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834: Ki Seitzei

835: Ki Savo

836: Nitzavim-Vayeilech

L'Chaim
August 27, 2004 - 10 Elul, 5764

834: Ki Seitzei

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  833: Shoftim835: Ki Savo  

Headaches  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Rambam this week  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Headaches

Have you ever had a headache? Of course each headache is different, with its own special origin, its own special pain, its own special needs. (Sort of sounds like a child or student, doesn't it?) But, all in all, ninety percent of headaches are tension headaches. And naturally, a tension headache has a spiritual counterpart.

Tension headaches arise in response to, surprise, tension - stress. Job stress, schedule stress, public speaking, doctor appointment, waiting-in-line stress - all types of stress can start a tension headache. Emotional lows, frustrations and anxieties also cause these types of headaches, but even euphoria, excitement can trigger them.

Not all stress triggers a tension headache. Only unrelieved stress. Let's define stress as the difference between where we are, or where we perceive ourselves to be, and where we want to be or where the world is moving us.

In other words, stress results from control conflicts. When we don't resolve those "control conflicts," tension increases - like always being on a curving road and never being able to straighten out. Build enough tension, and there's a lovely headache.

The cure for such a headache is relaxation. If we get a massage or listen to soothing music, we're basically trying to relax, to relieve the tension, to forget, or dissipate the stress.

If the tension headache comes because we're having a control conflict, when we relinquish control, relax, the headache goes away.

Spiritually, we call relinquishing control trusting in G-d. As Rabbeinu Bachya ibn Pekuda explained in his classic treatise, Duties of the Heart, "Trust is a sense of security, knowing the one you trust will act for your benefit, will act correctly and will act to the best of his ability." Knowing that the problem is being take care of - has already been resolve - we can relax, be confident - and not have any headaches.

So, in a sense, a tension headache is a warning sign, not only that we're "stressing out" emotionally, which can adversely affect one's health, G-d forbid, but that we're "stressing out" spiritually, failing to rely on G-d sufficiently, not really trusting G-d.

The Hebrew word for trust is bitachon. It comes from the same root as the word for "certainty." Trust engenders certitude, conviction, confidence.

The Duties of the Heart lists five prerequisites for trusting G-d. We can't truly trust G-d until we fulfill them. First, we must believe that G-d meets the general criteria of being trustworthy (such as being compassionate, knowing out needs, having power, being aware of our actions. Second, we have to know that G-d watches over us, inside and out, that we can't hide anything from Him. He knows who we are, where are our hearts and minds are. Third, we have to trust G-d alone. Fourth, we have to fulfill our obligations to G-d. We have to prove ourselves trustworthy, keep up our end of the covenant. And fifth, we have to recognize that G-d continually sustains creation, maintaining all of existence.

It's not easy to meet these prerequisites, to make this our perspective on life. But when we do, we relieve a lot of stress. So the next time you have a headache, physical or spiritual, get rid of the tension by trusting more in G-d.


Living with the Rebbe

In the Torah portion of Ki Teitzei we learn: "When you build a new home, you must place a guard-rail around your roof." The purpose of the guard-rail, as the Torah itself goes on to say, is to protect people from falling off an un-enclosed roof.

In a spiritual context, the meaning of this commandment is as follows:

At times, man's body is referred to as his "home." In terms of man's spiritual service, this alludes to the general service of birurim, wherein man seeks to purify and elevate his physical body and his portion in the physical world.

The service of purifying and elevating one's physical body is denoted as a "new home," for prior to the soul's descent into this world it has no conception of the physical world and the spiritual service which it entails.

Furthermore, the service of purifying and uplifting this physical world and transforming it into spirituality is truly something novel and new. When a Jew serves G-d in this manner the world itself becomes a home and an abode for G-d.

Understandably, building such important new edifices has a tremendous impact upon their builder, the person himself. He, too, is refined and uplifted in a "new" and infinitely greater manner - to a point which is much higher even than the lofty state of existence the soul enjoyed prior to its descent within a body.

