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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 813
                           Copyright (c) 2004
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        March 26, 2004          Vayikra            4 Nisan, 5764

                              Dead Battery

It happens at the most inconvenient times. You go out to your car on a
morning that you're already running a little late. And the car won't

Someone forgot to shut the door all the way last night, the interior
light stayed on, and the battery's drained.

So you try to get a neighbor with jumper cables or call an automobile
club for roadside assistance.

And you call the office to tell them you won't be in until who knows
when, because it will be at least half an hour if you can find a
neighbor with cables and at least an hour if you can't.

Have a great day.

Or you're leaving the parking lot of the mall, having just stuffed the
trunk with new clothes and Passover necessities. You're headed to the
grocery store - just enough time to whiz through the aisles and idle in
the checkout line before rushing home and - the battery's dead. Maybe,
if you're lucky, the mall cops have jumper cables.

But this time, no one left a light on. The battery's old or the
connection's corroded or there's a short or the electric line...

We all know about the inconvenience of a dead battery.

And we know how we feel when our own batteries run low - when we're
hungry or need sleep. We don't function very well. We're sluggish,
irritable, can't think straight and make poor decisions. Our judgment -

If the car battery's low, we recharge it. If our body's battery is low,
we recharge.

But about our spiritual batteries? What about our souls? True, they're
eternal, they're connected to the Source and, in that sense, they run
forever and never need recharging.

Yet our souls inhabit our bodies and it takes a lot of energy to keep
that contact strong, to spark our minds and hearts, to "turn over" our
engines - our drive to a more spiritually tuned-up existence.

Our Sages tell us that's one function of prayer - to jump start our
souls. Prayer in the morning, on a daily basis, charges up the spiritual
battery. And performing mitzvot (commandments) throughout the day - even
"easy" ones like giving up your seat on the bus to an elderly person or
dropping a coin in a charity box or logging on to a Jewish website for
an edifying Torah thought - keep us moving forward in our Jewish living.

Ah, but what if, as happens, the "battery" runs down so much that prayer
alone can't get the "engine" going? That's when we need the "jumper
cables" - a "power boost" to our batteries from outside. That's when we
need to turn to a personal spiritual trainer, a mashpia. A mashpia can
be a wise friend, a teacher, or a mentor that one trusts and can confide
in. It should be someone we aspire to be like in his interactions with
his fellowmen, and in his interactions with G-d.

In truth, you don't need to wait until the battery runs down to get the
"power boost" you need. Keeping in touch with a mashpia regularly helps
assure that our batteries won't run down or have a loose connection.

This week we begin the third of the five books of the Torah, the book of
Vayikra (Leviticus). The first Torah portion of this book is also called
Vayikra. At the close of this week's portion, the Torah discusses the
law relating to one who has been entrusted with the responsibility of
the safekeeping of a security or pledge.

The Talmud relates that the great Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi (Rabbi Judah "the
prince"), himself an extremely wealthy person, used to honor men of
means. Rabbi Yehuda behaved this way because of his deep understanding
of the gift of wealth.

Riches, as well as other possessions are, in truth, "pledges" or
deposits entrusted to the individual by G-d for the short span of his
lifetime. It is obvious that the larger the sum involved, the more
trustworthy and dependable must be the person to whom the pledge is
entrusted. Hence, reasoned Rabbi Yehuda, the fact that G-d had entrusted
this person with so great a fortune, or so powerful a position,
indicates his "good credit" and reliability in the eyes of G-d to
utilize his wealth, power, or position, for good and worthy ends. This
person is, therefore, certainly deserving of honor.

The following story expresses this thought - that riches or power are
granted by G-d, not only to satisfy the owner's personal desires,
however noble they may be, but also to help others, be it through simple
charity, or through the granting of a job.

A follower of one of the Chabad Rebbes was a wealthy businessman who was
weary of his busy and mundane life. He longed for more time to spend in
prayer and study. He decided to close his factory and retire to a life
of religious service. He could hardly wait to inform the Rebbe of his
noble plan. Finally, he gained an audience with his eminent leader and
informed him of his plans.

