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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 648
                           Copyright (c) 2000
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        December 15, 2000      Vayishlach        18 Kislev, 5761

                         Shlopping for Chanuka

                         By Rabbi Yisrael Rubin

The approach of Chanuka has many people shlepping and shopping
(shlopping for short) around the malls for gifts.

Even if you're sitting at home in a comfortable chair with your feet up
and a cup of tea in hand, perusing a catalogue or surfing the net for
great gift ideas, it can still be a shlep to shop for Chanuka!

Whether you're driving around looking for a parking space or checking
out the bargains in cyberspace, shlopping can take hours upon hours and
can be very tiring.

Shlopping is especially draining, confusing and exhausting with all that
goes on in the malls at this time of the year during the end of the
shlopping days countdown.

Actually, shlopping malls may be the most inappropriate place to find
the most appropriate Chanuka gift. The seasonal decorations, the rush
and hassle, the here-today- gone-tomorrow trendiness of items ornately
displayed in store windows, can detract from the Chanuka spirit.

Chanuka celebrates the triumph of the little cruse of purity over crass
materialism. The Maccabees fought and were victorious in a battle of
quality over quantity. They  dedicated themselves to preserving Jewish
identity and to resisting alien influences.

We can shop and shop, but not all that glitters is gold. A true Chanuka
gift should have some inner content, not only superficial wrappings,
fancy labels and pricey tags. Our family and friends certainly deserve
more on Chanuka than just shlopping bags full of gizmos.

But can anyone hear us above all the noise? How can we focus on the true
meaning of Chanuka amid all the surrounding sights and sounds, muzak and

The following proposed announcement may sound a little shloppy, but
let's try to get someone's attention with it.

"Attention Shloppers! We draw your attention to a special in the Chanuka

"Remember: It's the thought that counts. Give something with meaning.

"Gone are the days when the only Jewish toy was a wobbly lead dreidle.
We've come a long way.

"Experience the explosion of Jewish creativity. Go into your local
Judaica store (or visit them online) and choose from a large and
attractive selection of Jewish games, toys, art & crafts, books, tapes,
videos, software and CD's, with real, authentic Jewish content.

"Our rich and exciting heritage can come alive for Jewish kids of all
ages. Give gifts that are educational and entertaining-the best of both

Shlep a friend along with you on this new Chanuka shlopping  adventure.

           Rabbi Yisrael Rubin is director of Chabad of the Capital
                                              District, Albany, NY.

The first of the Five Books of Moses, Bereishit (Genesis), is also
called the "Book of the Just," as it narrates the lives of our
ancestors, whom the Talmud refers to as "just." As it is axiomatic in
Judaism that "the deeds of the ancestors are a sign for their
descendants," it follows that Genesis is the "blueprint" for all Jews in
their service of the Creator. In other words, Genesis teaches us how a
Jew is supposed to live.

This idea is expressed in the names of the Torah portions themselves.
The first portion in Genesis is Bereishit ("in the beginning"), which
instills the basic awareness that G-d created the world for the Torah
and for the Jewish people. The second portion, Noach, alludes to the
ultimate objective in the world's creation: to bring nachat ruach
(pleasure; linguistically related to the name Noach) to G-d by
fulfilling His desire for a "dwelling place" in the physical realm.

The next portion, Lech Lecha ("go out"), describes the dynamics of how
this is accomplished: The soul is forced to leave the higher spiritual
realms and become enclothed in a corporeal body, where it is constantly
urged to transcend the level it has already attained and climb to the
next. Vayeira ("and He appeared") refers to G-d's special revelation to
every Jewish soul, which assists us in our Divine mission.

This G-dly revelation penetrates all aspects of the soul, hinted at in
the name of the next Torah portion, Chayei Sara ("the life of Sara").
Sara lived 127 years, which is an esoteric allusion to all of the soul's
powers. Once G-d gives us these capabilities, we are then able to create
Toldot ("generations" or "descendants"), as our Sages stated, "The
descendants of the righteous are their good deeds."

After this basic outline has been defined, the Jew's service is further
elucidated in the next two portions, Vayeitzei ("and he went out") and
especially in this week's Torah reading, Vayishlach ("and he sent").
"And Jacob went out from Beersheba and went to Charan" refers to the
Jew's spiritual journey to even the very lowest levels of existence for
the purpose of elevating them. But even that is not enough. The Jew must
then send out "messengers" to Esau, symbolic of the antithesis of
G-dliness and holiness, to purify and refine these realms as well.

