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"May you and yours be blessed with health and happiness throughout the coming year."
"May the blessings of health, peace and contentment be yours."
"May you be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet year."
At this time of year, wishes to friends and family for the upcoming year abound. And our wishes usually contain what we hope we will have in our own lives, health, happiness, prosperity. We are, in essence, blessing our friends and hoping that G-d will hear our blessings and fulfill them.
That's what we want from G-d. But what does G-d want from us?
The Jewish people were commanded to offer to G-d two lambs each day, one in the morning and one in the evening. The whole world and everything in it belongs to G-d, so why does He need our lambs? Is He maybe "hungry" that He needs two lambs every day?
G-d commanded us to bring sacrifices because He wants us to remember Him every single day - and not just when we need Him. The Midrash (Tana D'Bei Eliyahu) records G-d's clarification of His position in this area. "I am not lacking anything," He tells the Jewish people. "My children, what do I ask from you? Only that you should love one another and respect one another."
We ask G-d for health. All He asks is that we love each other.
We ask G-d for good jobs. All He asks is that we respect each other.
We ask G-d for emotional strength to get through hard times. All He asks is that we honor each other.
We ask G-d for children whom we can be proud of. All He asks is that we be kind to each other.
Day after day, year after year, we present our lists of requests of what we want from G-d and what we want G-d to give to our loved ones.
Like a child let loose in Toys 'R Us, we want this and that, and can't we get one of these and two of those?
And like the ever-patient parent, G-d says to us, "You are all my children. I would be happy to fulfill all of your requests. All I really need to see is that you treat each other with love and respect. That you are sensitive to each other's needs and that you care for one another. Would it be so terrible if you agree to disagree?"
Is this not what our parents wanted from us? Isn't it what all parents want from their children? "Don't give me the cards, the presents, the box of chocolates. Just be nice to each other. Just behave yourselves," our memory tapes replay. "Don't fight. Look, you made him cry! You don't have to like her, but you do have to be nice to her because she's your sister, she always was and she always will be!"
"My children, what do I ask from you? Only that you love one another and respect one another."
Sisters and brothers, may we all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year, a year of health and happiness and the ultimate happiness of the arrival of Moshiach, NOW.
At the very end of this week's Torah portion, Haazinu, G-d commands Moses, saying, "On that selfsame day...go up the mountain Abarim, Mount Nebo...and die on the mountain." G-d was declaring His intention to take Moses and that "he who had power to protest - could come and protest."
Indeed the Children of Israel did not receive the news of Moses' imminent passing with equanimity, and decided to try to prevent it from happening. They wailed, "We will not relinquish the one who led us out of Egypt, split the sea, gave us meat and gave us the Torah!"
It would seem that the Jews were in open rebellion against G-d, yet, if we examine the situation further, we see that they really thought that preventing Moses' death was G-d's will!
The generation of Jews about to enter the Land of Israel were righteous and good individuals, as it states, "And you are the ones who cleave unto G-d." Why then did they think that by preventing Moses from ascending the mountain they could prevent his death, and, furthermore, that they would actually be doing a mitzva?
Their rationale was the following: According to the Torah itself, one must not be ungrateful for good which is done. Did not Moses do all these wonderful things for us, that we are not obligated to do everything possible for him? The command to go up the mountain was given to him - not to us! Perhaps in this way G-d was giving us an opportunity to intervene by not letting him leave us and go up the mountain to die. If we prevent his dying, then the decree that Moses pass away will be averted and then he will surely lead us into the Promised Land!
The Jews were therefore not rebelling against G-d, but had rather interpreted G-d's command to mean that they should actively intervene for Moses' sake. They thought they had been given the chance to avert the decree, as we find that this is often true in other instances.
Jews are indeed given the power to avert evil decrees and change their judgements for the better through teshuva (repentance). We say in our Rosh Hashana prayers that through "repentance, prayer and charity evil decrees are averted."
In the case of Moses, however, this was not to take place, and he did indeed pass away. We must therefore conclude that his death was somehow beneficial for the Jewish People, as even their self-sacrifice and efforts to forestall it did not avail.
Our Sages explain that it was absolutely necessary that Moses not enter the Land of Israel. G-d foresaw that the Jews would one day be exiled from their Land, and if Moses had entered Israel, their subsequent exile would have been impossible.
Yet this very exile is also interpreted as a positive event. When, in later years, the Children of Israel did not heed the words of the Torah and incurred G-d's wrath, it was only "wood and stones" (the Holy Temple) which bore the brunt of G-d's anger. The Jewish People were afforded the opportunity to go into exile, where they could repent and eventually be returned to their Land, may that take place speedily in our day with the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
by Steve Hyatt
My dad and I have always had a strong, close relationship. From the time I was young, we did many things together. He taught me to ride a bicycle. He taught me the proper direction to push a lawn mower. He taught me how to shoot a foul shot. Later in life, when I became a homeowner, he showed me how to fix a leaky faucet and paint the house.
Mine has been a life filled with numerous memories of my father and I spending important, quality time together. But, as I look back on our journey, the one thing I can't remember is Dad and I going to the synagogue together on Shabbat.
In 1983 I moved to Palm Springs, California, and a friend of mine introduced me to a Chabad rabbi named Yonason Denebeim. It was Rabbi Denebeim who first planted the spiritual seeds that would eventually grow and flourish within me many years later. During the entire time I lived in Palm Springs, Dad and I never went to shul together.
When I moved to Wilmington, Delaware, Rabbi Chuni Vogel lovingly cultivated the spiritual seeds that Rabbi Denebeim had carefully nurtured for the better part of ten years. My journey in Delaware awakened a spiritual awareness and joy that I previously would have thought impossible. When I asked Dad during his visits if he'd like to go to shul with me, he would tell me that he supported my spiritual journey but his experience in shul as a boy had left him with negative memories and he just didn't want to go.
When we moved to Salem, Oregon, I'd ask him if he wanted to go to shul with me in Portland and meet Rabbi Wilhelm. He once again politely declined. While I was disappointed, if I've learned anything from the Chabad rabbis I've met, it's that everyone travels at his own speed. So I waited.
When we moved to Reno, Nevada, my journey took me to the steps of Chabad of Northern Nevada where I met Rabbi Mendel Cunin. Since my parents spend summers with us, they are exposed to many Chabad activities. Sometimes they go and other times they don't, but the rabbi always invites them.
During their last visit we were all sitting around the Shabbat table one Friday evening when my Dad said he'd like to go with me to shul the next morning. He told me that he had only one condition: that was he did not want an aliya - to be called up to the Torah. I quickly agreed.
As the services progressed the next morning, I was dismayed to see that the service would be one of the longest of the year because not only was the Torah reading the longest of the year, we were also going to bless the new month. I was concerned that this visit would be his last. To top it off, we walked home in a blistering 92 degrees.
During lunch, Dad said he thought he did pretty well for the first time and was confident he'd feel more comfortable next week. To make a long story short, the next week turned into many weeks as the summer progressed. Every Saturday morning Dad and I walked down the mountain, walked into the shul and Dad greeted Morris with a "good Shabbos," and Ken with a "good Shabbos," and Aaron with a "good Shabbos" and then took his seat.
Several weeks later I overheard Dad practicing the blessings over the Torah out loud in his room. I ran in and yelled, "You're a sandbagger, you're a sandbagger." His rendition of the blessings was perfect. We laughed as my Mother came into the room and asked why I was raising my voice. I explained and she joined in on the laughter.
The next week, Reno celebrated a momentous occasion. Almost a year before, our congregation had commissioned the writing of a new Torah. The scribe was due to arrive in a few days with our brand new Torah and the entire Jewish community was abuzz with the thought of its pending arrival.
The day the scribe and the Torah arrived was one I will never forget. When my family and I arrived at the Shul the place was packed. When the scribe wrote down the last letter of the Torah, blew on the ink, and stood up from the table, the entire congregation burst into a joyous song. The rest of the evening is a blur as we danced with the Torah, celebrated and came together as a community.
That night, when we returned home, Dad looked at me and said, "I can't believe I had such a good time. I am almost 76 years old and I've never seen a night like this. I feel really comfortable with this congregation." I had to smile because if I've learned one thing from the Chabad Rabbis over the years, it's that everyone travels at their own pace on their spiritual journeys and when it is time to go to the next level, they will know it. I looked at Dad and said, "Well maybe its time for your first aliya." He said, "Maybe you're right."
That Shabbat morning I awoke full of excitement. When we walked into shul, Dad greeted everyone with a "good Shabbos" and took what was now his regular seat. As we worked our way through the first part of the service my heart was racing. When it finally came time to read the Torah, the first aliya was given to a "Kohein," and the second aliya was given to a "Levi." The next thing I heard was Rabbi Cunin calling "Moishe Pinchus ben Eleazer" to the Torah. Dad looked at me, stood up and walked to the Torah. I followed and stood a few inches away. Looking like an old pro, Dad took the end of his tallit (prayer shawl), touched the first and last word of the aliya, grabbed the handles of the Torah and chanted the ancient blessing. After the Rabbi completed the aliya, Dad once again brought the handles together and chanted the last blessing. When he was done he leaned over, and with a twinkle in his eye, said, "Piece of Kugel!"
On a special Shabbat, in the Biggest Little City in the World, one of the millions of spiritual seeds planted long ago burst forth and brought a loving family even closer.
High Holiday Hoopla
Wondering what to do or where to go during the upcoming Jewish holidays? Your Chabad-Lubavitch Center has services, classes, meals, and numerous other events scheduled for the flurry of festivals in the upcoming weeks. To find out what is taking place in your area, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center. You can find them on the web at www.LchaimWeekly.org/general/shluchim.html
Have Shofar Will Travel
As in years past, the Lubavitch Youth Organization has arranged for volunteers to walk to hospitals and nursing homes throughout the New York Metro area on Rosh Hashana so that those who will not be able to attend synagogue services will still be able to fulfill the "mitzva of the day" for Rosh Hashana - listening to the sounding of the shofar.
Freely translated letter
Sixth day of the Seventh Month, 5744 
To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G-d bless you all!
Greeting and Blessing:
... Rosh Hashanah this year, is the "head" (Rosh) of a Leap Year - a year of 13 months, and blessed with more days - more not only than in an ordinary (Lunar) year, but more also than in a Solar year containing 365 days.
The purpose of a Jewish Leap Year has to do with the nature of the Jewish Torah (Calendar), the calculation of which is based on the moon, and consists of 12 lunar months.
However, inasmuch as the Torah requires that the Jewish festivals occur in their due season: Pesach in the "Month of Spring" (Nissan), Succos in the "Season of Ingathering" in the autumn (Tishrei), and so on; and whereas the annual seasons are determined by the sun - it is necessary to make up the difference between the Lunar Year and Solar Year. This takes place every two or three years, when the difference of accumulated days adds up to about a month, by adding a 13th month to that year (giving us two months of Adar, Adar Rishon and Adar Sheni). In this way it is assured that our Festivals will always occur within their due season of the year.
It has often been mentioned that a person should derive an instructive lesson from everything in his experience with a view to improving his conduct and quality of life, so as to carry out all the better the basic Jewish tenet: I was created to serve my Creator. Such an object lesson is particularly in order in connection with the Leap Year event which determines the dates of the Jewish month and of every Jewish festival throughout the year.
One noteworthy aspect in this connection is that although both the sun and the moon were created "to give light on the earth," they differ radically in the manner in which they carry out this function. The sun's light comes down to earth without change from day to day, whereas the moon's light on earth undergoes constant change from day to day, from the day of its "rebirth," or "New Moon," at the beginning of the month, waxing fuller each day in the first half of the month until it reaches completeness in the "full moon"; then gradually diminishing in the second half of the month, until it is completely obscured, which is only a prelude to yet another New Moon, with renewed and growing strength. Moreover, and this, too, is a most significant point: All these changes in the moon come from the influence of the sun, from which it derives its light.
Inasmuch as the Torah, Toras Emes (the Torah of Truth), declares that a human being is a "complete world," complete in all details, it is understandable that the two natural phenomena, the "changeability" of the moon and the "constancy" of the sun, would be reflected in human life. Thus, every person has two natural tendencies: Selecting for himself a world outlook and establishing for himself basic principles and rigid uncompromising goals, while at the same time experiencing a tendency to change, innovate, create (even in relation to his own life of yesterday), to the best of his ability.
At first glance these two tendencies - changeability and stability - appear to be contradictory. However, since a human being is a "complete (not a split) world," they not only do not "fight" each other, but, on the contrary, complete each other, and both together enable him to attain his life's goal and purpose - in the way the Leap Year brings orderliness and completeness into our Jewish calendar.
To explain the above briefly, let us cite a simple example: Day after day, throughout his life, a Jew begins the day with Modeh Ani [and other prayers which] are the same every day.
On the other hand, the prayers of Shabbos differ from those on weekdays, and so forth....
Similarly in regard to the regular Torah sections: There are those which are the same every day, while there are those that have to be studied on special occasions.
More in this vein, in general: The basic principle that "the Torah shall not be changed" goes in unison with the principle of I'hagdil Torah ulha'adirah (to expound the Torah and make it more profound); and in regard to Mitzvot: "You shall neither add to, nor detract from them" goes together with Hiddur-Mitzva (an added measure of excellence in performance) and keeping all matters of holiness on the ascendancy.
May G-d grant that the reflection on the above topics should result in a strengthened commitment to Torah in both aspects: its unchangeable completeness together with I'hagdil Torah ulha'adirah; and to the Mitzvot, likewise in both aspects: strict adherence, without change or compromise, together with Hiddur-Mitzva and increasing in an evergrowing measure;
With esteem and with blessing to be sealed and surely sealed for good,
3 Tishrei, 5765 - September 18, 2004
Positive Mitzva 174: Obeying the Supreme Jewish Court
This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 17:11) "According to the Torah that they shall teach you" We are commanded to heed the guidelines of the rabbis and judges in keeping Torah and mitzvot.
Prohibition 313: It is forbidden to add anything to either the Written or Oral Law
This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 13:1) "You shall not add to it" We may not add to a mitzva, nor may we make our own new mitzvot.
Prohibition 314: It is forbidden to delete anything from the Torah
This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 13:1) "You shall not subtract from it." Just as we are forbidden to add to the Torah (see above) we are not allowed to subtract anything from it.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The sixth of Tishrei, this year coinciding with Tuesday, September 21, marks the anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, mother of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rebbetzin Chana was born on the 28th of Tevet, 1880 in Nikolayev, Russia. She spent her youth receiving an incomparable education in her father's home, R. Meir Shlomo Yanovsky, Chief Rabbi of Nikolayev. At the age of 19 she married Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson.
In a book published about Rebbetzin Chana, one person remembers, "After each talk I had with Rebbetzin Chana, of blessed memory, 'Chana's Song' from the book of Shmuel came to my mind. [The Haftorah that is read on the first day of Rosh Hashana, just a few days before Rebbetzin Chana's yartzeit, is from the book of Shmuel (Samuel.) It tells of the prophetess Chana and her entreaties to G-d to bless her with a child, whose life she would dedicate to holiness and G-dly service.] For it is the song of a great Jewish mother who, after years of suffering and difficulty was blessed with a son who became a prophet among the Jewish people.
"Like Chana of old, tremendous hardships and obstacles were Rebbetzin Chana's lot. Yet, she kept this to herself, except for when her lips moved quietly in prayer. Years of loneliness and waiting were her portion. But, in the end a time came when 'my heart rejoices in the L-rd' - when the heart of Rebbetzin Chana was filled with happiness and exalting."
Rebbetzin Chana passed away at the age of 85. At the same time as her pure soul was returning to its Maker, Rebbetzin Chana's chair in the women's section of the main Lubavitcher synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway inexplicably caught fire.
May Rebbetzin Chana's prayers on High on our behalf finally be answered with the revelation of Moshiach NOW!
Jacob is the lot of His inheritance (Deut. 32:9)
The Hebrew word for "lot"- "chevel"- also means "rope." Jacob was the third of the Patriarchs. Like a rope that is strong because it is made of three threads, Jacob had three merits: the merit of his father's father, his own father and himself. Through these combined strengths Jacob and his sons were able to become G-d's inheritance.
...he, and Hosheia the son of Nun" (32:44).
Why was Joshua (Yehoshua) referred to here by his original name, Hosheia? To inform us that although he was being given a position of greatness as the successor of Moses, he did not become egotistical or overbearing. He remained the same as always.
Return, O Israel, to the L-rd your G-d (from the Haftora)
Rabbi Eliezer said: Such is the way of the world, that a person who is publicly humiliated by another is not satisfied with a private apology, and demands that it be made in front of the very same people who witnessed his shame.G-d, however, does not ask the same of us. Even for one who publicly defames the name of G-d in the marketplace, a private apology is accepted...
Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi taught: How great is the power of repentance, for no sooner does a person decide in his heart to return to G-d than his repentance is accepted. How high can he then ascend? Right up to the Throne of Glory itself. That is why the prophet Hoshea said, "Return, O Israel - (directly) to the L-rd your G-d."
by Chana Silberstein
The story of Chana, the Haftorah of Rosh Hashana, is a story of devotion and of love, of service and of sacrifice. It is the story of the woman who taught the world what it means to pray-that one prays not with one's lips, but from one's heart.
"Marry another woman that you may have children," Chana said to her husband, Elkana. "And when G-d sees my pain, perhaps I, too will be given a child." So, Elkana took a second wife, Penina. And she bore many children, but Chana had none.
With time, Chana might have resigned herself to her state, and found solace in her loving husband and her service of G-d. But Penina knew of the longing that burned deep within Chana and resolved that longing not be extinguished. And so, Penina tormented her endlessly.
In the morning, Penina rose early to prepare her children for school. "Chana," she called, "Why are you not up yet? Don't you have to wash and dress your children?"
At noon, Penina stood at the door, awaiting her children's return. "Chana, aren't you going to come too, to welcome your children home?"
At dinner, when Elkana served the main course, Penina once again called attention to her young.
There was not a day that Chana was not confronted with her barrenness. She sat silently at the table, the tears welling in her eyes, observing the lively tumult about her and the obvious pleasure Penina took in tending to her children, and she could not eat. Elkana, sensing her agony, served her the choicest portion, handing it to her lovingly, but it remained untouched.
Each year, Elkana and his family traveled to Shilo. Along the way, they stopped, and Chana and Elkana encouraged others to join them in their pilgrimage. Each year they took a different route, exhorting everyone they met to come along, until eventually, entire villages from all over the land of Israel journeyed with them to sacrifice and give thanks to G-d in Shilo.
It was autumn, they were in Shilo again. Elkana called his family together to share with them the sacrifice. As always, the best went to Chana. And she alone took no part in the joyous celebration. Gently, Elkana said to her: "Chana, why do you cry? Why is your heart saddened today? Does not my love mean more to you than the love of ten children?"
But the days when that love could have contented her were long past. In her mind, she saw only Penina, who made even the most mundane aspects of motherhood seem sublime. So, when everyone had finished the meal, she returned to the House of G-d, and standing before the Ark, she prayed.
"G-d, you have created everything in this world for a reason. You have given me eyes to see, ears to hear, a mouth to speak. Why have You given me a womb, if not to carry a child?
"Look at all the hundreds of people I have gathered to stand before you here. Shall I not have even one to call my own? Look at my despair, and give me a child, like other children, a happy child, a healthy child. No more do I ask for myself. But if it be Your will, then send me a child who will be a great leader, a sage and a holy man, as were Moses and Aaron, and I will dedicate his life to You."
For what seemed like an eternity, she stood before the wall, her body shaking and racked with tears, her lips moving but her voice hardly more than a whisper. In those days, prayers and supplications were said aloud, and Eli, the high priest, was suspicious of her behavior.
"Woman, are you drunk?" he called. "Go away from here, for it is improper to stand before G-d in a state of intoxication."
"No," she answered, "I have poured myself no wine today. It is my heart that I have poured out before G-d in my anguish."
"Then go in peace," Eli replied, "and may G-d grant you your prayer."
So they returned home. That year, Chana bore a son, and she named him Shmuel. When Shmuel was two, she took him with her to Shilo. She stood before Eli and said, "I am the woman who prayed to G-d in my sorrow. Beside me is my son, the answer to that prayer. And now may he be given into the service of G-d for the rest of his life."
And she sang a song of thanks to G-d, she returned home, and Shmuel remained with Eli in the House of G-d. Though she visited him again each year, from that day on he was no longer only hers. She sacrificed her son to G-d, as Abraham had done before her. She sacrificed him not on an altar of stone, but on the altar of her heart, and her sacrifice was forever.
She had other children later, two more sons and two daughters, but we know her only as the mother of Shmuel the Prophet, the son she gave away.
The belief in Moshiach is not the belief in a possibility. The belief in Moshiach is the belief in the fact that he is coming. And this is the difference between the way the Rebbe looks at beleif in the coming of Moshiach and the conventional approach. The conventional approach is that you have to believe that Moshiach could come. That's not faith at all. To say that there's a possibility - there are all sorts of possibilities. That's not "complete faith" - emunah shleimah. Emunah shleimah means you cannot conceive of a world today without Moshiach. Not that he could come, but that he must come.
(Rabbi Manis Friedman in Wellsprings Magazine)