After a few moments of silence the Rabbi said earnestly: "Indeed!? And
did you give any thought to the fate of the many employees in your
factory if you go out of business? Did it ever occur to you that the
reason you were granted so much wealth by G-d was not merely for your
own benefit, but also so that these poor laborers could find

The concept of position and wealth as G-d-entrusted securities is very
relevant. We must all realize the deep moral responsibility that power
and wealth impose on us.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                      Rain Couldn't Dampen the Joy
                             by Steve Hyatt

I grew up in a very warm and loving Jewish home, though our family
wasn't very observant. My parents made sure my brother Lou and I went to
Hebrew school. But as soon as we uttered the last "Amen" at our Bar
Mitzvas, we were both out the door. Although it feels like I discovered
Chabad of Delaware a lifetime ago, it really has only been eight years
since Rabbi Choni Vogel and his family helped me get started on my
spiritual journey.

During that time my parents have visited Linda and me quite often.
They've watched as I learned to put on tefilin in the morning, pray
three times a day, say Kiddush over wine on Friday night and walk to
shul on Shabbat morning.

In the beginning they were a little concerned about the changes they saw
in my lifestyle. No more lobster bisque, no more tee times on Saturday
mornings. But they also saw that I laughed more, I was much less
stressed when I came home from work, and I was a more loving husband and
dad then in previous years. As I became more observant, I became a much
more relaxed and happy person.

As the years passed, Mom and Dad moved from sitting on the sidelines and
watching, to asking questions about what I was doing and why I was doing
it. Slowly but surely my parents became more comfortable with the
changes in my life. Today they support my involvement with Chabad and
the more observant lifestyle I've adopted. So it was with great
anticipation that Linda and I awaited their visit.

My parents arrived on a Wednesday afternoon. We picked them up and then
promptly went off to see Lake Tahoe. After several days at the Lake we
came home for Shabbat.

Shortly before sunset I reminded Linda that it would soon be time to
light the Shabbat candles. She said, "Don't worry, Mom and I have them
all ready." My Mom has stood beside Linda on numerous occasions and
watched her light the candles and say the blessing over them. On a
number of occasions she has also lit candles and read the blessing in
English. So I was absolutely stunned when I walked into the kitchen and
saw my mother light the candles and chant the blessing in Hebrew.

That might not be a big deal to many, but in my home it was nothing
short of a Shabbat miracle. My Mom, who had never spent a minute of her
life in Hebrew school, had taught herself the blessing in Hebrew and,  I
found out, had been lighting candles every Friday eve for the past year.
When I asked her how this had happened, she just smiled and said,
"What's the big deal? It's a piece of kugel!" The light that emanated
from those Shabbat candles that night illuminated every corner of the
house. They were the first candles I had ever seen my mother light using
the language of Sara, Rebecca and Miriam.

The next morning, my heart was full of joy over my  mother's actions of
the night before. I thanked G-d for allowing me to share this precious
moment with my mom. As I walked to shul, I remembered the words that
Rabbi Vogel once told me that we never know who is watching and
observing us when we fulfill a mitzva. He said, "You might not think
anyone is watching when you wear your tzitzit to shul, or you pray in an
airport or you wear your kipa while pumping gas. But in many cases
someone is watching what you are doing and may be inspired to try
something new based on your one simple act." He emphasized that, "You
never know when a fellow Jew may be watching you complete a mitzva. That
one mitzva may be enough to give him courage to take the next step on
his own spiritual journey."

When I finally arrived at shul I told my friends about my mom's actions
the night before. They all agreed that it was a wonderful moment for my
entire family. A few moments later, Rabbi Mendel Cunin called us
together and we started praying. Several hours later, I began the
journey back up the mountain road to my home. As I arrived at the
half-way point, the beautiful blue sky suddenly clouded up. The rain
came down in violent sheets, seemingly from every direction at once.
Within three short minutes I was soaked to the skin and absolutely
miserable. I was wet and freezing and all I wanted to do was get home.
Each step was a struggle. Suddenly, out of nowhere a non-Jewish neighbor
of mine drove by and waved. Seeing that I was soaked to the skin he
motioned that he was going to turn around and come pick me up. For the
first time in a very long time, I seriously contemplated getting into
the car and accepting the ride home.

