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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
November 3, 2000 - 5 Cheshvan, 5761

642: Noach

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


Text VersionFor Palm Pilot
  641: Bereshis643: Lech-Lecha  

A Dolphin Show  |  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

A Dolphin Show

by Naomi Zirkind

My family went on an outing to the zoo. Upon entering, we received a pro-gram indicating the locations of various animals, special attractions and a schedule of shows. We noted that the dolphin show was starting soon and proceeded there.

We saw a huge tank, from the floor to ceiling. The dolphins seemed to be swimming aimlessly, except for when they would occasionally line up and disappear above water's surface. As the surface of the water was near the ceiling level, we could not see what the dolphins were doing after they jumped above the water's surface. Soon the dolphins reappeared and resumed their apparently aimless swimming.

After watching this process repeat itself several times, we decided that the dolphin show was not very interesting. We were disappointed in the show, because we knew that dolphins are capable of impressive stunts. We went upstairs to see what other attractions we might find in the aquarium.

When we came upstairs, we saw doors to an auditorium. The doors were open so we looked inside and saw a group of dolphins jumping in unison out of the water, performing an impressive stunt. We laughed when we realized that we had been "watching" the dolphin show from below! Of course their movements had been meaningless and unimpressive. To our disappointment, all the seats were filled and we were not allowed to enter. We explored other parts of the zoo until we decided to leave.

When I reviewed the day's events, I realized that there is a profound lesson that can be derived from my family's experience at the zoo. Our world is comprised of two levels: the revealed world and the hidden world. The revealed world is the way we perceive, through our limited understanding, the events that we experience. The hidden world is the true meaning and purpose of the events.

If we keep in mind that there is a higher level of meaning in the events of our lives, then the events are no longer overwhelming, upsetting or frustrating. We appreciate that there is more than the world we see. We know that G-d is directing these events, and intends that they be for the best, even though it is not immediately apparent.

The dolphins were doing their stunts, under the direction of one master. However, there are two levels on which a stunt may be viewed. On the lower level, which for quite a while seemed to be the only level, the dolphins' movements seemed to be purposeless. My family was frustrated and disappointed with what we saw on this level. When we went upstairs, we realized that there was another level to the show, and that the meaningful and interesting part of the dolphins' move-ments could be seen only if we were viewing it from the proper perspective.

We are not always privileged to see the true meaning of the events in our lives, just as my family arrived after the auditorium was full and was not allowed to enter and watch the dolphin show. However, simply knowing that there exists a higher level where events can be seen to be good, makes them actually feel more tolerable on the lower level.

How do we, in our daily lives, gain admission to the "auditorium?" G-d says, "Open for Me an opening the size of the eye of a needle, and I will open for you an opening the size of an 'oolam' - auditorium." We need to open up within ourselves trust in G-d, enough to go straight to the higher level of meaning because we know that that's where the true meaning is. When G-d sees that we have opened our hearts to Him that little bit, He will open up that auditorium for us so that we can go in and see the real show, in comfort. Even more so, He will open up the real "oolam" of the Third Holy Temple, may it happen speedily.

Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter.


Living with the Rebbe

This week we read the second portion of the Torah, Noach (Noah). In describing the virtue of Noah the Torah states: "Noah was a righteous and wholehearted man in his generations." Our Sages emphasize that Noah was considered righteous in comparison to his own morally depraved era, but not in comparison with other generations. The Zohar specifies three generations in which, had Noah lived at that time, "he would have been considered as nothing": the generation of Abraham, of Moses, and of David.

Why were these three particular generations chosen for the comparison?

With each of these generations, a new phase began in the world's development. Abraham, the first Jew, initiated the stage in which the Jewish people started to fulfill its Divine mission. Moses brought the Torah to the world, which marked the beginning of the ability to sanctify and refine physical reality. King David initiated the era of sovereignty, the ultimate objective of which is to establish G-d as King over the entire world.

Noah, too, lived in a time of new beginnings: the world as it exists after the Flood. The Midrash tells us that when Noah went out of the ark "he saw a new world," and began to establish the foundations on which to rebuild it. Nonetheless, because Noah's service was on a very low preliminary level, his contribution is considered "as nothing" in comparison to the service of Abraham, Moses and David.

