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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 714
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                           Copyright (c) 2002
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
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        April 12, 2002       Sazria-Metzora       30 Nisan, 5762
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                                Act It!

"You're smart." "You're cute." "You've got a great sense of humor."

These might be some of the appellations that were lavishly applied to
you as a child or young adult.

Even if you weren't born SO smart or SO funny, you became smarter and
funnier just because you believed you were and had that self-confidence.

With this in mind, try this moniker on for size. "You are a tzadik - a
righteous person!"  Now, say it over and over again to yourself a couple
of times. "I am right-eous, I am righteous, I am righteous." Doesn't
that feel good? Doesn't it make you want to do a good turn for someone,
to put a few coins in a charity box, to let the car cut in front of you?

"Every Jew has a portion in the World to Come as it says, 'Your people
are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever; they are the
branch of My planting, the work of My hands, in which to take pride.' "

This verse from the Talmud is how we begin the weekly study of Pirkei
Avot each Shabbat afternoon. The study of Pirkei Avot (roughly
translated as "Ethics of the Fathers"), is meant to enhance and
reinforce the ethical and moral fiber of all who read it through the
sound and wholesome advice of our Sages.

Week after week, when we begin Pirkei Avot, we are reminded that each
and every Jew, including you and I, are ultimately righteous. What
enables us to claim this noble title is the actual spark of G-dliness
that every Jew has within.

"But, wait a minute," you're thinking. "I know my neighbor never does
'xyz' even though he's supposed to. And he always does 'abc' even though
the Torah says not to. How can you say that he's righteous?"

Rabbi Moses Maimonides, in his laws of repentance, writes: "The
reckoning of sins and merits is not calculated on the basis of the mere
number of merits and sins, but on the basis of their magnitude as well.
Some solitary merits can outweigh many sins. The weighing of sins and
merits can be carried out only according to the wisdom of the
All-Knowing G-d: He alone knows how to measure merits against sins." So
don't judge your neighbor so harshly. In fact, it is actually a mitzva
(comman-dment) to judge others favorably. Better yet, don't judge him at
all!

The Talmud teaches that before a soul - the spark of G-dliness within
every Jew - comes down into a body, it is administered an oath. "Be
righteous and don't be wicked; and even if the whole world tells you
that you are righteous, consider yourself as wicked."

Why are we told to consider ourselves as wicked? Is the Talmud
encouraging us to think depressing thoughts! No, far from it. It is just
that we should constantly be striving to grow in our observance, to do
more mitzvot, to learn more. If we think that we're on a level where we
are already righteous, then we might decide that we can sit back and
relax; we won't push ourselves. We should perceive ourselves as wicked
when we start becoming satisfied with our spiritual achievements, when
we become lazy about our need to constantly do more, to attain new
heights.

"Your people are all righteous!"

Keep this thought in mind the next time you have the opportunity to do a
mitzva, or the next time you might be tempted to do something the Torah
prohibits.

To illustrate this last point, imagine you're getting ready to bite into
a mouth-watering eclair when your friend on the other end of the phone
says, "I've been meaning to tell you how great you look since you lost
weight." Of course, you quickly put down the calorie-laden pastry.

By reminding yourself that you are righteous - like the friend who told
you how great you look - you'll have the confidence to do what needs to
be done.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
This week two Torah portions are read, Tazria and Metzora. Metzora deals
with the various types of illness known as tzaraat (similar to but not
the same as leprosy) and the purification procedure one had to undergo
after suffering that affliction. Yet on another level, tzaraat signifies
something deeper than just a skin condition or disorder.

Surprisingly enough, Moshiach is often referred to as a leper. The
Talmud calls Moshiach a "leper," for "he suffers our burdens, and our
maladies are his. He is therefore afflicted, stricken by G-d and
tortured."

But Moshiach is considered a "leper" only during the exile, before the
Final Redemption takes place. For, although Moshiach exists in every
generation, he is not yet in a revealed state even though his essence is
whole and unchanged. He must therefore suffer the pain of the Jewish
nation and bear the burdens of exile together with them.

But what is the nature of Moshiach's suffering? Tzaraat, as pointed out
by Chasidic philosophy, is a disease affecting only the "skin of his
flesh." It is an illness which disfigures only the external layer, and
does not involve internal organs or even the flesh itself. Leprosy
therefore symbolizes a state in which a person's inner being remains
unaffected, despite the outward manifestation of disease.

The leper represents a person whose inner self has already been purified
and refined. All that remains is for the outermost shell, the husk, to
be cleansed. In Moshiach's case, this outer layer consists of the Jewish
people's collective infirmities.