Through self-nullification the person creates a vessel which allows him to serve as a receptacle to this new level. For the only way one can attain a degree of infinite elevation is to totally nullify oneself before G-d, thereby freeing oneself from the limitations of one's previous degree and level.

This, then, is the inner meaning of a guard-rail. The protective and prevenative measures that a person undertakes in the course of his spiritual service are an expression of his self-abnegation and acceptance of the heavenly Yoke. Thus, they form a "guard-rail" which ensures his spiritual ascent, and enables him to be a fit vessel - the "new home."

There is a practical lesson in this for us all: A person should not shut himself off from the rest of the world; he must build a "home," a dwelling place, for G-d in this nethermost world. For, it is only through the descent within this world that the ultimate and truly new ascent is accomplished both Above as well as below.

On the other hand, one must know that in order to transform the physcial into a vessel for G-dliness the person must make a guard-rail - he must remain apart from the physical world's grossness and corporeality. While it is true that he must busy himself with physical things, nevertheless, in and of themselves, they should remain insignificant to him; he knows and feels that the only reason he occupies himself with corporeality is in order to fulfill the Divine intent of transforming this world into a new home for G-d.

Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Rabbi S.B. Wineberg in "From the Wellsprings of Chasidus."


A Slice of Life

It's a Camp of Laughter, A Camp of Fun

Summer vacation is basically over for billions of children living in the Southern Hemisphere. And for tens of thousands of Jewish children who attended the Gan Israel Chabad-Lubavitch network of day and overnight camps throughout the world, it was a summer of fun, excitement and growth.

In the Former Soviet Union, the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS sponsored camps attended by 11,100 children. Lugansk, Moscow, Samara, Omsk, Vladivostok by the Sea of Japan, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Kharkov, Tbilisi and Donetsk were just a few of the Jewish communities or cities that hosted camps. In Dnepropetrovsk there was even a "family camp" where the entire family could live and learn together.

Sunny California had a total of 40 day camps that were attended by nearly 10,000 children.

In Israel, in addition to the 100 day camps throughout the country under the auspices of Chabad-Lubavitch, there are nearly 1,000 day programs organized for children to attend in their free time. In Gush Katif, for instance, 24 yeshiva students spent their vacation time organizing programs and activities for children who live in the area.

And even "down under" in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, "winter camps" were organized by Chabad-Lubavitch Centers in those cities.


What's New

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The Rebbe Writes

15th of Marcheshvan, 5725 [1964]

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your recent letter, as well as the other letters which you mention, although I had not acknowledged each one individually.

In regard to your daughter and son-in-law, Rabbi and Mrs. L-, they have no doubt written to you about the arrangements, in accordance with their suggestion, namely their desire that S- should learn in the Kolel [post-graduate rabbinical seminary]. May G-d grant that everything should be in the spirit of joy and gladness of heart, not only insofar as they are concerned but also insofar as you and Mrs. Jaffe are concerned. And, after all, you have, thank G-d, much reason to be in a spirit of joy and gladness of heart.

What follows next was not discussed not even mentioned with your daughter and son-in-law, but I raise the matter here in connection with your mentioning the weight of the financial burden which you have had in the past in supporting them. I suggest that you should write to me (without involving them in the matter) what sum you would consider easy enough for you to send for their support in the future, and I would find a way to make up the difference, with the help of G-d.

I emphasize the fact that I should not want them to be involved in this, so that your son-in-law could apply himself to his studies with complete peace of mind, and your daughter should also have no anxiety.

With blessing,

P.S. I trust that the discussion which you had with Sir W- will give you the opportunity to talk to him also in the future with a view to getting him more active, not only at the forthcoming meeting in his house but also in every way possible. And, who knows, maybe this contact will be of mutual benefit for both of you also businesswise.

Owing to the modesty of your daughter, I have just now learned about her participation at the meeting in Manchester, and her activities for Chinuch [Jewish education] in general. I was particularly gratified to read in her report that at that time several mothers expressed their surprise, as well as demands, about the lack of non-coed education in Manchester at all levels.

This brings up again the matter which I spoke to you about at one time, that it would be well for you to watch out for the first opportunity to introduce into the life of the Manchester community the idea of having separate Chinuch institutions for boys and girls.


