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L'Chaim
December 19, 1997 - 20 Kislev 5758

498: Vayeshev

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  497: Vayishlach499: Mikeitz  

The Cure for the Common Cold  |  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

The Cure for the Common Cold

by Rabbi Israel Rubin

The very thought of winter gives us the chills. As the temperature continues to drop, we turn up the heat and seek warmth in coats, sweaters and scarfs.

Yet, despite bundling up, many of us catch colds, making us feel miserable and limiting our activity.

I am not referring here merely to sniffles or runny noses. An internal, psychological cold is far more serious, and even more common, than the common cold. And it is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

The primary symptoms of an internal cold are apathy and indifference. If left untreated, this type of cold can lead to further complications, such as cold logic, a cold shoulder, and cold feet.

Let us diagnose each of these illnesses.

People who suffer from cold logic have great difficulty expressing their emotions. Judaism recommends a warm heart, and observance involves constant exercise and activity.

But cold logic sufferers find themselves restricted to a mind set of intellectual thoughts on a detached academic level, while everything else stands idle. It may seem like a cool idea, but the blockage keeps it all up in the head, allowing very little to flow down to invigorate the rest of the body.

Others suffer from the cold shoulder.

Victims will appear lethargic in their relations with others. They give people a cold or lukewarm reception and have some difficulty smiling. Even when they do something good, they seem forced to do it. This is in direct contradiction to a teaching of our Sages that, "Giving charity itself is not enough. The warm spirit in which it is given is also essential."

Cold feet can affect even people who have the best intentions.

It strikes at the last minute, after a person gets all warmed up to do something good. Imagined problems cause hesitation, which can lead to paralysis, and the lack of strength to go ahead and act.

Structure and decorum in Jewish life are important -- but equally important are the free and open expression of feeling and emotion.

The cold statistics show that some of our youth look elsewhere for warmth, and become vulnerable to the love-bombing by cults and missionaries. If they don't find genuine love in Judaism, they are tempted by cheap, alien religious thrills and imitations.

What about winterizing? Insulation can protect our pipes and anti- freeze is good for the engine. Even wearing long johns and turning up the thermostat are not the full answer.

Only Jewish living can truly warm our insides. Inner warmth comes from a deeper appreciation of Judaism, by studying vigorously and being mitzva active. We must generate this spiritual energy ourselves; our heating company cannot do it for us.


Living with the Rebbe

In the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Vayeishev, we read about Joseph's two dreams, both of which revolved around the same theme: that Joseph would one day rule over his brothers.

Next week, in Mikeitz, the Torah relates the two dreams of Pharaoh, which also shared a common message. There, however, the Torah tells us that the reason Pharaoh had two similar dreams was to emphasize that G-d was about to fulfill them imminently. No reason is given for the repetition of Joseph's dreams; we must therefore conclude that although the two dreams shared a common theme, each one alluded to a different matter.

Let us now compare and contrast the dreams of Joseph and Pharaoh in order to obtain a better understanding of them.

In Joseph's first dream his brothers' sheaves of grain were bowing down to his, alluding to the physical plane of existence - ("And behold, your sheaves placed themselves round about, and bowed down to my sheaf.") His second dream involved "the sun and moon and the eleven stars," alluding to celestial and heavenly matters. In other words, Joseph's second dream represented an ascent from the material realm to the realm of the spiritual.

Both of Pharaoh's dreams, however, referred to the physical plane. The first dream involved the animal kingdom (the seven cows), and the second dream pertained to the lower level of plants (the seven ears of corn). Neither of Pharaoh's dreams had anything to do with higher spiritual matters at all.

This underscores the essential difference between the Jewish people and the nations of the world. The Jewish people, even while leading a physical existence, are intimately connected with both worlds -- the physicality of the material world and the spirituality of the World to Come.

In truth, this is the task of every Jew: to properly utilize both realms and turn them into one. Not only must the Jew's physical concerns not hinder his spiritual progress, his role is to harness the materiality of the world and transform it into spirituality, as Rabbi Shmuel, the fourth Chabad Rebbe, once explained to a group of young children: "The Jew's nature is that he eats in order to live; he needs to live in order to be a Jew and perform G-d's mitzvot." Because the Jew's underlying intent in all his physical concerns is spiritual, the material plane itself is successfully transformed, as the Baal Shem Tov declared: "Wherever a Jew's will is, that is where he is found."

