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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 647
                           Copyright (c) 2000
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        December 8, 2000        Vayetzei         11 Kislev, 5761

                            BREAKFAST BITES

You might think that it's only your mom, breakfast cereal manufacturers
and nutritionists who encourage you to start the day off right with a
meal in the morning.

Actually, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the abridged Code of Jewish Law
(published in 1864) - a compilation of practical applications of mitzvot
today - encourages us to do just that.

"It is advisable that a person should accustom himself to have breakfast
in the morning," states chapter 32, entitled "Rules Concerning Physical
Well-being." Further on it explains that a person should try to live
where the air is pure and clear and where the temperature is even;
neither too hot or too cold.  It adds, "Therefore, precautions should be
taken not to overheat the house in the winter...because excessive heat
occasions many illnesses, G-d forbid."

One chapter earlier there is a discussion on how to fulfill the verse in
Proverbs, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him [G-d]." Everything we do,
even those things that we do in order to live, must be done in order to
sustain life.  When eating foods "that are not forbidden...we should eat
only the things that are helpful to, and good for, the health of the
body...One should always sleep and rest for the purpose of gaining good
health...When engaged in business, the intention should not be merely to
accumulate wealth, but to support the family, to give charity, and to
raise children to study the  Torah."

There's a lot of nourishment for the soul in these words!

A decade ago, when you purchased a box of Cheerios, you were informed
"This cereal, together with juice, eggs, bread with a spread, gives you
one third the minimum daily requirement..." Of course, such a suggested
menu for breakfast would never appear on a cereal box today. With
concerns about saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium levels and
dioxins, the very same "#1 ready-to-eat" cereal emphasizes that it's
made from "whole grains" and has an eye-catching banner that reads, "In
a low-fat diet, whole grain food like Cheerios may reduce the risk of
heart disease." The familiar yellow box even advertises an offer to get
free parenting advice on its website.

It's hard to keep up with the newest studies or on top of the latest
recommendations from health experts. Whether the discussion centers
around food, air purity or quality of life issues, advice varies
depending on who did the study and who is doing the advising. But you'll
never go wrong if you follow the counsel of the Code of Jewish Law,
which is based on the Torah that was given to each and every Jew at
Mount Sinai over three millennia ago.

The Torah portion of Vayeitzei begins: "And Jacob went out from
Beersheba, and went toward Charan."

Beersheba is symbolic of a state of peacefulness and tranquility. The
name itself commemorates the covenant of peace that was made between the
Philistine King Avimelech and Abraham, and the seven wells that were dug
after the covenant was made.

Jacob left this state of tranquility, left the study hall of Shem and
Ever in which he had studied Torah and served G-d for 14 years, "and
went toward Charan," the lowliest and most despicable location on earth.
The name Charan comes from the Hebrew word meaning anger or wrath, as
Charan was an alien and degenerate place.

In the metaphorical sense, at some point in his life, every Jew must
leave Beersheba and go to Charan. Just as Jacob left Beersheba to find a
wife in Charan, so too must every Jew leave the rarefied world of the
yeshiva to establish a Jewish home, and involve himself in the world.

The most appropriate way to prepare for this is by being in Beersheba,
i.e., complete devotion to Torah study. But life itself must be lived in
"Charan" - in the material realm of  the physical world.  A Jew's
mission is to serve G-d in even the most mundane or difficult

This, then, is the lesson to be derived for every Jew: It is precisely
through the trials and tribulations one encounters throughout life that
a warm Jewish home is built. For it is these trials that temper the Jew
and prove his mettle, making the foundations of his home strong and

Let's examine Jacob's behavior during his journey:

Setting out in a foreign land to find a suitable match, one would think
that Jacob would have tried to learn the local language, or dressed
himself in expensive clothes to make a favorable impression. And yet,
the first thing he did was pray, as Rashi comments on the words "and he
reached a certain place."

Jacob understood that his success would not depend on taking simple
physical action. A Jew must know that the very first thing he must do
when going out into the world is pray to G-d. He must never think that
just because he already prayed and learned Torah in the past, he must
now emulate the "ways of the world" if he is to succeed.

