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L'Chaim
January 24, 1997 - 16 Shevat 5757

453: Beshalach

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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.


  452: Bo454: Yisro  

Time  |  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

Time

The concept of time, what constitutes a short amount of time, our perception of a long time, how quick is quick, has been redefined thanks to constant advances in technology.

And yet, with all of our new-fangled time saving devices, it seems that there still isn't time for everything that we want to fit into our action-packed, stress-filled, goal-oriented lives.

Despite the fact that there isn't time for everything, for everything there is a Time. In fact, in the words of King Solomon (in the Book of Ecclesiastes):

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

These 22 expressions of time encompass every aspect of our lives.

Judaism has a unique conception of time. Rather than viewing time as a linear progression, a sequence of successive moments, Jewish teachings speak of cycles of time. As each new week begins, the cycle of creation begins anew.

Similarly, there is a yearly cycle which includes the entire series of changes and developments which transpire over the course of a year.

Thus, the Hebrew word for year, "shana," alludes to this concept for it also means "repetition."

Chasidic thought teaches that every single moment can be appreciated as including the entire continuum of time. Each instance encompasses the entire past and future.

To explain this concept: G-d created the world from absolute nothingness. Unlike a craftsmen who fashions an article from raw material, or a thinker who develops an idea from it potential, G-d brought existence into being from total and absolute naught. Thus, the first moment of existence that He created included within it every moment that would follow.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that creation is a continuous phenomenon. The world has no independent existence and every moment, G-d brings into being the totality of existence anew. Therefore, every moment includes all previous and all subsequent moments of existence just as the first moment of creation includes all time.

Yes, there is a time for everything, and everything has its time. But, to be able to find time for everything, that is truly special.

Perhaps, if we look once more to the words of King Solomon, as he completes his treatise on time in Ecclesiastes, we will find some advice:

"The end of the matter, when all is said and done: Fear G-d, and keep His commandments; for that is the whole duty of man."

Living with the Rebbe

In this week's portion, Beshalach, we read the song of the Children of Israel led by Moshe after the splitting of the Sea of Reeds (Yam Suf) and the special song of the women led by Miriam the Prophetess.

In the Egyptian exile, it was Miriam who relayed the prophecy that a redeemer would emerge. Even when the leaders of that generation could not foresee an end to servitude and oppression, she spread hope and trust among her people.

When her mother was forced to place Moshe, the future redeemer of the Jews, in the Nile, her father Amram approached Miriam and asked her, "What will be the result of your prophecy? How will it be fulfilled?" Miriam remained at the banks of the Nile and "stood at a distance to know what would happen to him."

Our Sages explain that, in addition to her concern for her brother's future, she was concerned about the fate of her prophecy. How indeed would the redemption come about?

In a metaphorical sense, this narrative is relevant to all Jewish women, those living at present and those whose souls are in the spiritual realms. Concerned over the fate of the Jewish people, they anxiously await the Redemption.

The anxious anticipation of the redemption felt by Miriam -- and by all of the Jewish women in Egypt -- was paralleled in its intensity by their exuberant celebration when, after the miracles of the Sea, that redemption was consummated. After the men joined Moshe in song, the women broke out in song and dance, giving thanks to G-d with a spiritual rejoicing which surpassed that of the men.

The Torah's description of this celebration also testifies to the deep faith inherent in Jewish women.

The commentaries relate that as the women prepared to leave Egypt, they were so confident that G-d would perform miracles on behalf of their people in the desert that they took tambourines with them so they could rejoice when the time came.

In the very near future, we will celebrate the ultimate Redemption. We can now experience a foretaste of this impending celebration. Although we are still in exile, the confidence that the Redemption is an imminent reality should inspire us with happiness. For the Jewish people have completed all the Divine service necessary to bring the Redemption.

To borrow an analogy of our Sages, the table has already been set for the feast celebrating the Redemption, everything has been served, and we are sitting together with Moshiach. All that is necessary is that we open our eyes.

The experience of such happiness demonstrates the strength of our trust in the promise of the Redemption, and the expression of this faith will, in turn, hasten its realization.

Adapted from a talk of the Rebbe, Shabbat Beshalach 5752-1992


A Slice of Life

The Bais Chaya Moussia Hospitality Center
by Tzippy Robinson

Though Rochester is a small town in southern Minnesota, it is visited by celebrities and heads of state. What brings so many people to this tiny town? The world famous Mayo Clinic.

