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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
The kid's room is a mess. The bed - unmade, of course - looks like the aftermath of a flea market garage sale. The sleeve of a clean shirt has knotted inextricably around the leg of dirty pajamas. Socks - one blue, one black and one that probably should be white - poke out of the sleeve a t-shirt. Underwear half hides under a blanket, which in turn struggles to keep from collapsing on the floor.
And the floor! It would serve well as a hazardous training ground for the marines. Matchbox cars dot the landscape, small mines for even leather-clad feet. Pieces from a half-dozen board games litter the floor like some bread-crumb trail that leads the lost traveler in circles. The board games themselves hang from shelves, desktops, headboards - any place, it seems, a piece of cardboard can be wedged. Of course, balls of all sizes keep popping up and rolling around whenever anything else gets moved. Move a hanger and a soccer ball attacks from behind the suit. Straighten the books and a tennis ball bounces off a shoe and into a knee. Yank on the drawer and the baseball that jammed it pops up.
Off in a corner sits the source, oblivious to his disorder and disobedience. Immersed in a video game, he doesn't see his father come in. The father, though, sees the disarray. And he sees an irresponsible child. Fancy clothes, expensive toys, precious books and heirlooms - all discarded. The rules of the house - disregarded.
If the child does not appreciate what he has, if the child intends to spoil every gift, ignore every rule, then the clothes, the toys, the books all must be taken away. For, instead of helping the child be productive, they're a distraction and a detriment. So the father fetches a large garbage can. One by one he starts picking things off the floor and dropping them - noisily - in the garbage can; one by one he removes the child's poss-essions from the desktop, the shelves, the bed. He waits for the child to react.
The child continues to play his video game, ignoring his father, testing his father, defying his father. At first the father puts things in the garbage one at a time. Then he takes a handful. The child still doesn't react. The father puts an armful in the trash. The child watches him out of the corner of his eye, but doesn't move. He won't lift a finger from the video game. Finally the father sweeps everything into the garbage can. He empties the drawers and shelves. He takes the sheets off the bed. Then the father grabs the video game, smashes it into the trash and leaves. The room is empty. The room is clean.
"And the flood was forty days upon the earth" (Genesis 7:17).
As the father puts the first matchbox car into the garbage, the child looks up. As the father puts the first baseball card into the trash, the child turns off the video game. As the father picks up the first board game, the child gets up and takes it from his hand. As the father watches, the child folds his clothes, makes his bed. The child straightens his shelves, arranges the games, orders his toys. Finally, the child removes the matchbox car and the baseball card, putting them away. Then, with a smile and a tear, he drops the video game into the garbage. The father and son embrace. The room is clean. But the room is not empty.
"The rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights" (Genesis 7:12).
"He brought them down with mercy so that if the people should repents, these would be rains of blessing; but when the people did not repent the waters became a flood." Rashi.
In this week's Torah portion, Noach, we read, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life... all the fountains of the great deep were split and the windows of Heaven were opened." The Zohar, the basic book of Jewish mysticism, explains that this verse refers to the beginning of the sixth century of the sixth millennium of Creation (the year 5500, 263 years ago). At that time, the Divine fountains of knowledge would open up, both in the celestial spheres and in the physical realm, and the world would thus be prepared to enter the seventh millennium, the Messianic Age.
The Zohar describes the two types of knowledge that would be revealed during this time frame. The first is the opening of the "gates of knowledge above," referring to Torah and G-dly wisdom, and the second is the "fountains of wisdom below," referring to science and our understanding of the physical world.
Indeed, we find that the world began to undergo great changes in the 1700s, just as the Zohar prophesied. This was the time when Chasidic philosophy began to be revealed and scientific discoveries and developments began a frenetic pace that continues until today.
This period of revelation of knowledge, both G-dly and secular, came about as a preparation for the seventh millennium and the days of Moshiach. It is easy to understand how increased revelation of Torah serves as preparation, for the Messianic Era is a time when "knowledge of G-d will cover the earth like the water of the sea." But what has this to do with scientific advances and the Industrial Revolution?
A fundamental innovation of Moshiach will be that our perception of reality will change. Chasidic philosophy explains that after Moshiach reveals himself, "all flesh will see" - our physical flesh will be cognizant of the G-dliness that permeates and sustains the entire world.
Advances in scientific knowledge and understanding of the natural world are a preparation for this time. Medical, astronomic and nuclear discoveries have been revealed to man so that he can use this knowledge to serve G-d. As with everything else, we are given the free will with which to utilize these discoveries, as increased knowledge carries with it increased responsibility. When a Jew employs modern technology to serve G-d, perform mitzvot (commandments) and further goodness in the world, he is utilizing these revelations properly.
