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The third of Tammuz is a day destined for monumental events. The first time the third of Tammuz "made headlines" was over 3,000 years ago. During Joshua's battle in Gibeon he commanded the sun to stand still until the Jewish people were successful in the fight against their enemies.
In the Book of Joshua we read: "Then Joshua spoke to the L-rd... and he said in the sight of Israel, 'Sun, stand still upon Gibeon; and moon, in the valley of Ayalon.' And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies... So the sun stood still in the middle of the sky, and hastened not to go down a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the L-rd hearkened to the voice of a man; for the L-rd fought for Israel."
The third of Tammuz is also the date, many years later, when the previous Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn) had his death sentence commuted and was released from imprisonment in Communist Russia to go into exile for three years, for his work in spreading the teachings of Judaism, in defiance of the authorities.
The Rebbe, quoting the Talmudic statement, "Auspicious things come to pass on an opportune day...," explains that as Joshua's command to the sun to stand still and the Previous Rebbe's release from imprisonment took place on the same day, albeit years apart, there must be a connection between the two events.
Thus, it is certain that there must be a connection between the third of Tammuz in Joshua's time and the third of Tammuz three years ago, the day of the passing of the Rebbe.
On the third of Tammuz in Joshua's time, the sun remained in its place until it had fulfilled its mission: to unceasingly illuminate the world until the Jewish people had achieved victory.
The Rebbe defined his mission as the seventh Chabad Rebbe, the leader of the seventh generation: "This is what is demanded of each of us in the seventh generation -- because `All those who are the seventh are beloved'... Our divine mission is to complete the revelation of G-d's presence into its most exalted aspect specifically into this lowly world."
Simply stated, the mission of the Rebbe and of our generation is to bring about the actual revelation of Moshiach and the commencement of the Messianic Era.
It is far from coincidental that the Rebbe's passing was on the third of Tammuz. The Rebbe, like the sun, remains at his post, guiding us with his brilliant light, warming us with his wisdom, until we achieve victory in the final battle against the darkness of exile.
As we read in this week's Torah portion, Korach, the kohanim (priests) were to be given only the finest of all the offerings that were brought by the Jewish people. These contributions consisted of all kinds of commodities and were of the highest quality. Likewise, every Jew must dedicate the better part of himself to his Divine service.
Maimonides writes: "The law, as it pertains to everything that is for the sake of G-d, is that it must come from the finest and the best. For example, when one is feeding a hungry person, he should be served the tastiest and sweetest food on one's table. When one clothes a poor man, he should be given the nicest garment. When one builds a house of prayer, the edifice should be more beautiful than one's private abode, as it states, 'All the best to the L-rd.' "
Of all the commodities a person possesses --- food, clothing and shelter --- the finest and best must be dedicated to matters of holiness.
There is, however, another commodity to be dedicated to G-d, and that is time.
Time is extremely precious; it is therefore fitting that in addition to one's material blessings, a person dedicates the very best portion of the day to G-d.
The morning, the beginning of one's day, is the optimal time of the 24-hour period. In the morning, a person's mind is at ease. He is not yet concerned or perturbed by problems that may plague him later. Thus the morning is the most appropriate time of day to dedicate oneself to holy matters.
The Previous Rebbe explained the verse "From the first of your dough...you shall give an offering to G-d" in the following manner:
The Hebrew word for dough, "arisa," also means a cradle or bed. From this we learn that as soon as a person wakes up in the morning he is to give an "offering" to G-d --- an offering consisting of the first and finest portion of the day.
One way to do this is to thank G-d immediately upon arising by declaring "Modeh Ani," thanking Him for having restored our souls. Another way is to reserve the first few hours of the day for prayer and Torah study. In schools where secular subjects are taught, students should study them only in the afternoon, the second half of the day. The morning, the best time of all, is to be utilized for praying and learning Torah.
Just as the contributions that were made to the priests were of the highest quality, so too must the very best of whatever we possess be reserved for our service of G-d. For it is in this manner that we merit the fulfillment of the Priestly Blessing, "May the L-rd bless you and guard you."
Adapted by Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, vol. 2
by Dr. Ruth Benjamin,
Reprinted from a tribute journal by the student emissaries to the Lubavitcher yeshiva in Johannesburg, S.A.
In Sivan 1972 I had my first yechidut (private audience) with the Rebbe. I took my daughter, Devorah Chana, with me.