"Who'd know?" I asked myself. "Just this once," I rationalized. Just as
I turned around to wait for my neighbor, a huge truck pulled up next to
me. On the side of the truck was an enormous sign that said, "Vogel
Floors." My eyes locked on the words Vogel. My neighbor pulled up and
said, "Steve, hop in and get out of the rain." I thanked my neighbor for
his kindness but declined the offer. "I'll walk," I said. "It's only
another mile."

He shook his head and drove off. Simultaneously, the big truck fired up
its engine and it too rolled off, disappearing into a blinding sheet of
rain. "Vogel Floors," I said over and over again as I walked through the
rain. I couldn't help but think that this was either an incredible
coincidence or a very special gift from G-d. Since I don't believe in
coincidence, I thanked G-d for placing the name of my friend and
spiritual mentor on the side of the truck and helping me make the right
decision. Buoyed by this memorable experience I literally danced up the

In the short span of about 18 hours I had seen and experienced two
unforgettable moments. We are faced with numerous, and sometimes
difficult, decisions, every day of our lives. At the end of the day we
also have to live with the consequences of those decisions. Getting into
the car and getting out of the rain would have provided momentary relief
from an uncomfortable situation. But the warmth and joy generated from
making difficult, and at times uncomfortable, decisions can illuminate
one's life and refresh one's soul a thousand times over.

Coincidence...I think not!

                               WHAT'S NEW
                          Matza Ball Contest!

All Jewish kids under the age of Bar or Bat Mitzva can participate in
the Matza Ball Contest, a project of Tzivos Hashem. Children who do
their best to do the special mitzvot of the Passover holiday and fill
out the scorecard will be entered into the grand raffle for great
prizes. To get a contest brochure contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch
Center or visit

                            THE REBBE WRITES

                        2nd of Adar, 5742 [1982]

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence, including the
latest of the 28th of Shevat. May G-d grant the fulfillment of your
heart's desires for good in all the matters about which you wrote.

Special good wishes to Mrs.- on the occasion of your birthday. No doubt
you followed the usual customs connected with the birthday (an extra
donation for Tzedoko [charity] on the day and some special effort in
Yiddishkeit, as well as reading the particular Psalm in Tehillim
corresponding to one's age plus one - e.g., a girl reaching the age of
Bas Mitzva reads Psalm 13; on the next birthday  Psalm 14, and so

Many thanks for the good news your letter contained, especially about
your successful activities in general, and your recent visit in Toronto
in particular. May G-d grant that you should always have good news to

With esteem and blessing,

                                *  *  *

                      20th of Tammuz, 5719 [1959]

Greeting and Blessing:

After the long interval, I received your letter of the 23rd of Tammuz. I
was pleased to read in it about your work for the strengthening and
spreading of Yiddishkeit among your friends. Although you write that
your accomplishments have been "small," no one is really in a position
to fully estimate one's accomplishments and what fruits might come forth
from the tiny seeds that one plants.

This is even more so in the case of influence over children, which in
time is multiplied manifold. In this connection it is well to remember
what the Talmud tells us about Rabbi Akiba, who once had 24,000
students, but due to a certain cause, the world was destitute until he
brought up another five students, and these five disciples of Rabbi
Akiba were responsible for the preservation of the Torah to the end of
time. No one, of course, can compare himself with the stature of Rabbi
Akiba, nevertheless the Talmud does not tell us stories for
entertainment. Therefore, there is a lesson for every one of us also in
the experience of Rabbi Akiba, that every one according to his own
stature and opportunity has the capacity of tremendous and far-reaching

I was pleased to read in your letter that you want to do all you can to
further the cause of the Lubavitch House in London. I trust you will
discuss this matter with Anash to determine in what practical ways you
can do your share.

In connection with your birthday, I send you my prayerful wishes for a
successful year in all matters that you mention in your letter,
including also the study of the Torah, both Nigleh and Chassidus, in an
ever-growing measure, these being the channels and vessels to receive
and enjoy G-d's blessings, materially and spiritually. I hope to hear
good news from you always.

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
19 Adar, 5764 - March 12, 2004

Positive Mitzva 125: Presenting the First Fruit

This mitzva is based on the verse (Ex. 23:19) "You shall bring the first
of the fruits of your land that ripen " This mitzva applies only in the
Land of Israel and to those seven kinds of foods with which the Holy
Land was specifically blessed. They are: wheat; barley; grapes; figs;
pomegranates; olives; dates.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
It is a Jewish custom that, when bringing a young child to school for
the first time, we begin his Torah studies with the third book of the
Torah, Vayikra - Leviticus. The book of Vayikra, the first portion of
which we read this Shabbat, is also known as Torat Kohanim, for it
mainly deals with the responsibilities of the Priests.

One might think that it would be more proper to begin a child's formal
Jewish education "in the beginning," with the book of Genesis. Or, at
least, to start out with the history of our people and thus, commence
with the portion that discusses Abraham.

This, however, is not the case. The Midrash states that children are
"pure" and the sacrifices (which the priests offered) are 'pure.' "Let
the pure occupy themselves with the pure," says the Midrash.

It is interesting to note here at what age the child is considered
"pure." For, in truth, there are three stages in the spiritual life of
every Jew: 1) after the age of Bar/Bat Mitzva when the person is
obligated to perform mitzvot; 2) when one is educated in the ways of
Torah and mitzvot and begins observing them. (Though under no
obligation, this prepares and trains the chid for the time when he will
be obligated to perform them); and 3) when the child is still so young
that, though learning about Torah and mitzvot, he cannot be expected to
conduct himself in accordance with them.

It is at this last and youngest stage, particularly, that the child is
referred to as "pure." And, it is at precisely at this early, precious
and pure stage that one needs begin a child's Jewish education. Though
he cannot fully comprehend what he is learning, and isn't even required
to put his studies into action, his/her pure neshama (soul) should be
involved in the "pure" Torah.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
A man who offers of you an offering to G-d (Lev. 1:2)

The logical order of the above words should be, "A man of you who offers
an offering to G-d..." Writes Rabbi Shneur Zalman: "A man who offers" -
in order that a man become closer to G-d - "of you an offering to G-d" -
he must bring the offering of himself. He must sacrifice his personal
"animal," the desire for evil that is called the animal soul.

                                                        (Hayom Yom)

                                *  *  *

Of his own voluntary will (Lev. 1:3)

The commentator Rashi explains that although the verse says "of his own
voluntary will," if one does not want to bring a sacrifice, we compel
him to do so. How, then, can we say that the sacrifice is brought
willingly? We compel him until he wants to do it. When the Torah tells a
person to do something and he apparently does not want to do, his
negative reaction is not reality. For, as a Jew, in the innermost depths
of his heart, he wants to carry out the Will of G-d. Through forcing him
to do what is correct, his negative inclination is nullified and the
willingness to carry out G-d's Will is genuine.

                               (Maimonides, Laws of Divorce, ch. 2)

                                *  *  *

You may not burn any leaven or any honey as a fire offering to G-d (Lev.

"Any leaven" - this is a person who is moody or melancholy all the time
- in the morning, evening, on Shabbat, holidays or weekdays. He is
always sour. "Honey" - is a person who is always pleasant and sweet,
whatever happens. His mood is always good; he's always smiling. You may
not burn [either of them] as a fire offering to G-d! You cannot properly
bring a sacrifice to G-d from either of these emotions. A person must
rule his character traits, even his good traits. For, truly, there are
times when one must be "leaven" and times when one must be "honey."

                                        (Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch)

                                *  *  *

With all your sacrifices you shall offer salt (Lev. 2:13)

The sacrifice symbolizes the revealed part of the Torah, which is
likened to meat. The salt symbolizes the hidden aspects of Torah which
are more spiritual and abstract. This is why each sacrifice had to be
brought with salt. In the same way that salt preserves meat from
spoiling, so do the inner, esoteric explanations of Torah preserve the
revealed part of Torah.

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Rabbi Chaim ben Attar  (1696-1743), also known as the "Ohr HaChaim"
after his commentary on the Torah, was a skilled goldsmith. Born in
Morocco, he become famous for his Torah knowledge and saintliness at a
young age. Even when he held an honored position as a great Rabbi, he
declined to be paid for his services. He preferred to earn his money
from the work of his hands as a goldsmith.

Rabbi Chaim hired himself out to the best known local non-Jewish
goldsmith for several hours each day, or whenever he needed to work, in
accordance with his family's simple needs. The rest of the time he spent
teaching and studying Torah.

The goldsmith for whom Rabbi Chaim worked was no friend of the Jews, but
he valued Rabbi Chaim's work so much that he let him work whenever he

When the Sultan's daughter was getting married, he sent for the
goldsmith and placed a large order to be ready before the wedding. Rabbi
Chaim still had money left from his previous earnings and did not come
in to the goldsmith for work. Although the goldsmith tried to entice
Rabbi Chaim with promises of great sums of money, Rabbi Chaim refused to
come in.

The day came for the Sultan's order to be delivered and it was not
ready. The Sultan was incensed. He threatened to have the goldsmith
thrown to the lions. But the sly goldsmith put the blame on Rabbi Chaim.
"I accepted the order with the understanding that Rabbi Chaim would work
together with me. He never once showed up at my workshop, though I
repeatedly asked him."

The Sultan's face began to soften and the goldsmith continued. "I told
him over and over again that the jewelry was for the Sultan's daughter
and still he would not come."

By now, the Sultan, no lover of the Jews himself, was convinced of Rabbi
Chaim's guilt and ordered him to be thrown to the lions.

When the Sultan's guards came to fetch Rabbi Chaim, he asked only to be
allowed to take some of his sacred books, talit and tefilin with him.
The guards laughed at this seemingly ridiculous request. "The lions have
not been fed for days. You act as if you are preparing for a vacation."

As Rabbi Chaim was led through the streets, Jews closed their shops and
stalls and accompanied him. They wept bitterly to see their beloved
Rabbi being led to his horrible death, while some of the local Arabs
laughed and jeered.

Rabbi Chaim took no notice of the crowd, but consoled his grieving
brethren, "It is G-d who takes life and gives life; He redeems and saves
in time of distress. I am confident that He will spare me from the
lions' teeth. Trust in G-d."

Upon arrival at the Sultan's palace, the lion keepers placed a rope
around Rabbi Chaim's waist and lowered him down into the den. The
keepers knew what to expect: blood-chilling shrieks, roars and snarls of
the beasts, and then deathly silence.

This time, however, it was different. There were no screams, no roars or
snarls. The lions remained in their places and made no attempt to attack
their "meal." The keepers decided that the beasts were not hungry, and
walked away.

Three days later, they came back, expecting only to find broken bones.
But they could not believe their eyes when they saw Rabbi Chaim sitting
in the center of the cage, wrapped in his talit and tefilin, studying
his holy books. The wild beasts were crouched around him, keeping a
respectful silence, as if they were listening to his melodious voice.

The keepers rushed to tell the Sultan what they saw. In utter disbelief,
the Sultan went to see for himself. He, too, was amazed and terrified at
the awesome sight. He ordered a rope to be lowered into the cage so that
Rabbi Chaim could climb out.

"Now I know that the G-d of the Jews saves His people in every age,"
said the Sultan in deference to Rabbi Chaim. The Sultan also asked Rabbi
Chaim to be his advisor.

Our Sages teach that one who lives totally in consonance with G-d's laws
has nothing to fear from wild animals, for G-d is the Creator of both
man and beast. Such was the case of Rabbi Chaim ben Attar.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The month of Nissan has a special relationship to the Redemption, as our
Sages tell us (Midrash Rabbah Shemot 15:11): "When G-d chose His world
He established within it new moons and years; and when He chose Jacob
and his sons, He established in it a new moon of redemption, for in
[this month, Nissan] the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt, and in
this month they will be redeemed in the future, as the verse says: 'As
in the days of your going out of Egypt I will show you wonders'

                                                      (Michah 15:7)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 813 - Vayikra 5764

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