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Devarim Deutronomy

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Bamidbar Numbers

Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
April 19, 2000 - 14 Nisan, 5760

616: Passover

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  615: 11 Nissan617: Kedoshim  

Easy As One, Two, Three  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Rambam this week  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Easy As One, Two, Three

One, two, three. Whenever we want to express how uncomplicated something is, we use the phrase, "It's as easy as one, two, three." The thinking goes that for three steps, we can certainly manage to focus our attention.

There is an ancient Jewish tradition that on Shabbat afternoons, beginning with the first Shabbat after Passover, men and women, boys and girls, study the part of the Oral Torah known as the Mishna, specifically the tractate called Avot.

This Shabbat we commence with Chapter 1 of Avot. Among the other magnificent teachings of our Sages it contains, we read the words of Shimon the Righteous who said, "The world stands on three things: on the study of Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness."

Sounds as easy as one, two, three, doesn't it? All you have to do is call up a Torah telephone line, log onto www.chabad.org on the Internet, or open up any of the wide assortment of books with inspirational and provocative Torah thoughts (or continue reading L'Chaim!), and you've taken care of number one on the list. You've helped our wobbly world stand more firmly.

Now we're up to number two. The "service of G-d" refers to prayer. Whenever we thank G-d or ask Him for help, we are pray-ing! Of course, it's a good idea to recite one of our more noteworthy formal prayers such as the "Shema," which proclaims our belief in one G-d. In fact it's a mitzva to say the "Shema" in the evening and in the morning. (Two for the price of one - what a bargain!)

Number three: deeds of kindness. Now, what could be simpler and require less explanation? Even before the "kindness revolution" and all those "Chicken Soup" books (no, we're not talking about cookbooks), we all knew a good, kind deed when we saw one, when we did one, or when one was done for us. So, let's keep it simple and incorporate a deed of kindness into our daily routine. Surely the world will be a better place for it.

Perhaps we're oversimplifying things; maybe the world is a little more complicated? The problem, you see, is that when we say that the world stands on three things, it seems to imply that we're placing the world higher than these qualities. But how can it be that the physical, mundane world is higher than Torah study, prayer and acts of kindness?

Jewish mysticism, however, teaches that the "one, two, three" solution really does work, after all. The ultimate purpose of the creation of the world is for the G-dliness it contains to be totally revealed - totally comfortable, so to speak, with the world and in the world. This teaching of the Mishna asks us to focus our attention on Torah study, prayer, and deeds of kindness as the means by which the world can realize this purpose.

By utilizing these three methods we bring G-d's creation to its ultimate fulfillment, and establish an ideal world in which there is no jealousy nor animosity among individuals and nations, but only peace, justice and benevolence under One G-d.


Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Acharei, begins with a detailed description of the service of the high priest (kohen gadol) on Yom Kippur. It continues with the admonition to not offer sacrifices outside of the designated areas. It ends with laws of morality and forbidden relationships. However, it is interesting to note that nearly half of the Torah portion is taken up with the discussion of the High Priest's service on Yom Kippur.

At first glance this is somewhat surprising, as Yom Kippur occurs only once a year. The Torah portion of Acharei thus opens with commandments that pertain to a very limited time and place.

The Torah then goes on to enumerate the daily service of the "regular" kohanim (priests) in the Holy Temple. These commandments apply to the entire year.

This particular section of the Torah was given to the Jewish people in the Hebrew month of Nisan. Thus it is even more surprising that its subject is Yom Kippur, which was then six months in the future, as opposed to a subject which would have had immediate relevance.

One explanation offered is that the service of the priesthood was performed in the holy of holies. In order for the priests to perform their daily service successfully, their powers must be derived from the very highest level of holiness.

The holy of holies is the most sanctified place on earth. The holiest time of the year is Yom Kippur. The Yom Kippur service is performed in the holiest place, by the holiest individual of the entire Jewish people, the high priest.

Accordingly, the Yom Kippur service represents the very highest level of holiness, from which all kohanim draw their ability to perform their daily service in the Holy Temple.

Every member of the Jewish people belongs to a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation." In order to be able to perform his own Divine mission in life, a Jew must receive a pure, Torah-true education while he is still young. The education a child receives in his youth has an influence over his entire life, as it is written, "Even when he grows old it will not depart from him." Giving a Jewish child a Torah-true education ensures that he will grow up to be an adult worthy of belonging to a "kingdom of priests."