In advance, I had written the Rebbe a note, a somewhat lengthy note. Someone had told me I could only write one page so I had written everything on one legal-size page in tiny, block lettered printing so small that the Rebbe took a magnifying glass to read it.
There were many matters about which I wanted to ask the Rebbe. I was busy with my master's thesis on the psychology of Judaism and had sent to the Rebbe a copy of as far as I had gone. I also asked if I should continue, after completing this, with my doctorate.
My husband was a psychiatrist and I am a clinical psychologist. We saw many non-Jewish patients. I asked the Rebbe if we should encourage them towards Christianity or should we let them build up their faith in G-d within themselves.
I had also brought in a letter from someone who was questioning the value and meaning of life.
After the yechidut, I wrote down everything I could remember, almost in "play" form. This was a long time ago and today I would not address the Rebbe so casually. I am sure I have not recorded the Rebbe's exact words, or mine for that matter. However, this was written immediately afterwards (at around 5 a.m. after a night of not sleeping) and I have stuck with most of what I have put down as it is probably the most authentic.
Rebbe: Finish your thesis. It is 90% finished.
Ruth: Shall I do a doctorate? What about on Taharat Hamishpacha? It is psychologically brilliant, of course...
Rebbe: Do your doctorate, but not in religion and not in philosophy.
Ruth: Not in religion?
Rebbe: Neither in philosophy. Don't study apikorsis (heresy). Don't study apikorsis as it will lead others to study apikorsis. Do it in something else. You need it to help you in your work.
Ruth: I can still be a psychologist without a doctorate. It would just mean that I cannot call myself "Dr. Benjamin." Is that important?
Rebbe: It is important for prestige.
Ruth: Isn't prestige a bad sort of motivation?
Rebbe: I mean prestige for Yiddishkeit. If you have a doctorate and a woman comes to you and you tell her about Taharat Hamishpacha [Jewish laws of married life], she will listen to you.
On the question of non-Jewish patients, the Rebbe said something like:
"They have seven laws. Lead them to these laws, to all of them. This is part of our duty." The Rebbe then enumerated the Laws.
Ruth: These people need something. One man tried to commit suicide a couple of times and came to my office. I got him to the hospital in time. He then came to me and said: "You are responsible for my being alive. Now give me something to live for."
Rebbe: Tell him he is part of G-d's world and he has a responsibility to Him.
Ruth: Have we a responsibility to the non-Jew?
Rebbe: We have a responsibility to the Jew first and then to the non-Jew.
The Rebbe then picked up on the problem of suicide:
Suicide is exactly the same as murder. Our bodies do not belong to us. We cannot do what we like with them. They are not ours. Get them to understand this. We cannot even hurt our own bodies in any way.
The Rebbe then spoke about the person [whose letter I had brought to him] who was questioning the worth of life.
The Rebbe said that I should tell such people that they have a double duty to perform after the last war when so many Jews were murdered. They had to live not only for themselves but for all these. They must live to draw people to Judaism. In doing this they will find their own turmoil will pass away. The Rebbe made sure that I would convey this message.
The Rebbe ended with a blessing saying that he was waiting for the rest of my thesis.
Three years later, in 1975, I came to the Rebbe once again. This time I was with my husband Dovber (Barney), and my daughters Debbie and Rivkie. Barney had written that he wanted to move to Israel and do research work there.
The Rebbe said that in South Africa Barney would be doing much for Jews but not much for himself. In Israel it would be the other way around. It would be better if we remained in South Africa but we could go for some weeks each year to Israel. However the Rebbe thought this arrangement might not be acceptable to Israelis as they want something more tangible, more in the way of a return for their money. They might not want to set up research work. They haven't got the finances.
The Rebbe said we must continue as we had been doing in Jewish outreach, but with more joy.
Rebbe: You should stay in South Africa until Moshiach comes. And then he will come and bring you to Israel with him, not at your expense. In the meanwhile you must prepare South Africa for Moshiach.
My third visit to the Rebbe was in Sivan, 5740 (1980)
After some time the Rebbe asked, "How is your husband's health?"
I answered, "Baruch Hashem, (thank G-d)" wondering why the Rebbe was asking, unaware that in a few short years Barney would no longer be with us.
Rebbe: Is he still working a full day? Is he very active? Does he work hard?
Ruth: Too hard.
