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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 864
                           Copyright (c) 2005
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        April 1, 2005            Shmini         21 Adar II, 5765

                          Precise Measurements

In Judaism, there's a concept called maaseh rav - the actions of the
teacher. It means that we can learn life-lessons from the way a
righteous individual conducts himself.

On March 1, 1992 (26 Adar I 5752) Rabbi Dov Lavnuni presented the Rebbe
with a model of the Holy Temple, based on the detailed description of
its design found in Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. Rabbi Lavnuni was writing
a book on Maimonides, to which the model was a companion, and had come
to ask the Rebbe for a blessing.

While examining the model, the Rebbe asked, "Where is the ramp?"

Rabbi Lavnuni repeated the question, and the Rebbe clarified, "The ramp
to the altar."

Rabbi Lavnuni then pointed out the location of the two altars, the large
and the small, and showed where the ramp was.

The Rebbe said: "It should be much bigger."

Rabbi Lavnuni: "It is proportionate. It's only so big. It's 1/200."

The Rebbe: "You probably measured it." Pause. "May it go well. Have
great success."

Before printing the book, Rabbi Lavnuni checked and corrected the ramp.
For it was off by 3 millimeters - more than half a meter according to
the scale.

So what lesson can we learn, other than that, indeed, the ramp should
have been much bigger?

The first thing to note is how good an eye the Rebbe has. He saw at once
the miniscule error in measurement. To detect that error, the Rebbe had
to know, in precise (and visual) detail, Maimonides' large scale
measurements, and then see, with but a glance, that the miniature was
off-scale. It takes a good eye indeed to detect such a slight
inaccuracy, millimeters, one two-hundredth of real life.

But let's continue on with the "good eye" idea. It seems that at first
the Rebbe didn't see the ramp at all, because he asked, "Where is the
ramp?" From the exchange, it seems that the ramp was properly placed and
easy enough to see. But because it was incorrect, it's as if the Rebbe
didn't see it.

Rabbi Lavnuni obviously put a lot of work - a tremendous amount of time,
labor, his very soul in a sense - into building that model. He was
justifiably proud of his accomplishment. Perhaps, then, we might say
that since the Rebbe was looking at it with only a good eye, in a sense
he didn't see the error. Can you imagine the reaction of a person who
invested so much of himself into this project if the Rebbe had "seen"
the mistake right away? Pointed it out?

And so by asking, "Where is the ramp?" the Rebbe drew attention to the
problem, in a way that made it seem as if he didn't see, not that there
was a mistake.

Only after, when the ramp was pointed out, did he "see" the
miscalculation and point it out.

And when Rabbi Lavnuni explained his method, the Rebbe did not press the
issue, but seemed to concede the point. "You probably measured it."

Surely there's a profound lesson here. If we look at others with a good
eye, if we see the love in their labor, the dedication of their very
being, and the power of our acknowledgment of those efforts - then how
can we "see" a miscalculation at all? Rather, it must, in a sense, be
pointed out to us. And even then, we grant them their expertise - and
their dignity. "You probably measured it."  For from our concession, we
create trust. The others, knowing our focus is too much on them, on
their concerns, their triumphs, will trust us - and our responses - and
act accordingly.

You cannot embarrass someone if you see even his slightest
miscalculations, but see them with a good eye.

Of course, as mentioned above, Rabbi Lavnuni took the hint - and
corrected himself.

And perhaps, that is another of the life lessons from this maaseh rav -
that even when we precisely measure what others do we should express
what we see only with a good eye.

The number seven is a recurring motif in the Torah: Shabbat is the
seventh day of the week; Shavuot falls exactly seven weeks after
Passover; the Shmitta year is the seventh year; and the Jubilee year
comes after every seven Shmitta years. We see the significance of this
number in many other instances as well.

Seven symbolizes the cyclical nature of the world, which was created in
six days; the seventh day completed the creation. The whole cycle of the
world revolves around the number seven.

At the end of last week's Torah portion, we find mention of the number
seven - the "seven days of consecration" of the Sanctuary.

But at the beginning of this week's portion, Shemini, we come across an
entirely new theme, the concept of eight. Shemini - which means "eighth"
begins with the words: "And it came to pass on the eighth day."