The next portion, Vayeisheiv ("and he dwelt"), refers to G-d enabling us
to live in peace and tranquility, which leads to Mikeitz ("at the end")
- the successful completion of our mission. All Jews will be completely
united with G-d (Vayigash -"and he came near"), which will then
culminate in eternal life with the resurrection of the dead (Vayechi -
"and he lived").

However, the main part of our mission - the refinement of evil and its
transformation into good, in preparation for Moshiach's coming - is
contained in this week's Torah portion.

                           Adapted from Vol. 1 of Hitva'aduyot 5750

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                        WHAT YOU ARE NEEDED FOR
                      by Eliyahu and Malka Touger

Avraham and Tuvia Lerner, two brothers from the Lubavitch community in
Montreal, had birthdays a few days apart. They came to New York for
yechidut (a private audience) with the Rebbe. Avraham gave the Rebbe the
note he had prepared, and listened carefully as the Rebbe gave him a
short blessing. Then Tuvia gave the Rebbe his note. This was the
yechidut before his Bar Mitzva and Tuvia listened attentively as the
Rebbe gave him a blessing.

Tuvia spoke up: "Rebbe, I want to understand the blessing you gave me
and know it well enough to repeat at my Bar Mitzva. Could you say it
again, and then listen while I repeat it to make sure I'm saying it
right? And could you speak a little slower?"

The Rebbe smiled and repeated the blessing, speaking more slowly and
using simpler words. After he finished, he told Tuvia: "Now you say it."

Tuvia began, but made several mistakes. The Rebbe told him. "I'll say it
again, but pay attention."

The Rebbe then repeated the blessing a third time, speaking even more
slowly and using even simpler words. He listened as Tuvia repeated it,
correcting him periodically. When Tuvia was finished, the Rebbe asked,
"Are you happy now?"

Tuvia answered that he was, and the Rebbe concluded, "I'm happy too."

Thus began a unique relationship that continued for 13 years until
Tuvia's passing from cancer. Throughout that time, the Rebbe frequently
called Tuvia to yechidut. (Ordinarily, a yeshiva student had yechidut
only once a year for his birthday.)

Tuvia was not a gifted student. If anything, his abilities were less
than ordinary, but he possessed simple faith, and great trust in G-d.
His sincerity was inspiring. The Rebbe took a special interest in his
development, offering him encouragement and help.

Once, at a yechidus, Tuvia told the Rebbe that he wanted to advance
spiritually but was not being given the opportunity. His teachers and
fellow students considered him too simple to make real progress, and so
they gave up on him.

The Rebbe reassured him. "Find study partners and a mashpia (spiritual
mentor), and tell me who they are. I'll make sure they help you."
Indeed, through the years, the Rebbe paid special attention to the
teachers and students who worked with Tuvia.

When Tuvia was 16, he wanted to go to Israel to study. Unfortunately,
none of the yeshivot would accept him. Tuvia took all the letters of
rejection and showed them to the Rebbe. He told him of his desire to
study in Israel and his difficulty at being accepted.

The Rebbe read each letter, then told Tuvia: "Go to Israel. You will
succeed in your studies there. Israel needs a boy like you."

After receiving these blessings, Tuvia was able to prevail on the
Lubavitcher yeshiva in Kfar Chabad to accept him. The Rebbe made
frequent inquiries to see how Tuvia was doing and asked for monthly
updates. Tuvia studied in Israel for two years and made significant

When Tuvia returned to America, he went to study in the Lubavitcher
yeshiva in Montreal. The Rebbe asked Tuvia to keep in contact,
requesting that he write at least once a week. The Rebbe almost always
answered these letters.

Once the Rebbe did not answer a letter, and the following week, Tuvia
did not write. Shortly afterwards, he was called to yechidut. "Why
didn't you write?" the Rebbe asked him.

"Since you didn't answer my letter, I thought you were no longer
interested," Tuvia replied.

"I was busy," the Rebbe responded, "and I didn't have the opportunity
that week. You're a yeshiva student; you have more time. Even if I don't
have a chance to answer you, you must continue writing."

Once, the Rebbe asked him: "Do you have a special feeling for a mitzva
that I can help you with?"

