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by Rabbi Yisrael Rice
The following is the solution for those who want to learn the entire Torah while standing on one foot. (Only after receiving the go-ahead from your doctor!)
There is a famous story of a non-Jew who was interested in converting to Judaism. He came to the great Sage Hillel and said "Teach me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot."
Hillel said "Sure. That which you do not like, do not do to others. This is the entire Torah, the rest is commentary - now go and study."
So, here we have the whole Torah. It sounds simple, straight- forward and uncomplicated. Perhaps, though, it's a little too simple. Certainly, if one demands the whole Torah on one foot, it must be put forth in a most concise fashion. But still, how is this the whole Torah? And how do these short few words include also the parts of the Torah that are between a person and G-d1?
The Torah defines the role of the Jew; We are to conduct our lives in a way that makes the physical world into a Divine abode. When this process takes place it evokes an immense level of joy in G-d. We have been given this role because we have the capacity to succeed at our assignment. So, the Torah is disclosing our true spiritual potential - to produce this Divine level of delight.
When we look at the Torah, we think most often about G-d's directives and laws. However, the Torah is really about revealing the potential of every Jew. He or she has an inborn connection to G-d and G-d guides us to act according to His will.
Innate joy - nachas - is inspired by someone about whom we care. There is a great difference between a flower given to us by a guest or one offered by a true friend. The flower, of course, is the same. It is the context of the relationship that endows the act with its unique vitality. It is the connection of love that brings significance to the gift.
The Torah reveals that we indeed have this unique relationship with G-d; He cares for us greatly and we can give Him nachas through our actions. The Torah then explains His purpose for creating the world, and our role in fulfilling this purpose.
When looking at another individual, we must uncover and appreciate the person's full potential. "That which you do not like," is when one uncovers flaws. Although we all have our shortcomings, we hope that others would focus on what we can do for the world, not upon our lack of abilities. As Hillel exhorted, "Do not do this to others."
The depth of the Torah uncovers our potential for good, shows how we can change the world and give G-d nachas. If this is so, why dwell on something as insignificant as human weakness?
This is the whole Torah - appreciating the positive potential of each element, organism and person, and... yourself.
Rabbi Rice is the director of Chabad of Marin County, California
This week's Torah portion, Teruma, speaks about the traveling tabernacle (Mishkan) and its vessels which the Children of Israel constructed while in the Sinai desert. The portion contains the verse "They shall make for Me a Mikdash (Sanctuary) and I will dwell in their midst." Our Sages noted, "In their midst, not in its midst, meaning within each and every Jew."
Thus, G-d assured us that not only would His Presence rest within the material walls of the Sanctuary (and Holy Temple in the future), but within the heart of every Jew.
When does the Divine Presence resst within the Jew? When he transforms even the physical aspects of his being into a Sanctuary for G-dliness. When a Jew observes mitzvot, studies Torah, and imbues even his most mundane affairs with holiness,G-d rests within him.
The Holy Temple in Jerusalem, G-d's "dwelling place," was built of physical components and was situated in an actual physical location. When the individual Jew erects a Sanctuary to G-d and causes the Divine Presence to rest within him, even the lowest levels of existence are transformed into a "dwelling place" for G-dliness. In this manner the world becomes permeated with holiness, and G-d's true will is fulfilled.
The physical Holy Temple was built of various materials: wood, stone, silver, gold, etc. Yet these physical components were not merely the "vessels" for containing G-d's presence; the materials themselves were transformed into holiness. The actual structure of the Holy Temple was sacred.
This must also be the case when we construct a spiritual Holy Temple in our hearts. It isn't enough to bring holiness into the physical aspects of our lives; all of our affairs and concerns, even the most mundane, must be transformed into holiness!
With the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people, the connection between the higher and lower worlds, between G-d and His creations, was established. This connection was continued and strengthened when many of the actual mitzvot were commanded, for the mitzvot are the means through which the Jew connects himself to G-d. This week's portion, Teruma, however, goes even further; it speaks of a connection between the Jew and G-d that transcends even the performance of mitzvot, a bond we can achieve in the realm of permissible action.