On the contrary, when setting out from "Beersheba" to "Charan," a Jew
must pray even harder! For the tests he will be subjected to in "Charan"
are far more difficult than any he encountered before. He must therefore
pray even more diligently, and ask G-d's help to withstand these new

                            Adapted from Volume 1 of Likutei Sichot

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                         A STORY OF PROVIDENCE

                    Rabbi Polter and Joseph Goldberg

                      By Rabbi Dovid Shraga Polter

In my rounds as the Jewish Community Chaplain in Metropolitan Detroit, I
serve the spiritual needs of Jewish residents in Jewish as well as
non-Jewish nursing homes, assisted living centers and retirement

I had been visiting 90-year-old Joseph Goldberg at a nursing home in
rural and remote Trenton, Michigan. He was the only Jew there, and was
truly happy to have a Rabbi visit him at monthly intervals.

Joseph had never married and had no surviving family. A non-Jewish
guardian admini-stered his affairs.

Soon after I first met Joseph (about one and a half years ago), he was
hospitalized. At that time I discovered that a nun whom he had known for
some years had prepaid for his cremation upon his passing. I discussed
the idea of a Jewish funeral and burial with him and he agreed to allow
me to make the proper arrangements, in the event of his passing.

Last year in the fall, Joseph asked me if I could arrange to take him to
his parents' gravesite "once more" before he died. He hadn't been there
for many years and missed them dearly. There was one problem: he could
not remember where in the cemetary they were buried.

With the assistance of the funeral director who had handled their
burial, I searched through old files and located the plot. I then began
to make inquiries about a volunteer who would be able to pick him up and
return him to his facility, as he was confined to a wheelchair and
needed special assistance.

Several attempts were made to schedule a date but something always
seemed to come up. The final date was scheduled for December 14th
(corresponding to the fifth, "Hei" of the Hebrew month of Tevet). The
weather was awful, and I was sure the home where Joseph lived would
insist on postponing the trip. But Joseph's determination ruled. I met
Joseph at the cemetery together with the volunteer and the nurse's aid
who came along for medical purposes.

Prior to taking Joseph out of the vehicle, the volunteer handed Joseph a
small red leather yarmulka to wear while at the cemetery. Together, we
took Joseph out in his wheelchair into a cold rainy day and brought him
up to his parents' gravesite. We recited Psalms and I comforted Joseph
as he shed tears. I then recited the traditional memorial prayer "Kail
Malai Rachamim." Afterwards, I read to Joseph what was written on his
father's tombstone. The stone read as follows:

                             Hymen Goldberg

                          Died Dec. 25th 1949

The Hebrew on the tombstone read:

                      Chaim Ben Reb Monish Halevi

                     Niftar Hei Tevet Tov Shin Yud

It took me a moment to realize that that day marked the fiftieth
anniversary of his father's passing. I was overtaken by this Divine
Providence and how G-d's hand brought Joseph to his father's grave on
precisely his fiftieth yartzeit. I appointed someone to recite Kaddish
at the afternoon prayer, and I returned to the nursing facility to help
Joseph observe the yartzeit in the traditional manner by studying
Mishnayot, giving charity and donning tefilin.

To my surprise, the next time I saw Joseph he was wearing the red
yarmulka he had been handed upon entering the cemetery. I found out that
he had not removed it from his head since that time. He would roll
around amongst all the non-Jewish residents and even attend non-Jewish
services, wearing his red yarmulke.

I had the honor of putting on tefilin with him when I visited him
subsequently and we always enjoyed each other's company.

In early summer I received a call from the Jewish funeral home informing
me of Joseph's passing. As I recounted the story of Joseph's experience
to the funeral home assistant (who was the only other Jew present at the
burial), he told me that when they picked up his body they found Joseph
wearing his red yarmulka and that the yarmulka is buried with him.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to accommodate Joseph as I did.
I have also witnessed first hand the teaching of Rabbi Shneur Zalman,
founder of Chabad Chasidism, which I learned many years ago: A Jew
neither wants to nor can he be torn away from G-dliness.

May we all merit to witness in our own lives the hand of G-d in a
revealed fashion, and may we soon experience the ultimate revelation of
the infinite light of G-d, through the coming of Moshiach NOW.

    If you know anyone in a nursing facility in the Detroit Metropolitan
    area, you can inform me and I will try to arrange for them to be
    visited. I can be reached at: Jewish Home and Aging Services/Jewish
    Community Chaplaincy Program, 6710 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield,
    Mi. 48322 (248) 661-2999 Ext. 301

                        Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           TORAH VS. SCIENCE

An unforgettable Shabbat with Fulbright Scholar and NASA Researcher Dr.
Velvl Greene will take place over the weekend of December 22. The
Shabbaton, sponsored by Chabad of the Upper East Side (Manhattan), will
be held at the Metropolitan Republican Club. For more information or
reservations call (212) 717-4613.

