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January 3, 1997 - 24 Teves 5757

450: Shemot

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  449: Vayechi451: Va'eira  

Shadows. Every physical object has one.  |  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

Shadows. Every physical object has one.

Depending on the time of day (i.e., the sun's location in the sky) the very same object's shadow will be short and fat or tall and thin. Since your shadow is always with you, it is a built-in compass, as long as you're not in a forest or a city of skyscrapers.

It's also a ready-made source of outdoor fun for kids -- remember trying to stand on your friend's shadow?

The Baal Shem Tov comments on the verse in Psalms, "G-d is your shadow at your right hand," that G-d has implanted a spiritual dynamic into the universe: Just as the movement of a person's body is reflected and magnified in his shadow, every step of our conduct in this world likewise arouses spiritual forces of incomparable power.

Every action we take in this physical world, every mitzva we do, has a reaction and ramification in the spiritual worlds.

But this concept of our conduct in this world impacting the spiritual worlds is not limited to physical actions. It also includes even our words (and thoughts) as illustrated by the following anecdote:

Once, while in the Baal Shem Tov's shul, two villagers were arguing. One shouted at the other that he would tear him to pieces like a fish. The Baal Shem Tov told his disciples to hold one another's hands, and to stand near him with their eyes closed. Then he placed his holy hands on the shoulders of the two disciples next to him, completing the circle. Suddenly the disciples began shouting in great terror: They had seen that fellow actually dismembering his disputant!

This incident shows clearly that every potential has an effect -- either in physical form or on a spiritual plane that can be perceived only with higher and more refined senses.

With these teachings in mind, it might actually be a compliment to say of someone, "He's afraid of his shadow." If that "fear" is actually cautiousness toward his words and actions, fearing that they might have negative ramifications, then we would all do well to be afraid of our shadows.

But, lest one think that only our actions and our words create shadows, think again. For, in the words of the Previous Rebbe, "Thought is potent." Even our thoughts can effect the world. Thought knows no bounds; no partition can stand in its way; at all times it reaches its required destination.

We see an example of this from the story of Job, when his friends felt his plight despite their distance from him. People who are connected, friends or family, can often feel when someone is thinking about them. And if the thought is a warm one, one that shows concern for the person's situation, it can have lasting benefits. It can, according to Chasidic teachings, actually help a person spiritually and even materially.

And we all thought that a shadow was just an image cast on a surface by a body intercepting light!


Living with the Rebbe

For the Jew, true vitality is derived not from his physical existence but from his spiritual life. Thus, when the Torah relates in this week's Torah portion, Shemot, that the Egyptians "embittered their lives with hard labor" we understand that this refers to the Jews' spiritual existence and not merely their physical condition.

How did strenuous physical labor affect the Jews spirituality?

"Harsh labor" is any exertion that has no aim or that brings no tangible advantage. Such labor has no boundaries; it is never finished and never attains its objective.

When a Jew conducts his business affairs according to the Torah's dictates, his efforts are measured and invested only in labors that are beneficial. He knows that a certain amount of time must be devoted to praying and learning Torah; not all of his energies go into the pursuit of a livelihood.

"You shall eat the labor of your hands" -- only his hands, not his head, are involved in his work. The Jew does only as much as is required; his heart and mind are reserved for higher pursuits. The lion's share of his energy is devoted to the service of G-d.

When a Jew approaches his business affairs in this manner, G-d sends him his livelihood in abundance and blesses him with all that he needs.

However, when a person's attitude toward working is not in accordance with the Torah, all of his thoughts become caught up in his livelihood. All he can think of night and day is how to succeed and obtain greater profits. The person can never relax; he cannot sleep in peace. Business becomes his sole preoccupation; he is always "at work." This is the meaning of "harsh labor": an effort that has no end and no clearly defined measure. In truth, he can never succeed with such an approach, for only G-d can grant us our livelihood.

G-d created the world in such a way that there is a time and a place for everything. There is a limit to what we are expected to do, and all of our efforts are rewarded commensurately. The Egyptians, however, enslaved the Jewish people "with harsh labor."

Only the G-dly soul is able to toil "without measure and without benefit." The soul is limitless. Because it is connected to G-d, its powers are likewise infinite. The service of the soul is above all constraints. It does not serve G-d in order to receive reward, but purely for the sake of heaven.