Tuvia told the Rebbe that he had been looking to purchase tefilin
prepared according to the views of Rabbeinu Tam that were written and
whose compartments were fashioned with meticulous care.

"I'll find tefilin that are written and prepared with the proper care,"
the Rebbe assured Tuvia.

The Rebbe contacted Rabbi Aronow, a scribe from Toronto, and gave him
precise instructions with regard to the tefilin. The specifications set
by the Rebbe were so difficult that the professionals chosen by Rabbi
Aronow wanted to give up. They did not see how it was possible to make
tefilin that met such standards. Over four years, 30 pairs were
submitted for the Rebbe's examination, but he rejected them all. "These
tefilin are for a unique individual," the Rebbe explained.

When, after four years, an acceptable pair was finally completed, the
Rebbe called Tuvia to yechidus. He was extremely happy to give him the
tefilin, and Tuvia was happy to receive them.

Shortly afterwards, Tuvia asked the Rebbe if he could help him find
Rashi tefilin that met all the specifications of his Rabbeinu Tam
tefilin. The Rebbe agreed, but told Tuvia that it would take time.

At one point, the Rebbe told him that he had found a pair of Rashi
tefilin. "Are they the very best in the world?" Tuvia asked.

"Are you sure you want to wait for the very best?" the Rebbe asked, and
looked sad when Tuvia answered affirmatively.

Shortly afterwards, the reason for the sorrow became evident: the cancer
that was to claim Tuvia's life began spreading. He did not live long
enough to have "the best tefilin in the world" prepared.

Tuvia passed away in Montreal. Should he be buried there or in the
Lubavitch cemetary in New York, near the Previous Rebbe's grave, his
family wondered. Between 3 and 4 a.m., Tuvia's brother received a call
from the Rebbe's office. The Rebbe had advised that Tuvia be buried in
New York.

The next day, the Rebbe went to pray at the Previous Rebbe's graveside;
he was only a few yards away from Tuvia's funeral. That night he spoke
at an unscheduled gathering. Perhaps this was the Rebbe's way of taking
leave of this unique soul.

  From To Know and To Care, Vol. 2, published by Sichos in English.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                         WORLD'S LARGEST MENORA

Be part of the Chanuka celebrations at the World's Largest Chanu-ka
Menora at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in New York City. The menora will
be lit on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 22 at 3:38 p.m.;
Saturday night, Dec. 23 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 24 - Thursday Dec. 28
at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday there will be live music, free latkas and Chanuka
gelt for the children. For more info call the Lubavitch Youth
Organization at (212) 736-8400. For locations of public menora lighting
in your area call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                           The Cry of a Child

                          Erev Shabbos Kodesh
                     Mevorchim Kislev, 5738 [1977]

To All Participants in the Celebration Dinner of the Lubavitch
Foundation in Glasgow,

Greeting and Blessing:

I am pleased to be informed of the forthcoming annual dinner on the eve
of Yud-Tes (19) Kislev - the anniversary of the liberation of the Alter
Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman],founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

As is well known, the imprisonment and subsequent vindication of the
Alter Rebbe were connected with his dedicated activities to spread the
teachings of Chasidus and to strengthen Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general
- which makes this historic day a particularly auspicious one for all
similar activities, especially for Torah-education.

By precept and example, the Alter Rebbe accentuated the mutual love and
responsibility of all Jews for one another, with particular emphasis on
Torah-education of children beginning at their most tender age.

This is exemplified rather eloquently in the classic episode of the
"crying child," which has become a guideline and inspiration for all
Lubavitch activities everywhere.

Briefly, it is the story of a child - the child of the Alter Rebbe's son
and, later, successor - crying in its cradle, while the father,
engrossed in his studies, was oblivious to it. The Alter Rebbe, who
occupied the upper apartment, and was equally engrossed in his studies,
did hear the child's crying, and he went down and pacified the child.
Later he "rebuked" his son, saying that however preoccupied a Jew may
be, even with the loftiest of matters, one must always hear the cry of a
child and respond immediately to its needs.

This episode, which has been given wide currency by our Rebbes, the
leaders of our people, from generation to generation, serves to remind
us all of the first obligation of every Jew - to give priority attention
to the needs of a child, not only in the immediate vicinity, but also
wherever he, or she, may be. And if it is true of the child's physical
needs, how much more so its spiritual needs, in terms of
Torah-education, so vital for the child's whole future life.

