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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 816
                           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.
        April 23, 2004       Sazria-Metzora        2 Iyyar, 5764

                            If I Forget Thee

The history of the Jewish People begins with the Land of Israel. Lech
Lecha, get yourself, G-d tells Abraham, out of your country, your
birthplace, your father's house, and to the land I will show you.

The history of the Jewish People culminates with the Land of Israel.
Moshiach's ultimate task is rebuilding the Temple and gathering the
dispersed of Israel - bringing the exiles home.

And the history of the world begins and culminates with the Land of
Israel. The Torah opens, "In the beginning, G-d created the heaven and
earth." The famous commentator Rashi asks, "Why does the Torah begin
with the creation of the world, when its central focus is the covenant
between G-d and the Jewish People and the laws governing that
relationship?" Rashi answers his own question as follows: G-d created
the world, and as Owner, can designate to whom which part belongs. And
He gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish People.

The land of Israel is part of the triad of holiness: the holy people are
the Jews, the holy time is Shabbat and the holy land is Israel.

A central focus of our prayers, we mention Israel when reciting the
Grace After Meals and several times in the silent culmination of the
prayer service, the Amida. At our weddings and celebrations, dedications
and invocations, we remember that our joy cannot be complete until the
people of Israel is restored to the Land of Israel and the Land of
Israel rests secure.

Israel has been the subject of our poems and songs throughout the ages,
from Judah HaLevi's "Ode to Zion" to the inspirational lyrics (often
from the Psalms) of today's popular music.

We have formed organizations and institutions dedicated to the
preservation and protection of Israel. Indeed, the modern influx to and
reclamation of Israel traces its origin to the disciples of the Baal
Shem Tov, the Chasidic pioneers who initiated an organized return. And
for the past two hundred years, individuals and groups from across the
spectrum have followed in their footsteps, united in their devotion to
the people of Israel in the Land of Israel.

No one, of course, has been more concerned for the welfare of the Land
of Israel or done more to promote its well-being than the Lubavitcher
Rebbe. Even before ascending to the leadership of the Jewish People, he
was an advocate for Israel. And his firmness formed a theme from the
fifties onward. In private letters and public pronouncements he stressed
the special responsibility and the special merit of Israel's leaders,
emphasized the need for Jews everywhere to recognize and support our
G-d-given right to the land, and reiterated the message that "the eyes
of the L-rd are upon the Land from the beginning of the year to the end
of the year," with all its spiritual and practical implications.

Indeed, in times of crisis the Rebbe reassured Israel that "the guardian
of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps." Before the Six-Day War, in
conjunction with the tefilin campaign, the Rebbe prophesied a great
victory. During the Yom Kippur War, he allayed fears about Israel's
survival. And during the Gulf War he prophetically declared that, Israel
is the safest place.

And today, despite the politics and debates, the land of Israel and its
landmarks - Hevron, Jerusalem - unites us and draws us. Some of us have
been there often; some have yet to go.

Either way, it's time to be there.

For all of us yearn for the land, for the day when "those lost in
Assyria and those oppressed in Egypt will worship G-d on the holy
mountain, in Jerusalem."

This week we read two Torah portions on Shabbat. They are Tazria and

The portion of Metzora begins with the laws concerning the purification
of the leper.  Can we "live with the times" - find a contemporary lesson
from a Torah portion about leprosy? Most know leprosy simply as a highly
contagious and disfiguring disease.  But, in Biblical times it was seen
as a physical punishment from G-d for the sin of slander. Quite a harsh
punishment for  transgressing a commandment between man and his fellow
man. Or is it?

It was the punishment Miriam received for speaking ill of Moses. And
Moses, at the burning bush, saw his hand turn leprous. This was an
intimation from G-d that his harsh words about the Israelites were

A leper was isolated from the rest of the people once his illness had
been diagnosed, and made to live outside the camp in the desert where
the rest of the Israelites dwelled.  Since the disease had a spiritual
as well as a physical dimension, this was not simply a hygienic
precaution, but had a moral purpose. Likewise, his purification was a
recovery of spiritual as well as physical health.

The leper was required to remain outside the camp, and even people who
were "impure" for reasons other than leprosy were not allowed near him.
Rashi comments, "Because he, by slanderous statements, parted man and
wife, or a man from his friend, [therefore] he must be parted [from
everybody]." He was excluded from the camp because of his association
with strife and dissension.