Eight years ago, Rabbi Dovid and Chanie Greene moved to Rochester and established the Bais Chaya Moussia Hospitality Center to dispense a different kind of therapy.

The Center (one of the many institutions worldwide named for Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe's wife, after her passing on the 22 Shevat, (1988) serves the local community with adult education, Shabbat and holiday programs, and a myriad of other activities. However, it not only serves the Jewish residents (the actual Jewish community of Rochester is relatively small), but also the many Jewish patients and their families who have come to the Mayo Clinic for treatment.

Rabbi Greene describes their interaction with the patients and the patients' families as an "odd relationship." Upon leaving the Clinic and Rochester, the patients and their families are very grateful for everything the Greenes have done, but at the same time their attitude is, "Thank you, and we hope we don't see you again."

"We try to satisfy people's needs, be they material, emotional or spiritual," says Rabbi Greene. "Two basic mitzvot in the Torah are welcoming guests and visiting the sick. Our forefather Avraham got started with those mitzvot, and those are the mitzvot in which we're most involved."

The medical community of the Mayo Clinic counts on the Hospitality Center for such diverse things as lectures on Jewish medical ethics or a piece of tasty gefilte fish ("Raskin's," direct from Chanie's parents' fish store in Crown Heights) at the Greene's Shabbat table.

Rabbi Greene tells of a renown neurosurgeon who attended the Hospitality Center's Yom Kippur services last year. The doctor looked around and saw a few of the men wearing kittels (white robes traditionally donned on Yom Kippur). The doctor told Rabbi Greene that his father-in-law had given him a kittel, but he didn't think that he himself was "holy enough" to wear it. Rabbi Greene explained, "We don't wear a kittel because we are holy, we wear a kittel because we want to be holy."

The doctor promptly went home to get his kittel and continued wearing it the entire Yom Kippur. This year, the doctor came to Yom Kippur services wearing the kittel. More recently, he asked Rabbi Greene to teach him how to put on tefilin.

Michael Shapiro, a third generation Rochester resident, became involved with the Greene's and the Bais Chaya Moussia Center a number of years ago. "My grandfather came to Rochester from Lithuania. My parents were not particularly observant, so most of the Jewish experiences I got were either when I went to visit my grandparents in Detroit or when we drove 75 miles to S. Paul."

Eight years ago, soon after the Greene's arrival, Michael saw one of their first project: a giant Chanuka menora on a main thoroughfare. He was touched by the sight, but, he adds, "I didn't check it out right away. Two or three years later, I was reading a local newspaper in which Rabbi Greene had placed an ad for a class on Jewish Medical Ethics.

There were two guest speakers: Sandy Keith, the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the eminent scholar Rabbi Dr. Immanuel Schochet. I had gone to school with Justice Keith's son so I went to the lecture just to say 'hello.' I was very taken with what Rabbi Schochet said. Afterward, Rabbi Greene introduced himself and asked if he could call me."

From that initial meeting with Rabbi Greene, Michael has started a slow return to his roots, with his family not too far behind. "I can honestly say that I have never felt the warmth that I feel at the Hospitality Center in any other Jewish group. Something was ignited in my soul when I went to that first lecture. I've really expanded my group of friends as a result of my involvement and I am constantly amazed that I can couple my 'modern' lifestyle with Jewish tradition."

The picture of the Bais Chaya Moussia Hospitality Center would not be complete without a description of Chanie Greene. Chanie, a humble and modest young woman, shyed away from any attempts to interview her. But Michael Shapiro is eager to share his thoughts and those of the dozens of guests Chanie entertains each week at the Center.

"Chanie is a kind and generous soul. She has displaced herself from her friends, family, and everything she knew in Crown Heights to become a 'stranger in a strange land.' She always has a smile on her face and everyone is welcome at her Shabbat table. Their door is always open and Chanie feeds everyone happily and graciously."

This is no small feat considering that Chanie must cook from scratch for the dozens of guests (and dozens of hospital patients Rabbi Greene brings food to each week) as the closest kosher caterer is 100 miles away!