                            SHABBAT ON TAPE!

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                            THE REBBE WRITES

        Three letters to the same individual dated Rosh Chodesh
                          Kislev, 5736 [1975]

Your letter... reached me with considerable delay...

In view of its content, I naturally take this first opportunity of
replying to it.

Not knowing whether you are more interested in the practical
implication, or/and in the scientific aspect, I am writing two separate
replies, enclosed herewith, which you can read in the order you prefer.

With esteem and blessing,

P.S. It is surely unnecessary to add - though I am adding it for the
record - that I take it for granted that you will keep your commitments
with regard to the practical aspects of the letter. [*]

    * After asserting that the Rebbe would never support the Torah view
    that the sun revolves around the earth, and certainly not publicly,
    the writer promised to undertake certain Mitzvos if the Rebbe
    confirmed that this is his belief.

                                *  *  *

In reply to your question relating to the matter of the motion of the
sun and the earth, whether the sun revolves around the earth or the
earth around the sun.

It is my firm belief that the sun revolves around the earth, as I have
also declared publicly on various occasions and in discussion with
professors specializing in this field of science.

In view of the above, I have no objection, of course, if you wish to
make this view known to whomever you choose, since, as mentioned, I have
declared it orally and in writing to correspondents who had inquired
into this subject, on more than one occasion.

With esteem and blessing,

P.S. On several of the above-mentioned occasions, when I spoke on the
subject publicly, I gave a clear and detailed explanation why this view
is in no conflict at all with contemporary science. I emphasized,
however, that I was speaking of modern and contemporary science, as it
differs from Ptolemnic and medieval science when conflicting views were
held on this subject. Modern science, on the other hand, having rejected
both systems, has reached conclusions which present no problem to one
holding to the belief that the sun revolves around the earth, as I have
explained at some length elsewhere.

                                *  *  *

This is in reply to your inquiry on the question of the rotation of the
sun and the earth in relation to each other, namely, whether the sun
revolves around the earth, or the earth around the sun, and which view
is to be accepted, etc.

I presume you have in mind the scientific view, i.e. what science has to
say on this question, and I will address myself to this aspect.

It is well known that this was a controversial issue in ancient and
medieval science. However, since about half a century ago, with the
introduction of the theory of relativity, the latter has been
universally accepted as the basis of modern science. To be sure, in the
beginning there were scientists working under the Soviet regime who
opposed the relativity theory - for various reasons which need not be
reviewed here, but even this opposition fell by the wayside later, so
that now scientists generally accept the theory of relativity as the
latest and most plausible scientific system.

One of the conclusions of the theory of relativity is that when there
are two systems, or planets, in motion relative to each other, such as
the sun and earth in our case - either view, namely, the sun rotating
around the earth, or the earth rotating around the sun, has equal
validity. Thus, if there are phenomena that cannot be adequately
explained on the basis of one of these views, such difficulties have
their counterpart also if the opposite view is accepted.

Secondly, the scientific conclusion that both views have equal validity
is the result not of any inadequacy of available scientific data, of
technological development (measuring instruments, etc.), in which case
it could be expected that further scientific and technological
advan-cement might clear up the matter eventually and decide in favor of
one or the other view. On the contrary, the conclusion of contemporary
science is that regardless of any future scientific advancement, the
question as to which is our planetary center, the sun or the earth, must
forever remain unresolved, since both views will always have the same
scientific validity, as stated.

Thirdly, it follows that anyone declaring that a person who chooses to
accept one of these systems in preference to the other is a fool, while
one who accepts the other is a wise man - such a judgment shows that the
person making it is ignorant of the conclusions of modern science, or
that he was not advanced beyond the science of Ptolemy and Copernicus.
Obviously, a person not versed in the developments of science in the
course of the past half century or so is not qualified to make any
judgment pertaining to science.

A further point may be added, though perhaps not directly pertinent to
our discussion. It is that every person, including modern scientists,
actually has three options to choose from in this matter: (a) that A
revolves around B, (b) that B revolves around A, (c) that A and B
revolve around each other. But such a choice cannot be dictated by
science; it would be one's personal choice and belief.