When the Egyptians forced the Jews to engage in "hard labor," they took these higher qualities of the soul and perverted them by applying them to the physical realm. The Jews' labor in Egypt was thus "without measure and without end." For this reason the Jewish people's lives were embittered -- their true lives, i.e., their spiritual existence.

Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, vol. 3


A Slice of Life

About a year ago, Audi Gozlan, a Montreal lawyer specializing in international business law, needed guidance and a blessing from the Rebbe. Having already written three law books, he was unsure about publishing his fourth book himself. The new book dealt with Letters of Credit and the international resolution of conflicts of law.

He travelled to the Rebbe's Ohel (resting place) in New York to request a blessing that his new book should not only be successful, but should also be a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name).

"I also informed the Rebbe about my latest style of drawing which emphasizes themes of the Redemption. I wanted something more powerful to convey the Rebbe's message that the Redemption is imminent," adds Audi.

Stopping to rest at the Chabad House which is adjacent to the Ohel, Audi watched a video of the Rebbe distributing dollars for tzedaka. On the video at that moment, the Rebbe was blessing a man for success in the publication and distribution of his book. Grasping the implication of this blessing and its relevance to him, Audi was surprised when, soon after, a photographer passed by the Rebbe to receive a dollar and the Rebbe said, "I give you a blessing that you should capture moments of peace and moments of Redemption, that you should be able to convey this to the world through your talent." These were the responses to the two requests Audi had made.

Audi relates, "Upon returning to Montreal, I published my book. Thank G-d, the book has sold extremely well." Recently, Audi was approached by the International Chamber of Commerce with an offer to buy the rights to the book.

The dedication of his book reads: "To Rabbi M.M. Schneerson, whose knowledge, wisdom, and understanding permeates my own."

Explains Audi, "This dedication emphasizes an important message of the Rebbe: Judaism should not be limited to "religious" matters. Whether one is a lawyer, doctor, businessman, or other professional, he must make his environment G-dly, a place where G-dliness is felt and appreciated."

With the Rebbe's guidance, Audi made another important career decision. After working for a well-established law firm, he considered opening his own firm. Audi again turned to the Rebbe for advice. He wrote a letter explaining his predicament, and placed it at random in one of the Rebbe's books of letters. In the pages where he had inserted his letter, the Rebbe was responding to someone with an identical problem. The Rebbe advised the person to open his own firm only after discussing it with his employer and making sure that no one would suffer financially. The Rebbe concluded with a blessing for success in his new venture.

Audi knew what to do. Shortly afterwards, he was successful in an amicable severance of business ties with his employer, and established his own firm with four partners.

Concerning his artistic talents, Audi relates, "Every chasid has a different way of communicating with the Rebbe. Each one does it through his own personal life experiences. I express my connection to the Rebbe through my drawings. When I draw the Rebbe, I can feel how the Rebbe is close to me, and I am trying to get closer to him."

Audi's relationship with Lubavitch and the Rebbe started young. Although his parents, Israeli immigrants to Montreal, were not observant, they sent him to the Lubavitch yeshiva in Montreal. At the age of ten, Audi convinced his father to take him to a Chasidic gathering of the Rebbe's in New York. Not knowing Yiddish, the Gozlans simply focused their attention on the Rebbe. Following the lead of all the Chasidim, the elder Gozlan picked up a cup to say "l'chaim" to the Rebbe. The Rebbe noticed that Mr. Gozlan's cup was empty and he pointed to him to fill it. The chasid next to Mr. Gozlan filled up the cup with wine. The Rebbe nodded his head to Mr. Gozlan's l'chaim, and indicated that he should refill his cup and say "l'chaim" once more. The Rebbe's personal attention had a lasting impression on the Gozlans.

In honor of Audi's Bar-Mitzva, they travelled to the Rebbe for yechidut (a private audience). During this yechidut, the Rebbe outlined a course of action which he repeated to Audi on different occasions, and which became Audi's direction in life.

The Rebbe said, "You should continue to do the avoda (service) of tzedaka (charity). By reaching out to others, you will be successful in all your endeavors." Before Audi entered law school, the Rebbe repeated the same message. Telling him to go to Universite' de Montreal instead of McGill University, the Rebbe added, "While you are in law school, make sure to discuss Yiddishkeit with your fellow students and teachers, and do not forget to give charity three times a day."

