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You haven't even opened your eyes yet. The realization that you are awake and it is morning slowly seep into your consciousness.
And then you hear a bird chirping. Oh, this is going to be a glorious day! As a smile softly curls the corners of your lips, you nod your head ever so slightly. Thank G-d, I'm alive.
You have just expressed the essence of the "Modeh Ani" prayer which we say each morning as soon as we perceive that we are awake.
"I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul to me; Your faithfulness is awesome."
Before getting out of bed or getting dressed properly, prior to tooth brushing and face washing, we offer these word of thanks to G-d.
Traditional Jewish sources explain that even in this pre-prayer state, while we still have the "trace of impurity" imparted by sleep (which we remove when we wash our hands in a prescribed manner), we can say this prayer, for it does not contain any of G-d's names.
At first glance we might understand the omission of G-d's name as somehow diminishing the power of this prayer. However, Chasidic teachings reveal that we are addressing G-d in a far deeper way.
To explain: When we refer to someone by name, we are qualifying the person through the name we are using. Whether it is the person's "proper" name, a noun such as "mother," or an adjective such as "dear," we are describing our relationship with the person or an aspect of that person. However, referring to the person as "you" is all-encompassing.
Thus, in the first moments of our wakefulness, when we offer thanks to "You," we are relating to G-d without limitation or description.
Chasidic philosophy explains reciting Modeh Ani immediately upon awakening in the morning with the powerful statement: "Nothing can defile the 'Modeh Ani' of a Jew."
The gratitude toward and recognition of G-d is at the very core of every Jew, it is our essence. And that essential part of us never becomes impure or defiled.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, not even 2,000 years of exile, persecution, assimilation or lack of Jewish education, can defile the essence of a Jew and how that essence connects to "You."
The word teruma (offering) appears three times in the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Teruma:
"And have them bring Me an offering." This refers to the half-shekel that each Jew contributed toward the sockets of the Sanctuary.
"Take My offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give." This refers to the half-shekel that was given for the communal sacrifices.
"The offering you take from them shall consist of the following: gold, silver, copper...." This offering was for the Sanctuary proper and all its vessels. Instead of a single, specified amount, every Jew contributed what he wished.
The sockets of the Sanctuary, unlike the rest of the Sanctuary's components toward which a Jew could donate as little or as much as he wanted, were made from another offering in which all Jews participated equally. What made the sockets different?
The sockets were the lowest part of the Sanctuary, yet they formed the foundation of the entire edifice.
Within every Jew is a spiritual Sanctuary: "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me and I will dwell in their midst" - within each Jew. This spiritual Sanctuary likewise consists of correlating spiritual components, including its "sockets."
In the spiritual sense, these "sockets" are the Jew's self- nullification, his humility before G-d and acceptance of the yoke of heaven.
The concept of kabalat ol, obedience to G-d's will, is the same for every individual, the wise and the untutored, the rich and the poor. Accordingly, each person was obligated to contribute the same half- shekel towards the Sanctuary's sockets, for when it comes to self- nullification before G-d, all Jews are equal.
Why was it necessary for everyone to make an identical contribution for the communal sacrifices? Because this offering was made to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf which affected every Jew, including those who did not participate. Even Moses, who was not actually present, was harmed by it. To correct this communal damage, a collective sacrifice in which all took part equally was required. Thus every Jew was obligated to contribute the same half-shekel.
By contrast, when it comes to the inner service of G-d, every Jew is different. A person is obligated to utilize the unique faculties he has to the best of his ability. Correspondingly, each Jew contributed a different amount to the Sanctuary, in accordance with his individual talents.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 1
A despondent Israeli couple sat by their young son's hospital bed as his condition rapidly worsened. After nine months of waiting in vain for a new liver, 18-month-old Michael's liver was failing him, he was bleeding internally, and his skin had turned an ominous gray.
Nine months earlier, in February 1997, Betsalel and Chedva Elnadav had left their life in Rishon Letzion, a Tel Aviv suburb, and their two young children, to make the long trek to Oklahoma City, hoping to save their baby who was in desperate need of a liver transplant.
