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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
by Rabbi Israel Rubin
In the days preceding Tisha B'Av, the day on which the Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, I like to tell the story of "The Two Brothers."
This year the story has added significance in view of the unfortunate schism and religious strife that has divided the Jewish people everywhere. This beautiful story from the Midrash, gives us the background as to why G-d chose Mount Moriah in Jerusalem as the site of the Holy Temple.
Two brothers had each inherited half of their father's farm. One of the brothers was married and had a large family; the other brother was single. They lived on opposite sides of a hill.
One night during harvest time, the single brother tossed about in bed. "How can I rest comfortably and take a full half of the yield, when my brother has so many more mouths to feed?" So he arose, gathered bushels of produce and quietly climbed the hill to bring them over to his brother's barn.
Meanwhile, his brother across the hill also could not sleep. "How can I enjoy my full share of the produce and not be concerned with my brother. He is alone in the world, without a wife or children; who will support him in his old age?" So he arose in the night and quietly brought over bushels of produce to his brother's barn.
When the next morning dawned, each brother was surprised to find that what they had given away had been replenished. They continued these nocturnal treks for many nights. Each morning they were astounded to find that the bushels they had removed had been replenished.
Then one night it happened. The brothers met on the top of the hill during their evening adventure. And there, they embraced.
G-d looked upon this expression of brotherhood and said, "On this spot of mutual love I wish to dwell. Here My Holy Temple will be built."
This Midrash is indeed a touching, traditional Tisha B'Av story. But I would like to pose the following questions and offer insights about the two brothers and their personalities.
Did these two brothers always think and act alike? Did they ever have disagreements and differences? Did they always approve of each other, always share the same ideals, values and goals?
I suggest that it was not exactly an idyllic situation; perhaps the two brothers did not live in harmony. They may have lived at the base of the same hill, but they may not have had very much in common. One brother was married and the father of a large family; the other was single. They probably pursued different goals and might likely have had contrasting personalities. Perhaps the hill separating them was a physical manifestation of their up-and-down relationship.
The single brother may well have enjoyed the bachelor's life. What did he understand of child rearing, pediatricians, schooling and other parental concerns? These were not relevant to him. What then, aside from the farm, did he and his brother have in common?
On the other hand, the "family man" may have been totally in the dark about his single brother's lifestyle. Perhaps he could not even comprehend such an existence, let alone condone it! And yet, these two brothers were sensitive to each other's needs despite their differences. Rather than increasing the friction because of differing philosophies of life, they tried to fill each other's special needs, the very lifestyles they were not in touch with. They may have had strong ideological, philosophical or even religious differences. Yet they remained caring and empathized with each other's opposing lifestyle.
I will not pretend that this simple story has all the solutions to what is taking place in the global Jewish community today. But it certainly does teach us what our general attitude must be. For once we have a positive attitude toward each other, and a willingness to work things out, the details tend to fall into place.
Rabbi Israel Rubin is director of Chabad of the Capital District, Albany, New York.
This week we read Devarim, the first portion in the Book of Deuteronomy. The Book of Deuteronomy is unique. Unlike the first four books of the Torah, the Talmud relates that Moses transmitted Deuteronomy to the Jewish people "by himself," that is, "in the spirit of prophecy."
There are many levels of prophecy, the highest of which was embodied by Moses. "And there has not arisen since in Israel a prophet like Moses." Accordingly, every word that Moses uttered "by himself" was said "in the spirit of prophecy," as " the Divine Presence issued forth from Moses' throat." Moses was totally and completely united with G-dliness.
The same principle applies to the innovations in Torah that have come down to us through the ages via our Sages. The revelation that occurred at Sinai included "everything that a scholar would later innovate; all was given to Moses at Sinai." The words of the Talmudic Sages do not represent their own thoughts and opinions; they are an integral part of the same Torah that was revealed to Moses and have the same validity. The only difference is the method of transmission, i.e., these conclusions were arrived at through our Sages' Torah study and their extrapolation of its principles.
Deuteronomy is also known as Mishne Torah, "the repetition of Torah." Yet it does not merely repeat the laws that were stated earlier; without Deuteronomy we would not understand how to practically implement many commandments enumerated in the first four Books.