In truth, Noah's righteousness was mainly in comparison with the wickedness of the generation of the Flood. The people of his time were extremely corrupt in the way they dealt with each other. But righteousness in interpersonal relations is not enough to bring the world to its G-dly perfection. While certainly a prerequisite, it merely allows the world to function the way it should.

For this reason Noah's service is considered "as nothing" in contrast to that of Abraham, Moses and David. Their service went beyond the social realm; they actually connected the world to G-dliness. Abraham disseminated the belief in One G-d; Moses received the Torah at Mount Sinai; and David built the infrastructure for the Holy Temple in which the Divine Presence would rest.

Another difference: Noah's service was primarily motivated by fear; his warning to the people of his generation was connected to the threat of the imminent Flood. The Midrash even states that "Noah was lacking in faith; had the water not reached his ankles, he would not have entered the ark."

By contrast, the service of Abraham, Moses and David stemmed from a deep and inner recognition of G-d's greatness, which enabled them to set the "ground rules" for the world's perfection - a process that will be completed by Moshiach, speedily in our day.

Adapted from Vol. 35 of Likutei Sichot


A Slice of Life

MY SMALL GLIMPSE

Matti Weingarten
By Jonathan Rosenstock

I first met Matti on a hot Sunday afternoon in Monsey in July 1989. That was the day Chavy and I had our engagement party. My future in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Sommer, were busy introducing me to my numerous new relatives. Towards the middle of the afternoon, a relative casually sauntered over to me and unceremoniously introduced himself.

"Hi!" he said, "I'm Matti Weingarten." His appearance and smile showed an easy-going and friendly style. I took an immediate liking to this new relative.

As I was soon to learn, Matti attended every simcha (celebration), no matter when, no matter where. And there were, thank G-d, a lot of simchas to attend. He happily seemed to be in all places at all times. Whenever there was an early morning bris in Washington Heights or Monsey, at least an hour's drive from his home, Matti would be in attendance in his unassuming way. He didn't make a big fuss about his presence. He just quietly came. And while I presume that he may not have enjoyed getting up at the crack of dawn and going on those early morning trips, he never uttered a complaint. He was always happy to be there. And we were always thrilled when he arrived. You felt that he was truly delighted to be participating in your simcha.

Matti was a master of deflecting attention from himself. Whenever we would talk, he always steered the conversation away from himself. Rather, he would ask me about my family and my job.

Similarly, when I once asked Matti why he chose not to speak at his sons' bar mitzva celebrations, he simply stated that his brothers were such adept speakers that the simcha would be best served with his silence. Clearly, these were the words of a humble person. In truth, Matti was learned and knew a lot more than most other people. We all certainly could have gained from his words. However, he didn't want to draw any attention to himself.

Even in times of sorrow, Matti was the same; he was always worried about others. I remember specifically a Saturday evening, October 23, 1999, when I went to be menachem avel (fulfill the mitzva of "comforting the mourner") after the passing of Matti's father, Uncle Avrohom. I was seated toward the back of the crowded room while an elderly rabbi discussed, in Yiddish, his recollections of Uncle Avrohom. Matti gave me a small nod, a wink of the eye, and motioned for me to sit beside him.

After I sat down, Matti began translating the conversation for me. Matti knew I didn't understand Yiddish. When the conversation shifted to a discussion of a sefer (Jewish holy text) that Uncle Avrohom used to study, Matti realized that I was unfamiliar with this book. Immediately, he asked that a copy of the book be brought to me so that I could understand the nature of the conversation. In retrospect, Matti was the mourner and I was supposed to be comforting him for the passing of his father. However, Matti was not worried about himself. He was busy trying to make sure that I felt comfortable.

Thinking back, the final time I saw Matti was on Tuesday, July 18, 2000, in Monsey at the bris of little Shimon Liebersohn. Typically, Matti was there early and stayed until the end. During the meal, we spoke and, as usual, joked. Suddenly he turned to me and asked me how I was going to get to work. "I think I have a ride for you," he offered. This was another classic "Matti moment": he was always worrying about and helping others. Why should my commute be his concern? But for Matti, anyone else's concern was also his concern.