In Israel, their child's chances of receiving a new liver were slim. In the United States, his chances were better, but not by much. Doctors said it is very difficult to find a matching liver for a child that young.
The decision to leave Israel for the American heartland was not an easy one for 30-year-old Betsalel, a full-time student, and 28-year- old Chedva, who works as a secretary. But their rabbi had told them they had no choice: it was a matter of life or death, they had to go to save their son.
Upon arriving in Oklahoma City, the Elnadavs contacted Oklahoma's Chabad-Lubavitch representative, Rabbi Yehuda Weg, who lives in Tulsa, a two-hour drive from Oklahoma City.
Rabbi Weg and his staff at the Tulsa-based Chabad Center immediately threw themselves into the case, arranging money, food and lodging for the family, as well as contacting and coordinating the efforts of other Jewish organizations who specialize in financial and medical help for extreme cases.
In due course the family became a cause celebre in the community.
David Bernstein, Executive Director of the Tulsa Jewish Federation, said that the Tulsa community was moved by the Elnadavs' plight.
"They were in a strange world, and all of us felt we just had to reach out," Bernstein said.
Chabad-Lubavitch volunteers prepared kosher food and arranged the purchase of a car for the family so they could travel to Tulsa for Shabbat and the High Holidays. They also helped them set up an apartment near the hospital.
But despite the doctors' best efforts, on the eve of Hoshana Rabba (toward the end of the Sukkot holiday) in October, death appeared close for Michael. His parents sat by his side at the Integris Baptist Hospital Center filled with trepidation.
Soon a familiar face arrived: Rabbi Weg. He brought along some companions: his son, Mendy; visiting rabbinical student Avraham Berkowitz; and, most importantly, a living example of how hope can conquer obstacles -- Nachum Sassonkin, another rabbinical student, who had been shot in the infamous 1994 "Brooklyn Bridge shooting." Doctors had predicted then that Sassonkin would not live.
According to the Elnadavs, the group filled the hospital room with the joy of Sukkot, raising everyone's spirits. Sassonkin's message of hope was particularly uplifting to the family.
Later that night, Michael underwent a successful operation to stop the bleeding. But, he still needed a new liver.
The next afternoon, Rabbi Weg was back in Tulsa leading a group of children from the Heritage Academy, the local Jewish day school, in celebration of Sukkot. He asked the group of 40 children to pray for Michael, to ask for a miracle.
"We were looking for ways to help this child," Rabbi Weg said. "The power of children's prayer, we are told, can move mountains."
Later that afternoon, shortly before the onset of the Simchat Torah holiday, Rabbi Weg received an urgent phone call from Betsalel. After nine months and two days of waiting in Oklahoma, of Betsalel carrying around a beeper waiting for the elusive call to come, a liver had been found. The liver came from a seven-month-old infant in Texas.
"We had all been praying for a long time, but the children's prayers were answered," Rabbi Weg said.
Rabbi Weg wasn't the only one who felt that way. Karen Jarvis, a native of London who once lived in Israel and now lives near Oklahoma City, had been asked by the Chabad Center to serve as a translator for the Elnadav family. For nine months, she had been with the family every day.
That afternoon Jarvis received a call from the hospital telling her to come over quickly. When she arrived at the social services department and heard the news, she started crying.
"Although it wasn't my son," she said, "I felt as if it were."
As hundreds danced and celebrated the festive Simchat Torah holiday at the Chabad Center, interspersed with spirited get-well wishes for Michael Elnadav, the life-saving operation was underway. Eight hours later (four hours earlier than anticipated) Michael had a new liver.
A month later, the Elnadav family was headed back to Israel. Their son Michael will need to take medication to bolster his immune system for the rest of his life, but, according to his doctors, it's going to be a relatively normal life. Before returning to Israel, the Elnadav family stopped at the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place) to offer prayers of thanks to G-d.
"In Oklahoma, the only place I felt the holiness that I feel in Israel was in the Chabad House in Tulsa," said Betsalel.
Reprinted from Lubavitch News Service - www.chabad.org/lns
7 Adar, 5758 Positive Mitzva 176: Appointing Judges
This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 16:18): "Appoint judges and officers in all your gates."
