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 # 825
                           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 25, 2004            Chukas            6 Tamuz, 5764

                               Just Foul

Consider the foul ball.

Not the one hit back behind the catcher, high in the stands. And not one
lined into the dugout or straight into the bleachers. Rather, let's look
at the ball that sails toward the fence, looking like a home run all the
way until, at the last moment, a gust of wind pushes it just to the
outside of the line. Or one ripped down the base-path, a shot along
first or third, hugging the chalk, a clear base hit - until, just before
the bag, it curves, and curves ever so slightly, outside the bag.

Now consider what happens on the next pitch. Too often, we see the
batter "caught looking" at a ball or swinging at air.

What happened? One swing and it's almost the play of the game. The next
pitch and - whiff - or even worse - wave to the ball as it goes by.

Coaches will tell you that late swings lead to foul balls. So if the
ball's just foul, it means the swing's just a little bit late. Then,
instead of making a minor adjustment, for the next pitch, the hitter
hasn't recovered his equilibrium; he's still in shock that the last hit
- wasn't a hit. He's still in the past, reliving - mentally still trying
to change - the hit that wasn't.

This happens to us all the time in "real life." We're negotiating a
contract. Everyone agrees we've done a brilliant job, but for some
reason, at the last minute, things didn't work out. The next time "up"
we're not so sure of ourselves and bungle it.

And we can find numerous examples of exponential errors - how one slight
mistake multiplies manifold times.

If we can train ourselves not to be shaken by failures but to brush
ourselves off and get back up again, then we can recognize the source of
the error, and correct it, instead of letting it reverberate itself.

What applies in our business and recreational lives, applies too in our
interactions with others and in our lives as Jews.

Too often, when we're trying to get more into our Judaism, we "swing
late" and end up "just foul." For instance, when we start keeping
kosher, we might buy something we think is kosher, but, as it turns out,
isn't. If we'd have taken the extra second - if we'd "waited on the
ball" - we'd have noticed the problem (no kosher sign on the label).

Rather than get discouraged, focusing on our slip-up, we need to
"correct our swing" - meaning look more carefully next time.

An infrequent synagogue visitor finally takes the plunge and attends a
service. Does he get all flustered when he realizes that he's lost in
the prayerbook, or does he attribute it all to the learning curve with
the confidence that "next time up" he'll do better?

A more experienced prayer could be frustrated by seeing his attention
wander rather than focus on the meaning of the prayers. Does he retreat
into "how could that happen?", or does he refocus his attention on his
Creator and at least find meaning in the rest of the service?

When learning Torah we can encounter a difficult concept and grow
frustrated that we're didn't really get it. Next time, we can stand
there and "take a called strike" - not go to the class, not put forth
the effort, not ask questions. Or, we can "get our timing right" - we
can be there to meet "ball" - that is, the idea.

When we hit the ball "just foul" we can look at it as the first step
away from the base path and toward a sure strike out (even if delayed by
another foul ball or two). Or we can recognize that Jewishly we have to
keep growing, keep "perfecting our swing."

With practice, concentration and attention to details, we can turn a
'just foul" into a hit (more kosher food, more Shabbat, more charity) -
and maybe even a Home Run (that would be Moshiach, of course).

This week's Torah portion, Chukat, tells of the death of Aaron, Moses'
brother, in whose merit the miraculous "Clouds of Glory" used to
accompany the Jews on their journey through the desert. When Aaron died
the clouds disappeared, but later reappeared in the merit of Moses. Two
other outstanding miracles that accompanied the Israelites during their
40 years in the desert were the Manna that fell daily, and the "Well of
Miriam" which supplied them with water.

Each of these three miracles had very different characteristics.

The Clouds of Glory protected the people externally. The clouds
protected them from harsh winds, snakes and serpents. They smoothed out
the mountains, and kept the Israelites' clothes clean. All of these are
external functions.

The Manna was a wonderful food in which one could experience any taste
one desired. Food is something that is absorbed internally and provides
nourishment and sustenance.

The Well of Miriam was a source of water - which is not, in itself,
nourishing. The principal function of water in the body is to act as a
medium to carry food to all parts of the body.

Three different aspects or "dimensions" of Torah are signified and
paralleled by the Clouds, the Manna and the Well. There is an aspect of
Torah which is absorbed internally like the Manna; there is an aspect
that provides external protection, like the Clouds of Glory; and there
is that aspect of Torah that carries the "external protection" and the
"nourishment" to all Jews - like the water of Miriam's Well.