This, then, is the condition in which we find ourselves today, on the
threshold of the Messianic era. On the one hand, it appears as if we are
still afflicted with many plagues, but in truth our afflictions are only
external, for the essence of the Jewish people has been refined and
cleansed by the long years of exile.

The laws of purification delineated in this week's portion also parallel
the process of Moshiach's revelation and the purification the Jewish
people must go through when he is revealed. Moshiach, too, impatiently
awaits the day  he will no  longer  suffer  and G-d will bring the final
Redemption, speedily in our day.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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                             SLICE OF LIFE
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                          Chabad To The Rescue
                         by Leslie Aliza Seigel


               Excerpted from the on-line book Remember Mount Sinai
                               (http://members.tripod.com/lseigel/)

I found out there was a Chabad House at the University of Miami about 10
minutes from where I lived. I decided to go and check it out; I thought
it might give me a chance to meet other Jews like myself who were also
searching for answers and exploring their lives as Jews. Eventually I
started going to the Chabad House regularly.

The rabbi there was Dovid Eliezrie. He was a real character, but the
truth is that I wouldn't be married to my husband and be where I am
today if it wasn't for Dovid Eliezrie. He put up with a lot of crazy
students back then, including me.

Rabbi Eliezrie suggested that I write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and ask
him to give me a Jewish name. Nearly every Jewish boy and girl is given
a Jewish name shortly after birth, but my parents had never given me a
Jewish name. So I sent the Rebbe some poetry I had written, and I told
him that since I thought it was very important for every Jew to have a
Jewish name, would he please give me one. What I didn't tell the Rebbe
was that years before, a teacher in my temple said I should use the name
Leah, and I actually had used it for a while. All I knew about Leah at
that time was that she was not the patriarch Jacob's first choice as a
wife, and I didn't want a name that meant I was picked second. Of
course, I now know what a righteous woman our matriarch Leah was and
that anyone named for her should feel truly honored. Anyway, I thought
it would be really rude of me to ask the Rebbe to give me any Jewish
name except Leah, so I didn't mention any of this in my letter to the
Rebbe.

I still remember the moment when Rabbi Eliezrie told me what the Rebbe's
secretary had said to him over the phone. The Rebbe had given me the
name Alizah, which I thought was a beautiful name. The Rebbe also said
that though it is very important for every Jew to have a Jewish name,
"It is even more, more (the Rebbe emphasized the word 'more' by
repeating it) important to live a Jewish way of life every single day."

I understood what the Rebbe meant. He obviously knew how inconsistent I
was at the time in deciding to keep Torah and mitzvot (commandments). I
decided to hang in there and try a little harder to stay on that path.
And from that moment on, Rabbi Eliezrie always called me Alizah.

Rabbi Eliezrie continued to make a genuine effort to reach out, not only
to me, but to my family as well. He came to visit us at our home, and he
invited us to his home for the Passover seders. He really made us feel
like friends. He tried to reach out to every Jew he could. Once, he
planned a whole weekend Shabbaton in Tallahassee, and I decided to go.
Rides to the Shabbaton were scheduled to leave very late Thursday
evening. My mother drove me to the Chabad House.

I shared a ride with Rabbi Eliezrie, an even crazier rabbi named Kasriel
Brusowankin and two other people. In typical Lubavitch style we arrived
late, and things were really hopping. It was almost Shabbat, and I
watched as Rabbi Eliezrie hurriedly poured tomato sauce all over pans of
chicken. When he ran out of tomato sauce, he started squirting ketchup
all over and shoving the pans into the oven.

That evening, the speaker was a wonderful psychologist from Palo Alto,
California named Dr. Judah Landes. He began by telling us that there
were two things his mother was always asking him to do, lose weight and
put on tefilin. When his son was about to have his Bar Mitzva and put on
tefilin, Dr. Landes thought that maybe he should also start putting
tefilin on. But every time he started to put them on, he would begin to
cry like a baby. Although he didn't understand what was happening to
him, it turned out to be the beginning of the journey that would bring
him back to Torah. Dr. Landes explained how certain actions of a Jew
lead to the awakening of the Pintele Yid, the spark of Jewishness which
exists inside of every Jew. With Dr. Landes, his little spark was
awakened simply through his action of trying to put on tefilin. I
enjoyed how he spoke from his heart, and what he said certainly sparked
something inside of me.

I felt comfortable enough to go up and talk to him after his speech. I
told him that I thought I might want to live a Jewish way of life, but I
had this really great Catholic boyfriend, so what should I do? Well, he
looked me straight in the eye and said, "You have to break up with him.
You'll do it now and you'll understand why later." Dr. Landes was right.

