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L'Chaim
January 23, 1998 - 25 Teves 5758

503: Va'eira

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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.


  502: Shemos504: Bo  

No One Can Take It Away From You  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  Rambam this week
The Rebbe Writes  |  What's New  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

No One Can Take It Away From You

You'll get what's coming to you.

Sometimes these words or a similar sentiment are said with a wagging finger and a stern look. At others times the statement is an assurance that whatever (good) is meant for you, you'll get, i.e., no one can take away from you that which is destined for you.

One of our great Sages, Ben Azzai, declared in the Talmud, "You will be called by your name, you will be seated in your place, you will be given what is yours. No man touches what is meant for his fellow. No kingdom touches its neighbor by so much as a hairsbreadth." (Yoma 38 a-b)

That which is destined for you is yours. This applies to finding one's soulmate, to receiving promotions and bonuses, to making the honor roll.

So what, you might ask, is the point of trying? Why put effort, hard work and time into something if it's "coming to you" anyway?

Ben Azzai's statement is not meant to encourage us to sit back, relax, and wait for it all to happen. For, in order to actually receive all that is ours requires work. Sometimes that work is physical.

Sometimes it's intellectual. At all times it is spiritual: prayer, self-growth, mitzvot. All of these undertakings help one deepen and broaden the "vessel" into which G-d can "pour" the Divinely pre- ordained blessings.

But to begin with, one must make a "vessel" for one's Divine blessings. One must make a container within oneself that is prepared to hold the G-dly goodness that is one's due. Doing mitzvot provides the material and the know-how to fashion the vessel. The vessel is created out of mitzvot that are performed in order to fulfill G-d's will, not our will but G-d's will. By nullifying one's will, one creates an empty vessel. And an empty vessel has more space into which blessings can be channeled than a full or partially filled vessel.

The concept of creating a vessel for G-d's blessing, by adding mitzvot to one's mitzva repertoire or by more scrupulously performing a mitzva, is a recurrent suggestion in the Rebbe's teachings. More than just "You do one for me and I'll do one for You," doing mitzvot creates a "mitzva tank," and "Torah treasure chest" that can be filled with unlimited good and blessings from Infinite, Unlimited G-d.


Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Va'eira, contains the four expressions of redemption: "vehotzeiti -- and I will take you out," "vehitzalti -- and I will save you," "vega'alti -- and I will redeem you," "velakachti -- and I will bring you."

Each one of these terms refers to a different historical exile, of which there have been four. (Our present exile, the fourth, is the final exile after which there will be no others.) "And I will take you out" refers to the Jewish people's redemption from Egypt, and so on with each of the above phrases.

Va'eira contains an additional expression, "veheiveiti -- and I will bring you to the good land." This fifth term of redemption alludes to the Final Redemption with Moshiach.

In this week's Torah portion G-d promises to bring us the ultimate Redemption. Whenever G-d promises to do something good, He never reconsiders his decision or regrets it. G-d has willed that a good thing can never be nullified. His promise to redeem us can therefore never be abrogated, G-d forbid. It is axiomatic that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, must fulfill His promise to bring Moshiach.


According to halacha (Jewish law), if a person sets a fire and the fire spreads, the one who set it is responsible for any damage it causes. Even if he did not intend for the fire to spread in that direction, he is obligated to reimburse anyone who incurs a loss. The very act of lighting the fire causes him to assume responsibility, even before any damage has occurred.

If halacha mandates this level of responsibility when it comes to loss or injury, how much more so does this hold true when it comes to good! Consequently, the full and complete Redemption is already in existence, even before it has completely come about. The Redemption exists even now; all that is necessary is that it be revealed to us.

Recognizing that the Redemption already exists, and that all that is missing is the stage of revelation, makes it easier for us to contend with the exile's difficulties and overcome its trials and tribulations, especially in recent generations.