Adapted by Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, volume 3


A Slice of Life

The Chanukah Miracles
by Rabbi Yitzchak Goldstein

Before I left Crown Heights to go back to Madrid, Spain, where my wife and I have been the Rebbe's emissaries for two decades, I asked the Rebbe for a blessing for a safe trip. Since I was traveling on Chanuka, the Rebbe told me to light the menora at the airport before departing. With twenty packages and suitcases, plus fifty pounds of matza for Passover to transport, I ended up with no time to light the menora before boarding the airplane. I quickly calculated and realized that by the time I would reach Madrid, it would be the following day. Somehow, I would have to light on that plane.

Let me digress by saying that it was actually a minor Chanuka miracle that I was allowed to take all of my packages. When they gave me the go-ahead to put it all on, it was quite a relief!

After my son Shmuel and I settled on the plane and our kosher dinner was served and cleared away, I approached the chief flight attendant, Mr. Lola, to discuss with him the matter of lighting the menora on board. I was surprised to hear from him that although he is not Jewish, he knew the exact date when Chanuka had begun that year and when it would end. He told me that he had seen the giant menora in Manhattan at Fifty-Ninth and Fifth Avenue. I gave him a detailed pamphlet about Chanuka, which he took from me and read. I explained that I had to light the Chanuka menora on the plane, though I knew that having candles burning for a half-hour was probably against the rules. I suggested a solution; I had an oil menora with me! He seemed to be enjoying our conversation and that I was explaining everything to him in great detail. When he saw the oil menora, he said in wonder, "Oh! I never saw one like that!" I showed him how it works, and lo and behold, he said, "I think it would be alright to light that kind on the plane."

My son Shmuel stood at my side while I held the shamesh candle in my hand and recited the blessings. Mr. Lola was fascinated by the whole scene. We lit the two Chanuka lights and began singing "Haneirot halalu" [the prayer recited after lighting the candles]. Mr. Lola had called several flight attendants over to watch the proceedings. We sang our best, and we didn't disappoint them.

After we finished I turned to Mr. Lola and thanked him for his assistance in my observance of this important commandment. Then I handed him a souvenir; the small bottle of oil that I had with me, which was about half full. He was grateful for it and thanked me profusely for this little momento of the experience he'd just had.

Mr. Lola confided that he was a musician, and that just a night ago he'd played "Hava Nagila" and other Jewish tunes at a party. I told him that playing music and flying planes are really very similar... both involve lifting people higher!

Mr. Lola continued to watch the menora for the entire 30 minutes, or so it seemed. For every time I stood up to check on it, he was there, watching it. After the half-hour was over I fell asleep, relieved and exhausted. Three hours later I woke up, and to my surprise there was Mr. Lola, still watching the flickering menora lights. He was entranced by them.

When the flight was over, I came to collect my menora, but Mr. Lola said, "Oh no, it has oil all over it." He washed my menora, dried it, wrapped it in paper, then handed it to me with a warm smile, wishing me a pleasant stay in Madrid and a happy Chanuka. I am quite certain that the whole experience had a positive effect on Mr. Lola.

We arrived in Madrid. All of our packages came rolling off the trucks. The customs people couldn't quite believe their eyes (or ears) when I told them that the 50 pounds of matza were "tortas para la fiesta." One official said, "That looks like enough for a whole year," to which I replied, "No, that will be enough for exactly one week." He didn't understand until I pointed to my wife and children lining the wall in the receiving area.

"Those are all mine," I explained with pride. He began counting our children, but they were moving around. When he reached nine, he said, "I give up!" He let me go, waving me on with smiles and good wishes.

Thank G-d, I arrived home safely as did the Chanuka menora and the matzot, most of which arrived whole and unbroken, another minor Chanuka miracle!

Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter


A Call To Action

Light the Menora and sing

Light the Chanuka menora at nightfall on each of the eight days of Chanuka and say the special Hallel and Al HaNisim prayers. "On other holidays there is an obligation to celebrate with festive meals. In contrast, on Chanukah, there is no such obligation. Rather, the commemoration of the miracle is through the recitation of prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and through kindling the Chanuka lights."

