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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 828
                           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.
        July 16, 2004         Matos-Masei         27 Tamuz, 5764


It's all a matter of emphasis - punctuation, that is. It depends on
where we pause, where we focus. It's true of grammar, it's true of life,
it's true of the spiritual ramifications of all we do.

Let's take a simple sentence: What you want I can't give. (Is this an
unemotional statement of fact? A disappointment?) Now let's punctuate it
differently. What? (Incredulous.) You want. (Defiant) I can't give.

The punctuation can pause, and thus pose, it so: What you want, I can't
give. (Rejection of the requester.) What you want, I can't give. (I
can't, but someone else can.) What you want, I can't give. (But I can
sell or trade.) Or even, What you want, I can't give. (But I can give
something else.)

And so too in life. Events happen around us and to us. From the trivial
to the essential, from tragic to joyous.

For instance, you get up in the morning, make your coffee, get the
paper, and on the way to the table trip on one of the kids' toys. You've
stubbed your toe and spilled your coffee. You place it high on the
tragic-significant curve until a couple hours later when (let's go
positive) your boss give you a raise.

Another example: On the way home, traffic's snarled and you get home
almost an hour late. You walk in the door in a rage, until you look at
the mail and see the check from your publisher. The traffic snarl sinks
to the trivial-tragic as the check rises to the essential-joyous.

We can multiply examples. The point is that even the truly tragic can
sink in significance if something else, also essential, elevates the

We find this concept embodied in the Chasidic reading of a Talmudic
statement. The Talmud, observing the tragic nature of the month of Av,
when the Temples were destroyed, declares, "When Av enters reduce in
joy." In Hebrew: M'shenichnas av m'atim  b'simcha. But we can read it -
punctuate it - differently, resulting in a very different perspective, a
very different emphasis: M'shenichnas av m'atim -  b'simcha. "When Av
enters, reduce - through joy.

The first version tells us to reduce our joy, because Av is the month of
mourning. The second tells us to reduce the mourning in the month
through joy. We cannot of course forget the tragedies; we should not
minimize the significance of events. But we can alter our perspective,
change the scales of significance.

Yes, the Temples were destroyed. Yes, we must remember, commemorate and
observe the laws. Yes, the mourning on Tisha B'Av epitomizes the horrors
of our history, including the Holocaust. Yes, we are still in exile.

Nevertheless and still, "serve G-d with joy," the Psalmist says. "Am
Yisrael Chai" - the Jewish people live. There is joy within our lives,
and Judaism rejoices - rejoices with the study of Torah, rejoices with
the performance of mitzvot (commandments). The future will bring the
rebuilding of the Temples and the Redemption is imminent.

In the microcosm of our lives, we can focus on the disappointments, the
negatives and the painful. Or, we can acknowledge them, but punctuate
them - interrupt, stop their significance - so that the emphasis, the
focus is on the myriad acts encountered daily, big and small, of
goodness and kindness.

By emphasizing the essential joy, we reduce not the existence, but the
significance of the tragic. And in so doing we expand our perspective,
we see differently, we perceive the third Temple built on Tisha B'Av and
the imminent coming of Moshiach.

This week we read two Torah portions, Matot and Masei. Masei, meaning
journeys, delineates the various travels of the Jews in the desert.

When the Jews left Egypt, they were beginning one long journey. The
departure from Egypt and their travels in the desert were all so that
eventually they would enter the Land of Israel. It would seem then, that
each of the 42 stops they made along the way between Egypt and Israel
are not really so significant. The stops presented an opportunity for
the Jewish camp, comprised of millions of people, to take care of their
various needs.

Yet, each and every separate stop the Jews made in the desert are
mentioned separately, and each one is considered its own journey. Didn't
the Jews reach the desert, and freedom, immediately upon leaving the
borders of Egypt?

In every generation, in each individual's life, there must be an Exodus
from Egypt, a departure from our own bounds and limitations. However,
simply "leaving" Egypt is not enough. One must know that even after
working on ourselves and spiritually leaving Egypt, we are not finished.
No matter what spiritual level we have attained, we can still go
further, we are still bound by our "Egypt." We must begin a new
"journey," getting stronger and stronger as we go along.

There is a two-fold lesson from these "journeys." Even when one has
already attained a high level, one must never be content with what has
already been achieved. The whole purpose of man is to move in an upward
spiritual direction - never to stagnate and remain in the same place.
Each day that is granted to us by G-d should be utilized for fulfilling
this mission. However, we must be cognizant that in relation to what is
above us and what we can still achieve, we are still in Egypt.

On the other hand, one must never despair of all that is left to achieve
and that one is in a lowly spiritual state. One must remember that it is
possible, through work, to leave "Egypt" immediately, with only one
journey. We must never think that our toil is in vain; with one move we
can elevate ourselves and reach the "good and wide land" - the Land of

                Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         How to Live to Be 104
                      By Rabbi Mordechai Weintraub

David Schleifer has 104 good reasons to be happy, and all of them can be
summed up into one. Several decades ago, he made a contract with G-d.
"If You give me a long, good life, I will learn Your Torah consistently,
dispense tzedaka (charity) graciously, and fulfill Your mitzvot
(commandments) religiously."

Apparently, both G-d and David kept the terms of the contract. For David
has been blessed, so far, with over ten decades of life.

"I liked the first contract with G-d so much that I think I'll ask Him
to renew it for a second time," he quipped.

Davidel doesn't look a bit older than 72, the age of his son, the sole
survivor of five children. "Dad greets everyone with a pleasant
disposition," relates his son. "He gives everyone a heart-warming
compliment and thinks well about him or her," added Davidel's
daughter-in-law. "That's why everyone who knows him likes him."

Mr. Schliefer presently lives alone - his wife passed away after 72
years of marriage. He maintains his own apartment in Miami, Florida. He
does his own shopping, cooks his own meals, and takes care of his own
personal matters.

On his century-old birthday, some people who attended his celebration
asked him if he ever thought he'd live to be 100 years old. His answer,
"No, I did not think about living 100 years. I only thought about living
each day, one day at a time."

This is how Davidel spends his days: He gets up early in he morning,
takes care of his personal needs, and then goes to shul. He's frequently
the first one there. He dons his talit and tefilin, participates in the
Daf Yomi daily Talmud study learning program, and then prays. Then,
after he recites and completes Psalms, he studies Torah for a period of
time, and reads the contents of two newspapers - a Yiddish and an
English one, without the aid of glasses. He also spends abut two hours
each day writing out checks for tzedaka collectors. Subsequently, he
returns to shul for the afternoon and evening services. At 10:30 p.m. he
goes to bed to rest up for the next day of activities.

During his more than ten decades of living on three continents and
through numerous wars, Davidel has been able to meet life's challenges
both calmly and confidently. In all circumstances, his faith in G-d has
remained constant and steadfast. Mr. Schliefer has a list of cherished

When he was ten years of age, in Romoli, Transylvania, a village where
he was born and raised, he played a prank that brought immense
encouragement to his fellow Jews. He penned a note in Yiddish on a scrap
of paper, inserted it in a message holder, and attached it to the leg of
a homing pigeon. Then he sent the bird into the heavens above to spread
the jubilant news. A passerby found the tired bird, read its message out
of curiosity, and then gleefully shouted, "Let's get ready, Moshiach is
coming soon!"

When he was 14 years of age, David became a millionaire. No one expected
that a teenager from a poor family would achieve such a status.

This is how he did it: When the First World War broke out, employing his
inherent sharpness he raised extensive money, purchased large quantities
of goods, and then hired a wagon and a coachman to transport the items
to the warring parties, at an exceedingly profitable price.

Following the war, David occupied himself in a variety of commercial
ventures. At age 17, he moved to Arad, in Transylvania. Together with
his partner he started a wine selling business. In 1916 he married his
wife. David was very active in the Jewish community of Arad. In 1936, he
built the first clean, modern, hygienic mikva and helped construct the
new shul. He was also very gracious with his charity giving. Besides
dispensing charity to numerous causes, he helped support, on a
consistent basis, five extended families.

Throughout his life he kept up his Torah learning schedule. David prides
himself on being among the very first Daf Yomi learners in Europe. To
this very day, he has persisted in this self-disciplined Oral Torah

In 1939, David, his wife and some of his family came to New York city
primarily to visit the World's Fair. But in their mind's eye they saw
the writing on the wall and decided to remain in New York.

The family eventually moved to Israel where David established one of the
largest ice cream enterprises in Israel. Thereafter, together with a
partner, David opened up a successful hotel business.

When queried about the reasons for David's long life, his son says, "My
father attributes his long life to three factors: His Torah learning,
his charity giving, and his safeguarding his speech from speaking evil."
He explained, "My father only speaks when people ask him questions, and
when he answers, he does it succinctly, because he wants to avoid
speaking evil.

                    Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Press

                               WHAT'S NEW
                          260 Student Teachers

Established by the Lubavitcher Rebbe nearly six decades ago, Merkos
Shlichut, nicknamed the "Lubavitch Peace Corps,"  enables Lubavitch
rabbinical students to share their knowledge, enthusiasm and Jewish
pride with world Jewry. This summer, 260 volunteers - the largest group
to date - are visiting small Jewish communities and individual Jews in
places such as Vietnam, Surinam, and remote cities in Peru, Germany,
China and India. The students travel in pairs and teach classes in
Jewish tradition, Talmud, Chasidic Philosophy and the Jewish life cycle,
adapting the program to the specific needs and interests of each
respective community. They also make available Judaica items such as
mezuzot, tefilin and Jewish books.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                      19th of Tammuz, 5720 [1960]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received your letter of the 8th of Tammuz, with the enclosures for
which you will find receipt herewith.

As requested, I will remember you and your wife in prayer when visiting
the holy resting place of my father-in-law of saintly memory, in
accordance with the contents of your letter.

Needless to say, one must have absolute faith in G-d, while at the same
time providing the channels and vessels in the natural way to receive
G-d's blessings, and the greater the faith in G-d, the sooner and in a
larger measure one sees the fulfillment of G-d's blessings.

With regard to the matter of the observance of the laws of Taharas
Hamishpocho [family purity], and that there are some doctors who suggest
that the period of abstention required by these laws might interfere
with the period of ovulation, I need hardly say that the ruling of the
Rov [Rabbinic authority] is, nevertheless, quite binding. Moreover,
inasmuch as these laws are part of our Torah, which is called Toras
Chaim, being the guide in life, it is impossible that the observance of
the Torah, especially such a basic law as Taharas Hamishpocho, should
interfere with another law, especially such a basic mitzvah
[commandment] as procreation, which is the first mitzvah in the Torah.

As a matter of fact, I would like to call your attention to the fact,
which I am sure also your doctor will substantiate, that there are many
medical authorities who do not accept the whole theory regarding the
period of ovulation with absolute certainty.

Furthermore, the number of medical authorities subscribing to this
latter view is increasing. But even those who do attach importance to
this theory, do not claim that the period of ovulation could be so
carefully narrowed down as to make a day or two significant. Finally,
there are various methods and treatments which help to postpone the
period of ovulation and which have been applied to good advantage.

May G-d, whose benevolent Providence extends to everyone individually,
fulfill your heart's desire to be blessed with healthy offspring.

Hoping to hear good news from you,

With Blessing,

It would be advisable to ascertain if, at the time of your marriage,
either you or your wife might have been involved in hurting the feelings
of a man or woman through a previous broken engagement or promise, and
the like, in which case a Mechila [asking forgiveness] might be

    Ed.'s note: Eleven months after the Rebbe wrote this letter of
    advice and blessing to the childless couple he wrote another letter
    wishing them mazel tov [congratulations] on the birth of their first

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
28 Tamuz, 5764 - July 17, 2004

Prohibition 250: It is forbidden to cheat in business deals

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 25:14) "You shall not defraud
one another"

We are forbidden to deceive or cheat another person when conducting
business with him.

29 Tamuz, 5764 - July 18, 2004

Prohibition 251: It is forbidden to say things that may hurt or trick
another person

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 25:17) "You shall not wrong one
another and you shall fear your G-d" This prohibition teaches us that we
must be very careful not to say anything that may hurt or trick someone
else. Sometimes we don't even realize that what we have said caused
another person discomfort.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The Sabbaths during the "Three Weeks" (the interval of time between the
17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av), contain a unique dimension: They are
within the period of lamentation over the destruction of the Temple and
the exile of the Jewish people, yet it is forbidden to mourn on Shabbat,
and on the contrary, it is a great mitzva to rejoice.

In truth, these special Sabbaths express the true good that is hidden
within the exile. Seen superficially, the exile is only a negative
phenomenon - agonizing, painful and without merit.

On a deeper level, however, the exile contains a higher purpose, one
which is only goodness and light - the Final Redemption with Moshiach.

In fact, in the era of Moshiach, those days that were marked by the
Jewish people as days of mourning will be transformed into days of

A Jew must always remember that the true purpose of the soul's sojourn
in the physical world, as well as the Jewish people's travails in exile,
is solely in order to reach the G-dliness of the Messianic era. This
awareness in itself gives us the strength to overcome all difficulties
and to fulfill G-d's will in the most trying of circumstances, leading
all of Creation to its ultimate perfection with Moshiach.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes... When a man utters an oath
(Num. 30:2-3).

The word used here for tribes is "matot," which is a derivative of the
word for "staff," denoting strength and firmness. In order to fulfill an
oath, which means separating oneself and refraining from things which
the Torah otherwise permits, we need the strength of a staff.

                                                   (Tzemach Tzedek)

                                *  *  *

He shall not profane his words; everything that leaves his mouth he
shall do (Num. 30:3)

Whoever is careful never to profane his words, and is particular to
fulfill his commitments, has applied to him the verse, "Everything which
leaves his mouth he shall do."  That is, "He" - G-d will fulfill his
every blessing and utterance. "The righteous decree and the Almighty

                                                   (Avodat Yisrael)

                                *  *  *

These are the journeys of the Jews (33:1)

The 42 travels of the Jews in the desert are enumerated for good reason.
They hint to 42 stages that a person must traverse in his life; 42
levels of spirituality that a person can experience in his life.

                                                    (Baal Shem Tov)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Long before the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of the Roman
oppressors, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai had foreseen the city's tragic
fate.  He was detached from all political entanglements, yet, when he
saw the futility of the struggle against Rome and realized the
inevitability of the fall of Jerusalem, he determined to establish a
place of refuge for Judaism.

One day, Rabbi Yochanan called to his nephew, Abba Sikra. Abba Sikra was
the head of the zealots - a faction of Jews adamantly against any type
of dialogue with the Romans. "How long are you going to let your people
die of hunger in the streets?" Rabbi Yochanan asked Abba Sikra.

"These matters are no longer in my hands," was Abba Sikra's sorry reply.

"Will you help me, then, to get out of the city and try to speak with
the Roman general Vespacian?" Rabbi Yochanan appealed.

Sikra agreed to help.  He suggested that Rabbi Yochanan pretend to be
ill.  He would "die" and could then be taken out of the city to be
buried.  From there he could stealthily make his way to the Roman

And so it was.  But when Rabbi Yochanan's students carried his coffin
near the gates of the city, the zealots stopped the procession.

"Let us stab the coffin with our swords to make sure the Rabbi is truly
dead," they said.

Abba Sikra intervened. "Surely it is not befitting a great and holy sage
like Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai to behave in such a manner."

The zealots hesitated and finally agreed to let them go. Rabbi Yochanan
was able to enter the Roman camp.

"Peace unto you, king," Rabbi Yochanan greeted Vespacian.

"You are guilty of treason for calling me king," replied the general.

"Ah, but I know through prophecy that Jerusalem will only fall by the
hands of a king.  You, certainly, will soon become the Caesar."

While they were yet speaking, a messenger came, informing Vespacian that
the Caesar had died and he had been chosen the new ruler of the Roman

It is said that Vespacian received this news when he had one boot on,
and one off.  When he tried to remove his boot, he couldn't. And when he
attempted to put on the other boot, he couldn't do that either. Rabbi
Yochanan explained that "Good tidings makes one's bones fat" (Proverbs
18:5), and that if he were to look at someone he didn't like, his feet
would return to normal.

Vespacian was so impressed by Rabbi Yochanan's wisdom that he offered,
"Ask of me anything that your heart desires and I will fulfill your

Rabbi Yochanan's first request was that the city of Yavneh become a
place of refuge and an academy be established there.  Second, to spare
the life of the descendants of Rabbi Gamliel, so that the royal House of
David shouldn't be destroyed. (The Roman custom was to liquidate the
entire ruling family). Finally, Rabbi Yochanan requested the services of
a physician to cure Rabbi Tzadok - a great sage who fasted for 40 years
to try and save Jerusalem from destruction.

Vespacian readily granted these seemingly modest requests, not realizing
their far-reaching implications for the survival of the Jewish people.
The establishment of the new Torah center in Yavneh set the foundations
for the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish nation even after its national
independence was lost to the mighty Roman  Empire - an empire which has
since been wiped off the map.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The First Holy Temple corresponds to the patriarch Abraham; the Second
Holy Temple corresponds to our patriarch Isaac; the Third Holy Temple
corresponds to our patriarch Jacob. And since the dominant
characteristic of Jacob is truth, which can be neither intercepted nor
changed, the Third Holy Temple will stand forever.

                                   (Likutei Sichot, Vol. IX, p. 26)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 828 - Matos-Masei 5764

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