Unlike other forms of spiritual impurity, slander is progressive.  At
first it is turned against ordinary people, then against the righteous,
then against G-d Himself.

On the day of the leper's purification, the Torah tells us, "He shall be
brought to the kohen (priest). And the kohen shall go out of the camp"
to meet him. Who is to go to whom? The answer lies in understanding that
these two expressions are actually two aspects of the leper's spiritual

The first indicates an assurance that even one who stands "outside the
camp," isolated-even by a sin between two people- will in the end be
motivated to turn to the "kohen" in repentance.

The second stage is when the kohen meets the leper, and in so doing
initiates and awakens the desire to return.  He will then strive to
translate his revelation into a cleansing of the whole circumstances of
his life which led up to the transgression.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                          One Mitzva at a Time
                      by Yisroel (Scott) Pritikin

I was born and raised in Wilmette, Illinois, a posh suburb of Chicago.
Mine was a very long path to Torah observance, a path I continue to this

In high school, I participated in all sorts of extra-curricular
activities. I played on a sports teams and worked for the school t.v.
and radio stations. I went to Northern Illinois University for college
where I continued to be involved in many activities, including football,
a fraternity, Hillel, and the local city council. I was also active in
student government and I taught Hebrew school three days a week.
Somewhere in between, I managed to graduate with a BA in Political
Science-International Relations.

Growing up, my family belonged to a Conservative synagogue, but much of
what I learned came from the traditional summer camp my parents sent me
to (thanks Mom and Dad). From my camp experience, I always had the
feeling that something was missing and that I wanted to be more
observant one day. I just didn't know how or where to start. When I was
president of Hillel, I invited Orthodox Rabbis to lecture and I began to
study with them on a regular basis. I continued on my quest while on my
first trip to Israel in 1987. Somehow, I made my way to the Chabad in
Jerusalem and studied Chasidism for a few days with a rabbi there. This
was my first introduction to Chabad and to Torah's esoteric teachings.

After college, I moved to Philadelphia to work for the pro-Israel media
watchdog CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in
America) and became very friendly with Chabad Rabbi Menachem Schmidt.
When my job at CAMERA ended Rabbi Schmidt let me move into the Chabad
House at the University of Pennsylvania in exchange for helping organize
events and recruit students. I continued until I moved back to Chicago.

A great deal of my journey to observance was at the Chabad House at
Northwestern University with Rabbi Dov Hillel and Rebbetzin Chaya Klein.
Dov Hillel allowed me the opportunity to grow naturally through osmosis
and Chaya provided me the warmth of spending Shabbat in a caring

My thirst for knowledge continued and in 1997 I took a three-week
vacation from my computer support job to study in Israel. Upon my
return, I started attending Torah classes all over Chicago.

A few years later, a friend persuaded me to go to the Rabbinical College
of America in Morristown, New Jersey. I made arrangements to visit Crown
Heights and spend Shabbat there. On Sunday, my friend took me to the
Ohel for the first time where I visited the graves of the Lubavitcher
Rebbe and the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. That evening, I arrived at the
Lubavitch Yeshiva in Morristown. And I have been keeping Shabbat and
kosher ever since.

Months later, when I returned to Chicago and my job in computers, I felt
proud of being a Jew, but I was reluctant to share these feelings with
my coworkers. To be honest, I was intimidated by their potential
response. But, the more observant I became, the more my non-Jewish
coworkers started to ask me thoughtful and sincere questions about
Judaism. I soon realized that my coworkers not only accepted me as an
observant Jew, but sought me out for advice and philosophical

When the dotcom revolution exploded in mid 2000, I ventured out on my
own and started working full-time as a Macintosh computer consultant.
Consulting has always been a feast or famine proposition for me, so I
never wanted to do it full time. This time was no different. Instead of
languishing in my own sorrow, I got up and spent a few months in
Yeshiva. When I returned from my two month re-JEW-venation, business
picked up a little, but soon died down again. It was at that time that a
friend convinced me that observing the mitzva of letting my beard grow
would have positive spiritual and financial ramifications. With little
to lose, I (somewhat reluctantly) let my beard grow.