(30 Kislev, 5752)

Note: If you would like to have the Chanukah Holiday Guide, please send an e-mail to: listserv@chabad.org and in the subject or body of text please write: HOLIDAY GUIDE


The Rebbe Writes

10th of Kislev, 5743 [1982] To All Participants in the Chabad Chanuka Dinner Cleveland, OH

Greeting and Blessing:

I take pleasure in extending Chanuka greetings and all good wishes to the distinguished co-chairmen and all of you participating in this auspicious occasion.

Although the event is designed in conjunction with a tribute to a person, it is surely intended for the movement which he has the privilege to lead -- a movement which has been in the forefront of Jewish life for the past 200 years. Indeed, the 19th of the month of Kislev marks the Geula [redemption] Day of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of the Chabad movement, as you all know.

The Alter Rebbe [Elder Rebbe, i.e., Rabbi Shneur Zalman] had dedicated his life to the revitalization of Torah-true Yiddishkeit [Judaism] among the broad masses of our Jewish people, through the study of Torah that permeates all three intellectual faculties -- chochma [wisdom], bina [understanding], daat [knowledge] -- ChaBaD, leading to the fulfillment of the mitzvot with awe of G-d and love of G-d, emphasizing that the love of G-d, love of the Torah and love of one's fellow Jew are inseparably intertwined. Personifying these qualities, and dedicating his total life to the task of spreading Yiddishkeit permeated with these qualities, and with all the trials and challenges he faced and overcame, he paved the way for all of us to follow with ease.

It is doubly significant that the Chabad Dinner is taking place in the middle of Chanuka, for Chabad incorporates and reflects the central message of Chanuka, namely, to light up the home, as well as the "outside" with the light of Torah and mitzvot, as symbolized by the Chanuka lights and the manner of kindling them, namely, adding lights and increasing their brightness from day to day.

May Hashem [G-d] continue to bless the work of Chabad in the Cleveland area, and throughout the state, particularly the Chabad House of Cleveland and its ramified activities. And may Hashem bestow His generous blessings on all of you who are active partners and supporters of these vital services and programs.

With prayerful wishes for hatzlacha [success], and for a happy and bright Chanuka and a bright always, With blessing,


20th of Kislev, 5732 [1971]

Blessing and Greeting:

I was pleased to receive your letter and enclosure, and may G-d grant each and every one of you the fulfillment of your hearts' desires for good.

Receipt is enclosed for your contribution to the Tefilin Campaign, and may the zechut [merit] of this mitzva additionally stand each and every one of you in good stead.

Now that we are in the days between the 19th of Kislev and Chanuka, the history and significance of which are surely known to you, may each and every one of us be inspired to intensify the efforts to spread the fountains, both the fountains of Torah in general, and the fountains of Pnimiyut HaTorah [the inner teachings of the Torah] in particular, in a growing measure.

Indeed, the mitzva of the Chanuka lights brings us vividly the three fundamental aspects of such activity:

  1. to spread the light of the Torah and mitzvot in a growing measure from day to day, as indicated by the addition of a candle each succeeding night of Chanuka;

  2. to do so not only within one's own home, but spread it also "outside," as indicated by the fact that the original place of the Chanuka lights is "at the entrance of the home, outside";

  3. when it is dark outside, one must not be discouraged, and that is precisely the time to start kindling the lights -- as the Chanuka candles have to be kindled after sunset.

Chanuka is particularly significant to Jewish women and daughters, inasmuch as our Sages emphasized the fact that "they too had a share in that miracle." It is also well known how much the Alter Rebbe and his successors emphasized the role of Jewish women in Jewish life, a role which goes back to the dawn of Jewish history and down to the present day.

Wishing each and all of you a bright and inspiring Chanuka,


What's New

WORLD'S LARGEST MENORAH

Be a part of the Chanuka celebrations at the World's Largest Chanuka Menora at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in New York City. The Menorah will be lit: Wed. and Thurs., Dec. 24 - 25 at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 26 at 3:43 p.m.; Sat. night, Dec. 27 at 8: 00 p.m.; Sun. through Tues., Dec. 28 - 30 at 5:30 p.m. For more info call Lubavitch Youth Organization at (718) 778-6000. On Sunday there will be live music, free latkes and Chanuka gelt for the children.

