Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 822
                           Copyright (c) 2004
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        June 4, 2004          Beha'aloscha        15 Sivan, 5764

                            Make Israel Here

There's a famous story about the Tzemech Tzedek, the third Lubavitcher
Rebbe, and one of his Chasidim. The Chasid wanted to move to Israel and
came to the Rebbe to ask for his approval and blessing. The Rebbe
refused; after some discussion he told the Chasid, "make Israel here."

What he meant, of course, was that the Chasid should transform his
environment, to reveal the spiritual potential inherent where he lived.
The Chasid did not have to travel to Israel to find spiritual
fulfillment. Indeed, his life's mission, the reason why his soul came
into the physical world, required him to be someplace else.

In our own lives we often dream of moving to "Israel." In the metaphoric
sense, Israel represents not necessarily the land of our ancestors, but
an idyllic other place. Our fantasy goes beyond the childish "grass is
greener" syndrome, because we can imagine ourselves enduring hardships.
Indeed, we imagine them deeply, admiring our projected heroism,
dedication and sacrifice.

But the main point of "moving to Israel" is to move out of wherever we
are. Sometimes the pressures get to us and we want to avoid life, but
change the rules, play a different game, so to speak. And so the Tzemech
Tzedek tells us - you can't change places by moving yourself. You can
only change  your place by moving - transforming your place. You don't
like your environmental conditions? Transform them!

Behind this we can discover two other ideas. One is hashgacha pratit -
Divine Providence. We're taught that G-d guides a person's footsteps. We
are where we are because G-d wants us there. We have a Divine mission to
fulfill. Our souls have a connection to some spark of holiness, buried
in the place where we find ourselves. Our task is to reveal that spark,
to uncover the G-dliness, the "Land of Israel" buried within the deepest
recesses of the earth.

That's why we have to make Israel here.

This parallels a concept found in Midrashic literature, that "in the
future the Land of Israel will extend into all lands." This means that
in the times of Moshiach the holiness, the revelations of G-dliness
naturally manifest in the Land of Israel, will extend over the whole
world. As Isaiah says, "The earth will be filled with knowledge of G-d."

And here's the second point. Obviously, every Jew belongs in the Land of
Israel. The Land of Israel is special and sacred. But we can go to
Israel, taking the "here" - New York, Seattle, Buenos Aires, Sydney,
etc. - with us, in which case we make Israel into here, into a New York,
a Sydney, etc.

Or we can make Israel here, so that no matter where we are, we are in
Israel - just as the Sages of the Midrash envisioned the Redemption.

So, when during exile we make here - wherever here is, meaning, wherever
we are - into Israel, then that Israel-quality we have implanted will
sprout and come to fruition during the times of Moshiach.

This week's Torah reading, Behaalotcha, begins with the command to Aaron
to kindle the Menora, the candelabrum in the Sanctuary. The Menora
symbolizes the Jewish people, for the purpose of every Jew's existence
is to spread Divine light throughout the world, as it is written: "The
soul of man is the lamp of G-d." With "the light of the Torah, and the
candle of mitzvot (commandments)," our people illuminate our surrounding

The Menora extends upward in seven branches, which symbolizes seven
different paths of Divine service. And yet it was made of a single piece
of gold. This shows that the various different qualities that
characterize the Jewish people do not detract from their fundamental
unity. Diversity need not lead to division, and the development of true
unity comes from a synthesis of different thrusts, every person
expressing his own unique talents and personality.

Not only does the Menora point to the importance of every individual,
the manner in which it was kindled underscores the need for independent
effort. This concept is reflected in the literal meaning of the phrase
the Torah uses when relaying G-d's command to kindle the Menora: "When
you raise up the lamps." The foremost commentator Rashi explains that
this means the priest should apply the flame to the wick "until the
flame rises on its own," and shines independently.

Interpreting this concept allegorically, each of the expressions Rashi
uses reflects a fundamental concept.

"The flame" - Every person is potentially a "lamp." This, however, is
not enough. He must realize his potential and become a flame, producing
radiant light.

"Rises" - A person should not remain content with his current level, no
matter how refined. Instead, he should seek to proceed further,
searching for a higher and more complete degree of Divine service.

"On its own" - A person must internalize the influence of his teachers
until their light becomes his own. The knowledge he learns should endow
him with the power to "shine" independently.