We must never allow ourselves to be overpowered by the exile. Rather, we must continue to act with the power of holiness, which will cause all of the exile's concealments and difficulties to disappear. In this manner we will merit to see the Redemption with eyes of flesh, speedily in our day.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 1


A Slice of Life

Eddie Fishbaum and his brother Ari
by Colum Lynch

Matthew Wootliff, a British textile executive, has been repressing a largely unfilled craving for New York-style pizza ever since he moved to Bucharest to export men's underwear to Rumania from Western Europe.

So when Wootliff recently heard about Broadway's Jerusalem 2, a Manhattan pizza restaurant that delivers, via Federal Express couriers, to any location in the world within 48 hours, he went on something of binge.

He placed long-distance orders for three of Broadway Jerusalem's "New York Flying Pizzas" as birthday presents for his girlfriend, his mother and his brother in London. And he had three more cheesy packages delivered to friends in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Germany.

"I'm a big pizza fan," said Wootliff, in a telephone interview from his office in Bucharest. "I'm going to order in pizza for a meeting so I can see the looks on the faces of my Romanian workmates as they watch the Federal Express guy bring it in. I'll tell them 'Oh, this must be the pizza from New York.'"

Although Broadway Jerusalem's flying pizzas arrive at their destination cold and a bit congealed, they have become one of the hottest new edible exports among the international kosher set.

Ever since the 21-year-old pizza establishment began shipping its pizzas around the globe in November, Broadway Jerusalem has cultivated a following, largely through advertisements in Jewish newspapers, among kosher-conscious customers from Brookline to Berlin.

In March alone, Eddie Fishbaum, Broadway Jerusalem's Israeli owner, said he shipped more than 2,000 pizzas by Federal Express. Many paid up to $65 for the privilege of having a $14 pizza delivered to their door or impressing a friend or loved one. (In the United States, the price of a pie is $19.95, including Federal Express delivery.) And the firm's market has expanded from the mostly Jewish customer base to health-conscious vegetarians in San Francisco and Europe.

"There is no other all natural fresh frozen pie on the market, kosher or not kosher, there is no New York pizza pie on the market," Shainy Bat-Sheva, the company's chief marketer and Eddie's fiancee, offered in the finest pitch she could must . "The combination is lethal."

Still, it requires a stretch of the imagination to comprehend why someone would go to the expense of shipping day-old pizza over 10,000 miles for as much as five times the normal cost.

Perhaps it's the mere novelty of it all. Or maybe it's that kosher food is not that easy to come by in some parts of the world.

Johnson Kaithara, a garment worker from Kerala, India, who lunches at Broadway Jerusalem's New York restaurant every Friday, said it is simply the taste and texture of the pizza that makes it worth the extra price of postage.

"I like the pizza better than the other guys, it's not too saucy, not too cheesy, it's flat and thin," he said, as he chewed a slice. "If I lived in Canada I would pay a reasonable amount for it, I'd pay like $40 or $50 if I had to get it shipped over there."

Much of the credit for the initial success of the new pizza delivery service, said Fishbaum, belongs to "the Rebbe" -- the Lubavitcher spiritual leader, Menachem Schneerson, whose image is pasted on the walls of the restaurant's second floor office.

Before launching his flying pizza operation, Fishbaum received a visit from an Israeli rabbi. After soliciting a $350 donation to buy tefilin (a leather prayer accessory that wraps around the arm and head) for a Russian Jew who had recently arrived in Israel, the rabbi pledged to leave a prayer at the Rebbe's grave site on behalf of the restaurant.

"He wrote, 'I wish this flying kosher pizzas will be successful so that all Jews can enjoy kosher food instead of eating non-kosher, G-d forbid! ' " Fishbaum recalled. "I said, 'that's great, we're going to get a blessing.' "

The payoff came in less than two weeks. First, an ad placed in the Jewish Press, a Jewish publication that is read all around the world generated hundreds of requests for flying pizzas. It was followed by a favorable review of the flying pizza in the [New York] Jewish Week. At the top of the page, a photo of the Rebbe shows him glancing over at the review and waving.

Fishbaum believes the appearance of the Rebbe was no coincidence. And he said that his new service is changing the spiritual lives of his customers.

Reprinted from The Boston Globe


Rambam this week

26 Tevet, 5758
Positive Mitzva 245: Conducting Business

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 25:14) "And if you sell something to your neighbor, or buy something from your neighbor." This mitzva establishes guidelines for our business dealings and governs the way we buy, sell and transfer ownership of property. These guidelines include writing business contracts, paying for goods with money, or exchanging one item for another.


The Rebbe Writes

4th of Iyar, 5738 [1978]

To begin with a bracha [blessing], I want to convey to you my sincere appreciation for your good wishes for my health and in connection with my birthday.

I prayerfully reciprocate your good wishes by reiterating the Divine promise to our Father Abraham: "I (G-d, the source of all blessings) will bless them that bless you."

Accordingly, may G-d bestow His generous blessings on you and your children and all yours, in all needs, especially to have true Yiddish Chassidish Torah nachat from each other and from each and all of your children, and to enjoy it in good health and hatzlacha [success] in all affairs.

I was particularly pleased that your good wishes were accompanied by your recently concluded work which, I trust, is the forerunner of further accomplishments in this area as well as in related fields, for which I wish you a special hatzlacha .

I am particularly appreciative of your devoted and untiring effort to prepare for publication the paper of my late brother alav hashalom [may he rest in peace]. Although it is not in my field, I can see clearly that this was not a simple case of editing, but represents almost a total revision and reworking of the paper. In addition to being instrumental in the publication of it as perfectly as possible, is also a case of gemilut chesed [kindness] for one who is in the World of Truth, which is designated as "chesed shel emet" [true kindness], and is one of the highest forms of chesed. I appreciate what you have done more than I can express in words.

Again, wishing you and all yours good health and prosperity, materially and spiritually.


2nd of Adar, 5739 [1979]

First of all, many thanks for the reprint of your article "Inequalities for Moments and Means." It was thoughtful of you to bring it along to the farbrengen [Chassidic gathering] of Yud Shevat. It pleased me very much, especially to note that you are continuing with your creative work in your field and are productively utilizing your capabilities which G-d has endowed you with. In the present day and age it is necessary to give such work all the publicity it deserves, both through publication and lectures, to reach capacity audiences and readers. Moreover, in your case, as I have pointed out more than once, this is particularly important, for the recognition that goes with it has a strong impact on the attitude towards religious conviction, and towards Yiddishkeit [Judaism] and Chasidut in particular. People in the world of science, and young students especially, are impressed by the fact that one can be a scientist of the highest caliber and at the same time a strictly observant Jew and a chasid, and it makes them more responsive to the actual fulfillment of mitzvot when the subject comes up. There is no need to elaborate on this any further to either of you.

However, on the basis of the saying of our Sages, "Encourage the energetic," I reiterate my profound hope -- and if necessary, my request -- that you make very effort to utilize fully your capacities through all possible avenues: teaching position, lectures, courses, visiting professorships, etc. If this requires to deal with administrative people in addition to those who are directly involved in science, it should also be exploited. For, as I see, it is not only a matter of personal satisfaction, but one of the most effective means of spreading Yiddishkeit, as is surely self evident.

And since G-d's reward is in kind, but in a most generous measure, it will also widen the channels for G-d's blessings to have much true nachas from your children, and enjoy it in good health and in a happy frame of mind...


What's New

NEW AND IMPROVED

Nearly 20 couples have recently arrived in Jewish communities throughout the world to serve as the Rebbe's emissaries there. In some cities, the Shluchim (emissaries) are establishing new Chabad- Lubavitch centers while in other locations the couples are enhancing and strengthening existing programs.

Emissaries who are establishing new centers are: Rabbi Nochum and Chani Greenwald in Freehold, New Jersey; Rabbi Levi and Chani Wolff in Perth, Australia; Rabbi Hirshi and Elkie Zarchi in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Rabbi Yisroel and Chani Pinson in Pasadena, California; Rabbi Mendel and Raizy Rubin in Guilderland, New York; Rabbi Moshe and Sheva Shmukler in Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Rabbi Mendel and Shterni Deitsch in Chandler, Arizona.

Enhancing already existing Chabad-Lubavitch programs are: Rabbi Yossi and Sara Doba Glick in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine; Rabbi Mendel and Devorah Leah Kapland in Houston, Texas; Rabbi Aharon and Leah Herman in Raleigh, North Carolina; Rabbi Shol om and Rivkie Lapidus in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rabbi Mendel and Menucha Dina Majeski in Cincinnati, Ohio; Rabbi Avraham and Leah Mann in Toronto, Canada; Rabbi Levi and Perel Osdoba in Binghamton, New York; Rabbi Mendel and Devorie Shmotkin in Mil waukee, Wisconsin; Rabbi Yitzchak and Esther Teichtel in Nashville, Tennessee; Rabbi Pinchas and Nechama Dina Turk in Skokie, Illinois; Rabbi Zalman and Shterni Zwiebel in Oak Park, Michigan.

May these newest Shluchim have much success in all of their endeavors.


A Word from the Director

This Shabbat we bless the month of Shevat. The first day of Shevat is on Wednesday of this coming week, coinciding with January 28 this year.

Shevat is the eleventh month of the Jewish year, counting from the month of Nisan (the first month for numbering the months). The number eleven is a very special number. For, while the number ten represents fulfillment and completion, eleven transcends all levels. It is even higher than completion.

Jewish mysticism explains that the number eleven refers to Keter -- the Divine crown. Ten is connected with intellect and emotions. Just as a crown is placed on top of the king's head, the crown symbolizes the will and pleasure of G-d which transcends all limitations.

On the first day of Shevat, Moses began speaking to the Jewish people the words which are contained in the book of Deuteronomy, known as the repetition of the Torah. Moses spoke to the Jewish people for 37 days, admonishing them for their past behavior, inspiring them for the future, blessing. At the conclusion of these 37 days, on the seventh of Adar, Moses, the faithful shepherd of the Jewish people, passed away.

Other special days in the month of Shevat are: the tenth of Shevat, which is the anniversary of the passing of the Previous Rebbe and the ascent to leadership of the Rebbe; Tu B'Shevat or the 15th of Shevat which is the New Year for Trees; the 22nd of Shevat which is the anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson.

May we very soon see the actualization of the lofty concept of Shevat, eleven -- completion, with the complete Redemption, NOW.


Thoughts that Count

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob (Ex. 6:3)

One of the foremost Torah commentators, Rashi, adds the words "el ha'avot - to the forefathers," when explaining the above verse. It is well known that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the forefathers. What, then, does Rashi's comment add? The word "avot" is connected to the word "ava," which means "want." Rashi is explaining that G-d said to Moses, "I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because they wanted to have contact with me." Every Jew can have this kind of relationship with G-d, if he wants.

(Chatam Sofer)

These are the heads of their father's houses (Ex. 6:14)

The Torah traces the genealogy of Moses and Aharon to emphasize that a Jewish leader is not one born in a supernatural way. He is a person with a mother and father who has spiritually elevated himself to be worthy of his rank.

(Ma'ayana Shel Torah)

These are the names of the children of Levi: Gershon and Kehat and Merari (Ex. 6:16)

The children of all of the Twelve Tribes were enslaved except for the children of Levi. Levi felt that his children should participate in some way and remember the suffering of their brethren, so he named them in a way which would remind them of their exile. Gershon is connected with the word "ger," meaning "stranger," for the Jews were strangers in a land not their own. Kehat comes from the word "dull"; the Jews' teeth were dulled by their difficulties. The name Merari comes from "mar" which means "bitter," for their lives were made bitter by the Egyptian exile.

(Shaloh)

Aaron threw his staff in front of Pharoah and his servants, and it became a snake. (Ex. 7:10)

Pharoah claimed that the Jews had sinned and that they did not deserve to be taken out of Egypt. Moshe and Aaron responded that a person's environment plays a very important role in his development. Even a holy staff can turn to a vicious snake in the company of Pharoah. On the other hand, a "snake" in the company of Moses and Aaron can transform itself into a holy staff.

