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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 727
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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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        July 12, 2002           Devarim               3 Av, 5762
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                           A Separate People
                            by Baila Olidort

"Who is like Israel, a nation one on earth" (II Samuel 7:23)

"If one Jew suffers, we all feel pain." (Talmud, Shevuot 39a)

In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Israel, when Jews everywhere
feel shock, anger and terrible sadness, we depend upon one another for
the sup-port and solidarity that Jewish people have always and should
always share and expect, unconditionally.

At times like these, the attempt by individual Jews or groups of Jews to
explain and empathize with Palestin-ian grievances, is morally confused.

A recent conversation with a well-meaning friend took a detour on this
subject. My deeply empathetic friend wanted me to understand that his
moral compass simply does not distinguish between individuals on the
basis of their group identity. I put the hypothetical dilemma to him:
Stranded in a desert with just enough water to save one person, whom
would he save-his neighbor or a stranger? He wouldn't distinguish, he
said, on that basis. When asked how he would decide if the choice was
between saving his son or a stranger, he still couldn't say. To be sure,
he loves his son. But preferring his son's life to that of a stranger's
confuses his stated moral ideal. Ultimately he conceded that if put to
the test, he would most likely save his son.

As Israel-reeling from so much loss and tragedy-stands isolated and
scapegoated by the nations of the world, the climate is ripe for a
reordering of priorities. When the demons of anti-Semitism we thought
long since buried in the ashes of Europe resurface-in some cases with
undisguised enthusiasm-some old truths about the nature of our place
among the nations of the world assume a sobering clarity. In this
post-post-anti-Semitic age, the notion of an am kadosh, a separate
people, deserves renewed consideration. Judaism defines us as a people
apart; and in some evil way, the world concurs.

This is a cause for reflection on Jewish particularist sensibilities,
even if at the expense of our universalist aspirations. No mature
worldview can ignore prioritization in relating to our fellow humans.

As Judaism recognizes a respect for the common humanity shared by all
people, it also demands that we differentiate in fulfilling our moral
obligations according to lived social ties, which ultimately determine
individual identity.

Judaism's particularist ethics of obligation reinforce the morality of
relations in a way that might be applied on the individual and macro
level for all. But it is especially true for the Jewish people, because
our common membership is not based on a shared culture or common
interest: ours is a community that ultimately finds its unity in a
mystical covenant. We are bound, irrevocably, to one another and to G-d,
by virtue of our collective soul.

Maybe this is why the disappointment is so profound when a Jew misplaces
his or her solidarity. We should not need-and, G-d willing, we will not
need-the world to remind us that we must nurture in unconditional love,
the bond that defines us one people, and in this way, work together in
good times and in hard times, toward the fulfillment of our unique
destiny.

     Reprinted from the summer 2002 issue of Wellsprings, a journal
     of Jewish thought published by Lubavitch Youth Organization in
                                                                NY.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
"See, I have set the land before you," Moses relates in this week's
Torah portion, Devarim. "Come and possess the land G-d swore unto your
fathers."

Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator whose explanation on the text
expresses its most literal meaning, explains that the Jewish people did
not have to wage war in order to take possession of the land of Israel;
had they not sent the spies, they would not have needed any weapons.

"There is no one to contest the matter," Rashi comments. Since G-d
Himself promised the land to the Jews, no one in the whole world could
have prevented this from happening.

Historically, however, we see that instead of a miraculous entry into
the land, the Jewish people did indeed engage in battle with their
enemies. Their lack of faith and insistence that Moses send spies to
bring back a report, spoiled their opportunity to enter the land
unopposed, and made it necessary for them to follow a natural procedure
instead of a miraculous one. In other words, it was their own negative
attitude and conduct which forced them to wage wars in order to assert
their Divine right to the land.

This contains a moral for our own times and present condition:

The Torah tells us that the Final Redemption with Moshiach will be very
much like our first redemption from Egypt, but will be accompanied by
even more wonders and miracles. It follows that if the entry and
settlement of the land of Israel was supposed to be accomplished in a
supernatural manner the first time ("There is no one to contest the
matter, and you need not wage war"), how much more so will it be
miraculous in our own times, with the Messianic Redemption!