Moreover, he should "rise on his own," i.e., the desire to proceed
should become his own nature. Even without the encouragement of others,
he should continually seek to advance.

These concepts apply not only to our personal strivings for spiritual
growth, but also to the manner in which we reach out to others. We
should not encourage dependency. Instead, our intent should be that the
people with whom we share Judaism should also become "flame[s] which
rise on [their] own" - independent lamps that spread the "light of
Torah" throughout their surroundings.

                From Keeping in Touch adapted from the works of the
                                Lubavitcher Rebbe by Rabbi E Touger,
                                     published by Sichos in English.

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                   Be Fruitful and Multiply But When?
                          By Steven C. Goodman

I had been feeling uncharacteristically tired. Probably not getting
enough sleep. When my lack of energy persisted, I figured I'd play it
safe and see a doctor. The doctor ordered some tests. No big deal.
Hardly alarming.

Several days later and two days before my family and I were to leave to
spend Passover in Florida, I received a call during dinner. It was the
doctor. He suggested I call off my trip. A biopsy was needed -

Somehow Sharon and I managed not to preoccupy ourselves with fear of the
unknown. The next day she and friends koshered our house for Passover
while I had surgery, and the following night we made the Seder.

It took four days and four nights to get the biopsy results.

On my seventh wedding anniversary, in my 37ththirty-seventh year I was
informed I had Hodgkin's Disease, a cancer of the lymph system.

Eight years earlier, I was leading a life that could only described as

I had finally met my bashert, the woman for whom G-d had intended me.
Jewish teachings state that finding one's bashert is an equivalent
miracle to the parting of the Red Sea. No argument here.

The unifying theme of our marriage was and is our commitment to Judaism.
Neither of us was raised in a religious home, but we had come to believe
we were part of a people with a mission, a mission defined through the
613 commandments of the Torah. The first of these mitzvot is to "be
fruitful and multiply."

Whether it was this knowledge or something more intuitive, after our
first year of marriage it seemed only natural to begin raising a family.

Money was not a concern. The 80s were bestowing their bounty upon us. I
owned ten stores when Sharon and I met, 20 when our first child Rachel
was born, 25 a year and a half later when we were blessed with our
second, Akiva, and a year after that, the number was up to 40 (stores,
not children).

My dream of 100+ stores and centi-millionairehood seemed all but
inevitable. But as the boom days of the 80s came to a close, so - due to
adverse conditions - did several of my stores. Competition had become
overwhelming, and the strategy that had served our family business for
25 years was no longer viable. My business dreams, net worth and to a
great extent my self-worth, came crashing down around me.

Thank G-d I was anchored in something beyond my career. Four years
earlier I had become a serious Jew, observing Shabbat, kosher and Family
Purity. I was learning Torah on a regular basis and was president of a
wonderful synagogue.

But ultimately the most fulfilling aspect came as a result of having
learned the first commandment.

On September 9, 1990, after a two year and ultimately abandoned struggle
to hold together my business, our third child, Aryeh David, was born.

And there I was one year later sitting with Sharon in the clinic room
having just heard the word "cancer."

The doctor put his hand on my leg, a gesture of compassion, looked at
both of us and asked, "Do you have children?"

"Yes," we said, "three of them, and one on the way."

The doctor seemed relieved.


"Because the treatment will likely cause you to be infertile."

Shalom Yitzchak was born a few months later. Sharon and I had chosen to
attempt to have this fourth child because we believe in G-d.

Unexpectedly - and miraculously - my current financial position is as
strong as ever. Furthermore, thanks to G-d and my doctors, the cancer
seems to have been licked. My life is back on track, just as it was.
Except, of course, that I may not be able to have more children. Now,
every time I hug my children, I thank the G-d Who commanded me to be
fruitful and multiply, even when business is off. And when I see our
youngest son, Shalom, I think of doing G-d's will over my own.

I will always be grateful that I learned in time to trust in G-d, and to
resist the temptation to overestimate my ability to plan the future.

Be fruitful and multiply. When? Now!

    Steve Goodman lives in Chicago with his wife and four children.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Four young couples have recently arrived or will soon arrive in cities
throughout the United States as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbi Mendy and Mrs. Nechama Dina Tennenhaus will be opening Chabad of
Westlake Village/Northeast Hollywood in Florida.