Audi recalls, "At first I was surprised at the Rebbe's choice of the U. of M., but it did not take long to recognize the Rebbe's foresight. I got involved with the Hillel House on campus, where I was asked to be in charge of all religious programming. We had phenomenal success in all our programs. The student body of Hillel House increased dramatically, and participation in the Jewish programs increased steadily. At one point we held Shabbatons with 200 students participating.

"One of the highlights of my involvement was when we travelled with a group of 60 students to see the Rebbe on a Sunday during the distribution of dollars. At that time the Rebbe reiterated his message of tzedaka and gave me a blessing for success in my Hillel House activities."

After graduating in 1992, Audi continued to reach out to others in different ways. He says, "I became involved with the Chabad Chai Center and use my artistic talents to convey the Rebbe's message of the need to prepare ourselves to 'Welcome Moshiach with Acts of Goodness and Kindness."'

Reprinted from the Chabad Press, Montreal, edited by Sarah Teitlebaum


A Call To Action

Plant Seeds

Consider that your actions, your words, even your thoughts, are like seeds. How can we assure that whatever seeds we plant are good, and hardy? "Harmonizing our thoughts, speech and action with the teachings of the Torah will lead to the growth and blossoming of the Redemption.

In particular, this involves working with Jewish children, realizing that the efforts invested in their Jewish education are like seeds that will flower in the future and will lead to new seeds in future generations. Furthermore, every aspect of one's thought, speech and deed, should be seen as a seed that must be planted and will then produce fruit, allowing a person to continue living in an eternal way.

For each of these acts will produce fruit, that will contain seeds for further growth. And thus each activity will lead to an infinite cycle of growth."

The Rebbe - 10 Tevet, 5752-1992


The Rebbe Writes

YAHRZEIT AND PRACTICAL DEEDS
Free translation

21 Tevet, 5720 [1960]

To all participants in the Annual Dinner of the United Lubavitcher Yeshivot "Tomchei-Tmimim":

This year's Annual Dinner takes place on the auspicious day of the 24th of Tevet, the yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman], author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch and founder of Chabad Chasidut.

The Yahrzeit is the annual remembrance of the last day of life on this earth for a Jewish neshama (soul), and of its return to its Creator. This day marks the summation of the whole span of life, the conclusion of the soul's mission on earth. Like all remembrances in Jewish life to which the Torah calls attention, the yahrzeit is not just a reminder which is to remain in the realm of memory.

It recalls and demands practical deeds in the spirit of the soul's mission of the person whose yahrzeit is commemorated, and by means of such practical deeds in that spirit one becomes part and parcel of the creativity and eternity of that person.

According to the explanation of my venerated father-in-law and of his father, of saintly memory, the inner aspect of the soul's mission and of the life and work of the Alter Rebbe -- as reflected also in his name, Shneur (shnei-ohr, meaning "two lights"), two lights united together in one word -- was to fuse together the two Divine lights, the revealed light of the Torah (Nigleh she'b'Torah) and the hidden inner light of the Torah (Nistar she'b'Torah), in such a way that the innermost should permeate, irradiate and shine forth through the outer (revealed) light, resulting in a whole and complete Torah -- Torah T'mima.

And, as explained in the Zohar, this is also the means whereby, in the same way, the innermost aspect of the soul is merged with its outer aspect -- the revealed part of the Jewish soul with its inner nekudat haYahadut (Divine spark).

Such is also the inner purpose of the Yeshivot "Tomchei Tmimim" Lubavitch, namely, that the students should become tmimim (whole and complete) in the spirit of Torah T'mima, as defined and expounded upon by the Alter Rebbe, whose yahrzeit is commemorated today.

All those who adequately participate in the Annual Dinner of the United Yeshivot Tomchei T'mimim on this auspicious day of the 24th of Tevet, including those who were unable to participate in person but take an adequate share in the supporting and strengthening of the Lubavitcher Yeshivot, thereby contribute and become an integral part of the creative deeds and accomplishments of the one whose yahrzeit is being commemorated.

May G-d grant that such participation be in a growing measure, with a steadily rising vitality and devotion.

And the zechut [merit] of the Baal-ha-Yahrzeit, the Alter Rebbe, will surely stand you all in good stead, men and women, who take an active share in the support and expansion of the Yeshivot Tomchei T'mimim, which are conducted in his spirit and with his system, and will bring you Divine blessings in all your needs, both material and spiritual, which go hand in hand together.


