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Imagine brushing your teeth once a year for three days straight, or once a week for an hour, rather than the prescribed minimum of twice daily.
The benefits of tooth brushing would certainly be lost on such a regime, and it might even be detrimental to the gums or other tissue (let alone your arm muscles and social life if you opted for the annual approach).
Or contemplate calculating your monthly requirements of vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., and consuming them on the first Tuesday of each month. Without even considering the possible toxicity of ingested vitamins and minerals in such large quantities, would there be any nutritional gain in such an approach?
Even the old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," whether it bears any truth, would certainly fail to keep the doctor away -- and probably necessitate a trip to the doctor -- if one ate seven apples once a week.
Just as making hygiene, a balanced diet, or exercise a part of our daily schedule is touted by experts far and wide, so too is the importance of giving tzedaka daily (except Shabbat and holidays) commended by Judaism.
Jewish teachings are replete with references, inferences, recommendations and requirements concerning charity. From Maimonides' well-known ladder of tzedaka-giving (giving begrudgingly is the lowest level; helping a person get a job so he needn't require tzedaka is right there at the top) to the plethora of inspiring stories about giving tzedaka, to the detailed and exacting laws about how much tzedaka to give, we find tzedaka very much a part of the fabric of Jewish life.
Writing out a check to a Jewish institution yearly is a great deed. Giving donations to every organization which make a request is also exemplary. And if the first or second option mentioned above were to equal 10% of one's income (the amount we are required by Jewish law to give to charity annually) we would be fulfilling the "letter of the law." We would also be activating the Talmudic teachings that "charity saves from death" and "great is charity for it brings the Redemption closer."
Yet, like hygiene, nutrition, exercise, or any other number of daily activities -- the full benefit of which are felt when performed on a daily basis -- tzedaka, too, should be performed daily.
One of the unique benefits of giving charity is that the act of giving reminds us that we are, thank G-d, in the enviable position of being able to give rather than receive, i.e., there are others less fortunate than us. Giving tzedaka can help sensitize us to the needs of others and helps strengthen the trait of loving-kindness inherent in every Jew.
A news item citing a recent study noted that in the U.S., it is the poor who give the most to charity! Those families who earn less than $10,000 per year give a much higher percentage of their income than people who earn $20,000, $50,000, $200,000, or even millions annually! It would seem that those who have not are more sympathetic to the plight of others in a similar or even more desperate situation.
Making tzedaka part of our daily routine has tremendous benefits. A few coins a day in a tzedaka box of your choice (in addition to those more sizable donations) is a great way to stay spiritually fit.
This week's Torah portion, Toldot, begins with the words, "These are the generations of Isaac, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac." What is the meaning of the repetition in this verse? By stating "the son of Abraham" and "Abraham begot Isaac" -- two ways of expressing the same idea--the Torah offers us the reason for "the generations of Isaac":
The generations of Isaac are the consequence of Abraham having begotten Isaac.
Abraham, as the Torah relates, was "one" -- the only Jew in the entire world. The whole world stood in opposition to Abraham, as the name "Ivri--Hebrew" (from the word "eiver--side")--implies. The entire world was on one side and Abraham on the other. Nonetheless, Abraham persisted in his mission to make G-d's Name known, as it states, "And he called there in the name of the L-rd, G-d of the world."
This approach was passed on to Abraham's son Isaac as an inheritance, thereby paving the way for the possibility of future "generations of Isaac" --- both in the spiritual sense (according to the explanation of our Sages that the primary "descendants" of the righteous are their Torah, mitzvot and good deeds) and the physical sense, actual offspring.
This contains a lesson for every Jew in his daily life. When a Jew takes a look at the world he is apt to become discouraged. Evil people seem to prosper and flourish, and countless obstacles stand in the way of his service of G-d. For most o f the day he must involve himself in mundane affairs; it is an ongoing struggle to bring holiness into his life. The Jew is liable to wonder where he will get the strength to observe the commandments and perform good deeds. How can he withstand the many trials that he must endure?
The answer is contained in this week's Torah portion.
