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Did you ever notice what happens after you put bread outside for the birds? Within minutes there are a dozen or more birds of various shapes and kinds happily pecking at the pieces.
Where did the birds come from? How did they find out about the food? Just a few seconds ago all you saw was one little sparrow eyeing you warily! As more birds alight on your front garden to enjoy the edibles, you hear the chirping of birds on nearby trees. If you were King Solomon, who knew the language of all of the animals, you would understand what they are saying. But you are not King Solomon, and you can only guess that they are telling their friends about their find. They are sharing the good news of finding food.
The Talmud tells us that if the Torah had not been given, we could have learned important rules of behavior from animals. For instance, we can learn modesty from a cat, honesty from an ant, chastity from a dove, and good manners from a rooster. (Eiruvin 100b)
What can we learn from the common sparrow or pigeon? We can learn to share good things and good news.
If you're in a good mood, share a smile or an energetic hello. (As the Mishna teaches us, "Greet everyone with a pleasant face" and "Be the first to say 'hello.'")
When you find out about a great kosher restaurant (or simply that there is a kosher restaurant) in your area, pass the information around. Likewise, you can e-mail your friend with info on the latest kosher food outlet on the World Wide Web.
If you hear about a lecture, class or program at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, tell a friend and go together.
After you've finished reading an amazing Jewish book, lend it to someone else who will enjoy it.
Share a Shabbat dinner, a Passover Seder, some cheesecake on Shavuot.
Give "mishloach manot" - gifts of food presented to friends and acquaintances - on Purim (March 2, this year).
Though "misery loves company" and "a trouble shared is halved," call people to whom you normally complain and tell them about good news as well - when a problem has been solved or things are going well.
On the theme of sharing good news, the Rebbe suggested that we tell family and friends that the era of world peace and personal peace, prosperity, health and wisdom - the Redemption - is imminent. (The Rebbe went so far as to say that "This announcement must be made even by those who argue that they have not completely absorbed its full meaning!")
To help hasten the Redemption, spread a little goodness and kindness, as the Rebbe said, "Moshiach is ready to come, now. Our part is to add in acts of goodness and kindness."
And don't be worried that there's not enough to go around. The birds never do!
This week's Torah portion, Teruma, contains the verse "And they shall make for Me a Mikdash (Sanctuary) and I will dwell in their midst." When the Jewish people erect a Sanctuary to G-d, G-d causes His Divine Presence to rest within each and every Jew.
Three different types of metal were used in building the Sanctuary: gold, silver and copper.
Because gold is traditionally the finest and most precious metal that exists, it would seem to have been appropriate to build a Sanctuary entirely of gold. Why then did the Mikdash include these less valuable metals as well?
The three types of metal allude to the three categories of Jews. Because G-d wanted all Jews to participate in the Sanctuary's construction, all three metals - gold, silver and copper - were utilized.
Silver (kesef in Hebrew) alludes to tzadikim (righteous individuals), who continually yearn (nichsafim - from the same root as kesef) for G-d and His Torah.
Gold (zahav), more valuable than silver, alludes to those who return to G-d in repentance, "in whose place even complete tzadikim cannot stand."
Copper (nechoshet) alludes to Jews who have sinned and committed transgressions, yielding to the temptation of the nachash (serpent) that first brought sin into the world.
Thus we see that the righteous are not the only Jews to build the Sanctuary! Every Jew takes part in its construction; thus even copper, symbolizing the lowest level, was used along with silver and gold.
The Sanctuary was erected by the tzibur, the Hebrew word meaning the entire Jewish community. The word tzibur is composed of the letters tzadi (for tzadikim), beit (for beinonim - an intermediate level), and reish (for reshaim - the wicked). All levels of society participated.
The righteous person isn't allowed to say, "I alone will build a Sanctuary for G-d! Why should I concern myself with bringing an evil person closer to Torah and mitzvot?"
The wicked person mustn't say, "Where do I come to Torah and mitzvot? Surely the Divine Presence will not rest on my deeds!"