Rebbe: Too hard? One cannot say that. It is good to work hard. As a person gets older he needs to work many hours. How is your work? How is your practice?
Ruth: Up and down.
Rebbe: Why is it sometimes down?
Ruth: Well, people refer patients to me and...
Rebbe: For prestige a person must sometimes work in a hospital. It is the custom in America. Not only private practice. Work in a hospital some hours a week, like your husband does at Sterkforntein. (I don't recall ever having told the Rebbe that my husband works in Sterkforntein).
Ruth: I worked in a hospital for two months in order to do my thesis but it was too much and I never got anything done.
Rebbe: It is important to be in the hospital at least once a week.
Ruth: I used to attend ward rounds--not for money--but I stopped that.
Rebbe: Why did you stop that?
Ruth: It became too much; with the children and everything. (The Rebbe remained silent.) But I will do it again.
Over the years countless things have happened and still happen through the Rebbe's blessings. They are far too numerous to record. I have already forgotten some of the them. Miracles become a part of everyday life and I have come to realize that this is a small fraction of what being in contact with the Rebbe is all about.
Goodness and Kindness
When asked by a reporter for CNN what is his message to the world, the Rebbe responded: "Moshiach is ready to come now. It is on our part to increase in acts of goodness and kindness."
We would like to devote this space to readers' submissions of acts of goodness and kindness by friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. Please submit by email to: email@example.com; fax - (718) 773-3837; mail - L'Chaim Action, 1408 President St., Bklyn, NY 11213.
Synopsis of an interview with the Rebbe by College students from Hillel Foundations, 7 Adar, 5720 (March 6, 1960).
The Rebbe began with a statement:
The word "histalkut" does not mean death in the sense of coming to an end but rather an elevation from one level to another on a higher plane. When one has accomplished his mission in life, he is elevated to a higher plane. The significance of this for us is that everyone can now lift himself to a higher level by studying the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and taking an example from his life.
From the very beginning, one of the first things the Baal Shem Tov did was to teach small children simple things such as blessings and to explain to them how they could be near to G-d Almighty -- that G-d was very real for them and close to them and not far-removed in some "seventh heaven."
He worked not only with teenagers but even with six-and seven-year-old children, making them understand how G-d Almighty watches over them all the time -- not only Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, but all the days of their life, and that by obeying G-d's will they would be assured of a happy and harmonious life, materially and spiritually.
The epoch of the Baal Shem Tov came after the Chmielnetzky pograms, which left the Jews in a state of dejection and despair. It was the aim of the Baal Shem Tov to encourage the Jews and to show them how they could meet the problems of their day while living a life of Torah and mitzvot.
Our present age is similar in many ways to the time of the Baal Shem Tov. One-third of the Jewish population has perished under Hitler and has been cut off from us. How great, then, is the obligation that lies upon each and every one of us to do as much as is within his power to spread the light of Torah and mitzvot in his own surroundings and throughout the world in general.
The Students then asked:
Q: What is the view of Chasidut concerning an after-life?
A: As was explained earlier, death is not a cessation of life, but rather, one's spiritual life takes on a new dimension or is, as we said, elevated to a higher plane. This is logical and follows also from the principles of science which are consider ed to be the "absolute truth."
In science, the principle of the conservation of matter states that nothing physical can be annihilated. This table or a piece of iron can be cut up, burned etc., but in no case could the matter of the table or the iron be destroyed. It only takes on a different form.
So, likewise, on the spiritual level, our spiritual being -- the soul -- can never be destroyed. It only changes its form, or is elevated to a different plane.
Q: Is the after-life of a soul personal or impersonal?
A: In conjunction with what was said before, the soul takes on a new and higher form. In this, the term "after-life" is inappropriate. Rather, it is a continuation of life. Until 120, life is experienced at one level, and at 121, 122 and 123, etc. it is carried on at another level, and thus we go higher and higher in the realm of the spirit.
Q: What is the role that the Baal Shem Tov played in the Chasidic movement.
A: We can understand what the Baal Shem Tov did by the simile of the relationship of an electric power house with a lamp that is connected to it by a wire. In order to light his lamp, he must find the right switch, or push the correct button.
The soul of every Jew is a part and connected with G-d Almighty, but in order that one can enjoy the great benefits of it, the correct switch must be found for the proper button to pushed. It was the Baal Shem Tov's mission to explain and proclaim that every Jew without exception is connected with "the power house," and every one of them has a switch in his innermost, that will be found if searched for.