My friends: Numerous Jewish children and youths in all parts of the
world are crying out for Torah-education. Their cries of anguish may not
always be audible, particularly when they are very young - in age or in
knowledge - and do not realize what they are lacking. But then the pity
for them is all the greater. For, although they may not consciously
express it, their souls cry out more deeply and painfully than can be
expressed by weeping and tears.

The Glasgow Jewish community is fortunate in that it has in its midst
dedicated young men and friends of the Lubavitch Foundation who hear and
heed the cry of Jewish children. This is why they deserve everyone's
fullest and most vigorous and enthusiastic support.

Though participation in this vital cause is in itself the greatest
reward, our Heavenly Father, who loves His children most dearly, will
surely also reward each and everyone of you, and your families, and the
Community at large, with all good, materially and spiritually.

With prayerful wishes for Hatzlocho [success], and

With esteem and blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
19 Kislev 5761

Positive mitzva 199: appointing judges and officers of the court

By this injunction we are commanded to appoint judges who are to enforce
the observance of the Torah's commandments, so that the commandments and
prohibitions of the Torah shall not be dependent on the will of the
individual. It is contained in the verse (Deut. 16:18): "Judges and
officers shall you make in all your gates."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
This Shabbat, Jews the world over will celebrate Yud Tet (the 19th of)
Kislev, the Chasidic "New Year." On this date 202 years ago the Alter
Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut, was liberated
from the infamous Spalerno prison in Russia.

Not merely a personal event, his redemption was an ideological victory
for the revelation of the inner aspect of Torah, and a significant
milestone in preparing the world for the Messianic era.

Before Yud Tet Kislev, the inner, esoteric part of the Torah - the
Torah's "soul," as it were - was in a concealed state. Only its outer
aspect - the "body" - was revealed to the majority of the Jewish people.

Human beings are also composed of a physical body and a spiritual soul.
Unlike the body, however, the soul cannot be touched or perceived by the
senses, nor can the human intellect fully comprehend its essence. The
soul's existence can only be determined by deduction - i.e., if the body
is alive, there must a soul that is animating it.

With the redemption of Yud Tet Kislev, the Torah's "soul" became
revealed and apparent. Anyone can now learn its inner wisdom, and
understand it on an intellectual level.

Furthermore, as the Jewish people and the Torah are one entity, the
innovation of Yud Tet Kislev affected all Jewish individuals on a
personal level as well. The advent of Chabad Chasidut enabled the Jewish
soul to illuminate the body to an unprecedented degree, making it easier
for every Jew to serve as a dwelling place for G-d's Divine Presence and
fulfill his mission in the world.

On such an auspicious day, when the same spiritual energy that was
originally present comes down into the world, it is appropriate to
rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all our deeds and actions help
hasten Moshiach's revelation - the underlying purpose of the
dissemination of Chasidut.

May everyone be inscribed and sealed for a good year in the study of
Chasidut and in the Chasidic ways of conduct.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the
people...into two camps (Gen. 32:8)

The great Chasidic masters interpreted this verse as follows: Why was
Jacob "afraid and distressed"? Because the Children of Israel were
"divided." Jacob knew that when the Jewish people stand united, Esau is
powerless against them. It is only when Jews are splintered into
different camps that there is something to worry about...

                                                 (Maayanot Netzach)

My lord knows that the children are tender (Gen. 33:13)

Why did Jacob make a point of mentioning the children in response to
Esau's invitation to join him? Because being in Esau's proximity was
much more of a threat to his impressionable children than it was to
himself. Unpleasant as it might have been for him, maintaining his
children's spiritual purity was his number one priority.

                                   (Rabbi Yehoshua Rokeach of Belz)

Because he had wrought a vile deed in Israel...that ought not to be done
(Gen. 34:7)

There are certain crimes for which the punishment involves inflicting
the same offense against the criminal who committed them. For example,
if a person steals, he must make monetary restitution; if he commits
murder, he is subject to capital punishment. The "vile deed" that was
committed against Dina, however, was not in this category, and can never
be humanly rectified in this manner.

                                                  (Kanfei Yesharim)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The poritz (nobleman) and his son were having a heated argument. The
son, an only child, had asked his father for permission to go hunting
with his friends in the dense forests around the city of Liozhna. The
elderly father, concerned for his son's safety, had refused to grant it.
The father's opposition to what he considered a dangerous venture seemed

At the height of the argument, however, the poritz had suddenly stopped
speaking. For a few minutes he was silent, lost in thought. "I will let
you go on one condition," he finally decided. And indeed, it was a very
odd stipulation.