1st Day of Chanukah, 5725 [1964]

Greeting and Blessing:

I have been wondering why there have been such long intervals between your letters. May G-d grant that this be a good sign that things are well and in good order....

I have now received your latest letter, which still does not explain the long interval between your letters, but there is surely a good reason.

With regard to your question why should your son-in-law learn in a specified place, while he could learn in another place at much smaller cost, I hope you will not take it amiss if I answer your question with a question of my own, in [an] area where you are an expert. The same answer will apply in both. My question is: At first glance it seems strange that you should go to such trouble and expense and inconvenience and privation - to go to... Japan in order to place an order for footwear there. Would it not have saved you much expense, trouble, etc., to place your order for footwear with a local manufacturer? But undoubtedly, the thought had also occurred to you, but you decided wisely that the kind of merchandise you desire and at the right price could not be obtained in M/c and that the trip, expense, etc. were justified.

Reiterating my prayerful wishes for a Happy Chanukah.

Reprinted with permission from Mr. Manchester, a compilation of letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Mr. Zalman Jaffe.


Rambam this week

16 Elul, 5764 - September 2, 2004

Positive Mitzva 176: Appointing Judges

This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 16:18) "Appoint judges and officers in all your gates" The Torah contains laws and rules governing every aspect of our lives. It deals not only with how we pray in the synagogue, but how we should grow our crops, run our businesses and set up laws for our people. But who will enforce Torah law? This job is left to the courts and police. It is their job to supervise the public and enforce the law. This system was designed by Torah. We are commanded to appoint police and judges in all settlements.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

We now find ourselves in the Jewish month of Elul. In addition to being the name of a month, the word Elul is an acronym for five verses from the Bible which are connected to the five different types of service, each identified with our new month.

The Rebbe enumerated these five verses:

Prayer - "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." For it is through prayer, the "duty of the heart," that our relationship with G-d is enhanced and intensified.

Torah study - "It chanced to happen and I set aside for you a place." This verse describes the Cities of Refuge to which a person who killed unintentionally can flee. But it also refers to Torah study for "the words of Torah provide refuge."

Deeds of Kindness - "A person [gives presents] to his friends and gifts to the poor." In this verse the concept of deeds of kindness is clearly expressed.

Teshuva - "And G-d your L-rd will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants." For the service of teshuva--returning to G-d wholeheartedly, is primarily the service of changing one's inner self, the feelings of one's heart.

Redemption - "And they said, 'We will sing to G-d' " This phrase is taken from the Song of Redemption sung at the Red Sea.

The first three services are identified with the three pillars of man's service. These services must be permeated by the service of teshuva and by the service of redemption and thus, they will be endowed with a boundless quality that surpasses the limits of a person and the world at large.


Thoughts that Count

If you see your brother's ox or sheep going astray, you must not ignore them. Return them to your brother. (Deut. 22:1)

It is a mitzva to return something you found to the person who lost it. G- d gave us this commandment so that we would accustom ourselves to help others through kindness and good deeds. By virtue of this mitzva, G-d will resurrect the dead in the times of Moshiach. G-d repays in kind: He will "return" the souls to the bodies.

(Tzena U'rena)


The Torah is commanding us to return something of monetary value. How much greater is our duty to help every Jewish soul return to its rightful place in the observance of Torah and its commandments.

(The Shalah Hakodesh)


When you go out to war with your enemies...you shall take captives (Deut. 21:10).

In the "war" against the evil inclination one cannot be satisfied with merely overcoming it. One must also "take captives," to press the inclination into Divine service. We see the alacrity and devotion with which the evil inclination fulfills its mission of tripping man and bringing him to error. We can use this devotion as an instruction about how to serve G-d.

(Baal Shem Tov)


You shall not see your brother's ox or sheep gone astray and hide yourself from them, you shall surely bring them back to your brother. (Deut. 22:1)

One who helps his friend, by returning that which he has lost - whether that which is lost is physical or spiritual - actually improves himself. His soul, too, becomes loftier as our sages taught: "More than the philanthropist does for the poor person, the poor person does for the philanthropist."

(Sefat Emet)


And it will be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten...he may be given forty stripes, but not more; lest if he is beaten with many more stripes, then your brother will be dishonored in your eyes. (Deut. 25:2,3)

These verses discuss a person who has done a sin whose punishment is lashes. Since this person has sinned, he is called a "wicked man." However, as soon as he has been punished, he is once again called "your brother."

(Rashi)


It Once Happened

Mar Ukva was a learned and righteous man, one of the leaders of Jewish people while they lived in Babylonia. He and his wife were constantly involved with many acts of charity and deeds of kindness - they gave food to the hungry, tended to the sick, helped those who needed assistance, and many other good deeds.

Near the house of Mar Ukva lived a poor family. Mar Ukva and his wife could not stand to look upon the thin, hungry faces of the poor family's children, but the parents were too proud to accept any charity.

"I have a plan how we can help our poor neighbors," Mar Ukva's wife told him one evening. "Late at night, when everyone is already comfortably asleep in their beds, let us go to our neighbors' home and secretly put a few coins inside. In this way, they will not know who gave them the charity and they will not be embarrassed to accept it."

Mar Ukva was pleased with his wife's plan. That very night, with a few coins in their pockets, they stealthily made their way toward their neighbor's home. As they approached the door, Mar Ukva looked here and there to make sure that there were no passers-by. Mar Ukva took four dinars out of his pocket, slid them under the door, and quickly left the area.

In this manner, Mar Ukva and his wife continued each evening to quietly and secretly help support the poor family. And the family was not subject to the embarrassment of having to ask for or collect charity for themselves.

One evening, Mar Ukva remained later than usual in the study hall. He was trying to understand and master a particularly difficult question in the Torah. His wife became concerned and decided to go to the study hall to find him. Seeing that everything was all right, she patiently waited until Mar Ukva finished learning and they walked home together.

Along the way, they passed the poor neighbor's home. Seeing that no one was out at this late hour, Mar Ukva and his wife decided to put the four dinars in the house now, on their way home. This very night, though, the poor man had decided to wait up and see who it was who so generously and consistently helped support his family. He wanted to bless them for their good and kind deed.

As Mar Ukva and his wife were turning toward home, having just slipped the money under the door, they saw the door open. They did not want the poor man to see them, fearing that he might later be embarrassed to look at them or speak with them in public. Quickly, they ran away from the house. Because of the darkness, the poor man was not able to see who it was, and he began to chase the couple fleeing his home.

"Quickly, quickly," Mar Ukva called out softly to his wife. "We must hide before the poor man catches up with us." They looked in all direction, in search of a hiding-place. The only place they could find was the large communal oven, which was presently not lit.

"Come, let us go inside the oven and hide there," said Mar Ukva's wife.

The couple entered the oven. But Mar Ukva immediately felt that the floor of the oven was still hot from the day's fires. Mar Ukva cried out in pain as his feet were burned by the hot oven floor. "Put your feet on top of my feet," Mar Ukva's wife told him. "For my feet are not being scorched."

Mar Ukva was very surprised when he saw that his wife's feet were not being effected by the extreme heat.

Why did Mar Ukva's wife merit that a miracle be performed for her? She was not content simply to give money to poor people who came to her home. Rather, she invited them in, fed them graciously and encouraged them to satisfy their hunger in her home. In this way, they did not even have to go to buy bread for themselves.

Mar Ukva and his wife continued helping the poor family, but no one ever found out about their charity, charity dispensed with dignity and honor.


Moshiach Matters

The promise of Redemption occurs in Deuteronomy. There it states: "G-d will return your exiles and have compassion upon you and will again gather you from all the nations where G-d has scattered you. Even if your dispersed will be at the furthermost parts of the world, from there G-d will bring you into the land which your forefathers inherited and you shall inherit it and He will do good to you and increase your numbers above your forefathers." The famous commentator Rashi explains that this passage specifies that every Jew will be redeemed: "G-d will literally seize by the hand each person and gather the children of Israel one by one."


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