Everything a Jew does, even those actions which are not strictly mitzvot, are a means by which he can attach himself to G-d and erect a Sanctuary. In this way all his deeds are transformed into holiness, and the Divine Presence will rest within.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot, vol. 3
by Yisrael Benyamin
I remember many years ago when I first began to keep Shabbat. At the time I was new to Jewish observance. I had been hitchhiking around the country, and living on the streets for a few years, searching deeply for answers and ways in which I could become closer to G-d. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with the Chabad House in Berkeley, California, where I met Rabbi Yehuda Ferris. Such a special Jew, so loving and non-judgmental; he turned me on to Shabbat.
After some months of living in Berkeley it was time to move on, and I made a commitment to keep Shabbat. I made it very clear to G-d that even though I was hitchhiking, and even if I should be on the side of the road once Shabbat came in, I would stay there with my pack till after Shabbat.
So I began my journey. I arrived in Boulder, Colorado, on a Friday afternoon. I found the address of the local Chabad House and proceeded to walk the few miles necessary. I figured I still had a good three to four hours until Shabbat began and that I was okay for time.
When I finally arrived at the address I did not find a Chabad House, but a huge office building. The Chabad office was already closed for Shabbat. I should mention my appearance: I had long dreadlocks with a Tibetan bell attached, a scraggly beard, tattered, painted pants and a very exotic shirt from India, which had Sanskrit written all over it.
I noticed that there was a financial firm of some sort next door to the Chabad office. I could see an elderly woman sitting at a desk and looking at me. I asked if she might let me use the phone. She asked me in quite a surprised and curious tone, "Are you one of those religious Jews?" She had seen me knocking on the Chabad door, but was confused by my appearance. I told her that I was Jewish and trying to be religious. "Oh, that's wonderful!" she exclaimed. "I'm a born-again Christian and I think you Jews are the greatest!" She invited me in and I called the Chabad House in Denver. They told me that they staff the Boulder Chabad office during the week but not for Shabbat, yet.
It was too close to Shabbat for me to try to get to Denver so I proceeded to call all the synagogues in the Boulder phone book. This was many years ago when there were almost no observant Jews there. They simply laughed at me.
My problem was not that I needed a place to stay, but rather a place to leave my backpack over Shabbat as I could not carry it around with me on Shabbat. I had lived on the streets for a few years and knew how to take care of myself. My main concern was to not break Shabbat. I traveled with candles and grape juice for this very purpose. Finally I spoke to one person who told me that I could leave my pack if the janitor was there.
The woman in the office had been listening and offered to drive me to the synagogue. I was greatly relieved, because there was only an hour to Shabbat. We went in her new Cadillac to the synagogue, only to find it locked, and no one there. At this point I decided to forget it, throw my pack in the bushes and retrieve it after Shabbat. The woman would not hear of it, and offered to allow me to celebrate Shabbat at her home. I was amazed by her kindness, and saw no reason not to take up her wonderful offer. I told her "yes" but we had to hurry.
Not a moment too soon we arrived at her beautiful home. Her husband came out and she introduced me as a religious Jew who had come to celebrate the Sabbath. He was overjoyed, and invited me in with nothing but graciousness. I immediately lit candles and then prayed. Afterwards they put some food together for me - I was a vegetarian and not particularly strict about keeping kosher at the time. After I had eaten they spent about five minutes talking to me about their religion. I said that I was just starting to get into my Jewishness. "Absolutely you should learn about being Jewish and what it means. That is the most important thing."
After this they informed me that the following morning they were going to visit their daughter, who lived in North Carolina, for a week, and were leaving at 6:30 a.m. I asked them to let me put my backpack in their backyard, and I'd retrieve it on Saturday night. "No, no," they exclaimed. "We wouldn't hear of it. We want you to stay. Here are the keys, stay as long as you like. The house is yours. It is our honor to be able to serve a Jew and help him in any way."