So also every one of us in our own work in strengthening Judaism, must try to find the switch in the soul of every Jew. One can never know what will make the connection, perhaps one word. But by this, you open up the well or inner fountain of his soul.
Q: What is the function of a Rebbe?
A: As was said earlier, to find the switch in every Jew and help him become connected with the power house.
The rest of this interview can be read at the following URL: www.chabad.org/miracle.htm
Students of the Lubavitcher Yeshivoth from around the world will be spending their summer months in travel to remote communities where there are Jews who may be in need for spiritual support.
If you know of anyone who might be able to benefit from these visitations, - people who may be in the military or otherwise, please drop us a line and we will forward the information to the office that is setting the itineraries. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org and title teh subject: Summer Visitations.
A Rebbe is a comprehensive soul, a soul which is connected to and understands every other soul. In the book Hayom Yom, compiled by the Rebbe from the teachings of the previous Rebbes, it says that when the Rebbe -- the comprehensive soul -- prays and there is an ascent of his soul on high, at that very moment he connects with every single Jew in the generation.
In Jewish law the needs of the community, supersede the needs of the individual. Thus, an individual must be willing to sacrifice for the community. How much more so does this apply to the Rebbe, a comprehensive soul. And even though the "private life" of the Rebbe is minimal, even though his needs are minimal, the needs of the community, of the world community, supersede the Rebbe's minimal needs.
On the third of Tammuz, 1958, the Rebbe stated about the Previous Rebbe:
"In the case of a spiritual leader and shepherd of Israel, his entire raison d'etre is to promote the welfare of his contemporaries and to guide them. (His 'private' affairs are incomparably less important to him.) ...
"We don't understand why the Rebbe's physical life had to end, but it is the needs of the community that dictated it. In the case of a comprehensive soul, his private affairs are also relevant to all Israel."
What are the needs of the Rebbe? "I need my children [disciples]." These were the words with which Rabbi Yehuda the Prince left his children and disciples. These are the words which the Rebbe expounded upon after the passing of the Previous Rebbe. These are the Rebbe's needs.
What does the Rebbe "need his children" for?
"I have done all I can. Now I am giving it over to you. Do everything you can to bring Moshiach in actuality," the Rebbe stated six years ago.
The Rebbe has one need, which is the need of our entire generation and of all the generations, the commencement of the Redemption.
We can accomplish this through fulfilling the Rebbe's directives: studying about Moshiach and the Redemption; increasing in acts of goodness and kindness; living with the daily reality of Moshiach; sharing this information with others.
And soon, as the Rebbe said, we will "merit to see and be together with the Rebbe... and he will redeem us."
This distressed Moshe greatly, and he said, "I have not taken a single donkey of theirs" (Num. 16:15)
This showed Moshe's connection to G-d, that he was the true and correct leader. Moshe is referring to the donkey he used to travel back to Egypt. This particular donkey was one of the things that G-d created at twilight on Friday. This same donkey was used by Avraham when he brought his son Yitzchak to Mt. Moriah to be sacrificed, and this same donkey will used by Moshiach when he reveals himself. Therefore, Moshe said, "I didn't use one of their donkeys, but this special and unique one that shows my connection to G-d."
The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them (Num. 16:32)
G-d rewards or punishes measure for measure. Just as Korach and his followers sinned by opening their mouths and telling lies about Moshe, they were punished by having the earth open its "mouth" and swallow them.
(Reb Shalom M'Belz)
Everything that is separated from the holy things...have I given to you and your sons...it is an eternal covenant of salt (Num. 18:19)
There is a connection between salt and priestly donations. A person may be reluctant to give charity, because it may cause his wealth to shrink. The Torah shows us that charity is like salt. It may cause meat to shrink a little, but the preservative effect far outweighs the loss. When a person gives charity, his wealth may seem to shrink a little, but his earnings are actually being preserved.
(Shaar Bat Rabim)
From Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky
Rabbi Michoel Shien, of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem, was blessed with an addition to his large family with the birth of a grandchild. However, the baby was born very prematurely and there were many complications. The situation was serious. Rabbi Shien spent many hours praying for the welfare of the child. After months of various treatments, the doctors said that there was nothing more that they could do for the infant.
They told the family to be prepared for the worst.