Just as kohanim derive the power to perform their daily service from the highest level of holiness, so too must we expose our children to the purest and most uncompromising Torah-true education if we wish to prepare them properly for Jewish adulthood.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 17


A Slice of Life

THE SOUL CLUB

The following is the speech delivered at the 19th Annual Tzivos Hashem Dinner which took place in Manhattan at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Tzivos Hashem, established in 1981 by the Rebbe, is the largest Jewish children's organization in the world.

Good evening everyone.. Senator, honorees, rabbis, ladies and gentlemen. I have come here tonight from Montreal.

I am here tonight to tell you about Tzivos Hashem's Bat Mitzva Club. How it has changed my life. and how the change in me has changed the lives of my friends.

I was born and raised in Montreal where I live with my brother and sister and my beloved parents.

We are not a religious family. All my life I went to public school, but for the last few years I have been going to a Jewish program on Sundays where I get together with other Jewish kids and do Jewish things.

The woman who runs the program, Mrs. Paris, told me about the Tzivos Hashem Bat Mitzva Club. I was NOT interested. But Mrs. Paris is NOT one to get discouraged. In her friendly way, she nudged and nudged and finally I gave in, and last year, my Bat Mitzva year, I joined the Bat Mitzva Club.and I'm very happy and lucky that I did. It was great!

You have to meet our club leader Chani Gniwish. She is amazing. The Bat Mitzva meetings were held once every few weeks in her house. It's hard to describe how warm, comfortable and happy we all felt at those meetings. The soft carpets, the cushioned sofas, the delicious treats, added to the feeling of friendship. as we gathered together, 20 girls, all Jewish, all in our Bat Mitzva year.

At the meetings we took turns giving a speech. We would do craft projects, and of course. we always listened to a story... Y'know how they say that for every three Jews there are five opinions.. Well, there might be five opinions, but there are also a million stories!

The club provided us with a beautiful journal for us to write in. We shared our journals with Chani, anything we wanted to ask her, but were a little shy to ask.we would write in the journal. And let me tell you. Bat Mitzva age is the age of questions. lots of questions. lots of private questions.

One meeting sticks in my memory as really special. Chani gave each one of us a candle to light. Chanuka has just past, I am sure everyone here spent time last week watching the flames on the menorah. Did you notice how the flame always reaches upwards? When Chani gave us the candles, we even turned them upside down, the flame still went upwards. Chani taught that Chasidut compares the flame of a candle to the G-dly soul within every Jew. It always strives to go upwards towards goodness and purity.For a Bat Mitzvah girl this is an important lesson to understand our inner selves, what we are made of, what makes us tick.

The Tzivos Hashem Bat Mitzva Club was wonderful, but it flew by too quickly.

Becoming a Jewish woman is not a one-time event, it's a process. Graduating from the Bat Mitzva Club left a void in my life. The Bat Mitzva Club had brought me to a new awareness of my self and my place in the universe, showing me how my life.little me. has a purpose in this world, a task that no one else can do.And I also realized the value of getting together with friends and learning about life, and having a role model such as Chani.

So with the help of my mother, Mrs. Paris from the after school program and Chani, we organized another club. This one is for young Jewish women who have just past Bat Mitzva.We call it the Soul Club. We are a little older now. We organize the meetings ourselves, but we still ask Chani to come. Thanks Chani.

I am no longer in public school. I have decided to attend Bais Rivka high school, an all- girls religious school, where I can have a strong sense of who I am and where I am headed.

The Tzivos Hashem Bat Mitzva Club. has changed my life. for the better.and through the Soul Club I am able to share with others what the Bat Mitzva Club has shared with me.

There are mountains to climb and more people to see. Maybe people will hear my speech tonight and say, "Hey, the Bat Mitzva Club is a great idea! Let's start one in our own community." Thank you.

If you are interested in starting a Bat Mitzva Club in your community contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center (see www.chabad.org/shluchim.html) or call Estee Frimerman at Tzivos Hashem at (718) 467-6630.