It was so clear to me that this was a miracle. Here I was, coming into a town I had never been to before, on Friday afternoon. I didn't know anyone. I looked like a complete freak, and this wealthy, elderly, non-Jewish couple asked me into their home. Not only did they take me in, but they basically gave it to me! And they really didn't try to convert me, but encouraged me to learn more about being Jewish, and the importance of keeping Shabbat. What more could I ask of G-d? He showed me what He is willing to do to help me keep Shabbat, if I am willing to make the commitment too.
We have to know that G-d is not far away from us. He is very close and involved in every aspect of our lives. If we will simply let Him in, and be a part of our lives, He will do things for us which are far beyond our imagination.
Reprinted with permission from the Ascent Quarterly: www.ascent.org
Perfect Porridge is a humorous book, highlighting the value of kindness. In this tale, based on true events, Bubbe Hinda is kind to the sick, Zayde Mendel is kind to the hungry, and both are kind to each other. A valuable message, authentic illustrations by Chana Zakashansky-Zverev and classic storytelling by Rochel Sandman make thisnew release from HaChai Publishing a winner.
REINCARNATION & JUDAISM
The great masters of Jewish mysticism were firm believers in reincarnation, and this is clearly reflected in their teachings. Reincarnation and Judaism: The Journey of the Soul is a comprehensive look at the intriguing concept of reincarnation as taught by the masters of Kabala and as analyzed by major Jewish thinkers throughout history. Written by Rabbi DovBer Pinson and published by Jason Aronson Inc.
CHALLENGES MAKE ONE STRONGER
10th of Adar, 5720 
Greeting and Blessing:
... You mention that you find a contradiction between my writing to you about the prohibition of eating foods which are prohibited by the Shulchan Aruch [the Code of Jewish Law], and my mentioning at the same time that you should consult a local Rav [Torah authority] and be guided by him. But I do not see what contradiction there is between the two statements, since, needless to say, I have in mind a Rav who himself is guided by the Shulchan Aruch and would not advise anything contrary to it. However, there are instances which are not fixed but rather in the realm of extra-perfection or extra-effort, wherein there is a certain amount of flexibility, and it is in this area that I suggested that you should be guided by the Rav.
With regard to your question as to learning the Tanya [the basic book of Chabad Chasidism], needless to say it is advisable, especially as it will still leave you sufficient time to do your other sacred studies you mention.
It is self-understood that all letters addressed to me are treated with confidence, even if not specifically requested so to be treated....
Hoping to hear good news from you,
25th of Shevat, 5736 
Greeting and Blessing:
Through our mutual friend, Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar, I enquire from time to time as to how things are going with you business-wise, and he reports to me insofar as he knows. I have also seen the newspaper clipping.
I surely do not have to emphasize to you that the true businessman is not the person who can manage his affairs when conditions are favorable and things run smoothly and successfully, but also, and even more so, when he shows that he knows how to cope with an occasional setback. Indeed, facing up to the challenge of adversity makes one a stronger and more effective executive than before, with an added dimension of experience and a keener acumen, to put to good use when things begin to turn upwards. Sometimes, a temporary setback is just what is needed for the resumption of the advance with greater vigor, as in the case of an athlete having to negotiate a hurdle, when stepping back is the means to a higher leap.
In plain words, I trust - on the basis of my acquaintance with you - that you are taking the present difficulty well in your stride, coping with it squarely and making the necessary structural and other improvements, in terms of closer supervision and greater efficiency, as I see also from the clipping, although basically the present difficulty is no doubt a consenquence of the general economic situation.
I send you my prayerful wishes that you should very soon have good tidings about a tangible improvement, and that the setback has indeed served as a springboard for the great upturn in the days ahead. All the more so now that we are about to enter the first of the two months of Adar in the current Jewish Leap Year - may your Hatzlocho [success] be doubled, too, in quantity and quality, i.e. in the resurgence of profits and in their being used in the best possible way, for good, wholesome and happy things, materially and spiritually.
