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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 766
                           Copyright (c) 2003
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        April 16, 2003          Passover          14 Nisan, 5763

                                A Trophy

The trophy sits on the shelf. We forget about it, except once in a
while, in passing, when we glance up or someone says something - then we
remember. We remember the moment of victory, we remember receiving it.
The joy, the triumph, the transportation beyond ourselves - how can one
describe such emotions? If you've had the feeling, you know it - know it
so deeply you can return to the moment and re-experience it. The
swirling sensation, the sense of self-dominance, the assuredness of
ascendancy over opponents and obstacles alike.

Yet the trophy, this symbolic success, questions the value of winning.
At least, at times this thought come to mind: "Do not be like servants
who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but rather be
like servants who serve their master without the intent of receiving a
reward; and let the fear of Heaven be upon you." (That's Antigonus of
Socho, Ethics of the Fathers 1:3).

The victory should be its own reward. Oh, I know the trophy's only
symbolic - didn't I just say that? - but still, what does it symbolize?
Something material, a competitive victory. And if we say, let the game
or the sport be a metaphor for a mitzva, an analogy for action
spiritual, then we're back to Antigonus of Socho. We struggle and
wrestle with our yetzer hara - our evil inclination - for a trifle. We
serve for the sake of a reward.

We pursue the token, the reward of our mitzvot - be it health, wealth,
wisdom, long life, an after-life. Do we really keep kosher only and just
because G-d says so? Well, yes, but - but do we in truth have no other
motive, no trinket of superiority in sight?

This business of trophies, of rewards - of getting things for doing well
- doesn't it seem a little bothersome, even once in a while? (Doing
well, doing right, doing good - conquering adversity and conquering
adversaries - the ideas are transferable. Athletics, sports, competition
prepare you for life; they're a microcosm of the personal and social
struggle. Etc. They teach discipline, responsibility. Etc. Etc. Effort,
talent, persistence are rewarded, just like in the "real world." Etc.
Etc. Etc. And the reward for all this? A cheap - or not so cheap -

So where's the altruism, the realization that "the reward of a mitzva is
a mitzva"? (That's Ben Azzai, in Ethics 4:2.) Indeed, there's a story of
the Baal Shem Tov being told that he lost his share in the World to
Come, because he defied a heavenly decree to help out a fellow Jew. The
Baal Shem Tov rejoiced for he knew then that he served G-d "as a servant
who serves his Master without intent of receiving a reward." He could
serve G-d simply and completely for G-d's sake, not his own. (Of course,
he was later granted again a share in the World to Come.)

It seems to me that while we struggle against the animal within and the
temptations without, we strive for a balance between the selfish and the
selfless. If we are to follow the dictate to "set aside your will
because of His will..." (Rabban Gamliel, Ethics 2:4) it means we have to
have a will of our own to start with.

So maybe the trophy mentality isn't so bad. Maybe materialistic
acknowledg-ment of achievement carries a spiritual significance. A gold
star, a fancy car - a trophy. Maybe it's not the trophy itself, the
sign, that matters, but what the trophy stands for - what is signified.
What did we do to earn it, anyway?

There is a reward for our labors, our struggles. We earn the trophy, the
World to Come, Redemption, the days of Moshiach. But to do so, our
struggle has to be the right struggle. As Rabbi Elazar said (Ethics,
2:14): "Be diligent in the study of Torah; know what to answer an
unbeliever; and know before Whom you toil, and Who your employer is that
will pay you the reward of your labor."

            This week we begin the customary study of Ethics of the
                                    Fathers each Shabbat afternoon.

This week's Torah reading, Acharei, describes the sacrificial worship
carried out in the Temple on Yom Kippur, but it prefaces that
description with an allusion to the death of Aaron's sons, Nadab and

Why did Nadab and Avihu die? The Torah relates previously that they
entered the Holy of Holies with "a strange fire that G-d did not command
them [to bring]."

Now on Yom Kippur, the High Priest would enter the same sacred place,
the Holy of Holies. And so, the Torah warns him not to repeat the error
made by Aaron's sons.

What was the mistake of Aaron's sons? They sought closeness to G-d and
were willing to give up everything, even their lives, to achieve that.
The Or HaChayim, one of the classic commentaries on the Torah, explains
that their death did not come as a punishment. Instead, their souls
appreciated the G-dly light manifest in the Holy of Holies and clung to
it. Their desire for G-dliness was so great that their souls simply

This was the error that the High Priest was to avoid on Yom Kippur.
Although he would enter the Holy of Holies and come face to face with
the Divine Presence, he was warned to keep in focus that the intent of
his service was life in this world, not a bond with G-d in the spiritual
realms. Rather than seek out closeness with G-d, his purpose in entering
was to evoke atonement and blessing for the Jewish people as they exist
in this material realm.

What is the core of the issue? Aaron's sons sought their own spiritual
satisfaction; what was gratifying for them. The High Priest, on the
other hand,  is a servant,  carrying out G-d's will, aware that what G-d
desires is not a bond with Him in the spiritual realms, but rather the
observance of His will and His mitzvot (commandments) in this material

                                *  *  *

Similar concepts apply with regard to the ultimate, desired state of
existence. Maimonides maintains that the ultimate is the spiritual world
of souls, the afterlife. All material existence, even the heights to be
reached in the era of the Redemption and the era of the Resurrection, he
maintains, is secondary to the G-dliness to be experienced when the soul
leaves the body.

The Sages of the Kabala, the Jewish mystic tradition, differ and
maintain that the ultimate state will be the Resurrection of the Dead.
Souls that have enjoyed spiritual bliss in the afterlife for thousands
of years will descend and live again in a material body. For G-d's
essence is invested in this material world, and it is through life in
this world that the most encompassing bond with Him can be established.

        From Keeping In Touch by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, adapted from
                                         the teachings of the Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                               Aunt Rosie
                        by Dovid Y. B. Kaufmann

Aunt Rosie was born a Jew. She died last night. In between, she had very
little contact with Judaism. Very little. Aunt Rosie - my wife's Aunt
Rosie, her mother's only sister - is easy to describe. She was short,
round, gray and always smiling. Since I met her more than two decades
ago at my wedding, she was always short, round and almost always
smiling. She saw the world for what it was, but never saw bad. Oh, she
could criticize people, especially relatives - not age alone gave her
sharpness. Sometimes she could be slightly acerbic, like a sweet orange.
But with all the judgment came acceptance.

She loved simply. She loved generously. And gently. Let those two words
interplay and intertwine and perhaps a glimpse of her character will
come through. A generous gentility. A gentle generosity. But even then,
some quirk, some quixotic nuance might escape attention.

She neither idealized nor romanticized, though one might mistake her for
a devotee of either, so thoroughly did optimism and cheerfulness
penetrate her being. She could get angry, she could be upset, but she
resisted being so. She repulsed the passions, as if she feared the fire
in the soul.

She faced life with a sort of quietude. One might describe her as
fearful - both apprehensive and reverent, anxious and respectful. But
she was not timid. A simple person, to whom logic and argument were
foreign, for her prayer and G-d were real, tangible without

Aunt Rosie had but one niece, my wife, and doted on her and our
children. Their achievements were secret triumphs for her. But enough.
There is a furtive virtue. And if you can picture fondness fretful,
affection anxious and a fervor to smile, then perhaps you've glimpsed
Aunt Rosie.

I began: "Aunt Rosie was born a Jew. She died last night. In between,
she had very little contact with Judaism." That, of course, is the real
focus here. Her sister, my wife's mother, said, "She should have a
proper Jewish burial. She was, after all, born a Jew, and that's who she
was." And she asked me to see that it was so.

My mother-in-law lives in Florida. My wife and I live elsewhere. Aunt
Rosie lived in the Northeast. And so I called a shliach - an emissary -
a Chabad rabbi - Rabbi Moshe Bleich of Wellesely, Massachusetts. We had
never spoken. And here I was, another Jew in a city far away, asking him
to bury my wife's aunt, as a Jew should be buried. I told him Aunt
Rosie's story. A Jewish soul needing to come closer.

But the Lubavitcher Rebbe has taught that no Jew, no child of Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob, Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, could ever be far from
Judaism, distant from home. It's all about coming closer to where we
already are.

The shliach, the Chabad rabbi, did what he did, because that's what Jews
do for each other. He might never see any of us - me, my wife, my
in-laws. But a neshama, a Jewish soul, always recognizes another, for in
doing so, it recognizes itself.

This kindness is described in the basic book of Chabad Chasidic
philosophy, Tanya, chapter 32, for all to see. "'Love thy fellow as
thyself' (Leviticus 19:18) ... as for the soul and spirit, who can know
their greatness and excellence in their root and source in the living
G-d? Being all of a kind ..."

The oneness and unity of the Jewish people. Aunt Rosie would have
appreciated that, if asked.

She who avoided contention, who escaped discord, who dreaded
disagreement - she who knew so little of who she was, a Jewish soul. For
a Jew not to care for - or take care of - another Jew?

I think she would have liked the Chabadnik, the rabbi - the Jew - who
made sure her life ended as it began.

And I think she would have asked us to consider that love of a fellow
Jew and Jewish unity must extend, in word and deed, to the Jew on the
other side of the table, on the other side of the spectrum, on the other
side from our own. For the sides are external, and inside is only a
neshama, a Jewish soul.

L'ilui nishmata - for the elevation of the soul - of Raizel bas Yosef:

The Rebbe teaches us to focus on the positive and the practical. In
honor of Aunt Rosie - and don't we all have an Aunt Rosie in our lives?
- light Shabbat candles. If you already light candles or you are of the
male persuasion,  encourage someone else to light candles. Smile one
extra smile each day, as it says, "Serve G-d with joy" (Psalms 100:2)
and "Greet every person with a cheerful countenance" (Ethics 1:15). And
pray for the welfare of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Jewish people
everywhere, that the present conflict lead to the final and true
Redemption, to the time when the "whole world will be filled with
awareness of G-dliness," and when "those who dwell in the dust shall
awake and rejoice."

       Dovid Kaufmann is the administrator at Chabad of New Orleans
                   and a professor of English at Tulane University.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           A Mother In Israel

"I am not a writer nor the daughter of a writer." With these humble
words, Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson begins her diary. The scion of a
prestigious Rabbinic family, wife of famous Kabbalist Rabbi Levi
Yitzchok Schneerson and mother of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbetzin
Chana's life spanned a critical and tumultuous era in history. In her
prime years, Rebbetzin Chana lived through the horrors associated with
pogroms and the tragic loss of a child. She then devotedly cared for an
exiled and ailing husband and eventually witnessed his death. In 1948,
she wrote her memoirs in relative peace and calm here in the United
States, later seeing her oldest son ascend to leadership of the Chabad
Lubavitch movement. This is the story of her life. Between the lines,
one senses an erudite, humble and compassionate wife, mother and woman.
Kehot Publications

                            THE REBBE WRITES

                      24th of Nissan, 5727 [1967]

Sholom uBrocho [Peace and Blessing]:

I was genuinely pleased to see you at the farbrengen [Chasidic
gathering], and previously at the davening [prayers]. In addition to the
pleasure of seeing tangible proof of your satisfactory physical health,
it is particularly gratifying to be able to share with good friends the
joy of Yom Tov [holiday], especially Achron-shel-Pesach [the last day of
Passover]. For the farbrengen on this occasion is in many respects an
extension of the Haphtorah of the day, which speaks of the blissful days
of Moshiach and continues in the note of true fulfillment, when "the
earth will be full of the knowledge of G-d, as the waters cover the

While the Haphtorah speaks of the Days of Moshiach, G-d, Who is the
Essence of Goodness, desires that the Good (in this case the universal
knowledge of G-d) which He will give us should be enjoyed to the fullest
measure. Needless to say, the joy and appreciation of gaining something
through toil and effort is incomparably greater than something which
comes by without trying. Consequently, the activity now to spread
"knowledge of G-d on earth" - the dissemination of Yiddishkeit
[Judaism], Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments] - is the proper and
necessary preparation for it, whereby also it will be possible to enjoy
to the full the blessing of "the earth will be full of the knowledge of
G-d, as the waters cover the sea."

The joy is compounded when one has the opportunity to bring the
knowledge of G-d to spheres which are inaccessible to others, for which
G-d provides a special capacity to accomplish it.

As you will easily infer, I am referring to your unique Zechus
[privilege] in being able to bring the "Emes Hashem l'Olom" [the eternal
truth of G-dliness] to a circle where few, if indeed any but you, can
penetrate - the Emes Hashem - embodied in His Toras Emes [true Torah].
Truth is, of course, incompatible with compromise, for even the
slightest compromise invalidates the real truth.

This reminds me of the story related by my father-in-law of saintly
memory during a farbrengen on Achron-shel-Pesach:

"My grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash [Rabbi Sholom Ber, the fifth Rebbe
of Chabad-Lubavitch], once said to the Chosid R' Elya Abeler, a market
trader: "Elya, I envy you. You travel and go to markets and fairs, which
gives you the opportunity to exchange a Jewish word with a fellow-Jew
and inspire him to [study] Nigleh [the revealed parts of the Torah] and
Chasidus. This creates joy in Heaven, and G-d pays the commission in
terms of children, life and sustenance. The busier the market and the
greater the effort, the greater the Parnosso [sustenance]."

"Scores of years later, when R' Elya recounted this to me, he was aglow
and aflame with those words, and his limbs shook, as though he had just
heard them for the first time that day." (Sefer Hasichos, 5703, P. 111).

The story speaks for itself. I will only add the obvious, that envy in
matters of Torah and Mitzvoth is quite in order.

To reiterate what I wished you during our meeting, may it be G-d's Will
that for many years to come you should work in the above mentioned
direction, in good health, and with joy and gladness of heart, and with
a growing measure of vitality and inspiration; and may the above
blessings of the Rebbe Maharash be fulfilled in you and yours.

With blessing,

P.S. It was a particular pleasure for me to hear your daughter recite on
the sedra [portion] of the Torah and about the Seder, which she did with
naturalness and innocence characteristic of a child, oblivious of
compromise. It bespeaks your ability, undoubtedly shared by your wife,
to instill such pure faith in her. Have much Nachas [pleasure].

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
25 Nisan, 5763 - April 27, 2003

Prohibition 99: We are forbidden to offer a sacrifice without salt

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev 2:13) "Neither shall you omit
salt of the covenant of your G-d" We are not allowed to present a
sacrifice or meal offering which does not contain salt. The Torah calls
the addition of salt to the sacrifice "the covenant of your G-d." The
Torah uses salt to symbolize G-d's covenant with the Jewish people. Salt
does not spoil and it retains its taste for a very long time, so, too,
G-d's bond with the Jewish people will never be broken. It is in
remembrance of this salt that it is customary to dip bread in salt
before eating it

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
On the 28th of Nisan, 12 years ago, the Rebbe made a declaration that
shocked his Chasidim:

"I have done everything I can. Now I am giving it over to each one of
you. Do everything you can to bring Moshiach in actuality" the Rebbe

Throughout the following 11 months, until his stroke, the Rebbe
continued to speak numerous times each week about Moshiach and what each
one of us can do to prepare for and hasten the Redemption.

The Rebbe, ever emphasizing our Sages' teaching that "deed is
essential," has given concrete suggestions about how we can best do what
we need to do to bring Moshiach:

Study Torah in general, and in particular, those parts of Torah that
pertain to Moshiach and the Redemption. More specifically, study about
Moshiach and Redemption as elucidated in the Rebbe's 32 volumes of
"Collected Talks" (Likutei Sichot).

Live in a manner now that is a "dress rehearsal" for the Redemption, the
time when there will no strife, no jealousy, world peace and inner
harmony, and Divine knowledge will be within everyone's reach.

Give extra charity, keeping in mind the Talmud's teaching that charity
hastens the Redemption.

Increase in acts of goodness and kindness. Every day, perhaps a number
of times each day, do something kind for a neighbor, a friend, a
co-worker, a family member, a stranger.

In this way, may we hasten the moment when all of our needs, spiritual
and material, will be amply supplied in the ultimate Redemption.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
He shall wear a holy linen coat. (Lev. 16:4)

The High Priest wore only linen garb in the Holy of Holies, rather than
the gold clothing which he wore the entire year while performing his
duties. This is because Israel built the golden calf, and even a
reminder of that sin should not be brought into the Holy of Holies.

                                                    (Tz'ena Ur'ena)

                                *  *  *

On the tenth day of the seventh month you shall afflict yourselves.
(Lev. 16:29).

The Apter Rav author of Ohev Yisrael used to say: "Were I only to have
the authority I would annul all the fast days on the Jewish calendar
with two exceptions. Those are the Ninth of Av, date of the destruction
of the Temple - for who can eat on such a day - and Yom Kippur (the
tenth day of the seventh month), the holiest day of the year - for who
needs to eat on such a day?"

                                *  *  *

Because the life of all flesh is in the blood. (Lev. 17:11)

The blood is the "soul" of man and beast. G-d permitted us to eat only
an animal's body, and not its soul. Since the blood of a beast is its
soul, we do not want to take an animal's soul into our bodies. We must
have an elevated consciousness in order to study Torah and perform
mitzvot (commandments). That which a person eats turns to blood in his
body and his mind is nourished from it.


                                *  *  *

Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan,
where I will be bringing you. Do not follow any of their customs. (Lev

This verse is not exhorting us concerning transgressions; those are
detailed later. Rather, it is informing us concerning the actions and
deeds which are permitted; they must be performed in a different manner
from the non-Jewish people in Egypt and Canaan. Even our eating and
sleeping should be done in a Jewish way.

                                                      (Siftei Emet)

                                *  *  *

Keep my decrees and laws, since it is only by keeping them that a man
can truly live. (Lev. 18:5)

The Torah spells the word "otam" - them, without the usual vav, leaving
only the letters of the word "emet" - truth. This indicates that if one
makes truth the byword and mainstay of his life, he is guaranteed to see
the fulfillment of the end of the verse, "He shall live by them." For
clinging to truth is a special blessing for long life.

                                            (Degel Machane Efrayim)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
A century ago, there lived in the town of Polotsk in Russia a simple
storekeeper by the name of Reb Yisrael. He was a follower of Rabbi
Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the third leader of Chabad. Once, on a
visit to the town of Lubavitch, he heard a discourse of Chasidic
philosophy from the Rebbe, explaining how our father Abraham was
charitable monetarily, spiritually and bodily. The Rebbe proceeded to
give a profound mystical explanation to show how Abraham's physical acts
of charity in this material world were in a sense higher than Supernal

Reb Yisrael did not understand the entire dissertation, but he did grasp
these few words about Abraham, which he repeated over and over until he
committed them to memory. When he came home, the Chasidim gathered to
welcome him at the customary festive reception for those who returned
from Lubavitch. They asked Reb Yisrael if he could perhaps repeat the
discourse that the Rebbe had said. Reb Yisrael replied that he could
not, but he had committed to memory a few words about Abraham's
charitableness, which he proceeded to repeat to them.

After the reception, Reb Yisrael went back to his store as usual.

Nachman and Yosef, also storekeepers in Polotsk, were friends of Reb
Yisrael. Reb Yisrael decided that he would go into Nachman's store and
ask him for a loan. He did not need the money, but having heard from the
Rebbe the great quality of charitableness (which includes lending money
without interest) he wanted to give his friend Nachman the opportunity
to fulfill this great mitzva. Nachman and Yosef followed his example;
every day they would borrow and repay small amounts of money from each

When Reb Yisrael was next in Lubavitch, Rabbi Menachem Mendel came out
of the synagogue and asked one of the senior Chasidim, "Who is that
person over there?" looking toward Reb Yisrael. The Chasid was at a loss
to answer, for Reb Yisrael was not one of the well-known Chasidim.
Eventually he discovered who the person was and that he was a
storekeeper from Polotsk. Rabbi Menachem asked that Reb Yisrael be sent
to his room.

When Reb Yisrael came in, the Rebbe asked him about his work and his
daily schedule. Reb Yisrael replied that he got up every morning at
five, said Psalms, drank a cup of tea, chopped wood, and then went to
the synagogue to pray. After the prayers, he studied a chapter of Torah,
went home to eat breakfast and then went to the marketplace to his
store. Later, in the afternoon, he went to the synagogue again, to say
the afternoon prayers, studied a little more, prayed the evening service
and went home.

The Rebbe was not satisfied. "Nu, and what about tzedaka?" he inquired.

"I am a poor man and cannot afford to give charity," Reb Yisrael
replied. After further questioning by the Rebbe, however, Reb Yisrael's
strange custom of taking and giving back small loans came to the

Later, Rabbi Mendel Menachem's son, Rabbi Shmuel, asked his saintly
father, "What do you seek in him?"

The Rebbe replied, "I saw, surrounding the simple store- keeper, Reb
Yisrael, a radiance, a pillar of light as great as that of the Supernal

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
One might ask, if a particular soul has been reincarnated in a number of
bodies, in which body will it be clothed at the time of the
Resurrection? Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, known as "the AriZal" in Shaar
HaGilgulim, Introduction 4  explains that each time a soul descends to
this world, one of its components is rectified; through successive
descents, the soul as an entirety is rectified. Ultimately, each
component of the soul will be resurrected in the body which served as
its host.

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

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 766 - Passover 5763

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