What's New

ETERNAL JOY

Eternal Joy: A Guide to Shidduchim and Marriage is culled from the Rebbe's letters and personal responses to people who turned to him during this crucial period in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones, regarding the critical issue of finding one's partner in life. Eternal Joy assembles these warm and thought-provoking pearls of the Rebbe's wisdom as well as excerpts of the Rebbe's public addresses on the topic. The Rebbe's approach to successfully building "a faithful edifice in Israel," a marriage of "eternal joy," is now accessible to all. The current book, Volume One, deals with Shidduchim - finding one's mate. Written by Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg, published by Sichos in English.

LIVING IN THE AGE OF MOSHIACH

Chasidic scientist Arnie Gotfryd tackles questions about Moshiach and the Redemption in the new book Living in the Age of Moshiach. With warmth and a wealth of knowledge drawn from the world as well as Jewish tradition, Living in the Age of Moshiach attempts to help people who are "products of the 20th century" reach up and grasp the higher Divine truth, and to yearn for Moshiach to be revealed in the world. Edited by Professor Herman Branover and distributed by Mendelsohn Press.


The Rebbe Writes

ALL THAT G-D DOES IS GOOD

5th of Iyar, 5721 [1961]

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letters of the 1st [of] Iyar, 14th of Nissan, and the previous ones. No doubt you have, in the meantime, received my letter. I hope you will continue to have good news to report.

Needless to say, every additional measure of trust in G-d, and every additional effort in all matters of Torah and Mitzvoth with joy and gladness of heart, will increase your personal contentment and also the success of your activities on behalf of others. This will also help you to understand the inconsistency of your writing that everybody seems to be against you, which cannot be true, in view of the fact that our Sages taught "All that G-d does is for the good." And when we speak of "good" we do not mean only the good in the hereafter, but in the here and now. As I have written before, with every obligation and duty, comes the ability to fulfill them, for "G-d does not deal despotically with his creatures," and does not impose on anyone anything which cannot be fulfilled.

I hope you have read the Pesach [Passover] message carefully and have found it useful in clarifying your mind and approach.

Hoping to hear good news from you,

With blessing,

P.S. You do not mention anything about the dental situation, from which I gather that all is well.

With regard to the question of "a holy soul" I refer you to the beginning of Chapter 2 of the Tanya, where it is explained that the soul of every Jew is a part of G-dliness, Mamash [actually]; and see also Chapter 4 of Iggeres haTeshuva there. On the question of Moshiach, the Rambam has clearly described everything pertaining to the Moshiach (hil. Teshuva [the laws of repentance] 9:2,. Melochim [kings]11:4), his qualifications, ancestry etc. and that solves your problem.

You have been remembered, and will be remembered again at a propitious time, in prayer at the holy resting place of my father-in-law of saintly memory, with regard to all your needs materially and spiritually, including a greater measure of your trust in G-d and growing success in your activities to strengthen Yiddishkeit [Judaism], with joy and gladness of heart.

18th of Sivan, 5723 [1963]

I received your letter in which you describe the highlights of your life.

As requested I will remember you in prayer for the fulfillment of your heart's desires, in the matters about which you write.

With regard to the question of a Shidduch [match], I trust that you are doing everything possible in the natural order of things, to find a suitable Shidduch. For, while a Jew must always put his trust in G-d he is supposed to try and help himself, as it is written, "G-d will bless you in all that you do." It is necessary to enlist the cooperation of friends, etc., and generally go about this with determination, though with Tznius [modesty], as required by the Torah.

If you have not had your Tefillin checked in the course of the past two months, I suggest that you should have them checked, and that every weekday morning, before putting them on, you should put aside a small coin for Tzedoko [charity].

I trust that you know of the three daily Shiurim [lessons] of Chumash [Pentateuch], Tehillim [Psalms] and Tanya, that you should observe them.

Toward the conclusion of your letter, you write that you desire to teach a boy Torah and Yiddishkeit but that this may interfere with your own Shiurim. You ask, therefore, if you should give time to that boy.

The learning of Torah is balanced against all the Mitzvoth. At the same time, the Mitzvah of loving one's fellow Jew is called the great principle of the Torah. There can therefore be no conflict between these two great Mitzvoth, and no doubt you can find the way whereby to keep up your own Shiurim and, at the same time, find time to teach the boy. Moreover, the Old Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman], founder of Chabad, whose 150th Yahrzeit Anniversary we are observing this year, has stated in his book, Torah Or, that the practice of Tzedoko and kindness has a special quality of purifying the mind and the heart of the giver, to be able to understand the Torah and Mitzvoth more deeply and to gain insights which are otherwise not reached.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report.