Not long ago, the former head of the Israeli Secret Service, Nachum Admoni, was a patient at the Clinic. When he spoke publicly about his medical treatment there, he also mentioned the Chabad rabbi who visited him daily. One might think that a former Israeli government official was getting special attention, but this is not unusual treatment from the Rebbe's emissaries, who consider every Jewish patient at the Clinic a V.I.P.


A Call To Action

A Jewish Name

A Jewish boy at his brit and a Jewish girl at the first Torah reading or first Shabbat after her birth, is given a Jewish name by his/her parents.

Be proud of your Jewish name. Get comfortable using it. If you don't know what your Jewish name is, ask your parents or try to find your brit or naming certificate. If you don't have a Jewish name, choose one and ask your rabbi how to "make it official."

Find out your mother's and father's Jewish names, as well, for these are sometimes needed in special ceremonies or for Jewish documents. Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and sometimes even names in other languages which have been traditionally used by Jews are considered Jewish names.


The Rebbe Writes

13 Shevat, 5722 [1962]

I was pleased to receive your report on behalf of the Parents' Association. I hope and pray that you and all the Lubavitch ladies will carry on your work for the benefit of the Lubavitch House and all the children as well as the parents, with a growing measure of devotion, which will surely result in a more than proportionate measure of success.

At this time when we have just observed the Yahrzeit-Hilulo of my father-in-law of saintly memory, I trust that you and your esteemed group have been greatly inspired by the remembrance of the Baal Hilulo and his devotion to the material and spiritual well-being of our people, young and old, under the most trying conditions. He has set a living and practical example for everyone of us how to carry on this truly vital work, each one according to his capacity; and this capacity should never be underestimated.

This coming Shabbos is Shabbos Shira which in the light of the Song of Miriam is especially significant for Jewish women. Our Sages tell us that Miriam's joy exceeded even that of the men. This is understandable as it has been explained at a farbrengen [Chasidic gathering]. For the Jewish women have always had a certain place in Jewish life and, by nature have been more emotionally attached to their obligations. And having been especially sensitive to the persecutions and decrees under the cruel Pharaohs, they were also very appreciative of the deliverance, which they expressed with the innermost joy and jubilation.

We are therefore justified in anticipating from Jewish women, especially Lubavitcher women, an extra measure of devotion and dedication to the vital work of the Lubavitch House, so as to be a shining example to all.

May G-d bless you, each and everyone of you, and your families, with ever growing success in your work, and with much true nachas [pleasure] and true personal happiness, materially and spiritually.

Hoping to hear good news from you always.


Free Translation of a letter to the Executive Director of the Chabad House, S. Paulo, Brazil

10 Shevat 5743 [1983] Hilulo of my saintly father-in-law,

I was pleased to be informed that you are planning shortly to publish the one hundredth issue of your periodical, after you have been privileged and successful, thank G-d, in publishing it without interruption for about a hundred months.

First of all, this fact itself is good news, for it demonstrates the periodical's beneficial influence on its readership. We have been assured that "words coming from the heart enter the heart" and have their intended effect, especially when accompanied by the actual deeds and living example of the Chabad House activities.

May there be fulfilled in you the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory which is especially appropriate for this occasion: "He who has one hundred zuz, wants two hundred..." and may He do the will of those in awe of Him -- may G-d fulfill the desires of your heart for good to reach the above number.

Of course, it is utterly certain that our righteous Moshiach will come long, long before then. However, even in the era of Moshiach, the mitzva "Love your fellow as yourself," the "great principle of the Torah," will continue to apply with full force, including beneficial influence on every man and woman who can be reached, in the most total manner in all their affairs, by living their daily lives in accordance with our Torah, which is "the Torah of life."

As often mentioned, the service of G-d and preparation most appropriate for speeding the arrival of Moshiach and the true and total Geula, are through deeds similar in some way to the way of life which will be then, which is "to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty."

In simple terms, this means spreading Yiddishkeit, studying Torah and observing its mitzvot in a manner of constantly increasing illumination, based on the rule that "action is most essential" -- observing mitzvot in actual deed.

Although this is a laborious task, yet it is also a beloved task, and its success is guaranteed when it has a lasting effect on others, including influencing the readers that they too try to become lamps that illuminate, casting light upon every man and woman in their location and environment with "the lamp of mitzvot and the Torah of light."