TOYS FOR HOSPITALIZED CHILDREN

For over 40 years, the Toys for Hospitalized Children Campaign has gladdened the hearts of children confined to hospital wards with toys and games before and during Chanuka. This program shows the kids and their parents that they are not forgotten. The campaign, directed by the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE) will distribute 25,000 toys and gifts in the tri-state (NY, NJ, CT) area this year. If you have brand-new toys that you would like to donate call (718) 735-0200 or 800-33-NCFJE.


A Word from the Director

This past Thursday, on the 19th of Kislev, we celebrated the "New Year of Chasidut." It was on this date 199 years ago that Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe, was released from imprisonment. That this important day falls in such close proximity to Chanuka means that there must be some connection between the two festivals.

Along these lines, in a letter written in the 1940's, the Rebbe explains the important role that the Kohein Gadol (High Priest) played in the Chanuka miracle of the oil.

The Talmud relates about the miracle of Chanuka that the small jar of oil which the Jews found was sealed with the signet-stamp of the High Priest. In order to prove that the oil was pure and had not been defiled by the Greeks, it is sufficient to know that the seal of the jar was unbroken. What lesson can we learn from the emphasis that the seal bore the stamp of the High Priest?

When darkness -- material and spiritual -- threatens, G-d forbid, to engulf our nation, and there are forces who wish to emulate the Greek attempt "... to make them forget Your Torah and take them away from the laws of Your will..." then there is only one way to ensure that there will remain a jar of pure, undefiled oil with which to kindle the menora: By sealing the jar with the stamp of the Kohein Gadol -- a person who (as Maimonides describes it) "dwells in the Sanctuary all day and does not leave its precincts except only to go home at night or for an hour or two during the day."

The Greeks reached the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple. They destroyed the altar. They defiled the Menora. But the small jar of oil which lay hidden, "guarded" by the High Priest, remained whole and untouched. From it were kindled the Menora lights which, for thousands of years, of Chanuka lights have commemorated.

In every generation, even when the Holy Temple has not yet been rebuilt, there is a "High Priest" of the Jewish people who "dwells in the Sanctuary all day and does not leave its precincts except only to go home at night or for an hour or two during the day." In the times of Rabbi Shneur Zalman it was he.

May we imminently see the menora in the Third Holy Temple kindled by the High Priest, even before the commencement of Chanuka.


Thoughts that Count

He related the dream to his father and brothers; his father scolded him saying, "What is this dream that you dreamt?" (Gen. 37:10)

Jacob was aware that Joseph's dreams had profound meaning. He had to diffuse his other sons' anger concerning the dreams so he played down their significance, saying, "What is the importance of this dream, that you were the one to dream it? Had one of your brothers dreamt that you would rule over us, I might take it seriously. Since you had the dream it is merely an expression of your foolish thoughts."

(Tapuchei Chaim)

Judah said..."What will we gain if we slay our brother?" (Gen. 37:26)

The Hebrew word for "gain," betza, is also an acronym for the Hebrew words for morning, afternoon and night, the times of the three daily prayers. Judah was telling his brothers, "If we kill Joseph, how will we be able to stand before G-d in prayer with our brother's blood on our hands?"

(Menachem Yitzchak)

"Here comes the dreamer," they said to one another. "And now let us go kill him." (Gen. 37:19, 20)

The sons of Jacob were all tzadikim, righteous. How is it, then, that they wanted to kill Joseph? The brothers knew that Moshiach will be a descendant of Judah. Joseph's dreams indicated that he wanted to rule over his brothers, including Judah. This was considered "rebellion against the crown" which is punishable by death. In truth, both Joseph and his brothers were correct. Joseph ruled over his brothers in Egypt, but Judah's descendants would be the kings of Israel and eventually Moshiach.

(Shaloh)

From Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky


It Once Happened

For being a Jew and wanting to live like one, Reb Asher Sossonkin was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in a Siberian labor camp. There, he and other "political" prisoners lived, cut off from the outside world, in the harshest conditions, together with prisoners who were fearsome criminals.