The Sanctuary is for all Jews to erect. For it is only when all Jews perform mitzvot - tzadikim and reshaim alike - that we merit the fulfillment of the verse, "And I will dwell in their midst" - within each and every Jew.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 6
GRANDPA CHARLIE WOULD BE PROUD
Rabbi Vogel and Steve Hyatt
by Steve Hyatt
Like many Jewish men in America today, I can vaguely remember my great grandfather going to shul, conducting Passover Seders and putting on tefilin in the morning. Sadly, he was the last member of my family to perform these mitzvot with any consistency.
If you are anything like me, you have always felt uncomfortable in the synagogue because you didn't understand what was going on or where they were in the service and you were also embarrassed at your poor ability to read Hebrew.
As a 43 year old male I was more familiar with the latest information about potential life on Mars than I was with my own people, customs and prayers. My defenses caused me to be critical of those who followed 'Ritual' rather than admire their knowledge and commitment. I'd wonder out loud how they could take the time to put on tefilin every morning, or 'waste' a Saturday in shul, or pass on an opportunity to eat an extra large shrimp or spare rib.
It was easier to be critical than to ask myself why I didn't follow their example. However, when I was alone contemplating life, I always felt something was missing. In my heart I knew I wanted to know what was going on during the service, I wanted to know how to put on tefilin, I wanted to say kiddush on Shabbat, I wanted to see the shrimp cocktail on the menu and ask for a dinner salad instead. I wanted my great grandfather to be proud of me. I wanted to be proud of me.
I knew what I wanted but like any scary journey I was reluctant to take the first step. Like most people I was afraid. Afraid that I would look stupid, or worse yet, I wouldn't be good or smart enough. Faced with answers I might not like, I had rejected the unknown rather than embrace it as an opportunity.
That all changed the day I met Rabbi Choni Vogel, director of Chabad of Deleware. The Rabbi is fond of saying "There are no coincidences in life. Everything that happens is part of G-d's plan." I must admit, the plan was a mystery to me, at least it was until I met the Rabbi.
When we first met I felt an overwhelming need to explore all of these feelings I had possessed but had never addressed over the years. I asked him one question about the Shabbat service and an incredible feeling came over me. It was as if a flood gate had burst open. All of the frustration, shame, ill feelings, self doubt and guilt disappeared in a moment. Suddenly, I didn't care if everyone knew I didn't know anything. It didn't matter if I read slowly. It didn't matter if I had never made kiddush on a Friday night. It didn't matter because I had found a Rabbi, a congregation, a committed group of friends that were willing to answer any questions I had, while allowing me to participate at my own pace. No one pushed me, no one made me do anything I didn't want to do.
What I found was that every time I learned something new, I wanted to learn two more things. I found myself daydreaming about Shabbat dinner at the Vogels. I looked forward to singing Sholom Alechem, saying "l'chaim," eating the Rebbetzin's world-class kugle and then miracle of miracles, bentching [saying the blessing] after dinner. I kept thinking how proud my great grandfather would be if he could see me; bentching because I wanted to, not because I had to.
During the celebration of Simchat Torah it is the practice of the people that gather at Chabad of Delaware to make a mitzva pledge. These pledges can range from memorizing intricate portions of Torah, to pledging to say the Modeh Ani prayer each morning. Not wanting to bite off more than I could chew, I promised to learn and one day say Kiddush over the wine on Shabbat. It may not seem like much to you, but it was an enormous commitment by me. Truly, the last man in my family to say kiddush was my Great Grandfather Charles Cooper, and that was over 40 years ago.
I practiced these three little paragraphs everyday for weeks. It was as if I was going back to Hebrew school. Finally it was Friday, December 26, 1997. It may have been like every other Friday for you but for me it was a night that will live forever. It was a night in which I filled the sterling silver Kiddush cup with sweet red wine, cupped it in my right hand as I had seen Rabbi Vogel do so many times before, picked up my prayerbook with my left hand and read the prayers that Jews have been reading for thousands of years. It only took three minutes but those three minutes will impact my life forever. Like a time traveler, I was suddenly linked to my great grandfather, his father, his father's father and beyond.
When I completed the blessing and my friends said the final "Amen," I knew that nothing was impossible. I could o anything. I had faced all of my fears and triumphed over them. It wasn't the fastest kiddush ever said. It certainly wasn't the most melodic. It definitely wasn't error-free. But it was my kiddush. It was a kiddush that gave me the confidence to explore my faith, my people and my heritage. It was a kiddush that gave me the confidence to put on my first pair of tefilin everyday. It was a Kiddush that gave me the self control to pass on the shrimp cocktail. It was a Kiddush that nourished my neshama [soul], my soul. It was a Kiddush that pleased my mother, my father, my wife and myself. It was wonderful.