What's New

THE CROWN OF CREATION

The Crown of Creation examines the lives of great women of the Bible.

Readers will be fascinated by the light thrown on the lives and achievements of these heroines of our tradition by that vast treasure of Talmudic-Midrashic writings and Jewish Mysticism.

Written by Chana Weisberg, dean of Machon Bnos Menachem and co-founder of the Women's Institute for Advanced Torah Study in Toronto, the book discusses the decisive role women play in the ultimate purpose of Creation.

Available in Jewish book stores or from the publisher, Mosaic Press, 85 River Rock Drive, #202, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207.

FINDING THE WOMAN OF VALOR

According to author Rivkah Zakutinsky, the trials of our ancestors provide us with valuable lessons for tackling the dilemmas of contemporary life.

Finding the Woman of Valor weaves together the inspiring stories of the matriarchs with poems, prayers and essays of modern women of valor. Available in Jewish bookstores or from the publisher, Aura Press, 88 Parkville Ave. Bklyn, NY 11230 (718) 435-9103


A Word from the Director

The twenty-second of the Hebrew month of Shevat, this year January 30, marks the 9th yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, of blessed memory, wife of the Rebbe.

On the thirtieth day after the Rebbetzin's passing in 5748 (1988), the first issue of L'Chaim was published. Since that time, 452 more issues have been published.

L'Chaim is distributed throughout the New York metro area by yeshiva students during their "time off" on Friday afternoons. A big "yashar koach" (THANK YOU) to those young men.

L'Chaim is also sent to Chabad Centers throughout the U.S. which distribute it locally. Subscribers hail from all around the globe. In addition, Chabad Centers in Montreal, Manchester and London, England, Jerusalem and Australia, reprint L'Chaim regularly. We have also been told that L'Chaim is the most widely read Jewish weekly periodical in cyberspace.

Recently, one of our readers, a Jewish college student in the South related that by accessing our L'Chaim archives on the internet she was able to get all of the information she needed to write an "A plus" paper on her chosen topic.

It is with great pleasure and pride that the Lubavitch Youth Organization publishes this periodical, which is dedicated to the memory of the Rebbetzin. And, with G-d's help, this foremost Jewish educational outreach publication will continue to be published until the revelation of Moshiach, and even after that - see the letter from the Rebbe in this issue.

A special thanks to the editor of L'Chaim - Mrs. Yehudis Cohen for her terrific work and devotion to getting the L'Chaim published every week.


Thoughts that Count

And it was told to the King of Egypt that the people fled; Pharoah and his servants had a change of heart (Exod. 14:5)

We know that the Jews did not flee, they were sent away. The people the Torah is referring to were a group of Egyptians that Pharoah had sent with the Jews to make sure that the Jews would return to Egypt. Suddenly, Pharoah received word that his own people whom he had sent along with the Jewish people had fled.

(Ohr Hachaim)

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aharon, took the tambourine in her hand (Exod. 15:20)

It does not say that Miriam took a tambourine, but that she took the tambourine, a specific tambourine. Years before, when Pharoah had decreed that baby boys should be drowned, Miriam's father divorced his wife so they would not have any more children. Miriam implored her father to remarry her mother, and prophesied that her mother would give birth to a son who would redeem the Jewish people. Her parents remarried, and throughout the years Miriam cherished the tambourine with which she had danced at the wedding. This was the tambourine she took after the splitting of the Sea.

(Rav Mendel Alperin)

And the children of Israel ate the manna for forty years (Exod. 16:35)

Since G-d provided the Jews with everything they needed, such as food and clothing, it seems impossible for them to have fulfilled the mitzva of charity. The manna in the dessert tasted like any food a person had in mind. A poor person had never tasted expensive foods, so the charity of a rich person was to recommend to a person which foods to have in mind.

(The Rebbe)

And he said, "The hand upon the throne of G-d; G-d maintains war against Amalek from generation to generation." (Exod. 17:16)

After the Jews left Egypt, they were on the highest level of faith in G-d. Amalek's attack on the Jewish people was not merely intended to destroy them physically, but to detach them from G-d spiritually, by putting doubts in their mind about G-d.

Whenever a Jew has doubts about Judaism, Amalek is at work. G-d is so angry at Amalek that He wants to wipe out his remembrance entirely.

(Keter Shem Tov)

Adapted from Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky


It Once Happened

Rachel, the grandmother of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut, was a remarkable Torah scholar in an age when that was far from the norm. The daughter of Baruch Batlan who was a follower of the Baal Shem of Zamotsch, she was given an excellent and wide-ranging Torah education, in keeping with the unusual custom of Chasidim to educate their daughters.

As a tiny child Rachel was carried to the mezuza in order to kiss it twice a day, instilling in her a love of Torah from her earliest infancy. Practically from the time she could speak, she learned Torah, progressing from the simplest blessings taught to all Jewish children, to more advanced studies, even mastering the intricacies of the Talmud. She became particularly expert in the study of the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law.

Whether out of modesty, for fear that people would regard a learned girl as a "freak," or to avoid an "evil eye," Rachel's father kept her scholarship a secret. When Rachel became engaged to the scholar Rabbi Shneur Zalman (who did not approve of women engaging in serious learning), no mention was made of the scope of her knowledge. Thus, she merely smiled when, after their wedding, her husband said to her he assumed that her mother had taught her all the laws that a Jewish woman was required to know.

Rachel's knowledge of Jewish law was so extensive, that she knew the differences in the customs which prevailed amongst the various Jewish communities. Thus, what was regarded as a strict law in one town, was treated more lightly in another.

Soon after her marriage it happened that Rachel's whole family was walking home one Shabbat from shul. The men, Baruch Batlan, his son Benjamin and his son-in-law, were in front. The women followed behind, Rachel among them. They all wore gloves as there was an "eruv" in Posen [a marked area where carrying is permitted on Shabbat]. Benjamin was also carrying books which he had borrowed from the synagogue, so that he could study at home.

As they were walking, the synagogue caretaker ran up to them, calling out that the eruv had fallen. They all stopped in bewilderment, not knowing what to do with their gloves and with the books that Rachel's brother had under his arm [since without the eruv carrying was no longer permitted]. Should they drop everything, or just remain where they were?

Baruch Batlan now called out to his daughter:

"Well, Rachel, you are an expert in the laws of the Shulchan Aruch. Tell us what are we to do now?" And turning to the men, he remarked: "We men are so busy studying Talmud and other such subjects, that when we are faced with a practical question of law, we do not know it. We have no choice but to turn to Rachel."

Rabbi Shneur Zalman, a great scholar, four years Rachel's senior, opened his eyes in wonderment! Was this some sort of joke?

Rachel blushed. She feared that now her husband might be upset with her. She would not have given away her secret, but her father had "put her on the spot," and she had to answer him.

"There is no need to take off our gloves," she ventured quietly, "for this is a case of 'accidental,' and there can be no likelihood of anyone taking off his gloves and carrying them, for, as we are in company, it would immediately be noticed and the person reminded. As for the books, these should be transferred from hand to hand until we reach the yard of a non-Jew, where they can be handed from the zone of "public property" to that of "private property."

As Rachel had foreseen, her husband was adversely affected by this incident and took every opportunity to make sharp and cutting comments. Once he remarked: "The Talmud says that 'The wife of a scholar is regarded as if she too were a scholar,' but in my case, it would seem that I must be satisfied to reach the equal of my wife's status." Rachel was very grieved at his attitude.

Her father was aware of the situation and he once countered: "The Jerusalem Talmud says that 'The wife of a criminal is also considered so.' I have given my daughter into your hands. It now remains to be seen what you make of her. She can either become the wife of a 'scholar' or the wife of a 'criminal.' It is entirely up to you!"

Rabbi Shneur Zalman understood the implication of his father-in-law's words, and from that time, changed his harsh and critical attitude towards his wife. On the contrary, he began to be proud of his wife, Rachel, appreciating at last her great learning and wonderful qualities.

Adapted from the Memoirs of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe.


Moshiach Matters

Our generation, the generation privileged to usher in the New Dawn of Moshiach, is the reincarnation of the generation of the Exodus. Now, as then, "in the merit of the righteous women" will the Redemption be realized. Now as then, the Jewish women's yearning for Moshiach -- a yearning which runs deeper than that of the men, and inspires and uplifts it -- will form the dominant strain in the melody of Redemption.

(The Rebbe)


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