"The deeds of the forefathers are a sign for their children" -- and not only a sign or indication of how they should conduct themselves, but an infusion of strength. "Abraham begot Isaac" --Abraham was the rock from which Isaac was hewn, and t he source of strength for all Jews. Just as Abraham did not flinch at taking on the entire world, spreading the belief in one G-d and the knowledge that "there is none but Him," so too must every single one of Abraham's descendants take courage in his ability to overcome all hindrances and impediments that come his way.
By striving to fulfill "the generations of Isaac" in the spiritual sense, i.e., Torah, mitzvot and good deeds, we thereby merit to become "the generations of Isaac" in the literal sense as well, vanquishing the enemies of G-d and His Torah in preparation for the conquest of the holy land, at the hands of Moshiach.
Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, vol. 1
Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten
Excerpted from The Jerusalem Report
by Netty C. Gross
East Hampton, the frightfully chic resort village on the eastern shore of New York's Long Island, where little Jackie Bouvier used to ride her ponies, is not exactly the Catskills. With its buildings on the elm-shaded village green, stately homes, inns and high-priced shops, it's by far the swankiest and most famous of the Hamptons, a string of potato farms transformed into a resort area by upper-crust types in the late 19th century.
So the last person you'd expect to find there on Saturday mornings behind the doors of one private mansion is Leibel Baumgarten, a 35- year-old Lubavitcher rabbi with tzitzit and payot conducting Orthodox services for a bevy of glitterati in the breathtaking, oceanfront living room.
In fact, men and women are flocking to "Leibel's minyan" on Lily Pond Lane, which runs parallel to the ocean and boasts shingle-roofed, turn-of- the-century mansions embraced by acres of cropped lawns, tennis courts and swimming pools. The home's owners are an Orthodox couple from Teaneck, New Jersey, who asked that their name not be used. Neighbors include, among others, former Treasury Secretary William Simon and real-estate magnate and publisher Mort Zuckerman.
Each Sabbath morning during the summer (there's also a minyan Friday nights) they walk - sometimes 100-strong - down the gravel path that leads to the mansion. Open to "whoever knows about it," the minyan includes so-called all types of Jews in search of authentic davening, upscale Orthodox vacationers and a sprinkling of celebrities: Fashion designer Ralph Lauren has driven in from nearby Montauk, and financier and Revlon CEO Ron Perelman, who arrives with bodyguards from his own East Hampton estate, The Creeks, is a regular.
Though many non-Orthodox worshippers drive to the minyan, once inside the house, they happily comply with the Orthodox rule of separate seating for men and women during the service; a mezzanine balcony overlooking the living room is used as a women's gallery. For those whose principal concerns are neither prayer nor star-gazing, there's a Kiddush worthy of Martha Stewart served in the anteroom, with such traditional goodies as cholent and pickled herring.
"We have about 100 people at the minyan for Shabbat services, from every economic and social walk of life. Ninety percent are not Orthodox, but I don't like labels. A Jew is a Jew," says Baumgarten, who refuses to divulge the names of any of his congregants, and who, as a Lubavitch emissary, believes it his mission to spread traditional Judaism among all Jews, even if it means he must leave his own family home for the Sabbath.
A father of eight, Baumgarten is the rabbi of a synagogue in Coram, three-quarters of an hour closer to Manhattan than the Hamptons. He got his start in East Hampton five years ago after placing an ad in the local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, offering to form an Orthodox Shabbat minyan. A family that lives part-time in nearby Three Mile Harbor responded, opening their home for the purpose.
"It's a traditional, halachic service," says Baumgarten. "We don't omit anything. We do everything in Hebrew and read the entire weekly portion of the Torah. We have a special siddur [prayer book] with transliteration for those who can't read Hebrew. Obviously what everyone has in common is a desire to be part of an authentic service, which you wouldn't find in the East Hampton Jewish Center."
"It's unique," agrees a young woman whose family lives in Manhattan and East Hampton and has begun to study Judaism in an evening program for adults at an Upper West Side synagogue. "My normal Saturday morning routine used to be solely tennis, brunch, the beach. Now it includes Leibel's minyan and it's great. I just wish they would make more stuff at the Kiddush fat-free."
