Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 732
                           Copyright (c) 2002
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        August 16, 2002        Ki Seitzei           8 Elul, 5762

                         When Did That Happen?

Standing near your front door you overhear someone exclaiming in
surprise, "These trees blossomed overnight. I'm sure the flowers weren't
here yesterday."

You wonder to yourself, "Hmm, were the flowers there yesterday? They
couldn't have appeared overnight. Maybe I just didn't notice them!"

The next time, it's you wondering how that house on the corner lot
that's been empty for years suddenly appeared. It seems to have
materialized from nowhere. Why, you pass this way everyday and never
noticed it before.

As you go down the aisles of the supermarket with your shopping list in
hand, you stop in front of the coffee. "When did coffee get so
expensive," you gasp. "Maybe it was El Nino," you mutter. Or maybe you
just buy coffee so infrequently that you never noticed the prices
getting higher.

Night descends slowly, though suddenly you notice that it is no longer
light outside. Light creeps through your window, day dawns. But didn't
darkness enveloped the world just moments before?

This phenomenon is common to many of life's experiences; though taking
place over hours, weeks, months or even over the course of years, they
seem to suddenly be manifest in their completeness before our very eyes.

The visual and verbal image many have for the Messianic Era is the
"dawning" of a new age, a better world, a perfect world. Not
surpris-ingly, sunrises seem an appropriate illustration of this

Many Jewish sources discuss how the Messianic Era will materialize:
Moshiach will come riding on a donkey or on clouds of glory; G-d
promises that the Redemption of the Jewish people and the entire world
will come "in its time" but that He will "hasten it."; The Talmud tells
us that if we see certain behavior and attitudes pervading society (all
of which are prevalent today) we should "listen for the footsteps of
Moshiach." The Rebbe declared that the time of the Redemption has
arrived, if we open our eyes we can see that the table is literally set
for the Messianic banquet, all we need to do is greet Moshiach. Yet, we
have yet to step over the threshold and into the actual Redemption.

There seem to be contradictions between the sources, even within a
particular source, because the movement toward the Redemption is not
necessarily perceived. But it's happening.

Since the creation of the world nearly 6,000 years ago, when the spirit
of G-d hovered over the waters (and as the commentaries explain, the
"spirit" is that of Moshiach) we have been moving toward Moshiach and
the Redemption. The time for the Redemption, as the Rebbe stated, has
arrived. And the Rebbe sees the dawning (not just the day but the actual
process of dawning) of the Redemption with a clarity of perception and
vision that most of us lack. What we can and must do it to adjust
ourselves now to this new era. We can do this by incorporating into our
lives at this very moment how we will naturally be living very soon:
performing additional acts of goodness and kindness; studying more
Torah; experiencing Jewish living more fully; trying to see G-d's hand

The first verse of this week's Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, seems to
contain a grammatical error. "When you go forth to war against your
enemies," it begins, "and the L-rd your G-d will deliver him into your
hands." Why does the Torah begin the verse with the plural and continue
in the singular?

Every word in the Torah is exact, every letter conveying a multitude of
nuances and meanings which teach countless lessons. This verse, which
seemingly deals with the subject of conventional warfare, alludes to a
different type of war, a spiritual war which is waged by every

A Jew may face two types of enemies: one which threatens his physical
existence and one which threatens his special holiness as a member of
the Jewish people - his Jewish soul.

The Torah uses the word "enemies" to refer to both these threats, for
the body and soul of the Jew work in tandem, united in their service of
G-d. Whatever imperils one's physical well-being threatens one's
spiritual equilibrium, and vice versa.

The Torah tells us how to emerge victorious over both types of enemy:
"When you will go forth." A person must gird himself  with the strength
that comes  from absolute faith in G-d, even before encountering the
enemy. Next, one's approach must be that of ascendancy - "against
(literally, 'over') your enemies." Know that G-d Himself stands beside
you and assists you in your struggle.

Armed in such a manner, victory is assured, not only against
conventional enemies, but against the root of all evil - the Evil
Inclination, equated in the Gemara with "the Satan (enemy of the soul),
and the Angel of Death (enemy of the physical body)."

When a Jew goes out to "war" fortified with the knowledge that there is
no force in the world able to stand in the face of goodness and
holiness, not only are external manifestations of evil vanquished, but
its spiritual source is defeated as well. The Torah therefore uses the
singular - enemy - to allude to the Evil Inclination, the origin and
prototype of all misfortune.