The Torah contains laws and rules which govern every aspect of life. It deals not only with prayer and other commandments between a person and his/her Maker but with interpersonal relations, business and all areas of one's life. G-d, therefore, commands us to appoint judges and officers to enforce Torah law and make sure it is followed.
Erev Shavuot, 5716 
In reply to your (undated) letter, you should bear in mind the following points:
- There can be no question but that teshuva is effective in every case and whatever the transgression, for teshuva is one of G-d's commandments, and G-d does not require of us the impossible.
- It is likewise certain that any kind of depression, despondency or sadness, is a trick of the Yetzer Hara [evil inclination] to discourage one from serving G-d, as is explained at length in the books of Mussar, and in the books of Chasidut; and you would do well to refer to Tanya, ch. 26 and further.
- Even where one has relapsed in committing the same transgression for which one has done teshuva, and, moreover, even while doing teshuva one is not certain whether he could resist the temptation should it recur, this must in no way prevent him from studying the Torah and observing its mitzvot, included among which is also the mitzva of teshuva, for every action of man has its repercussions both down here below and Above, and you surely know the saying of our Sages: "No transgression extinguishes a mitzva," (even though it extinguishes the reward of a mitzva). I refer you again to Iggeret Hateshuva (part III of the Tanya), ch. 11.
I advise you from now on to stop weighing and dwelling on things which are of no practical value, and especially the kind of thought that only leads to despondency, but concentrate ever growing efforts on Torah and mitzvot...
4th of Adar 1, 5722 
After the lapse of time, I was pleased to receive your letter of Rosh Chodesh Adar 1. As requested, I will remember in prayer all those you mentioned in your letter. May G-d grant that you will have good news to report.
As we are now in the auspicious month of Adar, which is a time for increased rejoicing, it is clear that we are not expected to rejoice simply for the sake of rejoicing, but that there are very good reasons for doing so, and \when there is complete faith in G-d, the reasons soon become apparent.
P.S. To answer your questions:
- On the question of teshuva, it is always effective. See first chapter of Iggeret Hateshuva.
- The expression "treasures," which I used in my cable, was in regard to the stores of powers and capacities which every person has, and of which one is not always fully aware; also to the special aid given from On High (as explained at length in the maamarim [Chasidic Discourses] of Yud Shevat, from chapter 11 on.)...
18th of Teveth, 5720 
I received your letter of January 10th, in which you ask my explanation of the reference to the four "basic elements" (Yesodot) mentioned in chapter one of the Tanya, and you ask me how is it possible to reconcile this with modern chemistry which recognizes over one hundred elements.
Perfunctorily, I must make at least two corrections in your letter.
One, the origin of that statement in the Tanya is not as you write, but it is to be found in the Midrash Rabba (Bamidbar 14:12) and at greater length, and in greater detail, in many parts of the Zohar and further explained in other books of the Kabala.
Two, modern chemistry does not recognize over one hundred basic elements but a considerably fewer number if matter is to be reduced to its basic components or particles. For the so called elements themselves are made up of atoms, which are the smallest particles into which an element can be divided and yet retain its properties and characteristics, but the atoms themselves are further made up of smaller particles, such as electrons, protons, neutrons.
Thus the answer to your question lies in the proper definition of the terms under discussion. For as indicated above, the so-called element is not the basic particle matter. Even the term "atom" which originally meant something invisible, is an archaism now employed only for convenience, as it no longer corresponds to its original meaning. Similarly, when we speak of an individual as being an element of society this does not mean that the individual himself is not composite.
This should be born in mind when we consider the term Yesodot in the Zohar, Midrash Rabba, Kabala, etc. and of course, in the Tanya and other Chabad sources...
I might also mention that there is another school of thought which conceives these four Yesodot not in their physical aspects, but rather qualitatively, this is to say, "fire" in the sense of the properties of heat and dryness, "water" in the sense of coolness and humidity...
L'CHAIM BOOKS ARRIVE
Bound volumes of the ninth and tenth year of L'Chaim have arrived back from the bindery and are currently available exclusively through the Lubavitch Youth Organization office. A small quantity of bound volumes from the seventh (#s 305-352) and eighth (#s 353-405) are also available. The books are $25 plus $3 s&h.