Soon, the consulting jobs started pouring in. Within a few months, I
managed to set up an interview for a job with a Fortune 500 company.
After much soul searching, I decided to go into the interview wearing a
yarmulke (a first for me) and a full beard. You should have seen the
look on my headhunter's face as he greeted me at the door before the
interview. No one at this agency had seen me in about five years, so
they had no idea that I had become observant. As it turns out, my fear
of my identity as an observant Jew working in corporate America was
nothing more than a product of my own "mishugas." I sat in front of a
panel of five people and I aced the interviews. I will never know how
much the beard and yarmulke ended up helping me, but I beat out several
other candidates and received a firm offer for employment within 15
minutes of my second interview. And, my phone is ringing off the hook
with potential clients for my Macintosh consulting business. Now that
things are going well, thank G-d, I am spending three evenings a week
studying Torah.

Over a year has passed since I was hired for this Fortune 500 job.
Everyone at work knows that I leave early every week for Shabbat.
People, both Jew and gentile, seek me out to ask me all sorts of
questions on Judaism. A most memorable time for me was last fall when
other Jewish employees I had never saw or met before popped up from all
over and went out of their way to wish me a Shana Tova.

The dichotomy we feel between the secular and the Jewish world is not so
much an external fight as an internal one. When we feel good about who
we are, we can overcome the differences between the two worlds and
elevate them with our deeds and actions. But we first have to overcome
the internal exile that we place ourselves in.

My advice to anyone reading this: try not to set any ceilings for
yourself. Just try to take on a little more each and every day by
setting aside a few minutes to learn and grow - one mitzva at a time.
And G-d will provide you with the rest.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New In Florida
                               New Center

A new center, the Paula and Harry Singer Chabad Campus, was dedicated
recently in Weston, Florida. The 16,000 square foot building includes a
sanctuary, mikve, library, social hall, classrooms, offices, pre-school
and Hebrew school. Rabbi Yisrael and Leah Spalter arrived in this West
Broward community eight years ago. Four years ago a fire devastated the
Chabad Center of Weston. The new center is the culmination of eight
years of hard work and two years of construction.

                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Simon and Shaina Jacobson will be opening Chabad of Charlotte
County, in the heart of the southwest coast of Florida.

                            THE REBBE WRITES

                      11th of Kislev, 5735 [1975]

Greeting and Blessing:

Your letter of the 22nd of Cheshvan reached me with some delay, and this
is the first opportunity for me to acknowledge it.

Following the order of your letter, I wish to extend here my prayerful
wishes that your wife - should have a normal and complete pregnancy, as
well as a normal delivery of a healthy offspring in a good and
auspicious hour.

With regard to the business venture about which you write, it is clear
that the general conditions which affect the problem, as well as those
specific ones that you mention in your letter, are of a nature which
change from time to time.

Indeed, as you write, this is also the reason that caused the problem of
financing. At any rate, it seems at this moment that the next step does
not depend on you, as you don't seem to have any options to choose from.

The only suggestion I can make to you is one that may appear mystical,
but it has been borne out by experience and proved quite practical. I
have in mind the idea that when a Jew strengthens his bond with the
Source of wisdom, which is in G-d, he gains wisdom and understanding
also in mundane affairs, which helps him to decide what to do and what
not to do in matters of business and the like.

Needless to say, by strengthening one's bonds with the Source of true
wisdom and understanding, is meant the actual observance of the Mitzvoth
[commandments] which G-d set forth in His Torah, of which it is written,
"This is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of all the nations."

As mentioned above, the advice that you should make an effort to
strengthen your commitment and actual fulfillment of the Mitzvoth, which
will also help you make the proper decisions, is at first glance of a
mystical nature. But looking at it from a practical point of view, we
know that in everything else the important thing is the actual results
which a certain measure brings about. If experience shows that doing
such a thing brings such and such results in the vast majority of cases,
then it is not so important whether one understands how and why those
results are caused, for the important thing is the result itself.

The same applies also to Jews and their commitment to the Torah and
Mitzvoth throughout the ages. Our long history has borne out the fact
that the well-being of the Jewish people, as well as of the Jew as an
individual, is intimately connected with his observance of the Torah and
Mitzvoth in the daily life. And although the Torah and Mitzvoth should
be observed for their own sake, as the commands of our Creator, it has
been revealed that the Torah and Mitzvoth are also the channels and
vessels to receive G-d's blessings for Hatzlocho [success] in the
material aspects of life.

May G-d, whose benevolent Providence extends to each and every one
individually, grant you the wisdom to make the right decisions, and to
have Hatzlocho in all the above.