The verse concludes with the words "and you shall take captives of
them." If a Jew is not careful and falls prey to the Evil Inclination,
all of his higher faculties, given to him by G-d to be utilized for
good, also fall into its snare. The Torah teaches that sincere
repentance has the power to redeem these captive prisoners, elevating
them until even "willful transgressions are considered as merits."

Such warfare brings Moshiach and the Final Redemption closer, when the
Evil Inclination will be totally vanquished and the victory over sin
will be permanent.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                             Three Mitzvot
                            By Yehudis Cohen

"Growing up, I didn't label myself. I was just a very proud, very
non-aware Jew," begins Shaina Rahmani, a warm, intelligent mother of
eight who lives in Brighton, Massachusettes. "I think," continues
Shaina, "I was more open to becoming observant since I had never heard
any of the typical prejudices about religious Jews." I respected them.

After completing high school, Shaina went to Israel for a few months.
She spent time on a kibbutz where she was exposed, for the first time in
her life, to anti-religious sentiments. "I had never seen people so
angry at religious Jews," recalls Shaina.

By the time she went to visit a friend who was studying in a yeshiva in
Jerusalem, she was already certain that all religious Jews were
narrow-minded. "When I got off the bus, I saw children in the religious
neighborhood where the yeshiva was collecting rocks. I quickly made my
way over to the yeshiva and indignantly berated the rabbi in charge for
educating children to be so narrow-minded that they were ready to throw
stones at me just because I wasn't dressed modestly. After getting me to
calm down, he explained that the children were collecting rocks to make
a bonfire for Lag B'Omer... I felt a bit safer but had no idea what Lag
B'Omer was"

The rabbi invited Shaina to spend Shabbat with his family. Shaina agreed
and had one of the most meaningful Jewish experiences in her life. It
changed the way she looked at Judaism. "He had an amazing wife and neat
kids. The rabbi stayed up all night talking with my friend and me. I
couldn't believe that I had been a Jew for so long and did not know what
I was, what Torah was. I didn't know about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. My
Jewish education until that time had been based on family traditions, a
lack of definition that needed to be defined.

"There was a meaning to being Jewish much deeper, much more profound and
intelligent and sensitive than I had ever been exposed to. When I got
ready to return to the United States and enter college, I knew that I
could not just turn my back on it. I had to either explore it or reject
it. And every time I wanted to reject it, my grandmother's image would
appear in my mind's eye. My grandparents had been living examples of
Judaism in our family. As a youngster I always found myself getting into
conversations with my grandmother about Jewish things. My grandfather
led our seders. He was the head of the Burial Society in Port Jervis.
Images of my grandparents intertwined with Jewish motifs would float
through my head."

Shaina planned on exploring Judaism and becoming more observant while
studying at Boston University. A few months into her first semester
there, she met Moshe Rahmani. "We intersected as we were going in
different directions in regards to religion. He was from Iran and had
come from a very religious family with 12 brothers and sisters.He used
to tell me about how his father would sit with them on Shabbat
afternoons and tell them stories from the Bible and about great Jewish
leaders. When I would ask him why he doesn't wear a kipa he would
answer, 'Why do I need to wear one? It's in your heart.' He knew so much
about Judaism and it was such a deep part of him, but he wasn't
observing mitzvot. He transferred to the University of Massachusetts and
we went our separate ways."

Shaina went to Israel and studied at Machon Alta Yeshiva in the mystical
city of Safed. "When I came back to Boston U. from Israel I moved into
the Chabad House. I was completely immersed in a Lubavitch growth
pattern. I knew I wanted to marry someone very, very religious.

"There was a rabbi at the Chabad House, Shmuel Klatzken, with whom I
would explore really deep concepts. In fact," Shaina says with a laugh,
"I used to walk with him to his home, a 45 minute walk, after services
on Shabbat morning just to be able to discuss things with him. Then I
would walk all the way back to the Chabad House for the Shabbat meal."

Before graduating, Shaina reconnected with Moshe. "I knew Moshe was
still the same person he had been when I met him at age 18. He wasn't
connected to Judaism through Chasidut and the Rebbe. But I also knew
that his deep-seated Jewish upbringing would be an anchor for me. He
grew up in a very real Jewish home. Shabbat morning was going to
synagogue, coming home and hearing stories of Torah. His mother was a
tzadeket. Every word that came out of her mouth was a blessing.