Our understanding of the dynamics of the physical world has increased so that we can elevate it more readily. Furthermore, the greater our understanding of science, the greater our understanding of the ultimate unity of G-d and Creation.
We see in the progress of history the positive development of knowledge and how it leads to an understanding of G-d. "Breakthroughs" in modern science continue to prove the unity of all creation and, ultimately of G-d.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Expanding My Horizons: From Tasmania to Brooklyn
by Esther Malka King
I used to think, "Why would someone want to be religious?" What would make them want to choose a life of restrictions, throwing away opportunities to be care-free and have fun?
Throughout my childhood I had connections with Chabad. When I was seven-years-old I used to attend programs at Rabbi Yossi Gordan's Chabad House in Tasmania, Australia. This was where my family began learning about being religious. We became more involved with our heritage and I attended a Jewish school until my family moved away. For the next 10 years we lived in a very non-Jewish neighborhood. It was my mother, the foundation and pillar of the house, who kept us in touch with our Jewish roots. This was done by observing the holidays, honoring Shabbat and learning Torah from the Jewish books we had at home. We even had a picture of the Rebbe in our house. Though we were isolated, we still remained Jews and I will always thank my mother for this.
When I graduated high school I was accepted into Monash University, the leading university of Victoria, to study Psychology. I lived at home, had a car, computer, TV and was free to do what I wanted. I even had my own photography business. But I realized that something was missing. It was all so ephemeral. I decided to get back in touch with Rabbi Gordan and his family. Rabbi Gordan told me that a dose of Torah study at Machon Chana Women's Institute in Crown Heights, New York, would get me on track.
On my 20-hour plane flight I imagined what Crown Heights would be like. It wasn't like anything I had envisioned. On Shabbat and holidays every one walks in the same direction - to 770 (Eastern Parkway, World Lubavitch Headquarters). I find Crown Heights to be beautiful, the people are "normal" and I know that I can live a life of Torah study and mitzvot observance and still be cool!!
In Crown Heights we aren't locked away from the outside world. In fact, at one of the Rebbe's visits to the Machon Chana dormitory the Rebbe said that the young women must have mirrors and radios. Being religious doesn't exclude us from the "world" and what we wear and how we look, as well as knowing what is happening in the world, is important.
My fears on arrival of losing my personality, living in a strange country, making friends and being accepted were unfounded. I was amazed to see that there are many young women like myself interested in Torah and that practically every country in the world is represented here. Everyone is able to hold onto her culture and personality and build onto it. I am still the same person, no, I think I have become a better person, thanks to Torah.
I live in the Machon Chana dormitory and I have to say that living with people who have similar goals is helping my character grow and develop.
I feel at home here. We have a feeling of unity - we complement each other even though we are all different. To have dozens of different lives placed together in one house to grow - and have success - there has to be something special.
I have never been surrounded by women who have more passion for Torah observance than I do. Instead of being surrounded by don't do this and you must do that most questions I have lead to a larger conversations. And we learn about what's applicable to us. We walk away the wiser.
Living in this world doesn't mean excluding your old world. I am able to bring everything with me on my journey. My photography business that I had before I came to America is still running. I now photograph my friends' celebrations and chronicle life in the dorm. My computer skills are put to use in the office and with the help of the other young women we design and publish the school newsletter and year book.
Being Torah observant doesn't inhibit a person from doing anything. It only expands one's horizons. One's choices may seem like they are limited, but I have found that the stuff I can't do isn't worth it.
Studying Torah and observing mitzvot has definitely changed me for the best. I'm more relaxed, focused and willing to move forward. I try not to dwell on the past and know that I am here to work on me - Esther Malkah - this is only for the good. I know that I'll carry all the learning and experiences wherever I go. That I am accepting my birthright and living a life of Torah and mitzvot not only helps me but will, G-d willing, someday help my children. The next generation relies on us to keep paving the path. By our generation continuing to the gather and elevate the sparks we will only bring Moshiach and the complete Redemption closer. Moshiach Now!!
The Crisis of Not Having Faith
Especially in times of challenges, difficulties and tragedy, we need faith more than ever. Join Rabbi Manis Friedman and Mrs. Chana Rachel Schusterman for a Chabad Shabbaton Weekend discussing how to deal with crisis and how our crises can ultimately strengthen us. The weekend takes place October 25-27. It is sponsored by the Lubavitch Youth Organization and hosted by the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Call (718) 953-1000 or visit www.shabbaton.org for more information.