With blessing,

P.S. Noting that you are an attorney at law, I would like to add a point
that is no doubt quite familiar to you. This is that in matters of a
legal suit, the best and weightiest legal argument is when one can cite
precedents of judgment in similar cases, and there is no need to
substantiate and explain the reason for the judgment further since the
judgement speaks for itself.

P.P.S. Regarding the project in Nicaragua in general - in light of the
world economic and political situation, it does not appear to be a
practicable and realistic project in the near future.

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
3 Iyar, 5764 - April 24, 2004

Positive Mitzva 53: Appearing before G-d in the Holy Temple

This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 16:16) "Three times a year, all
your males shall appear." Three times a year; on Passover, Shavuot and
Sukkot, Jewish males are commanded to present themselves in the Holy
Temple. The revelation of holiness on these occasions inspires everyone
in his devotion to G-d. The arrival at the Holy Temple is marked by
bringing a sacrifice, the olat reiya.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
If Passover is over, the summer is not too far away! Surely there are
many who are already well into their summer plans.

When to go, what to do, which bungalow to rent, where to send the
children to camp, are questions being tossed around.

The summer is looked upon as the time to become physically refreshed.
But especially for children at camp, it is the perfect opportunity to
become culturally and spiritually rejuvenated.

Though we are not here to suggest any particular camp, we would like to
urge you to choose a camp that has not only kosher food, but a "kosher"
atmosphere, too.  Activities should be geared to strengthening growing
bodies and souls. And the staff should be comprised of warm, dedicated
people who appreciate and understand the special needs of our most
precious commodity.

Especially beneficial would be attending a suitable overnight camp. For
in that situation, the child lives in an enriched Jewish atmosphere
twenty-four hours a day During the year, the child undoubtedly receives
a good Jewish education.  But, in the summer, instruction comes in a
most unique and enjoyable manner; prayers are sung together and Jewish
studies are enhanced with good-natured competitions.

Needless to say, although the children will be on vacation from school,
one never needs a vacation from learning Torah. So make sure that ample
time is scheduled in for learning about our beautiful heritage.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
A woman who conceives and bears a son... (Lev. 12:2)

"Woman" is a common metaphor for the Jewish nation.  "Conceives," in the
Hebrew literally "gives seed," is analogous to the performance of good
deeds. Bearing a child is the final Redemption. The performance of
mitzvot is compared to the sowing of seed because one tiny seed can be
the starting point for an abundance of fine produce. Similarly, just one
mitzva can be the source for abundant G-dliness.

                        (Ohr HaChayim as elucidated in Ohr HaTorah)

                                *  *  *

And bears a son...On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised
(Lev. 12:2-3)

"Bearing a child" hints at the future redemption and "eighth day" hints
at the eight strings on the harp for use in the Third Temple, may it be
speedily built in our days.

                                                      (Ohr HaTorah)

                                *  *  *

On the day of his purity he shall be brought to the priest (Lev. 14:2)

Why must a person come to the priest specifically on the day when he
became pure from the leprosy? The leprosy came as a result of speaking
ill of another person or talebearing. This kind of behavior very easily
becomes habitual. On the day when the person is once again allowed to
re-enter society, he might immediately begin speaking improperly once
again. Therefore, he is brought to the priest to receive extra strength
and guidance to deal with this habit.

                                                    (Rabbi Hershel)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In the year 1912, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (who would become the
sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe after the passing of his father, Rebbe Shalom
Ber Schneersohn, in 1920) was on a train from Paris to Petersburg. On
the train he was approached by a well-dressed businessman who asked,
"Rabbi, are you the son or grandson of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch?"

"Yes," the Rebbe said. "In fact, I am his grandson."

The businessman's eyes filled with tears. He trembled slightly as though
in shock, turned abruptly around and returned to his cabin. This scene
repeated itself later that evening when the businessman happened on the
Rebbe once again.

The next morning the Rebbe had just finished praying in his cabin when
the same man appeared at his door. He entered and said, "Please excuse
my emotional outbursts, but....." and suddenly began to weep again.
After several minutes the man asked if he could borrow the Rebbe's
tefilin. The man took the tefilin, kissed them tenderly, put them on and
began to pray. The Rebbe left him alone to pour out his soul before his
Creator. When he finished, he thanked the Rebbe and asked to borrow a
Book of Psalms.

