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L'Chaim
February 14, 2003 - 12 Adar I, 5763

757: Tetzaveh

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


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  756: Terumah758: Ki Sisa  

Traffic Tickets  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Rambam this week  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Traffic Tickets

Anyone who's driven for a while has probably gotten a traffic ticket. A few, drive through life without a ticket. For most of us, though, it's at least a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sometimes we get a ticket when young, sometimes when middle-aged, sometimes the first ticket comes when the driver's already a "senior citizen."

And there are many types of tickets: parking tickets; speeding tickets; and a host of non-accident related tickets such as failure to yield, making an illegal u-turn, turning right on red when the sign says not to. Then there are the fender-bender tickets. (We won't mention any serious ones.)

The police issuing the ticket usually try to be polite. They don't want a confrontation, they're just doing their job and they probably know how you feel. Believe it or not, the sympathy may be genuine, not just because they also get tickets, but because they've been in similar situations. So yes, the police are authoritative, and no, they don't give the scofflaw (interesting word, that) a break, and yes, some are surly.

But usually it's the driver with the attitude. It's the driver who questions the purpose of the ticket, the motive of the cop, and the fairness of the fine.

And ironically we're as likely to be upset - actually, we probably get more upset - if the ticket is for a minor infraction, like an expired brake tag, than for a serious violation, like going 85 in a 55 zone.

Strange, because the fine for a parking ticket or even a small "moving violation" may not be that much. More is often spent on an evening's entertainment. And if we're hit with a big penalty - in the hundreds - we probably deserve it (50 in a 25) and know it. So, yeah, that hurts, but we don't get as angry or offended. We don't feel singled out or victimized the same way.

Why is that? And why is it, if we're genuinely upset about the ticket, we question the cop's attitude, but not his action - or ours? Why do we complain that he should be out chasing "real criminals" - bank robbers and such - when we know, and will freely admit, that we broke the law - and there's nothing wrong with the law?

Traffic tickets are a nuisance. We're penalized for a small transgression. So I didn't come to a complete stop at the stop sign - I almost did. And no one was hurt. We plead ignorance - I didn't see... or negligence - I forgot, I didn't realize it meant...

That's what bothers us, isn't it? The pettiness of the sin. It's just an insignificant detail - so the car's supposed to be parked fourteen feet from the fire hydrant, not twelve.

Yet, we know we didn't follow the rules, didn't pay attention to the details - broke the law. We tried to make an exception of ourselves, and instead made an example of ourselves.

Judaism also cares about the details. There's a difference between an animal having one sign of kashrut (chewing its cud or having split hooves) or two, between nineteen minutes before sunset Friday, and eighteen. It matters if we've looked for bread in pockets and corners before Passover. And yes, weights and measures have to be precise.

So if someone complains that Judaism is fastidious and demanding, that Jewish law is hard to please, we can sympathize - for we've all gotten a traffic ticket or two in our lives.

But we know - and they know - minor infractions matter.


Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Tetzave, describes the special garments worn by the high priest during his service in the Holy Temple, and enumerates eight separate items of clothing.

The Torah makes two provisos: First, the high priest may not perform his service unless he is wearing all eight garments, and second, he is not allowed to even enter the Sanctuary unless he is wearing three of them - the breastplate, ephod, and robe.

The high priest is the emissary and representative of the Jewish people, and as such, his function is to connect them to G-d.

The relationship between the Jew and G-d exists on two levels simultaneously: One is the result of the Jew's service through Torah and mitzvot (commandments), the other stems from the Jew's innate connection with G-d by virtue of his essence. Both levels are reflected in the Torah's instructions concerning the high priest's garments.

Set into the breastplate were twelve precious stones, each inscribed with the name of a different tribe, which the high priest was required to wear "upon his heart." The breastplate therefore symbolizes the highest level of connection between the Jew and G-d, as these names were actually inscribed on the holy object itself.

The next level of the Jew's bond with G-d is expressed in the ephod, which also contained stones inscribed with the names of the tribes, but with a difference: The stones of the ephod were not worn "opposite the heart" but rather, "upon the shoulder- pieces," in the back of the garment.