24 New Emissaries to Former Soviet Union
Twenty-four families arrived recently in the Former Soviet Union as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Ten of the families will be bolstering outreach work in Moscow and the rest have taken positions in the following cities: S. Petersburg, Donetzk, Vinitza, Odessa, Mariyopol, Vitebsk, Bobroisk, Novgorod, Kostroma, Vladivostock, and Birobidzhan. A huge welcome celebration was held in Jewish Community Center of Moscow. Last month, 75 day schools under the auspices of Ohr Avner Chabad with more then 12,000 students opened across the FSU.
18th of Sivan, 5719 
Greeting and Blessing:
After the long interval, I received your letter of June 15th, and I was pleased to read in it that all is well with you, and that you are maintaining the study period of which we spoke when you were here.
Needless to say, I am sorry to note that nothing has materialized as yet in the matter of a Shidduch [marriage match]. I hope, however, that you will be able to concentrate on it from now on, and in a way that accords with the teachings of our Torah, Toras Chaim [the Torah of Life].
With regard to the question of a vacation trip to the Holy Land, it would be advisable if you have friends and acquaintances there who would be helpful in the matter of a Shidduch, if by then, nothing materializes here. As for the question of vaccination, etc., which you would require if you make the trip in November, there is no basis for any anxiety in that respect. However, as indicated, if a suitable Shidduch should present itself here before that time, the trip would not be advisable at this time for many reasons.
You ask when is the proper time to say the daily quota of Tehillim [Psalms]. Generally speaking, the best time to say it is immediately after the morning prayers. However, if for some reason you are pressed for time, it could be said throughout the day, from sunlight to sunset....
20th of Sivan, 5721 
Greeting and Blessing:
I received your recent letter, as well as the previous two.
With regard to your study program, I believe I have already suggested to you that you should discuss this matter both with . . . as well as with your friends who know you and can also evaluate the efforts that may be entailed, etc. It has been said that a good solution comes as a result of many consultations.
You write that you wonder why G-d does not help you, etc. This surprises me, for surely you have had many occasions to recognize G-d's kindnesses to you. Every one of us receives G-d's blessings daily and that is why we recite in the morning prayer twenty blessings to thank G-d for His daily kindnesses. On the other hand, the fact that you feel some dissatisfaction could be applied to good use, in making growing efforts to improve your spiritual position as well as to increase the benefits bestowed on others.
With regard to your question about a Jewish girl who wants to learn in Gateshead or in Beis Yaakov in London, I do not understand why you should be opposed to this. For, at her age, it is just as im portant, and perhaps even more important, to learn in an environment which is permeated with the utmost degree of Yiras Shomayim [awe of Heaven] , and where she would have good friends of her own age, etc. For all these reasons Gateshead would be the ideal place for her.
On the question of translation and the changes which you find necessary to introduce this is also something which would be well to discuss with other people locally. Above all, a translation must always be a free translation, which is also the case of all translations that are made here, for the important thing is to convey them in a fluent and readable language.
There was no general message for Shovuos, but there was a special message for the delegates of the Convention of N'shei Chabad, a copy of which is enclosed, and which it is hoped you will make ample use of.
5 Cheshvan, 5763 - October 11, 2002
Prohibition 241: It is forbidden to take a security from a widow
This commandment is based on the verse (Deut. 24:17) "Nor shall you take a widow's garment as security" The Torah forbids us to demand any security from a widow for a loan she has taken. Rather, we should be kind and trust that G-d will help her repay the loan. This prohibition applies regardless of whether a widow is poor or wealthy.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Sunday is the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. In the times of the Holy Temple, the Jewish people traveled to Jerusalem for the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, the seventh of Cheshvan marked the end of the pilgrimage season surrounding the festival of Sukkot, according to our Sages. During Sukkot, the entire Jewish people were in Jerusalem. For the Jews living on the Euphrates River, the furthest reaches of the Holy Land, their journey home took fifteen days and thus, was concluded on the seventh of Cheshvan. It was beginning on the seventh of Cheshvan that the prayer for rain commenced, once all of the pilgrims were comfortably home again.
This fact, of the delay of the prayers for rain until the last pilgrims reached their homes, is relevant to the concept of Jewish unity.
During the pilgrimage festivals, the essential unity of the Jewish people is expressed. However, that unity applies to the essential oneness that binds our people together, while transcending our individuality. The unity expressed by the seventh of Cheshvan relates to Jews as individuals. Jewish unity remains even after each Jew returns to his own home and his individual lifestyle.
The seventh of Cheshvan is the final stage of Jewish unity that was begun during the month of Elul (the days of preparation for Rosh Hashana) and enhanced throughout all of the days of month of Tishrei. May we continue to work on and enhance Jewish unity in every way possible until the ultimate revelation of total Jewish unity and the unity of G-d and the entire world with the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
These are the generations of Noach: Noach was a just man in his generation (Gen. 6:9)
Rashi comments: This verse teaches us that the most important legacy of a righteous person is his good deeds. A righteous person is not defined by his lineage or by his noble ancestry, but by his own actions and behavior.
A window shall you make for the ark (Gen. 6:16)
The Hebrew word for "ark" is "tayva," which also has the meaning of "word." A Jew's job is to make a "window," as it were, for the words he utters in prayer or in the study of Torah, and to let them illuminate, as the sun shines at midday.
(Baal Shem Tov)
I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh (6:17)
Why did G-d choose a flood with which to punish mankind? Could he not have chosen another method to destroy the wicked? The purpose of the flood, however, was to purify the world which had become unclean and defiled by its inhabitants. This is alluded to in the duration of the flood, forty days, and the requirement that a purifying mikva (ritualarium) contain at least forty sa'a (a specific measure) of water.
(Rabbi Shneur Zalman)
And Noach went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives into the ark (7:7)
A person should not content himself with his own entrance into the "ark"-the holy letters of prayer and of the Torah, but should always seek to bring others with him as well, not only members of his family but every fellow Jew. Just as G-d helped Noach by closing the door of the ark after all were safely inside, so, too, is every Jew assisted by G-d when he comes to the aid of his fellow man.
And only Noach was left (7:23)
Despite the fact that Noach was a righteous person, he was still required to tend to all the animals in the ark and take care of their needs. This was a physically demanding and sometimes dangerous job. Similarly, no matter how high a spiritual level one reaches, he is still obligated to take care of those around him who may need his guidance.
One year, the Land of Israel was afflicted with a terrible drought. There lived at that time a great man named Choni, and it was to him that the Jews flocked. They pleaded with him to add his holy prayers for rain to those of the congregation. Choni promised that he would pray, and with this assurance, the people returned to their homes to await the rain.
Choni prepared himself for the awesome task of praying on behalf of the water-parched holy land and its holy inhabitants. He prayed fervently, but to no avail.
Choni grabbed a stick and planted himself firmly in one spot in a field. With the end of the stick he drew a circle around himself on the earth. Then he cried out, "Master of the Universe, Your children need rain desperately. They have asked me to pray to You, and I swear that I will not step out of this circle until You have answered Your children."
The hint of a cloud appeared in the sky. The air became heavy. Slowly, tiny droplets began to fall. The excited people ran outside, but when they saw the meager rainfall they asked, "Will a rain like this suffice to help us? It seems to be just enough to release the righteous one from his vow to not leave the circle."
A delegation returned to Choni and begged him to pray again, but this time for a strong rain to satisfy the parched fields. Choni prayed once more and in minutes clouds overtook the sky. A heavy rain burst forth, flooding the earth and sending people running for shelter from the sheets of rain. This was a rain never before seen. Each drop held the volume of four cups!
The terrified people ran to Choni. He wrapped himself in his prayer shawl and prayed once more, crying out, "This is not the kind of rain I requested. Please send your children good rain." Slowly a blessed rain descended, filling wells, drenching the cracked earth, falling and falling without end.
The people left their homes and gathered high on the Temple Mount to escape the flood. Alas, again they came to Choni, pleading for him to pray that the rain stop. But this time he refused, saying: "My teachers taught me that it is not permitted to pray to take away a blessing."
The people were baffled by their dilemma. How could they show proper gratitude to G-d but still ask him to stop the downpour? Finally they came up with an answer. They brought Choni a cow to be used as a thanksgiving sacrfice. Laying his hands on the cow's head, Choni said the following prayer: "Master of the Universe, Your children are unable to stand too much bad or too much good. Please, G-d, stop this rain and bring peace to the world."
Choni's prayers were accepted. The people returned to their homes and fields, overjoyed that G-d had answered their prayers. The recently barren fields were full of ripe mushrooms and other edible plants that they picked and ate. Then, the people were able to understand that the rains had been a true blessing, and they offered thanks to G-d.
The head of the Jewish Court sent Choni a letter saying: G-d grants your requests in the same way as a father answers his favorite son. The son asks for a warm bath, then wants a cold one; then he asks for fruits and nuts, which the loving father hurries to provide. So does G-d hurry to fulfill your wishes. Fortunate are the parents who bore you. Our generation was filled with darkness and sorrow, but your prayers have led us to light and joy."
From that time on, Choni became known as "Choni HaMa'agal - Choni the circle-maker" because of the circle he drew around himself and refused to leave until his prayers were answered.
A businessman who wants to double his capital first has to invest it in merchandise, and then, emptyhanded, await his profit. In the same way, only by being dispersed empty-handed among the nations of the world can the Jewish people ultimately arrive at their great profit-the exalted revelation of divine light that will take place in the times of Moshiach.
(Maamarei Admur HaZaken)