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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 682
                           Copyright (c) 2001
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        August 17, 2001          Re'eh               28 Av, 5761

                         Metric, English, or...

Though most of the world operates on a metric system for weight, liquid,
cubic, square and linear measurements, the United States continues to
use a system still known as the English system, despite the fact that
the English switched to metric decades ago.

Years back, it was expected that Americans would gradually wean
themselves off English and switch to metric; thus products produced in
the U.S., even those not manufactured for export, carry both the metric
and English measurements. Goods imported into the U.S. from Israel and
Europe carry both metric and English designations. But for most American
schoolchildren, their only familiarity with the metric system is the
knowledge that soft drinks come in one, two or three liter bottles.

There is, however, another system of measurement, linear at least. And
it is called the "Jewish yardstick."

The Jewish yardstick is simple to use, and it doesn't interfere with any
other system of weight, liquid, cubic, square, or linear measurement.

The rules for using the Jewish yardstick are as follow: When measuring
up your neighbor, friend, co-worker, relative or any stranger, judge him
leniently and favorably. When measuring yourself and your
accomplishments, be stringent.

In Chasidic terminology one would say: Look at another with the "right
eye" - with kindness; look at yourself with the "left eye" - with

Such an approach is based on the commandment to "Love your fellow as
yourself." Just as a person's intrinsic self-love allows him to overlook
his own faults, so too, must we overlook another's faults.

In regard to our personal conduct, we strive to both push away the
negative and to do good. When relating to another individual, however,
the Jewish yardstick's method is to channel our energies solely into the
positive path - "Do good."

Although there may be times when someone's conduct warrants reproof,
before criticizing - even before giving "positive criticism" -  we
should question ourselves as to whether we are fit to be the one to
administer it. Furthermore, if reproof must be given, it should be
offered gently, which will obviously enable it to be accepted more
readily than harsh speech.

Moreover, such words should be spoken only on select occasions.

The old saying, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," is a derivation of
the Biblical verse, "One who spares the rod hates his son." Judaism
indicates that rebuke and reprimand are not only important, but at
times, essential. However, admonishment may be given only when the
relationship between two individuals is like that between a father and
son: To give rebuke, one must love the other person just as a father
loves his child; additionally, the difference in level between the two
people must be as radical as the difference between a father and a son.
Needless to say, this does not apply in most cases.

Why is all this true? Because the ultimate value of every Jew is

Based on the last public talk of the Rebbe on 25 Adar I, 5752 (1992)

This week's Torah portion, Re'ei, touches upon numerous subjects,
including the warning not to be involved with idolatrous practices, a
list of kosher animals and non-kosher birds, the laws of tithes and a
brief discussion of the three Pilgrimage Festivals.

The portion opens with the words: "See [re'ei], I set before you." G-d
commanded Moses to convey to the Jewish people that they must consider
and reflect on the holy words of  Torah until they can actually "see"
how G-d Himself takes care of each and every individual, great and
small. G-d abandons all His other affairs, as it were, to provide every
Jew with all his needs, "from His full, open, holy and broad hand."

It is not enough for a Jew to believe this on faith or understand it as
an intellectual principle. A Jew must be able to "see" Divine Providence
in the same way he can perceive a physical object with his fleshly eyes.

This, in fact, is the practical directive to be derived from this week's
Torah reading, whose name "Re'ei" means "See":

Everything in Torah that a Jew learns should be "seen" rather than
merely accepted or believed. In other words, a person should be so
confident and sure of what he has learned that it is as if he can
actually see it on the physical level.

This level of surety applies at all times and in all circumstances,
whether it is "daytime" or "nighttime" in either the literal or symbolic
sense. A Jew must always strive to see the G-dliness and holiness in all
his actions.

Even before drinking a simple glass of water we make the  blessing
"Shehakol -Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the world, that
everything came into being with His word." We address G-d directly,
recognizing that everything in the world was created and exists only
because of His will.

By accustoming ourselves to always look for G-d's hand in everything
around us, we will merit to "see" the fulfillment of the verse at the
end of the Torah portion:

"Three times a year shall all your males be seen before the L-rd your
G-d in the place which He shall choose." Our daily prayers will be
answered, "May the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days," and
"May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy," with the coming of
Moshiach and the Final Redemption.

           Adapted from talks on 20 and 21 Menachem Av 5749, and 22
                                                   Menachem Av 5750

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                             The Bat Mitzva

                             by Dena Laber

This story began 22 years ago. Twelve-year-old Amy Israel was a sixth
grader at the Hebrew Academy of Albany, New York. She had been asked to
write a poem about Shabbat and to submit it to a special project that
was underway.

What had prompted the request for the poems was a book that was to be
published by the Shabbat Candle Lighting Campaign of the Lubavitch
Women's Organization. Initiated by the Rebbe in 1975, the Campaign had
flourished under the directorship of Mrs. Esther Sternberg. The book
Mrs. Sternberg undertook to publish would be entitled, "A Candle of My
Own" and would contain original poems and compositions by Jewish girls
from around the world.

Over the years Amy became more and more involved in Jewish observance
with the help of Rabbi Yisroel and Rivkah Rubin, the Rebbe's emissaries
to Albany. Amy now went by her Jewish name, Emunah. She married Ron
Sohn, and they had four children. Eventually, the Sohns moved to New

When her eldest daughter, Eliana, neared her twelfth birthday, Emunah
asked how she would like to celebrate this special event. Suggesting
that perhaps a trip to Israel would be  meaningful, Emunah was taken
aback by Eliana's response.

"Oh mom, no big party," Eliana replied. "I'll just take a couple of
friends to Disney World."

Emunah was surprised that a trip to Disney World was her daughter's idea
of what would be an appropriate way of celebrating becoming an adult in
Judaism. Although Eliana attended a Jewish day school, Emunah realized
that she needed to supplement her daughter's education in this area.

And so, Emunah phoned Nechama Dina Laber, who, together with her husband
Rabbi Avraham Laber, is one of the Rebbe's emissaries in Troy, New York.
Nechama Dina had been Eliana's teacher at the Maimonides Day School when
the Sohns lived in Albany.

Emunah knew that Nechama Dina had organized a Bat Mitzva Club for girls
in fifth and sixth grades to help them learn about the special journey
they were about to embark upon as young Jewish women. In fact, each year
Nechama Dina would ask Emunah to speak with the pre-teens about such
diverse topics as cultivating friendships, maintaining relationships and
even hygiene. Emunah had seen the club from the inside out and was sure
that if her daughter would be a part of the Bat Mitzva Club experience
she would grow and mature as a young Jewish woman.

"Are you still running a program for Bat Mitzvah age girls?" Emunah
asked Nechama Dina. Nechama Dina explained that for various reasons she
had not intended on running the club that year. Emunah offered to
sponsor the first club meeting at her mother's home in Albany and
Nechama Dina agreed to undertake organizing the club.

The Bat Mitzva Club was publicized at Maimonides' Day School and at the
Hebrew Academy of Albany. Emunah and Nechama Dina had expected about
eight girls to attend the initial meeting and were delighted when 20
girls showed up from all walks of Jewish life. Thus began a monthly
two-hour journey for mother and daughter from New Jersey to Troy. And
the relationship between Emunah and Nechama Dina that had begun years
earlier deepened.

The end of the school year was fast approaching. Nechama Dina Laber
called Emunah and asked her to speak at the special banquet that was
being organized for all of the girls who had participated in the Bat
Mitzva Club, their mothers and grandmothers.

"A number of girls will be reading original poems," Nechama Dina
informed Emunah. "And we'd like you to speak at the banquet as well."

"Poems?" Emunah asked. Emunah recalled a conversation with Nechama Dina
a few years back. Nechama Dina had been looking through a copy of A
Candle of My Own and had noticed a poem written by Amy Israel of the
Hebrew Academy of Albany. That was when Emunah had discovered that the
poem she had written when she was her daughter's age was published in
the book.

"Do you have a copy of A Candle of My Own so you can read me my poem?"
she asked.

Nechama Dina found the book and read the poem to Emunah, who had not
heard the poem in 22 years. Then Emunah heard the page of the book turn
and Nechama Dina gasped in delight. On the very next page was a
photograph of five-year-old Nechama Dina gazing into a lit candle.
Nechama Dina had never before noticed that her picture and Emunah's poem
were back-to-back. The two women marveled at how their lives intertwined
at so many pivotal moments.

Emunah agreed to speak at the Bat Mitzva Club Banquet, knowing that she
would tell this very story of her growing involvement in Judaism, her
search for a meaningful way for her daughter to celebrate her Bat
Mitzva, and how Nechama Dina Laber and the Rebbe's Candle Lighting
Campaign had brought things full circle.

Eliana will shortly be celebrating her Bat Mitzva, but not at Disney
Land. She is currently attending a two-week Bat Mitzva Camp in Troy,
together with 30 other girls her age. And Nechama Dina likes to share
this story of Divine providence and how every good action we do can have
a ripple effect that impacts not only on our own family but throughout
our entire community, as well.

    There are hundreds of Bat Mitzva Clubs run by Chabad-Lubavitch
    Centers around the world. Call your local Center to find out if they
    sponsor a club or, for a listing of all club locations, call Tzivos
    Hashem at (718) 467-6630 ext. 282.

The author, Dena Laber, is the sister-in-law of Nechama Dina Laber.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                              Renewed Vows

Above are the 10 couples who renewed their wedding vows, this time
according to Jewish law during the 16th Annual Gala Wedding at the Bris
Avrohom Center (Congregation Shomrei Torah-Ohel Yosef Yitzchok) in New
Jersey. The event was organized by Rabbi Mordechai and Shterney
Kanelsky, directors of Bris Avrohom. Bris Avrohom is dedicated to
bringing Jewish awareness and education to emigrants from the Former
Soviet Union.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                      22 Menachem Av, 5737 [1977]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received some information about the relationship at home, but I do not
know to what extent it reflects the actual situation.

Hence, I want to convey to you some thoughts in light of what the
relationship should be according to the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish
Law] - the Jew's practical guide in life. If the relationship is,
indeed, in keeping with it, the purpose of this letter will be to
strengthen and deepen it, as there is always room for improvement in all
matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and Mitzvos. On the other hand,
if it is not quite what it should be, I trust that, since the Torah is
surely "a lamp unto your feet," you will bring it up to the desired
level and you will do it with joy and gladness of heart.

The central point in the way of conducting a Jewish home and family life
is that it has to be based on the way of the Torah, "whose ways are ways
of pleasantness and all its paths are peace."

If this rule applies to all activities of a Jew, even outside the home,
how much more so within the home itself!

Of course, since G-d has created human beings with minds and feelings of
their own and these are not uniform in all, peace and harmony can be
achieved only on the basis of "give and take," that is, meeting each
other halfway. For a husband and wife to make concessions to each other
is not, and should not be considered, a sacrifice, G-d forbid. On the
contrary, this is what the Torah teaches and expects, for we are talking
about concessions that do not involve compromise in regard to the
fulfillment of Mitzvos, and both of you are of the same mind that the
laws of the Shulchan Aruch must not be compromised.

Furthermore, to achieve true peace and harmony calls for making such
concessions willingly and graciously - not grudgingly, as if it were a
sacrifice, as mentioned above, but in the realization that it is for the
benefit of one's self and one's partner in life, and for one's self
perhaps even more, since it is made in fulfillment of G-d's Will. And if
our Sages exhort every Jew "to receive every person with a friendly
face," certainly one's wife or husband.

Many are the sayings of our Sages, including also our Rebbes of saintly
memory, which urge husband and wife always to discuss matters of mutual
concern, and to give patient attention to the opinion of the other and
then act in mutual agreement. It is also very desirable that they should
have at least one regular shiur (study period) in a section of Torah
which is of interest to both, such as on the weekly Sedra [Torah
portion], or on a timely subject connected with a particular season or
festival, as for example now that we are approaching the month of Elul -
on prayer and Teshuvah [repentance], and similarly on the festivals of
Tishrei, and so forth.

It has been pointed out that while the major obligation to study Torah
is incumbent on men, it has been emphasized at the same time that women,
too, have to fulfill the Mitzvah of Torah study in areas where they are
directly involved, as explained in Hilchos Talmud Torah by the Alter
Rebbe [the Laws of Torah study as codified by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of
Liadi]. All the more so in the present day and age when women have the
possibility - hence the obligation - to do their share of spreading
Yiddishkeit not less than men.

If it may sometimes appear difficult for the husband to take time out
from his preoccupation with a Torah matter in order to discuss mutual
problems with his wife, or study Torah with her in another area, he
should not look at it as a sacrifice, but, on the contrary, should do it
eagerly in fulfillment of a most important Mitzvah - Sholom Bayis [a
harmonious marriage]. And if any Mitzvah has to be carried out with joy,
how much more so such a cardinal Mitzvah.

Finally I would like to add that of the Mitzvah Campaigns which have
been emphasized in recent years, special attention has been focused on
the Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel [love of a fellow Jew], which embraces
every Jew, even a stranger; how much more so to a near and dear one.

I hope and pray that each and both of you will make every effort in the
direction outlined above and will do so with real joy and gladness of
heart, and may G-d grant that you should have true Nachas [pleasure],
which is Torah Nachas, from each other and jointly from your offspring,
in happy circumstances materially and spiritually.

With blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
29 Av 5761

Positive mitzva 97: defilement through the carcass of certain creeping

By this injunction (Lev. 11:29-30) we are commanded concerning the
uncleanness of the eight varieties of creeping things: the weasel,
mouse, great lizard, gecko, land crocodile, lizard, sand lizard and
chameleon. The commandment includes the law of their uncleanness and the
related detailed rules.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The month of Elul is almost upon us, a time of introspection and
soul-searching. As the old year draws to a close, we take stock of our
behavior and make amends for any wrongs we may have committed. In
preparation for the New Year, we conduct an honest assessment of our
conduct, that we may be aroused to repentance and improvement of our
Divine service.

During Elul, a Jew can almost sense the difference in the air. Everyone
feels an inexplicable urge to draw closer to G-d, to increase in Torah
and mitzvot.

The G-dly soul that every Jew possesses automatically pulls him in the
direction of holiness. However, there are two basic ways to motivate a
person: the "carrot" and the "stick." Fear of punishment may yield the
desired results, but it usually causes more damage than benefit.

Historically, it was against this backdrop that the Baal Shem Tov and
his disciples first arose. In those days, itinerant preachers would "put
the fear of G-d" into simple Jews by vividly describing the punishments
that would befall them if they did not walk the straight and narrow.

The Chasidic approach, however, is the exact opposite. The Baal Shem Tov
emphasized the innate worth of every Jew, the value of serving G-d with
purity of heart, the immense power of prayer and the beauty of the
Jewish soul.

On countless occasions the Rebbe has declared that the way to draw a Jew
closer to Judaism is by spreading the light of Torah and mitzvot. "One
should explain to him the greatness of being a descendent of Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob...the 'only child' of the King of kings, the Holy One,
Blessed be He, and that his soul is 'a veritable part of G-d Above.'"

In Elul, G-d's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are manifested with
particular intensity. It should thus be a time of only emphasizing the
positive and increasing our love for our fellow Jew. In the merit of our
good deeds (especially the mitzva of charity), each and every one of us
will be found deserving, and G-d will inscribe us together with all the

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And you shall possess it and dwell in it (Deut. 11:31)

The very next verse continues: "And you shall take care to do all the
statutes and judgments which I set before you this day." From this we
learn that the mitzva to dwell in the Land of Israel is considered equal
to all of the Torah's commandments.


                                *  *  *

But when you go over the Jordan, and live in the land the L-rd your G-d
gives you to inherit, and when He gives you rest from all your enemies
around, so that you live in safety (Deut. 12:10)

At first glance this verse appears redundant. If G-d gives us rest from
all our enemies, wouldn't we automatically enjoy security and
protection? However, with these words the Torah is offering us surefire
advice: If you want G-d to take care of all your enemies, make sure that
"you live in safety" within your own camp. When Jews are united and
cohesive rather than divided into separate factions and groups, they
have nothing to fear from their adversaries, as our Sages said: "If
Israel were one cohesive unit, no nation or tongue would have power over

                                                    (Gelilei Zahav)

                                *  *  *

And all your children shall be taught of the L-rd; and great shall be
the peace of your children (Isaiah 54:13; from the haftorah)

The first Holy Temple was destroyed because the Jewish people did not
keep the Torah's laws properly. The second Holy Temple was destroyed
because of the sin of unwarranted hatred. The Prophet Isaiah, however,
assures us that in the Messianic era, neither of these negative factors
will affect the Third Holy Temple. "All your children shall be taught of
the L-rd" - all Jews will be knowledgeable and observe the Torah; "and
great shall be the peace of your children" - they will live together in
harmony and brotherhood.

                                                    (Afikei Yehuda)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
It happened once that some Chasidim of the Baal Shem Tov were sitting
and farbrenging together. The longer they shared their stories and
insights and sang their Chasidic melodies, the stronger their desire to
be with the Baal Shem Tov grew, till they impulsively decided to hire a
horse and wagon and set out for the Baal Shem Tov's town of Mezhibozh.

Their own shtetl was actually quite a distance from Mezhibozh; even if
they traveled non-stop for several days, there was only a small chance
they might make it before Shabbat. The wagon driver was less than
enthusiastic; as far as he was concerned there was no need to hurry, and
in his opinion, it was simply not possible to cover that many miles
before sundown on Friday. The roads were very bad, he pointed out, and
there were always unexpected obstacles and delays while traveling.

But the Chasidim could not be deterred. Logical considerations could not
compete with their intense longing to see their Rebbe. Without further
ado they were on their way.

The wagon driver soon had the horses at a gallop, running as fast as
they could under the circumstances. The roads were very narrow, wide
enough for only one vehicle. They were so narrow, in fact, that if
another vehicle were to appear, passing it on either side would be

As the Chasidim reached a fork in the road, at an intersection where
another path joined the main thoroughfare, an elegant carriage suddenly
pulled out in front of them. It was the carriage of the local poritz
(landowner), and he was clearly in no hurry to go anywhere. At a
leisurely pace his carriage ambled down the road, blocking all traffic.
The Chasidim were now stuck behind it, reduced to a crawl.

The wagon driver gritted his teeth; even the Chasidim were becoming
angry. The tiny chance they had to make it to Mezhibozh in time for
Shabbat was rapidly evaporating before their eyes.

One Chasid was more upset than the others. "I can't believe it!" he
complained. "After all our efforts, how can something so ridiculous
spoil our plans? Just because of this slowpoke we're going to miss out
on spending Shabbat with the Baal Shem Tov!"

Another Chasid, however, hastened to calm him down. "My dear brother,
how can you say such a thing? Why are you worried? Have you forgotten
what our master the Baal Shem Tov has taught us, that the Holy One,
Blessed Be He, directly supervises every minute detail in the world, and
that a leaf doesn't turn in the wind without Divine Providence? Does it
not state in the Torah, 'From Him no evil will descend'? Nothing bad can
come from on High, and indeed, everything is for the good. Whatever G-d
does is only good and for the best. The more we accustom ourselves to
thinking and acting accordingly, the more we will merit to see the good
that exists in everything openly revealed. How can it be that this basic
principle should be forgotten when it comes to actually implementing it
in our own lives? I tell you friend, this is only a trial..."

The Chasid's fervent plea entered the hearts of the others, and their
impatience disappeared. Their wagon could still only proceed at a
sluggish pace, but they were filled with renewed faith and confidence
that the unexpected delay was for the best.

The wagon continued over the next few miles until suddenly, another
potential problem appeared on the horizon. All the way up ahead, at the
next intersection, they could see a group of drunken peasants waiting to
pounce on the first wagon that passed by...

There was no doubt what the drunken peasants would have done to the
Chasidim if they had been alone on the road, or traveling ahead of the
poritz's carriage. No one would have stood up for the Jews or sought
justice for them after the fact. They would have simply received the
"usual" treatment drunken peasants knew so well how to mete out. The
Chasidim would have been grateful to have escaped with their lives, let
alone continue on their journey.

As it turned out, however, because the poritz's carriage was hogging the
right of way, the hooligans simply dispersed once they saw whom it
contained. By the time the Chasidim reached the intersection they had
all slunk away and the danger was over.

A few minutes later the poritz's carriage turned off onto a side road,
and the main thoroughfare was suddenly clear. With a crack of the whip
the horses were again at a gallop, and the Chasidim made it to Mezhibozh
before Shabbat - with plenty of time to spare.

From which we learn that even something that doesn't appear to be good
at first, may in fact be so in reality.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
When Israel asked Bilaam, "When will salvation come?" he answered them:
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh" (Num. 24:17). Said
the Holy One, blessed be He, to them: "Is this your sense? Do you not
know that Bilaam ... does not wish My salvation to come? Be like your
patriarch who said, "I wait for Your salvation, G-d (Gen. 49:18). Wait
for salvation for it is close at hand!" Thus it says, "For My salvation
is near to come" (Isaiah 56:1)

                                                 Shemos Rabba 30:24

                 END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 682 - Re'eh 5761

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