Rabbi Yitzchok and Mrs. Pessy Gurevitz will be moving to Northwest
Philadelphia where they will be serving Jewish residents in Mt. Airy,
Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania and neighboring communities.

Rabbi Sender and Mrs. Chani Engel will be enhancing the work of
Chabad-Lubavitch in Long Beach, California where they will be involved
with Chabad's summer day camp, Jewish Day School and holiday youth

Rabbi Chaim and Mrs. Baily Fischer are soon to arrive in the Grove area
of Los Angeles, California where they will open a new Chabad Center to
serve the large Jewish population there.

         We with them all much success in all their endeavors!

                            THE REBBE WRITES

        Freely translated from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

In response to your letter, which consisted of several general questions
relating to faith and religion. You begin your letter with a warning
that you don't believe in G-d, Heaven forbid, because you are uncertain
as to whether He exists.

 a. You can understand my wonder and shock at this "statement," even
    though this type of language is unfortunately very common. There is
    only room for doubt about G-d's existence when one lacks true
    consideration and thought. It is only because of its utter
    simplicity that some people refuse to accept it. Just as an

    Consider: A person sees a book that contains many pages of
    intellectual content. Yet, he stands and declares that he doesn't
    believe that a thinking human being was involved in writing the
    book, in setting the print typeset, in binding it. He doesn't
    believe - because of a lack of certainty - in the existence of the
    author and printer, who did their work with wisdom and expertise.

    The truth is that this comparison would apply even if the book
    contained only a few pages; how much more so is it true with regard
    to our entire world! It is especially modern science that has
    revealed within the world an amazing order in every single aspect,
    and every day they discover new harmonies, orders, and
    synchronicities, that shock all those who are aware of them.

    It should be noted that this should lead not only to a certainty in
    the existence of a Creator, but also to an assurance that His
    intellect and abilities are incomparably greater than all intellects
    and abilities in our world, etc. etc.

 b. The above includes also the conclusion that would provide an
    answer for all of the other questions in your letter: your questions
    about the way the world works, and that in your mind, or the mind of
    this or that person, it should have been run differently.

    It would seem that this question is a continuation of the first, for
    if you don't understand the reason for the way things are, that
    would be a proof to you that there is no Creator or Master of the

    Another parable: A young child is brought into a huge factory. He
    declares that if he will understand all the details of how and why
    everything works specifically, he will admit that there was a
    planner who set up the machinery and the way it works, etc. But
    since certain details in the factory seem to him to be illogical,
    and he has strong questions that seem to him to be unanswerable, he
    comes to a definite conclusion that there was no intellect, plan, or
    purpose involved in everything around him at all.

    It should be noted that in the parable, the differential between the
    child and the engineer who designed the factory is only one of
    development, i.e. it is a relative and comparable difference rather
    than a definitive one.

    After all, the designer was also once a child, at a similar
    intellectual level as the questioner. In our case, on the other
    hand, the differential between Creator and creation is an
    incomparable one.

    By the way - and maybe it's more than just by the way - what can
    guarantee that people will behave in a righteous and just manner, if
    not for the belief in a greater power?...

Although all of the above was written as a response to your letter, the
main thing is that not only do I not believe at all this that you write
that you do not believe in G-d, Heaven forbid; I am certain that you do
not believe it either. Proof positive of this: You write that whenever
you see injustice around you, or whenever you are reminded of the
Holocaust which was perpetrated by Hitler, may his name be obliterated,
it disturbs you. If there truly were no Master or Designer to the world,
why would it be surprising when things occur that are the opposite of
righteousness and justice, and that whoever is bigger than someone else
swallows him alive, etc.?

This question doesn't only apply in extraordinary circumstances like the
Holocaust; even in the course of what we call our "regular" day-to-day
lives, any event that seems to be unfair or unjust bothers us, and we
feel that it should never have happened. There's no question that
inanimate matter, or even animals, are not commanded to be fair and
just. The fact that we are disturbed by these events must be connected
with something that is higher than the mineral, vegetable, or animal
kingdoms, higher even than human beings. This "something" is inside the
heart of every person. It is the root of our certainty that there should
be justice in the world; that people should behave fairly. This is why
when we see something that seems not to belong, we spare no energy in
searching for the cause that brought about the opposite of what should

Obviously if you have any reactions to the above you may write to me
with complete openness, without any hesitation. However, as mentioned,
you have a job and purpose which is more important than all of these
questions and answers: to lead the youth in the path of our faith and
its eternal values, the Torah and its Mitzvot, for only in them and
through them can one live life worthy of its name.

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
18 Sivan, 5764 - June 7, 2004

Positive Mitzvah 98: Impurity of Food and Drink

Leviticus 11:34 "Of all the food which may be eaten...and all drink that
may be drunk"

Food and drink can become impure if they have come in contact with a
source of impurity.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This week we continue the study of the Mishna "Pirkei Avot" with Chapter
Two. Chapter two contains the following advice in the name of one of the
greatest Jewish Sages, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: "Be as careful in [the
performance of a seemingly] minor mitzva as of a major one, for you do
not know the reward given for the mitzvot."

As the Rebbe has explained, there are two aspects to our Torah
observance and two types of reward:

"The commandments were given solely to allow the creations to become
refined." Each one of the Torah's 613 mitzvot causes a different aspect
of spiritual purification in the person who performs the mitzva, the
physical objects he uses to perform it, and in the world at large. In
this sense, the reward G-d gives us for keeping His commandments is
greater for certain mitzvot and less for others, according to the
specific mitzva's characteristics.

At the same time, all mitzvot share something in common in the way we
approach them. The Torah's mitzvot are the will of G-d. Whenever we do a
mitzva, our motivation is not to bring about its particular spiritual
effect but simply to do what G-d wants of us. In that sense, all of the
different mitzvot are merely details.

What difference does it make which one we do first? The important thing
is to fulfill the will of the Creator. Accordingly, the reward we
receive for this aspect of our observance is the same for all the

Interestingly, the reward we receive for our role in refining the world
is limited, just as each mitzva is categorized as "major" or "minor."
But the reward for fulfilling G-d's will is beyond limitation - "you do
not know" - completely above and beyond our comprehension.

How fortunate we are, as we say at the conclusion of each chapter, that
G-d "wished to make the people of Israel meritorious. He therefore gave
them Torah and mitzvot in abundant measure."

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
When you will go to war...with the oppressive enemy (hatzar hatzorer),
you shall blow on the trumpets (Num. 10:9)

The sound of the trumpet arouses joy while the shofar arouses dread.
The Torah reveals to us that if we greet any oppressive enemy with a
joyous attitude we will be able to turn "hatzar" (the enemy) from
"tzara" (trouble) into "tzohar"- illumination.

                                                (The Baal Shem Tov)

                                *  *  *

And the men said to him, "We are defiled by the dead body of a man. Why
should we be kept back?" (Num. 9:7)

We do not find in the Torah any other instance where a mitzva that must
be done at a specific time can be completed at a later date. Only for
the bringing of the Passover sacrifice are we permitted to fulfill the
mitzva one month later. Why is this case special? There were many Jews
who wanted to bring the sacrifice in the correct time but for various
reasons could not. They pleaded not to be excluded. In the merit of
their requests, a later date was given to them. The future Redemption
will also come about in the same manner. If we will stubbornly do all in
our means to end our own exile, and beg and plead with G-d with all our
heart and soul, the Redemption will come.

                                    (Rabbi Shlomo Cohen of Radomsk)

                                *  *  *

The man Moses was very humble - more than any man on the face of the
earth (Num. 13:3)

According to the Midrash, Moses saw the Book of Adam, in which was
written each generation's wise men and leaders. Among other things that
he saw was that the generation immediately preceding the coming of
Moshiach would be a generation of lowly souls, and that their learning
and praying would not be on a great level. However, they would keep the
Torah with true devotion and self-sacrifice, despite all the
difficulties, and they would cause a great joy Above. Moses considered
himself lesser than even these souls. This is what is meant by "of any
man on the face of the earth" - to include even the last generation
before the coming of Moshiach.

                                                 (Sefer HaMaamarim)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, once called in one
of his Chasidim, Rav Nisan. He gave the Chasid a closed envelope and
asked him to travel to the castle of the local landowner Count Radzvill.
The purpose of this trip was to try to arouse the Count's best friend,
Pierre Louis, to return to Judaism. Rav Nisan was to open the envelope
in two days time. Rav Nisan was perplexed for, as far as everyone knew,
Pierre Louis was not Jewish. Yet, he followed his Rebbe's instructions
without question.