What's New

CABLE TO JEWISH LIFE

A Cable to Jewish Life is a 30 minute weekly show about everything and anything Jewishly interesting. Host Rabbi Yosef Katzman introduces viewers to a myriad of Jewish subjects with guests from around the world. A Cable to Jewish Life is aired internationally. For your local time and station call (in the U.S.) 800-484-1255 ext. 3181 or visit them at the internet website: www.cablejew.org

NEW CENTERS

At the recent International Convention of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries which took place in Crown Heights, New York with the participation of over 1,000 emissaries, three new Chabad-Lubavitch Centers were announced. Tbilisi in Georgia, Potsdam in Germany, and Samara in Russia are the newest points of light in the nearly 2,000 Chabad- Lubavitch Centers world-wide.

SEFER TORAH

A Sefer Torah will be commenced to be used by the kollel at The Tomb of Rachel, Beis Lechem Road, Israel on January 2, 1997, Thursday evening, 7:00p.m. at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center 60 West End Avenue Brooklyn, New York, 11235.

For more information please contact: 718-648-2610 or by e-mail: to Deborah Haies - haze@interport.net. This Torah in being written in memory of Ms. Haies' grandmothers, Rachel Kampinsky and Rachel Rabinowitz.


A Word from the Director

This Friday (January 3rd this year) is the 24th of Tevet, the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman opened a new path which allowed the teaching of the previously hidden aspects of the Torah -- P'nimiyut HaTorah -- to be comprehended through the intellect and thus reveal additional G-dliness within the world.

But Rabbi Shneur Zalman was not only a master in the area of the more esoteric aspects of the Torah. Even as a child he was considered a great scholar of the revealed parts of the Torah -- nigle d'Torah, as well.

This quality of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's is alluded to in his name, Shneur, which can be broken up into two Hebrew words, "Shnei" and "ohr" which mean "two lights." Rabbi Shneur Zalman illuminated the world with his greatness in the two light of the Torah.

In Rabbi Shneur Zalman's magnum opus, Tanya, he writes: "The Messianic Era... is the fulfillment and culmination of the creation of the world, for which purpose it was originally created." This means that our spiritual service will reach its full completion only with the fulfillment and culmination of the entire creation which will take place when Moshiach is revealed.

The entire purpose, in fact, of the revelation of Chasidic philosophy was to hasten and prepare the world for the Messianic Era.

Thus, when each one of us studies Chasidut, whether the more sublime aspects or the most esoteric concepts, we prepare ourselves and the world around us for Moshiach.


Thoughts that Count

And these are the names of the Children of Israel who were coming to Egypt with Yaakov; each man and his household came. (Exod. 1:1)

To mention "Yaakov" and "each man and his household" seems superfluous. When a man marries and raises a family, he is considered the head of the household, the one turned to for advice and guidance. As he ages and his children mature, the children often take over running the family. Despite the fact that Yaakov was very old and his children were all grown, Yaakov still led the household, with his children following.

(Ba'al Haturim)

Pharoah commanded all his people saying, "Every son that is born cast him into the river, and every daughter you shall sustain." (Exodus 1:22)

The Hebrew word for "you shall sustain" is "techayun," which means, "you shall be the source of life." Pharoah told the Egyptians to take in the Jewish daughters and totally assimilate them into the Egyptian way of life. Pharoah ordered a physical extermination of the boys, and a spiritual extermination of the girls. Both decrees are written in the same verse to show that they are equivalent in their harshness.

(Likutei Sichot)

Remove your shoes from your feet. (Exod. 3:5)

G-d told Moshe to remove his shoes to teach him a lesson in sensitivity. One who walks barefoot can feel even the smallest pebble. In preparing Moshe to be the leader of the Jews, G-d was teaching him the importance of being sensitive to even minute details concerning his people.

(Midrash Rabba)

And he [Moshe] said, "Oh L-rd please send by the hand of whom You will send." (Exod. 4:13)

Moshe asked G-d to send Moshiach. He wanted G-d to spare the Jews the Egyptian bondage and allow them to immediately experience the Redemption through Moshiach. G-d refused because the exile of Egypt was a preparatory stage to receiving the Torah, and through these two events the Jews would merit the coming of Moshiach.

(Likutei Sichot)

Reprinted from Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky


It Once Happened

It was Elul, 5701 (1941) when the Germans invaded the town of Haditch and forced the Jews out of their homes. The unsuspecting Jews followed orders and filed to the outskirts of the town, where they were massacred. A handful of them, however, fearing the worst, had fled to the Jewish cemetery. They hid themselves in the small synagogue which was attached to the Ohel (the building housing the grave) of the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, known as the Alter Rebbe.

