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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 770
                           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.
        May 23, 2003           Bechukosai         21 Iyyar, 5763

                          Such a Little Thing

It's like a particle of dust in your eye, or a speck of coal in a
diamond. Sometimes even the tiniest thing make big problems.

Which is why, when you think about it, it's not at all surprising that
the ego can wreak havoc. Of course, you and I know that it's not our
egos making the problems. We only have little egos, just big enough to
encourage us to be goal oriented, take pride in our work, not be a
doormat for the other guy. But the other guy - our neighbor, spouse,
boss, co-worker - now he/she has a real ego problem!

This Shabbat afternoon, in Ethics of the Fathers (5:21) we read:
"Whoever causes the many to have merit, no sin shall come through him;
but one who causes the many to sin shall not be granted the opportunity
to repent. Moses was himself meritorious and caused the many to attain
merit, therefore, the merit of the many are attributed to him....
Jeraboam ben Nevat himself sinned and caused the many to sin, therefore
the sins of the many are attributed to him."

Our Sages have taught: "G-d disqualifies no one, but welcomes all; the
gates of repentance are open at all times; whoever wants to enter may

Yet, so great a travesty is it when one leads others to sin that "one
who causes the many to sin shall not be granted the opportunity to

There was, however, one exception - the very same Jeraboam ben Nevat
mentioned above.

The prophet Achiya prophesied to Jeraboam that he would eventually be
the king of ten of the tribes of Israel. Upon King Solomon's death,
Jeraboam successfully led a revolt against the king's successor.

Eventually, to distance his kingdom from the other two tribes, Jerusalem
and the Holy Temple, Jeraboam set up altars and encouraged idol worship.
Thus, "Jeraboam ben Nevat himself sinned and caused the many to sin."

For various reasons which we won't go into now, G-d chose to give
Jeraboam the chance to rectify his sins. But this unique opportunity was
not all that G-d was offering. "Repent," G-d urged Jeraboam. "And then
I, and you and ben Yishai [King David] will walk together in the Garden
of Eden." (Talmud, Sanhedrin) G-d was offering Jeraboam that He would
bring Moshiach if  the wicked king would only repent!

And here's where the ego comes in. For, though Jeraboam should have been
overwhelmed with gratitude to G-d for giving him this unprecedented
opportunity to repent, though he had led millions of Jews astray, he
asked one very simple but very egotistical question. "Who will go first?
I or ben Yishai?"

Hadn't Jeraboam just been told by G-d that he would go first? Hadn't he,
for that matter, just been given the most amazing opportunity to repent?
And, addition, to walk together with G-d and King David in the Garden of

From Jeraboam's query we see that he didn't have a problem with
repenting per se, nor with belief in G-d versus idols. His problem was
his ego. Jeraboam was demanding assurance. "Who will go first? I or ben

So G-d told Jeraboam, "Ben Yishai will go first."

And Jeraboam replied, "Then I will not repent."

Jeraboam had it all! He had the unheard-of opportunity to repent. He had
the opportunity to bring his entire generation to repentance. He had the
opportunity to walk together with G-d and King David in the Garden of

But he could not put aside his ego long enough to accept G-d's offer.

"Who will go first? I or ben Yishai?"

Jeraboam was the proverbial "other guy" who has the ego problem. But, of
course, you and I would never have let our egos get in the way. For that
matter, we would never let our egos get in the way of accepting G-d's
magnanimous offers that He presents to us each day. You and I would
never let our egos stand in the way of walking together with G-d and
King David in the Garden of Eden!

Bechukotai, this week's Torah portion, contains the curses and
punishments to be inflicted on the Jewish people if they do not obey
G-d. Even a casual reading of these misfortunes in the Torah makes our
hair stand on end. Chasidic philosophy, however, teaches that by delving
more deeply into the meaning of these curses we can understand that they
are actually blessings.

Furthermore, these "curses" are not only blessings, but blessings of
such a high order that they can only manifest themselves in their
seemingly opposite form!

A perfect illustration of this concept is found in the Talmud. Rabbi
Shimon Bar Yochai, whose passing was commemorated this past week on "Lag
B'Omer," once sent his son to two Sages for a blessing. When his son
returned he complained that the Sages had cursed him. "What did they
say?" asked Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. "You shall sow, but not reap,"
answered the son. The father patiently explained that the rabbis had
meant that he should grow to be the father of many children who would be
healthy and strong and not die during their father's lifetime. Likewise,
every example the son gave of the rabbis' "curses" were similarly
interpreted to contain great blessings.

But why did the rabbis go through the trouble of disguising their good
intentions in such a convoluted manner? Chasidut explains that ultimate
good is sometimes clothed in an outer garment of its exact opposite,
precisely because it is too lofty to come into this world in any other

If, then, the rabbis' blessings were so lofty that they had to be
"disguised" as curses, how did Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai recognize their
true content?

The Tanya explains that everything we perceive as evil in this world is,
in reality, so good that we cannot absorb it in its true form (much in
the way that an intense light hurts the eyes if one looks directly at
its source). This good therefore takes the form of human suffering, just
as we avert our eyes from a brightness which is too intense.

This, however, is only true at the present time. When Moshiach comes,
the concealed good hidden within our afflictions will be revealed for
what it is - utter and absolute blessing.

A Jew must, therefore, always accept whatever is decreed from Above, for
when Moshiach comes we will see that the suffering of the exile was in
truth a good of such magnitude that it could only be bestowed in such a

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai possessed a soul capable of discerning this
truth even before the coming of Moshiach. Likewise, Chasidut affords us
a "taste" of the Messianic Era, enabling us to understand these inner
truths which will soon become apparent, speedily in our days.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                           ONE DAY AT A TIME
                            by Shula Levitch

"So, you've become Orthodox, huh??" seems to be the inevitable question
people ask me these days.

Not quite. But I have gained enormous respect, appreciation, and
yearning for precisely the kind of Judaism I used to frown upon as being
archaic and out of sync with the realities of our modern world.

Three years ago I gave myself permission to find out what Judaism is
really about. No small task for a liberal feminist who used to chair
Religious and Rituals Committees and perform Friday night and High Holy
Days services in various egalitarian congregations.

As a secular Israeli living in a typical California suburb, my
affiliation with "progressive" Judaism was the only means to provide my
family with a Jewish identity. Our family's version of religion was
defined by the social circle with whom we proudly celebrated cultural
Judaism, and by community activism in the spirit of political
correctness. I was rendered the status of a maven (expert) in Jewish
matters by virtue of my Israeli background and my fluent Hebrew - a
status that fed the ego more than it nurtured the soul. Oddly, after ten
years of such involvement, the prayers I so enthusiastically chanted
during Friday night services started to haunt me, bringing forth a level
of awareness I had never before experienced. "Fulfill all My
commandments," the V'ahavta prayer echoed in my mind, "so that you shall
be holy unto your G-d." Holy unto your G-d. The dawning realization that
our purpose as Jews is so clearly defined in the Torah inspired me to
venture beyond the cultural aspect of Judaism and become acquainted with
Torah and halacha - Jewish Law. I was overcome by an urgent desire to
unveil the meaning of my religion beyond the kindergarten level we were
creatively rehashing year after year.

And so, I set sail on a journey to a place I did not know, seeking
authentic resources free from secular prejudice and politically driven
misconceptions. Of all places, I started my research on the Internet,
exploring sites such as: Judaism 101, Judaism for Beginners, Chabad
Lubavitch of Cyberspace, and Aish HaTorah. I specifically sought
information about the status of women in the realm of the Torah
observant world - a difficult issue which presents one of the major
barriers in accepting Orthodoxy for those of us accustomed to embracing
the modernized version of "equality" between men and women.

I have come to recognize it for what it is, a false notion of sameness
which systematically and deliberately ignores the inherent, unique
attributes of men and women, and blurs the realities of the obvious
spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual differences. The
devastating results are evident all around us; the family unit has
crumbled and individuals are seeking illusive happiness and fleeting
comfort any which way they can, pushing the envelope further and further
as society becomes remarkably desensitized. How refreshing it was to
find that Judaism recognizes the inner splendor and potency of
femininity. How inspiring are Hashem's laws creating a perfect harmony
between the strengths and weaknesses of both sexes. For me, the pieces
of this mysterious puzzle have fallen into place. Men may be from Mars
and Women from Venus as pop psychologist John Gray so "eloquently"
enlightened us, nonetheless it is clear that they are equal in value
before G-d! Accepting this basic concept was the key to understanding
the mechitza, the laws governing witnesses, the "She'asani Kirtzono"
blessing, and numerous other issues I eagerly criticized when I viewed
Orthodox Judaism through the hazy lenses worn in secular circles. Logic
and clarity of vision have replaced political correctness and egocentric

I continue to be in awe of the treasures I constantly uncover, and
consequently try to take small steps towards embracing an observant
lifestyle. To be sure, the road is filled with challenges and
diversions. But, as luck (better known as Hashgacha Pratit) would have
it, Rabbi Choni and Frumi Marozov, our very own Chabad shluchim
(emissaries), arrived to our neck of the woods - Valencia, California -
just as I started taking my first steps of exploration. Their meer
presence is an inspiration, and their gentle encouragement ignites the
Jewish spark in all of us who are willing to bask in their vibrant
Judaism. It is their conduct, not just their words, that expresses the
true meaning of Ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew). Their home is
always open for a Shabbat experience infused with joy and a delicious
meal, the weekly services are laced with wonderful Chasidic stories and
warm humor, Torah study is refreshing and thought provoking, the
Children's Academy is thriving, monthly women's programs are fun and
educational, and Chabad's holiday celebrations are the biggest hit in
town. With their enthusiasm and unconditional love for the Jewish people
Rabbi and Mrs. Marozov touch the lives of many.

My life has been transformed by their presence. I will never forget a
Friday night in those early days when we still gathered in the local
park's clubhouse - a great walking distance from the Rabbi's home.
Hardly anyone showed up for the service and I told the Rabbi that I hope
he will not get discouraged and leave our town for a more promising
community. With great conviction he replied, "If only one Jew sees me
walking home tonight and is moved to light Shabbat candles next week, it
would be worth it!"

Indeed, the presence of our Chabad center offers the growing Jewish
community a priceless opportunity to connect with the kind of Judaism
that is deeply rooted in Torah and is nurtured by a tradition that
celebrates the joy of becoming closer to the Alm-ghty mitzva by mitzva,
one day at a time. My neshama (soul) longs to connect to this steadfast
tradition, and I pray to Hashem for the strength to continue in this
path, for I, too, want to partake in the beauty and dignity of
Torah-true Judaism, to be infused with its unparalleled richness; the
richness of a divine tradition transmitted from generation to
generation, adapting the ever-changing realities of life to the eternal
truth of Torah.

                        Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

                               WHAT'S NEW
                       Shabbat Candles for Peace

As the sun sets on Friday, May 30, Jewish women and girls around the
world will dedicate their prayers at candle-lighting to peace in Israel
and peace in the world. By focusing our collective thoughts and prayers
on our brothers and sisters in Israel, the combined spiritual energy can
make miracles happen. In order to promote this effort, over 1,000
Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries around the world are embarking on an
intensive drive to encourage women (and girls ages three and older) who
are not yet lighting Shabbat candles, to take this important mitzva upon
themselves. At the same time, women who are already committed to
lighting candles are being urged to focus their prayers on safety and
security for all of Israel. For more information or to add your name to
the Wall of Honor visit

                            THE REBBE WRITES

         Free Translation of a letter of the Rebbe to the 23rd
        annual Convention of N'Shei uBnos Chabad (The Lubavitch
                         Women's Organization)

        In the Days of Sefirah [counting the Omer], 5738 [1978]

G-d bless you all!

Blessing and Greeting:

I was pleased to be informed about the forthcoming Annual Convention
during the weekend of Parshas Bechukosai. May G-d grant that it should
be blessed with the utmost Hatzlocho [success] in every respect.

As in the case of all events, and especially in the case of such an
important event, we must seek guidance and instruction in the Torah,
"Torah" meaning instruction, particularly in the Sedra [Torah portion]
of the week when the event is taking place.

The Sedra Bechukosai begins with the Divine promise: "If you will walk
in My statutes, and keep My Mitzvos [commandments] and do them" - then
G-d will bestow all the blessings mentioned further on in the Sedra.

The question that poses itself is obvious: Surely G-d's Mitzvos must be
fulfilled not for the sake of material rewards, but for their own sake,
because G-d commanded them, while the reward is sure to come as a matter
of course, since the Mitzvos were given for the benefit of the doer,
both in this life and in the eternal life that follows.

One answer, among others, as also explained at length in the Rambam
[Maimonides' Mishneh Torah], is that while the Mitzvos must, indeed, be
fulfilled unconditionally and without regard for reward, there are,
inevitably various distractions and difficulties connected with the
material aspects of the daily life. When such distractions are at a
minimum, it requires no special effort to carry out the Mitzvos fully
and completely. But when the material circumstances are not quite so
satisfactory, though the same performance of the Mitzvos is expected, it
requires a greater effort for it is obviously harder to concentrate on
Torah and Mitzvos when one has to overcome outside pressures.

Thus, G-d's promise of material rewards is not meant to provide the
reason for keeping the Torah and Mitzvos, but it is a promise that where
there is a firm resolve to walk in G-d's ways and keep His Mitzvos, He
will make it easier by providing all material needs and reducing outside
pressures to a minimum.

The above focuses immediate attention on the home and the home
atmosphere, which is largely the domain of the wife and mother, the
Akeres haBayis [the mainstay of the home]. Even when things seem to be
not all that could be desired, or even if, G-d forbid, this is not just
an imagination, it is largely up to the Akeres haBayis to ensure that
the home should at all times be permeated with the light of Torah and
Mitzvos, in an atmosphere of peace and harmony and joy, for the benefit
of the whole family, for it is in the home that the husband and children
find comfort and inspiration to deal with the pressures outside the home
- at business and in school.

And since this great privilege and responsibility has been given to the
Akeres haBayis, it is certain that the ability has been given to her to
carry this out fully, as it has also been given to the Jewish daughters
who are preparing themselves to take their place as Akeres haBayis.

It is surely one of the functions of the annual convention to inspire
all participants, and other Jewish mothers and daughters, to go from
strength to strength in the said direction, and thus widen the channels
to receive and enjoy G-d's blessings in a generous measure, materially
and spiritually.

With the approach of Shovuos, the Festival of Mattan Torah [the giving
of the Torah], I send each and all of you and yours prayerful wishes for
a joyous and inspiring Yom Tov, and the traditional blessing to receive
the Torah with joy and inwardness.

With blessing for Hatzlocho and good tidings,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
23 Iyar, 5763 - May 25, 2003

Positive Mitzva 69: The Sin-offering

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 4:27) "And if anyone of the
people sin unintentionally." A person who disobeys G-d's commandments on
purpose will be punished. Among the 613 mitzvot, the Torah lists 43
forbidden acts that are punishable by karet - premature death. We are
responsible for our deeds and must be cautious and aware of our actions.
Even if a person commits any of these forbidden acts unintentionally, he
must atone by bringing a sin-offering.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This issue of L'Chaim is number 770. To every Lubavitcher Chasid, the
number "770" is very significant. It is the address on Eastern Parkway
in Brooklyn of Lubavitch World Headquarters, known around the world
simply as "the Rebbe's shul."

To give our readers a glimpse of the significance of "770" we present
excerpts of an essay adapted from talks of the Rebbe on the subject. You
can read the entire essay and its footnotes at

In every generation there is a Beis Rabbeinu - "the house of our master"
- a "sanctuary in microcosm" which responds to the urgent needs of the
generation and diffuses Torah instruction throughout the world. Thus it
serves as the place where the Divine Presence is revealed par

Since the Divine Presence is revealed for the sake of the Jewish people,
it is in the house of the leader of the people as a whole, the leader of
the generation who is "the heart of the generation," that the Divine
Presence becomes manifest during the time the Jews are in exile.

The above concept allows us to appreciate the uniqueness of the Beis
Rabbeinu established by the Previous Rebbe in America. Today, the
largest segment of the international Jewish community is found in
America, and there is located the infrastructure for our generation's
Torah leadership. This country was therefore chosen as the place for
Beis Rabbeinu, the center for Torah instruction for the entire world.

The connection of the Previous Rebbe's Beis Rabbeinu to the Redemption
is reflected in the very name of the building - "770," for that is
numerically equivalent to the Hebrew word "paratzta," meaning "break
through." On the verse concerning the birth of Peretz, the progenitor of
the Mashiach, our Sages comment, "This refers to the Mashiach, as it is
written, 'The one who breaks through shall ascend before them.' " This
is the task of Moshiach - to break through the barriers of exile and
spread holiness throughout the world.

Furthermore, the number 770 is a multiple of the number seven. Our Sages
relate, "All the sevenths are cherished." The task of our generation,
the seventh generation - to hasten the coming of the Era of the
Redemption, the era in which G-d will again reveal His Presence in the
world openly, and not merely in microcosm.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And they shall stumble one over the other, as before the sword, without
one pursuing (Lev. 26:37)

"One will stumble over the sin of another," comments Rashi, "as all Jews
are guarantors (arevim) for each other." The Hebrew word for guarantor
has the same root as the word for sweetness and pleasantness. Every Jew
must look upon his brother and fellow guarantor with a kindly eye and
seek what is good and worthy in his neighbor. The same Hebrew root also
implies intermingling one with the other. Every Jew is part of the
greater whole of the Jewish nation.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

And you shall eat your bread to the full, and you shall dwell in safety
in your land (Lev. 26:5)

Economic hardship causes strife among brothers. Unethical competition in
business leads one to snatch a crust of bread from another's mouth. G-d
therefore promised that all Jews will have enough to eat, they will
"dwell in safety in the land," and peace will reign.

                                                 (Arono Shel Yosef)

                                *  *  *

If you walk in My statutes (Lev. 26:3)

The Baal Shem Tov taught that a person must never become settled in his
habits and fixed in his ways, for G-d's laws are meant to be "walked
in." The service of G-d should never be static, but should lead us to
higher and higher levels of sanctity.

                                                   (Keter Shem Tov)

                                *  *  *

I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and my covenant with Isaac, and
also My covenant with Abraham will I remember (Lev. 26:42)

The Patriarchs are not mentioned in chronological order in this verse,
but rather in the order of the attributes and eras they personified.
After the Torah was given, the Jews entered the era of Torah,
personified by Jacob who was the pillar of Torah. When the Holy Temple
was built they entered the era of "service" and Isaac embodied the
attribute of service. And these last generations of the era before
Moshiach are connected to Abraham who was the epitome of lovingkindness.
The Baal Shem Tov explained that now, in the final era before Moshiach,
emphasis must be placed on deeds of kindness to hasten the Redemption.

                                         (Rabbi Ben Tzion of Bobov)

                                *  *  *

I will remember My covenant... the land will I remember (Lev. 26:42)

Why does the Torah mention the covenant with our ancestors in connection
to the Land of Israel? The Talmud teaches that the merit of our
Patriarchs stands us in good stead only within Israel; in exile we do
not have this merit. G-d promises, however, that when He remembers the
Land of Israel He will be reminded of this merit as well.

                                                (Maklo Shel Aharon)

                            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 (known as the Tzemach Tzedek), the third
leader of Chabad. Once, on a visit to the town of Lubavitch, Reb Yisrael
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 Kindness.

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 (commandment). Nachman and Yosef followed
his example; every day they would borrow and repay small amounts of
money from each other.

When Reb Yisrael was next in Lubavitch, the Tzemach Tzedek came out of
the synagogue and asked one of the senior Chasidim, "Please find out a
little about that Chasid over there" looking toward Reb Yisrael. The
Chasid was not at all familiar with who the Chasid was, 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. The Tzemach
Tzedek asked that Reb Yisrael be invited 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, recited the book of 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 (charity)?" he

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

Later, the Tzemach Tzedek's son, Rabbi Shmuel, asked his saintly father,
"What do you see 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
In the generation of Moshiach there will be a very great confusion
between good and bad, and the final refinement will be like sifting
through a sieve. In the beginning, everything will be battered about in
the sieve - good and bad; slowly the fine flour will fall below and the
waste will dance above. The G-d-fearing Jews will fall and be humiliated
lower and lower and the wicked ones will dance on them from above, but
not for long, because in the end Hashem will shake them out all at once,
as one throws the waste out of the sieve.

                                              (From Noam Elimelech)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 770 - Bechukosai 5763

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