(Rabbi Meir Shapiro of Lublin)

From Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky


It Once Happened

Count Czartorinski, who lived nearly 200 years ago, belonged to the highest Polish nobility. He owned many large estates in Poland as did other counts. However, unlike many other Polish noblemen, Czartorinski was a friend of the Jews. Some of his ablest and most trusted managers were Jews, and many Jewish families made a living on his estates in one way or another as innkeepers, dairy farmers, fishermen and lumber merchants.

One day, the Count arranged a great banquet to celebrate a very special event. After many years of childlessness, the Count had been blessed with a son. Many Polish noblemen from all across the land had arrived to attend the affair, and during the banquet the Count told his guests how this child had come to be born. A certain rabbi who was known as a wonder-worker, lived in one of the Count's towns, Kozhnitz. This rabbi sent the Count to another great saintly rabbi, the "Seer of Lublin," who gave him a blessing for children.

"I had already given up hope of ever becoming a father," the Count related to his friends, "when I heard of this saintly man. Thanks to him, I am now a proud and happy father!"

"I, for one, am not convinced! As for this 'Seer of Lublin,' I don't believe he can see anything beyond his own nose! It was just a lucky coincidence that his blessing came true." mocked the Count's younger brother. The Count's younger brother had reason to be bitter: he had hoped to one day inherit the title and estates of his childless brother. Now, that miserable rabbi had put an end to his dreams, and he wanted revenge.

The Count did not disguise his anger at his younger brother for daring to contradict him before the assembled guests. He was no less angry at the scornful remarks he had made about the rabbi. The Count sharply rebuked him, but the brother held his ground. "I will prove to you that the so-called 'Seer of Lublin' is nothing but a swindler and a fake. Within several days, I will be traveling to Lublin. I will go to this 'wonder-rabbi' and I will also request a blessing. But, I will ask his blessing for something which will be pure invention on my part. I promise, you will see, that he will give me a blessing, too!"

The Count rose to reply. "If you succeed in this deception, I will admit my mistake. But take heed, I warn you to be very careful, or you will live to regret it! One must not trifle with holy Jews!"

Several days later the young nobleman arrived in Lublin. He found his way to the home of the Seer of Lublin and was received by him. Affecting the most disconsolate appearance, the young nobleman stood before the rabbi and wailed, "O, saintly rabbi, my only child, a baby, is dangerously ill. The doctors declared they cannot help him. My older brother, Count Czartorinski, once received a blessing from you, and he is now the father of a child. He told me that you are the only one who can help. You must give me a blessing for my baby!"

The Seer was thoughtful and silent for a few moments. Then he turned to the young nobleman and in a very serious voice said, "I see, your son is, indeed, gravely ill. Unfortunately, I cannot help you. I suggest you lose no time and return home, and you may still see your son alive, for the last time."

The young man could hardly wait to exit the Seer's room, so full of mirth was he. As soon as he was clear of the Jew's quarters, he laughed heartily and long. Hadn't he told them! Now, he will have something to tell his brother and friends. Now, what will his brother say to this news! It was a good joke was on the old rabbi. For while it was true that he had an only son, the baby was strong and had never been ill a day in his life. The whole story was invented, and the rabbi fell for it! So much for Jewish wonder-rabbis and their ridiculous 'miracles'! Well, he thought, this calls for a celebration!

Young Czartorinski did not hurry home. First, he spent some time at the inn, getting himself quite drunk. When he finally showed up at home, he found his only child dead! His older brother was there, comforting the bereaved young mother.

"I should have listened to you," the young Czartorinski wailed. "You had warned me, but I wouldn't listen! I wanted to revenge myself on the Jew! What a crazy fool I was to try to play such a trick on the saintly rabbi!"

Adapted from Talks and Tales


Moshiach Matters

Redemption is not an event that happens at the end of our life on earth; it is a cumulative process that begins at the outset of our lives, and every act of goodness brings us one step closer to completing the process. Redemption means an end to darkness and confusion; it means a time of harmony.

(Toward a Meaningful Life adapted by Simon Jacobson from the Rebbe's teachings)


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