The seven days of consecration culminated in the dedication of the altar
on the seventh day. The next day, referred to as "the eighth day," the
dedication of Aaron and his sons took place -   something not directly
related to the consecration of the Sanctuary itself. Why then is this
considered the eighth day, since there seems to be no connection to the
previous seven?

The question appears even more valid when we look at what eight
symbolizes. While seven stands for wholeness and completion within
nature, eight symbolizes that which is on an even higher level than
nature - the aspect of G-dliness which is not confined to the laws of
creation. We learn that on the eighth day "G-d appeared unto you" -
there was an even greater revelation of G-dliness. If this is so, why
did the supernatural revelation (the number "8") come as a continuation
of what occurred on the first seven days? Why did the supernatural
revelation come only after the revelation of G-d in nature?

Furthermore, all of the great revelations of G-dliness that are to take
place after Moshiach comes, are dependent upon our deeds now. How can it
be that our actions, which take place in this limited, finite world, can
bring about revelations of holiness that are above the laws of nature?

G-d asks of us only that which we are capable of doing. If we give G-d
our whole effort, our complete dedication, then we receive the G-dly
revelations as a gift from Above. If we give G-d the whole "seven" of
our natural abilities, He will grant us the revelations of holiness
indicated by the number eight.

The revelations in the Sanctuary which occurred on the eighth day were
only possible after the Jews did all that was required of them during
the first seven. Even though G-dliness, as it exists above nature, is
infinitely higher than what we can attain through our own deeds alone,
G-d supplied the rest after we did our part.

And this power every Jew has - the ability to relate to G-d even as He
exists above natural law.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                          Two Centuries Later
                             by Steve Hyatt

At some point in time, about 125 years ago, a relative of mine purchased
a volume of Mishnayot published in Zurich, Switzerland in 1814. Printed
in vivid colors and bound in a grand cover, it must have looked
spectacular when it first rolled off the state-of-the-art Gutenberg

What happened to the book for the first 125 years will probably forever
remain a mystery to us. What we do know, however, is that at some point
in his life, the book came into the possession of my great-uncle Ben.
During his long lifetime, my great-uncle held myriad jobs, including
working as a poultry farmer, a master mechanic and a sales person.
Unfortunately life was difficult and challenging for Uncle Ben and he
never pursued a life of Jewish study and scholarship. This family
heirloom, that must have been studied by countless individuals over it's
lifetime, was stored away in a dark, dusty closet in Uncle Ben's  home.

Wars were fought, American presidents were elected, the state of Israel
was established, children were born, young boys and girls had their bar
and bat mitzvas, and all the while the book sat patiently in the dark
gathering dust.

At the ripe old age of 89 Uncle Ben passed away, leaving behind his wife
of 69 years and a modest home. My Uncle Mel and my dad lovingly assisted
their aunt with pressing matters and eventually helped her find a
beautiful place to live at a nearby assisted living community. When they
went to her home to help her get her affairs in order they found the
majestic old book in the back of the dark, dust-filled closet. Literally
blowing the dust off the book, Dad carefully examined the pages of the
ancient manuscript. Since it was printed entirely in Hebrew, it was not
something he could decipher.

My great-aunt's medical condition precluded Dad from questioning her
about the book so he carefully packed it up and sent it to me, telling
me to speak with the local Chabad emissary to Northern Nevada in Reno,
Rabbi Mendel Cunin.

When I first saw the book, I immediately thought it was a Chumash, the
Five Books of Moses. But after a closer examination I realized it looked
very much like the text we use in shul when we study the Talmud. Given
the age of the book and its importance I looked forward to bringing it
to the rabbi for a closer inspection.

A day later I received an e-mail from the Rabbi informing our small but
growing congregation that someone's mother had passed away and he needed
to say the "Kaddish" prayer. I took this opportunity to bring the book
to the Chabad Center and show it to the rabbi before the start of the
evening service.

Rabbi Cunin  told me immediately that the book was a volume of Mishnayot
published at least 191 years earlier. He pointed out that the pages were
actually made from cloth, not paper, and that it was in remarkable shape
for such an old manuscript.

A few minutes later the service began and we joined in to support our
friend and neighbor in his time of need. Toward the end of the service
the rabbi shared with us that it is a tradition to study from the Mishna
when a member of a minyan is saying Kaddish.

Catching my eye the rabbi said, "Let's use the Mishnayot that Steve has
brought with him tonight, a book that is over 191 years old." And with
that he picked up the book written just a few years after the signing of
the American Declaration of Independence and discussed a passage about
searching for chametz before the start of Passover.

When Rabbi Cunin completed the portion of Mishnayot, he slowly closed
the text and tenderly handed it back to me after which we concluded the
service. The next morning we met again so our friend could once again
say Kaddish. Before we started we talked about the book and how
wonderful it was that after all these years in seclusion it once again
was used as a source of learning and inspiration. The rabbi explained
that the Hebrew letters comprising the word "Mishna" are the same
letters that spell the word "neshama" - soul. He went on to say that
both the Torah and the soul are eternal.

His words tore through me like an electric charge, for each letter,
word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter of the Torah are indeed eternal.
The words we read today are the exact words our people studied under
Moses' tutelage in the Sinai desert. Handed down generation after
generation these words that bring light to the world have never changed
and never will. It is a constant that has united the Jewish people for
centuries. And now, decades after it was first printed, and at least
three decades after it was stored away in a dark, dusty storage closet,
the words of wisdom once again had an opportunity to illuminate the
minds and souls of a congregation in the "Biggest Little City in the
World" - Reno, Nevada.

This exquisite book, has impacted many souls since a family member first
acquired it so many years ago. It has passed from hand to hand, from
relative to relative, it has been transported thousands and thousands of
miles, it has resided in many different cities from Zurich all the way
to Reno. And yet, more than 191 years after the ink first caressed the
pages of this very special book, it arrived just in the nick of time to
comfort a grieving son and his friends in a little shul in Reno, almost
as if it had a pre-destined 191-year-old reservation to join a minyan of

Coincidence? I think not!

    Steve Hyatt is the Human Resources Director of the Reno
    Gazette-Journal and can be contacted at

                               WHAT'S NEW
                              New Centers

                            Chabad of Venice

A new Chabad Center will be opening soon in Venice, Florida, under the
directorship of Rabbi Sholom Ber and Chaya Schmerling. The center will
be serving this Southwest Florida Jewish community.
                            Chabad of Phuket

Last month Chabad of Phuket, on Phuket Island, opened. Their first event
was a traditional Shabbat dinner for Jewish relief workers, Israeli
backpackers, and Phuket residents. In addition to Friday night Shabbat
services and dinners, Chabad of Phuket, under the auspices of Chabad of
Thailand headquartered in Bangkok, is continuing its relief work on the

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                        17 of Teves, 5747 [1987]

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 20th of Kislev,
with enclosures.

I was, of course, impressed with your efforts to disseminate Yiddishkeit
[Judaism], etc. However, a word of caution is in order, and I trust you
will not take it amiss.

I trust you are aware that there is a wealth of Rabbinic literature by
leading Torah scholars of past generations, including highly
inspirational texts, timeless in their appeal, and not, G-d forbid, "dry
commitment" as you put it. These great works, and their authors, present
a well-trodden path that has helped our Jewish people overcome trials
and tribulations in times of crisis as well as prosperity. Surely this
great treasure should be fully utilized, before seeking new and
uncharted ways. Indeed, experience has shown how the respective seekers
fared, those who followed the well-trodden path and those who tried new

I do not wish to elaborate on the above, as I do not know you
personally, and your letter was informative rather than advice-seeking.
But my impression is that you could provide your own elaboration if you
so desire.

One final remark: It is well to bear in mind that one of the outstanding
and redeeming characteristics of the contemporary young generation is
that when they are presented with, and see, authentic Yiddishkeit, their
response is a positive one, even if not instantaneous but sooner or
later it bears fruit.

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                        Erev Pesach, 5745 [1985]

Greeting and Blessing:

Thank you for your letter and telegram with the birthday greetings,
which I heartily reciprocate in the words of our Sages, "Whoever blesses
others is blessed by Hashem [G-d] Himself."

Accordingly, may HaShem bestow His blessings on you and your wife and
family in a generous measure, both materially and spiritually.

With regard to the problem concerning your nephew, there is no need to
emphasize to you the great tragedy of intermarriage, a Jew marrying a
non-Jew. Therefore, no effort should be spared to save both parties from
such a situation. Indeed, if there is true feeling between the two
persons involved, neither of them should wish to drag the other into
such a tragedy and should not let a personal desire or passion, which in
most cases is short-lived in any case, blind him and her to one's
elementary human duty, not to mention the religious aspect and the fact
that it is entirely unacceptable from the Torah viewpoint.

I am aware, of course, of the common argument that there seem to be many
intermarried couples who are apparently happy. But the bitter truth is
that in most, if not all, such cases, this is only because such couples
are too ashamed to reveal the true situation at home and in their
private life, for obvious reasons, especially if they had been warmed
about it and chose to ignore such warnings.

The same may be said of another common argument that since both parties
involved are adults and are prepared to take their chances, no one
should interfere with their decision. The fallacity of such an argument
is obvious if we consider a simple illustration of a person standing on
top of a bridge and preparing to jump, claiming aloud that it is no
one's business to stop him, etc. In any civilized society, it would be
the duty of anyone who can do something about it to save the person from
committing suicide, or harming himself, and, indeed, very often the fire
department and police department are mobilized to save the person
despite his or her protestations.

There is surely no need to elaborate on the above.

To conclude on a happy note, especially as we are now about to celebrate
Pesach, the Festival of Our Liberation, may Hashem grant you and all
yours, in the midst of all our people, a growing measure of liberation
from all negative aspects and distractions, materially and spiritually,
so as to serve Hashem wholeheartedly and with joy.

Wishing you and all yours a joyous and inspiring Pesach and shnas
hatzlocha (a successful year)

With blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
23 Adar II, 5765 - April 3, 2005

Positive Mitzva 70: The Guilt-offering for questionable guilt

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 5:17) "Though he did not know it
[if he sinned for sure], yet he is guilty, and shall bear his iniquity"
If a person is unsure if he committed any of the 43 acts punishable by
Karet he is commanded to bring this offering for his questionable guilt.

25 Adar II, 5765 - April 5, 2005

Positive Mitzva 71: The Guilt-offering

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 5:6) "He shall bring his
guilt-offering to the L-rd" There are four forbidden acts listed in the
continuation of this verse. A person who commits any of these
transgressions is commanded to bring a guilt-offering.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In this week's Torah portion we read of the death of two of Aaron's
sons, Nadav and Avihu, after they brought a "strange" fire before G-d.

According to some commentators, the brothers brought an offering in
accordance with the sacrificial laws as they had been practiced by our
ancestors before the Torah was given by G-d to Moses. This, then, is
what was strange about it.

Chasidic philosophy offers a unique explanation as to what was strange
about the fire. A Jew's soul is likened to a flame, or, at times, a
candle. Though placed in a body, it strives to reunite with its source,
the G-dly flame. Nadav and Avihu's longing to be united with G-d was so
great that they allowed their souls to leave their bodies, "consumed" by
the G-dly fire.

However, the true purpose of the soul's descent into this world is not
to leave the body and be reunited with its source. That union is meant
to take place only when the soul has completed its mission. Rather, it
descends to this world in order to transform and elevate its
surroundings. If the soul leaves the body it cannot accomplish this.

Many stories have been told about great and holy people whose souls
transcended this world and traversed other spiritual planes. They revel
in the experience of enjoying the spiritual light and revealed G-dliness
of these other worlds. But when the time comes for their souls to return
to their bodies, they accede, knowing that this was the true purpose of
their life to begin with.

Nadav and Avihu allowed their longing for G-d to supersede their mission
in life - to bring G-dliness and holiness into this world.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, and blessed
them...(Lev. 9:22)

On the eighth day of the consecration of the Tabernacle, Aaron blessed
the people with the priestly blessing: May the L-rd bless you and guard
you. May the L-rd make His countenance shine upon you and be gracious to
you. May the L-rd turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.

                                                   (Rashi; Sota 38)

                                *  *  *

Yet these you may eat (Lev. 11:21)

The Torah does not content itself with giving us signs of purity to look
for when it tells us which animals are kosher, it actually lists each
and every one which is permissible. In the thousands of years which have
elapsed since the Torah was given, not one animal, bird or creature has
been discovered by man to possess those signs, which were not
specifically mentioned in the Torah.

                                                 (Kuzari Hechadash)

                                *  *  *

And Moses said: "This is the thing that G-d has commanded that you do -
and the glory of G-d will appear to you." (Lev. 9:6)

Every mitzva in the Torah has myriad inner, esoteric meanings, which
each Jew understands according to his or her intelligence and level of
Torah learning. Even the most learned scholar cannot fully grasp these
secrets, for human comprehension and understanding of the infinite is
limited and finite. This is why Moses commanded the Jews - "This is the
thing that G-d has commanded" - no matter how much one has studied and
no matter how many inner meanings a person has learned, the real reason
to do a mitzva is because G-d has so commanded. When your intent in
performing a mitzva is solely because G-d wants that particular act to
be performed, then "the glory of G-d will appear to you."

                                                   (Tiferet Shmuel)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Reb Leib Sarah's was born with the blessing of the Baal Shem Tov
(Besht). Early on, he became famous as a miracle-worker, and he was sent
on many missions by the Besht to aid Jews.

One day, as he stood in the marketplace of Berdichev, a Jew approached
him and exclaimed, "Thank G-d, I've found you!" The Jew, named Reb
Binyomin, was the head of the community of Kobrin, and he had a serious

The small town of Kobrin belonged to the Count Upinsky. While the old
count had been friendly to the Jews, inviting them to settle on his
lands rent-free, his son and successor was a bitter anti-Semite. The
young count was now threatening to expel the Jews and seize all their
property unless they paid him both rent and interest for all the years
they had lived on his estate.

Reb Leib listened attentively to this terrible story, and then promised
to try to intercede with the count. The very next day Leib Sarah's
travelled to Kobrin and stood before the nobleman, ready to plead the
Jew's case. The count was momentarily startled by the sudden unexpected
appearance of the stately old Jew, but he recovered quickly and demanded
immediate payment of the "debt."

Reb Leib replied in measured tones: "Sir, your father never expected or
demanded rent from the Jews, and I ask you in all fairness to cancel
their debt, for payment had never been intended. In return they will
pray for your success and well-being all the days of your life."

"I do not need their prayers, but their money I cannot do without!" was
his angry reply.

Leib Sarah's shot the count a burning, penetrating look that had the
effect of calming his anger. The count soon regained his composure and
continued: "Listen, I am going to make you an offer in the strictest
confidence; take care no Jew betrays me. Our Polish people are tired of
the Russian Czar's oppression. We are organizing a rebellion and we want
Jews to join our side. If you agree, the debt will be cancelled."

"No, sir, this we cannot do. Our religion commands us to support the
government under which we live. We may not join you."

His reply enraged the count. "Get out," he screamed. "You will pay
dearly for this!"

Reb Leib returned to Binyomin with news of his failed mission. "Now, I
will send you to someone who can indeed help. But you must keep this
strictly secret."

Deep in the forest was a small hut where a poor broom-maker lived with
his wife. It was here Binyomin was to go with all his provisions for
Shabbat. Arriving at the hut Binyomin saw an old woman sitting in a
poorly-furnished room. Just then her husband arrived, his face showing
no surprise at the unexpected guest.

Binyomin prayed under the fragrant fir trees, and then entered the hut
to find the old man reading the Grace After Meals slowly like a small
child. After quickly eating, Binyomin lay down on a bench outside and
fell asleep.

In the middle of the night he was awakened by the sound of a voice
singing Shabbat melodies. The voice came from the hut, but a heavenly
voice seemed to echo back. The hut shone with a burning light; Binyomin
quickly shut his eyes, and when he opened them again, it was morning.

The night's vision convinced Binyomin that the broom-maker was no
ordinary man. He could hardly wait for the end of the Shabbat to reveal
his mission.

But before he could relay his request, the broom-maker came to him and
said: "The Guardian of Israel has heard the prayers of the Holy
congregation of Kobrin. The count's decree is null and void. Go in
peace, but never tell anyone about this Shabbat."

The next morning Binyomin returned home to hear what had occurred. On
Shabbat morning a refinement of Russian cossacks stormed the count's
castle, arresting him for treason. The governor it seems, had suspected
Upinsky of traitorous activities. One day a letter was intercepted which
said that the count had been unsuccessful in enlisting the support of
the Jews for the rebellion. With this evidence the castle was seized and
the rebellion quashed.

In appreciation of their loyalty, the Czar awarded the Kobrin Jews the
land of the Upinskys as a perpetual free hold, rent and tax-free.

                                       Adapted from Talks and Tales

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The miracles of the ultimate Redemption will be considered as "wonders"
even in comparison with the miracles of the exodus from Egypt

                                                       (Or HaTorah)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 864 - Shmini 5765

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