One day, Reb Asher was approached by another prisoner who asked him about his observance of Shabbat, which had become somewhat of a legend in the camp. This Jew also wanted to observe Shabbat. Reb Asher encouraged him, but with fear and trepidation, for disobedience to camp regulations was punished severely. The Jew, however, would not be discouraged. He began to staunchly observe the Shabbat using ruses which were sometimes successful, and often not.

Once, another Jew said to him, "You can't copy Sossonkin! Why, he doesn't even eat non-kosher food, but you eat anything!"

When he heard this unfamiliar idea, the Jew came to Reb Asher to find out what was this "kosher" food. Reb Asher explained to him that Jews eat only animals which are designated in the Torah as "kosher," and then, only when they are slaughtered in a prescribed manner. From then on, the Jew resolved to eat only kosher, too. To think that this scenario was being played out in the grim setting of a Communist labor camp, where a scrap of meat was a coveted delicacy, is almost unbelievable, and yet it happened.

How did this Jew find the strength of character to maintain his beliefs? He had served in the army and attained a high rank, but nevertheless, he was sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor. Now, in the camp, he resolved to return to Judaism. After a day of ceaseless labor, he would come to Reb Asher to discuss Torah and to learn how to perform mitzvot. He longed to learn how to pray from a real prayer book, but alas there were none in the camp. Reb Asher transcribed the Hebrew prayers phonetically into Russian for the man and his joy was boundless. Thereafter, he recited the prayers with great happiness and devotion every day.

The friendship between the two men was a true blessing, giving them someone with whom to share their pain and even find a bit of joy in observing Torah together. When Chanuka approached, Reb Asher taught his friend the story of the festival. Reb Asher suggested that they find some discarded sardine cans in the kitchen, and try to construct some kind of menora from them, but his friend wouldn't hear of it.

"How can we celebrate such a great festival using old cans? I have a friend who is a tinsmith and for a few rubles, I'm sure he'll make us a Chanuka menora!"

Reb Asher was uneasy lest their plan become known, but seeing his friend's enthusiasm, he didn't have the heart to discourage him.

When Chanuka arrived, the shining tin menora was completed. They set it up in a small room adjacent to their barracks and lit it each night, reciting the blessings in front of Jews and gentiles alike. All seemed to bask in its light and take courage from the Chanuka story which Reb Asher would tell every night.

But, unfortunately, every group has a troublemaker, and the peace of the Chanuka lights wasn't to last. On the fifth night, as they were about to light the menora, a warden walked into the room to take roll. This was a departure from the usual schedule, for ordinarily, after ten at night, the prisoners were free to do as they wished. For some reason, on this night, they had to line up and be counted.

As the names were being called out, one of the prisoners whispered to Reb Asher that he had been informed on, and the roll call was just a pretense to arrest him. The rule against practicing religion in the camp was matched by an equally severe prohibition against lighting a fire anywhere in the camp buildings. All the buildings were constructed of wood, and it was feared that they could easily go up in flames.

"While he's reading the roll, run in and throw the candles in the snow. Then you can say you don't know anything about it," suggested the man to Reb Asher. But Reb Asher could not bear to do that to the holy lights which he had worked so hard to obtain and had lit with such sacrifice these five nights!

The roll call seemed to go on interminably. When the warden came to Reb Asher's name, he counted the lights in the menora and cried out, "Five?"

"Five!" Reb Asher replied in a loud voice. Then he continued calling out the rest of the names as if nothing unusual had happened. The prisoners were shocked. Not only had Reb Asher lit a prohibited fire, but to compound the crime, it was a " religious" fire. No one could conceive how two obviously Jewish men had lit a menora for five nights of Chanuka, and now, when they were discovered, nothing happened! This was truly a Chanuka miracle!

Reb Asher never understood that night. Who was that warden? Was he a fellow Jew who was drawn to the sight of a menora? The Chanuka miracle remained a mystery to the end of Reb Asher's life.

Adapted from Kfar Chabad Magazine


Moshiach Matters

Our celebration of the Hasmoneans' rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem speeds the coming of Moshiach and then, at the time of the Ultimate Redemption, we will dedicate the Third and eternal Holy Temple.

(The Rebbe, 25 Kislev, 5752)


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