There is another way in which the "Clouds of Glory" are similar to the
Torah, for they encompassed and protected all the Jews - even those few
who still clung to idolatry - from the crossing of the Red Sea until
their entry into Israel. In a similar way, the Torah encompasses each
and every one of our people from the greatest to the smallest; it gives
us the strength to go through the wilderness, not to fear the snakes and
serpents, and to be constantly imbued with a spirit of self-sacrifice.

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn,
related how he was once standing with a large group of diverse Jews
taking shelter from the Nazi bombardment of Warsaw. The group was made
up of Jews from every spectrum and every level of spirituality, from
great tzadikim such as the Rebbe, to simple Jews, and even those who had
no connection with Judaism. But when a bomb exploded not far from them,
the entire group cried out in unison, "Shema Yisrael."

Through studying the Torah, even if one understands no more than the
simple explanation, one receives the nourishment (Manna) and protection
(Clouds of Glory) of Torah.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                    From Ballerina to Baalat Teshuva

                            by Bracha Cegla

    From a speech at the Lubavitch Women's Organization annual

I would like to give you a glimpse of my journey from being a ballerina
to a baalat teshuva (newly observantant of Torah and mitzvot), and the
effects it has had on the people around me.

Being a professional ballerina I spent years of my life immersed in the
ballet world. There was nothing more rewarding than to perform in a
theater filled with people, or to rehearse long and hard until my body
could reach perfection of movement. Nevertheless, three years ago, I
began to wonder, "What am I doing in this world?" All of a sudden a plie
didn't seem so important anymore.

At the same time as this question began occupying my thoughts, my family
moved from Paraguay, South America, to Great Neck, New York. So it
turned out to be not so hard to stop dancing since I was in a new
environment, and people didn't know me as a ballerina.

Nevertheless, I didn't know what to do with that voice that bothered me
with so many questions about the meaning of life. I kept quieting the
voice throughout my first year of college. (Although I do remember
hearing a different voice saying, "This is the college experience?  What
a waste of time!")

My family began attended Chabad regularly every Friday night. It gave us
a homey feeling (since back in Paraguay we also attended Chabad). We
established a relationship with the Rebbe's emissaries, and when the
summer came Rabbi Geinsinsky suggested I should go to Machon Chana
Women's Yeshiva in the Catskill  Mountains. I'd never heard about it but
I decided, Why not? The learning was intense and sweet, the two weeks
flew by and I was back home in no time.

At home, I made up my mind I wanted to go to yeshiva for six months.
Thank G-d, when I shared my intentions with my parents, they encouraged
me to do it! They weren't surprised, and told me, "You always had that
idea of yeshiva in your mind. Give it a try." I remember running to
Rabbi Geisinsky with this exciting news and he said, "Good, good. What
about your sister? Now you have to make sure your sister goes to
yeshiva." It was already August and for sure too late. Nevertheless I
made all the phone calls, and since then she has been attending Hebrew
Academy of Nassau County.

In the fall I began the full-time Machon Chana program with fears and
preconceptions. I kept telling myself, "Don't let them brainwash you." I
wanted to learn, but not let any of the classes affect me. Several times
I went to the principal, Rabbi Majesky, just to double-check with him
that I wasn't being brainwashed. I asked many questions in class, and
amazingly the teachers and rabbis always had an answer, even for the
questions I thought were "unique" ones. Soon I learned I wasn't being
brainwashed, I wasn't escaping reality or anything like that. On the
contrary, I was dealing with the real stuff. Where else are we forced to
look high to the heavens and keep our feet on the ground at the same
time? Where else are we forced to look deeply inside, to make an account
of who we are, and to make real changes in our lives?

The first year in Machon Chana I studied regularly and hard, but I
protected myself and kept firm to my promise that I wasn't going to let
any of this affect my life.

Neverthless, I returned to Machon Chana for a second year. Wow! At some
point during this, my second year, I realized that Torah is truth, it's
from G-d, and it's even applicable to me! Thank G-d, I now see how
learning and time allow one to internalize the whole experience in a
very real way.

Mine, as you can see, wasn't a miraculous jump, it was a slow and
gradual intellectual approach to the world of Torah. Nevertheless, at
one point I realized there are times you have to jump. Like when you're
at the ocean and it's freezing cold. If you just touch the water with
your foot you are never going to go in, you just have to jump!  Machon
Chana is an amazing place. The learning is superb, the teachers are so
patient and sensitive, and the experience is a life-transforming one,
even though when you are in it you don't realize it.