The ephod therefore symbolizes those Jews who wage a constant war against their Evil Inclination, a type of service of G-d that falls into the category of "back."

The third level is expressed in the high priest's robe, the hem of which was adorned with "pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarn."

Our Sages commented that even the most unaffiliated Jew is as full of mitzvot as a pomegranate; the ephod therefore symbolizes this level.

The high priest must wear all three garments - representing all three levels of Jews - if he is to be allowed into the Sanctuary, the place where the Divine Presence rests. For it is when all Jews stand together in unity that the deepest bond with G-d is forged - "a remembrance before the L-rd continually."

This contains a lesson for us to apply in our lives:

Every single Jew is an essential part of the Jewish people and is therefore a "remembrance before the L-rd continually."

For the true essence of the Jew is not his external appearance but his G-dly soul, "a veritable part of G-d," and all Jews are children of the same Father.

From Likutei Sichot Vol. XXI of the Rebbe


A Slice of Life

Chicken Soup, Candles and Peace of Cake
by Joyce Brooks Bogartz

Mrs. Marcia Lieberman just might be America's most high-profile Jewish mother. She has two daughters and a son, Senator Joseph Lieberman. She shares her Shabbat, past and present

JBB: Everyone knows Mrs. Lieberman, the senator's mother, but we'd like to learn about Marcia Lieberman, the Jewish mother. Can you share some of your Shabbat memories?

Marcia Lieberman: Mostly, I remember my mother, sisters and brothers sitting down at the Friday night table, enjoying the welcoming of Shabbat. At that time there were no automatic clocks or timers to turn the lights on and off, so we sat around the table reading until the Shabbat candles burned out.

One of the things I learned from my mother is, when lighting the Shabbat candles, to always keep in mind the souls of our dear ones who aren't with us-this is one thing I've shared with my daughters and Hadassah [Mrs. Joseph Lieberman].

I have a pair of candlesticks that were my grandmother's. She died at 97, about 60 years ago, and they belonged to her parents. I also have my mother's candlesticks. They will go to one of my grandchildren, whom I am sure will observe the Shabbat. That is how they are passed down.

JBB: What will be some of your children's Shabbat memories?

Marcia Lieberman: Walking into the house and smelling the chicken soup, the dill and the parsley. The dill is the secret. About 11:00 Friday morning, the aroma is going strong.

My kids say I "hold court" on Saturday afternoon. I come home after shul, have lunch, take a nap and then around 4:00 people start to knock on the door. Any number of women - a few weeks ago there were 15 unexpected - come for cake, tea, nosherei. My mother did that in her home - women would come for tea and honey cake.

I don't know why, but everything tastes so special on Saturday. It's like the house has a different spirit on Shabbat. I wish I could bottle and sell it, or bottle and keep it for the rest of the week. I could have the house just as neat during the week, but it never feels like it does on Saturday.

JBB: What do you think your family and guests expect from your Shabbat?

Marcia Lieberman: The best answer to that question is a compliment I received from one of the women who comes every Saturday - a very bright woman. She said to me, "When I come to your home on Shabbat, I come away with such peace."

JBB: What happens when you are away for Shabbat?

Marcia Lieberman: I rarely go elsewhere for Shabbat. I don't usually leave the house on Friday nights. But when I do, I always cover my table with a tablecloth to honor the Shabbat.

JBB: Does being in the national spotlight affect your Shabbat?

Marcia Lieberman: I don't feel any different. It hasn't affected me at all. I enjoyed every minute of the campaign. The greatest thing was when Friday night came, with all the work and all the running around we did, everything stopped, and we were all together. Joe, Hadassah, all the children that were out campaigning, the friends and families that were observant - some of my friends aren't, of course. But we were able to shed everything and just enjoy the Shabbat. Those hours, from Friday night to Saturday night, gave us time to just relax and enjoy.

JBB: Thank you for sharing your Shabbat with our readers. Any final thoughts?