Leibel's East Hampton minyan is just one of several new bastions of Yiddishkeit that have cropped up in the legendary Hamptons. At least three other Orthodox services, which take place in a variation of the traditional shteiblach - small synagogues operating out of private homes - have been recently established in the adjoining villages of Watermill, Sag Harbor and Southhampton. And what was four years ago a small Orthodox service in Westhampton Beach, has exploded into a full-blown, year-round Orthodox synagogue, with 1,400 member families.
"All this Jewish activity is strange and interesting," says the investment banker and father of three children who established the shteibl in Watermill and also asked to remain anonymous, "because the Hamptons are fundamentally goyishe and exclusive." While he says he started the Watermill minyan simply because "davening with a minyan on Shabbat was just something I didn't want to give up," he believes that "non- Orthodox people come because we've made the service accessible to them and because they're curious. The kiddush is the biggest deal."
But Richard Stone, a Manhattan attorney who is Orthodox and spends the summer months in East Hampton, says a confluence of factors has contributed to the upsurge in Jewish observance in the Hamptons. "Firstly, there are simply more Orthodox a round who can afford to summer in East Hampton," he says. "And secondly, the non-Orthodox are willing to try something as 'exotic' as Leibel's minyan probably, in part, because it's presented to them on their own turf in a non- threatening way. No one has to travel to Brooklyn. Also, Leibel's a great guy."
Awaken your core this month
"Awakening the core of our being must be reflected in a concern for the fundamental existence of every Jew. This should be expressed in efforts to provide our fellow Jews with the necessities required to celebrate the holidays of the month of Kislev [the 'Chasidic New Year' on the 19th of Kislev and Chanuka] with happiness and joy.
Similarly, they should have the means to fulfill the custom which the Rebbes followed of giving Chanuka gelt to the members of their household." (1 Kislev, 5752-1991)
Simply stated, this means that as we think about our own family's holiday celebrations this month, we should make sure to help provide for other, less fortunate people in the greater Jewish family.
20th of Marcheshvan, 5729 
Through Rabbi..., your donation was duly received and earmarked for the Tefilin Campaign. Receipt is enclosed herewith.
I was particularly gratified to hear from Rabbi... about your efforts to stimulate fulfillment of the mitzva of tefilin. For, in addition to the great importance of this mitzva itself, we also have the assurance of our Sages that, "One mitzva brings another in its train." If this is true of any mitzva, how much more so of this mitzva of tefilin, of which it is said that the whole Torah was equated with tefilin.
Moreover, it has also been pointed out that there are all together only three mitzvot which are considered a "sign" between G-d and the Jewish people, and they are Shabbat, tefilin and mila (circumcision).
Even when one persuades a fellow Jew to put on tefilin only once, it is a great accomplishment for both, for the Rambam has ruled that putting on tefilin even once already takes a Jew out of the very lowly state of a person whose "skull has never worn tefilin" (Rosh Hashana 17a). All the more so, however, that the person will most likely put on tefilin more than once, and that this mitzva will in turn lead him to the fulfillment of other mitzvot, as mentioned above.
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report about your hatzlacha [success] in your tefilin activity, as well as in general bringing Jews closer to their Father in Heaven through the fulfillment of the mitzva in the daily life, in actual practice and conduct, for the essential thing is the deed. The zechut harabim [merit of the multitude] will surely aid you,
5th of Kislev, 5729 
This is to acknowledge with thanks receipt of your letter of November 22nd. I was indeed pleased to learn that you have accepted the chairmanship of the Chasidic Concert being given for the benefit of Camp Gan Israel and Chabad Lubavitch Organization in your community.
What is particularly gratifying is the spirit of enthusiasm which you have displayed in this connection. This is surely indicative that you will communicate this enthusiasm to all the participants, and that it will be carried over to the entire environment long after the event itself has taken place.
It is customary to look for depth and insights in everything, and the Chasidic concept of Negina [music] is indeed rich in both.
It is well-known, and a matter of experience, that music in general is highly evocative of inner feeling, much more than other forms of human expression such as oratory, or painting, and the like. Even verbal articulation as a medium of vocal music is on a different plane.