With blessing,


Rambam this week

23 Nisan 5760

Prohibition 356: remarrying one's divorced wife after she has remarried

By this prohibition a man is forbidden to remarry his divorced wife after she has been married to another. It is contained in the Torah's words (Deut. 24:4): "Her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled."


A Word from the Director

This week we begin the cycle of learning Ethics of the Fathers on Shabbat afternoons. Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishna, is a collection of advice and counsel pertaining to our social behavior. By implementing the words of our Sages and striving toward a meaningful and ethical life, we refine our physical bodies and the world around us.

This ultimate objective of the creation of the world is alluded to in the introduction to this tractate with which we preface our study every week: "All Israel have a share in the World to Come."

The World to Come, the time of the resurrection of the dead, is distinct from Gan Eden, which is described as "the world of souls." After a person passes away and his soul ascends to Gan Eden, G-d rewards him for the Torah he learned while he was alive. Because every individual is different, and the amount of Torah each person learns in this world varies, the reward the soul receives in Gan Eden is not the same for every Jew.

By contrast, "All Israel have a share in the World to Come." The World to Come is the ultimate purpose of creation, which chronologically follows Gan Eden.

In the World to Come, G-d rewards us for our mitzvot. Because mitzvot are primarily observed with our physical bodies, we receive our reward after the resurrection, when the soul is once again reunited with the physical body.

Significantly, the reward of the World to Come is greater than that of Gan Eden, as by doing practical mitzvot we make a "dwelling place for G-d in the lower worlds" and fulfill G-d's will. Every Jew is assured of this reward, as "Even the wicked of Israel are as full of mitzvot as a pomegranate is full of seeds."

Observing practical mitzvot and refining the world around us is the reason for our existence. For as our Sages said, "The main point is the deed."


Thoughts that Count

Speak to Aaron your brother, that he not come at all times into the holy place (Lev. 16:2)

The Talmud states: "Who is considered to fulfill [the mitzva of] charity at all times? One who provides for his sons and daughters when they are small." Nonetheless, lest a person think that supporting his family excludes him from having to give charity to the poor, the Torah states, ".that he not come at all times into the holy place." The perpetual mitzva of supporting one's family is insufficient to attain the higher levels of holiness. (Shaloh)

With this (zot) shall Aaron come into the holy place (Lev. 16:3)

The word "zot," whose numerical equivalent is 408, alludes to the three ways the Jewish people can avert negative decrees and prevent all harm: "tzom," fasting and repentance; "kol," lifting one's voice in prayer; and "mamon," giving one's money to charity. Each of these words has a numerical value of 136; together they equal 408 ("zot"). One can then "come into the holy place" and approach G-d with one's requests. (Nachal Kadumim)

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the L-rd, and the other lot for Azazel (Lev. 16:8)

As Rashi notes, "One would be placed to his right and the other to his left." Our Sages said that it was considered a good sign if the "lot for the L-rd" came out in Aaron's right hand, according to the principle: "The left hand should push away, while the right draws nearer." This is because the goat "for Azazel," which was sent into the wilderness, rendered the Jews pure from sin, whereas the one that was offered as a sin offering brought them closer to G-d. (The Baal Avnei Nezer of Sochatchov)

Sefirat HaOmer (the Counting of the Omer)

A comment was once made to the Rebbe Rashab that the Chasidim of the Alter Rebbe "were always keeping count." The Rebbe Rashab took a great liking to the saying, and commented: "This idea characterizes man's Divine service. A person's hours must be 'counted hours'; then his days will be 'counted days.' When a day passes, one should know what he has accomplished and what remains to be done. In general, one should always see to it that tomorrow is much better than today." (Hayom Yom)


It Once Happened

It happened once that Kaiser Rudolph, the King of Bohemia, decided to wage war against a neighboring country. After several weeks of fierce and unrelenting battle the Bohemian forces suffered a military defeat, and the Kaiser himself was taken captive. For many months the Kaiser languished in a tiny prison cell under unendurable conditions, his only hope a swift execution to relieve him of his suffering and humiliation.