Marcia Lieberman: I wish the whole world would learn the peace of Shabbat. If more people participated in Shabbat, there would be more peace in the world.

Reprinted with permission from Farbrengen Magazine, a publication of Chabad of California.


What's New

Studies In Rashi

Studies in Rashi presents the Lubavitcher Rebbe's revolutionary approach to the study of foremost Biblical commentator Rashi in English for the very first time. Studies in Rashi contains two discourses of the Rebbe masterfully translated by Rabbi Yitschak M. Kagan, o.b.m. In these pages, the reader is invited to drink of "the wine" of Rashi, to embark on a truly magnificent journey, one that promises to change forever one's perspective of Torah and Rashi study. Published by Kehot Publication Society, www.kehotonline.com

A Deeper Reality

Free will... Coincidence... Destiny... A Deeper Reality video (or CD) takes the viewer on a journey at once mystical yet down to earth from the big bang through our current technological revolution. Take a deeper look into the energy stored in sub-atomic particles, catch a glimpse of the emerging global community, and the future of the Internet, among minds, hearts, and souls... and envision a world that is guided and defined by a new kind of intelligence both human and Divine. Available on-line at www.jlicentral.com/reality/order.htm or for phone orders call 917-589-8445.


The Rebbe Writes

Freely translated

Erev-Shabbos - Yisro, 5722 [1962]

The Ten Commandments unite within them laws of two apparently quite different orders: The first Commandments express and reveal the deepest truths about G-d's Unity (true monotheism); the others, on the other hand, contain such elementary injunctions as "Thou shalt not murder" and "Thou shalt not steal," which seem self-evident even to the average human intellect.

However, the truth is that even "self-evident" moral precepts, if left to human judgement alone, without the binding force of Divine Authority and Sanction, can out of self-love be distorted so as to turn vice into "virtue."

Indeed, interpreting the moral precepts of "Thou shalt not murder" and "Thou shalt not steal," from the viewpoint of selfish gain, many a nation in the world, as well as any individual, have "legalized" their abhorrent ends, not to mention that they have "justified" the means to those ends - as has been amply demonstrated, to our sorrow, particularly in recent years.

If by rejecting the Commandments of "I am G-d" and "Thou shalt have no other gods," or even by dissociating them from "Thou shalt not murder" and "Thou shalt not steal," the safeguard against bloodshed and theft, even their most brutal forms, were removed from humanity's conscience, it is certainly hopeless to expect safeguards against "Thou shalt not murder," and "Thou shalt not steal," in more "subtle" ways, such as the "bloodshed" of character assassination, or the "theft of the mind" (gnevas da'as) and the like.

The Ten commandments emphasize, and experience has fully and repeatedly borne it out, that even the simplest precepts of morality and ethics must rest on the foundation of "I am G-d" and "Thou shalt have no other gods" - and only then can their compliance be assured.

This is one of the basic purposes of Torah-true education; to inculcate in our children the true way of life (Derech Chayyim) in accordance with the Law of Life (Toras Chayyim) - a way of life in every-day living, on the solid foundations of the Torah and Mitzvos (command-ments). For the Torah and Mitzvos alone provide the true content of Jewish life, and are at the same time the fountains of life for every Jew and for all Jews.


Erev-Shabbos Parshas Yisro, 5738 [1978]

Blessing and Greeting:

...We are reminded of the familiar Sicha [public talk] of my father-in-law of saintly memory [Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe] addressed to Jewish women (Riga, 5694), centering on the role of Jewish women in connection with Mattan-Torah [the giving of the Torah] and, subsequently, the Mishkon [the tabernacle in the desert]. On both occasions, as the Torah indicates, the women took first place, before the men.

The lesson of it, as explained in detail in the Sicha, is that women have a leading part in the preservation of the Torah and Mitzvos by reason of their impact on the family life, the conduct of the Jewish home, and especially the upbringing of the children, thereby also ensuring that G-d will always dwell in the midst of our people.

The Torah is eternal, and so are its teachings. The readiness of our Jewish women to accept the Torah, and their eager response in behalf of the Mishkon, gladly parting with their most treasured personal possessions, established the historic role of Jewish women in Jewish life for all times. Moreover, Kabbolas haTorah [receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai] was not a one-time happening in the distant past, but is an everyday experience. Likewise the building of the Mishkon - in terms of the inner Mishkon and Midkosh [sanctuary] that is in the heart of every Jew is something that requires constant rededication on the part of each and every Jew, man and woman.

G-d has bestowed extraordinary gifts and privileges on Jewish women, and together with it - far-reaching obligations, of which you are all surely aware. There is no need for me to re-emphasize them here, except that our Sages prompt us to "encourage the energetic."...

With blessing for Hatzlocho [success]


Rambam this week

13 Adar I, 5763 - February 15, 2003

Forbidden Marriages

Prohibitions 330, 331, 332, 333, 334: These prohibitions forbid marriage with various relatives and are based on Leviticus chapter 18 verses 7- 11. They include the prohibition against marriage with one's mother, step-mother, sister, half-sister, and son's daughter. Other forbidden marriages are detailed in a subsequent day's study.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

As there are two months of Adar this year (this year being a leap year), this week contains Purim Katan (the "minor" Purim).

The day after Purim Katan is Shushan Purim Katan, Shushan Purim being the day Purim is celebrated in walled cities such as Jerusalem.

As there are very few customs associated with Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan let us take a moment to understand the significance of Shushan Purim according to Chasidut.

The celebration of this holiday was instituted in connection with the Land of Israel. Our Sages decreed that Shushan Purim be celebrated in those cities that were surrounded by walls at the time of Joshua's conquest of the Land of Israel.

In this manner, they paid respect to the Holy Land, giving its walled cities the honor given to Shushan even though they had been destroyed by the time of the Purim miracle.

However, the holiday's name is connected with a city in the Diaspora - the capital city of Achashveirosh, king of Persia (and thus the capital of the entire civilized world).

The use of the name "Shushan" expresses the completion of the Jews' mission to refine the material environment of the world. There are several levels in the fulfillment of this task; for example, the transformation of mundane objects into articles of holiness. On a deeper level, this involves the transformation into holiness of precisely those elements which previously opposed holiness.

Shushan Purim shows how Achashveirosh's capital city was transformed into a positive influence, indeed, an influence so great that it is connected with the celebration of Purim in the walled cities of Israel.

May we use all of the extra spiritual energy given to us on Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan to transform the mundane into the holy and that which opposes holiness into holiness, until the whole world is transformed into a dwelling place for G-d in the Messianic Era.


Thoughts that Count

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for ornament (Ex. 28:2)

The commandment to make special priestly clothes comes directly after the mitzva to prepare pure olive oil for the menora. Oil symbolizes the intellect, which should be kept pure and unsullied. The priestly garments symbolize the physical body, the "garment" of the soul, which should be utilized "for glory and ornament." The Torah teaches that purity of thought and cleanliness of body must go together.

(Sefat Emet)


Olive oil, pounded, for the lighting (Ex. 27:20)

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, once said: "He who wants to reach the 'lighting,' the enlightenment to be found in the Torah, should work on himself by 'pounding' away at his ego and nullifying his sense of self. How? By always bearing in mind that the Torah he learns is none other than the wisdom and the will of G-d. That is the meaning of our supplication, 'Open my heart to Your Torah.'"


Command the Children of Israel that they bring you pure olive oil, pounded, for the lighting, to cause a light to burn always (Ex. 27:20)

The First and Second Holy Temples illuminated the world with their light for a specific and limited period of time. The Third Holy Temple, however, which will be rebuilt when Moshiach comes, will be in fulfillment of the latter half of the verse, "to cause a light to burn always." Its light will never be extinguished.

(Rabbi Yitzchak Karo)


You shall command - ve'ata tetzave (Ex. 27:30)

Chasidic thought interprets this verse to mean, "You shall connect yourself to..." Moses was commanded to establish a connection between his essence and the Jewish people. In an extended sense, this command can be understood as having been directed to every Jew, for each Jew has a spark of Moses in him. "You" refers to the essence of the soul, the fundamental core of every Jew's being. This is revealed by the establishment of a bond with G-d's essence.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


It Once Happened

One wintry day a man came to the saintly Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov. The man braved the winter weather to seek the saintly Rebbe's help.

He told the Rebbe that he was an innkeeper in a village some distance away, the inn having come down to him from his late father, who had rented it from the old country squire. The old squire was a reasonable man and made no trouble if the rent was not paid on time in a bad season, in the wake of a severe winter. But the old squire died, and his son, the new squire, was not so kind. Now, he threatened to throw them out if the rent was not paid on time. He came to ask the Rebbe's help, so that his family would not be left without food and shelter in the midst of a terrible winter.

"Do you live in such and such village?" the Rebbe asked.

"Yes, Rebbe."

"Still in the same house, with the narrow windows and three steps leading up to the front door?"

"Yes, Rebbe," the innkeeper replied, wondering how the Rebbe knew.

"And is the well in the courtyard still plentiful, and the water still good?"

"Yes, Rebbe," the innkeeper answered with even greater amazement.

"I'm glad, I'm glad," the Rebbe said, stroking his silver beard. "You have nothing to worry about."

The innkeeper's face lit up with relief and he turned to go. But then he stopped and hesitated. He was baffled. How did the Rebbe know about the inn and the well, and what had the well to do with it all?

"Forgive me, Rebbe, for my insolence, but how does the Rebbe know my inn so well?" he finally asked.

The Rebbe smiled and said, "Very simple. I was there. It was a long time ago. Let me tell you the whole story.

"Many years ago, a young man was on his way to the saintly Rebbe, the 'Seer' of Lublin. He had been traveling for three days without food and shelter. He came to your village and stopped at the inn for a rest. He was so tired and hungry that he could barely climb the three front steps leading to the door. Your father was busy at that moment with peasants and wayfarers who crowded the inn, and he did not notice the stranger. After the young man rested a while, and seeing that no one took any notice of him, he decided to move on. As he passed by one of the narrow windows, he saw a small boy peeking out. The boy saw the haggard face of the stranger and ran after him. He begged the stranger to return with him to the inn. 'My father always welcomes poor wayfarers, and he would not forgive himself if he knew that one had passed by his inn without a good meal and a good night's rest. Please, come with me,' the boy urged.

"The young man returned to the inn and was immediately greeted by your father, then led to the dining room where a sumptuous meal was set before him. After the meal he was quite thirsty. The innkeeper sent the maid to fetch a pail of water. In her absence the innkeeper explained that she had to go to the village to fetch water.

" 'Have you no well in your courtyard?' the young man asked.

" 'Yes, but the water is not good. We only use it for the horses and garden.'

" 'If you don't mind, I'd like to taste your well-water. I'm very thirsty,' the young man said.

"The innkeeper brought a pitcher of water from the well and poured some for the thirsty guest. He drank it and said, 'Fancy giving such good water a bad name! Taste it, and see for yourself.' Everyone who tasted it was astonished. 'It's wonderful! It's even better than the water from the village well!' they said."

"Now I remember," the innkeeper said. "I was that little boy, and the young man - he must have been you!"

"Yes," said the saintly Rebbe, "and thanks to you I had a good meal and a good rest."

"That was nothing in comparison to the blessing which you brought into our home. Word got around how the water in our well suddenly turned pure and fresh. People still come just to drink our well water, saying it is good for their health!"

"If the water in the well is still good, then you can be sure that G-d is with you. Go home, and don't worry. Carry on with the mitzva of welcoming guests and G-d will continue to bless you," said the Rebbe.


Moshiach Matters

A Jew says in his morning prayers each day: "I await Your salvation all day." When a few hours have passed and Moshiach did not yet arrive, he repeats the same words again in the afternoon service. And if Moshiach is still not here by the evening, he repeats it once more in the evening service. When G-d sees how the Jewish people are constantly waiting for the Redemption (and are singing, "We want Moshiach now,") He will send Moshiach even more quickly.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5745)


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