The process of revelation is ongoing and continual. In every generation our Torah scholars issue new edicts and directives which are just as binding upon us as earlier ones. Failure to heed our Sages' words impairs the totality of Torah, going beyond the narrow concerns of a given directive. Indeed, the new directives help us observe the Torah properly; without them we cannot keep the Torah's commandments as they must be kept.
The Book of Deuteronomy was disclosed to the generation of Jews that was about to enter the land of Israel. No longer would they be leading a purely spiritual existence; once in Israel, they would be actively involved in material affairs, thereby establishing a "dwelling place for G-d in the lower realms."
In truth, the generation of Jews that lived in the desert could have received the Torah directly from G-d. But the generation that would be entering Israel and adopting a more worldly life style needed to have the Torah transmitted through Moses. Moses was the "intermediary" that connected the Jewish people with G-dliness. In fact, it was precisely because of their connection with the material plane of existence that Deuteronomy had to come through Moses.
This principle has applied throughout our history. We must never forget that regardless of the method of transmission or how recent the innovation, the directives of our Torah Sages are all part of the totality of Torah that was revealed to Moses. Furthermore, it is by observing the directives of the Moses of our own generation that we will merit the fulfillment of destiny with the coming of Moshiach, may it be speedily.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 4
by Fay Kranz
Perel Sherman answers the door holding her five-week old son, Tzvi. "Can you tell I had a cleaning lady today?" she asks cheerfully as she surveys her well lived in living room.
Two-and-a-half year old Michel is bouncing a ball while 5-year old Faygie tries to show her mother her newest painting. Chanale, 13, is dispatched to find pictures for this article, while Menachem, 9, and Moshe, 12, work on the computer. Devori, 16, a student at the Shaarei Torah High School in Richmond and Shmuli, 15, who attends the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, are the only ones not at home.
Perel Sherman and her husband, Rabbi Baruch Sherman, are the parents of eight children, and both are Judaic studies teachers at the Rudlin Torah Academy. They have been living in Richmond, Virginia, for eight years.
"How do you do it?" I asked Perel. "How do you manage to work full time teaching kindergarten and then find the energy for your family?"
"There's no magic formula," says Perel. "People think if you have a large family, you have to be so special, but that's not true. All women have a lot of coping abilities and each one can manage her family according to her individual personality. "Other women might manage better than I do, but all I can do is my best."
Modest words from a woman who is a free-lance writer in her "spare" time and has been published in national Jewish publications. Until recently, Perel also sold her delicious home-baked challas and gave weekly women's classes.
"When I started working full time last year, I realized I had to enlist the children's help," she says. "That made a big difference and now we have a routine. At the end of the day, we all put the house back together. Each child has a room that is his responsibility. Also, each of the kids has a day when he has to set and clear the dinner table, and before Shabbat, they all help me cook."
"Chanale is the baker, Devori does the side dishes, Menachem makes egg salad and Moshe makes the cholent. It's the best in town.
"Being part of a large family has certain rewards," claims Perel. "The children learn to share, they learn to defer their needs, they learn responsibility and they feel important because they are contributing to the family.
"I try to have my kids take responsibility for themselves and for the younger children. One child will brush another child's hair, another will help me pack the bag for the baby-sitter, they help with baths for the younger ones and pack their own lunches at an early age.
"Devori is responsible for doing two loads of laundry daily and has it timed to the second. She's a teenager and she has a life."
Even with two parents working, a teacher's salary will only go so far.
"There is no way we would be able to 'afford' to have such a large family if we looked at it on paper," said Perel. "But somehow, we make it work. Hashem (G-d) helps. We don't take expensive vacations, we don't emphasize material things, but we don't think our children feel deprived. I just try not to count too much. Not to count how many guests we have for Shabbat, how many pieces of chicken I think I'll need. I just cook a lot and there seems to be enough for everyone."
"I feel children are a blessing from Hashem, and when I see women who say 'I wish I had more children' when it's too late for them, it makes me sad. I know these women are great mothers, and because of society's pressures they chose not to have large families. We women have much more energy than we give ourselves credit for, but we all fall into the same trap. We think other mothers are doing a much better job than we are. It's a trap, and we limit ourselves because of it. If your children are happy and well adjusted, that's what counts. If you did that, you've done everything."