To order, send your name, address, and a check (payable to L.Y.O) to: L'Chaim Books, 1408 President Street, Bklyn, NY 11213. Please specify which volume(s) you are purchasing.
ANTICIPATING THE REDEMPTION Vol. II
The eight Chasidic discourses that comprise this second volume of Anticipating the Redemption represent Chasidic treatments of the dynamics of exile and redemption, the spiritual transcendance which will characterize the Era of Redemption, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the unique role of the leaders of the generation in serving as catalysts of Redemption.
Available in Judaica stores or by sending $16 to Sichos In English, 788 Eastern Pkwy, Bklyn, NY 11213
Likkutei Dibburim is a cherished treasure-chest of the Chabad-Chasidic heritage. This fourth volume, like its predecessors, is a record of talks delivered (and then rewritten for publication) by the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, in Latvia, Poland and the United States. Kehot Publication Society.
Available in Judaica stores or by sending $20 to Sichos In English
As we enter the month of Adar, our thoughts immediately turn to the holiday of Purim.
Every holiday is a time of rejoicing for the Jewish people. The joy of Purim, however, exceeds that of all other holidays, even the holiday of Sukkot, which is referred to in the Torah itself as "Z'man Simchateinu" - the Season of Our Rejoicing .
The joy of Purim is limitless and unbounded. The joy of Purim is poretz geder; it "breaks" through life's day-to-day routines and the typical way of doing things.
As the joy of Purim is so great, even the preparations for Purim must be filled with great joy. What preparations do we need to make for Purim?
On Purim itself we send gifts of food, mishloach manot, to friends and neighbors. Children dress up in costumes. We listen to the reading of the Megila of Esther and stamp out Haman's name. We eat a festive holiday meal and we add the special Al HaNisim ("For these miracles") to our prayers.
Our preparations for Purim, then, include studying the laws and customs of the holiday, purchasing items for mishloach manot, making costumes, familiarizing ourselves with the Megila, readying the holiday meal, knowing when to recite Al HaNisim. The more enthusiasm and rejoicing we put into the preparations for Purim, the greater the happiness of Purim itself will be.
From the rejoicing of the preparations for Purim may we speedily experience the rejoicing with Moshiach now.
The Purim Holiday Guide is on-line at: www.chabad.org/holiday/purim/
And they shall take to Me an offering (Ex. 25:2)
Our Sages stated: "Money is more dear to the righteous than their own bodies."
At first glance this seems wholly inappropriate. How can wealth be so important to a truly righteous person? However, the Maharam of Lublin explained that only the righteous perceive the true power of money and the great good that can be done with it. How many mitzvot can be accomplished, how many poor people fed and Jewish educational institutions maintained!
(Maayana Shel Torah)
They shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst (Ex. 25:8)
Conversely, the "indwelling" of G-d in the Sanctuary is directly proportional to the amount of effort we invest in sanctifying our personal lives. When a Jew brought holiness into his daily routine and mundane affairs, it caused the holiness in the Temple in Jerusalem to intensify as well.
And you shall make two cherubim of gold (Ex. 25:18)
As explained in the Midrash Mechilta, all of the Sanctuary's vessels could be made from another metal if gold was not available-except for the cherubim. The cherubim were unique in that no other substance besides gold was acceptable. The cherubim, with their faces like that of children, are symbolic of Jewish children and the need to provide them with an uncompromising Jewish education. Indeed, the position of the cherubim on top of the holy ark reminds us of the primacy of our obligation. For when it comes to teaching children Torah and supporting Jewish education for our youth, only our best efforts will do.
(Maharam Shapira of Lubin)
And you shall set upon the table showbread before Me always (Ex. 25:30)
The Hebrew expression for "showbread" is lechem hapanim-literally "bread of the faces." Its appearance was different to each individual as the person's own nature was reflected in what he saw. A person with strong faith in G-d perceived the bread as fresh and steaming hot even days after it was set on the table; a person with little faith saw it as cold and stale, for it reflected his own coldness and indifference to Judaism.
(Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur)
Many years ago, in a little Russian town, there lived a Jew named Mottel Goldgrebber. Now, this was quite a funny name, for a digger ("grebber") he was, but certainly not a digger of gold. He was, in fact, a digger of sand and lime, which he would sell to local builders who used it to manufacture mortar and cement. Unfortunately, there was not much building going on in the little town, and so, Mottel's sales were few and far between. As a result, he earned very little, and his family had barely enough to survive.
Years passed thus, and it was time for his oldest daughter to marry. But Mottel had a big problem. For without money, how could he make a match? To make matters worse, the match of Mottels dreams was a Torah scholar, and with no dowry to speak of, that would surely remain what it was, just a dream.
Then, one day, Mottel suddenly became rich. Mottel was digging as usual, when his shovel struck something hard. He bent down and picked up a stone which looked like a piece of glass. He was about to throw it away, but something told him to put it into his pocket, which he did. There it remained for several days until he took it to the only diamond dealer in the little town. The man studied it through his glass. He scratched it and bit it, and then he spoke: "This is no piece of glass. It is a diamond of enormous value!"
Mottel nearly collapsed. "How much would you venture to say it is worth?" he managed to ask.
"I don't have enough to buy it, but I advise you to go to London to my cousin, who is a diamond dealer there. He will tell you how much it is really worth. You are a rich man, Mottel!"
Mottel was dumb-founded. "I can't go to London. I have no money!"
"Don't worry. I'll advance you the money for the trip," the diamond dealer offered. "When you go to London, sell the stone and buy a lot of smaller stones. When you come home, we'll go into partnership together."
Mottel made all of the necessary arrangements and soon arrived at the port. By the time he arrived, though, he had spent nearly all of the money the diamond dealer had advanced to him, for he was not accustomed to managing more than a few pennies at a time. He approached the captain of the ship and showed him the stone, explaining that he had no money to pay his passage now, but he would soon be wealthy. The captain agreed to take him and soon Mottel was comfortably ensconced in a first class cabin.
Mottel couldn't believe his luck. He would often take the diamond from his pocket and hold it up to the sun to marvel at its beautiful glittering colors. Even when he was eating he would take out the beautiful stone to admire. One day, as Mottel was reciting the blessing after the meal, the steward arrived to clear away the remnants of his repast. He gathered up the cloth and shook the diamond together with the crumbs out the porthole.
Mottel was horrified at what had happened, but what could he do? He calmly blessed G-d for having given and taken away, and then set about to think through the new development. Things looked as bad as possible, but Mottel was a man of faith and he was sure G-d would not forsake him.
One morning, as Mottel was strolling on the deck, the captain confided in him. "I want to ask you a favor, which will also be to your advantage."
The captain then explained that along with cargo which belonged to the king, he was carrying precious ore which was his own property. The problem was that the king's men would take that cargo as well as the king's. The captain proposed to put the ore in Mottel's name and Mottel would sell it when they reached London.
The documents were duly signed and sealed. The captain instructed Mottel that exactly two weeks after docking he would come to collect the money from the sale, less ten percent commission.
On the appointed day everything was completed. Mottel waited and waited, but the captain did not come. After several days, Mottel went to the docks to inquire about the captain. There he heard the shocking news that the captain had been involved in a drunken brawl and had been stabbed to death! Mottel investigated and found out that the captain had absolutely no living relatives. He had inherited the huge profits from the ore deal. He was richer now than he would have been had he sold the diamond.
Mottel couldn't understand his good fortune. When he returned to his little town in Russia, he discussed everything with his friend, the diamond dealer, who offered this explanation: "You had done nothing to merit the diamond. It was simply a gift of Divine grace. But when you lost it, your faith never waivered. You put your trust in G-d and for that reason, you merited the second fortune, which is not only larger than the first, but which will undoubtedly remain yours as long as you keep your faith in G-d."
We must anticipate that G-d will hasten the redemption by some strategy or other, whether by virtue of the tremendous anguish we have suffered, or by some other means. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning of "...in its time, I will hasten it": G-d will hasten the period of "in its time" itself.
(The Chofetz Chaim on Awaiting Redemption)