The next morning, Rabbi Brusowankin taught a class at the Shabbaton. I
was really impressed with the way he spoke so highly of "the Jewish
woman," and especially of his wife Tzippora. I remember thinking, "This
guy is okay; he really appreciates his wife." Later, some of us were
having a discussion with him about why Orthodox Jews never exercise, and
Rabbi Brusowankin said he got plenty of exercise lifting his kids up and
down. Then someone pointed to Rabbi Brusowankin's stomach and said,
"Then why do you have that?" Rabbi Brusowankin sat back, smiled, patted
his stomach and proudly replied, "This is a Cholent stomach." Lubavitch
rabbis are always ready with a good answer for everything.

I really did enjoy myself that weekend, and I learned a lot more about
Jewish life as it should be than I ever expected. I learned from
watching Rabbi Eliezrie that Jewish men were more than adequate in the
kitchen when they needed to be. I learned from Dr. Landes, who told me
plain and simply that Jews were not meant to be married to non-Jews, no
matter how great the relationship seemed to be. And I learned from Rabbi
Brusowankin that a Jewish man is incomplete without a Jewish woman, and
also that it is the woman who sets the whole tone for her family.

I was beginning to think that maybe these Jews were not so crazy after
all.

*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                           RESCUE FLIGHT #61

Amidst the violence, Cher-nobyl parents continue to send their children
to Israel for health care. This past month 22 children from the
contaminated regions of Ukraine and Belarus arrived in Israel on
Chabad's Children of Chernobyl's 61st rescue flight, bringing to 2,177
the number of children brought to Israel since 1990. The children live
on special campuses in Kfar Chabad where they receive health care and
education.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                       20th of Iyar, 5713 [1953]

Sholom B'Brocho [Peace and Blessing]:

I was pleased to receive your letter. You need not excuse yourself for
writing in English, and should not hesitate to continue to do so. The
important thing is that your letters should contain good news.

I was gratified to note in your letter that you feel the need and urge
to devote more time to learn Torah, and that to increase the amount of
Tzedoko [charity] cannot make good the deficiency in the time of study.
That this is true, we can see from physical life. Each organ of the body
must receive its nourishment, and although strength in one indirectly
benefits also the rest, each and every one must receive its own blood
and nourishment. Spiritually, the soul has its own 248 "organs" and 365
"blood vessels," namely the positive and negative precepts,
respectively, which make up the spiritual stature of the Jew. And
although a greater effort in one Mitzvah [commandment] benefits the
whole organism, each Mitzvah has its own function which cannot be
substituted by another.

I trust this feeling of the need for more time for study, which springs
from an inner desire for Torah, will be translated into practical deed,
and without loss of time, and that you will go from strength to
strength, as our Sages rule: "Maalin b'Kodesh" [ascend in holiness].

Your determination to give Tzedoko above Maaser [the commandment of
donating 10% of one's income to charity], is certainly praiseworthy, and
in addition to all else, it is a Segulah ["catalyst"] for good business
and avoidance of losses, so that not only would your anxiety about your
surplus stock prove unfounded, but even bring a profit, in accordance
with the words of our Sages "Aser bishvil shetisasher [tithe to become
wealthy]."

I am looking forward to receiving good news about your coming addition
to the family. It would be advisable to have all the Mezuzoth checked in
the meantime.

May G-d help you and your wife to raise children to a life of Torah,
Chuppah [marriage] and Maasim Toivin [good deeds], and that you continue
to increase your share of Torah and Mitzvoth.

With blessing,

                                *  *  *


                    11th of Menachem Av, 5714 [1954]

Sholom uBrocho:

I have received your letter of August 5th, and in compliance with your
request I will remember you in prayer for improved business on my next
visit at the holy resting place of my father-in-law of saintly memory.

I am sorry to note some discouragement in your outlook by reason of the
setback you had in business. Surely you know that our Sages refer to the
"wheel" of fortune, and after a turn of the wheel downward must come a
turn upward, but a lack of faith does not help it. Besides, there is
also the psychological effect, and a lack of courage and assurance
brings with it a lessening of initiative, etc. Actually there has been a
general business recession, and your setback was not exceptional, while
the worst in business seems to be over.

In view of all of the above, it is my decided opinion that you have no
cause for worry, and you should be quite firm in your faith in G-d that
things will improve.

While doing everything necessary in a natural way one should never
forget that it is G-d's blessing which brings success, and G-d is not
limited to business cycles, so that as long as you keep the channels of
Torah and Mitzvoth wide open, especially in everything connected with
the Jewish home, you should have every confidence in the flow of G-d's
blessings.

I trust your brother conveyed my regards to your son's Bar Mitzvah, for
he had told me that he expected to be in Manchester on that occasion. I
wish you and your wife much Chassidishe Nachas [Chasidic pleasure].

With blessing,

*********************************************************************
                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
*********************************************************************
3 Iyar 5762

Prohibition 216: sowing grain or vegetables in a vineyard

By this prohibition we are forbidden to sow grain or vegetables in a
vineyard. It is derived from the Torah's words (Deut. 22:9): "You shall
not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed." The prohibition also
applies to grafting trees of diverse kinds.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
This Shabbat we begin the month of Iyar. In the Torah, Iyar is referred
to as the second month, since it is the second month from Nisan. It is
also called Ziv--the month of radiance (Kings I)--because the sun's
radiance begins to grow. Iyar is also a month of healing, for the
generation of Jews who came out of Egypt were healed this month from all
their illnesses, as they prepared to receive the Torah. In fact, the
word Iyar spelled in Hebrew letters is an acronym for the verse, "I G-d
am your Healer."

The month of Iyar for the generation of the desert was, in essence, a
foretaste of the Messianic Era when we will witness ultimate physical
and spiritual bliss. According to the Midrash (Breishit Rabba) everyone
will be healed of all their diseases. At the time of the Redemption, we
are told, G-d will take the sun out of the special sheath in which He
enclosed it. These special rays of the sun which had previously been
hidden are healing rays and will cure everyone of all their ailments.
The blind, the deaf, and the mute, anyone who has any illness or
disease, any blemish or disability, will be healed.

Death itself will cease, as the Prophet Isaiah said, "Death will be
swallowed up forever and G-d will wipe the tears from every face."

When will these miracles occur? There are two stages to the Redemption.
The first stage is the one about which Maimonides writes, "The world
will follow its normal course." This stage is a precursor for the
second, later stage when we will see changes in the conduct of the
world. The laws of nature will be changed to what they were originally
intended to be, that is, as they functioned while Adam and Eve were
still in the Garden of Eden. At this time we will see the actual
fulfillment of our Prophets' words such as the wolf at peace with the
lamb, etc.

It is in this second stage that we will witness the Resurrection of the
Dead--the belief in which is the last of the Thirteen Principles of
Faith as expounded by Maimonides. In this second stage, G-d will be
revealed in all of His Glory.

May the month of Iyar truly be a month of healing--spiritual, physical
and emotional healing for the Jewish people and the entire world.

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
He shall shave off all his hair-his head, his beard, and his eyebrows.
(Lev. 14:9)

The plagues that are mentioned in this week's Torah portions came as
punishment for three things: haughtiness, gossip, and jealousy.
Therefore, the cleansing process for one afflicted with leprosy was done
in the following order: First, the hair on the head was shaved off,
because the person's excessive pride caused him to desire to be above
others; second, the hair of the beard was removed, because he did not
control his mouth and spoke slanderously against his fellow man; and
third, the eyebrows were shaved off, as they did not prevent his eyes
from looking narrowly and with avarice at the possessions of others.

                                                       (Klai Yakar)

                                *  *  *


The priest will command him to take... cedar wood, and a string of
scarlet yarn, and hyssop (Lev. 14:4)

The great commentator Rashi explains: These plagues come to punish
excessive pride. How does one atone for this and become well? By
humbling himself like the above inanimate objects.

                                *  *  *


The Kotzker Rebbe once remarked: Our rabbis have always emphasized that
the performance of mitzvot (commandments) requires proper devotions.
Indeed, when mitzvot are performed with the proper intentions, their
worth is immeasurable. However, there is one mitzva which cannot be
performed for its own sake: humility. If you are trying to be humble, it
is really just a form of pride.

                                *  *  *


But if he be poor, and his means do not suffice... (Lev. 14:21)

The reason that it is permissible for a poor man to bring a smaller
offering than a wealthy man, is that his poverty itself is an atonement,
and through it he is cleansed of his sin.

                                                (Tchelet Mordechai)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
The young woman rose early. She hurriedly dressed in the half-light,
making her way down the hill. Her attention was taken up by thoughts of
the future. Following the sound of melodious voices, she arrived at the
House of Prayer, and took up her usual position outside. It was here she
came every morning, to sit upon the large rock and allow the sounds to
enter her and fill her soul.

From the moment she knew there was life within her, her plan was clear.
She would go every day to the House of Prayer and then to all the Houses
of Study. Her child, though yet to be born, would gradually come to know
the sounds of the holy words of Torah.

When asked where she was going, she would reply, "I am going to the
House of Prayer, so that my baby can hear the holy words." No one could
fathom her design; but to her it was perfectly clear.

On this particular cold, winter day, she sat immersed in her own prayer
to the One Above to bless her child with wisdom and the ability to toil
in His Torah. She sat until the scholars emerged. Shyly, she approached
the first: "Please, bless my child with wisdom." The old man smiled at
the young woman whose presence no longer surprised him. "May your child
shine with the light of Torah," he replied. She then continued on to the
various Houses of Study where she would sit beneath the open windows,
the words of Torah permeating her essence.

The months passed. The young woman still made her early morning rounds,
but now she was accompanied by her new son, her precious treasure.

She still visited both the Houses of Prayer and the Houses of Study, but
now she propped up the small baby in his cradle which she carried from
home. And from the early morning until the heat of the day had passed,
the tiny baby sat, dozed, ate, and dozed again while the sacred melodies
of Torah learning filled the air, enveloping him and filtering into his
consciousness. The young mother was joyful with her lot and confident in
the future of her small child, Yehoshua.

                                *  *  *


Rabbi Yehoshua was tired. The road to Rome was long and difficult. But,
thank G-d, his mission had met with success. His nerve-wracking debates
with the vicious Hadrian had yielded the hoped for result-the severe
decrees against the Jews had been rescinded. He could return to Yavne in
peace, with good news for all his fellow Jews. Rabbi Yehoshua was
enjoying his repose. Rabbi Yehoshua's thoughts turned to home. He longed
to return to the Holy Land, to resume learning Torah with his beloved
comrades, to enjoy the serenity of life's routines.

He was immersed in reverie when he was jolted by the appearance of a
young Roman woman who stood  before him with a saucy look on her face.

"So, you are Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chanania," she said with  disdain.

"So, I am," answered Rabbi Yehoshua, for even in his humility he was
aware that his fame extended to Rome. His wisdom, though, was equalled
by his penetrating insight and deep-felt love for his fellowman.

"I have heard many tales recounting your wisdom," she replied. "But
never would I have imagined that G-d would pick such an ugly vessel for
his wisdom!"

Rabbi Yehoshua smiled at the girl's rude, but honest description of his
appearance. He thought for only a moment and looked her in the eye,
"Tell me, does your father have much old wine?"

"Yes, of course. We have quite extensive cellars," the girl answered.

"Well," he continued, "how does your father store the wine?"

"In clay jugs, of course."

"Can he not afford silver casks?" asked Rabbi Yehoshua, feigning
surprise.

"Certainly he could, but everyone knows that wine will spoil if it is
stored in silver. Clay is the proper material for preserving wine."

"Ah, now you have your answer! The Creator of the World knows the proper
receptacle for his wisdom, and thus has He created me! So, if you have
some complaint, you must take it to my Creator!"

The Roman woman was both embarrassed and impressed by Rabbi Yehoshua's
discourse with her. She quickly took her leave, murmuring apologies, but
as for Rabbi Yehoshua, he was unperturbed by the whole encounter.

Back in Yavne, Rabbi Yehoshua felt an immense relief. Now, life's
rhythms could begin anew; and to him life was synonymous with Torah. And
for his great learning and his loving nature, he was loved by all whom
he touched. The years accumulated greatness and honor, but Rabbi
Yehoshua's aim never changed.

One day, already an old man, Rabbi Yehoshua sat with his students
exploring a question in Jewish law. Was it incumbent upon the parents to
bring their small children to hear the reading of the Torah during the
Hakhel year? Rabbi Yehoshua listened to the discussion, and then related
the story of how his mother would rise before dawn to sit beneath the
open windows and allow her child to absorb the feel and essence of the
holy words. All his life, Rabbi Yehoshua continued, he recalled his
mother with blessing, for it was she who instilled in him the holiness
to which his soul became attached.

Rabbi Yehoshua's comment sealed the Jewish legal conclusion with his own
beautiful truth.

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
As he looked into the Book of Adam, Moses was shown the Sages and the
leaders of all generations of the future. When he thus gazed ahead at
the generation that would live to witness the footsteps of Moshiach, he
saw that they would have but a modest conception of Divinity, and in
serving G-d with their minds and their hearts they would not attain the
loftiest peaks of G-dly service. Rather, they would actively observe the
Torah and its commandments in a spirit of self-sacrifice. At the same
time, he was shown what joy this service would bring about in the
heavens Above.

                                            (Sefer HaMaamarim 5710)

*********************************************************************
            END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 714 - Sazria-Metzora 5762
*********************************************************************

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