7 Adar I 5760
Positive mitzva 3: love of G-d
By this injunction we are commanded to love G-d, i.e., to contemplate His commandments and works so that we may obtain a conception of Him, and in doing so, attain absolute joy. It is derived from the words (Deut. 6:5): "And you shall love the L-rd Your G-d."
Thousands of years ago G-d promised to send Moshiach, a Jewish leader who would guide the world into an era of peace and perfection. The Rebbe has told us that Moshiach is ready to come now. "Our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness," he said. Every good deed counts. The actions of a single individual can tip the scales and make the Redemption a reality.
Chasidic philosophy has always stressed the importance of giving tzedaka (charity) and engaging in acts of kindness and generosity. While undoubtedly this is the logical outgrowth of the Chasidic emphasis on Ahavat Yisrael (the mitzva to love our fellow Jew for no other reason than that he is Jewish), acts of kindness also refine and perfect the individual who does them. As the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya and founder of Chabad Chasidut put it, "Through tzedaka, a person's mind and heart are refined a thousandfold." Commented the Previous Rebbe, "With these words the Alter Rebbe transformed thousands of Jews into people willing to give tzedaka with self-sacrifice. They themselves might have been eating a crust of bread dipped in sour milk, yet they still gave tzedaka generously."
The Alter Rebbe also stressed the importance of helping one another with a whole heart. "The gates of Heaven are open to one who is kind to another Jew wholeheartedly and sincerely, without ulterior motives, and does a favor for another Jew with love, in fulfillment of the commandment 'And you shall love your fellow as yourself,'" As the Previous Rebbe noted, "The main point is the emotional involvement, the empathy in the other person's sorrow. The actual [good deed] is then done automatically."
Every act of kindness and gesture of compassion leads the world closer to its ultimate fulfillment. So why not do a favor for another person today?!
Speak to the Children of Israel, that they may bring Me a contribution (Ex. 25:2)
The Torah portion of Teruma, which lists the various donations the Jews made to the Sanctuary, follows the portion of Mishpatim, which contains numerous laws and ordinances. This teaches that although a person who gives charity is certainly beloved by G-d, his wealth must be honestly and legally obtained according to the laws of the Torah. If not, his contributions are considered damaged and defective, a "mitzva that has come about through a transgression." (Makor Baruch)
In accordance with all that I show you (singular)...so you (plural) shall make it (Ex. 25:9)
When G-d spoke to Moses and explained exactly what the Sanctuary should look like and how to make its vessels, He began by addressing him in the singular, yet concluded in the plural. The Alter Rebbe explained that this is because along with the detailed plans and instructions G-d gave Moses on Mt. Sinai, He also imparted the strength and ability to each and every Jew to bring to fruition everything He showed him. (Sefer HaMaamarim 5704)
And you shall make for it a border (Ex. 25:25)
In the same way the Torah requires a "border" or rim to be made around the table in the Sanctuary, so too should every person put a "border" on his table by eating sensibly and with reserve, rather than indulging in gluttony. (Kli Yakar)
Of a talent (kikar) of pure gold he shall make [the menora] (Ex. 25:39)
The numerical equivalent of the word for talent is the same as rom (lofty) and mar (bitter). From this we learn that regardless of a person's situation, whether he is on top of the world or experiencing great difficulties, he should always strive to turn it into a "menora" - a source of light and illumination. (Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim)
The city of Brod was renowned for its Torah scholars, the most famous of whom was the sage Rabbi Moshe Leib. Like many of his colleagues at the time, he was wary of the new Chasidic movement that was then making inroads.
The sexton of Rabbi Moshe Leib's synagogue had a daughter who had been suffering for some time from a mysterious digestive disorder. When the sexton heard about the Chasidic Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, he decided to go to him to ask for a blessing for his daughter. The Rebbe gave him some food his wife had prepared, and instructed him to feed it to the girl. As soon as she tasted it her pains went away.
The sexton was filled with wonder and appreciation. He was so impressed by what had happened that he decided to share the good news with Rabbi Moshe Leib. He urged him to go to Rabbi Elimelech to see for himself.
At first Rabbi Moshe Leib was adamantly opposed to the plan, considering it a waste of time that could be better utilized studying Torah. "And besides," he countered, "you know I don't really believe in these newfangled wonder workers..."
But the sexton was persistent. "On the contrary," he said. "You, as a rabbi, have an obligation to check him out for yourself. If you determine that Rabbi Elimelech isn't a true tzadik (righteous person), you can persuade people not to go to him. But if you find that he really is a holy man, you will have succeeded in dispelling a lot of false notions."
In the end Rabbi Moshe Leib consented and traveled to Lizhensk. The whole way there he thought about what he would say to the Chasidic master, and composed various questions to test his scholarship and piety.
Rabbi Moshe Leib arrived in Lizhensk on a Friday afternoon. He was surprised when he saw that Rabbi Elimelech lived in a tiny little house - not the grand mansion that he had imagined. His surprise grew when he realized that Rabbi Elimelech himself was standing on the threshold, waiting for him. The tzadik extended his hand in greeting.
"Come in, come in," he said to him warmly. "I've heard so much about you. They say that you're one of the most distinguished Torah scholars in all of Brod." Rabbi Moshe Leib felt a surge of pride.
"Therefore," Rabbi Elimelech continued, "I'd like to tell you an interesting story." Rabbi Moshe Leib's face fell, but the tzadik didn't seem to notice.
"There was once a brave warrior who did battle with a ferocious lion and succeeded in slaying it. To commemorate his heroic deed, he skinned the animal and filled its hide with straw. He then placed the stuffed lion in front of his house so that everyone would know how strong and courageous he was.
"When the rumor spread that there was a lion guarding his door, all the animals of the forest came to see for themselves. They stood at a distance, too fearful to approach. But there was once clever fox who quickly perceived that the lion wasn't moving. He crept closer, and with one paw swiped at the beast. When he saw that it wasn't alive, he tore the skin apart and the straw fell out. All the animals laughed and returned to the forest."
Rabbi Moshe Leib looked at the tzadik, not comprehending his meaning. Why had he made the long trip from Brod to Lizhensk? To hear animal stories? He couldn't believe that Rabbi Elimelech had nothing more important to do on a Friday afternoon than tell tales. He was about to say good-bye and return to his inn when the tzadik continued. "No, don't leave just yet. I have another story to tell you.
"There was once a very poor man who had never in his life owned a new set of clothes. One day his luck changed, and he came into a large inheritance. The first thing he did was to summon a tailor and commission a fine new garment as befits a nobleman. The tailor measured the man from head to toe, and a few days later returned for the first fitting.
"The man put on the half-completed suit as the tailor rearranged the pins and basting stitches and made little markings with chalk. Ignorant of the way a custom garment is made, the man assumed the tailor was mocking him and threw him out of the house, despite his protestations."
That was the end of the story. Rabbi Moshe Leib, completely confused, went back to the inn to prepare for Shabbat.
Then it hit him: Perhaps the tzadik was talking about him with his strange tales? Maybe he was trying to tell him that he was only a "stuffed lion"? And like the poor man with the new set of clothes, could it be that he was only posturing as a nobleman? His whole life would have to be reconsidered...
That evening in the synagogue Rabbi Moshe Leib studied the tzadik in an entirely different way. He became an ardent disciple of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, and later a Chasidic master himself in the city of Sasov.
In the footsteps of the Messiah insolence will increase and honor will dwindle; the vine will yield its fruit [abundantly] but wine will be dear; the government will turn to heresy and there will be none to reprove them; the meeting-place [of scholars] will be used for immorality; ...the wisdom of the learned will degenerate, the sin-fearing will be despised, and the truth will be lacking; youths will put old men to shame, the old will stand up in the presence of the young, a son will revile his father, a daughter will rise against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his household; the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, a son will not feel ashamed before his father. So upon whom is it for us to rely? Upon our Father who is in Heaven. (Talmud Sota 49)