Reprinted from The Richmond Jewish News
PROSPECTING AMIDST THE GOLD MINES
The new Chabad Center in Perth, Western Australia, is fast becoming a major center for this growing Jewish community. Levi and Chani Wolff and their four-month old daughter recently moved to Southwestern Australia to work with Perth's Jewish community which has grown to 8,500 strong. In its first weeks in Perth, the Chabad Center welcomed close to 100 people at Shabbat services, and hosting some 40 people in their home for Shabbat meals. Shortly after the young couple moved here, the 400-family Northern Suburbs Hebrew Congregation tapped Rabbi Wolff to become their spiritual leader, a post the couple has devoted themselves to with relish. Toward this end, the Chabad Center is offering classes on many Jewish subjects, from Torah and Talmud, to mystical insight. They are also planning a Chasidic meditation conference on a cruise ship for the near future.
Chabad at the World Cup
The European Bureau of Lubavitch, headquartered in Paris, set up a kosher food stand at the World Cup Games, which took place at the Stade de France Stadium, near Paris. As one might have expected, in addition to the kosher foods available at the stand, one was also able to avail oneself of other Jewish-related data, such as synagogue locations, general information on Judaism, and the opportunity for men to put on tefilin. According to an Israel Wire report, the Bureau had to arrange for the World Cup officials to meet the Bureau's criteria for the stand, that it be distanced from the non-kosher vendors and that the stadium officials honor the need to close the stand on the Sabbath. Hundreds of people stopped at the World Cup's kosher booth daily.
Translation of a letter from the Rebbe to Gen. Ariel Sharon 13 Tishrei, 5728 
I was deeply distressed to hear of your great loss - the tragic death of your young son, may he rest in peace.
It is not given to us to know the ways of the Creator. During the war, during the time of danger, it was His will that all be saved. Indeed you, sir, were one of those who achieved victory for our people of Israel against our enemies, when the many were delivered into the hands of the few. Yet, at home, and during a time of peace, this terrible tragedy happened. But how can a mortal understand the ways of the Creator? There is no comparing our minds and His. We do not wonder that a small child does not understand the ways and conduct of an old and wise man, though the difference between them is only relative. This is no attempt to minimize the extent of your pain and grief, and I, too, share in your sorrow, though I am so far from you.
Even in such a great tragedy as this, solace can be found in the words of our traditional expression of consolation to mourners - an expression which has become hallowed by the law and tradition of many generations of our people. "May the Almighty comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
We may ask, why mention those who mourn for "Zion and Jerusalem" when comforting an individual on his personal loss? A deeper analysis will, however, reveal that the mourner will find comfort precisely in this comparison of his loss with the Destruction and exile of Zion, for several reasons.
First, the mourning over the Destruction of Zion and Jerusalem is shared by Jews the world over. It is true that those who live in Jerusalem and actually see the Western Wall and our Beis Hamikdosh [Holy Temple] in ruins feel the anguish more deeply, but even those who live far away feel sorrow.
Similarly, the grief-stricken individual or family will find solace in the thought that "all the children of Israel are as one complete whole," that their sorrow is shared by all our people.
Second, we have perfect confidence that G-d will rebuild the ruins of Zion and Jerusalem; He will gather the dispersed remnants of Israel from the ends of the earth through our righteous Moshiach, and bring them in gladness to witness the joy of Zion and Jerusalem. We are equally confident that G-d will fulfill His promise that ". . .the dwellers of dust (the dead) shall awake and give praise." Great indeed will be the happiness and rejoicing then, when all will meet together after the Revival of the Dead.
Third, the Babylonians and the Romans were able to destroy only the Beis Hamikdosh of wood and stone, of gold and silver, but they could not harm the inner "Beis Hamikdosh" in the heart of every Jew, for it is eternal. In the very same way, the hand of death can touch only the body, but the soul is eternal; it has simply ascended to the World of Truth. Every good deed we do in accordance with the will of G-d, the Giver of life, adds to the merit of the departed soul, as well as to its spiritual welfare.
May it be G-d's Will that you and your family know no more pain and distress. May you find true comfort and solace in your communal endeavors, defending the Holy Land, the land ". . .over which G-d your L-rd watches from the beginning of the year until the end of the year," as well as in those endeavors of your private life-observing the Mitzvah of Tefillin, one Mitzvah bringing another, and yet another, in its train.
Rambam for 11 Menachem Av 5758
Negative mitzva 232: Failing to give charity to our needy brethren By this prohibition we are forbidden to fail to give charity and relief to our needy brethren, when we have become aware of their distressing circumstances and know that it is in our power to support them. It is derived from the words (Deut. 15:7): " You shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother."
This Shabbat is the Ninth of Av ("Tisha B'Av"), technically the saddest and most tragic date on the Jewish calendar. (The fast, however, is postponed until Sunday, as it is forbidden to fast on Shabbat.)
Throughout the ages all kinds of terrible events have occurred on Tisha B'Av, including the destruction of both the First and Second Holy Temples in Jerusalem. And yet, our Sages tell us that on the afternoon of Tisha B'Av, "Moshiach is born" - an event containing the potential for the Final Redemption, the joyful culmination of history and the ultimate objective of creation!
As the Rebbe explained, the "birth of Moshiach" on Tisha B'Av does not refer to a physical birth, as Moshiach will not be an infant when he redeems our people but a grown man. Rather, our Sages define a birthday as a day when "mazalo goveir" - "the source of one's soul shines powerfully." This means that each year, for the past 2,000 years, Moshiach has received new power and new strength on Tisha B'Av afternoon, increasing in intensity as time goes on.
One of the basic tenets of Judaism is the immanency of Moshiach's coming. This implies not only believing that Moshiach will eventually arrive at some unspecified time in the future, but that every single day of our lives, we should expect Moshiach to come that very day.
This is especially timely now, as the Rebbe has declared that all of the criteria set down by our Sages for Moshiach's coming have already been met. And the Ninth of Av, as a day when Moshiach's spiritual source is strongly revealed, has the unique potential to "trigger" the Final Redemption.
The Third and eternal Holy Temple is already completely built in the spiritual realms and must only descend to earth. May it be G-d's will that this year, instead of fasting on the Tenth of Av, we spend it by dedicating the physical Holy Temple with Moshiach himself.
These are the words which Moses spoke to all of Israel (Deut. 1:1)
The Book of Deuteronomy begins with Moses chastising the Children of Israel for their transgressions in the wilderness. When harsh words were necessary, Moses didn't refrain from using them. However, this was only when addressing "all of Israel"; when speaking with G-d, Moses consistently defended the Jewish people and acted as their advocate. This contains a lesson for all Jews, and in particular, Jewish leaders.
(Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev)
You have tarried long enough on this mountain (Deut. 1:6)
The fact that the Jews were not allowed to "tarry" at Mount Sinai - the place where the Torah was given - teaches us that a Jew must never be concerned only with himself. Rather, he must try to extend his positive influence to others, even those who might be far from "Sinai."
May the L-rd G-d of your fathers make you a thousand times as many as you are (Deut. 1:11)
The Seer of Lublin was once sitting at his table when he started to berate himself as if he were the worst sinner who had ever lived. His disciples were horrified. "If that is how he describes himself, what about us?" they worried. Seeing their distress, the tzadik interrupted his speech and said, "May G-d help that your grandchildren turn out no worse than I am." Similarly, when Moses saw how broken-hearted the Jews had become from his scolding, he paused in the middle to offer them encuragement and blessing: Even though I have reprimanded you, may there be many such Jews like yourselves in future generations!
Hear the causes between your brothers and judge righteously (Deut. 1:16)
From this we derive two important principles: A judge must always listen attentively to both sides of a dispute, no matter how long and rambling the arguments. Secondly, he must always make sure that both sides are treated equally when hearing their cases.
