It's About Time | 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
Time is relative. When you're "on hold" for the operator or customer service rep, each minute is an endless source of annoyance. However, when you are frantically finishing an exam, sixty seconds is far too short. When you're late for an appointment and caught in traffic, each second is a year. But when you're doing the finishing touches before the "company" arrives, every second is a windfall.
Time can also stretch and shrink. For children, the months of the school year drag on interminably while the vacation days seem to instantly disappear. As we get older, though, we speak in terms of how "time flies." Days, weeks, months, years , blur together. And though we feel as if just yesterday we were in high school, we receive invitations to attend 10, 25, or 50 year reunions.
In every day there are seconds, minutes and hours. And every instant of all of our days should be filled with meaningful pursuits.
"Wasting time" is not a phrase traditionally found in the Jewish lexicon. One might even go so far as to say that time is not ours to waste. For the Jewish concept of time is that it is a precious gift given to us by G-d. As the saying goes, "The past is history, the future is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called 'present.'"
Not using the gift of time in a manner deemed appropriate by the Gift- giver is, in essence, saying that the gift is not valued. Time not used, or not used properly, is lost; and lost time can never be regained.
Time, Chasidic thought teaches, must be guarded. Every bit of time, each day that passes, is not just a day but an entire lifetime. As Jewish teachings express, "The day is short, the work is much... and the Master is pressing." (Avot 2:15)
The "day" referred to in the above teaching is a person's lifetime. When a person realizes the nature of the work before him - to conduct his entire life in accordance with the Master's will - he understands that one day, one lifetime, is indeed short.
And because life is so short, we must make use of every moment: the moments of our days and of our nights; the moments of our youth and of our maturity; the moments when we have the vigor to "burn the candle at both ends" and the moments when the candle is flickering and fading.
A thoughtful incident about time and the last moments of a candle's light is told concerning Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. One evening, Rabbi Salanter passed the house of a shoemaker, and saw him working by the light of a candle that was almost dying out.
"Why do you work so late?" Rabbi Salanter asked. "The candle will soon go out, and you won't be able to do anymore."
"It does not matter that the candle will soon go out," the shoe-maker replied. "While the candle burns, I can still make repairs."
Rabbi Salanter was deeply impacted and concluded, "A person works for material sustenance all the while that the candle is burning. So, too, should he work for the needs of his soul and repair as much as he possibly can as long as the lamp of G-d, which is the soul of person, is still burning."
This issue of L'Chaim commemorates the 10th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. The numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters of her name is 470, the same as the numerical value of the Hebrew word "eit" - time.
This week's Torah reading, Yitro, narrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. About this central event in the history of the Jewish people the Torah states, "And G-d spoke all these words, saying." Our commentators ask a logical question: What is the meaning of the seemingly superfluous word "saying"?
Throughout the Torah, wherever the word "saying" appears, the intent is for those words to be transmitted and repeated to those Jews who were not present at the time when G-d uttered them.
However, at the giving of the Torah, every single Jew was present. Everyone was there at Mount Sinai, everyone heard the Ten Commandments - even the souls of Jews yet to be born in future generations were present. Why then, in this instance, does the Torah employ the word "saying"?
The Maggid of Mezeritch, Rabbi Dov Ber, successor of the Baal Shem Tov, answered this question as follows:
- "Vayedabeir - And G-d spoke" alludes to the Aseret Hadibrot - the Ten Commandments.
- "Leimor - saying" alludes to the Aseret Hama'amarot - the Ten Utterances by which G-d created the world.
The intent of the verse "And G-d spoke all these words, saying" is that the Torah was given for the purpose of drawing down the Ten Commandments into the Ten Utterances of the physical world, i.e., that the light of Torah would illuminate the world to such an extent that it is perceived on the physical plane of existence.
This job was given to the Jewish people when G-d gave them His Torah. Our task as Jews is to cause the light of Torah ("And G-d spoke") to illuminate the world ("saying"). We must never think that the Torah and the world are two separate entities. It isn't enough to conduct ourselves according to Torah when studying and praying. Rather, the light of Torah must be brought down to even our most mundane affairs. Everything a Jew does, no matter how worldly, must be carried out in accordance with the Torah's dictates and performed in a spirit of holiness.