Again, just as before, the entire matter depends on us. We must show
absolute faith in G-d and His promise that the entire land of Israel
belongs to the Jewish people. We must not be afraid to inform the
nations of the world - unequivocally - that the land of Israel is our
eternal legacy.

As Rashi explains on the very first verse of the Torah, "The whole earth
belongs to G-d; He created it and gave it to whom He saw fit. [The land
of Israel] was given to [the nations] by His will, and by His will He
took it from them and gave it to us!"

When we will demonstrate this true and absolute faith in G-d, we will
immediately merit that "no one will contest this, and there will be no
more wars nor the need for any weapons."

            Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Devarim, 5747

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                             SLICE OF LIFE
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       First haircut is 3-year-old's rite of passage into Judaism
                           By Ronnie Caplane

Looking downright angelic, 3-year-old Shalom Dov Ferris sat perched on a
makeshift throne - a dining room chair topped with a booster seat,
draped with a sheet - and presided over the living room filled with
children and adults, about 60 people in all.

Balloons, happy birthday plates and napkins, and goody bags made to look
like tallitot - colored in blue stripes with strings hanging from the
corners - decorated the room. In the center was a long table containing
bowls of coleslaw, potato salad, guacamole and chips, and heated chafing
dishes filled with hot dogs wrapped in bread. On another table against a
back wall were two oversized birthday cakes studded with jellybeans and
decorated with brightly colored frosting.

Although better attended than most, it looked like any child's birthday
party.

But this wasn't an ordinary party.

Shalom's father, Yehuda Ferris, is the rabbi at Chabad House of
Berkeley. Members of that community, family and friends had come to the
Ferris' house on a rainy Sunday morning to celebrate Shalom's third
birthday and to witness his first haircut, a ritual known as upsherenish
or upsheren.

Looking like a picture of sweetness, Shalom was dressed in a tie, a
maroon vest, plaid pants and a yarmulke for the occasion. His
soon-to-be-sheared soft, fine, wispy curls circled his head.

Before Shalom was brought into the room, Ferris explained that the Torah
compares man to the trees of the field. Since the branches of a tree are
not cut during its first three years, so a boy's hair is not cut until
his third birthday.

"As with sheep, the first shearing belongs to G-d," Ferris said, adding
that the side locks or payot are left uncut. "You should not round off
the side of your face." This custom, he explained, was probably a
reaction to the practices of idolaters at the time the ritual was first
introduced, and the payot are left uncut "lest we become idolaters."

When his mother, Miriam, carried the birthday boy into the room,
everyone applauded.

"Do you want to get a haircut?" his father asked, to which Shalom gave
an enthusiastic yes. After he was seated, Shalom got a multicolored,
swirled lollipop and a tzedakah box. Each person who cuts the hair is
expected to give Shalom something to deposit in the box, Ferris
explained.

And this is no ordinary first haircut. It marks a Jewish boy's induction
into Jewish education and life. Tomorrow, Shalom will be wrapped in a
tallit and carried into school for the first time to officially begin
the study of Torah. He'll sit on the teacher's lap, read honey-covered
letters of the alef-bet, lick off the honey, and then the other children
will throw candy at him. The lesson is simple: Learning is sweet.

"It's sweeter than honey and better than money," Ferris said.

Standing at a microphone, Ferris acted as sort of a master of
ceremonies, explaining the ritual, making jokes and calling up people to
take a snip of his son's hair.

Obviously well prepared for the event, Shalom sat quietly as his father
summoned a Kohen to make the first snip. After the Kohens came the
Levites. There being none, he then invited the other guests to come up.
Even Mom got a turn, and as the locks were cut, they were carefully
placed in a Ziploc bag.

"You do not have to wash your hands after cutting the hair," Ferris
said. He added that there used to be a custom of weighing the hair after
it was all cut, and then the father would donate the value of the hair's
weight. It's a custom that Ferris was relieved to say is no longer
practiced.

Video, digital and even disposable cameras recorded the ritual, and
Ferris told the story of when Moses Maimonides was being knighted.

"He forgot what he was supposed to say, so when the queen brought the
sword down he said, 'Manish tanah ha'lilah ha zeh,'" Ferris said.
Confused by this rather unorthodox response, the queen turned to one of
her guards and asked, "Why is this knight different from all other
knights?"