"I decided that I really wanted to marry Moshe but he was hesitant. My
heart was telling me he was right for me but my mind was telling me he
was wrong. I wrote a letter to the Rebbe, asking him for his blessing
that we get married. The Rebbe's answer came back after a few days.
'This person about whom you speak, if he will promise to keep kosher,
Shabbat and allow you to keep Taharat Hamishpacha [the laws of family
purity], and if he will continue to learn and grow in this direction, it
will be a good shidduch [match] and in a good time and I will remember
you at the resting place of my father-in-law.' I cried bittersweet tears
when I got the Rebbe's answer. I had the Rebbe's blessing to marry Moshe
if Moshe would agree to observe those three basic mitzvot
(commandments), but I also felt like I was saying goodbye to the Rebbe
as Moshe's background is deeply rooted in the Sefardic tradition."

After they married, Shaina arranged a class in Chasidic philosophy for
men on Thursday nights at their home. "Rabbi Gurkov taught and my
husband would fall asleep. Eventually, though, he started staying awake.
Through the study of Chasidut Moshe became aware that mitzvot are how we
connect to G-d. Slowly my husband became more sensitive to the idea that
it is not enough to be culturally Sefardic, that traditions are not
enough. There needs to be a sense of obligation and responsibility."

Shaina marvels at how "natural" Torah and mitzvot are for Moshe. Little
by little, according to Shaina, Moshe began to appreciate that there is
a tremendous light within the teachings of Chasidut. "Moshe didn't have
any problem gravitating to the light once he recognized it. It was a
natural expression of his soul. He saw that it is a really beautiful way
to express Judaism."

                               WHAT'S NEW
              Jewish "Peace Corps" on Global Outreach Tour

One hundred and thirty rabbinical students are in the midst of a summer
"tour of duty" in Jewish communities worldwide. The students are
visiting small Jewish communities and individual Jews in places as
remote as Vietnam, Surinam, and Peru. Established by the Lubavitcher
Rebbe 57 years ago, the "Lubavitch Peace Corps," known as "Merkos
Shlichus," enables Lubavitch rabbinical students to share their
knowledge, enthusiasm and Jewish pride with world Jewry. The students
teach classes in Jewish tradition, Talmud, Kabala and the Jewish life
cycle, adapting the program to the specific needs and interests of each
respective community.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                The date of this letter was unavailable

Sholom U'Brocho [Peace and Blessing]:

Recently you brought to my attention a letter addressed to you by a
student at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York.

In this letter the writer professes to be a true scientific thinker and
an unbeliever in the supernatural; he also asserts that all facts seem
to be in contradiction to the existence of G-d, profess to be a "liberal
Jew" etc., etc.

Not knowing the background of this student, nor the field of science in
which he specializes, I cannot deal with the subject in detail,
especially in the course of a letter.  There are, however, several
general observations that I can make, which the said student has
apparently overlooked, and which he would do well to consider carefully:

    1) Science does not come with foregone conclusions and beliefs with
    the idea of reconciling and adjusting facts to these beliefs. Rather
    the opposite, it deals with facts then formulates opinions and
    conclusions. To approach a subject with one's mind made up
    beforehand, is not true scientific thinking but a contradiction to

    2) Science requires that no conclusion can be valid before a
    thorough study and research was made on the subject. The question
    therefore presents itself: How much time and effort had the
    above-mentioned writer devoted to the study of religion to justify
    his conclusion on the subject?

    3) A fact is considered any event or phenomenon testified to by
    witnesses, especially where the evidence is identical and comes from
    witnesses of varied interests, education, social background, age,
    etc. Where there is such evidence it is accepted as a fact which is
    undeniable, even if it does not agree with a scientific theory. This
    is the accepted practice in science even where there are several
    reliable witnesses, and certainly scores of them, hundreds and

The Divine Revelation at Mount Sinai was a fact witnessed by millions of
people, all of whom reported it to its minutest detail, accurately, for
the whole people of Israel stood at Mount Sinai and witnessed it.

We know that this is a fact because millions of Jews in our day accept
it as such, because they receive it as such from their own parents, and
these millions in turn received the evidence from the previous
generation, and so on, in an uninterrupted chain of transmitted evidence
from millions to millions of witnesses, generation after generation,
back to the original millions of witnesses who saw the event with their
own eyes.

Among these original witnesses there were many who were initiated in the
sciences of those days (i.e. Egypt), many achievements of which are
still baffling nowadays; among them were philosophers and thinkers, as
well as ignorant and uneducated persons, women and children of all ages.
Yet all of them reported the event and phenomenon connected with it
without contradiction to each other.

Such a fact is certainly indisputable. I do not believe that there is
another fact which can match it for evidence and accuracy. To deny such
a fact is anything but scientific; it is the very opposite of science.

Parenthetically, it is unfortunate that this basic difference between
the Jewish religion and those of others is so little known, for the
Jewish religion is the only one that is not based on a single founder or
a few, but is based on the Divine Revelation witnessed by all the
people, numbering several millions.

This answers also --'s statement that "the acceptance of the Torah as
being the only truth is dangerous" since "its authors were only men. . .
and as men they could not have been incorrigible (infallible)." Jews
accept the Torah precisely because it was given by G-d, not by man, and
it was given in the presence of millions of people who have seen it and
heard it with their own eyes and ears. That is why the Torah is the
absolute truth, for G-d is absolute.

I am enclosing an extra copy, should you wish to forward it to your

With all good wishes,


                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
10 Elul, 5762

Positive mitzva 241: The law of damage by fire

By this injunction we are commanded concerning the law of damage caused
by fire. It is derived from the Torah verse (Ex. 22:5): "If fire breaks
out, and catches in thorns, etc." [We are responsible for damage insofar
as it is in our power to prevent injury.]

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This week's Torah portion contains a commandment involving safe-guarding
one's roof lest someone fall from it. "When you build a new house, you
must place a guard-rail around your roof.  Do not allow a dangerous
situation to remain in your house, since someone can fall from [an
unenclosed roof]."

A guard-rail is placed around the roof not only for self-protection, but
even more to protect others from falling from one's roof.

A roof - the highest part of the house - is indicative of egoism and
conceit.  Placing a guard-rail around the roof means that one must
confine these undesirable traits. This needs to be done "since someone
can fall [from an unenclosed roof]"- i.e., the trait of egoism and
conceit is at the root of every spiritual downfall; all evil traits stem
from them.

The "guard-rail" placed around egoism and conceit is important to
protect the person himself from negative traits. It is also important as
it relates to a fellow Jew; it is necessary to assure that the person
not be filled with conceit when teaching or involving his fellow Jews
with Judaism.

We are assured that the guard rail will do its job. As the command
begins with a blessing and an injunction, "You shall build a new house."
A Jew can and must build a house to G-d by creating an environment of
Judaism.  He cannot rely on others but must build a "new house"- a house
which is uniquely his.  A guard-rail can and must be made. The
affirmative language assures us that we will be successful in this

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
When you build a new house you shall make a parapet for your roof... if
anyone fall from it (Deut. 22:8)

When a couple marries and makes the transition from their parents' homes
to their own, the need to earn a livelihood brings them into contact
with many new things. They must therefore make a "parapet" beforehand,
setting the proper limits and spiritual standards, to ensure that no
harm comes from their involvement in worldly matters.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

You shall surely lift him up (Deut. 22:4)

When a person helps his fellow Jew, he himself is thereby elevated.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, wrote that when one
does a spiritual favor for another, "his mind and heart are purified one
thousand-fold"; his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek, added that this is no

                                *  *  *

When you go forth to war  against  your enemies,  and the L-rd  your G-d
will deliver him into your hand, and you have taken them captive (Deut.

These words refer to the descent of the soul, "a veritable part of G-d
Above," into the physical world. Its mission, enclothed within a
physical body, is to wage war and conquer the material world by infusing
it with holiness, learning Torah and observing its commandments. This
conflict will reach its successful conclusion with the coming of
Moshiach, when G-dliness will reign triumphant.

                                                  (Peninei Hageula)

                                *  *  *

You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together (Deut. 22:10)

G-d has mercy on all His creations, big and small. The smaller donkey is
unequal in strength to the mighty ox, and is unable to pull a plow with
the same force. Yoking them together would cause the donkey to exert
itself beyond its natural capacity, and is therefore forbidden.