Several hours later, the man returned to the Rebbe's room. His face was
pale and he looked as though he was undergoing dramatic changes. The
Rebbe invited him in. "My name is Y...," he began. "I was born into a
Chabad Chasidic home. My childhood was very happy; our house was always
filled with guests, Torah and joy. When I was 15 I somehow got involved
with a 'bad' crowd.

"My father saw what was happening and took me to the Rebbe for the High
Holidays. Seeing the Rebbe had a profound effect on me. My father even
took me in for a private audience. The Rebbe spoke to my father, then
turned to me and said, 'The world can be very dangerous. Never forget
that you are a Jew.'

"The experience changed me, but only temporarily. Eventually I stopped
praying, stopped doing the commandments and after a year or so I left my
parents' house. Several times my father tried to contact me but that
only aroused my anger. I married an assimilated girl and broke
completely with my past.

"I joined an underground political movement. There had been several
pogroms, and most of our efforts were directed to helping Jews. After
several years of this work, we heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was to
visit Petersburg in order to stop the pogroms at the government level.
We decided to let him know of several impending pogroms that we had
heard about.

"We arrived at the hotel where the Rebbe was staying and were met by a
large group of Chasidim, some of whom remembered me and greeted me
warmly. Suddenly the Rebbe opened his door to come out to pray the
afternoon prayer. He glanced at me and I knew that he recognized me.

"Later we had a private audience with the Rebbe. His knowledge of the
situation in Russia was nothing short of miraculous, and the next few
months we devoted ourselves to helping him in every way. We saw much
fruit from our labors and saw how the Rebbe literally prevented dozens
of pogroms.

"Then one day, as we were leaving his room and I was the last one out,
the Rebbe called to me and said, 'Tell me, when was the last time you
put on tefilin?'

"I was so stunned I couldn't even open my mouth. Those few words made
such an impression on me that that day I looked for a pair of tefilin
and put them on for the first time in years, and I even stopped eating
non-kosher food.

"I returned home, told my wife that I wanted to return to a Jewish way
of life and she agreed. Eventually I renewed ties with my father.

"At the end of that year it became known to us that there were to be a
series of massive pogroms in the south of Russia. I was chosen to travel
to Lubavitch to tell the Rebbe, and when I entered his office I could
tell he was happy to see me. He told me we would meet again to discuss
the problem in a few days.

"When we met again he said that he had visited his father's grave site.
His father told him that there was no real danger but nevertheless, we
must take steps. The Rebbe gave me some letters and told me what to do
with them. Then he said: 'Because Moses helped the Jews, G-d gave him
the chips of sapphire from the Tablets that he carved out. You are
helping Jews, so you too deserve a reward.'

"The Rebbe continued, 'When I told you that my father spoke to me I
noticed that you smirked. The reason for this is that you are so
involved in the physical that you have no appreciation for spiritual
things.' The Rebbe then sat with me for over an hour explaining what
'spiritual' means. He concluded: 'How long can a person live a life of
physicality? Fifty years, 55 years? Remember who you are and where you
come from. May G-d protect you and give you true happiness.'

"I didn't really understand what he was getting at, because I had
already returned to Judaism for almost a year. But I thanked him warmly,
took the papers he gave me, and set out by train for Petersburg to give
them to officials there.

"Police stopped the train and began searching everyone. I considered
throwing the Rebbe's letters away, but the Rebbe's words made me think
differently. And miraculously, I was the only one they didn't check! In
Petersburg I was able to give over the papers to the right officials.
And, the Rebbe was right; the situation was not as severe as we thought.

"I became a very successful businessman and again left the Jewish path.
In the last 30 years I never once even thought about G-d. Now I am
returning from a party in Monte Carlo that my friends made for my 55th
birthday. When I saw you, I remembered the words of your holy
grandfather and it touched my soul."

The businessman became a different person. He moved his entire family
and business to another country and became a pillar of the Jewish
community there.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Torah prohibits a kohen (priest) from entering the Holy Temple if he
has drunk a reviit (approximately 3.7 ounces) of wine. He must wait
about 24 minutes before he can enter the Temple to perform his holy
service. There is one opinion in the Talmud (Taanit 17a) that even
today, when we do not have the Holy Temple, a kohen is still forbidden
from drinking a reviit of wine. For, if the Third Holy Temple will
suddenly be rebuilt. he would not be allowed to enter the Temple. From
this we see that the entire Holy Temple could miraculously appear in
fewer than 24 minutes!

                                           (Likutei Sichot, Vol. 2)

            END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 816 - Sazria-Metzora 5764

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