Count Radzvill was kind and just to all those living on his lands, Jew
and gentile alike. On the particular day that Rav Nisan arrived at the
castle, Count Radzvill and Pierre Louis were just returning from a
two-month holiday in Europe. Crowds of people had gathered to welcome
them back.

After the two men had entered the castle and the crowd had dispersed,
Rav Nisan meandered around the grounds for the rest of the day wondering
how he could arrange to speak to Pierre Louis. When night came, Rav
Nisan travelled into town and slept in the local synagogue. Early the
next morning, Rav Nisan returned to the castle hoping to be inspired as
to how he could obtain an audience with Pierre Louis. But as he
approached the castle, Rav Nisan immediately noticed that something was
wrong. A large crowd was gathered there, but now many of them were

Rav Nisan inquired and found out what had transpired. The Count and
Pierre Louis had gone hunting late the night before. When they returned
from their successful trip, a tragic accident had occurred. The Count
tripped on one of the castle steps, his pistol discharged and he had a
large bleeding wound in his chest.

Despite the attention of the best doctors, all efforts to stop the
bleeding had not helped. The Count was dying.

Suddenly, Rav Nisan remembered the envelope the Rebbe had given him. He
opened it, took out the letter and began reading. It was a prescription
with exact directions how to prepare a salve to cure...a gunshot wound
to the chest!

Rav Nisan ran to the castle gate waving the letter and demanded to be
let in, but the guards refused. Pierre Louis heard the noise from inside
the palace and suddenly came running out to the gate obviously very
irritated, "What do you want here Jew?" he shouted, "Don't tell me you
are a doctor? Leave here immediately!! What is that paper you are

Rav Nisan tried to explain but the Frenchman snatched the prescription
from his hand and began to read. "This is your cure?!" He screamed.
"This is nonsense!" He was about to tear it into pieces when one of the
doctors emerged from the castle, saw the commotion and approached.

He examined the paper, turned facing Pierre Louis with his back to the
Jew and whispered. "They've given up in there. Let the Jew try, he can't

Minutes later Rav Nisan was in the castle, had prepared the medicine and
was beginning the treatment. Some of it he smeared on the wound, some of
it he applied on various parts of the Count's body, and every few
minutes he repeated the process, exactly according to the instructions.

To everyone's surprise the Count stopped hemorrhaging almost
immediately! After a few applications he even seemed to breathe more
deeply and evenly. After an hour, instead of being dead as everyone had
anticipated, color returned to his cheeks and minutes later he regained

The doctors and professors were speechless; they had never seen anything
even vaguely like it. But Pierre Louis was moved to the essence of his
very being.

After several hours the Count was strong enough to call Rav Nisan to his
bedside and thank him. He offered to reward him but the Chasid refused.
"Seeing you returned to health is my reward. Just continue to treat the
Jews kindly," he said. "But I do have one request: I want to speak with
Pierre Louis alone."

The bewildered Pierre Louis and Rav Nisan went into a side room and
closed the door. Rav Nisan said, "I am a follower of a great Jew called
Yisrael Baal Shem Tov. He was the one who wrote that prescription and
saved your friend. He told me to come here and....bring you back to

Pierre was still in shock from the near death of his friend and then his
strange supernatural recovery. And now this? Pierre just looked at the
Chasid, eyes wide in disbelief. "Back? Judaism?" He mumbled to himself.

"The Baal Shem Tov told me to tell you that your real name is Pesach
Tzvi," continued Rav Nisan. "Both your parents were Jewish. Your mother
wanted to give you a Jewish education but your father was opposed and
prevailed. Eventually you lost your Jewish identity. But now it is time
for you to return."

"I don't understand," said Pierre, trying to clear his throat, "Are you
saying that I am...a Jew? A Jew? It's impossible!! Impossible!!"

Pierre Louis refused to discuss the subject further and abruptly ended
the conversation. He only promised he would give it further thought.

Almost a year later Rav Nisan heard a knock on his door, opened it and
was astounded to see a bearded Jew standing in front of him: Pierre
Louis, now Pesach Tzvi, returning to the G-d of his fathers.


                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Jews have been in four exiles. At the end of time, there will be a fifth
and last exile, which is called the exile of Ishmael (lit., "G-d will
hear"). This last exile will be so difficult that the Jews will cry out
to G-d, and "G-d will hear."

                                (Etz Daat Tov by Rabbi Chaim Vital)

             END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 822 - Beha'aloscha 5764

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly