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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 689
                           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.
        October 12, 2001        Bereshis        25 Tishrei, 5762

                       One for All and All for...

Can you imagine listening to the Vienna BOY Choir, or reading about the
adventures of the ONE Musketeer? Or what if computer hardware and
software weren't compatible? So many examples abound of teamwork,
cooperation and compatibility that we take many of them for granted.

It shouldn't seem unusual, then, to expect the similar modes of behavior
from our fellow Jews. When we're around our brethren, whether at a
social or religious function, it's easy to notice the dissimilarities,
to get carried away with the differences. He's so tall, she's so skinny.
He's dressed rather conservatively, everything she's wearing is
designer. She's a lawyer and he's a doctor. He does this mitzva, she
doesn't do that one. The list can go on forever.

But once we get past the extraneous, non-essential components of a
person and uncover who he really "is," we come to realize that being
Jewish is an integral part of his or her life. We all share a common
past, and a common destiny that binds us together.

Teamwork and cooperation among Jews can produce astonishing results.
There is a Chasidic aphorism which declares: What a Chasidic farbrengen
(a gathering permeated with love of one's fellow Jew) can accomplish,
even the angel Michael cannot accomplish." Now, the angel Michael is
responsible for bestowing upon us the blessings of children, health and
wealth. That's a pretty impressive resume! But the aforementioned dictum
is teaching us that together, united, we have the power to do even more
than what the angel Michael is empowered by G-d to do.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, explained this concept
with an analogy: Children are naturally possessive of their own
belongings. They defend their own property from other children or horde
their possessions in a display of poor character traits. They do not
care about others and worry only about themselves and their own things.
This greatly distresses their parents and so, their parents put much
effort into training the children to share, to be kind and generous, and
to have other positive traits and form good habits. Time passes and the
parents watch their children and see that they care for others and are
not as concerned about their own "stuff" or "space." This gives the
parents tremendous pleasure and now they are more likely to grant
requests that the children may have.

This is how G-d reacts to us when He sees that we are united and
cooperative, and behave in a respectful and dignified manner toward one
another. When we act lovingly toward each other, G-d is more likely to
grant our requests for health, wealth and children, and our prayers for
peace for Israel and the entire world.

In an orchestra, there are dozens of musicians playing tens of different
instruments. Each musician has his own personality, temperament, goals.
Every instrument has a shape, sound, quality of its own. Somehow, all of
these disparities unite to bring music to our ears. If even one
instrument is out of tune, or one musician out of synch, the discord is
obvious and irritating to the listener. How much more so when we're
talking about an entire people.

We Jews often, maybe even always, have differences of opinion. Certainly
we look, talk, act and think differently. But the important thing to
remember is that we cannot let our numerous differences cause
disharmony, dissonance and discord. After all, where would we be without
teamwork? The cry of "One for One, and One for One" wouldn't have made
the Three Musketeers very famous.

As we read in Bereishit, the Torah begins with a description of
creation. "In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth." The
Sage Rabbi Isaac asks a logical question, quoted by the famous
commentator Rashi in his discussion of the Torah's very first verse: If
the Torah is a book of law, it should have begun with a commandment, the
first of which pertains to the calculation of months. Why then, does it
open with an account of creation?

Rabbi Isaac answers his own question, based on a verse in Psalms, "He
declared to His people the strength of His works, in order that He might
give them the heritage of the nations": "For should the peoples of the
world say to Israel, 'You are robbers, because you took by force the
lands of the seven nations of Canaan,' Israel may reply to them, 'All
the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He. He created it and gave
it to whom He pleased; when He so desired He gave it to them, and when
He so desired He took it from them and gave it to us."

This answer is surprising, as it seems to imply that the entire order of
the Torah was changed solely to counter the Gentiles' argument that the
Jewish people "stole" the Land of Israel. Is the Gentiles' claim really
so valid that it would justify such a drastic step? Moreover, why
wouldn't a refutation in the Oral Law (Mishna, Talmud, etc.) have been
sufficient? Why was it necessary to change the order of the Written Law
(the Five Books of Moses)?

We must therefore conclude that opening the Torah with "In the
beginning" is intended not only as an answer to the Gentiles, but also
contains an important teaching for the Jews themselves.

In general, the life of the Jew can be divided into two areas: the realm
of Torah and mitzvot, and the secular realm. When the Torah demands that
a Jew observe its commandments, the request is viewed as logical and
acceptable. But when it demands that a Jew's personal life also be
sanctified, that all of his actions be done for the sake of heaven, on
the surface it seems like an invasion of privacy.

Indeed, this is the deeper meaning of the argument, "You are robbers,
because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan." The
"seven nations of Canaan" are symbolic of the secular domain, the
physical, "earthly" aspects of a Jew's existence. By what right can a
Jew be expected to "take them by force" and subjugate even these areas
to the realm of holiness?

The answer is, "All the earth belongs to the Holy One." In truth, every
area of life belongs to G-d. Yes, G-d created a certain distinction
between the material and spiritual realms, but He also wants us to imbue
our physical existence with holiness. "When He so desired He gave it to
them [the secular realm], and when He so desired He took it from them
and gave it to us [to the realm of holiness]." When a Jew sanctifies all
areas of his life, he fulfills G-d's will and draws holiness down into
the physical world.

                             Adapted from Vol. 20 of Likutei Sichot

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                        Teach Your Children Well
       This article originally appeared in the Forward newspaper.
                             by S.A. Greene

When Arkady Baryshnikov returns to summer camp here in the Russian
village of Istra, he will receive a hero's welcome. He'll be applauded
and given gifts, and all the other boys at Camp Gan Israel will go out
of their way to do him favors. Nothing, after all, is too good for a boy
brave enough to volunteer for circumcision.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," Arkady, 8, said as he
climbed off the operating table above the Bolshaya Bronnaya synagogue in
Moscow, about two hours away from camp. "I thought it would hurt more,
but it doesn't. My head's spinning a bit, though." Mr. Baryshnikov, of
course, had the benefit of an anesthetic, something his mother didn't.
"I think I may have felt it more than he did, so far," she said. "I
couldn't sleep last night. And now, here he is bouncing around the

The two petrified 14-year-olds who were next in line for the mohel, or
ritual circumciser, eyed Arkady incredulously. "There's no way he's
already had it done," one whispered to the other. "He's too happy."

Like most young Russian Jews, Arkady was born into a family for which
Judaism was mostly a mystery. As a result, many of his campmates - and
indeed young Jewish boys across the former Soviet Union - were never
circumcised. It's an oversight many of the boys themselves are eager to

It's simply the most pointed example of how children are bringing
Judaism back into the homes of Russian Jews. While many older Jews may
not seek out religious activities on their own, they are often eager to
enroll their children in the programs organized by Jewish organizations,
which include the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. The
Federation, dominated by the Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidic movement, runs
Gan Israel, as well as camps in 32 other cities in the former Soviet

Summer camp has long been an integral part of Russian childhood. Almost
all Soviet children spent time away from their parents at Young Pioneer
camps, at which they received their Communist indoctrination. Most of
those camps have since closed or been taken over by other organizations
- Gan Israel uses an old Young Pioneer facility - but private camps are
too expensive for most families. Jewish camps, on the other hand,
provide a wholesome experience and good facilities at an affordable
price: Gan Israel costs only $37 for the summer.

Camp, of course, is camp, be it in upstate New York or in the suburbs of
Moscow. Most of a camper's day is spent playing, swimming and capturing
the flag. But for an hour each morning, the youngsters at Gan Israel
study the Hebrew alphabet, and for an hour each evening they learn the
basics of Jewish tradition. Upon arrival, boys are given yarmulkes and
tzitzit, or ritual fringes, and while wearing them is optional, almost
all of the boys do.

"It's a Jewish experience that happens to be a summer camp," said Noam
Osband, a Harvard student and volunteer counselor at Gan Israel. "After
three weeks," he added, "these kids can read Hebrew. Imagine achieving
that in the U.S."