This is why Chasidic Negina is so important in Chasidic life, for it is the very objective of Chasidut to permeate the daily life of the Jew to such an extent that all actions should be imbued with inner feeling, even soulful expression. For then, every action assumes a different quality and meaningfulness, and even its external aspects and scope are greatly stimulated.
I send my prayerful wishes to you and all your colleagues and co- workers to enjoy great hatzlacha [success] in connection with the forthcoming event, particularly as it is dedicated to the most worthy cause of benefiting Camp Gan Israel and t he Chabad Lubavitch work to strengthen attachment of Jews, men, women and children, to our eternal Torah and eternal people of Israel.
The 35th National Mid-Winter Convention of the Lubavitch Women's Organization will be held on January 10-12 at the Radisson Hotel in Lincolnwood, Illinois. The theme of the convention is "Spiritual Empowerment for a New Age--The Feminine Dimension." A unique opportunity for women from around the country to convene, share ideas, and hear some of the most dynamic women in the world today. For more information, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch center.
The latest addition to the Gutnick Computerized Information Center produced by Sichos in English is the Chabad History Series. Each week, renown scholar and educator Rabbi Shloma Majesky retells a different part of the beginnings of the Chabad Chasidic movement. G.C.I.C.'s other options include daily telephone classes in Rambam, Tanya, and Sefer Hamitzvot and the weekly Torah portion, Chasidut, Moshiach topics, and stories of the Rebbes. To tune in call (718) 953-6100.
The ninth of Kislev (Nov. 20, this year) marks the birthday and, 54 years later, the passing, of Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch, known as the Mitteler Rebbe.
About the Mitteler Rebbe it was said that he was so immersed in Chasidut that "if his finger would have been cut, it would have bled Chasidut instead of blood!"
When the Mitteler Rebbe was arrested by the Czarist government on slanderous charges (he was later released on the 10th of Kislev), even the government doctor, who was a prominent specialist, acknowledged that Chasidut was the Mitteler Rebbe's very essence and life.
The doctor told the Russian authorities that they must allow the Mitteler Rebbe to give talks on Chasidut to his Chasidim, explaining, "Just as you provide food for prisoners to ensure their existence, so too, must you allow him to teach Chasidut. His very life depends on it."
The authorities saw that this was true when, while imprisoned, the Mitteler Rebbe's health waned. They agreed to let fifty Chasidim enter his prison room twice weekly to listen to a Chasidic discourse.
But the Mitteler Rebbe was not only concerned about the spiritual life of his fellow Jews; he worked to better their situation materially, as well.
He encouraged thousands of Jews, both his Chasidim and others, to settle on the land as farmers so that they would not have to be at the mercy of the anti-Semitic landowners or peasants. He established twenty-two Jewish farm settlements on land near the town of Cherson, which he had convinced the government to give for this purpose. Many of his Chasidim, however, were reluctant to move so far away from their Rebbe. Thus, the Mitteler Rebbe promised to go to the trouble of travelling to them so he could teach Chasidut to them there.
The Rebbe spoke numerous times of the importance of celebrating the ninth and tenth of Kislev in a fitting manner, with gatherings that will foster brotherhood and lead to good resolutions. May such gatherings this year be in Jerusalem, with the Rebbe and all of his predecessors presiding.
Yaakov gave Esav bread and lentil soup (Gen. 25:34)
Esav only asked for lentil soup, but when he came in hungry from the field, Yaakov first gave him bread. Yaakov would not take advantage of Esav's hunger to receive the birthright, and Esav wouldn't be able to claim that he had sold it under duress, making the sale null and void. Yaakov gave Esav bread, and when Esav was no longer hungry, Yaakov asked him if he still wanted lentil soup in exchange for his birthright.
(Y'dei Moshe Al Midrash Raba)
Esav said in his heart,"May the days of mourning for my father arrive, then I will kill my brother Yaakov. (Gen.27:31)
Esav waited until his Yitzchak passed away because he knew that Yaakov learned Torah day and night. He knew that the merit of learning Torah would prevent him from being able to harm Yaakov. It is forbidden to study Torah during the time of mourning, and therefore Yaakov would lack protection.
(Shaar Bat Rabim)
He summoned his older son Esav...(Gen. 27:1)
When Yitzchak called Esav to give him his blessing, the Torah refers to Esav as the "older" or "greater" son. Why is the wicked Esav referred to as greater? G-d told the Jewish people that before the Redemption, Esav and his children will have control over the world. When the Redemption comes, Esav will pay for his wickedness.
He will give me bread to eat and garments to put on. (Gen.28:20)
It seems unneccessary for Yaakov to add the words "to eat" and "to put on," because that's obviously what food and clothes are for. Yaakov isn't only asking G-d to bless him with food and clothing, but also to bless him with the good health to enjoy them. Unfortunately, there are people with an abundance of food and clothing who are unable to enjoy either.
From Vidibarta Bam, compiled by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky
Reb Yaakov Kadaner, a chasid of Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch, once accompanied Rabbi Dov Ber, known as the Mitteler Rebbe, on his travels.
One morning, after arriving in a certain town, the Rebbe delivered a Chasidic discourse of great depth. Afterward, Reb Yaakov went to have breakfast.
Soon thereafter, the Rebbe's attendant came to Reb Yaakov breathlessly and said, "If you want to look at the Rebbe's face, now is the time!" Reb Yaakov hesitated. For, while Jewish teachings explain that when one looks at the face of a great tzadik it brings one to a higher level of G-dly Awe, it was bold and even disrespectful to peer directly at the Rebbe.
"I don't want to," replied Reb Yaakov, "because I know that the Rebbe dislikes such conduct." The attendant assured the chasid, "Don't worry, the Rebbe won't even see you."
Reb Yaakov followed the attendant into the Rebbe's room. The attendant opened the door. Standing in the middle of the room utterly motionless, his face burning and his eyes wide open, was the Mitteler Rebbe.
It looked as if the Mitteler Rebbe was staring straight at Reb Yaakov. Reb Yaakov stepped away but the attendant pushed him forward and said in a loud voice, "There's nothing to fear. Right now the Rebbe doesn't see or hear anything. He is up there in the higher worlds presently."
"How do you know that?" Reb Yaakov asked.
"I am not speaking from my own personal experiences of the 'other worlds,' " responded the attendant, "I am just an ordinary person. But I am speaking from my having seen the Rebbe in this state many times." Reb Yaakov looked closely upon the Rebbe's holy countenance and saw that though the Rebbe's eyes were open, none of his physical senses were "of this world." From ten in the morning until three in the afternoon, Reb Yaakov stood and gazed upon the holy countenance of the Rebbe. Servants walked in and out of the room but the Rebbe stood motionless.
At 3 o'clock the attendant ordered one of the servants to set the table in the room for lunch as the Rebbe hadn't eaten anything all day. The servant did this and then brought a pitcher with water over to the Rebbe so that the Rebbe could wash his hands for the meal.
The Rebbe did not notice the servant so the attendant told the servant to wake the Rebbe up. But the servant refused to touch the Rebbe. The bold attendant then approached the Rebbe and tugged at his sleeve. "Rebbe, please wash your hands to eat," he urged the Rebbe. Instead of answering, the Rebbe walked from the middle of the room to the wall, and stood there as before.
Reb Yaakov left the room as he could no longer see the Rebbe's face. The next day, the attendant approached Reb Yaakov once again. He informed Reb Yaakov, "The Rebbe remained in that state until four o'clock, at which time he walked over to the table and sat down to eat in a spirit of total elation.
"I asked the Rebbe what was the cause of his great joy. The Rebbe told me, 'Such joy I have never experienced before. My father [who had passed away] appeared to me as soon as I began to say the Chasidic discourse this morning. When I returned to my room I repeated the discourse for my father, and from its words he revealed some wondrous insights into mystical truths that are beyond the grasp of mortal intellect. And it is these new teachings that have granted me this joy.'"
Rav said, "The world was created only for [King] David." Shmuel said, "The world was created only for Moshe." Rabbi Yochanan said, "The world was created only for Moshiach."
(Talmud Sanhedrin 88b)