My growth has had a tremendous impact on my family as well. Thank G-d,
we have a kosher home and keep Shabbat. My sister goes to yeshiva, and
my mom says the "Shema" each day. My dad puts on a kipa in the morning
in order to say a blessing on his cereal. My grandparents have also been
touched. They came from Paraguay for Passover and we got to share many
new concepts with them. Whenever we speak now with my Grandma on the
phone, she mentions how her "neshume" (soul) goes to rest every night,
and G-d gives it back to her every morning for a new start. That idea
really got ingrained in her mind.

I would like to end by telling you about my Mom. Everything I tell her
she takes to heart and applies it in her life. Recently, however, she
told me that she knows that belief in Moshiach is one of the fundamental
principles of the Torah, and she wants to believe in Moshiach with all
her heart. But, she told me, she has so many questions. Are we going to
move from Great Neck? Are the dead really going to come alive? She
decided the best way to get her questions answered is to get a class
going with the Rabbi about Moshiach. Let's all learn and teach others so
Moshiach can come now!

                               WHAT'S NEW

The name of the author of the Slice of Life article in issue 823 of
L'Chaim entitled "The Book My Soul Had Been Waiting For" is Gedalia

                         New School in Lugansk

The 110 students of the Beit Menachem School in Lugansk, Ukraine,
recently moved into their new school building. The school is part of the
Ohr Avner Chabad School network, which has established and supports over
70 educational institutions in the Former Soviet Union including Jewish
day schools, universities, kindergartens and camps with an enrollment of
over 13,000 students.

                            THE REBBE WRITES

                          Tammuz, 5740 [1980]

Greeting and Blessing:

I duly received your correspondence, and may G-d grant the fulfillment
of your heart's desires for good in all the matters about which you

At this time, in proximity to the anniversary of the Geulah deliverance
of my father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe, of saintly memory, from the
tyranny of the Soviet regime, fifty-three years ago, on the 12th-13th of
this month, it behooves us to reflect again on those history-making
events and how they relate to every one of us here and now. For, as he
indicated in his first letter on the occasion of the first anniversary
of his Geulah, and as we clearly see it now, his deliverance was more
than a personal one, but a turning point in the survival of Russian
Jewry, and is of lasting significance for every Jew everywhere.

This timely reflection should make every one of us all the more deeply
appreciative of the blessing of freedom to live a full life of Torah and
Mitzvos [commandments], and, what goes with it, the sacred obligation to
do one's utmost to spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit [Judaism] with
enthusiasm and love - the love of G-d, love of the Torah, and love of
our Jewish brethren, which are inseparable.

Moreover, by his total Mesiras Nefesh [self-sacrifice] even in the face
of over- whelming odds, and by his eventual triumph, with G-d's help, he
has shown the way, and trodden the way, for every Jew to follow in his
footsteps, with complete assurance that when a Jew is firmly resolved to
work for Torah and Yiddishkeit, he or she will overcome whatever
difficulties there may be, and be matzliach [successful] with G-d's

I hope and pray that the inspiration of the Baal Hageulah [lit. "the one
who was liberated, i.e., the Previous Rebbe] and Chag Hageulah [holiday
of liberation] - especially as this year's Geulah anniversary also marks
his 100th birthday on the selfsame day of the 12th of Tammuz  - will
stimulate you and yours to redouble your efforts in the said direction
in the days ahead, which will also widen the channels to receive G-d's
blessings for yourself and all yours, in all needs, both materially and

With blessing for good tidings in all the above,

                                *  *  *

                       3rd of Tammuz, 5740 [1980]

                       To All Participants in the
                    First Annual Dinner of Machanaim
                           G-d Bless You All!

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed of this important event, and extend
congratula-tions and good wishes to the Chairman, Honored Guests and all
who are involved in ensuring its success, both materially and
spiritually. Materially - to help provide the means, indeed substantial
means, for the continuation and expansion of the edu-cational facilities
of Machanaim in our Holy Land; and spiritually - by being involved, with
heart and soul, in this sacred cause.

It is very significant that this event is taking place in the week that
is highlighted by the anniversary of the Geulah  deliverance of my
father-in-law, the Rebbe of saintly memory, from his arrest by the
Soviet regime - on the 12th-13th of Tammuz, fifty-three years ago. His
triumph, with G-d's help, over that regime's attempt to stamp out Jewish
education in Soviet Russia was a turning point in the survival of
Russian Jewry, and it is largely due to his indomitable struggle, in the
face of over-whelming odds, that we have a vibrant Russian Jewry today.