Matti gave the impression of being just a regular person, never making a show of his special qualities or publicizing his benevolent acts. However, those who knew him realized that he quietly dedicated himself to looking after others and never worrying about himself. In the process, he attained a profound level of holiness that we can barely fathom.

Matti was truly a tzadik. Yet, his time on this earth was so short. I thank G-d for bestowing upon me the privilege of having known Matti. My time with him has always been special and will forever be cherished in the future. I will try to learn from his great example and emulate the beautiful life he led.

Ed.'s note: It was with utter shock that the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights learned of the passing of Matti Weingarten, a devoted father of eight children, beloved son, brother and husband, on the day after Rosh Hashana, the victim of a violent and senseless attack in Manhattan.

What's New

53rd Flight and Three Weddings

Twenty-two boys and girls arrived recently in Israel from Gomel, one of the contaminated cities in the Chernobyl area, under the auspices of Chabad's Children of Chernobyl. This was the 53rd flight, bringing the total number of children evacuated to 1,998. In Israel, they receive top medical attention to try and reverse or still the effects of the Nuclear Disaster which took place over a decade ago. They are housed, treated and schooled at the CCOC center in Kfar Chabad until they are able to rejoin their parents.

Another milestone for CCOC was the marriage this past summer of three of the youngsters, now adults, whom the organization brought to Israel. Chabad's Children of Chernobyl financed their weddings as well as helped them set up their homes. Two of the weddings took palce in Israel and one in Kiev. Find out more at www.ccoc.net


The Rebbe Writes

27th of Teveth, 5721 [1961]
Greeting and Blessing:

I received your letter and enclosures.

It is explained in many places in Chasidus, beginning with the Tanya, about the negative aspects of all forms of sadness, depression, despondency, etc. It is also clear from experience that these attitudes belong to the bag of tricks of the Yetzer Hora [evil inclination] in order to distract the Jew from serving G-d. To achieve this end the Yetzer Hora sometimes even clothes itself in the mantle of piety.

The true test, however, is what the results are, whether these attitudes actually bring about an improvement in, and a fuller measure of Torah and Mitzvos, or the reverse. This should be easy to determine.

On the other hand we have been assured that "He who is determined to purify himself receives Divine help." The road to purity and holiness, however, is one that should be trodden step by step, and by gradual and steady advancement.

Needless to say, the idea of your continuing at the Yeshivah for some time is the right one. As for the question how and what to write to your parents, I suggest that you consult with Rabbi Joseph Wineberg, who knows them personally, and who could give you some useful suggestions.

Hoping to hear good news from you in all above,

With blessing,


5th of Cheshvan, 5742 [1981]

I am in receipt of your letter, postdated Oct. 22nd, which I read with due attention.

Seeing the high regard and warm sentiments that you have for the work of our Lubavitch representatives in your area, I am confident that this is translated into concrete actions in helping and being personally involved in the work of spreading and strengthening Yiddishkeit in your surroundings.

With all due respect, I must take exception to your stating that you are "not a religious person, but for the past 13 years my life path has on several occasions been intertwined with the Lubavitch movement," etc. The basis for my objection is the fact that since Mattan Torah, each and every Jew has become a member of what G-d termed "A kingdom of Kohanim [priests] (G-d's servants) and a holy nation." And although everyone has been given the freedom of action to live up to this fully or otherwise, there are matters in which a person has no choice, as we see also in the physical aspects, such as a person being unable to change the color of his eyes, the type of his blood, etc. Similarly, although a person is free to act and conduct himself as he chooses, one cannot change one's essence, which, in the case of a Jew, is rooted in the fact that one is a member of the "holy nation," as mentioned above.

It follows that a Jew can function properly and fully only when he, or she, lives within his or her element, namely Torah and Mitzvoth Yiddishkeit, which to the Jew is what water is to a fish. To be sure, a fish may sometimes jump out of its element, the water, but it is not its normal way of life to live on land, except that in the case of a fish, the conse-quences are almost immediate, whereas in the case of a Jew, G-d desires that he should freely choose the path of Torah and Mitzvoth, without fear or coercion. Therefore, the consequences are not immediate, for G-d, in His infinite mercy, gives the Jew the opportunity to return to his Source out of his own volition, but when a Jew is determined so to do, the Torah assures us that he receives aid from On High, and finds his way very much easier than anticipated.

