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 # 754
                           Copyright (c) 2003
                 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.
        January 24, 2003         Yisro           21 Shevat, 5763

                         Making a House A Home
                        by Dovid Y. B. Kaufmann

There used to be a controversy whether a woman who stayed at home should
be called a "homemaker" or a "housewife." The argument ran that she
wasn't married to the house, a thing of wood or stone and that anyway a
house was only a structure. But she did make a home, a place of nurture,
sharing and growth. It was a way to elevate the status of a woman who
"didn't work," meaning, of course who didn't work outside the home.
Running a household, er, sorry, making a home, requires managerial,
administrative and negotiating skills that put CEOs of major
corporations to shame.

In a way, it was a silly controversy because calling a "housewife" a
"homemaker," or vice versa, didn't increase the pay and probably didn't
affect the respect she got. But still, there's something profound in the
thought that it takes a "housewife" to be a "homemaker.'

Let's consider one of the most famous passages in the Torah: "Make Me a
sanctuary that I may dwell among them." This command to build the
Tabernacle, the prototype for the Temple, has a grammatical anomaly,
noted by the rabbis. It should have said, "that I may dwell in it." It
says "that I may dwell among them" to teach us that each and every Jew
must build an inner sanctuary, a place in the heart, so to speak, where
G-d can dwell.

This concept of making a dwelling has a close connection with how the
world was created. In the beginning of Genesis, the Torah says in regard
to the world "that G-d created it to make." It's the same verb as "to
make Me a sanctuary." It means we are to make the world, to perfect it,
to transform it into, yes, a dwelling place for G-d.

So the external, physical dwelling - the world or the Temple - resembles
and reflects the internal, spiritual dwelling - the heart and mind of
every Jew.

What does this have to do with Jewish women, and whether we think in
terms of "homemaker" or "housewife"?

Well, the Hebrew term for the Temple is Beit HaMikdash - the house of
sanctity. And a synagogue, today's miniature Beit HaMikdash, is called a
Beit Kenesset - a house of assembly. (And the place where Torah is
studied is called a Beit Midrash - a house of study.)

And the Jewish woman is called the Akeret haBayit - the foundation of
the house. That is, just as the foundation supports the structure, the
woman supports the house of Israel. Without a firm foundation, no
building can endure. And without the woman conducting herself and her
home - her household - in a Jewish manner, no Jewish home can survive.
For it is principally the woman who insures that the house will be
kosher, be Sabbath observant and follow the laws of family purity.

But the reflection of the internal home in the external house extends
beyond a street address and the family. As mentioned above, the
transformation of the entire world begins with the construction of the
Jewish sanctuary - the (external) house and the (internal) home. Both
have to be built. In this sense, activities "in the outside world" -
whether helping another Jew perform a mitzva or interacting with the
non-Jewish world in a way that it, too, becomes a dwelling place -
correspond to building the house and making it a home.

So maybe it doesn't matter whether the term "homemaker" or "housewife"
is used. But what does matter is that the Jewish woman fulfill her
mission as the Akeret Habayit - the one taking the lead in transforming
the world.

    This issue of L'Chaim commemorates the 15th yartzeit of Rebbetzin
    Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in whose
    memory L'Chaim was created. This article was inspired by a talk of
    the Rebbe on the Rebbetzin's yartzeit and is the 15th article Dovid
    Kaufmann has written for the front page of L'Chaim.

This week's Torah portion, Yitro, contains the narrative of the most
definitive event in human history - the giving of the Torah on Mount
Sinai. In order to understand what happened at Mount Sinai, we need to
examine the concept of Torah itself.

As wisdom, the Torah is Divine, and therefore higher than any other body
of knowledge on earth - "For it is Your wisdom and understanding in the
eyes of the nations." As a moral guide, the Torah is the epitome of all
virtue, superior to any code of ethics that can ever be devised by man.
All man-made ideologies and schools of philosophy contain an admixture
of good and evil, truth and falsehood; in fact, any element of truth
found in a particular ideology is merely a derivative of the eternal
truth of Torah.

Yet the greatness of Torah far supersedes our human and therefore
limited perception. The Torah is intimately connected to all of
existence, as G-d created the world according to the "blueprints"
contained in the Torah. Its minutest details directly affect all of
creation, determining the amount and type of G-dly influence present in
the world.