What has been said above is - to repeat - the deduction of the theory of
relativity, as it is expounded in various scientific texts, and it can
be checked with any scientist who is thoroughly familiar with the said
theory. Of course, on the elementary and high-school level, science in
general, and the so-called Solar system in particular, is taught from
relatively simple textbooks, and the change in the scientific attitude
towards the subject under discussion is not emphasized. But, as stated,
it would be quite simple to verify it with any scientist who knows this
particular field.

With esteem and blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
11 Kislev 5761

Positive mitzva 246: the law of litigants

By this injunction we are commanded concerning the law of plaintiff and
defendant. It embraces all cases arising between people where admissions
and denials are involved, and is derived from the Torah's words (Ex.
22:8): "For every kind of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for
sheep, for garment, or for any kind of lost thing, which another
challenges to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
This Monday, the 14th of Kislev, will mark 72 years since the Rebbe was
married to Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the daughter of the Previous Rebbe.
Thousands of people from all over Europe attended the wedding in Warsaw,

The entire world, however, is now anticipating a "wedding" of another
sort - the "marriage" between the Jewish people and G-d, which will take
place with the coming of Moshiach. Metaphorically speaking, the
"engagement" took place when the Jews were redeemed from Egypt and
received the Torah at Mount Sinai. When the Jews were exiled and G-d's
manifest presence in the world departed, the "bride" was abandoned, as
it were; ever since, she has pined away for her beloved. In the
Messianic era, the "wedding" between the Holy One, Blessed Be He and His
bride will be held, and the Jewish people will no longer be alone.

There is a verse in this week's Torah portion, Vayeitzei, which reads
"And Leah conceived, and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for
she said, Surely the L-rd has looked upon my affliction; now therefore
my husband will love me." During the exile, the Jewish people are in a
reduced spiritual state. Without the Holy Temple, G-d's love for His
bride is not openly manifest.

Yet when G-d sees that the Jewish people remain strong in their faith,
and continue to observe Torah and mitzvot even in their "affliction," it
arouses His overwhelming and tremendous love for us. In the Messianic
era, this love between husband and wife will reach its ultimate
expression, and G-d's union with the Jewish people will be permanent and

May we very soon merit to wish each other "Mazel Tov," at the most
definitive wedding celebration in history.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to
heaven (Gen. 28:12)

If a person thinks that he has already perfected himself and "reached
heaven," it is a sure sign that in fact, he has a long way to go. For it
is only when an individual considers himself lowly and "on the earth"
that he is able to ascend to greater spiritual heights.

                                              (Toldot Yaakov Yosef)

And, behold, the L-rd was standing over him ("Vehinei Hashem nitzav
alav") (Gen. 28:13)

Rearranging the first letters of the above Hebrew verse results in the
word "anav," meaning one who is humble. For it is precisely through
humility, self-abnegation and acceptance of the yoke of Heaven that a
person attains a sense of G-d's closeness.

                                                      (Ohr HaTorah)

The land on which you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed (Gen.

As Rashi comments, "The Holy One, blessed be He, folded up the entire
land of Israel beneath him." Unlike his forefathers, Jacob did not have
to travel the length and breadth of Israel in order to refine the sparks
of holiness contained in each location. Rather, when G-d "folded up the
land beneath him," he was able to refine all of them at once, in one

                                                (The Baal Shem Tov)

And Jacob answered and said to Laban, "What is my trespass? What is my
sin, that you have so hotly pursued after me?" (Gen. 31:36)

Jacob was disturbed by Laban's insistence on maintaining their
relationship, as he interpreted it as a reflection of his own behavior.
He worried that he might have committed a sin, for had he been
completely innocent of wrongdoing, a person like Laban would be
uninterested in being his friend.

                                                   (Der Torah Kval)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Reb Pinchas Reizes was a Chasid of the Mitteler Rebbe (Rabbi Dovber,
whose birthday and passing are on 9 Kislev). When Reb Pinchas passed
away his only heir was a nephew, who unfortunately was a complete

Among the items that came into the nephew's possession was a letter
written by the Mitteler Rebbe to his uncle, asking him to serve on a
special committee to disburse funds for charity. The sum cited in the
letter was 4,000 rubles.

