afterward, to pray. Similarly, it is only after prayer that we are taught to "proceed from the synagogue to the house of study."

Another example: in the history of the Jewish people, the order of the patriarches was Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob. Abraham is identified with the service of deeds of kindness - receiving guests. Isaac is identified with the service of G-d ( as he was prepared as a sacrifice and prayer was instituted in the place of sacrifices). Jacob is identified with Torah study.

It is Jacob, however, who was referred to as, "the chosen of the Patriarch." Our Sages made this distinction to teach us of the importance of Torah study. Similarly, in regard to the above teaching from Ethics of the Fathers, Torah study is mentioned first because it is the service of primary importance "maintaining the world" in establishing a dwelling for G-d in the lower worlds, as explained above.

May we immediately merit the time when we are able to study the "new Torah" that will be revealed by Moshiach, together with all the greatest Sages and Scholars of our generation and previous generations in the Messianic Era.


Thoughts that Count

Matot-Masei

The word "matot," which means tribes, also means staffs. Staffs symbolize stability and permanence, like a staff which is hard and strong. Masei means "journeys," and alludes to a changing and non- permanent situation. The fact that the two Torah portions of Matot and Masei are read together teaches us that even when we are traveling on a journey, for vacation or business, we must be as vigilant and unchanging in our religious observance as when we are at home.

(The Rebbe)

Arm some men from among you for war. (Num. 31:3)

G-d told Moses, "You shall avenge": that Moses himself should be the one who avenges the Jews against Midian. Why, then, did Moses send others to fight the battle? Moses had lived in the land of Midian and did not want to personally harm those who had treated him well. There is a saying, "don't throw stones into the well from which you have drunk."

(Bamidbar Rabba)

To execute the vengeance of G-d on Midian (Num. 31:3)

The name Midian comes from the root "madon," meaning quarrel and strife. Midian symbolizes contention and unwarranted hatred. Therefore, the war against Midian is truly "the vengeance of G-d." For there is nothing as opposed to G-d as dissent ion and needless hatred.

(Sefer HaMaamarim)


It Once Happened

The Russian czar, Nicholas the First, was a ruthless anti-Semite. He decreed that Jewish boys should be drafted into military service at a tender age so as to tear them away from their Jewish faith as well as from their family and, eventually, to turn them into Christians.

They were forcibly taken away from their parents and sent to distant villages to live among Christian peasants. Then they were drafted into the army to serve for twenty-five years!

Czar Nicholas would sometimes disguise himself as a civilian and move among the people to hear what they might be saying about him.

Once, in his disguise, the czar entered a bar where peasants and soldiers were sitting and drinking. He sat next to a soldier who offered him a drink. The soldier did not know that he was "treating" the czar. When the czar finished his drink and put the empty glass down on the table, the soldier slapped him on the back.

"What did you hit me for?" protested the czar.

"Don't you know you should never leave your glass empty? You must immediately refill it!" retorted the soldier.

The czar refilled his glass, drank it, and the soldier repeated this performance until they emptied the entire bottle. As if they had not already drunk more than enough, the soldier breezily ordered another bottle, although he had paid for the first with the last of his money.

When the bar owner demanded full payment, the soldier offered his sword as a "pledge" until he could bring the money to settle the bill.

The czar and the soldier left the bar together, swaying drunkenly. The czar, however, was not too drunk to notice what the soldier had done, and he asked him in what regiment he was serving. The two then went their separate ways.

The following day, the commander of the regiment received word that the czar was coming on an official tour of inspection. The soldier, who had parted with his sword the previous day, could not possibly redeem his "pledge" in time for the czar's inspection. What could he do now?

Suddenly he had an idea. He carved out a sword from a piece of wood and fitted it into the sheath, hoping that the czar would not notice.

The czar went riding majestically among the rows of soldiers. They all stood at attention, their arms raised in salute. The czar stopped in front of the soldier with whom he had been drinking the previous day, and the poor soldier's heart trebled. But the czar addressed himself to the soldier next to him saying, "Look at your uniform! Is that the best you could do?"

The poor fellow was flabbergasted! There was nothing wrong with his uniform, but who dared argue with the czar? The czar turned to his "drinking companion" and shouted, "Draw your sword and chop off his head!"

The soldier with the wooden sword was in quite a predicament. Disobeying the czar meant death. On the other hand, if he drew his sword, the czar would immediately see that the sword was just a piece of wood. As these thoughts flashed through his mind, they were followed by an ingenious idea.

"Your Majesty," began the soldier, "I am ready to carry out your order, as you feel my friend is guilty. But if he deserves to be spared, I ask the Almighty, Who alone sees into the hearts of men, to save him by turning my sword into wood." Saying which, he quickly drew his sword out of its sheath and, to everyone's astonished gaze, there in his hand was a sword of wood!

"Very well," said the czar. "I will pardon your friend. As for you, I promote you to the rank of officer."

The czar was impressed with the soldier's brilliance, and was determined to avail himself of his genius. He received promotion after promotion until he finally became a member of the czar's prestigious bodyguard.

One day, the czar began to discuss religion with him and asked, "Do you truly believe in G-d, and do you attend church regularly?"

"Yes, your Majesty, I believe in G-d, but I do not go to church. I am a Jew."

"A Jew?" exclaimed the czar. "I thought you were a Christian. Become a Christian and I will make you a general. You will then be my personal friend. The czarina and I will be your godparents and you will lack neither honor nor riches."

The soldier was taken aback at the czar's offer. He had, in truth, been torn away from his family and faith at a very young age. Yet he had never entertained the thought of changing his religion.

The czar, seeing his hesitation, began to urge him to accept his offer while, at the same time, hinting that things would go badly for him if he refused. So, somewhat reluctantly, the soldier decided to say "yes" to the czar, though in his heart he meant to remain a Jew.

Everything was arranged, and the czar, czarina and the soldier set out for Kiev where the Bishop would carry out the baptism and conversion. The soldier sat in the royal carriage, silent and lost in thought. How could he ever have even thought of becoming a Christian? A Jew he was born, and a Jew he would remain to his dying day.

As the royal carriage was crossing a bridge over the river in the center of the city, the soldier suddenly jumped out of the carriage. With the words of the Shema on his lips, he flung himself into the rushing waters. His body quickly disappeared.

The whole party looked on in horror. Sadly, they turned back. The czar, in particular, had become attached to this Jewish soldier, and he began to think deeply about the whole matter. If these Jewish soldiers could feel so strongly about their Judaism, his plan to "Russify" them was obviously a failure, and there was no point in continuing it. Thus, the sacrifice of this martyr was, after all, not in vain, for soon thereafter the czar rescinded his cruel decree.


Moshiach Matters

The entire history of humanity is a prelude to the era of Moshiach, the result of close to six millennia of man's efforts in developing and bringing to light the inherent goodness and perfection of this world. The world of Moshiach is a world free of hatred, jealousy and suffering, a world suffused with wisdom, a world in harmony with itself and its Creator.

(Beyond the Letter of the Law by Yanki Tauber)


  425: Pinchas427: Devarim  
   
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