Observing this fundamental relationship between Torah and reality, King
David declared in Psalms, "Your statutes were music to me in my dwelling
place." And yet, as explained in the Talmud, G-d was not pleased by
these words of praise. King David was reprimanded for comparing the
Divine wisdom of the Torah to something as mundane as song. The Torah is
even greater than the mere fact that physical reality is dependent on

What then, is the essence of Torah? Chasidic teachings explain that
Torah is simply the wisdom and will of G-d, united with Him in absolute
unity. G-d and the Torah are one entity. The Holy One, Blessed Be He,
has granted us the opportunity to grasp the Divine by allowing us to
partake of His eternal wisdom.

All other attributes and characteristics of Torah - its unlimited
enlightenment, its ethical superiority, its direct influence on
existence - are only secondary to this fact, the logical outgrowth of
its essential nature. As Torah is a part of an infinite, omnipotent G-d,
it is only natural that its perfection extends to all these other areas
as well.

This eternal quality is most obviously manifested in the inner, esoteric
part of the Torah, the teachings of Chasidism. Chasidism is not limited
to one particular realm, but rather animates and illuminates all of
Torah, which is why it is known as "the light of the Torah." The study
of Chasidismt therefore serves to prepare the world for the revelation
of Moshiach and the Era of Redemption, when "the knowledge of G-d will
cover the world like the waters of the ocean cover the sea bed."

            From Kuntres Inyana Shel Torat HaChasidut of the Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                           Gift of a Lifetime
                          By Yehudis Wolvovsky

From a speech to guests at a gathering in honor of the birth of Yehudis
and Yosef Wolvovsky's first child, Chaya Mushka. The Wolvovskys are
emissaries of the Rebbe in Glastonbury, Connecticut

If you were to give your child a gift, a gift of a lifetime, what would
you choose?

We chose to give our daughter the gift of kindness, the gift of courage,
and the gift of humility.

We chose to give our daughter the gift of her name, and with it, we hope
and pray, the gift of character.

Recently my husband was told, "Rabbi, as far as I know you are the
closest thing to G-d." We all laughed, but there is some truth to that
statement. We are told that after a baby is born, the parents are given
divine insight when choosing a name.

We named our daughter Chaya Muskha, after Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka
Schneerson; she was the Lubavitcher Rebbe's wife and the Previous
Rebbe's daughter. She was a paradigm of kindness, courage and humility.

From a young age, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka was recognized for her courage.
As the daughter of the Previous Rebbe, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka witnessed
the intensification of the Soviet war against Judaism. Life became very
dangerous for Jews. Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka was asked to secretly
transport food and supplies to the underground yeshiva students.

During those difficult years, she played a significant role in her
father's work. So much so that a certificate was written empowering her
to receive money and government documents on her father's behalf.

In 1927, when the communist police arrived to arrest her father for his
involvement in Jewish communal work, she kept her composure and
furtively alerted her fiancÚ, the future Rebbe, of the situation.

It was Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who bravely accompanied her father to
exile in the city of Kostroma; and it was she who notified her family of
her father's miraculous release.

In May of 1940, the Rebbetzin, together with her husband, fled Nazi
occupied Paris. In the course of their flight there was a heavy
bombardment by the German forces. As people were running for cover,
Chaya Mushka noticed a shell heading toward a man next to her. She
quickly pushed him to the ground, saving his life. The Rebbetzin later
commented, "True, I saved his life, but for pushing a Jew, one just do
teshuva (repent)." It was with this humility that Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka
distinguished herself.

Throughout her life, the Rebbetzin's kindness helped many friends and
strangers alike. While on a trip she was once forced to take a detour,
due to construction. Riding down a side road, she noticed a sobbing
woman standing outsider her home. A moving truck was being loaded with
furniture, with several police officers observing. After passing the
scene, the Rebbtzin asked her driver to return to the house.

Upon inquiring, she was told that the woman was being evicted from her
home, as she had not paid several months rent. The driver was instructed
to ask the officer if he would accept a personal check. She then wrote a
check for several thousands dollars, and waited until all the furniture
had been returned to the house before leavening.

Endless stories are told of the Rebbetzin's virtues. Her outstanding
character has been demonstrated in so many ways, whether it was in the
danger of communist Russia, or in the activity of New York. As the
daughter of the Previous Rebbe, as the wife of the Rebbe, and as the
mother figure to all of the Chasidim, the Rebbetzin's kindness, courage,
and humility stand as an eternal example.

We all want the best for our children. We would do anything for them to
succeed and grow.

As our baby Chaya Mushka's parents there are many gifts we can give her.
There are many things she will treasure. But the gift of this special
name, the treasure of this exceptional legacy, is something we hope she
will cherish forever.

                       Reprinted from  the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             True Existence

True Existence is a Chasidic discourse delivered by Rabbi Shmuel
Schneersohn, the fourth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe. Translated into a lucid
English and recently released by Kehot Publication Society, True
Existence delves into the omnipresence of G-d and the true nature of
existence. This is a bi-lingual Hebrew/English publication with the
Hebrew text fully vowelized. The English is annotated with source
references and commentary.

                            Talks and Tales

The monthly magazine for children, Talks and Tales, first began
appearing in 1942. Its contents usually included Jewish festival
information, historical  events, lessons from the Torah portion, a
story, In Nature's Wonderland, the Curiosity Corner, and more.
Translated into Yiddish, Hebrew, Spanish and French, Talks and Tales:
The Complete Collection is now available in a 16 volume set and offers
thousands of hours of educational and enjoyable reading for children of
all ages.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                           A Woman's Imprint

In commemoration of the yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka (on the 22nd
of Shevat) we present translated excerpts of two letters the Rebbe wrote
to the annual Lubavitch Women's Convention.

In the days of Sefira, 5728 [1968]

...The Torah tells us that when the Jewish people finally reached Mount
Sinai, they attained a state of complete unity, as indicated in the
words, "and Israel encamped there" (in the singular person), all of them
as one, united and unified by the singular thought of receiving the
Torah and mitzvot.

The significance of that moment is pointed out by our Sages of blessed
memory, declaring that the unification of the Jewish people was the
condition for receiving the Torah.

It has often been emphasized that there are crucial moments in the life
of our people, especially in the area of Torah and Judaism, where the
Jewish woman plays a most important role. One of these areas is the
unity of the family.  Here the woman holds the main keys of harmony
between the parents and the children, the parents vis-a-vis each other,
and the children in relation to one another. In this area the wife and
mother clearly has a decisive role, and in most cases, even a more
decisive role than the husband and father. This is one of the reasons
why the Jewish woman bears the title of akeret habayit (foundation of
the home).

It is likewise clear that Jewish unity in a broader sense - unity
between one family and another, and unity on a national level - is
dependent upon harmony within the family unit. Where harmony is lacking
within the family, G-d forbid, surely no harmony can prevail between
such a family and another.

However, even where there is complete harmony within family groups,
there still remains the problem of achieving unity on the national
level. Let us therefore remember that the basis for true Jewish unity is
the Torah and mitzvot.

If throughout the ages it has been no easy task to achieve unity, the
problem has become much more complicated in this age of "freedom" in the
"free" countries of the world, where people are no longer restricted in
their choice of domicile, occupation, educational facilities, free
expression of opinions, ideas, etc.

All these diversities and dispersions - geographic, social, cultural,
etc. - are "by-products" of the contemporary "free" society in which we
live. The newly-created conditions have created new problems and
difficulties, which, however, must be viewed as challenges. With the
proper approach and a determined will, they can be resolved...

                                *  *  *

                        Lag B'Omer, 5727 [1967]

Attention has been called on several previous occasions to the special
significance of this year, a year of Hakhel - the special mitzva
(commandment) in the post-Shemita year to gather all Jews, men, women
and children, for the purpose of fostering fear of Heaven and the
observance of mitzvot in daily life.

The mitzva of Hakhel was connected with a certain time and place (the
Holy Temple), yet, by virtue of the eternity of the Torah, this mitzva,
too, is, in its spiritual concept and content, valid at all times and in
all places, and today perhaps more than ever before.

The spiritual concept and content of the mitzva of Hakhel is: to
reinforce the eternal bond between the eternal Torah and the eternal
core within every Jew and all Jews, to wit, the Divine soul, an "actual
part of G-d above," which animates all Jews, men, women and children.

...The role of the Jewish woman and Jewish daughter in strengthening the
attachment between Jews and Torah is particularly underscored in the
mitzva of Hakhel, by the fact that not merely were women required to
participate in this mitzva, but they were also required to bring the
very small children as well.  Indeed, the raising, care and education of
Jewish children, from birth until school age, falls largely upon the
woman. She, the Jewish mother, leaves her imprint upon the child and
molds his early inner development...

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
22 Shevat 5763/January 25, 2003

Positive mitzva 59: blowing the trumpets in the Sanctuary

By this injunction we are commanded to sound trumpets in the Sanctuary
when offering any of the Festival sacrifices. It is contained in the
words (Num. 10:10): "Also in the day of your gladness, and in your
appointed seasons, and in your new moons, you shall blow with the
trumpets." We are also commanded to blow trumpets in times of trouble,
as it states (Num. 10:9): "When you go to war in your land [against the
adversary that oppresses you, then shall you sound an alarm with the

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbas  is the anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka Schneerson, wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and daughter of the
Previous Rebbe. Extremely modest, queenly in bearing, sensitive,
compassionate and intelligent, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka was the embodiment
of Jewish womanhood.

After the Rebbetzin's passing in 1988, the Rebbe began to speak about "a
new era" having commenced. Although the Rebbe had always stressed our
generation's unique role in preparing the world for Moshiach, at that
point the Rebbe declared that the only thing left in our Divine service
is to actually greet Moshiach himself.

As the Rebbe further explained, this "new period" we are now in is
especially significant for Jewish women and girls, whose task is not
only to establish a "dwelling place for G-d in the lower realms" (as is
every Jewish person's), but to ensure that it is a "beautiful" dwelling.
When a "beautiful dwelling" is established, G-d "puts Himself" into the
dwelling in an entirely different manner, not just "dwelling there" but
uniting with it, as it were. G-d's dwelling place in the lower worlds
becomes not only nullified to the "Owner," but one with Him.

This is reflected in the special mitzvot of Jewish women and girls, with
their emphasis on light (Shabbat and Yom Tov candles), purity and
holiness (kashrut and the laws of family purity), and warmth (providing
children with a Torah-true Jewish education, the main objective of which
is to instill enthusiasm for Judaism). In other words, Jewish women and
girls are the ultimate "interior decorators" in establishing a
"beautiful dwelling."

In these last few moments of exile, it is therefore crucial that all
Jewish women and girls be aware of their tremendous role in hastening
the Final Redemption, which will come "as reward for the righteous women
of the generation."

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And Yitro heard (Ex. 18:1)

Yitro (Jethro) was not the only one to hear of the miracles G-d had
wrought for Israel, as it says, "The nations heard it and trembled."
However, Yitro was the only one who acted upon what he heard and became
a Jew.

                                                (The Kotzker Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8)

Explains Rashi, the great Torah commentator: Take heed to remember the
Sabbath at all times, so that if you happen to find something special,
set it aside for Shabbat. Likewise, our Sages state that we are not to
give special names to the weekdays, but to refer to them in the context
of Shabbat ("first day to Shabbat, second day to Shabbat," etc.). Thus
we are constantly conscious of the upcoming Shabbat and prepare for it
every day. The same applies to the Messianic Era, the "day that is
entirely Shabbat and rest for life everlasting." Throughout the present
"weekday" of exile we must constantly remember and remain conscious of
the "Shabbat day" that is coming, preparing ourselves and everything
around us for the arrival of Moshiach.

                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 11 Sivan, 5744)

                                *  *  *

For by the very thing in which they sinned was punishment brought upon
them (Ex. 18:11)

A person's punishment is determined by his own judgment of others: When
a Jew sees someone transgressing and immediately "sentences" that person
in his heart, he is thereby fixing his own sentence, as the sin most
certainly exists in him as well.

                                                    (Baal Shem Tov)

                                *  *  *

You shall say to the House of Jacob and tell the Children of Israel (Ex.

Our Sages say that the "House of Jacob" refers to the women, and the
"Children of Israel" to the men. When G-d gave the Torah, He told Moses
to first approach the women and only after the men. Since the exodus
from Egypt occurred by virtue of the righteous women of that generation,
when G-d gave the Torah, the women were given preference. The final
Redemption, too, will be by virtue of the righteous women, as the
Midrash states: "All generations are redeemed by virtue of the righteous
women of their generation." Thus the women will be first to receive the
wondrous teachings of Moshiach.

                                       (Sichot Kodesh, Yitro, 5749)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Throughout the ages, we find great women who have been respected Torah

The renowned Sefardic Torah giant, Rabbi Chayim Yosef David Azulai
(known as the "Chida," 1724-1806) in his bibliographic work Shem
Gedolim, has a special listing for "Rabbanit" ("Rebbetzin").

He quotes the Talmud (Megilla 14a) that the Jewish people had seven
prophetesses: Sara, Miriam, Devora, Chana, Avigayil, Chulda and Esther.
In a commentary in Genesis, Rashi says that all the Matriarchs were

The Chida mentions the renowned Bruria, daughter of Rabbi Chanina ben
Tradyon and wife of Rabbi Meir (both Tanaim - Sages mentioned in the
Mishna). The Talmud says she would review 300 teachings of 300 Torah
masters in a single day. She knew so much that she could express her own
opinion in questions of Jewish legal matters, disagreeing with respected
Tanaim, while others endorsed her opinion. So authoritative was Bruria
considered, that eminent Tanaim would reverently quote how she rebuked
them for not adhering properly to the teachings of the Sages.

On occasion she would even rebuke students for poor learning habits,
giving as her source her interpretation of a scriptural verse, an
interpretation that the Talmud later quoted.

The foremost commentator Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (c. 1040-1105)
had three daughters and no sons. His daughters were known to be
outstandingly knowledgeable in Torah. Once, Rashi lay sick, with no
strength to write a profound and complicated reply to a query he had
received. He therefore asked his daughter Rachel to write it. This may
mean that he dictated it to her; even so, it reveals Rashi's confidence
in her ability to accurately transcribe the complicated subject matter,
for which she must have been a considerable scholar.

Maharshal, Rabbi Shlomo Luria (c. 1510-1573), one of the greatest Torah
authorities in a generation of great luminaries, writes of an ancestress
of his, some seven generations back:

"The Rabbanit Miriam, daughter of the Gaon Rabbi Shlomo Shapiro and
sister of Rabbi Peretz of Kostenitz, of a continuous line of Torah
scholars tracing its ancestry to Rashi...who had her own yeshiva, where
she would sit with a curtain intervening, while she lectured in Jewish
law before young men who were outstanding Torah scholars."

Nor was this phenomenon confined to the Ashkenazi lands where the
prevailing non-Jewish mores were more tolerant of women in positions of
prominence. Rabbi Pesachya of Regensburg, Germany (c. 1120-1190), one of
the Baalei Tosafot contemporary with Maimonides, traveled extensively,
and an account of his travels still exists. He wrote about Rabbi Shmuel
Halevi ben Ali, dean of the yeshiva of Baghdad in those days, had an
only daughter known to be expert in both the Bible and Talmud. Despite
the emphasis on modesty, she would teach young men Tanach. She would sit
indoors near a window through which she could be heard, while her male
students would listen outside on a lower level where they could not see

Another woman of this period who is recorded as being a Torah scholar
was Dulce, the saintly wife of Rabbi Elazar of Worms (1160-1238),
renowned author of Sefer Rokeach and other works and one of the greatest
"Chasidei Ashkenaz" (the pious German Kabalists of the 12th-13th

Together with her two daughters, she died a martyr's death in 1197 at
the hands of Crusaders who murdered them in her husband's presence. He
mourned her in a touching elegy in which he describes her as extremely
pious and wise, hospitable to the Torah scholars, expert in the rules of
Torah prohibitions, and as one who would preach every Shabbat - to
women, we assume.

Historians mention other women of this period who were very
knowledgeable in Torah. Usually they are known only by the Torah books
they wrote in Yiddish for other women to study, or for their
translations of classic Torah works into Yiddish.

The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe writes, "Several women in the generations
of the Tanaim and Amoraim, and also in generations closer to us, were
knowledgeable in Torah." The Previous Rebbe might have had in mind his
ancestress Perel, the scholarly wife of the renowned Maharal of Prague,
Rabbi Yehuda Liva ben Betzalel (1512- 1609).

The Maharal was ten years old when he was engaged to Perel, who was then
six (as was common at the time). Realizing his great genius, she decided
to study Torah assiduously so that she would never be an embarrassment
to her great husband. She said that from age eight, no day passed when
she did not spend at least five hours studying Torah. Perel arranged and
redacted all 24 of her husband's renowned works. It is said that in at
least eight places she found errors in his works where he had misquoted
Talmudic Sages, Rashi or Tosafot.

                       Adapted from an article in The Yiddishe Heim

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Each generation is redeemed only in the merit of the righteous women of
that generation

                                              (Yalkut Shimoni Ruth)

                 END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 754 - Yisro 5763

  • 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