Each day at Gan Israel is dedicated to a different Jewish holiday for
the campers not only to study, but to experience - on "Passover," for
example, matza is served. The whole camp prays every morning and evening
and, of course, on the Sabbath. Because the camp is sponsored by
Chabad-Lubavitch, all meals are strictly kosher. The same is true of all
of the Federation camps, with differing levels of observance offered at
camps run by other groups, including the Russian Jewish Congress, the
Va'ad and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

"The most important thing is to feed the kids Yiddishkeit: to show them
what keeping Shabbos is, what tying tefilin is, making Jewish friends
and being proud of having a Jewish identity," said Alexander Kaller, a
Russian-born New Yorker and director of Gan Israel.

What the campers take home with them varies. Some will simply beg their
parents to send them back next year, while others ask to enroll in
Jewish Day Schools, of which there are almost 100 in the former Soviet
Union. The schools, the youth groups and the camps are virtually all
oversubscribed, a mark of the children's enthusiasm and their parents'
willingness to indulge them. Almost all of the children, though, will
prod their parents toward greater observance, Mr. Kaller said, in some
cases even dragging the whole family to the synagogue.

"One boy even told me he wanted to grow up to be Chief Rabbi of Russia,"
said Levi Yurkovich, a volunteer counselor from Israel. "A lot of these
kids come from broken homes and very poor homes. Here, they have
everything they need, and they have fun, and they learn to associate
that happiness with Judaism."

The gifts go beyond a little Jewish education. One of Mr. Yurkovich's
charges showed up for three weeks of camp with a single pair of socks
and some well-worn sneakers - they were all that he had. So the
counselors got together and bought him what he needed, as they have done
for countless other campers. It's in part that charitable inclination
that brings volunteers such as Mr. Yurkovich, Mr. Osband and Mr. Kaller
to Russia to work alongside local staff.

"There are probably better camps in the world, and maybe even in
Russia," Mr. Yurkovich said. "The counselors have come here to help
people. We're here working for the kids, and I think that's why they
like the camp."

Arkady was eager to get started back to camp less than 15 minutes after
his circumcision, but a bit of rest and recuperation was advised. So
instead, he launched into a protracted argument with his mother about
his new Hebrew name. She wanted Shalom, he insisted on Yehoshua, and
both got a little agitated as Arkady's counselor, bemused, looked on.

"That's the other reason we usually do this on babies," he said.

       Reprinted with permission from the Forward,
                    For subscription information call 866-399-7900.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                          Simchat Torah March

Joy and enthusiasm were enfused into Simchat Torah celebrations when
over 3,000 Lubavitcher Chasidim walked to synagogues in Brooklyn, Queens
and parts of Manhattan on Tuesday, October 9 from Lubavitch World
Headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. For over three decades via
these annual marches, the Lubavitch Youth Organization has sent out
delegates to bring the simple message of rejoicing on the holiday to
Jews in small and large congregations alike. Some of the marchers, who
range in age from five to 70, walk for over three hours to reach their
destination. Many of the Chasidim are themselves visitors to this great
metropolis, having came from abroad to spend the holidays in the Rebbe's

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     15th of Cheshvan, 5723 [1962]

Sholom uBrocho [Peace and Blessing]:

Having wound up the holy days of Tishrei with Simchas Torah, the
concluding message is to carry the spirit of Simcha [happiness] with the
Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments] into every day of the new year,
especially in the light of Chassidus, which demands enthusiasm and joy
in every activity connected with Torah and Mitzvoth, especially in the
field of Chinuch [Jewish education].

Please convey my regards and good wishes to all the members of the ...
family, who are also included in this letter,

With blessing

                                *  *  *

                    13th of Marcheshvan, 5741[1980]

To All Participants in the
Chabad Lubavitch Concert
Seattle, Wash.

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed of the forthcoming Concert, and extend
prayerful wishes to all of you to make this outstanding annual event a
complete success.

This year, being a Year of Hakhel, adds a special dimension to all
Torah-related activities, as has been emphasized on various occasions
recently. True, the Mitzvah of Hakhel - assembling all the people, the
men, women and children in the Beis Hamikdosh [Holy Temple] once in
seven years, for the purpose of encouraging them toward a greater and
deeper commitment to the Torah and Mitzvos cannot physically be
fulfilled nowadays (until such time as the Beis Hamikdosh will be

But spiritually there are no restrictions of time and place, and every
one of us must strive to attain the same objective, namely, unifying all
our Jewish people into one kohol [congregation], as one organic body,
permeated with fear of G-d and love of G-d and complete dedication to
the way of G-d, the way of the Torah and Mitzvos in the everyday life.

When it comes to communication and influence, the spoken word has
certain limitations. First of all, the language must be common to the
speaker and the audience, and the message must be on the intellectual
level of each particular listener, both in regard to content and

These conditions cannot ordinarily be adequately fulfilled when one
addresses a vast audience of men, women, and children, of different
backgrounds and walks of life. This is why Hakhel was such an
extraordinary and unique experience in that it did unify all the Jewish
people and evoked in them the same immediate and lasting response.

Here is where the Niggun [wordless melody] has a supreme advantage over
the spoken word. A hearty Niggun, especially a Chabad Niggun, touches
the innermost core of the Jewish heart, which is alive in every Jew, man
and woman, regardless of age, knowledge and intellectual level.

However, needless to say, with all the importance of inspiration and
enthusiasm ultimately it is the resulting action that counts, for
"action is the essential thing," namely, the actual performance of the
Mitzvos every day, with vitality and joy. Herein lies the real Hatzlocho
[success] of the Concert, and may G-d grant that it will be realized in
the fullest measure.

With esteem and blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
4 Tishrei 5762

Prohibition 266: coveting another's belongings

By this prohibition we are forbidden to set our thoughts to covet and
desire what belongs to another, because this will lead to scheming to
acquire it. It is derived from the Torah's words (Deut. 5:18), "Neither
shall you desire your neighbor's house."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
As explained in the mystical Zohar, one of the many "job descriptions"
of King Moshiach is that he will bring even the righteous (tzadikim) to
repentance. On the surface, this seems contradictory. If they are truly
tzadikim, why will they have to repent? And if they really do have
something to repent about, how can they be called righteous?

Chasidic philosophy resolves the problem by explaining that when
Moshiach comes, the righteous will not have to atone for any sins.
Rather, in doing teshuva (literally returning to G-d), they will
simultaneously combine the advantage of the righteous person who never
sinned, with the advantage of one who returns in penitence. To explain:

A tzadik lives his life exactly as G-d wants him to, observing Torah and
mitzvot without ever committing any transgressions. His entire life is
spent in the realm of sanctity and holiness.

A baal teshuva (penitent), by contrast, has the advantage of actually
being able to transform darkness into light. Precisely because he
wandered so far afield, his desire to cleave to G-d is even stronger
than the tzadik's. His love for G-d is so intense that even his
deliberate sins are turned into merits.

When Moshiach comes, the righteous will do teshuva in the sense of
ascending to ever-higher levels of connection with G-d. When all
mankind, tzadikim included, will witness the infinite holiness of the
Messianic era, even the highest spiritual levels already attained will
seem like nothing, and they will be aroused to unprecedented heights,
with the energy and vigor of baalei teshuva. This, of course, will be
accomplished by Moshiach, who will open the whole world's eyes to the
underlying G-dly reality of existence.

May it happen at once.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
In the beginning G-d created ("Bereishit bara Elokim") (Gen. 1:1)

When the final letters of "Bereishit bara Elokim" (tav, alef and mem)
are rearranged the result is the word "emet," truth, spelled alef, mem
and tav. These are also the opening letters of the Ten Commandments
("Anochi"), the Mishna ("Me'eimatai") and the Gemara ("Tana"), as it
states in Psalms (119:160), "The beginning of Your word is truth, and
every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever."

                                                     (Iturei Torah)

                                *  *  *

In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1)

The first verse in the entire Torah consists of seven Hebrew words -
"Bereishit bara Elokim eit hashamayim ve'eit ha'aretz." These are
symbolic of the seven days of the week, the seven years of the
Sabbatical cycle, the seven Sabbatical years in a Jubilee, the seven
celestial firmaments, the seven lands, and the seven planets in the sky.

                                                     (Baal HaTurim)

                                *  *  *

It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help to
match him (Gen. 2:18)

As we learn from G-d's actions in the creation of the world, every man
is obligated to do three things, and in this particular order: build a
home, plant a vineyard, and marry a woman. For indeed, the Holy One,
Blessed be He, first built a house (i.e., created the world), filled it
with various provisions and means of livelihood, and only afterward
created Adam and his wife.