                                                         (Ibn Ezra)

                                *  *  *

You shall not give interest to your brother...anything that is lent upon
interest (literally, "anything that bites") (Deut. 23:20)

Usury is likened to the bite of a serpent. Just as it takes the body a
few minutes to react to a snake's poison, so too does it take time for
the full effect of the compounding of interest to be felt by the

                                                     (Baal Haturim)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Two brothers, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech, were very pious and learned
men who were amongst the most prized chasidim of Rabbi Dov Ber, the
Magid of Mezrich, successor of the Baal Shem Tov. With the passing of
time and difficulty of communication, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech lost
contact with a third brother, who was not a chasid.

The two brothers, throughout their many travels, would ask about their
brother and try to ascertain his whereabouts. They were intrigued to
know what type of lifestyle he was living. Was he religious like
themselves, or had he, G-d forbid, abandoned the teachings of the Torah?
And even if he was religious, was he exacting in his practice, concerned
only for the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law?

And so, in each town and village they visited, as they spread the
teaching of their master, the Magid, they asked if anyone knew the
whereabouts of their brother. Try as they might, they could not find out
any information. Yet, they still persisted on their self-imposed

When finally they did hear some information concerning where their
brother lived, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech rejoiced. And yet, there was
a certain amount of hesitation in their rejoicing for, after over a
dozen years of separation, they had no idea what their reunion would

And so, with slight trepidation, the two brothers made their way to a
small village where their brother was an innkeeper. Reb Zusia and Reb
Elimelech entered the inn and observed their brother at work. He was
busy the entire day greeting guests, preparing rooms, and cooking food.
He ran from person to person, task to task, with a cheerful countenance
and dealt with each guest, rich or poor, graciously. With his long
beard, tzitzit, and long black coat, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech were
assured that their brother had indeed remained true to the Torah even in
this isolated village.

But still, a question remained unanswered for Reb Zusia and Reb
Elimelch. These two chasidic masters were known for their humility. But,
of course, humility doesn't preclude the fact that they understood that
there was something special about themselves. They might have considered
themselves undeserving of the remarkable qualities which G-d gave them,
but to outright deny their uniqueness would be like denying a precious
gift. And so, they wondered, was there something exceptional about their
brother, too, and the way he served his Creator?

Evening came at their brother's inn. Most of the guests had already
arrived and the furious activity of the daytime hours had slowed. Reb
Zusia and Reb Elimelech observed as their brother entrusted his wife
with the inn's duties and entered his study. In the study, he prayed the
evening service and then poured over his holy books until it was quite

The brothers were reassured by this sight, but not awed; it was not
uncommon for a Jew to put in a full day's work and then spend his
"leisure" hours in prayer and Torah study. However, their brother's next
activity was indeed unusual. Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech watched as
their brother began to say the Shema before bedtime. In the middle of
the prayers before retiring, their brother took out a worn ledger and
opened it toward the end of the book.

For long moments he sat motionless, pouring over a page of his ledger.
"How much could be written on one page that it takes him so long to read
it?" they wondered. They continued to watch, transfixed. As the minutes
ticked away, they saw their brother begin to shake. Tears rolled down
his cheeks and onto the page of the ledger in front of him. In a quiet,
trembling voice they heard him read from the ledger, "I didn't serve
this guest today with as much honor as is befitting a fellow-Jew...I was
too quick to answer this person when they asked me a question..." On and
on went the list of their brother's "sins" which he had written into the
tear-stained ledger.

Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech watched as their brother continued crying
and reading from the ledger until the words on the page literally
disappeared. Whether it was his tears or a miracle that washed away his
"sins," the brother knew that when his sins were no longer on the page,
his sincere repentance had been accepted.

The brothers thought of their parents, and wondered at what great deeds
they had done to merit raising such a remarkable child.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Messianic era will comprise two distinct periods. 1) From the
arrival of Moshiach until the Resurrection: During this period there
will be no obstacles to the full observance of the commandments. Indeed,
their fulfillment in this world will be at its zenith. 2) The period of
the Resurrection: This is the time of reward for the observance of
mitzvot. The ultimate reward will be the fusion of the Commander with
the commanded, resulting in the suspension of the commandments. Instead
of prohibitions and obligations, the world will be so filled with the
knowledge of G-d that it will fulfill the Divine will spontaneously. At
that time a mitzva will not be perceived as a step towards a Divine
reward: a mitzva will be its own reward - the immersion of man in the
Divine will.

          (From To Live and Live Again by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 732 - Ki Seitzei 5762

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly