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 # 830
                           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.
        July 30, 2004          Vaeschanan            12 Av, 5764

                          Intersecting Cycles

We all know about the rhythms of life, the daily ups and downs, the
seasonal swings, the yearly ins and outs. Certain events mark life's
peaks, others life's valleys. Between them, though, smaller rhythms
cycle in and out.

Nature has its rhythms, astronomical and otherwise, and we have ours.
The science of bio-rhythms tells us we have three cycles. Throughout our
lives we traverse a wave, from high to low, emotionally, physically and
intellectually. Like the daily rising and setting of the sun, like its
yearly traversal of the sky, like the moon's monthly disappearing act,
we move through personal cycles.

And Torah has its cycles, times when the performance of mitzvot
dominate, times when the study of Torah dominate. Within each, there are
cycles, as well.

And each cycle has a mid-point, two actually. Mid-points - when a wave
reaches  halfway up or down in the cycle - are critical points, moments
of crisis. Every cycle has its "mid-life" crisis.

The "mid-life crisis" for the lunar cycle is the 15th of the month. On
that day the moon is halfway through its journey. Until then, the moon
is becoming full; after then, it loses its fullness. Every day the moon
either waxes or wanes. Except the 15th.

Chasidic teachings explains that: "The fifteenth represents the visible
completeness of the moon, but the moon is still only a recipient of

But on the 15th of Av (Monday, August 2 this year), something unique
happens, something which distinguishes that 15th from the 15th of all
other months.

Two cycles intersect.

The moments of conjunction, when rhythms of different cycles intersect,
create a unique force, a contrapuntal harmony, the beauty within

During the month of Av, "the sun's power is weakened." The intensity of
summer has already begun its descent; the full force of summer wanes.
The cycle of the sun has begun to descend.

But on the 15th of Av the cycle of the moon reaches its apex.

This, then, is the only day of the year when the monthly lunar cycle is
full - at mid-life - and the yearly solar cycle begins its descent. This
moment, when the sun weakens and the moon's fullness fills the sky,
emphasizes the light of the moon.

In Jewish teachings, the Jews are compared to the moon and the nations
to the sun. After Tisha B'Av, after the descent, the moon becomes full -
a sign that the Holy Temple, the light of the Jewish people will be

The 15th of Av also emphasizes the strength of this renewal because "the
sun is weakened." The calendar of nature, of those who calculate within
the framework of man's mind, weakens, so to speak. The calendar of
G-dliness becomes more prominent.

On the 15th of Av, the full moon after Tisha B'Av, there is a tradition
to increase learning Torah at night. As the nights lengthen, one's Torah
learning lengthens.

In this week's Torah portion, Ve'etchanan, Moses describes the
Revelation at Mount Sinai to the younger generation of Jews who were
about to enter the Land of Israel. He describes the voice of G-d,
saying: "A great voice, which did not continue." One of the explanations
that the Midrash offers for this is that G-d's voice did not have an

The Midrash's answer seems to present a few problems. How does the
absence of an echo indicate greatness? If the voice was indeed strong,
would it not have produced an echo? Furthermore, why did G-d perform
such a miracle? Since miracles are not performed unnecessarily, why
would G-d seemingly change the laws of nature just so that His voice
would not produce an echo?

An echo is produced when sound waves hit an object. When the sound waves
reach a wall, a mountain, or any such obstacle, they are bounced right
back. The only condition necessary to produce an echo is that the object
which deflects the sound waves must be strong and rigid. If the object
is soft and yielding, the sound will just be absorbed and no echo will

This physical phenomenon will explain why G-d's voice on Mount Sinai had
no echo. When G-d said, "I am the L-rd your G-d," His voice was so
overwhelmingly powerful that there was nothing in the world that was
strong enough to deflect the sound. G-d's voice actually penetrated the
physical world. Every object in the world, from the inanimate to the
higher forms of life, absorbed the G-dly voice and was affected by it.

The phenomenon of the Revelation at Sinai is akin to what will take
place after Moshiach's arrival, in the World to Come, which is described
in these words: "And the Glory of G-d will be revealed, and all flesh
will see." Even our very bodies will be able to perceive G-dliness. So
it was at the Revelation. All of physical reality absorbed the
Revelation of the G-dly voice.

This is why G-d's voice had no echo. This was no miracle, and the laws
of nature were not at all abrogated. It is, indeed, in keeping with
physical law that when a sound is absorbed, no echo is produced. And
since the voice was totally integrated into physical reality, there was
nothing which could bounce the sound back. Therefore, the absence of an
echo shows the infinite strength of the voice, rather than the opposite.

This phenomenon did not occur only once in the history of the world.
Whenever a Jew studies Torah, the holy voice of Torah penetrates the
physical surroundings and elevates the world. Our Rabbis say that in the
World To Come, "the very beams of the house will bear witness," for they
have been absorbing all the holiness produced when a person learns Torah
in his home. (This explains why many tzadikim commanded that their
coffins be made from the wood of their desks and tables where they
learned Torah and gave food to the poor, for the Torah and mitzvot were
"absorbed" by the very planks themselves!)

The power of Torah is such that nothing can stand in its way. The world
was created in such a manner as to enable the continuing voice of
Revelation to penetrate the corporeal world even today.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                    Family Tradition in the Grindel

The traffic is rushing down the four-lane road. Shops and cafes are
lining one after the other. The unobtrusive house entrance is hidden
between a travel agency and a drugstore. Chabad Lubavitch/Bistritzky is
written on the doorbell. A young rabbi opens the door on the fourth
floor and invites me in. Two little girls, one and two years old smile
at me out of the kitchen. Eight months now Shlomo Bistritzky lives with
his family in Hamburg.

The apartment is still looking somewhat bare, a bookshelf and a long
table with ten chairs dominating the living room. A sofa has been bought
but not delivered until now says the young man in the dark suit almost
apologetic. But the twenty-seven-year-old has not come to Germany to
set-up himself comfortably. "I am here as Chabad, not as Rabbi
Bistritzky" he explains the doorbell sign.

He represents the organization of Chabad-Lubavitch, the living room is
also public space. Here lessons are taught, advice seekers received or
even kosher food served to travellers. Everywhere where jews are living
Chabad wants to be there for them. This is the case for many places, now
also in Hamburg.

"I am a shaliach, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe," says Bistritzky
pointing at the big framed portrait of Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In
another corner of the room a smaller one, the picture of the father is

Levi Bistritzky was chief rabbi of Tzfat in the north of Israel. He too
was sent as emissary from New York by the Lubavitchers in 1976. His
children grew up in Israel and now the six sons follow the example of
the father who passed away two years ago. The oldest brother is today
Rabbi in Tzfat, a second one founded a foundation there and Shlomo was
sent by Chabad to Germany, who had already studied at the Yeshiva in
Berlin for a year.

It is by accident that the apartment is located at the Grindel. Shlomo
Bistritzky only wanted to be able to reach the synagogue by foot. But
now he lives in exactly the quarter that was the pulsating center of
Jewish life until the Holocaust. Several synagogues were here, schools,
social institutions and many small businesses. The "Stolpersteine"
(stumbling blocks) embedded in the sidewalk by the artist Gunter Demnig
draw his attention first. Each square metal block remembers a former
Jewish resident and his fate. "This is something very special", says
Shlomo Bistritzky. "Everywhere you can see who lived here."

Also his great-grandfather had taken residence in the Grindel quarter,
the grandfather grew up here. More and more traces Shlomo Bistritzky
finds of his ancestors. A thick binder with copies of the municipal
archive lies in front of him. Around 1920 Markus Bistritzky, coming from
Königsberg had opened the "Scandinavian Corporation Bistritzky & Co.".
The business of oil and train oil apparently ran well. His office was
superbly situated in the Levante House at the Mönckeberg Street. After
some time he bought a house in the Innocentia Street. His son Yehuda
Loeb went to the Talmud-Tora-Secondary School at the Grindelhof until he
was thirteen. Then, being on a business trip Markus Bistritzky sent a
telegram to his family ordering them to Rotterdam. That was the
beginning of 1938, only a few months before the November pogrom. From
Holland the family went to New York. All were saved.

The great-grandmother of Shlomo Bistritzky came from Lubavitch. She had
gone together to the kindergarten with the Rebbe's wife. In Brooklyn the
old contacts revived. The grandfather and father learned in the Chabad
Lubavitch Yeshiva and also the next generation stayed faithful to this
tradition. To the 10th anniversary of the Rebbe's death on June 22 the
young Hamburger Rabbi himself travelled to New York.

Can Hamburg become "heimat" (home) to him? Probably always passers-by
will look inquiringly at the Rabbi with the kippa and beard in front of
his entrance - also in the Grindel quarter, also today the most jewish
part of town. Especially for his wife life in Jerusalem was easier than
in Hamburg. Some kosher foods must be sent to them from Israel. Also the
language is still foreign. But in fact that is not the question. "We are
not here for us, but for the town, for the Jews," says Shlomo
Bistritzky. He offers a little bit of "heimat" to others, and then he
sometimes forgets his own difficulties of settling down. "The doors to
our apartment are open anytime; everyone is welcome to come in." But the
shaliach is also coming to the people. He organizes summer camps for the
children, visits the old, the sick or prison inmates. His wife teaches
religion and the Hebrew language three times a week.

Their duties will increase, similar to the Jewish community of Hamburg,
counting meanwhile about 5000 members. A bookstore and a kosher
restaurant are still dreams. But when Jewish children move into the
Talmud-Torah-School next year, Chabad will also be present. And when
Shlomo Bistritzky's daughter starts school, also grandfather Yehuda Loeb
wants to be there. Father and Grandfather will say: "The best answer to
the events of the Holocaust is that Jews are going again to school in
the Grindel."

                                    Reprinted from the Hamburg News

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           Three New Centers

Three young couples recently moved to various locations throughout the
United States as shluchim - emissaries - of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to
start new Chabad Centers. Rabbi Moshe and Sara Gourarie have arrived in
Toms River, New Jersey, to establish a Chabad Center that will serve the
Jewish community of northern Ocean County. Rabbi Avi and Chana Rubenfeld
have established a new Chabad Center in Chesterfield, Missouri. Rabbi
Berry and Nechama Farkash moved to Washington state where their Chabad
Center will serve the Jewish residents in Issaquah and Sammamish. The
new Chabad Centers, like all Chabad-Lubavitch Centers throughout the
world, will offer adult education classes, Shabbat and holiday
observances, hands-on Jewish living programs, and an open, warm
environment for Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                        15th of Av, 5735 [1975]

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed about your steady advancement in matters of
Torah, called "Toras Chaim," because it is the Jew's guide in life, and
also "Toras Emes," because it is the truth. This is doubly gratifying
inasmuch as persons of your standing have an impact on the community,
for people look up to you and try to emulate you. Thus, your going from
strength to strength in matters of Torah and Mitzvos [commandments] is
greatly multiplied through those who are inspired by your example, not
to mention the direct impact on children and through them on their
children in an everlasting chain reaction.

In light of the above, even if there are some difficulties to overcome,
it is surely worthwhile to make the effort, inasmuch as the effort
involves only the individual, while the benefit is for many. Add to this
also the fact that this is also the channel to receive G-d's blessings
in all needs, and that G-d rewards in kind, and in a most generous

The above refers to all matters of Torah and Mitzvos, but has a special
significance in regard to Kashrus [Jewish dietary laws]. As a doctor you
know the immense knowledge that has been accumulated recently in the
area of nutrition and diet, and how much the quality of food affects
physical and mental health.

For Jews, the Dietary Laws have come down with the Torah itself, which
revealed the true meaning of monotheism, of which the Jewish people have
been the bearers ever since. It was relevant not only in those days of
old, when paganism and idolatry were the general practice in the world,
but is just as relevant in the present day and age, since it is only the
Torah and Mitzvos that are the basis of pure monotheism, rooted in the
absolute unity of G-d.

This means that the Jew brings unity and harmony into this, the physical
world, eliminating any departmen-talization in the daily life, or having
occasional practices; or, as some misguided and misconceived individuals
might think, that they can practice Judaism at home, but must make
concessions and compromises outside of the home.

All such differentiation's are contrary to true unity, pure monotheism.
For the concept of pure monotheism is not confined to One G-d, but at
the same time it requires unity in the personal life of each and every
Jew, who is a member of the One People, of which it is said that it is
"One People on earth." According to the explanation of the Alter Rebbe,
founder of Chabad, "One People on earth" means that they bring oneness
and unity also in earthly things, and it is only in this way that the
individual can achieve complete personal harmony and unity of the body
and soul, at all times, whether in the synagogue, at home, or in the

Thus, it is obvious how important Kashrus is for a Jew, since the food
and beverages that he consumes become blood and tissue and energy, and
food that is not suitable (Kosher) for a Jew can only alienate him from
matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], and only the right and Kosher food can
nourish him physically, mentally, and spiritually. As already mentioned,
there is no need to elaborate this to you, a physician, although your
specialty is not directly in the field of nutrition.

The most desirable blessing that can be expressed in this case is that
you should indeed serve as a living and inspiring example for others to
emulate, and that through your inspiration many others will go from
strength to strength in matters of Torah and Mitzvos in the daily life.

May G-d grant that you should always have good news to report.

With blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
17 Av, 5764 - August 4, 2004

Positive Mitzvah 245: Conducting Business

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 25:14) "And if you sell
something to your neighbor, or buy something from your neighbor" The
Torah deals with every aspect of our lives; not only with the way we
pray and study, but also the manner in which we carry out our business.
This mitzva establishes guidelines for our business dealings and governs
the way we buy, sell, and transfer ownership of property. These
guidelines include writing business contracts, paying for goods with
money, or exchanging one item for another.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
"There were no greater festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom
Kippur," the Mishna tells us. What is so special about the 15th of Av
that it is singled out together with Yom Kippur from all the other

A number of special events throughout Jewish history took place on the
15th of Av. They were: 1) The tribe of Benjamin was permitted once again
to marry the remainder of the Jewish people; 2) The Generation of the
Desert ceased to die; they had previously been condemned to perish in
the desert because of the sin of the spies; 3) Hoshea Ben Elah removed
the blockades that the rebel Yerobeam had set up to prevent the Jews
from going to Jerusalem for the festivals; 4) The cutting of the wood
for the Holy Altar was completed; 5) Permission was granted by the
Romans to bury the slain of Betar.

These five events in themselves do not seem adequate enough reason to
make the 15th of Av a festival greater than any other. There is another,
all-encompassing reason.

The five festive events on the 15th of Av are the counterpart to the
five tragic events of Tisha B'Av. The 15th of Av transforms the
tragedies of Tisha B'Av to the greatest good - "there were no greater
festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av." The ultimate goal of the
tragedies of the month of Av is that they should be transformed into a
greater good - the supreme festival of the fifteenth of Av.

The common theme behind all the events of the 15th of Av is Ahavat
Yisrael - love of a fellow Jew - the practice of which eradicates the
cause of the exile and therefore automatically the exile itself.

May we merit this year to celebrate the 15th of Av in the most joyous
manner, in the third Holy Temple with Moshiach, NOW!

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
You shall not add to that which I have commanded you nor shall you
subtract from it, to observe the command of G-d (Deut. 4:2).

The purpose of the "Enlightenment" was to reform the Torah and mitzvot.
One of the proponents of that approach once suggested to Rabbi Azriel
Hildesheimer that it was necessary to change certain detailed practices
to make the observance of the commandments easier.  Rabbi Hidesheimer
replied "That is the meaning of the [above-mentioned] verse.  Even when
your purpose is to observe the command of G-d, you still may not

                                *  *  *

In the heavens above and on the earth below (Deut. 4:39)

When contemplating one's heavenly or spiritual condition one should look
"above" to those who have attained a higher level; one can never be
satisfied.  However in "earthly" matters of wealth and so on, one should
look "below," to the less fortunate, and be thankful for the blessings
one has.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

"I stand between your G-d and you" (Deut. 5:5)

Early Chasidim used to explain that the "I," the awareness of self, the
ego, stands between the person and his efforts to come closer to G-d.

                                *  *  *

And I besought the L-rd...let me go over, I pray Thee...(Deut. 3:23-25)

In his reproach to the Jewish nation before his passing, Moses recounted
his attempt to sway the Divine decree that he not enter the Land of
Israel. Moses' intensive praying taught future generations to persist in
prayer. A person should never say, "What purpose is there in my praying
further?" Even though G-d had clearly told Moses that he would not bring
the Jewish nation into the land, and even though Joshua had already been
appointed his successor to complete this task, still, Moses prayed. This
demonstrates to us that a person must never say, "My illness is fatal,
my last will is made, and my possessions are distributed. Why shall I
continue to pray?"

                                   (Yalkut Shmoni-The Midrash Says)

                                *  *  *

And He repays those who hate Him to their face (Deut. 7:10)

G-d repays the wicked in their lifetime for any good they have done,
thereby depriving them of the spiritual rewards in the World to Come.


                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In the ancient city of Aleppo, Syria there lived a Jew named Shimshon.
He was well-known as a bully and half-drunk most of the time.

In the marketplace he walked from stall to stall, placing groceries in
his basket, and leaving without paying. If anyone dared ask for payment
he glared at them or made menacing comments. If he really got angry, he
would overturn the produce or grocery cart and even give the stall
keeper a big wallop.

Word eventually got to the rabbi of the town, who called Shimshon in and
severely rebuked him. Shimshon, feigning innocence, asked, "Did anyone
complain to you about me?"

The rabbi had to admit that no specific complaint had yet been brought.
But, of course, the people were too frightened to accuse him and start
up with Shimshon.

One day an older woman brought beautiful fruits and vegetables to the
market. Shimshon came up to her stall, choose several items and walked

"Stop, come back. You haven't paid me," yelled the woman.

Shimshon turned around, looked at her threateningly and shouted, "You'll
keep quiet if you know what's good for you." Then he continued on his

The stall keepers nearby encouraged her to go to the rabbi, who was
relieved that there was finally a charge against Shimshon. The rabbi
immediately sent for the culprit.

"Did you take produce from this woman without paying?" the rabbi asked

"Who says I'm not going to pay her?" was Shimshon's insolent reply.

"Pay her immediately or return her goods," was the rabbi's stern
response. "If this ever happens again you will also have to pay a heavy
fine," the rabbi added.

Shimshon took out his money and silently paid the woman. But as he was
leaving, the rabbi's attendant, Levi, overheard him muttering, "I'll get
even with the rabbi!"

A few days later the rabbi was invited to a circumcision in a nearby
village. Along the way, Levi kept a sharp look out. When he noticed a
man hiding behind some shrubs in the distance he was certain it was
Shimshon. He now told the rabbi of Shimshon's threat and urged him to
turn back.

Instead, the rabbi noted the time and told Levi to stop the carriage so
they could say the afternoon prayers. He prayed intensely and longer
than usual, then climbed back into the carriage and told Levi to drive
full speed ahead.

In a matter of moments, Shimshon appeared in the middle of the road and
stopped the carriage. Rushing over to the rabbi, Shimshon grabbed his
hands, and with tears in his eyes begged forgiveness. The rabbi forgave
him on the condition that he change his ways. Shimshon promised he would
and they parted like best of friends.

Levi was amazed and puzzled. The rabbi explained what had just happened
with a commentary from the Torah. "When Esau threatened Jacob's life,
Rivka, their mother, instructed Jacob, "When your heart is free from any
anger that you harbor against your brother for the trouble he has caused
you, then you will be sure that his anger has turned away from you."

"You see," the rabbi concluded, "I was very angry with Shimshon, but I
prayed to G-d to help me free my heart from any anger against him, and
to help him free his heart from anger and evil. When I felt I no longer
had ill feelings toward him, but rather compassion and a strong desire
to help him mend his ways, I was certain that his heart, too, was pure.
That is what actually happened. Thus, our sages teach us: As water
reflects a face, so does one heart respond to another!

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
"It is presently 'dark' for you, but G-d will in the future illuminate
an eternal light, as it says, 'G-d will be for you an eternal light'
(Isaiah 60:19). When will that be? When all of you will be united.
Israel will be redeemed when they will be united, as it says, 'In those
days and in that time the children of Israel will come, they and the
children of Judah together..' (Jeremiah 50:4); and it says, 'In those
days, the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they
will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given
as a legacy to your fathers' (Jeremiah 3:18). When they are united they
will receive the Divine Presence!"

                                             (Tanchuma, Nitzavim:1)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 830 - Vaeschanan 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