In Petersburg behind closed doors, the highest officials in the land were drawing up evil decrees against the Jews of Russia. There was no time to waste, and so, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (known as the Tzemach Tzedek), dispatched his son Shmuel to Petersburg with orders to make sure the decree would not pass. Reb Shmuel was the Rebbe's youngest son, yet it was Shmuel who was chosen for this important mission. But he did not travel alone. His older brother, Reb Yehuda Leib, who was twenty years his senior accompanied him to the capital.
Before they embarked on their journey Reb Shmuel made one request of his brother: "I must insist upon one condition if we are to travel together. I must ask that you refrain from giving any blessings along the journey. Our father is the Rebbe, and only he should be the one to give blessings."
Reb Yehuda Leib was accustomed to granting requests for blessing; people always gathered around him wherever he went, asking for his help in serious matters of health, livelihood or any of the myriad of problems that plagued them in those harsh times. He was uncomfortable acceding to his brother's wishes, but under the circumstances, he had no choice but to agree. Keeping his word, however, wasn't so simple. For people were used to receiving Yehuda Leib's blessings, and whenever people heard of his arrival, they flocked to meet him. Each person came with a different, equally pressing need for a divine mercy, and each tragic story pierced Yehuda Leib's kind, compassionate heart like an arrow.
In one village he encountered an especially persistent woman. Stationing herself in front of Yehuda Leib, she begged him to bless her, crying, screaming and weeping unrelentingly. The heartbroken woman had no children, and she was determined not to budge until Yehuda Leib blessed her with a child. Yehuda Leib was moved by her tears, but he had promised his brother, and so, he steadfastly refused to give a blessing. He replied only, "Go to my father. He will surely bless you." The woman refused to be put off, and her wailing could be heard throughout the entire village. Finally, in utter desperation, he cried, "Go to my brother, perhaps he will bless you!"
The woman's countenance changed at once and soon she appeared before Reb Shmuel. The entire scene was repeated, complete with cries, screams and bitter tears. Even a rock would have dissolved in the face of such grievous pain, and Reb Shmuel was certainly not impervious to her agony, but he followed his own counsel, insisting, "Go to my father, he will surely bless you."
The woman continued her plaintive cries until, unable to respond any further, Reb Shmuel turned to his brother and said, "Call the coachman so that we may leave this place!"
The driver leaped to his seat and urged the horses forward, but the wheels didn't budge. The resourceful woman had placed a stick between the spokes of the wheel and the coach was immobilized. Now Reb Shmuel reached the limit of his patience. He descended from the coach and barked at the woman, "Go eat a bagel!" - the equivalent of "Go fly a kite!" in today's vernacular. In a flash the annoying woman was gone and the two brothers continued in peace on their way to do battle in Petersburg.
A year passed and the incident with the distraught woman was long forgotten. In the interim the Tzemach Tzedek had passed away, and Reb Shmuel, the youngest of his seven sons, was named his successor. One day a man arrived in Lubavitch and appeared before the new Rebbe bearing two beautiful cakes.
"Last year you gave my wife a blessing that she would have a child and she has just given birth. She has asked me to bring these cakes to the Rebbe to thank him for his blessing."
"Would you remind me of my meeting with your wife? I cannot remember that such an incident occurred last year."
"Well, my wife was in the village of B and she begged you to bless her with a child. You told her, 'Go eat a bagel!' And Rebbe, my wife ran to do exactly what you told her."
"I am very happy to hear your good news. Tell me, though, why are you bringing me two cakes? Surely one would be thanks enough."
"Forgive me. I didn't tell you the whole story. You see, you told my wife to eat a bagel, but she was very anxious for your holy blessing to take hold. And so, instead of one, she ate two bagels, just to be sure. And it worked, for she has just given birth to twins! And that is why she sent you two cakes," the beaming father concluded.
Reb Shmuel was deeply moved by the man's words. "Know that there was a Divine decree that you and your wife would never have children. Therefore, I was unable to promise her a child. It was just out of exasperation that I told her to 'eat a bagel.' But because of her pure and simple faith in the blessing of a tzadik the decree was annulled and you and your wife have been blessed with children."
The Messianic age represents the final fulfillment of G-d's purpose in creation. It is a time when evil will be vanquished, and good will reign over all mankind.
(Waters of Eden, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan)