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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 842
                           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.
        October 29, 2004         Vayera        14 Cheshvan, 5765

                           Times are Changing

Time. In many countries around the world, times are changing. That is to
say, the time on the clock, at least. "Spring ahead, Fall back" we
mutter to ourselves, in an attempt to remember whether we're "losing" or
"gaining" an hour and which way to adjust our clocks to "standard time."

How long is a standard hour? Perhaps that depends on whether it's an
hour that has stretched on endlessly or has passed by in the blink of an
eye. Is it an hour that has been "blessed" and in which we have
accomplished so much or is it an hour when everything that could have
gone wrong went wrong and it was totally wasted.

When it comes to time, many of us think not only in terms of hours,
minutes and seconds, but of "quality time" as well. And quality time is
anything but standard, because it's usually time that we set aside to be
with family, good friends, or in worthwhile and meaningful pursuits.

Is there such a thing as a "Jewish standard hour" or "Jewish quality

In Talmudic times, a Jew whose performance of mitzvot was typified by
going above and beyond the letter of the law was referred to as
"chasid." These (pre-modern) Chasidim used to spend tremendous amounts
of time in prayer and only a few hours a day in Torah study. But, the
amount of Torah knowledge they gained in those few hours of study was
inordinately greater than what the average person would have gained in
the same amount of time spent in intensive study. The reward for their
intensive prayer schedule was that the time spent studying Torah became
"quality time" and their studies were blessed.

The mitzva of Torah study is incumbent upon us at all times. In fact,
according to the Talmud, if a person wastes even one minute that he
could have spent studying, it's as if he belittled the entire Torah.
Yet, the Talmud also states that someone who is involved in helping the
community has fulfilled the commandment to study Torah by simply saying
one verse from the Shema in the morning and in the evening. Quality

In the Mishna (Avot) Rabbi Yaakov is quoted as saying that one hour of
repentance and good deeds in this world is greater than the entire time
one will live in the World to Come. What does this mean?

On the simplest level, Rabbi Yaakov is telling us that quality time
counts. Through spending even just one hour in teshuva - returning to
and reconnecting with G-d - and the performance of good deeds, we will
appreciate awesome revelations of G-dliness in the Messianic Era. In
fact, all the G-dliness we will experience in the times of Moshiach can
be acquired through making every second and minute of a Jewish hour
count here and now.

How do we accomplish this? The Hebrew word for hour, "sha-ah," also
means bending. By bending ourselves in this world - not remaining rigid
or stuck in our ways - and setting aside an hour regularly for teshuva
and good deeds, we are adjusting our clocks to the ultimate standard
time - the Messianic Era, may it commence now!

This week's Torah portion, Vayeira, introduces us to the second of our
forefathers, Isaac. It also relates that Isaac was occupied with digging

Abraham and Isaac achieved greatness by paving two distinct paths in
connecting with G-d. Abraham traveled from place to place, both within
the borders of Israel and in other lands, and caused G-d's name to be
known everywhere he went. Through his boundless hospitality, as well as
through other means,  he caused countless wayfarers to thank G-d for His
bounty and goodness. Abraham's basic nature was kindness - giving and
favorably influencing his fellow man.

Isaac, on the other hand, had a totally different approach. He never
left the Holy Land and his basic nature was the personification of
gevura (strength). Isaac's way of bringing holiness into the world
involved elevating the lowly and bringing it closer to G-dliness;
Abraham's method was to bring G-dliness down into the lower realms.

This path to spirituality is even apparent in Isaac's preoccupation with
digging wells. A well is made when one digs and uncovers the water that
was always there, albeit in an unrevealed state. Isaac did not bring the
water to the well from an outside source; he merely removed the soil and
rocks so that the water could flow forth on its own.

Whereas his father Abraham was primarily occupied with bringing holiness
down into this world, Isaac spent his life uncovering the inherent
holiness that already existed in the world. Isaac taught others that
through their own efforts they could uncover the good and arrive at
Divine truth.

From Abraham we learn how to elevate the physical world through studying
Torah and performing mitzvot, causing the Divine light to descend and
illuminate our surroundings. We also learn from him the obligation to
spread the knowledge and appreciation of G-d through our own example and
influence on others.

But this in itself is not enough. We must also learn from Isaac how to
"dig wells" - how to uncover and reveal that spark of goodness and
spirituality which exists within ourselves and every Jew. It is not
sufficient to merely teach others about G-dliness; we must also know how
to dig under the surface and reveal the "pintele Yid" - the inherent
faith in G-d and spark of holiness - which is our birthright.

Even if a Jew seems to be "dust, clay and stones," that is, his Jewish
spark seems to be dormant and hidden underground, we can learn from
Isaac not be discouraged - this appearance is merely a camouflage. Under
the lifeless surface lies a rich source of running water, of goodness,
faith and love of G-d. All we have to do is remove the superficial layer
of "clay" to reveal the pure Jewish soul within.

And what can we answer a Jew who cries, "But I've tried! I've dug and
I've dug, and I can't seem to uncover my Jewish spark!" We must direct
him to the example of Isaac, who persevered in his digging and was not
discouraged, even when his wells were deliberately stopped up by his
enemies, time and time again. For we are promised success if we, too,
persevere and are relentless in our quest for G-dliness.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE

    The following were written to the Prisons Department of the
    Lubavitch Youth Organization and were published in their bulletin to
    Jewish prisoners "Reaching Out."

Dear Rabbi,

Some years ago, I used to be a "guest" of BOP Waseca, in Minnesota. Not
only were you kind enough to send me the Reaching Out bulletin every
month and to write personal letters of encouragement to me, but you also
sent me books, as well.

I am writing to tell you that I moved to Israel last year. My wife and I
live in an apartment in the Shomron. We are struggling in order to
adjust to this new life, but we know that soon all Jews will move here
when Moshiach arrives.

I would like to ask for a favor. I would like to start getting issues of
Reaching Out once more. Even though I am here in Israel, I can never
forget the struggles of my fellow Jews in prison.

                                                    Yaakov - Israel

Dear Rabbi,

About a year and half ago, after spending 13 years in prison, I was on
the verge of being released from prison. Yet, because of some bad
choices I made, I got myself involved in a situation I had no business
getting involved in. I took full responsibility for my involvement, and
tried dealing with the setback of having to wait even longer to get out.
As hard as it was, nothing prepared me for what I was about to deal with
and have been dealing with for about seven months now.

In December, I started to have pains all over my body. I saw the prison
doctor. They ran some blood tests and then I was sent to a specialist at
the Iowa City Hospital.

The doctors informed me that I had two different types of lymphoma
cancer. I was told that it might be only a matter of months before this
cancer took its toll. Yet here I am, thank G-d, seven months later, and
feeling rather well.

I spent over three months in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy and
recovering from those treatments. There have been many times I just felt
like giving up. Every time I thought the worse was over, something else
would come up that was even worse and harder for me to deal with. I
really have been tested.

Although at times I felt like giving up, I didn't, thank G-d. While at
the hospital I was lucky enough to have daily visits from Rabbi
Blesofsky, emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Iowa City. Through his
support and guidance and the support I was blessed to receive from
friends, family, and yes, staff members here at the facility, I was able
to keep my faith, stay strong and focused on getting well.

I have come to realize the following:

No matter where a Jew may be, G-d is always there with him. I truly
believe that G-d only puts us through things we can handle. You would be
surprised how much strength and will power each and every one of us has.
What may seem as bad fate or a catastrophe in one's life, may truly be a
blessing in disguise. It's up to the individual to work at uncovering
that blessing.

Instead of letting this cancer, G-d forbid, get the best of me, I have
chosen to use this cancer to become a better person and stronger in my
faith. I pray each day, and every morning that I am able to recite the
"Modeh Ani" is truly a blessing and a gift. I try to cherish each day
and make the most of it.

To all fellow Jews who are unfortunately incarcerated, from someone who
has been dealing with being locked up for over 14 years and having to
deal with a life threatening illness, I beg of you to stay strong and
cherish life which is truly a blessing. And believe me, G-d has many
great things in store for all of us. Don't ever lose your hope and

                           Pinny - Anamosa State Penitentiary, Iowa

Shalom My Friends and Family,

On Aug. 12 Chaplain Brown notified me that I had been denied religious
participation in the Kosher Diet Program at this facility. When I
inquired why, she told me, "The answers to the written test weren't good
enough." It will take about a year until I can retake the test!

I am totally at a loss. I do not know how to fight a system this large
and complex. The Food Service Director at this facility regularly
discriminates against Jewish female prisoners. She views the kosher food
as "expensive." She regularly harasses Jewish prisoners by denying
access to kosher meals or holiday observances like Chanuka and Passover.

Ironically, the religious requirements for Muslims at this facility are
followed without any difficulty. During the month-long Ramadan fasting
they have together the celebration festive meal. Only Jewish prisoners
are expected to "pass a test" to prove that they are Jewish, while
Muslim prisoners are not required to pass any tests.

I need your assistance desperately to fight the discrimination around
me. Please help the Jewish Women prisoners at this facility.

                             Diane - Robert Scott CF - Plymouth, MI

Dear Rabbi,

Thursday night something wonderful happened. Rabbi Rapaport appeared
like a "mirage" out of nowhere and came right up to the unit to see me.
Never mind that it is a miracle by itself but he also handed me tzitzit.
He also brought the book that Menachem and I wanted to study together
and the beautiful calendar.

Thank you very much for sending these through Rabbi Rapaport. I am not a
person who gets mushy, but you have touched my heart by sending these.

You have no idea how great I feel that not only can I put on tefilin
every day and pray, I can also wear my tzitzit. Maybe, just maybe, I can
look myself in the mirror again, and not just see the old "con man" I
always see, but a Jewish person instead.

Rabbi Rapaport is working very hard under very difficult circumstances
here and he creates small and large miracles for us every week. I
acknowledge the fact that G-d works in mysterious ways and leave it at

                              Yehuda - South Woods State Prison, NJ

                               WHAT'S NEW
                          New Emissary Couples

This fall, nearly a dozen young couples have moved to cities throughout
the United States as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to open new
Chabad-Lubavitch Centers or to strengthen existing programs. Among them
are: two Chabad on Campus programs, one at Florida International
University under Rabbi Levi and Sashi Friedman and the second at the
University of Washington under Rabbi Elie and Chaya Rochel Estrin; two
new centers in California, one in Oceanside under Rabbi Baruch and
Nechama Greenberg and the second in S. Clemente under Rabbi Mendel and
Tzippy Slavin; three young couples arrived in Texas to strengthen the
existing educational programs there, Rabbi Peretz and Michal Shapiro and
Rabbi Zvi and Aidy Drizin in Dallas and Rabbi Chaim Boruch and Sara
Alevsky in Plano.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       27th of Elul, 5743 [1983]

Greeting and Blessing;

Your letter was received with some delay, and because of the urgency of
the matter, my reply was conveyed to you over the telephone.

Here I will reiterate in writing, at least one point, based on what I
heard from my father-in-law of saintly memory. It is that in regard to
any child's education, especially in regard to a Jewish child, it should
be borne in mind that if he will not be absorbed in a Kosher educational
institution immediately, the opportunity may be lost altogether, and it
becomes a matter of spiritual Pikuach Nefesh [danger to one's life]. On
the other hand, the problem of financial capacity of the institution,
although it may be difficult, could in time be resolved if the proper
effort is made. The principle is similar and familiar also in the
business world, and there is no need to elaborate on it, especially to
you, knowing your dedication to Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general, and
Torah education in particular,

On the occasion of the birth of your granddaughter, I extend to you and
all the family a hearty Mazel Tov, and prayerful wishes to have true
Yiddish Nachas [Jewish pride] from each and all of your offspring....

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                      19th of Shevat, 5744 [1984]

Blessing and Greeting:

I received your letter of Jan. 12th, with enclosure.

As requested, I will remember you in prayer for the fulfillment of your
heart's desires for good in the matter about which you wrote.

There is surely no need to emphasize to you at length that all blessings
come from G-d, and the channel to receive them is through the everyday
life and conduct in accordance with His Will. Therefore, every
additional effort in matters of Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments],
though a "must" for their own sake, widens these channels.

In your situation, it is particularly important to be extra careful in
the Kashrus of foods and beverages, within the general framework of
adherence to the Jewish way of Torah and Mitzvoth.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all Above.

P.S. Many thanks for your card and good wishes of Jan. 4th, with
enclosure. May the zechus [merit] of your tzedoko [charity], for which
receipt in enclosed, bring you and yours additional Divine blessings in
all needs.

                                *  *  *

                        9th of Adar, 5739 [1979]
                          Neshei U'Bnos Chabad
                            London, England
                         - G-d Bless You All -

Blessing and Greeting:

I acknowledge, with an apology for the unavoidable delay, your telegram,
and I am gratified to note your commitment in every way possible to
spread Yiddishkeit, etc.

Since we have the assurance that when a Jew makes a firm resolution to
do a good thing, G-d opens special channels and capacities to carry it
out fully, may this be so also in regard to your pledge. Of course, this
implies G-d's assured blessings for peace of mind and good health, with
no problems, to be able to accomplish what must be without distractions
and in a growing measure.

I was greatly impressed with the report on the Second European
Convention, including the speeches, photographs, etc. Since you have
such good material, it would be well to consider the idea of publishing
it, with appropriate supplementary material, at the earliest possible
date, in the form of a Pictorial Report or Album of the Convention.

Needless to say, it should be attractive not only in content, but also
in external appearance, artistic design, etc. Such a publication would
undoubtedly generate considerable interest among those who personally
participated in the Convention, for whom it would be a lasting momento
and a decorative volume to have on the bookshelf, and it would also be
of interest to many who did not participate in the Convention.

I do not know if such pictorial reports are customary in England. But
Chabad/ Lubavitch does not hesitate to make "innovations" and pioneer in
activities designed to promote Yiddishkeit.

Needless to add, the above project, even any title mentioned above, is
only a suggestion, and it is entirely up to you to make final decisions
and changes that may make it more effective in achieving the central
objective of promoting the activities of the Neshei for strengthening
and spreading Yiddishkeit.

With prayerful wishes for Hatzlocho...

With blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
17 Cheshvan, 5765 - November 1, 2004

Positive Mitzvah 19: Grace after Meals

This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 8:10) "When you have eaten and
are satisfied then you must bless G-d" The Torah commands us to thank
G-d after every meal.

Positive Mitzvah 215: Circumcision

This mitzva is based on the verse (Gen. 17:10) "Every male child among
you shall be circumcised" G-d commanded that all Jewish males be
circumcised. Circumcision is called a brit, a covenant, connecting our
people G-d. Through our performance of this mitzva, we establish this
bond with G-d.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The twentieth of Cheshvan, this year corresponding to Thursday, November
4, is the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dovber.

The Rebbe Rashab, born 144 years ago, was the fifth leader of

The Rebbe Rashab was universally known for his steadfast defense of
Torah true Judaism in Czarist Russia and for his establishment of the
Lubavitcher Yeshivah, Tomchei Tmimim, in the town of Lubavitch in 1897.
The Rebbe Rashab also worked diligently to implement the virtue of
Ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew) among all Jews. On the holiday of
Simchat Torah, in 1898, the Rebbe Rashab recited a Chasidic discourse
entitled "Heichaltzu," literally meaning "arm yourselves." The discourse
delves primarily into the spiritual roots of baseless hatred. However,
the essence of the discourse was to foster love and unity among all

The Rebbe Rashab states in the discourse: "One must assume that the
other person is good in every respect. One should not view others in
terms of one's own [experience], for one must judge every man positively
and firmly believe he is surely better than oneself. Hence, one ought to
be deeply distressed by the suffering of one's fellow..."

In the merit of the Rebbe Rashab let us all do our utmost to abolish
senseless hatred and foster true,  unblemished love for our fellow Jews,
which is certainly the precursor to the final redemption, the coming of
Moshiach Tzidkaynu, speedily in our days, NOW.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household
after him. (Gen. 18:19)

Rashi comments that the phrase "For I know him" implies love and
affection for Abraham. G-d loved Abraham because He knew that Abraham
would teach his children to follow in his footsteps. As great and
impressive as Abraham's worship of G-d was, more worthy of merit was the
fact that he could be counted on to instruct others.

                                                        (Hayom Yom)

                                *  *  *

To do righteousness and justice (Gen. 18:19)

When G-d bestows wealth and abundance on a Jew, he must honestly judge
himself and ask: "Am I really worthy of all this goodness? What have I
done to deserve these blessings?" When a person is thus honest with
himself, it will cause him to realize that the sharing of his wealth
with those less fortunate is truly tzedaka - righteousness.

                                                 (Sefer HaMaamarim)

                                *  *  *

In all that Sara may say to you - hearken unto her voice (Gen. 21:12)

The Talmud states: Three tzadikim were given a taste of the World to
Come in this world - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the World to Come, the
prophecy - "the female will surround and encompass the male," and "a
woman of valor is the crown of her husband" (Proverbs) will be
fulfilled. Abraham was given a glimpse of this when G-d told him to heed
the words of Sara, who was an even greater prophet than he.

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                                *  *  *

G-d appeared to him (Gen. 18:1)

Rashi explains that the entire reason for G-d's appearing to Avraham was
for the purpose of "visiting the sick." From here we learn the greatness
of the mitzva of visiting the sick.

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In a small corner of the vast expanse of Russia there lived a Jewish
innkeeper. In appearance, there was nothing special about him. He
dressed like a peasant and spoke like a peasant. But this simple, earthy
man was admired and respected by villagers all over his district. It was
known to one and all that he was in reality a holy man, a miracle
worker. Whomever he blessed, was sure that the blessing would be

So, after a time, the reputation of the innkeeper wonder-worker spread,
until word of him reached the Rebbe of Apta, who then lived in Mezibuzh.
The Rebbe became curious to meet this man and learn his secret. If the
man was, indeed, as simple as they all said, then whence his mystical

The Apter Rebbe harnessed his horses and went to the tavern. When he
arrived, he looked the tavern-keeper up and down, but could perceive no
nuance of greatness in him. He studied his movements, but saw nothing
remarkable in anything the innkeeper did. Finally, the Rebbe approached
the man and questioned him, "Tell me, please, from where are your
special powers? Why does Heaven grant all of your blessings?"

The man smiled, and replied straightforwardly, "My powers come from my
faith in G-d which is as strong as a mighty oak.

"Since my youth, I have always trusted in G-d, and no matter what ever
happened to me I was always certain that it would be ultimately for the
best, since it came from G-d. I never despaired and I always gave
charity generously, particularly when times were tough.

"As for guests, I have always kept an open house and treated passersby
with the greatest hospitality."

The innkeeper paused and then continued. "One night, when I had a house
full of guests, there came a knock at my door. It was a messenger from
the poretz (landowner) saying that I was to appear before him at once or
else he would have me thrown into prison.

"Now, I had a problem, for I had a lot of hungry people to feed. If I
left at once, they would probably go to bed hungry. I stayed and took
care of my guests, putting my trust in G-d that no harm would come to

"Only hours later, after my guests were comfortably in their rooms did I
venture out to meet my landlord. When I arrived, he was brimming with
goodwill; apparently he had had a change of heart. Not only didn't he
throw me into jail, but he greeted me like an old friend. Everything
worked out all right.

"Whenever I put my trust in G-d, I have nothing to worry about. Two
years ago I lost all my money. I had no trouble maintaining my faith,
but it was a different thing for my family. They were desperate and
begged me to go and find a partner. They could see no other solution.

"This was against my own ideas. Why should I suddenly begin to rely on
flesh and blood when all my life I had trusted only in G-d, and He had
never let me down? In the end, I couldn't hold out against them, and so,
I set out to find a business partner.

"I walked through the green countryside that was bursting with G-d's
goodness and bounty, red apples here, luscious grapes to the other side,
contented cows grazing lazily, and I stopped in my tracks. My heart was
almost bursting with my love of G-d, and my trust in Him had never been
greater. Could not the One Who created all of the beautiful greenery and
sustained it eternally also care for me and my little family? Why was I
seeking out some human being to lift me up from all my troubles. I
raised my eyes to the heavens and prayed, 'G-d, You are the Creator and
Sustainer of the Universe, please grant my prayer. I have lost all my
money, and I cannot operate my inn. My family tells me to get myself a
partner, a mere mortal of flesh and blood. Why can't You become my
partner? We'll split everything down the middle. Your half, I'll
distribute to the poor, and my half, I'll use to support my family.

"No sooner had I finished, when I felt something in my pocket. I reached
for it, and to my astonishment it was a silver coin of such value that I
had never owned one like it. And I knew that G-d had accepted my
proposition; we were partners, and this was the first profit.

"With this coin I replenished my stock and resumed my trade. When the
first profits came in, I put one half aside for my 'partner' in a box
that I keep behind the counter. I am scrupulously careful with these
funds, even more so than with my own money. This is my whole story."

The Apter Rebbe, who had been listening with rapt attention, rose,
thanked the tavern-keeper, and left. When he returned to his own shul in
Mezibuzh he told the entire story to his Chasidim, and concluded "When
one enters a partnership with G-d, and is completely honest in his
business dealings, G-d enables him to perform wonders."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
G-d has sent us into exile, and it is He who will redeem us and gather
in the dispersed of Israel from the four corners of the earth, and cause
us to be led back firmly and proudly by Moshiach - may this occur
speedily, in our times. This, however, all the nations of the world must
know: Only our bodies were sent into exile and subjugated to alien rule;
our souls, however, were not given over into captivity and foreign rule.
Any matter affecting the Jewish religion, Torah, and its mitzvot and
customs is not subject to the coercion of others. No one can impose his
belief upon us, nor coerce us to conduct ourselves contrary to our

                                           (The Rebbe Rashab, 1927)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 842 - Vayera 5765

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