Rabbi Shien decided to spend the entire night after this dismal news praying. As he sat at his dining room table, with heartfelt prayer pouring out of his mouth, he saw the Rebbe walk swiftly into his dining room! The Rebbe walked over to Rabbi Shien and, with a wave of his holy hand and a big smile, the Rebbe declared: "The boy will live." Then the Rebbe turned and left.
The following day, Rabbi Shien received a call from the hospital saying that during the night the child took a turn for the better and his situation was inexplicably improving.
Two weeks later the family celebrated the baby's brit mila. Today, the baby is a happy, active one year old, in perfect health.
Dr. E. Goldstock, the founder and director of an organization which helps children with special needs and their parents, had to come up with $15,000 within 10 days or the organization was in jeopardy of folding. Understandably, for the work he was accomplishing, this would have been a great tragedy. Dr. Goldstock was at a total loss as to how he could come up with such a large sum in such a short time.
He decided to write to the Rebbe for his assistance. Dr. Goldstock wrote a letter to the Rebbe and placed it randomly in one of the many volumes of Igrot Kodesh (letters of the Rebbe). He had not realized that the volume into which he had placed the letter was actually that of the Previous Rebbe. Nevertheless, when he opened the book to where he had inserted his letter, he found a reply written in English from the Previous Rebbe to a doctor. The letter stated that the Previous Rebbe had received his letter and is aware of the financial difficulties he is having, and therefore is sending a check to help him out.
The following day, Dr. Goldstock received a letter in the mail from a foundation that he had been unsuccessful in getting assistance from for over one year. The letter contained a check for $5,000.
Dr. Goldstock's wife, advised him to "strike while the iron is hot." She urged him to do everything in his power to get the $10,000 balance needed as they were obviously seeing positive results from the Rebbe's blessing.
A week went by but, no matter what he tried, Dr. Goldstock met with no success. With one day left until the deadlines, the situation did not look good. It was Friday afternoon, on the last day before the money had to be in, when a stranger walked into Dr. Goldstock's office. The man asked for Dr. Goldstock and the doctor identified himself. The stranger, whom Dr. Goldstock had never seen before or since, handed him a bulging envelope saying, "This is for you." With that, the man left. Dr. Goldstock opened the envelope. To his great surprise it contained 100 hundred dollar bills.
At the end of October, 1996, Chani Rothman of Crown Heights, New York, went to visit family in Florida. She took along her seven year old son.
While in Florida, she went to a flea market. Many of the people they met as they perused the merchandise commented on her son's yarmulka and enjoyed his enthusiastic, bright smile. Chani regretted that she did not have with her any pamphlets about lighting Shabbat candles, Moshiach, or other Jewish materials to share with the people.
She decided to go to the nearest Chabad House to see what materials she could get for future outings. At the Chabad House she was able to pick up some Jewish calendars for the new year.
As it happened, Chani and her son met a couple from Kentucky who were overjoyed to receive the Jewish Calendar, since the one they normally received in the mail had not been sent to them.
Still later, while shopping, Chani met a young Israeli woman to whom she offered a Jewish Calendar as well. The woman was thrilled to receive the calendar as her mother always sent one from Israel but this year, her mother had not sent one. Chani and the woman began talking and Chani noticed that the woman was upset. Chani gently asked the woman if there was anything she could do for her and the woman revealed that she had been married for over two years and still did not have a child.
"Would you like me to call the Ohel [the Rebbe's resting place] for your name to be mentioned there for a blessing for a child?" Chani asked the woman. The woman was more than happy with this suggestion and readily gave Chani her name and her mother's name to be given to the Rebbe.
Chani gave the woman her phone number in Brooklyn with the request that when she had good news to share she should call and let her know. On the first Friday afternoon this past March, Chani received a call from the woman telling her the good news that she was now in her fourth month of pregnancy.
From the weekly newsletter Miracles in our Time by Yehudis Engel.
Just as we find that Moses ascended to heaven, body and soul... similarly, Moshiach will, through the help of G-d, merit to attain that lofty soul. He will then realize that he is in fact Moshiach, although no one else will be aware of this... Shortly afterwards, Moshiach will be hidden away, body and soul, in that Divine pillar, as previously explained... Moshiach will thereupon rise up to heaven just as Moses ascended to the firmament, and will subsequently be revealed completely for all to see. The entire Jewish people will then perceive him and flock towards him.
(Arba Meiot Shekel Kesef p. 68)