One day the Kaiser was looking out the window when he noticed an elderly Jew with a long white beard passing by the jail. The Jew stopped and peered inside, beholding the pathetic figure of the captured monarch. The Kaiser was elated; it was the first time anyone had made eye contact with him in ages. "Come here!" he begged him in a whisper. The Jew walked over to the window. "Don't you recognize me? I am Kaiser Rudolph, King of Bohemia."

"If that is true, the Kaiser has changed greatly in appearance," the Jew replied, clearly skeptical. But the prisoner continued to insist that he was the King, and eventually convinced the Jew of his identity. The old Jew picked up his walking stick and began to beat at the window bars. After a few well-placed blows the bars were loosened. Making sure that no one was watching, the Kaiser climbed out the window and took his first breath of freedom. Quickly, he followed his rescuer back to his house.

The Kaiser wanted to slip over the border immediately and resume his throne, but the Jew demurred. "Your Majesty, it isn't fitting for a king to make a public entrance in such a reduced state. Surely your Majesty will want to bathe and improve his appearance before returning."

The Jew walked over to the closet and took out two small silver trays. On one was a set of hairbrushes, and on the other, a scissors and file for paring the nails. The Kaiser had tears in his eyes as he accepted them gratefully. "I will never forget your kindness," he declared from the bottom of his heart.

At that moment the Kaiser awoke from his dream, his heart pounding and covered in perspiration. A second later the perspiration turned to ice, as his eyes fell on the two small silver trays on the chest in his royal chamber. But there was no time for reflection, as a knock on the door heralded the entry of the King's valet. "Your Majesty, the royal barber is here to see you," he announced. "Let him wait," the Kaiser replied, too disturbed to even think about haircuts.

The Kaiser wondered if there was any connection between the previous day's events and his peculiar dream: The day before, a group of the King's closest confidants had approached him to voice their complaints about Rabbi Yehuda Lowy, the Maharal of Prague. Irritated by the great esteem in which he was held by Jew and non-Jew alike, they had demanded that something be done to punish the flourishing Jewish community of which he was head.

The anti-Semites had insisted that all the Jews be expelled from Prague, but their words had fallen on deaf ears. The Kaiser had heard much about the Maharal's wisdom, and was actually a secret admirer. In the King's opinion, none of the stories he'd been told about the Jews justified taking such a step.

Realizing that they were getting nowhere, the contingent had turned its attention to the Queen, a silly woman who was easily manipulated, and convinced her of the need to implement their plan. The Kaiser would now have to contend with a nagging wife.

The Queen's pleas were indeed insistent. That night, just before he had gone to sleep, the Queen had thrust the already prepared order of expulsion into her husband's hands. The King, wanting some peace and quiet, had promised to make his decision the following morning.

The King was very confused by the vivid dream, and decided that the only one who could explain it properly was the Maharal himself. A royal messenger and carriage were immediately dispatched to fetch the Rabbi.

The King was waiting expectantly when the Maharal arrived at the palace. "How is it that the Chief Rabbi of the Jews didn't recognize the Kaiser last night?" he demanded. The Maharal looked at him shrewdly. "Your Majesty," he explained, "don't forget that the Kaiser was changed greatly in appearance."

"So you're already aware of my dream!" the King said excitedly. "Can you also tell me what it means?"

The Maharal asked the Kaiser to send his servant for the order of expulsion on his night table. The Kaiser drew in his breath; he himself had already forgotten where he'd put the document. "If your Majesty will destroy this document, he will never again have such dreams," the Maharal promised.

From that day on the King of Bohemia and the Maharal enjoyed a cordial relationship. Needless to say, the enemies of the Jews were defeated, powerless in the face of the Kaiser's obvious admiration for the great Rabbi.


Moshiach Matters

The [Biblical] prophecies will be fulfilled in a literal manner in the Holy Land. This is implied by the verse [in Isaiah], "They shall do no evil, nor shall they destroy throughout My holy mountain, because the land will be filled with knowledge." Similarly, it is written, "I will remove predators from the land." In other lands, in contrast, "the world will continue according to its pattern." In these lands the prophecies will be fulfilled in an allegorical sense, as it is written, "Nation willl not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more." In the Holy Land, however, the prophecies will be fulfilld in both a literal and an allegorical sense. (The Radbaz on the Mishneh Torah)


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