One of the mitzvot that Shalom will be expect to keep will be wearing
the tzitzit - an undergarment without side seams and with strings
hanging from the four corners - under his shirt. This is to remind him
to keep the 613 mitzvot. In keeping with the occasion, Shalom was given
two baby-sized ones, both with choo choo trains painted on them.

When the hair cutting was done, the party began. Adults chatted and ate
while the children ran around.

"It's bittersweet," said Miriam Ferris of this lifecycle event. Shalom
is the youngest of her nine children. While it's hard to see her
children grow up, she's philosophical about it. "You don't want them to
be babies forever."

And to those who mourn the loss of Shalom's lovely curls, she said,
"They don't have to comb it every day while he sits there and
struggles."

                    Reprinted from the S. Francisco Jewish Bulletin

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                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
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                        Fifteen Year Celebration

Chabad of Sherman Oaks, California will be celebrating their fifteen
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of Jewish educational, religious and social service programs, Chabad of
Sherman Oaks has touched the lives of thousands of Jews in this Encino
Valley community.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                          16 Adar, 5712 [1952]

Sholom u'Brocho [Peace and Blessing]:

I have duly received your letter of the 8th of Shevat, but this is the
first opportunity to answer it. Should there be any good news in the
meantime, you will no doubt let me know.

You seem to be disturbed because you feel that you have not attained the
proper level in Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments] and cannot see the
"tachles" [purpose] etc., which makes you downhearted.

Leaving the details of your complaints aside, I wish to make several
observations:

A feeling of dissatisfaction with one's self is a good sign, for it
indicates vitality and an urge to rise and improve one's self which is
accomplished in a two-way method: withdrawal from the present state and
turning to a higher level (see Sichah [discourse] of my father-in-law of
sainted memory, Pesach 5694).

If the urge to improve one's self leads to downheartedness and inertia,
then it is the work of the Yetzer-hora [evil inclination] whose job it
is to use every means to prevent the Jew from carrying out good
intentions connected with Torah and Mitzvoth. The false and misleading
voice of the Yetzer-hora should be stifled and ignored. Besides, as the
Baal Hatanya [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism and
author of Tanya) states (Ch. 25), even one single good deed creates an
everlasting bond and communion with G-d (ibid, at length).

Thus a feeling of despondency is not only out of place, but is a
stumbling block in the worship of G-d, as is more fully explained in the
above and subsequent chapters of Tanya.

With regard to understanding, or lack of understanding, of the
"tachles," the important thing required of the Jew is contained in the
words of the Torah: "For the thing is very nigh unto thee, in they mouth
and in thy heart (and the tachles is) -to do it." Understanding is,
generally, the second step. The first step is the practice of the
Mitzvoth. (See enclosed copy of my message to a study group).

My prayerful wish to you, as you conclude your letter, is that the next
one coming from you will be more cheerful.

With blessing

                                *  *  *


                      20th of Teveth, 5717 [1957]

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to receive your letter... and to read in it that your
position has improved, both materially and spiritually. As for the
set-backs you mention, and especially your feeling of deficiency in your
studies, it should be remembered that the Torah teaches us that the
conquest of set-backs and the general settling down in life usually can
be accomplished by stages.

You will recall that the Holy Land was also conquered by degrees, and as
it was in the case of the physical conquest, so it is in the case of
spiritual conquest. For just as it is said of the Holy Land that "the
Eyes of G-d are upon it from the beginning of the year to the end of the
year," so are the Eyes of G-d upon everyone of us individually, watching
over us constantly and helping us in our determination to accomplish our
conquests. Therefore, one should not be discouraged by the slowness of
the progress, or even by an occasional set-back. You will also remember
what you must have learnt in Chassidus, how destructive it is to be
discouraged or sad, etc. On the contrary, any set-back should only call
forth a greater measure of effort and determination to overcome it.

With regard to the financial difficulties, debts, etc., I trust that the
position will improve. I am enclosing herewith a check from the Special
Fund of my Father-in-law, of saintly memory, which you should invest in
your business, as this will be auspicious for success.

Enclosed also is an excerpt from a message which I think you will find
interesting and useful.