It's funny. It really doesn't take that much extra time to put tefilin onor say the daily prayers. Instead of watching Hard Copy, I say Mincha [the afternoon prayer]. I almost can't remember what it was like not to welcome in Shabbat on a Friday evening. It hasn't been a struggle. I simply had to reorganize and reprioritize my time.
There's something to be said for contentment and fulfillment. My neshama is happy, I am happy and somewhere, Great Grandfather Charlie is happy, too.
WEDDING IN KAZAN
A traditional Jewish wedding in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan in Russia, took place recently at the Chabad Center there. Many other Jewish couples in the area who attended the wedding have asked to be re-married, this time in a Jewish ceremony. Guests at the wedding were so impressed with the ceremony and its accompanying joyous dancing that many of them asked the officiating rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Gorelik - one of the Rebbe's emissaries - to arrange a similar ceremony for them. Of these, some of them requested that the date be set only after the husband undergoes a ritual circumcision ceremony.
In the Days of Chanukah, 5721 
I have received your letter of November 20th. I was pleased to read in it that you are determined to live up to the Jewish way of life, and, "when you get married," to set up a truly Jewish home on the foundations of the Torah and Mitzvos. Our Sages have assured us that when a person makes a little effort to sanctify himself, he receives a great deal of assistance from on High to carry out his determination, and in an easier and greater measure than anticipated.
With reference to the question of a Shaytel [wig] about which you write that you object to it on the grounds that it is old-fashioned, etc., let me say that the true approach to matters of the Torah and Mitzvos is not from the point of view of whether they are considered old-fashioned or new-fashioned. We observe the Torah and Mitzvos because they are directives from the Creator of the world and of man. It is self-understood that the Creator knows what is best for man and that He desires that man should be happy and not only in the World to Come, but also in this life. This is the reason why the Torah is called Toras Chaim, meaning that it is a guide to the good life on this earth.
Specifically on the question of a Shaytel let me quote here the words of the holy Zohar (Part 111, page 126a) which are quoted in the Mishnah Brura, and I will quote only the positive results mentioned there, omitting the negative aspects following from the non-fulfillment: "Her children will be superior . . . her husband will be blessed with spiritual and material blessings, with wealth, children and children's children."
Considering the great reward which is promised to the woman and mother who wears a Shaytel, it should surely be worthwhile to do so even if the wearing of a Shaytel would entail serious difficulties and conflicts. How much more so where the objection to it, as you write, is only because it is "old-fashioned." This is not a real objection, nor a valid one, and it is rather based on the "opinion" of others.
Let me also add that even considering the general attitude towards this and other Mitzvos, there has been a radical change in recent years; one of respect and admiration for people who are consistent and live up to their convictions and ideals, and are not influenced by the mob. There may always be some individual who might make a joke about a person's convictions but where a person is sincerely dedicated to his faith, such a person can only call forth respect and admiration.
Furthermore, if you will eventually settle in a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood, you will find that other young women will wish to emulate your good example, and thus you will have the additional zechus [privilege] of being instrumental in influencing others in the right way. The reverse is also true, for a Jew must always consider how his or her conduct affects others. This should be an additional consideration why you should overcome your superficial objection to wearing a Shaytel.
It is no less important to bear in mind that marriage is called "An everlasting edifice," meaning that it is an everlasting institution which is of vital importance not only for the husband and wife, but also for future generations. Every parent desires to ensure the happiness of children and will do everything possible to take out the utmost measure of such insurance.
Of course you might point to this one or that one who does not wear a Shaytel. However, it is surely unnecessary to point out that every person may have a particular weakness, and if one is to follow the principle "He is wise who learns from every person," he will be wise to learn from only the person's strong and positive qualities and not from his weak ones.
If you will let me know your Hebrew name and your mother's Hebrew name, also your Chosson's [groom's] Hebrew name and his mother's Hebrew name, I will remember you in prayer that your marriage should take place in a happy and auspicious hour; and that you both make the necessary resolutions to set up your home on the foundations of the Torah, which is called Toras Chaim, as above, and the Mitzvos whereby Jews live, which is the only way to ensure a true and lasting happiness, materially and spiritually, which for Jews go hand in hand together.
As we are now in the auspicious days of Chanukah, which we celebrate, among other things, by kindling the Chanukah lights in growing numbers, may G-d bless you with a growing measure of light and success along the lines mentioned above.
In memory of Yosef Yitzchak ben Shlomo Shneur Zalman (yblc't)
5 Adar 5759
Prohibition 285: bearing false witness
By this prohibition we are forbidden to bear false witness. It is contained in the words (Ex. 20:13) "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," and (Deut. 5:18), "[Neither shall you bear] false witness against your neighbor." It is considered as grave a sin as bearing false witness against G-d, saying that He did not create the world.
This Tuesday is the 7th of Adar, the birthday and yartzeit of the greatest Jewish leader of all time, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our Teacher).
Our Sages compare the conduct of three righteous men: Noah, Abraham and Moses. Noah was completely righteous, yet did little to influence the behavior of the people around him. Abraham, by contrast, was focused outward and spread the knowledge of G-d wherever he went. But Moses embodied the true paradigm of Jewish leadership, going beyond all others in his commitment and bond with the Jewish people.
As Rashi notes, "Moses is Israel, and Israel is Moses." Moses was so thoroughly identified with the Jewish people that however deep his connection was with the Torah, his connection to the Jewish people was deeper. When G-d told Moses He wanted to destroy the Jews because of the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses was willing to sacrifice his very soul. "If you would, forgive their sin," he replied to G-d. "And if not, please obliterate me from the book You have written." Moses' connection to all Jews, regardless of their conduct, stemmed from the essence of his being, and connected with the innermost being of every single individual. By serving as a "shepherd of faith," Moses sustained and nurtured the Jewish people's faith in G-d, prompting the expression of the essential bond all Jews share with the Infinite.
In the thousands of years since, every generation has had its own "Moses," whose role is to act as an "extension of Moshe Rabbeinu" by infusing the Jewish people with a yearning for the Redemption and a sincere longing for Moshiach. When the essential connection we share with G-d and with each other is aroused, Redemption is the natural result. May each and every one of us live up to our potential, and together reach that ultimate goal immediately.
And they shall bring Me a contribution (Ex. 25:2)
Concerning prayer it is said, "Better a little with the proper intentions than a lot without the proper intentions." However, with respect to tzedaka (charity), "a lot without the proper intentions" is also good! The main purpose in giving tzedaka is to help others; the motivation behind the deed is secondary. In simple terms, the more money is given, the more good can result from it. (Baal HaTanya)
The Torah portion of Teruma (literally Contribution) follows that of Mishpatim (Laws or Ordinances), to teach us that a person must acquire his wealth honestly and lawfully. Only then does his contribution to tzedaka have any value. (Mekor Baruch)
And they shall make an Ark...two and a half cubits its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height (Ex. 25:10)
As our Sages put it, "The place of the Ark was not subject to measure." Miraculously, the Ark of the Covenant (containing the two Tablets of the Law) did not take up any space in the Holy of Holies. Although built to the above dimensions, if one measured the distance between the Ark and the four walls, the result was the same as if there were nothing at all in the chamber. Similarly, a true Torah scholar does not "take up any space." Humble and self-effacing, he shuns the limelight and does not ask for special honors. (HaDrush VehaIyun)
Their knobs and their branches shall be out of one piece; all of it shall be one piece of beaten work (miksheh) of pure gold (Ex. 25:36)
The Hebrew word Miksheh is related to koshi, meaning difficult or hard. It is a very difficult thing, the Torah tells us, to reach the level of "pure gold," making sure that our every penny is "kosher," untainted by the slightest hint of fraud or deception. Yet a person who does so is likened to the menora, whose purity illuminates the very heavens... (Rishpei Eish)
The seventh of Adar is the birthday and yartzeit of Moses
When the grateful Pharaoh invited the Hebrew relatives of Joseph to take up residence in the Land of Goshen, there was no way he could have known how prosperous they would become.
To the native Egyptians it seemed that there was no place void of their influence. Once the old king died, and Joseph, too, was forgotten, the question remained, how to rid Egyptian society from this Hebrew hoard.