                                                  (Yalkut Reuveini)

                                *  *  *

The L-rd G-d called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? (Gen. 3:9)

From this we learn that one should never burst into another person's
home unannounced. Indeed, we derive proper manners from G-d Himself, Who
"stood" at the entrance to the Garden of Eden and initiated a
conversation with Adam before entering.

                                                     (Derech Eretz)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Many years ago there was a man who occupied a high ministerial position
in the Spanish government. When the official was accused of being a
secret Jew, he was arrested by priests and subjected to a trial by
Church authorities. He was found guilty - like everyone else accused of
the same crime - and sentenced to death by burning. However, the
minister was well connected and was a personal friend of the Spanish
king. Even though such matters fell under the jurisdiction of the
priests and had nothing to do with royal affairs, the king requested
that the sentence be postponed for a year, to allow the minister to
transfer his official responsibilities to another person and to assure a
smooth transition. The Church authorities agreed and the auto-da-fe was

After the year was up the king once again asked for a postponement, this
time for a month. The next month he asked for another week, and the
following week, for another day. But the day of execution finally
arrived, and the entire city was invited to witness the event in the
center of the city's square, which had been specially prepared for the
public spectacle.

Before the sentence could be carried out, however, a massive earthquake
shook the very spot where the minister was about to meet his death.
Pandemonium broke out as the crowds tried to run away, and many were
trampled and died. In the midst of all the tumult the minister was able
to escape. With the clandestine help of the king he succeeded in fleeing
the country.

Now, this particular minister was an intellectual and a philosopher. As
such, he felt compelled to understand the nature of the event that had
just transpired. Was the sudden earthquake just a coincidence that saved
his life at the very minute he was about to be executed, or had G-d
performed a special miracle on his behalf? The minister decided to study
the matter, and, based on his findings, act accordingly: If he concluded
that the earthquake was merely coincidental he would continue to hide
his Jewish identity, but if he came to believe that it was a miracle he
would live openly as a Jew, for he was no longer under the jurisdiction
of the Spanish authorities.

In his quest to understand the matter he sought the opinion of the
greatest minds in Germany. He made sure, however, to never reveal that
he was the individual involved in the case, saying instead that he had
heard of such an occurrence and that he found it intriguing. Each wise
man had a different opinion on the subject, but the minister was unable
to accept any of their conclusions. He was still undecided what to do
when he learned of the existence of a very great tzadik, Rabbi Yisrael
Baal Shem Tov. He decided to pay him a visit to ask his help.

Entering the courtyard of the Baal Shem Tov, the minister passed someone
standing in the yard, grooming the horses. This was Reb Zev Kitzes, one
of the Baal Shem Tov's students. The minister asked him where the Baal
Shem Tov lived, and was shown the right house. As soon as he entered the
door, and before he had even announced his presence, he was greeted with
the following words: "Peace upon you, O Spanish Minister!" The man froze
in his tracks, for no one, during all his travels, had yet identified
him. He realized that he was in the presence of a holy man. As he stood
rooted to the spot, unable to speak, the Baal Shem Tov continued: "As
far as your question is concerned, my student, the person you passed
standing near the horses on your way in will provide the answer."

The minister went outside and explained his predicament to Reb Kitzes.
"Let us assume," replied the disciple, "that ever since the Six Days of
Creation it was preordained that on that very spot, at that very moment,
an earthquake would take place. The very fact that your death sentence
was scheduled to be carried out at that very moment, not one second
before or after, is an indisputable miracle."

This explanation was immediately acceptable to the minister, whose mind
was finally put at ease. Thenceforth he lived openly as a Jew and became
a Chasid of the Baal Shem Tov.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
On the Shabbat which precedes the new moon, a blessing is recited over
the new month and the day on which it falls is announced in the
synagoguge. This public blessing commemorates the act of sanctifying the
new month which was performed by the Sanhedrin. At that time, the
Rabbinical Court would verify the sighting of the new moon and recite
three blessings over a cup of wine. The third blessing was a prayer for
the coming of Elijah, the appearance of Moshiach and the rebuilding of
the Holy Temple.

                           (Book of Our Heritage by Rabbi E. Kitov)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 689 - Bereshis 5762

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