Lookouts were posted outside the synagogue, while inside, the little band of Jews tried to sleep. They hoped to make contact with nearby partisans who could lead them to their forest hideout. Suddenly, the guards saw a wagon approaching filled with Ukrainian police. They dashed to the synagogue to warn the others, but the police had seen them. The Jews were trapped inside with Ukrainian police guarding the locked doors of the synagogue building.

There was no escape, and the terrified survivors of the massacre at Haditch waited in the darkness. In the adjacent Ohel, the Eternal Flame flickered as always above the grave of the Alter Rebbe. Aharon Ginzberg, the old caretaker of the cemetery, entered the Ohel and wept. He contemplated what lay ahead. Tomorrow would be the last day of his life, he thought.

"Holy Rebbe!" a cry escaped from his lips. "Your children are in desperate danger! You must pray for us! 'If not for the prayers of tzadikim in the Other World, this world could not exist for even one second...'"

Although Aharon Ginzberg's eyes were closed, he felt rather than saw a swell of brilliant light filling the room. It was emanating from all sides -- from up, from down, from the very walls of the structure itself. Then he heard a voice, a heavenly voice reverberating in his ears.

"I cannot bear it any longer!" the voice said. "The attribute of Yaakov is the attribute of mercy. Open the cave under the Eternal Flame."

Suddenly, the door to the synagogue was thrown open and three members of the S.S. and two Ukrainian policemen stormed in. "Here they are!" they cried triumphantly. "You will remain here until morning," the S.S. man snarled. All of the Jews who had been in the synagogue were now shoved into the Ohel. Locking them in, the murderers went into the synagogue, to wait for dawn. While the Jews spent the night immersed in prayer, their tormentors wiled away the hours drinking and laughing.

Aharon Ginzberg whispered to their leader, Binyamin: "Binyamin, I heard a voice telling me there is a cave under the eternal light." Binyamin had no idea what to think of these strange words. He walked over and moved the wooden desk which stood beneath the light. There, to his utter shock, was a trap door. He lifted the lid and peered into the mouth of a hidden cavern.

It was decided that Binyamin would lead the procession, with the women and children in the rear. Everyone descended the rickety steps into the dark tunnel except the old caretaker, Aharon Ginzberg. He had remained above and had carefully and silently replaced the wooden desk which had covered the cave's entrance. Then he resumed his recital of Psalms.

His son Leibke began to weep when he realized what his father had done. "Tatte," he sobbed, but he was quickly silenced. The group moved steadily through the thick darkness, stopping every so often to get their bearing. But then -- disappointment -- the exit was completely sealed with earth and gravel. They began to scrape at the loose earth with their bare hands. They dug until they were bathed in sweat, but their labors were rewarded, for just when they could dig no more, they found themselves standing beneath the cold night sky.

Only Leibke Ginzberg hesitated. How could he leave his father behind?

The others faced another kind of trial. There, before them, a freezing river separated them from the forest and the partisans' den. Binyamin was the first to spot a small, half-rotted boat on the other side of the river. He managed to bring it across and two by two, he ferried the survivors to the other side. Though exhausted, they continued on until they found the partisans' hideout.

Binyamin told the partisans of their narrow escape and that Aharon Ginzberg had remained behind. The partisans made their way through the forest until they reached the Ohel. There they found Leibke Ginzberg lying outside the building undetected by the soldiers but helpless to save his father, who had been discovered by the loathsome killers.

Finding their prey gone, the soldiers had turned their wrath on the old man. When he didn't respond to the curses and beatings, they shot him three times and he returned his holy soul to his Maker.

Leibke and the partisans had been the powerless witnesses of the murder. Now that the killers' weapons had been completely discharged, they waited for them to emerge. Five minutes later it was all over. The bodies of the soldiers were stripped, their weapons and uniforms confiscated. By the light of the partisans' lanterns, Leibke Ginzberg wept over his father's remains.

Reprinted from Reaching Out Newsletter


Moshiach Matters

At the present, the all-embracing Unity of G-d is not overtly visible; accordingly, the created universe appears to be an independent entity that enjoys a self-sufficient existence. In the future, however, the all-embracing Unit of the Creator will be manifest for all to see: everyone will see how the universe is utterly nullified to the Divine light that flows into it and animates it.

(Torah Or, Vaeira)


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