"In the city of Liadi there lives a famous Rabbi. He is the spiritual
leader of all the Jews in this area, and every word he utters is
considered holy. Go to this Rabbi and ask his blessing. If you promise
to do this, I will let you go hunting." The son was very surprised, but
gave his word. The next day he left on the expedition.

In those few moments of silence, the poritz's memory had carried him
back to the time he had served as an interrogator in the main prison in
Petersburg. Although he had interrogated hundreds if not thousands of
prisoners in the course of his career, his experience with the Rabbi who
had been charged with rebelling against the government was something he
could never forget. His regal bearing, majestic long beard and deeply
expressive eyes were permanently engraved on the nobleman's heart.

He could remember the Rabbi's answers to the interrogators' questions as
if he had heard them just yesterday. The wisdom and truth they contained
had been evident in every word, and the poritz had been extremely
impressed by the Rabbi's character. In fact, the Rabbi's subsequent
release from jail and the dropping of all charges against him were in
large part due to the poritz's intervention.

The Rabbi, of course, was the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi,
founder of the Chabad Chasidic movement, whose opponents had slandered
and libeled him to the authorities. But despite the accusations, the
young interrogator had been convinced that the Rabbi was a G-dly man.
Now, decades later, the poritz felt that if his only child could see the
holy Rabbi for himself, it would somehow set his own mind at ease.

Unfortunately, the poritz's misgivings proved to be well founded. A few
weeks into the expedition the hunting party had been halted by a
blinding rainstorm. The son, who had wandered off from the rest of his
friends, was alone in the middle of the forest. Seeking shelter under a
tree, he had no choice but to wait for the storm to pass. But the
weather did not improve, and only grew worse. It was several days until
the storm abated.

Soaked to the bone, hungry and sick, the poritz's son despaired of ever
leaving the forest. It was truly miraculous when he eventually found a
path through the foliage and succeeded in dragging himself to an inn on
the outskirts of Liozhna.

The next day, burning with fever, he suddenly remembered his promise to
his father and resolved to fulfill it. With his last ounce of strength
he arose from bed and set out for the city to find the famous Rabbi.

Once in town he soon learned that Rabbi Shneur Zalman had recently
passed away. The poritz's son felt a pang of conscience until the Jews
informed him that the Rabbi had left a successor, his son Rabbi Dovber
(the Mitteler Rebbe), who was also a holy person. But the Mitteler Rebbe
was no longer living in Liozhna, and now resided in Lubavitch.

There was no rational explanation for the urgency he felt to see the son
of the famous Rabbi his father had praised so highly. Nonetheless, he
hired a carriage and set out for Lubavitch, despite his weakness from
his recent ordeal.

That night, when the poritz's son arrived in Lubavitch, he was
disappointed to learn that the Rebbe was addressing his Chasidim and
would not be receiving visitors. But the young nobleman would not be
turned back. Undaunted, he insisted on being told the exact location
where the Rebbe was speaking.

The study hall was packed to the rafters, so that no one noticed the
stranger when he entered. In the front of the room the Mitteler Rebbe
was seated at a table saying a Chasidic discourse. The poritz's son was
astounded by the scene. Such a large crowd of people, yet everyone was
silent and focused on the Rebbe. He found himself rooted to the spot.

About an hour later it occurred to him how odd it was that he was
standing, given the state of his health. When he left the study hall he
could actually feel his strength returning, which he had no doubt was in
the merit of the holy Rabbi. He was also very grateful for having been
able to fulfill his promise to his father.

    [This story was related many decades later by the poritz's son - by
    then a nobleman in his own right - to a Chabad Chasid.)]

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In these times, with the advent of the Messiah, the principal service of
G-d is the service of charity, as our sages said: "Israel will be
redeemed only through charity."... There is no way of truly cleaving
unto it and to convert the darkness into its light, except through a
corresponding category of action, namely the act of charity... And
whoever sacrifices his impulse in this respect and opens his hands and
heart... "converts the darkness into the light" of G-d... and he will
merit to behold "Eye to eye, the L-rd returning to Zion..."

(Tanya of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidism)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 648 - Vayishlach 5761

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