With blessing,


Rambam this week

6 Marcheshvan 5761

Prohibition 252: wronging a convert to Judaism by speech

By this prohibition we are forbidden to wrong a righteous proselyte with our words. It is contained in the Torah's words (Ex. 22:20) "You shall not wrong a stranger" and (Lev. 19:33) "You shall not do him wrong." [It is explained that one is forbidden to say, "Yesterday you worshipped idols, and now you have come under the wings of the Diving Presence."]


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

There was once a train that had to travel over a steep mountain. The locomotive that pulled the cars strained and groaned with the effort. "How wonderful it would be," the engineer thought to himself, "if the engine didn't have to drag all those heavy cars. Then I could reach my destination in record time." At that moment the cable connecting the locomotive to the rest of the convoy snapped, and the engineer's wish came true. He arrived at the stationhouse well ahead of schedule.

Excitedly, the engineer told the stationmaster how the locomotive had traveled much faster by itself. But much to his surprise, his boss was not pleased. "You fool!" the stationmaster replied. "Who cares if the engine reaches the stationhouse? The whole purpose of the locomotive is to bring the train to its destination. Without the cars behind it, there's no point to the whole trip."

The "locomotive" in the story is the month of Tishrei; the "cars" of the train are the 11 other months of the year.

We are now in the month of Marcheshvan, the only month on the Jewish calendar that is devoid of holidays. The spiritual exultation of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret are behind us, and the year to come - like train tracks stretching out to the horizon - looms ahead.

As we return to "reality," our challenge now is to incorporate the warmth and spiritual elevation of the holidays into our regular day-to-day existence. Will the "locomotive" stay attached to the "cars" and lead them in the right direction, or will all the positive emotions we experienced - the deep faith in G-d that was aroused, the feelings of Jewish unity and love for our fellow Jews - remain disassociated from our daily lives?

By channeling our resolve into practical action (perhaps taking on an additional mitzva: putting on tefilin, eating kosher, being more careful in Shabbat observance, etc.), the month of Tishrei will propel us forward and upward. For in truth, being Jewish is a 365-day-a-year excursion...


Thoughts that Count

And take to you of all food that is eaten...and it shall be for food for you, and for them (Gen. 6:21)

When a righteous person consumes food, the food fulfills its purpose in creation, becomes spiritually elevated, and "justifies" its existence. G-d therefore told Noah, "It shall be food for you, and for them [i.e., spiritual sustenance for the various foods themselves]."

(Tiferet Shlomo)

G-d said to Noah, "Come you and all your house into the ark" (Gen. 7:1)

The Zohar explains that the name Noah ("Noach" in Hebrew), from the root meaning to rest, is an allusion to Shabbat, which is also derived from the Hebrew word meaning cessation of work. Moreover, in the same way that the ark was the means by which Noah and his family were saved from the Flood, so too is the holy Shabbat the "lifesaver" that rescues the Jew from drowning in the world's deluge...

(Avnei Eizel)

Noah went in, and his sons...because of the waters of the Flood (Gen. 7:7)

As Rashi comments, "Even Noah was of little faith; he believed and did not believe that the Flood would come, and did not enter the ark until the waters forced him." When a person trusts in G-d that something will happen, his faith actually helps it occur that much sooner; in fact, the speed with which it happens is in direct proportion to the magnitude of his faith. Thus Noah didn't want to believe "too much" in the Flood, for fear that his faith would bring it on sooner rather than later.

(Oheiv Yisrael)


It Once Happened

There was once a Jew named Shmuel who lived in a small European town. A scholar of Torah and upright of character, he was also clever and competent. When the governor of the district heard about his abilities he appointed him his business manager, and grew to trust him implicitly.

Along with his other responsibilities Shmuel was entrusted with the keys to the treasury. The governor had no compunctions about this, as he knew he could rely on the honest Jew. Shmuel, for his part, proved to be more than worthy of the governor's trust. He exercised his duties faithfully.