Recalling this history-making anniversary should make every one of us
all the more deeply appreciative of the blessing of religious freedom in
this land, and wherever it exists - a blessing that carries with it the
sacred obligation to do one's utmost for the furtherance of Torah
education and the support of Torah institutions, both here and wherever
our help is needed, especially in the Holy Land, of which the Torah
declares that "G-d's Eyes are upon it continuously, from the beginning
of the year to the end of the year."

I am confident that, appreciative as you are of the vital importance of
the work of Machanaim in the Holy Land, and further in- spired by the
timely message of the Geulah Anniversary, every one of you will
generously and enthusiastically respond to the call of those lovely
children who depend so much on your kind patronage. And since G-d
rewards in kind, He will surely bless each and all of you, and yours, in
a generous measure, both materially and spiritually.

With esteem and blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
9 Tamuz, 5764 - June 28, 2004

Prohibition 244: It is forbidden to steal

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 19:11) "Do not steal" We are
forbidden to steal money or goods.

Prohibition 239: Penalties for Robbery

This mitzva is based on the verse (Ex. 21:37-22) "If a man shall
steal..." It details the various penalties inflicted upon the thief. A
thief must restore the stolen article and also pay a fine for breaking
the law.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming week, on the 12th of Tamuz (this year Thursday, July 1) we
commemorate two events in the annals of Chabad history. It is the
birthday of the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. The
12th of Tamuz is also the date on which Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak was
released from imprisonment by the Bolshevik government.

When the Rebbe was taken into custody one month prior to his release, he
knew that he was being arrested on trumped up charges of anti-government
activities. His real crime: teaching Torah and bringing Jews closer to

Before being taken off to the infamous Spalerno Prison, the Rebbe said:
"I demand permission to put on tefilin and pray and also that kosher
food be made available to me from my own home."

He was answered, "You may take your tefilin, religious books, paper and
pen, and I give you my sincere assurance that no one will disturb you
from your prayers, from reading and from writing. This very day you will
return home."

The Rebbe knew that these promises were lies, just as all the charges
upon which he was being imprisoned were lies. Indeed, he informed his
family before being taken away, "Ask all of my followers to recite
Psalms during the first days."

Once in jail, the Rebbe was, in fact, not given his tefilin. He went on
a hunger strike until he received all of his religious articles.

The Rebbe's sentence was commuted from the death sentence to ten years
of hard labor in the Arctic, and then to three years of exile. After
just a few days in exile, he was told that this punishment, too, had
been commuted, and he was to leave Russia immediately.

The Rebbe left Russia a broken man physically, having been tortured in
Spalerno. But they were not able to touch him spiritually in the least.
When he settled in New York, some 20 years later, he set about
establishing the first Jewish Day Schools in the United States. Many
other groups followed the lead of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, thus ensuring
that the flame of Judaism remains alive.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Therefore it is said in the book of the wars of G-d (Num. 21:14)

The strength and uniqueness of the Jewish People lies in the following:
While the nations of the world wage war with conventional weapons, the
"weapon" of the Jewish People is the Book - the Torah which they learn
and in whose light they live their lives. Zecharia the Prophet said:
"Not by might and not by strength, but with My spirit, said the L-rd of

                                               (Rabbi Meir Shapira)

                                *  *  *

This is the torah (law), a man...(Num. 19:14)

The Torah is arranged in the same form as a man's body. Just as there
are physically 248 limbs and 365 sinews in the body, correspondingly
there are 248 positive and 365 negative commandments in the Torah. The
248 limbs of a person receive their sustenance from the 248 positive
commandments, and the 365 sinews draw their sustenance from the 365
negative commandments.

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                                *  *  *

Have them bring a completely red cow, which has no blemish on it, upon
which no yoke has ever come (Num. 19:2)

If a person considers himself perfect, without finding the smallest
trace of fault, this is a sign that he has never borne a yoke - the yoke
of Heaven. He who accepts the yoke of Torah is always cognizant of how
far he is from perfection.

                                  (Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin)

                                *  *  *

The priest shall take some cedar wood and hyssop ... and throw it into
the midst of the burning cow (Num. 19:6)

The cedar wood and the hyssop were also thrown into the fire. Cedar
symbolizes excessive pride, and hyssop symbolizes excessive humility.
Both of these character traits are not seemly in a person. The same way
that one should not hold himself too high, one should also not walk
around depressed all the time. A person needs a certain amount of
enthusiasm and pride, as it says, "And he lifted his heart in the ways
of G-d."

                                                        (Kli Yakar)

                                *  *  *

Along the same lines, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk used to say: A man
should have two pockets. In one he should put the concept of "I am but
dust and ashes," and in the other, "For me the world was created."

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
                         by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe's birthday and the anniversary of his
release from imprisonment by the Communists are both on the 12th of
Tamuz. The following stories took place during and immediately after the
Previous Rebbe's imprisonment.

Immediately after being arrested the Previous Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef
Yitzchak Schneersohn) made a firm resolution in his mind that he would
pay no attention to his captors, as though they posed no threat to him
at all. Several days later, after he had been exposed to the murder and
sadism of the prison, he was taken into a room and ordered to sign
certain papers. As per his resolution he paid no attention to the demand
and was beaten. But still he remained unmoved. Furious, one of the
interrogators pulled out a pistol, put it to the Rebbe's head and said,
"This little toy has convinced everyone to do what we say."

This fellow, like all the other prison staff, was a murderer and there
was absolutely no reason for him not to simply pull the trigger. He had
obviously done so many times before.

The Rebbe replied matter of factly, "That 'toy' scares people like you
who have only one world and many gods. But I have one G-d and two worlds
[physical and spiritual] so it does not scare me."

The guard inexplicitly did nothing.

After a few days, the Rebbe's fate was sealed. He was found guilty of
subversion and was sentenced to death. Through world pressure, the
sentence was commuted to three years in Siberian exile.

Then, even more inexplicitly, the Rebbe was given special permission to
leave the jail three days early, visit his family for several hours and
then travel, at his own expense, to Kostroma, his town of exile.

This was a true miracle. Every instant in the prison was a true danger
to his life; he was easy prey for the anti-Semitic guards and prisoners.
Hundreds of Jews "disappeared" or "died" daily and he could easily be
one of them.

But to everyone's amazement, as soon as he realized that according to
their itinerary he would have to travel on Shabbat, he refused to leave
until after Shabbat ended. He actually stayed extra time in that hell so
as to not desecrate the Sabbath.

Why did the Rebbe do this? According to Jewish law he was permitted to
travel on Shabbat in order to leave that place, as every additional
moment there was a threat to his life. But the Rebbe was determined to
show even his evil captors that G-d, not Stalin, is the Boss of the
world. And that they were powerless against the Torah.

The third story took place that Sunday as he boarded the train to leave
the prison. We must remember that the Rebbe was imprisoned for teaching
anti-communist doctrines and everyone connected to him was immediately
suspected of the same.

Nevertheless, a large crowd of people threw caution to the wind and came
to see him off. They could not forego the opportunity of drawing
inspiration from the Rebbe.

Just moments before the train left, the Rebbe made a stirringly
emotional and revolutionary speech;

Here is a translation (from Yiddish) of some of what he said.

"We must make one thing known to all the nations are on the face of the
earth: That only our bodies are in exile and servitude to the gentiles,
but our souls never entered exile and were never servants to the other

"We must announce and advertise before the entire world that anything
that relates to our Jewish religion, the Torah, the commandments and
even the customs, can never be changed by opinions. We Jews have no
outside forces or opinions that can change us. We must declare with the
greatest Jewish stubbornness with thousands of years of Jewish
self-sacrifice, 'Never touch My anointed and My prophets do not harm.'

"We must pray that G-d give us the proper strength to not be affected in
any way by these physical tribulations but rather to treat them with
joy! That every, punishment we receive, G-d forbid, for opening a
children's school, teaching Torah or doing the commandments should give
us more enthusiasm in our holy task of strengthening Judaism. Remember!
The jails and camps are temporary. But Torah, the commandments and the
Jewish people are eternal..."

In other words, to a crowd filled with informers and secret police he
exhorted Russian Jewry to continue the very "subversive" work for which
he was  imprisoned.


                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Nine red heifers were prepared from the time this precept was ordained
until the Second Temple was destroyed: the first was prepared by Moses
our Master, the second Ezra prepared, and there were seven from Ezra to
the destruction of the Temple. The tenth will be prepared by King
Moshiach - may he soon be revealed, amen, may this be (G-d's) Will!"

                                           (Hilchot Para Aduma 3:4)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 825 - Chukas 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