Hoping to hear good news from you and with blessing,

*********************************************************************
                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
*********************************************************************
5 Av 5762

Positive mitzva 110: cleansing from tzara'at (leprosy)

By this injunction we are commanded that the cleansing from leprosy must
be in accordance with specific provisions laid down by the Torah, i.e.,
cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet, two living birds and running water, etc.
These requirements are found in Lev. 14: 1-7.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
The Shabbat before Tisha B'Av is called "Shabbat Chazon - The Sabbath of
Vision." According to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, every Jewish
soul is afforded a "vision" or glimpse of the Third Holy Temple.

The Haftorah that is read following the Torah portion, the "Vision of
Isaiah," is a prophecy about the Temple's destruction. Oddly enough, the
word "vision" is used when discussing both the destruction and
rebuilding of the Holy Temple.

About the destruction, our Sages declared, "A lion (Nebuchadnezzar) came
in the month whose sign is a lion (Av) to destroy Ariel ('the lion of
G-d' -the Holy Temple), so that a lion (G-d) will come in the month
whose sign is a lion and build Ariel." Once again we find the same word
- "lion"-referring to both the destruction and the rebuilding of the
Temple. What can we learn from this?

In order to understand the connection between the two, let us examine
the true nature of the destruction. We are expressly forbidden to raze a
synagogue or place of worship. We are also prohibited from wantonly
destroying an object of value. Why, then, did G-d allow His dwelling
place on earth to be demolished?

The only instance in which it is permissible to tear down a synagogue is
when one wishes to build an even more magnificent edifice on the same
site. It follows that the destruction of the Holy Temple also fell into
this category. The Second Temple was destroyed only because G-d wanted
to build the Third and most exalted Holy Temple-the one that would stand
for eternity.

The inner purpose of the destruction, therefore, was solely to rebuild.
That is why the Midrash relates that "the redeemer of Israel" was born
at the moment the Temple was destroyed: from that moment on, the true
objective of the destruction-the Redemption and the building of the
Third Holy Temple-could begin to be realized.

It is for this reason that our Sages used similar words to refer to both
the exile and the redemption, for just as the Temple's destruction was
an integral part of its rebuilding, so, too, is the exile an integral
part of the Final Redemption and the coming of Moshiach, may it happen
speedily.

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
You have dwelt long enough on this mountain; turn, and take your journey
(Deuteronomy 1:6)

Even though "this mountain" - Mount Sinai - was the place on which the
Torah was given, the Jewish people were not allowed to linger and were
commanded to continue on. This teaches that a person must not be content
with his own service of G-d but must travel great distances, if need be,
in order to bring the light of Torah to another Jew.

                                                   (Likrat Shabbat)

                                *  *  *


And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between
your brethren (Deuteronomy 1:16)

It is only during the present era, "at that time," that it is necessary
to listen to both sides of a dispute to reach a just decision. When
Moshiach comes and ushers in the Messianic era, judgment will be
rendered through the sense of smell, as it states, "He will smell the
fear of G-d, and he will not judge after the sight of his eyes and
decide after the hearing of his ears."

                                                    (Kedushat Levi)

                                *  *  *


Behold, I have set the land before you... to Abraham, to Isaac, and to
Jacob, to give it to them (Deut. 1:8)

This verse does not say the land will be given "to you," but "to
them"-Abraham, Issac and Jacob-an allusion to the resurrection of the
dead.

                                                        (Sanhedrin)

                                *  *  *


For unto Esau have I given Mount Seir as a possession (Deut. 2:5)

Although the Children of Israel fulfilled an express command of G-d when
they took over the land Canaan, G-d warned them that their desire to
conquer territory should not extend beyond those lands He had explicitly
promised to them.

                                     (Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch)

                                *  *  *


May the L-rd G-d of your fathers make you a thousand times as many as
you are (Deut. 1:11)

When will this blessing be fulfilled? In the World to Come, when, as the
Prophet Isaiah states, "The least one shall become a thousand, and the
smallest a great nation." The Jewish people, the "least" and "smallest,"
will multiply one thousand times in number, in fulfillment of Moses'
blessing.

                                                     (Binyan Ariel)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
"The Holy Temple will be destroyed, and the Jews will be exiled from
their land!" a Heavenly voice decreed. "But the Western Wall of the Holy
Temple will not be destroyed," said G-d, "so that there should always be
a reminder that G-d's Glory resides there!"

The Jews would not forget the Holy Temple. Every year on the ninth day
of the Hebrew month of Av, the day on which the first and second Holy
Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, the Jews assembled at the Western
Wall. There, standing next to the only visible  remains of the Temple,
they poured out their hearts over the destruction and beseeched G-d to
rebuild the Holy Temple.

The Romans, the destroyers of the second Temple, could not bear to see
how resolutely the Jews kept to their religion, and how holy they
regarded the Western Wall. The Romans hit upon a plan of how to remedy
the situation; they issued an order that all gentiles who lived in
Jerusalem must dump their garbage daily near the Wall.

Day in, day out, the heap of garbage grew. Bit by bit the entire Wall
was buried under a massive grave of garbage. The Jews mourned anew.

Many years went by. A very righteous Jew from outside of Israel came to
Jerusalem to pour out his heart to G-d over the destruction. He walked
through the streets of Jerusalem, seeking the Wall, but he could not
find it. Everyone he asked shrugged their shoulders; they had never in
their lives seen the Wall.

The Jew, however, did not give up hope. Day and night he looked for the
Wall. Once, he came upon a huge hill of rubbish and wondered how so much
garbage came to be accumulated at this place. He noticed a very old
woman carrying a heavy sack on her back.

"Old woman, what are you carrying?" the Jew asked her.

"I am carrying a sack of garbage to throw on the hill."

The Jew inquired, "Do you have no place closer to home for garbage, that
you are forced to bring it here?"

"It is an ancient custom for us to bring the garbage here. Once, in this
place, there stood a huge, magnificent stone wall. The Jews regarded the
wall as holy. Their conquerers, the Romans, ordered all of the city's
non-Jewish inhabitants to dump their garbage So generations ago, we were
ordered to cover the wall." She emptied her bundle and returned home.

The Jew wept and pledged to himself: "I will not move from here until I
figure out how to remove the garbage and reveal the Western Wall."

Suddenly an idea came to him. He began walking in the streets of
Jerusalem and whispered to everyone he met, "They say that a treasure
lies buried beneath the hill of garbage over there."

The man himself took a shovel and began digging in the dirt. A short
while later people began arriving. The whole city of Jerusalem was abuzz
with the announcement of a treasure lying beneath the hill of garbage.
People streamed to the hill with shovels and buckets. They dug for a
whole day until the upper stones of the Wall came into view. The sun set
and people left, eagerly anticipating the dawning of a new day. The Jew
then took some gold coins from his pocket, covered them with dirt and
left.

Early the next morning, soon after dawn, there was an uproar at the
hill. Someone had found a gold coin. A second person found a golden coin
and then a third.

The people started to dig with even more enthusiasm. Every day they dug
deeper and deeper. Every day a few golden coins were found. But, they
were certain the real treasure lay at the bottom. The Jew spent his
entire fortune on his mission to uncover the Western Wall.

For forty days the people dug near the Wall, seeking to unearth the
buried treasure. Finally the entire Wall was cleared of garbage. They
did not find the treasure, but in front of their eyes a big stone wall
loomed.

Suddenly a great storm broke out and a torrent of rain came down. It
rained for three days, washing the Wall clean of any traces of dirt.
When the people came out to see what they had unearthed, they saw a
handsome wall with huge stones, some as tall as ten feet high.

On the spot where the earth from which Adam was formed was gathered by
G-d's "hand," where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed, where the
first Holy Temple built by King Solomon stood, and the second Holy
Temple built by Ezra and Nechemiah stood - on this very spot the third
and final Temple will be built, when Moshiach comes.

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
Why is Lamentations - the scroll read on Tisha B'Av to commemorate the
destruction of the Holy Temple - not written on a separate piece of
parchment just like the Scroll of Esther (which is read on Purim)? When
Moshiach comes, Tisha B'Av will be transformed from a day of sorrow into
a day of rejoicing. As every single day we await Moshiach's arrival,
making Lamentations more "permanent" by committing it to parchment is
not really necessary and would imply that we had already despaired, G-d
forbid. Purim, however, will also be celebrated in the Era of
Redemption, and thus the parchment scrolls will also be used then.

                                                       (The Levush)

*********************************************************************
                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 727 - Devarim 5762
*********************************************************************

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