The nephew saw this as a golden opportunity to blackmail the Rebbe. If
the Rebbe did not give him money, he threatened, he would go to the
authorities and tell them that the Rebbe was collecting funds for
clandestine and illegal purposes. But the Rebbe was immune to his
intimidations. "Not one penny will you get from me," he told him. "Do
whatever you want, for I have done nothing wrong and am not afraid of
your slander."

Incensed by the Rebbe's response, the nephew carried out his threat.
With the help of some unsavory associates he forged the original letter
to make it appear as if the Rebbe had 104,000 rubles instead of 4,000 -
a veritable fortune in those days. The Rebbe was accused of various
criminal activities, such as trying to bribe the Turkish Sultan, and it
was also alleged that the Rebbe's study hall had been built to the exact
specifications of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

On Saturday night of the Torah portion of Noach 5587 [1826]
investigators showed up at the Rebbe's house. They conducted a thorough
search of the premises. Careful note was taken of all written materials,
and anything else they considered suspicious. At the same time, a
separate group of investigators measured the Rebbe's study hall; no one
could figure out what they were trying to find.

By that time a large crowd had gathered in front of the Rebbe's house,
and everyone could hear the tearful pleading of the Rebbe's family with
the police. The only one who seemed to be taking everything in stride
was the Rebbe. As if nothing unusual were going on, he withdrew to his
room to write a Chasidic discourse. A while later he announced that he
would receive people for private audiences, which he did.

The following morning the Rebbe was ordered to accompany the police to
their headquarters in Vitebsk. Word of the Rebbe's arrest quickly
spread, and in every town and village along the way hundreds of Jews
came out to greet him. Thanks to the efforts of several influential
Jews, it was agreed that the long journey would be made in stages, with
numerous stops to allow the Rebbe to rest.

When the carriage arrived in Dobromisl, the Rebbe asked to be allowed to
pray the afternoon service in the local synagogue. Afterwards, to
everyone's surprise, he delivered a Chasidic discourse on the verse from
Song of Songs, "Many waters cannot quench love." The allusion to his
present situation was clear.

The Rebbe was subsequently imprisoned in the city of Liozhna and placed
under tight security. Sometime later it was learned that the formal
charge against him was rebellion against the government.

The Rebbe was jailed for one month and ten days, but even from the
beginning he was granted certain privileges. Three people were permitted
to stay with him, and three times a day, 20 Jews were allowed inside to
pray. The Rebbe was also permitted to deliver a Chasidic discourse twice
a week in front of 50 people after the Rebbe's doctor testified that it
was crucial to the Rebbe's health.

In the meantime, efforts to secure the Rebbe's release were being made
behind the scenes. Several high-ranking government officials who had
heard about the Rebbe and held him in great esteem tried to exert their
influence. The Rebbe was interrogated numerous times, during which he
proved that not only were his connections to the Turkish Sultan
completely fabricated, but his designs on the Kaiser's throne were
equally fictitious.

At the end of several weeks the results of the investigation were turned
over to the Minister of the Interior. The Minister was very impressed by
the Rebbe's responses to all the questions, and decided that a direct
confrontation between the Rebbe and his accuser was in order.

On the designated day the Rebbe dressed in his white Shabbat finery.
When he walked into the Minister's office, the official was so
disconcerted by his angelic appearance that he ordered his servants to
bring the Rebbe a chair.

The informer began to heap his invectives upon the Rebbe, but one by
one, the Rebbe dismissed the accusations entirely. At one point in the
proceedings the accuser addressed the Rebbe as "Rebbe," prompting the
Rebbe to turn to the Minister and remark, "Did you see that? First he
calls me a charlatan and a revolutionary, and in the next breath he
calls me Rebbe!"

From that point on the accuser's allegations became increasingly
illogical. The Minister was so irritated by his behavior that he ordered
him to "stop barking," and he was led away in humiliation. The Rebbe was
escorted back to his room with great deference, and informed that he
would soon be released.

The Mitteler Rebbe was liberated on the 10th of Kislev, having been
informed of the government's decision while reciting the verse from
Psalms: "He has saved my soul in peace."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
"The teachings of Chasidut," someone might argue, "are indeed likened to
gems and pearls - but I'm not one to chase after pearls; I'm satisfied
if my clothes aren't torn."

There is an answer to this argument: "We have to get ready for the
coming of Moshiach, when we will be privileged to enter the marriage
canopy together with the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He. So
we will need pearls, too." (Likutei Sichot, Vol. XX, p. 178)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 647 - Vayetzei 5761

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