The governor's assistant business manager, however, was a vicious anti-Semite. Shmuel's success, and the esteem in which he was held, were almost too much for him to bear. His greatest desire was for the governor to get rid of the Jew and appoint him in his stead.

Then one day, it seemed as if his fantasy was about to be fulfilled...

The governor had just returned from an extended trip, and was throwing a party for his friends to celebrate his return. Before leaving, the governor had appointed Shmuel in charge of his household.

In the middle of the festivities, during which the wine flowed like water, the governor decided to impress his guests by showing off his wealth. One his most priceless possessions was an extremely large and rare diamond, whose value was beyond estimation. The governor had never displayed it in public, but the party seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Shmuel, as manager of the estate, was asked to retrieve the jewel from the treasury. A few minutes later he returned holding a tiny golden box, encrusted with precious gems and diamonds. Everyone gathered around the governor to see this special sight.

With an extravagant gesture the governor opened the box, but was stunned to find it was empty! The diamond had evidently been stolen.

After the initial shock had worn off, all of the guests began to look at Shmuel with suspicion. Everyone knew him as an honest fellow, but what other explanation could there be? Who else had access to the treasury?

The governor turned to Shmuel and said delicately, "For many years you have worked for me faithfully. But sometimes, a person may give in to temptation. If you return the diamond, I give you my word that nothing bad will happen to you."

"G-d forbid!" Shmuel cried as his face paled. Pain and disgrace were visible in his eyes. "In my whole life I've never touched anything that didn't belong to me, and I certainly didn't take your diamond."

The crowd was silent. The Jewish manager's words sounded sincere, but unfortunately, all the evidence pointed to his guilt.

Then Shmuel had an idea. "If you give me a chance to prove myself," he said, "I will show you who the real thief is."

After asking the assembled guests to remain in the hall, Shmuel rushed off to his house. He returned, clutching a black rooster under his arm.

Everyone's curiosity was aroused by the odd spectacle. "Esteemed guests," Shmuel announced in a loud voice, "this rooster is not your ordinary, run of the mill bird. In fact, it has a special ability to detect thieves! When an honest man touches this rooster, it does not react. But if a thief dares to pet it, it immediately ruffles its feathers and crows at the top of its lungs. Pay attention - it will now reveal the person who stole the governor's diamond."

Shmuel chose five guests at random and asked them to pet the wonderful bird. The guests did as they were asked, but the rooster remained silent.

A wave of laughter rippled through the hall. What an impudent Jew! It wasn't bad enough that he had stolen the diamond; now he was making fun of them as well!

Shmuel, however, appeared unconcerned. "Wait! The test is not yet over," he called out. The five men who had petted the bird were then asked to raise the hand that had touched it. Five hands shot up in the air. Four palms were as black as coal, but the fifth - the one that belonged to the assistant manager - was white.

"Here's your thief!" Shmuel announced, pointing to the assistant manager. "He is responsible for the robbery." Everyone stared at the man, who was trembling with the fright of discovery. Without a word in self-defense, the assistant manager then admitted to stealing the diamond.

When the governor asked Shmuel to reveal the rooster's secret, he burst out laughing. "There really isn't anything special about this rooster," the Jew explained. "The only thing I did was to rub soot into its feathers before I brought it here. I figured that an innocent person wouldn't hesitate to pet it, whereas the guilty party would only make believe he was touching it. And indeed, my assumption was correct..."

After apologizing profusely the governor gave Shmuel a warm hug, and announced that he was giving him a promotion. And the assistant manager was thrown into jail, where he remained for the rest of his life.


Moshiach Matters

The Jewish people's collective Divine Service over the course of the generations, required during the exile to bring the complete Redemption, has been concluded and perfected. There is absolutely no explanation or reason for the delay of the Redemption. Therefore, even if an individual's Divine service is lacking, this is a personal matter that certainly needs to be corrected and completed. But this does not diminish, G-d forbid, the completion and perfection of "our actions and service" of the Jewish people as a whole, who stand ready for the Redemption. (The Rebbe, 4 Cheshvan, 5752-1991)


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