The new Pharaoh developed a plan; enslave the Hebrews through heavy taxation and forced labor; that would surely stop their growth. But, though the Hebrews were forced to built cities, storage centers and other huge public projects, they continued to multiply at a frightening rate. If an enemy were to attack, these Hebrews would prove a formidable fifth column. When Pharaoh's astrologers predicted that a Hebrew man would eventually steal his throne, a new plan was set in place: cast the newborn boys into the Nile; allow only the girls to live and assimilate into Egyptian society.
The Hebrews were panic-stricken by the new edict. They tried every way to hide their children, but Pharaoh's soldiers had endless tricks to discover them. The soldiers would enter in pairs, carrying an Egyptian infant. One of the men would pinch the child and his wailing would bring a similar response from the Hebrew baby, who would be ripped from the arms of his weeping parents.
It was at this time that Yocheved, the wife of Amram (a grandson of Levi), gave birth to a baby boy. When their child was born they did everything possible to conceal him from the authorities, but after three months, Yocheved despaired of keeping the secret. She constructed a water-proof basket and tearfully set out for the river. She set her son amid the tall rushes that grew on the banks of the Nile and with a heavy heart, returned home alone. Yocheved had assigned her six year old daughter Miriam the duty of keeping watch over the tiny baby.
The hot Egyptian sun burned higher and higher in the sky. Suddenly, Miriam saw an entourage of maidens accompanying a woman to the river. As the aristocratic woman stepped into the water, the silence was broken by the wail of an infant. Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh had come to the Nile to bathe. She reached out her hand far into the river to retrieve the floating basket. As she removed the lid her eyes were assaulted by a blinding light. It seemed that the face of the tiny baby was shining. What could this be, she wondered, but she didn't think for too long. This was obviously a Hebrew child, and though she was aware of her father's action against the encroaching Jews, she had fallen in love with this beautiful child and in an instant, she decided to adopt him as her own. She called him Moshe because she drew him out of the water.
How ironic that the Hebrew destined to redeem his people from the Iron Cauldron of Egyptian slavery would be raised as royalty in Pharaoh's court, the king's adopted grandchild! Sitting with little Moses on his lap, Pharaoh felt no foreboding. His star-gazers had foretold that the usurper of the throne would die through water. Surely, his scheme of drowning the male infants succeeded.
Only on that one day when Moses had unexpectedly reached up and grabbed his crown did Pharaoh experience a moment of fear. The courtesans in attendance gasped, and the majority of his advisors said, "Death to the child!" But the lone, measured voice of Yitro prevailed. "All children are attracted to shiny objects," he declared. They set two bowls before the child: a bowl of burning coals and a bowl of glittering gold. Everyone looked to see which the child would choose. Moses, who would one day speak face to face with G-d, who would proclaim the Divine wisdom to the world, possessed an extraordinary intellect. He instinctively reached for the gold, but an angel intervened, and he picked up a burning coal and thrust it into his mouth. His shrieks of pain filled the hall! It was apparent for all to see that Moses was just a normal child and there was nothing to fear. Moses' speech was affected by his burned lips and tongue; but his words would convey a message that would shape the world.
When Moses became old enough to understand the plight of his fellow Hebrews, he displayed the traits which marked him as the prototype leader of his people. Leaving the palace, Moses would discard his royal robes and toil together with his brethren. When he dared to kill an Egyptian overseer who was persecuting a Jewish slave, he brought the wrath of his adopted grandfather upon his head and was forced to flee.
Moses' return to Egypt marked the beginning of the saga which eventually led to the Exodus. When Moses was eighty and his brother Aaron was eight-three they entered the palace to demand in the name of G-d, "Let My people go, that they may feast to Me in the desert." Pharaoh was unaccustomed to acceding to commands. After all, he was looked upon as a god who answered to no one but himself. Only with the giving of Torah on Sinai did the world discover the Master of the Universe also ruled the earth below. Ten bitter lessons would soon reveal this truth to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt.
The Yalkut Shimoni states, "In the future, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, will sit... and expound a new Torah, which will be given by Moshiach." That is, there will be such a tremendous revelation of Torah wisdom that it will be considered a new Torah.