This, then, is the core of the giving of the Torah: bringing the light of Torah, the Ten Commandments - "And G-d spoke" - not only into the realm of Torah, but also into the realm of physical existence, into the world that was created by the Ten Utterances - "saying."
Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 1
In honor of the 22 of Shevat, the tenth yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, we asked a few of the thousands of girls around the world named for the Rebbetzin to share their thoughts with us about what it means to them to bear the Rebbetzin's name.
Mushka Matusof, 8 Madison, Wisconsin
I feel very proud of my name Mushka because I was named after the Rebbe's wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. Every time I do a mitzva I feel very good, not just because I did a mitzva, but because I am named after the Rebbetzin and I feel that she is helping me.
Whenever someone asks me, "What is your name?" I smile and say, "Mushka. I am named after the Rebbe's wife."
I hope that the Rebbe and Rebbetzin are proud of me. I can not wait until Moshiach comes, so I can see them personally!!
Mushka Levin, 8 Palo Alto, California
My name is Mushka. It really means a lot to me to be named after Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. When the yetzer hara [evil inclination] tries to make me do something wrong I think about who I am named after and that helps me do the right thing. Being named after the Rebbetzin is a special zechus [privilege] because of the special connection between our neshomos [souls]. I will always try to bring her a lot of nachas [pride].
Chaya Mushka Klein, 9 1/2 Manchester, England
I was born on Shabbos, the 10th of Tammuz in Manchester, 9 1/2 years ago, while the Rebbe was having a farbrengen [gathering] in Crown Heights in 770.
I was named on Monday morning, which was the 12th of Tammuz, the birthday and the day on which the Previous Rebbe was freed from prison. He was the father of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. I was the first girl named Chaya Mushka in Manchester.
My parents knew which name they were going to give me but they did not know what they were going to call me. The Rebbetzin often used the name Chaya Moussia and that is on my birth certificate and my passport. My mother thought she might call me just Moussia.
But at shul when I got my name and my mother asked "What will we call her?" my sister, who was eight at the time, said, "Chaya Mushka, of course." And that is how it ended!
Nobody in Manchester ever asks me where my family goes to shul because my name is a password for Lubavitch.
Chaya Mushka Springer, 7 1/2 Milan, Italy,
My name is Chaya Mushka and I'm very proud to be named for a tzidkanit [righteous woman] like the Rebbe's wife.
Even though I live in Italy, with 17 of us in my class, when my teacher calls out my name, seven of us turn around.
When I hear stories about the Rebbetzin I notice that she always did mitzvot in a very quiet and modest way. This is really a coincidence, because when I do mitzvot I also don't like people to know about them and don't like to make a fuss.
Chaya Mushka Krinsky, 9 Postville, Iowa
Chaya means "life." Mushka means "perfume," "incense." When people call my name it makes them think of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin, which makes them want to be true soldiers in the Rebbe's army.
May Hashem help me live up to the name I was given and be like the person I was named after. This means to have a life ("chaya," and real life is eternal life,) that is as special as the incense ([symbolizing] spiritual and holy things) filled with Torah and mitzvos through Chasidus. May I give true Chasidishe nachas to the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin.
May all of us Chaya Mushkas and all the Jewish people do everything in our power to bring the true and complete redemption with the revelation of Moshiach NOW!
Chaya Mushka Katzman, 8 Omaha, Nebraska
My name is Chaya Mushka Katzman. On Tu B'Shvat I will become eight years old. I just love my name!! Some Chaya Mushkas I know are called "Chaya." Others are called "Mushky." I like to be called "Chaya Mushka."
I live with my family in Omaha, Nebraska, where we are the Rebbe's shluchim [emissaries]. The Rebbe has taught us that wherever his shluchim go, the Rebbe comes along. We always feel that the Rebbe is with us in our home and in our Chabad House.
I especially feel connected to the Rebbe because I carry the name of the holy Rebbetzin. I have heard that the Rebbetzin cared so much for the shluchim and worried for their success.
I like to think of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka as one of my dear, great Bubbys. This way I can always try to copy her beautiful ways.
When we have a family simcha [joyous occasion] or a program at Chabad House, I know the Rebbetzin is with us. When I learn Torah and do what is right, I know she is proud of me.
I try, like the Rebbetzin, to love every single Jew. I know this helps to bring Moshiach sooner. Then I will meet the Rebbetzin. May this happen immediately.
"At the ingathering of the exiles, all the Jews of the present generation will proceed to the Holy Land amidst health and joy. They will be joined by 'those who rest in the dust,' the souls of the previous generation, who 'will arise and sing .' In particular, this applies to a soul who has merited that many Jewish girls be named after her and educated in the spirit in which she lived."
(The Rebbe, 22 Shevat, 5752-1992)
19 Shevat, 5758
Positive Mitzva 197: Lending Money
This mitzva is based on the verse (Ex. 22:24): "If you lend money to any of My people that is poor among you." We are commanded to lend money to people who need it. This is actually a greater mitzva than giving charity. For, by lending money we are assisting the person to stand on their own and helping them pull out of their difficulties. We are assuring that they should not come to the point where they need to reveal their desperate situation and ask for charity.
7th of Adar, 5731 
I am in receipt of your letter of Rosh Chodesh Adar, containing the good news that things are progressing satisfactorily. I trust you received my acknowledgment of your previous correspondence. May G-d grant the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good, especially that you should go from strength to strength, as you write.
In reply to the two points which you raise in your letter:
Regarding Chasidut, it is not correct to say that it is a "supplementary aid" to the proper fulfillment of the mitzvot, for it is that element which permeates the fulfillment of all the mitzvot. For example, it is possible to fulfill a mitzva without any kavana [intention] whatever; it is possible to fulfill a mitzva with the general kavana of fulfilling G-d's command; and it is possible to fulfill a mitzva with inspiration, enthusiasm and joy, as a deep-felt experience pervading one's entire being, although the mitzva is only a part of one's being.
By way of illustration: When taking challa [a portion of dough separated and set aside from the rest], one can be permeated with a great joy and feeling of dedicating the first part of the dough, even before partaking from it, to kedusha [holiness] although in our time it cannot be given to a Kohen [of the family of Aaron], and must therefore be burned.
At the same time, as explained in Chasidut (in Shaar Hayichud V'Haemuna), on the subject of the continuous renewal of Creation, one can realize that G-dliness is the actual reality of all things, except that it was G-d's Will that the spiritual should be hidden in a material frame. But the Jew, by the capacity of his intellect, kavana, and knowledge, can reveal the spiritual through the predominance of form over matter, the spiritual over the material, the soul over the body, until he can see with the eyes of his intellect how the material is being constantly brought into existence as in the Six Days of Creation. Permeated with this knowledge, he realizes that the first of everything should be dedicated to G-d, and only then can he partake of all the things which G-d has given him.
In the light of the above, one can appreciate that Chasidut is not something supplementary, but the very soul of the mitzva, or, as you also mention it, creates a new dimension in the fulfillment of every mitzva.
In the above there is also a reply to those who claim that Chasidut looks askance on, or rejects, other Jews, G-d forbid. This is not so, for basically the Jew who fulfills a mitzva even without any kavana, and even without knowing the original source of the commandment in the Torah, is nevertheless fulfilling the mitzva, and has to make a bracha [blessing] and so forth.
Similarly, the woman who does not know the pasuk [verse] in the Torah which speaks of challa, and knows nothing of the deeper significance of the mitzva, etc., is also fulfilling the mitzva. On the other hand, it is indeed a very great pity if one does not try to learn and understand the deeper aspects of the mitzvot. For very often even a minor detail in a mitzva has profound significance and implication, and even in a small piece of dough taken as challa, there can be hidden a profound world outlook.
With regard to your other question, whether when talking to a person who knows nothing about Torah and mitzvot, one should bring in Chasidut too, or only discuss the immediate matters -- it is self- understood that if the person is capable of grasping the matter in the Chasidic way, there is the mitzva of "V'Ahavta L'Rei-acha Kamocha," ("Love your fellow as yourself") to share a good thing with another person to the fullest extent.
On the other hand, if that person is not yet capable of grasping the inner aspects of the mitzvot as explained in Chasidut, one can only talk to that person in basic terms and according to that person's level of understanding.
This is what is meant by the verse, "instruct the lad according to his way," as explained at length by the Moreh Nevuchim, the true "guide" of all generations, namely the Rambam [Maimonides], in his Introduction to his Commentary on Mishnayot. For, just as it is necessary to teach a child gradually, in accordance with his grasp and capacity, so it is necessary to teach adults who are "children" insofar as knowledge and understanding is concerned.
P.S. I trust that you have seen my talk to Jewish women on the subject of challa. No doubt it is available in the library of the Seminary.
Chabad Headline News - from Lubavitch News Service - www.lns.org
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Israeli Government honors Chabad's rescue operation with Postal Stamp.
The following relief-effort story, in different variations, repeated itself in Chabad-Lubavitch centers across the North American Frost Belt...
CHILDREN REVEL IN MASTER'S COLORFUL REVELATIONS
World-renowned artist Yaacov Agam stopped at Camp Gan Israel south of the equator to teach children about the colors that emanate from the Torah.
When the famous Rabbi Akiva returned from the great yeshiva in Jerusalem to his humble home after 24 years of intense and unceasing Torah study, he brought with him his 22,000 students. When his wife Rachel approached him through the crowd, Rabbi Akiva announced "All that I have, and all that you have, we owe to her." These words of Rabbi Akiva are recorded in the Talmud (Ketubot 63a).
In another Talmudic Tractate (Yevamot 62b) it says that Rabbi Akiva's disciples saved the Torah at that time.
In a beautiful letter from the Rebbe to the Lubavitch Women's Organization for one of their annual conventions, the Rebbe explains that these two Talmudic teachings are interconnected. "This means that the entire edifice of the Oral Torah, the very basis of the existence of our Jewish people and its way of life, is ultimately to be credited to a Jewish woman," the Rebbe writes there.
This week, on the 22nd of Shevat, we commemorate the tenth yahrzeit of a most unique, righteous Jewish woman, the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson.
Upon the passing of her father, the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbetzin strongly encouraged the Rebbe to assume the mantle of leadership. This entailed tremendous self-sacrifice and unimaginable devotion on the part of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. Although we cannot fully understand just how much of a sacrifice it was on the part of the Rebbetzin, she certainly understood. For, during a U.S. court case concerning the ownership of the library of the Previous Rebbe, it was the Rebbetzin's decisive statement that "the library belongs to the Chasidim because my father belonged to the Chasidim" which helped the Lubavitch movement win the case so that the stolen books were returned to "770."
Thus, when the Rebbetzin encouraged the Rebbe to accept the entreaties of the hundreds of thousands of Chasidim world-wide who were requesting that he become Rebbe, she knew that from that time forth the Rebbe would belong to the Chasidim and to world Jewry at large.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Rebbetzin.
Now I know that G-d is the greatest of all deities (Exod. 18:11)
To say that G-d is greater than all the other gods is heresy because it implies that other gods have some substance. Why would Yitro say such a thing? This statement is not one of relative comparison, but of total rejection. Yitro was the High Priest of Midian and a very prominent theologian. He was familiar with all of the gods the pagan world worshipped. After learning of the miracles that G-d performed he was convinced of the worthlessness of all the other deities and of G-d's identity as the one and only G-d of the world. Hence he proudly proclaimed, "Now I know that G-d is great, and I have reached this conclusion through realizing the falsehood of all the other gods."
You shall not kill (Exod. 20:13)
When this mitzva of the Ten Commandments is read in private, it is read "lo tirtzach." When the Torah is read in public, the Ashkenazic pronunciation of these words are "lo tirtzawch" (with the Hebrew vowel kametz instead of patach). These two variant pronunciations teach us that there are two types of murder which are forbidden. The first is the actual shedding of blood. The second is shaming a person in public, which the Talmud equates to murder.
(HaRav Tzirlson M'Kishinev)
I am the Lord your G-d...You shall have no other gods (Exod. 20:2-3)
G-d personally said the first two commandments and conveyed the rest through Moses. Though it is incumbent upon every Jew to observe all of the precepts of the Torah, a prophet is permitted to tell a community to temporarily violate a Torah precept. Exempted from this rule is idolatry. No one has the authority to tell any Jew at any time to transgress this prohibition. The entire Torah was given through Moses, who was the greatest of all the prophets. Since he, as a prophet, was imbued with the power to convey the Torah, G-d vested in Moses and his successors the strength to temporarily supersede a mitzva of the Torah, However, the first two commandments, which forbid idolatry, were given directly from G-d. Hence, these laws are eternal and totally unchangeable.
From Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky
Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka led a life which was remarkable in many ways, not the least in its utter selflessness and extreme privacy.
She was born in 1901, the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak. Her remarkable abilities and keen intellect brought her father to entrust her with great responsibilities. In fact, she was actively involved in many of his activities to keep Judaism alive during the explosive years following the Russian Revolution and establishment of the Soviet state.
In 1927, when her father, the Previous Rebbe was arrested, it was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who made sure that all possibly incriminating documents were destroyed. Indeed, during his imprisonment, she was in the forefront of those seeking to commute the death sentence to one of exile, and then, finally to release.
A unique relationship existed between Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka and her father, and he wrote many deep, philosophical letters to her, in which he expounded his concepts of Chassidic thought and Divine service. Those who were privileged to know the Rebbetzin described her as a refined, erudite woman of very extensive knowledge and great intelligence and wit.
On the 14th of Kislev, 1929, Warsaw was at the peak of its glory, the "Jerusalem of Poland." On that day, Rebbes of numerous Chasidic dynasties, world-renowned rabbis and heads of yeshivas, illustrious Jews of many walks of life gathered to celebrate the wedding of the daughter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the son of the brilliant scholar and kabbalist, Harav Levi Yitzchak Schneerson. The marriage of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka to Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson opened a new chapter in her life. Twenty-five years later, the Rebbe described the union as a marriage which bound him to the Chasidim.
The early days of their marriage were ones of onerous hardship and great personal danger. First settling in Berlin, they were forced to flee to Paris after the Nazis came to power. They fled Paris in 1940 and through the strenuous efforts of the Previous Rebbe they succeeded in boarding the last ship to leave Europe. From the day they arrived in the United States, for the next 47 years, the Rebbetzin's life was dedicated to only one thing - the wellbeing of her husband and the success of his mission in life.
It was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who urged her husband to assume the leadership of Chabad after the passing of her illustrious father in 1950. From that moment on, the Rebbetzin embarked on perhaps the most difficult mission of her life, for she spent the next four decades supporting every action and move the Rebbe took on behalf of the Jewish people.
Although she was entirely absent from the public eye, she took an avid interest in the work of the many thousands of emissaries, keeping abreast of their activities. The Rebbetzin took deep personal satisfaction in their accomplishments, and commiserated in their hardships.
For the Rebbetzin, her husband's will became her own. She was his greatest Chasid. And yet, she had the wifely wisdom to look out for his health. Knowing that the Rebbe usually refused to see a doctor, she would make her own medical treatment contingent on his agreeing to a check-up. In order to assure her well-being, he would, of course, comply.
In her last years, when the Rebbetzin was ill, she suffered in silence, and to her last day, no complaint escaped her lips. Even to her husband she did not reveal all her suffering, in order to spare him distress. On the unanimous advice of several doctors the Rebbetzin was hospitalized. Soon after she arrived at the hospital she suddenly requested a glass of water. Shortly after midnight of Wednesday, the 22nd day of Shevat, the pure neshama of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka left this world. The Rebbetzin's forebearers, Rebbetzin Rivka and Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, her great-grandmother and grandmother, had asked for a glass of water minutes before their passing. It is recorded in many holy books that tzadikim often ask for water before their passing. One explanation that is given is that their souls thereby leave this world after reciting the proper blessing before drinking water, "...and everything is created through His word" and the blessing afterward "...He who creates many souls." This same blessing will be said at the time of the resurrection of the dead in the Messianic Era.
In the merit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, may we follow the Rebbe's injunction to take her life's accomplishments to heart, and with our many deeds of goodness and kindness, may we see the coming of Moshiach now.
The righteous women who left Egypt were so confident that G-d would perform miracles for the Jewish people that they took tambourines with them into the desert. So, too, with the final Redemption. The righteous women must, and certainly do trust so completely in the immediate Redemption, that they will begin immediately - in these last moments of exile - to play music and dance for the coming of the complete Redemption.